01 May 2020

10 Books for Summer; Or I Love a Good Beach Read

Happy May Day! When I was little girl, the first day of May meant running into the backyard in the early morning to pick forget-me-nots, dandelions, and violets to give to mother before I headed off to school. These days, the beginning of May means bring on the summer books, the beach reading, the vacation book covers.

That's what today's roundup is all about. I'm sure there is much more summery fiction with beachy covers coming out this month, but here are 10 that crossed my (mostly virtual) doorstep. Most of the authors featured today are my yearly go-tos. In case you're wondering, yes, Elin Hilderbrand has a new summer novel, but that one isn't out until June.

If you're like me and it you haven't yet set up your deck or porch, or it's rainy or cool in your area, just pretend it's a sunny, warm Saturday and you have nothing to do but get lost in a good escape novel.

Notes: (1) Because of COVID-19 publication dates have changed on many titles that were scheduled for this spring. All the books featured here were originally slated for a May 2020 release. (2) Plot summaries are taken from the publishers.

10 Books for Beach ReadingThe Lion's Den by Katherine St. John (Grand Central; June 30): Suspense. A struggling actress/waitress says yes to her BFF's offer to accompany her on a vacation to the Mediterranean aboard her wealthy boyfriend's yacht. Belle quickly sees that beneath the glitz and glamour, there is a dark side to life on the Lion's Den. . . . will she make it off the ship alive and with her secrets intact? First lines:

I’ve always thought myself immune to the dizzying effects of fabulous wealth, but the sight of sleek jets lined up on the tarmac ignites an unexpected giddiness in me. How liberating to be able to move about the world so easily, without the inconveniences of mass transportation. No lines at the ticketing counter, no taking off shoes and disassembling carry-on bags, no body scans, no cramped leg space or short connections, no luggage belts or lost bags.
Audiobook: read by Christine Lakin

10 books for beach readingEast Coast Girls by Kerry Kletter (Mira; May 26): Women's friendship. Set in Montauk, four adult friends agree to a reunion where they spent their childhood summers, until a tragedy pulled them apart. Hoping for healing and understanding the women are instead forced to face the past and reveal their inner selves. Told from alternating viewpoints in the present and in the past. First lines:
It was mid-July, when the sun shined the memory of every good summer before it, and the days wandered like beach walkers, hot and indolent, catching chance breezes off the ocean. They’d stopped at the fair on a whim on their way back from Montauk, were supposed to be home hours before, but the vibrancy of live music and crowds and the feeling of a party not yet over beckoned them, so they lingered, wanting to stay inside this future memory a little longer.
Audiobook: read by Patricia Santomasso

10 books for beach readingSummer Darlings by Brooke Lea Foster (Gallery; May 5): Historical fiction. In the 1962, a working-class college student moves to Martha's Vineyard to nanny a rich couple's young children. There she sees how the other half lives and is taken in by the ease and privilege. Eventually, however, she learns that having money and traveling in high society can cover a multitude of sins and unhappiness. First lines:
Jackie Kennedy sails these waters. In fact, the First Lady might be looking at the same sunlit cliffs as Heddy, and the thought of Jackie in her big black sunglasses, placing a kiss on the president while their boat rounded Vineyard Sound, tickled the corners of Heddy’s mouth and made her peek over onto the deck of a wooden sailboat bobbing in the harbor. Heddy waved back at a man, shirtless and barefoot, holding a fishing line. He was no Jack Kennedy, but he wasn’t half bad, either.
Audiobook: read by Rebekkah Ross

10 books for beach readingHello, Summer by Mary Kay Andrews (St. Martin's Press; May 5): Women's fiction. Conley Hawkins has newsprint in her blood, but she turned her back on her family's beach-town paper for a journalism career in Washington, DC. When she loses her job, she returns home, where she's told to take over the summer gossip column. Despite a possible romance, all is routine, until Conley starts to investigate the death of a local politician and secrets rise to the surface. First lines:
"I hate these things," Conley Hawkins said, gazing toward the newsroom's glass-encased conference room, where the rest of the staff was gathering. "Stale sheet cake, lukewarm champagne, and tepid farewells. It's such a farce. At least a third of the people in that room don't even like me. I've said goodbye to the people I care about. Can't we just leave it at that?"
Audiobook: read by Kathleen McInerney

10 books for beach readingBeach Read by Emily Henry (Berkley; May 19): Romantic comedy. What happens when a best-selling romance writer ends up renting a Michigan beach cottage next to one of her old rivals, a well-respected author of literary fiction? When they discover they are each suffering writer's block, they make a plan to help each other over the hump; what they didn't count on was the old adage that opposites attract . . . will they finish their books, fall in love, or both? First lines:
I wasn’t ready to look through the rest of the house, so I settled down at the table to write. As usual, the blank document was staring accusingly at me, refusing to fill itself with words or characters, no matter how long I stared back.

Here’s the thing about writing Happily Ever Afters: it helps if you believe in them.
Audiobook: read by Julia Whelan

10 books for beach readingSummer Longing by Jamie Brenner (Little, Brown; May 5): Women's fiction. The routines of summer in Provincetown are disrupted when a baby girl is left at the doorstep of a newcomer, who is renting a cottage while deciding on what she wants out of her retirement. The women of the small community band together, as the appearance of the infant brings out a mix of emotions from grief and longing to joy and sense of purpose. This multilayered novel focuses on mother-daughter relationships, women's friendship, new possibilities, healing, and life on the Cape. First lines:
She hadn’t been on a summer vacation in thirty years. Although, if she really thought about it, a trip didn’t count as a vacation if you weren’t coming back. Either way, there would be no more meetings, no more deadlines, no more fires to put out. Ruth was free.
Audiobook: read by Molly Parker Myers

10 books for beach readingBig Summer by Jennifer Weiner (Atria; May 5): Women's friendships. Daphne finds it hard to say no when her ex-friend, a woman she hasn't talked to in years, asks her to be the maid-of-honor at her Cape Cod wedding. In the years since their separation, Daphne has become a well-known social media influencer, but her friend's glamorous lifestyle is still a draw. Can the women find reconciliation and understanding, even under the pressures of trying to pull off the perfect weekend wedding while the world watches? First lines [prologue]:
By the second week of September, the outer Cape was practically deserted. The tourists had packed up and gone home. The roads were empty; the glorious beaches were abandoned. It was a shame: by September, the ocean was finally warm enough for swimming, especially if it had been a hot August, and the paths that wound through the dunes and cranberry bogs and secret blueberry bushes, the ones that were pickup spots for men in summer’s high season, were deserted, and the bushes were full of ripe berries.
Audiobook: read by Danielle Macdonald

10 books for beach readingThe Somerset Girls by Lori Foster (HQN; May 19): Sisters; family. Sisters Autumn and Ember couldn't be more different; one is bookish, the other is into partying. Regardless, they work well together as they try to keep their family's animal-rescue farm afloat and help take care of their ailing father. When it comes to romantic relationships, though, the sisters harbor long-buried hurts and insecurities. When a childhood crush of Autumn's returns to town, she sees possibilities--but what about Ember? Will the sisters find all they dream of by the end of the hot, humid Kentucky summer?
A refreshing shower, ice cream and the book she was reading.

As Autumn Somerset got the unhappy pigs into the back of her truck, she repeatedly recited the awards that awaited her at the end of her day.
Audiobook: read by Samantha Desz

10 books for beach readingMy Kind of People by Lisa Duffy (Atria; May 12): Family relationships. Set on a small island off the coast of Massachusetts, this is the story of how a community comes together to help raise a 10-year-old girl who finds herself orphaned for the second time in her short life. Leo is balancing his unexpected fatherhood with his new marriage and other neighbors are doing their best to be supportive while dealing with their own problems, holding close to secrets, and coping with family issues. Despite personal problems, the islanders are determined to give Sky a home and security.
In the hours before dawn, she slips out of the house and runs. She knows the way by heart, even though she’s only ten, and the land swells around her like the mother’s bosom she never knew.

She follows the path that winds near the cliff, the edge nipping at her feet, threatening to swallow her whole. Spit her out on the rocky shore below.
Audiobook: read by Joniece Abbott-Pratt, Nancy Linari, Madeleine Maby, and David Sadzin

10 books for beach readingOn Ocean Boulevard by Mary Alice Monroe (Gallery; May 19): Women's fiction. Set on Sullivan Island, this is the story of three generations of the Rutledge family, each on the brink of a new, exciting beginning. There's a second wedding in Charleston, a new house on Ocean Boulevard, and an a new career on the island. But when circumstances suddenly change after a family member falls ill, the women must pull together to try to embrace their futures in the new normal. First lines:
The lowcountry was spread out far below as she soared in the sky. Linnea Rutledge sighed and placed her fingertips on the plane’s cool window, her eyes tracing the twisting creeks and winding rivers that snaked through the seemingly impenetrable greenery of the salt marsh. From her vantage point, the rivers looked like great arteries, and all the myriad creeks were veins. Saltwater coursed through them like a bloodstream. The tides were the lowcountry’s pumping heart
Audiobook: read by Cassandra Campbell


shelleyrae @ book'd out 5/1/20, 7:23 AM  

What a great list Beth, thanks for sharing.

Debra Eliotseats 5/1/20, 8:07 AM  

Ah, it is May Day. We used to make baskets out of paper plates and ribbon and beg mom to drive us to the neighbors (we lived in the country) to hang them on door knobs. Thanks for the reminder.

Some of these look good, especially Beach Read but I have so many books in stacks to read, I probably won't rush out to buy any.....(She says with a somewhat confident air.)

(Diane) bookchickdi 5/1/20, 9:51 AM  

Such a wonderful list, it's putting me in a summer mood! I have Big Summer, Beach Read, Hello Summer and The Lion's Den on my TBR, but now I may have to add some others.

Tina 5/1/20, 10:48 AM  

I like all the covers, very summery. Can't go wrong with Jennifer Weiner. It has been a while since I read one of her novels.

bermudaonion 5/1/20, 11:34 AM  

So many good looking books! I dream of reading on the beach again.

Vicki 5/1/20, 3:42 PM  

They all sound really good but Beach Read and The Somerset Girls are saying "Buy Me!"

Melissa 5/1/20, 4:47 PM  

Ahhh, this list made me dream of the beach even more than I have been. Alas, probably no beach vacation for us this year so I'll have to live vicariously through these titles.

Laurie C 5/3/20, 1:37 PM  

I want to read all of these! At the same time!

Katherine P 5/3/20, 6:27 PM  

These all look fantastic and summer-y! I'm about to start Lori Foster's summery book from last year and I can't wait.

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