The 25 Best Books of Summer 2021

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Whether on a beach, by a pool, in the mountains or at home, Summer Reads are the best. Here are 25 of my favorite Summer Reads:

Summer Romance Novel? Yes Please!
The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang

…sizzles as only a Helen Hoang novel can! When Anna Sun accidentally achieves career success, she finds herself burned out from her attempts to be perfect in other people’s eyes. Her solution is to create a low-stress environment. Anna is going to embark on a string of one-night stands. That’s where Quan Diep comes in. Their first attempt at a one-night stand fails, as does their second, and their third, until it starts to feel like a real relationship. But when her traditional-minded family disapproves of the relationship and the person she’s slowly discovering herself to be, Anna must choose between meeting expectations and finding happiness in who she really is.

Incense and Sensibility by Sonali Dev

…adds an Indian American twist to Jane Austen’s classic Sense and Sensibility in this perfect retelling. Yash, a gubernatorial candidate, attributes his success to a simple mantra: control your feelings and you can control the world. A hate-fueled incident at a rally critically injures his friend and he blacks out with panic. His family turns to the one person they trust—his sister’s best friend, India Dashwood, California’s foremost stress management coach. Yash has spent a lifetime repressing everything to succeed. Including their one magical night ten years ago—a too brief, too bright passion that if rekindled threatens the life he’s crafted for himself…until now.

Love For Beginners by Jill Shalvis

…asks would you change if you had to start your life over again? When Emma Harris wakes up from a coma she learns that her fiancé and her BFF have fallen in love and the life she knew is gone. She has never been a quitter, even if she wishes she could quit rehab, where her hot but evil physical therapist, Simon, puts her through the wringer. Emma opens a doggy day care in the only space she can afford that is, of course, owned by her childhood nemesis. She tries to roll with the punches, but a friend drops his grandpa off at the doggy day care in desperation then on top of that, she and Ali bring the term ‘frenemies’ to a whole new level. And then another grandparent shows up. And another. Emma realizes she’s accidentally fallen for Evil PT. But the most horrifying thing of all is that Ali just might have turned into the best friend she’s ever had. 

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

…is a sparkling new novel that will leave you with the warm, hazy afterglow usually reserved for the best vacations. Poppy and Alex. They have nothing in common. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. She’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together. Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since. Poppy is stuck in a rut. She convinces her best friend to take one more vacation together. Miraculously, he agrees. What could possibly go wrong?

Playing The Palace by Paul Rudnick

…is delightful. Carter Ogden is afraid love just isn’t in the cards for him. He never thought he’d meet the Crown Prince of England, much less do a lot more with him. When they meet by chance at an event Carter’s boss is organizing, Carter’s sure he imagined all that sizzling chemistry. This unlikely but meant-to-be romance sets off media fireworks on both sides of the Atlantic. With everyone having an opinion on their relationship and the intense pressure of being constantly in the spotlight, Carter finds ferocious obstacles to his Happily Ever After, including the tenacious disapproval of the Queen of England. Carter and Price Edgar fight for a happy ending to equal their glorious international beginning. It’s a match made on Valentine’s Day and in tabloid heaven.

Radha & Jai’s Recipe For Romance by Nisha Sharma

…is a delectable love story. Radha is on the verge of becoming one of the greatest kathak dancers in the world until a family betrayal costs her the biggest competition of her life. At the Princeton Academy of the Arts, Radha is determined to leave performing in her past and reinvent herself from scratch. Jai is captain of the Bollywood Beats dance team and is an overachiever with no college plans.When Radha enters his life, he realizes she’s the exact ingredient he needs for a show-stopping senior year. With careful choreography, both Radha and Jai will need to face their fears (and their families) if they want a taste of a happily ever after.

Book Club Must-Reads 
Blush by Jamie Brenner

…is a wonderful novel about three generations of women who discover that the scandalous books of their past may just be the key to saving their family’s future. The Hollander Estates winery has long been the premier destination for lavish parties and romantic day trips on the North Fork of Long Island. For matriarch Vivian, she fears that this summer season could be their last—and that selling their winery to strangers could expose a dark secret she’s harbored for decades. Meanwhile, her daughter, Leah, who was turned away from the business years ago, finds her marriage at a crossroads and returns home for a sorely needed escape. And granddaughter Sadie, grappling with a crisis of her own, runs to the vineyard looking for inspiration. But when Sadie uncovers journals from Vivian’s old book club dedicated to scandalous novels of decades past, she realizes that this might be the distraction they all need. Reviving the “trashy” book club, the Hollander women find that the stories hold the key to their fight not only for the vineyard, but for the life and love they’ve wanted all along. 

For The Love of Friends by Sara Goodman Confino

…is a sharp and funny novel about the business of weddings. Lily Weiss is her mother’s worst nightmare: thirty-two and single! She’s also a talented writer but hides behind a boring job To her friends, she’s reliable and selfless, which is how she winds up a bridesmaid in five weddings in six weeks.To keep her sanity, Lily needs a safe place to vent. And so her anonymous blog, Bridesmania, is born. The posts start pouring out of her: all the feels about mom-zillas, her vanishing bank balance, the wicked bridesmaids of the west, high-strung brides-to-be, body-shaming dress clerks, bachelorette parties, and Spanx for days, not to mention being deemed guardian of eighty-eight-year-old Granny (who enjoys morning mimosas in the nude) for her brother’s destination wedding. So far the blog has stayed anonymous. But as everyone knows, few things online remain secret forever…

A House Full of Windsor by Kristin Contino

…is SO good! Spanning from 1980s London to a present-day reality TV show, A House Full of Windsor explores how one woman’s messy past shapes her family’s future and how long-buried secrets and resentment must come to the surface for them to move on. Debbie Windsor was always fascinated by royalty, but when her marriage fell apart, she turned to collecting to fill the void. Now the house is a royal mess, and Debbie’s health and safety are on the line. Even her etiquette expert daughter can’t fix this disaster, and when the entire family ends up on a hoarding show, everyone has something at stake.

Lady Sunshine by Amy Mason Doan

…features long kept secrets and memories. For Jackie Pierce, everything changed the summer of 1979, when she spent three months of freedom at her bohemian uncle’s sprawling estate on the California coast. As musicians, artists, and free spirits gathered at The Sandcastle, Jackie and her cousin Willa fell into a fast friendship… until the summer abruptly ended in tragedy, and Willa silently slipped away into the night. Twenty years later, Jackie unexpectedly inherits The Sandcastle and returns to the iconic estate but must reluctantly extend her stay when she learns that her estranged aunt had promised a producer he could record a tribute album to her late uncle at the property’s studio. And when a piece of the past resurfaces and sparks new questions about Willa’s disappearance, Jackie must discover if the dark secret she’s kept ever since is even the truth at all.

Lizzie & Dante by Mary Bly

…asks the question,What if falling in love means breaking someone’s heart?” On the heels of a difficult break-up and a devastating diagnosis, Shakespeare scholar Lizzie Delford decides to take one last lavish vacation on Elba, the sun-kissed island off the Italian coast, with her best friend and his movie-star boyfriend. Once settled into a luxurious seaside resort, Lizzie has to make big decisions about her future, and she needs the one thing she may be running out of: time. She leaves the yacht owners and celebrities behind and sneaks off to the public beach, where she meets a sardonic chef named Dante, his battered dog, Lily, and his wry daughter, Etta, a twelve-year-old desperate for a mother. While Dante shows Lizzie the island’s secrets, and Etta dazzles with her irreverent humor, Lizzie is confronted with a dilemma. Are the delicacies of life worth tasting, even if you will get to savor them only for a short while?

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

…is an outstanding debut novel about the tension that unfurls when two young Black women meet against the starkly white backdrop of New York City book publishing. Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and microaggressions, she’s thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started working together though, when a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, and Nella is left in the dust. Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realizes that there’s a lot more at stake than just her career. A whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary that is perfect for anyone who has ever felt manipulated, threatened, or overlooked in the workplace.

That Summer by Jennifer Weiner

…is a deliciously twisty novel of intrigue, secrets, and the transformative power of female friendship. Daisy Shoemaker can’t sleep. With a thriving cooking business, full schedule of volunteer work, and a beautiful home in the Philadelphia suburbs, she should be content. So why is she up all night? While Daisy tries to identify the root of her dissatisfaction, she’s also receiving misdirected emails meant for a woman named Diana Starling, whose email address is just one punctuation mark away from her own. While Daisy’s driving carpools, Diana is chairing meetings and restructuring corporations. When an apology leads to an invitation, the two women meet and become friends. But, as they get closer, we learn that their connection was not completely accidental. Who IS this other woman, and what does she want with Daisy?

Summer Spine Tingling Suspense
The Hunting Wives by May Cobb

…is a novel of obsession, seduction, and murder. Sophie O’Neill left behind an envy-inspiring career and the stressful, competitive life Chicago to settle down with her husband and young son in a small Texas town. But Sophie soon realizes that life is now too quiet, and she’s feeling bored and restless. Then she meets Margot Banks, an alluring socialite who is part of an elite clique secretly known as the Hunting Wives. Sophie finds herself completely drawn to Margot and swept into her mysterious world of late-night target practice and dangerous partying. As Sophie’s curiosity gives way to full-blown obsession, she slips farther away from the safety of her family and deeper into this nest of vipers. When the body of a teenage girl is discovered in the woods where the Hunting Wives meet, Sophie finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation and her life spiraling out of control.

Kill All Your Darlings by David Bell

…is a suspenseful, provocative novel about the sexual harassment that still runs rampant in academia—and the lengths those in power will go to cover it up. After years of struggling to write following the deaths of his wife and son, English professor Connor Nye publishes his first novel, a thriller about the murder of a young woman. There’s just one problem: Connor didn’t write the book. His missing student did. And then she appears on his doorstep, alive and well, threatening to expose him. Connor’s problems escalate when the police insist details in the novel implicate him in an unsolved murder from two years ago. Soon Connor discovers the crime is part of a disturbing scandal on campus and faces an impossible dilemma—admit he didn’t write the book and lose his job or keep up the lie and risk everything. When another murder occurs, Connor must clear his name by unraveling the horrifying secrets buried in his student’s manuscript.  

Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica

…takes domestic secrets to a whole new level, showing that some people will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried. People don’t just disappear without a trace…Shelby Tebow is the first to go missing. Not long after, Meredith Dickey and her six-year-old daughter, Delilah, vanish just blocks away from where Shelby was last seen, striking fear into their once-peaceful community. Are these incidents connected? After an elusive search that yields more questions than answers, the case eventually goes cold. Now, eleven years later, Delilah shockingly returns. Everyone wants to know what happened to her, but no one is prepared for what they’ll find…

While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams

…is a gripping, complexly plotted thriller set within the halls of the U.S. Supreme Court. Avery Keene, a brilliant young law clerk for the legendary Justice Howard Wynn, is doing her best to hold her life together excelling in an arduous job with the court while also dealing with a troubled family. When the shocking news breaks that Justice Wynn—the cantankerous swing vote on many current high-profile cases—has slipped into a coma, Avery’s life turns upside down. She is immediately notified that Justice Wynn has left instructions for her to serve as his legal guardian and power of attorney. Plunged into an explosive role she never anticipated; Avery finds that Justice Wynn had been secretly researching one of the most controversial cases before the court. As political wrangling ensues in Washington to potentially replace the ailing judge whose life and survival Avery controls, she begins to unravel a carefully constructed, chess like sequence of clues left behind by Wynn. 

You Will Remember Me by Hannah Mary McKinnon

…has shared fates that intertwine in a twisty, explosive novel of suspense, where unearthing the past might just mean being buried beneath it. He wakes up on a deserted beach in Maryland with a gash on his head and wearing only swim trunks. He can’t remember who he is. Everything—his identity, his life, his loved ones—has been replaced by a dizzying fog of uncertainty. But returning to his Maine hometown in search of the truth uncovers more questions than answers. Lily Reid thinks she knows her boyfriend, Jack. Maya Scott has been trying to find her estranged stepbrother, Asher, since he disappeared without a trace. Having him back, missing memory and all, feels like a miracle. But with a mutual history full of devastating secrets, how far will Maya go to ensure she alone takes them to the grave?

Captivating Historical Fiction
The Bookseller’s Secret by Michelle Gable

…is an absolutely thrilling novel. In 1942, London, Nancy Mitford is worried about more than air raids and German spies. Still recovering from a devastating loss, the once sparkling Bright Young Thing is estranged from her husband, her allowance has been cut, and she’s given up her writing career. Eager for distraction and desperate for income, Nancy jumps at the chance to manage the Heywood Hill bookshop while the owner is away at war. Between the shop’s brisk business and the literary salons she hosts for her eccentric friends, Nancy’s life seems on the upswing. Eighty years later, Heywood Hill is abuzz with the hunt for a lost wartime manuscript written by Nancy Mitford. For one woman desperately in need of a change, the search will reveal not only a new side to Nancy, but an even more surprising link between the past and present…

The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel

…is an incredible story of survival against staggering odds. After being stolen from her wealthy German parents and raised in the unforgiving wilderness of eastern Europe, a young woman finds herself alone in 1941 after her kidnapper dies. Her solitary existence is interrupted when she happens upon a group of Jews fleeing the Nazi terror. Stunned to learn what’s happening in the outside world, she vows to teach the group all she can about surviving in the forest. But when she is betrayed and escapes into a German-occupied village, her past and present come together in a shocking collision that could change everything.

In All Good Faith by Liza Nash Taylor

…tells a story of two women’s unlikely success during the Great Depression. In the summer of 1932, May Marshall has returned from Paris to settle at her family home in rural Keswick, Virginia and struggles to keep her family farm and market afloat. In a cold-water West End Boston tenement, the fractured Sykes family scrapes by on an itinerant mechanic’s wages and home sewing. Having recently lost her mother, sixteen-year-old Dorrit Sykes questions the religious doctrine she was raised in. Dorrit is reclusive, held back by the anxiety attacks that have plagued her since childhood. Attempting to understand what limits her, she seeks inspiration in Nancy Drew mysteries and finds solace at the Boston Public Library, writing fairy stories for children. When Dorrit accompanies her father to Washington, DC, in the summer of 1932 to camp out and march with twenty thousand veterans intending to petition President Hoover for early payment of war bonuses, she begins an odyssey that will both traumatize and strengthen her. 

The Show Girl by Nicola Harrison

…gives a glimpse of the glamorous world of the Ziegfeld Follies. It’s 1927 when Olive McCormick moves from Minneapolis to New York City determined to become a star in the Ziegfeld Follies. It takes every bit of perseverance to finally make it on stage. Then she meets Archie Carmichael. Handsome, wealthy—the only man she’s ever met who seems to accept her modern ways. But once she accepts his proposal of marriage, he starts to change his tune, and Olive must decide if she is willing to reveal a devastating secret and sacrifice the life she loves for the man she loves.

Three Words For Goodbye by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

…features three cities, two sisters and one chance to correct the past. When estranged sisters Clara and Madeleine Sommers learn their grandmother is dying, they agree to fulfill her last wish: to travel across Europe—together. Clara sees the trip as an inconvenient detour before her wedding. Budding journalist Madeleine relishes the opportunity to develop her ambitions to report on the growing threat of Hitler’s Nazi party and Mussolini’s control in Italy. Constantly at odds with each other as they explore the luxurious Queen Mary, the Orient Express, and the sights of Paris and  Venice, Clara and Madeleine wonder if they can fulfil Violet’s wish, until a shocking truth about their family brings them closer together. As political tensions rise, and Europe feels increasingly volatile, the pair are glad to head home on the Hindenburg, where fate will play its hand in the final stage of their journey.

Our Woman in Moscow by Beatriz Williams

…is a gripping and story of Cold War espionage and family devotion. In 1948, Iris Digby vanishes from her London home with her American diplomat husband and their two children. Have the Digbys defected to Moscow with a trove of the West’s most vital secrets? Four years later, Ruth Macallister receives a postcard from the twin sister she hasn’t seen since their catastrophic parting in Rome in the summer of 1940, as war engulfed the continent and Iris fell desperately in love with an enigmatic United States Embassy official named Sasha Digby. Within days, Ruth is on her way to Moscow, posing as the wife of counterintelligence agent Sumner Fox in a precarious plot to extract the Digbys from behind the Iron Curtain. 

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