Love, Joleen: Top 10 Books to Binge Read this Summer | My Summer Reading List

Friday, May 15, 2015

Top 10 Books to Binge Read this Summer | My Summer Reading List


Everyone knows that the unofficial kick off for Summer is Memorial Day weekend. While it's hard to believe that we're already nearly halfway through the year [and oh em gee, my son is halfway to three!] there is one thing I'm looking forward to: our pool opening reading! I'm not so delusional as to think I'll get much reading done poolside, with my toddler, but there will still plenty of opportunities for me to get that Summer reading in.

I can go months without reading and then all of a sudden I'm devouring 2-3 books in a week. Summertime is prime reading time for me. My son spends a lot of time playing with the water table on the patio, providing me with ample opportunity to collect Vitamin D and get through pages of my latest book. We'll also be traveling in the coming months - a 10 hour drive to D.C. in July and at least two round trip flights across country to California. That's why I'm confident in my ability to get through this list of Top 10 Books to Binge Read this Summer.
I thoroughly enjoyed putting my Summer reading list together this year! I scoured GoodReads, Pinterest, and read countless Amazon reviews, to come up with this eclectic collection. In no particular order:

1. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins - This book keeps popping up on my Instagram feed and has been hailed the current "it book" for fans of Gone Girl (which I am!).

Synopsis: "Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?"
2. Party Girl by Rachel Hollis - This is the obligatory "chick-lit" of the bunch. Who doesn't love chick-lit? It's almost always entertaining, easy reading. These are the type of books I love to devour in one short day.

Synopsis: "Landon Brinkley is making her dreams come true. After years of poring over glossy photos of celebrity parties in People and US Weekly, she’s landed her Holy Grail: an internship with the fabulous Selah Smith, event planner to the Hollywood elite. Moving from small town Texas to Los Angeles, Landon finds herself in a world in which spending a million dollars on an event – even for kids’ birthdays – is de rigueur. The thrill of working on A-list parties and celeb weddings is enough to get her through the 75-hour workweeks, the nightmare of a multi-day film festival, and abuse at the hands of a mercurial boss. But confronted with the seamy realities of the business, she is forced to make a choice: do whatever it takes to get ahead, or stay true to herself.

A roman a clef in the vein of The Devil Wears Prada, PARTY GIRL draws on the author’s real life experience for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the celebrity-obsessed world of event planning. From the party habits of America’s favorite underage singer to the worst Bridezilla of all (the kind that graces the cover of your favorite magazine), PARTY GIRL reveals the ugly side of Hollywood’s prettiest parties."


3. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty -  
Synopsis: "Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive."

 
4. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion -  
Synopsis: "Meet Don Tillman.
Don is getting married.
He just doesn't know who to yet.
But he has designed a very detailed questionnaire to help him find the perfect woman.

One thing he already knows, though, is that it's not Rosie.
Absolutely, completely, definitely not.

Don Tillman is a socially challenged genetics professor who's decided the time has come to find a wife. His questionnaire is intended to weed out anyone who's unsuitable. The trouble is, Don has rather high standards and doesn't really do flexible so, despite lots of takers, he's not having much success in identifying The One.

When Rosie Jarman comes to his office, Don assumes it's to apply for the Wife Project - and duly discounts her on the grounds she smokes, drinks, doesn't eat meat, and is incapable of punctuality. However, Rosie has no interest in becoming Mrs Tillman and is actually there to enlist Don's assistance in a professional capacity: to help her find her biological father.

Sometimes, though, you don't find love: love finds you..."

 
5. I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda - I found this book under "New Memoirs" and am really looking forward to reading it. I've had pen pals off and on since I could write, and this synopsis touches my wanderlust heart.

Synopsis: "It started as an assignment. Everyone in Caitlin's class wrote to an unknown student somewhere in a distant place. All the other kids picked countries like France or Germany, but when Caitlin saw Zimbabwe written on the board, it sounded like the most exotic place she had ever heard of--so she chose it.
Martin was lucky to even receive a pen pal letter. There were only ten letters, and forty kids in his class. But he was the top student, so he got the first one.

That letter was the beginning of a correspondence that spanned six years and changed two lives.

In this compelling dual memoir, Caitlin and Martin recount how they became best friends --and better people--through letters. Their story will inspire readers to look beyond their own lives and wonder about the world at large and their place in it."


6. The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider - I adore "Young Adult" fiction. Call me young at heart. Or whatever. This is one of two picks from this genre that I've included [on this list].

Synopsis: "Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?

Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything is a lyrical, witty, and heart-wrenching novel about how difficult it is to play the part that people expect, and how new beginnings can stem from abrupt and tragic endings."


7. Girl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer -

Synopsis: "An account executive in a Mad Men world, Anna Wyatt is at a crossroads. Recently divorced, she’s done a lot of emotional housecleaning, including a self-imposed dating sabbatical. But now that she’s turned forty, she’s struggling to figure out what her life needs. Brainstorming to win over an important new client, she discovers a self-help book—Be the Heroine, Find Your Hero—that offers her unexpected insights and leads her to a most unlikely place: a romance writers’ conference. If she can sign the Romance Cover Model of the Year Pageant winner for her campaign—and meet the author who has inspired her to take control of her life—she’ll win the account.

For Anna, taking control means taking chances, including getting to know Sasha, her pretty young colleague on the project, and indulging in a steamy elevator ride with Lincoln Mallory, a dashing financial consultant she meets in the hotel. When the conference ends, Anna and Lincoln must decide if their intense connection is strong enough to survive outside the romantic fantasy they’ve created. Yet Lincoln is only one of Anna’s dilemmas. Now that her campaign is off the ground, others in the office want to steal her success, and her alcoholic brother, Ferdie, is spiraling out of control.

To have the life she wants-to be happy without guilt, to be accepted for herself, to love and to be loved, to just be—she has to put herself first, accept her imperfections, embrace her passions, and finally be the heroine of her own story."

 
8. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven - All I had to read when checking out the reviews for this book was, "The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park". Say what?! I'm pretty sure I am going to love this book!

Synopsis: "Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.


9. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green - This looks like pure entertainment. Perfect Summer read, amiright?

Synopsis: "When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton's type is girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun - but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl."

10. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - This is a 2014 GoodReads Choice winner, and the deepest pick I've included. This is a particular subject matter that interests me and it's received very good reviews.

Synopsis: "Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When Marie-Laure is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris, and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge."

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