There is no way I've read every great new release out there, but I've read a lot. Here are five books in five categories that I've read and enjoyed that I'm recommending you add to your beach bag or suitcase for the summer.
1. Reading With Patrick by Michelle Kuo - I love a good teacher story. Kuo spent a year teaching in the South, but then left for law school. When she returns a former student is in prison and she spends time visiting him and teaching him.
2. A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea by Melissa Fleming - this isn't the most uplifting story, but it is timely. Fleming shares the story of a young Syrian refugee whose story seems to go from bad to worse. There is hope in this story, too, and definitely a memoir worth your time.
3. My Life With Bob by Pamela Paul -Paul is the editor of the New York Times Book Review and her memoir is a must read for book lovers. I admit to feeling as though Paul and I are kindred spirits.
4. Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things by Amy Dickinson - I read Dickinson's earlier memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville, so this was like catching up with an old friend. I appreciate that someone who others seek out for advice struggles with making her own decisions and seems just as down to earth as can be.
5. This Is Just My Face: Try Not To Stare by Gabourey Sidibe -I listened to this on audio and loved it. Sidibe reads the book herself and even if I had read the print version I would have enjoyed learning more about the woman who became famous for her role in Precious.
1. The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve- based on the fires in 1947 in Maine, Shreve explores one woman's marriage and resilience to survive a devastating event.
2. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid - this is my favorite by Reid so far. Evelyn Hugo, a famous film star, decides to tell her life story to a little known reporter. The ups and downs of her life- and seven marriages are all discussed and many secrets revealed.
3. The Perennials by Mandy Berman -a coming of age story of two friends and the years they spent at camp together. Narrated by various characters to give a fuller picture of their relationship, this is a great summer novel.
4. Beartown by Fredrik Backman- I love the small town setting, I love the suspense....I think this author gets better with every novel he writes. And that's saying something, because A Man Called Ove was pretty much perfect.
5. Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan-Sullivan has become a must read author for me. Two Catholic sisters make their lives in America, yet are driven apart by a secret they keep for decades. Now with the death of the oldest son of the oldest sister, secrets are revealed as the story moves seamlessly between the past and the present.
1. The Fact of a Body by Alexandra Marzano-Lesnevich- this is both a memoir and a story of a murder that Marzano-Lesnevich seamlessly weaves together. I loved this one and couldn't put it down.
2. Apollo 8 by Jeffrey Kluger- ever since I read and then watched The First Astronauts Wives' Club I've been more interested in the space race. Kluger's non-fiction book reads like fiction and provided more details and background about this amazing time.
3. Columbine by Dave Cullen- not a cheery story, but one I remember watching on the news. Cullen has done his research and it is interesting to read a well researched and more balanced picture of the day and everything leading up to it, years after these events unfolded.
4 American Fire by Monica Hesse- sixty seven fires were set in abandoned bulidings before the arsonists who set these fires were caught. Hesse chronicles the events from the first fire and law enforcements' efforts to catch the person responsible.
5. Radium Girls by Kate Moore- this also reads like fiction as Moore tells the stories of girls who worked at painting the numbers on watch dials and were poisoned by radium.
1. Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel- Lane spent part of her childhood with her grandparents at Roanoke. There she was able to grow up with her cousin Allegra. However, Roanoke is full of secrets and Lane fled, never returning or looking back. However, when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra is missing, she returns and must confront the many secrets that Roanoke has kept for years.
2. The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond -Alice and Jake are invited to join a group of married couples and sign on to the Marriage Pact. They believe this will make their marriage stronger, but there are some twisted rules to this group, and no way for the two to get out of it.
3. Down A Dark Road by Linda Castillo - this is the ninth installment in the Kate Burkholder mystery series. I like to read series books in order, so I would start with the first one, but if that doesn't bother you, starting with #9 would also work. Kate is a police chief who left her Amish roots and is now solving crimes in her Pennsylvania community
4. The Widow's House by Carol Goodman - Goodman is an author who knows how to do creepy really well. Clare Martin and her husband have moved back to the college town they once lived in. They are hoping to kickstart their marriage and Jess' writing career, but it soon becomes obvious that someone is out to get Clare and she begins to unravel the mystery of Riven House, the place where they have been hired to be caretakers.
5. Here and Gone by Haylen Beck - Audra is leaving her abusive husband and driving across the country to start over. However, when she is stopped by a small town sheriff, who arrests her for some trumped up charges, things begin to go badly quickly. And when she asks about her children who were travelling with her, the sheriff pretends he has never seen them. Where are Audra's children and how can she prove her innocence when it seems everyone is against her?
1. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon- a love story featuring two Indian American characters who are into computers. I loved the romance.
2. Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig- Ginny is an autistic thirteen year old soon to be adopted by her Forever Family after being removed from her abusive Birth Mother when she was nine and moving between foster families. Ginny can't stop talking about her "Baby Doll" and her responsibility in taking care of it.
3. Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman - I don't think this will be a runaway bestseller for the YA crowd, but it is a well-researched and very readable story of Vincent Van Gogh and his less famous brother and their special bond.
4. Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith -Smith has the formula for a good romance down pat. Alice buys a lottery ticket for Teddy, her best friend, who also happens to be the boy she wants to date. When he wins millions, what will happen to their relationship?
5. To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han -the third book in this trilogy just came out. If you haven't read the first one, To All the Boys...is where you need to start. We had to fight over this one at my house a little bit since there were three people who needed to read it the day it came out.