ADD THESE SUMMER READS: May 2021 Mini Reviews

I’ve been in such a great reading mood lately! I’ve been able to read 1-2 books during the week & then another book or two on the weekends. We’ve been having a few sunny Saturdays and Sundays, which means spending the day outside reading in my backyard. If you’re already preparing your summer TBR like I am, make sure you check out these 4 contemporary books below.

Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand 

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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Two weekends ago on a sunny Saturday, I was craving a book that I could binge-read while sitting outside all day, which meant it was time to pick up another Elin Hilderbrand book! After loving 28 Summers back in March, I decided to pick up another one of her more recent releases, Summer of ’69. Set in, you guessed it, the summer of 1969, the book follows three daughters and their mother’s summer on Nantucket and Martha Vineyard while their brother & son has been recently deployed to Vietnam. 

I love books that place over the summer and follow the daily happenings of the main characters. Summer of ’69 exactly fits that premise, with a few secrets and minor scandals along the way. I totally admit that I was a little hesitant going into the 1960s setting, but it was so interesting getting transported to the days of the space race and the Vietnam War. There’s also commentary on women’s roles and race, between Blair’s husband’s desire for Blair to stay home & raise their family and Kirby’s relationship with a young black man. I really like Elin Hilderbrand’s books because she’s able to handle so many plot lines and conflicts while also keeping the writing style quick and easy to fly through -aka the perfect beach read. I definitely liked reading from the daughters, Blair, Kirby, and Jessie’s perspectives, more than their mother, who was a bit on the melodramatic side, but I overall loved this book!

I am SO going to read more Elin Hilderbrand books this summer – I think she’s going to be one of my go-tos when I want a book-in-a-day beach or pool read. I immediately put Elin Hilderbrand’s June release, Golden Girl, on hold after I finished reading Summer of ’69

Anna K: Away (Anna K #2) by Jenny Lee 

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

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Let it be know already that I love anything having to do with Anna K because I absolutely  LOVED Anna K: Away. The sequel to Jenny Lee’s 2020 release, Anna K, the book picks up during the summer after the events of book #1, in which Anna K & co. are grieving over the loss of Anna K’s beloved (trying to avoid spoilers, but if you’ve read Anna Karenina, you can probably figure out who I’m talking about). Anna K is whisked off to Korea, Dustin, Steve, and Lolly are dealing with their own relationship troubles in NYC, and Bea is off to California for a change of pace of her own.

I just love everything about Anna K: Away so much, from Jenny Lee’s writing style to the glamour and drama of these teens’ world. Yes, it is super extravagant and probably unrealistic, but this book is the absolute perfect kind of escape. I loved all of the settings, from California to the Hamptons to South Korea. I think Anna K’s storyline was particularly my favorite because I loved the K-pop and paparazzi storyline while Anna K deals with loss and figuring out her next steps. I really like Bea as a character so it was fun following her storyline, and Lolly and Steve’s relationship always made for some fun drama. I read Anna K: Away nearly a year after reading book #1 and don’t think you necessarily need a reread to get invested in this sequel. You definitely need to read book #1 before book #2 — and should just read this series regardless because it is such a refreshing and mature take on Gossip Girl-esque YA contemporary. 

Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

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I feel like everyone & anyone has been reading Farah Heron’s Accidentally Engaged, so I finally needed to switch it over from my TBR to read pile. The book follows Reena, who dreams of making bread all day instead of working in finance and a life where her parents aren’t constantly trying to set her up with the perfect Muslim guy. Reena meets Nadim, her new, attractive British neighbor…who of course has been recently hired to work for Reena’s day and set as Reena’s new fiancé. Reena wants to rebel against her parent’s wishes, but Reena and Nadim soon find themselves faking an engagement for a reality TV cooking show where Reena can win a scholarship for the bread making course of her dreams… & figure out her feelings for Nadim. 

Accidentally Engaged’s story and baking premise was so fun and well done! I loved Reena and Nadim’s relationship from the start because of their instant chemistry. Their relationship is particularly memorable because of the TV cooking competition and Reena’s love for baking, which Nadim soon joins in on. The book fits the bread-making mood of 2020 so well, as Reena is constantly making different kinds of bread and teaches Nadim how to make the perfect sourdough stater. The book delves into Reena’s relationship with her family, between her parents’ wish for her to marry the perfect guy and her strained relationship with her sister, Saira, who is the polar opposite of Reena in every way. I thought the romance, family, and Reena’s love for baking were all really well-balanced while also keeping things light & humorous.

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

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If you want a comedy in book form this summer, look no further than Jesse Q. Sutanto’s Dial A for Aunties. I breezed through this one in a day last weekend! Its murder meets comedy meets family meets romance story was really fun and light-hearted. Meddelin is set up with a man by her mom & three aunties, but things go horribly wrong on the date – Meddy’s date ends up dead and it’s up to her & her aunties to cover up the death during the biggest wedding weekend for their business…and the body just so happens to get accidentally sent to the wedding site.

Suspending your disbelief is necessary, but completely worth the read for Dial A for Aunties. The book definitely isn’t a murder mystery, but more so focuses on the fall-out of Meddy’s date and all the antics she goes through her mom and aunties to cover it up. While I liked exploring Meddy’s past and her relationship with her ex/love of her life, Nathan, the spotlight is really on Meddy’s relationship with her family. Although we get to experience Meddy’s frustration with her family and trying to break out into her own things, her mom & aunties were just so sweet and funny – I particularly loved their lines about Glad trash bags, Coke, and coming up with the term hungry-angry. Overall, Dial A for Aunties is such an original read. I’m looking forward to the sequel (hopefully somewhat soon??) and the Netflix adaptation.

Have you read any of the books included here? What Elin Hilderbrand books should I read? Share in the comments!

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