Beach Bag Books: What I’ve Read in 2020 & 2021 Edition

It’s no secret that summer is my favorite reading season, as I spend a ton of time reading on the beach & while floating in the pool. This summer reading recommendations list is based on books that I’ve read so far this year and books that I read during summer 2020. I’ve also tried to avoid books I might’ve recommended in past summer recommendation posts – last year, I shared some must read YA books for summertime & then books based on what I read in 2019. In my opinion, here’s what makes a good summer/ beach/pool read: 

  • An ‘un-put-downable’ read – a plot/story that makes you want to stay in your pool float and keep reading
  • Usually on the lighter and fun side, typically a contemporary (romance) book
  • Paperbacks preferred

Since you’ve likely seen me talk about these books before, I’m going to keep my summaries/why you should read these books on the shorter side — aka just read them. 

You Have a Match by Emma Lord – If you’re nostalgic for summer camp or find yourself watching The Parent Trap on repeat on rainy summer days, pick this YA contemporary about two sisters who find out they’re even sisters through a DNA test & then go to the same summer camp up. 

Have a Little Faith in Me by Sonia Hartl – Have a Little Faith in Me is such an underrated YA summer camp read that contains so many elements that I love in a contemporary read – the lead protagonist goes to a Christian summer camp to win back her boyfriend only to soon become her cabin’s sex educator and falling for her best friend. I’m so exited to read Sonia Hartl’s contemporary romance debut, Heartbreak for Hire, this summer! 

Beach Read by Emily Henry – Please don’t roll your eyes at this rec, but how could I 1) not recommend Emily Henry’s amazing adult contemporary romance and 2) not recommend a book that is literally called ‘Beach Read’ in general? I know so many of my fellow contemporary romance readers have already read this one, but this is another reminder to not hesitate picking this book following two rival writers with beach houses next to each other up…unlike me who has been overwhelmed with other books and hasn’t yet picked up Emily Henry’s latest amazing contemporary romance, People We Meet on Vacation.

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CATCHING UP WITH REVIEWS: 10+ Books I’ve Read in June 

I admitted in my mini reviews round up last week that I’ve been not-so great at sharing mini reviews or full reviews for every book I’ve read. I don’t necessarily hold myself to reviewing every single book on the blog – I obviously review books that I receive for review from publishers and I really like writing full reviews or even minis for books that I’ve loved or have a ton of thoughts about – but I’ve read so many good books over the past few weeks that I want to recommend! 

I’ve also been reading so much more than I have all year (I’m a teacher and have been truly enjoying the summer time off and diving into ALL the books), so I’m definitely reading way more than I am writing, but I’m hoping to even the playing field as my part time work and last grad class winds down and get back into the swing of blogging. Without further ado, today I am sharing some thoughts & star rating on a few books that I’ve read over the past few weeks. 

It Had To Be You by Georgia Clark – It Had To Be You was one of my most anticipated spring releases, following Liv’s wedding planning business after her husband unexpectedly passes and leaves half of their company to his secret girlfriend. The book is told in the fashion of Love, Actually, following Liv, Savannah, and other people they work with in the wedding world. I thought this book was so cute, the wedding premise was super well done, and it made me want to go to NYC ASAP – there are so many actual places that the characters frequent throughout. My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

Finally Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano – Finlay Donovan is Killing It is hands-down one of the best books that I read in June, following a romance author who is mistakenly as a contract killer with the story unraveling from there. Its mix of mystery, suspense, humor, and contemporary-like story kept me hooked the entire time and I am SO excited to see where this series goes! My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Arsenic & Adobo by Mia P. Manansala – I haven’t read a cozy mystery like Arsenic & Adobo before. It took me the first few chapters to settle in, but soon found myself so engaged in the storyline and the who-dunnit ness of the story. I recently read Jesse Q. Sutanto’s Dial A for Aunties & I think fans of that book will enjoy Arsenic & Adobo – think more mystery and less hijinks than Dial A for Aunties. So looking forward to the second book, Homicide and Halo-Halo. My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid – I’ve been on a mini mission to read all the books from some popular authors, Christina Lauren & Taylor Jenkins Reid both included. Maybe in Another Life as the only book pre Malibu Rising (which I’ve also now read) from TJR that I haven’t read, following Hannah and the two lives she could have lead depending on if she  does or does not go home for the night with her ex-boyfriend. I was always hesitant to pick up Maybe in Another Life because of the two storylines, but I actually liked it way more than I had expected. Definitely a great beach read for the summer. My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Shipped by Angie Hockman – Shipped is one of the most unique & cutest workplace enemies to lovers that I’ve read! The book follows Henley and Graeme, who are both competing for a digital marketing position at a cruise line and both join a cruise to the Galapagos to create original pitches. I liked the focus on romance, family, and the plot surrounding how Henley and women are unfairly treated in their workplace. The book’s commentary on ecotourism and sustainability was made this book a standout. My Rating: 4.5/Stars 

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End of Summer Recap Book Tag ft. My Favorite Summer Reads

Summer is my favorite reading season of the year. I tend to read the most during summer between the time off from school and reading alongside my favorite summertime activities, aka going to the beach & hanging by the pool. I also really dive into contemporaries I’ve been holding off from reading to save as the perfect summertime reads! With the exception of a few summer-like days, fall weather has arrived where I live. My friends and I are planning a weekend to go apple or pumpkin picking! I made the most delicious apple pie with coffee crumb topping from apples I picked last year, and I cannot wait to recreate it. 

With fall officially starting  tomorrow, I wanted to take some time to reflect on my summer reading with the End of Summer Book Tag. I saw this tag on Kristin Kraves Book, and I thought it was the perfect way to wrap up my summer reading without listing all the books I read or choosing 20 favorites (see the end of this post for some favorites though). While my summer definitely starts in May and does wrap up in September, today’s books are from the summer months, June, July, & August. During Summer 2020, I read 44 books! 

The End of Summer Recap Book Tag was created by Faith of You Are What You Read.

What book can you not stop thinking about?

If there’s one book that I can’t stop thinking about because I’m trying to get all my friends IRL to read it, it’s none other than Kate Stayman-London’s One to Watch. If you’ve been on the blog this year, you’ll know that for better or worse, I got into The Bachelor franchise. I loved this book’s Bachelor vibes – picture Bachelor meets Love Island with a female lead who’s a blogger & plus-sized. One to Watch felt so relevant to the conversations and issues surrounding diversity on Bachelor. As soon as I finished One to Watch, I immediately texted my friends in our Bachelor group chat and told them to pick it up. Otherwise, I’m thinking this might be everyone’s holiday gift in December? 

Which book would you rather not have read?

I thought I was going to LOVE Tessa Bailey’s Fix Her Up because so many people I know have adored this one, but I really wish I had actually DNF’ed it. Never have I ever disliked a male romance protagonist so much…. until I picked up the sequel companion, Love Her or Lose Her, and disliked that lead even more… 

What genre did you read the most?

Contemporary as usual! I haven’t tracked my reading stats in a spreadsheet (yet), but after doing a quick tally, I did read more adult & new adult contemporary than YA this summer. 

Which book surprised you the most?

Maybe it’s because its election season and let’s face it, an extremely heated political time in the U.S. right now, but I can’t stop thinking about Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld. I wasn’t necessarily surprised that I loved it, but I’m still in awe of how this book felt so real and was based on Hillary Rodham Clinton’s life, but at the same was fictional and had so, so many what-if moments.Read More »

Summer Reading Recs: Based on What I Read in 2019 Edition

My ideal summer reads are usually books that are on the lighter and fluffier side. I do delve into some heavier or longer books, but I tend to save a lot of my romance and contemporary reading for the summer time – which happen to be two of my most read genres or most read genre when you’re talking contemporary romance. I plan on having a few summer reading recommendations posts available over the summer. 

This first recommendations list will be based on the books that I read last year. I tend to end the reviews of my most loved summer reads with something along the lines of “this book is the perfect summer read,” or “make sure you bring this book along to the pool or beach,” so I wanted to create a one-stop recommendations list for those! 

There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon – There’s Something About Sweetie stole my heart last June. Sandhya Menon’s Dimpleverse books all take place during the summer. The sweet romances make their summertime mood even better. While I highly recommend that you check out 10 Things I Hate About Pinky when it hits shelves on July 21st, especially for its lakeside summer vibes, There’s Something About Sweetie is my personal favorite because Sweetie and Ashish are such a cute couple. 

The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen – Whenever I think of perfect YA books for summer, Sarah Dessen immediately comes to my mind. Although almost all of her books incorporate some sort of family element, The Rest of the Story is all about family, as Emma reconnects with with her grandma and cousins as she helps run the family lakeside motel. I think a fair amount of summer YA contemporaries take place at a lake, but this book felt super unique, not to mention cozy & atmospheric. 

Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills – Famous in a Small Town is often a hit-or-miss for Emma Mills fans, but it was a hit for me! While the book does involve Sophie’s determination to get a county music star to help with a fundraiser, the book is really about Sophie and her friends’ final summer together before their senior year of high school. I’ve found that Emma Mills’ books aren’t so plot heavy, but rather focus on friendship and character development instead.  

Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo – Somewhere Only We Know was another hit or miss book in 2019 for readers, but I LOVED it! While Maurene Goo’s The Way You Make Me Feel will forever have my heart, I loved this book’s Roman Holiday-esque adventure as romantic interests Lucky and Jack take on Hong Kong. 

Maybe This Time by Kasie West – Never have I ever devoured a Kasie West book as fast as I did with Maybe This Time. I have memories of beginning this one while floating around the pool and then staying up way past my bedtime, sitting on the couch to finish it! Maybe This Time completed nailed its synopsis, following a girl who works for the town florist and the 9 events where she keeps running into her absolute enemy. It also has one of the few unlikeable protagonists I actually like. 

The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne – The Wrong Side of Right came out in 2015, but its a YA contemporary not to miss out on! I think after loving Casey McQuiston’s Red, White and Royal Blue (another FANTASTIC book I read in 2019 and makes for an amazing summer read), I wanted more books somewhat centered around politics. The book follows Kate’s summer on the father she never knew’s presidential campaign and developing feelings for the son of the campaign enemy. I also recommend checking out Jenn Marie Thorne’s Night Music. 

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Summer Reading Wrap-Up & Favorites

Summer 2018 was easily one of my best summers, with many thanks to all the books I read. As we transition from swimsuits to sweaters and iced coffee to PSL (even though I’m a hot chocolate and year-round iced coffee kind of girl), I wanted to take today to reflect on my summer reading and all the amazing books I read.

Short Summer Stats:

  • I read a total of 38: 12 in June, 15 in July & 11 in August
  • I read 17 ARCS and 21 published books
  • It’s SO hard to choose, but I think that July was my best reading month because I read some really awesome ARCs, binge-worthy books, and reread the first books in the To All the Boys I’ve Loved before trilogy (Always and Forever, Lara Jean reread  TBD).

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Love & My Language Skills: Love & Gelato Review

Summary: Lina is living in Tuscany for the summer, but not for its fairytale landscape and one million and one gelato flavors. It was her mother’s dying wish for Lina to get to know her father. That she’s never met. All Lina wants to do is go back home. But when Lina is given her mother’s journal about her own experience in Italy, Lina is suddenly uncovering secret romances, night clubs, and hidden barkeries. Along with the boy-next-door, Ren, Lina is determine to unearth a secret that’s been kept for way too long. Maybe there’s more to Italy than love and gelato after all.

 My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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 My Thoughts:

Even as I write this review, I’m still trying to figure out how I didn’t pick up Jenna Evans Welch’s Love & Gelato before this summer. A summer contemporary that takes place in Italy and features SO MUCH FOOD that hadn’t previously been on my read list? While I’ve been slowly picking up more fantasy, my heart was craving a contemporary and I decided to give Love & Gelato a go.

I’ve read a few books this season that have fueled my wanderlust, and Love & Gelato is no exception. Jenna Evans Welch transports reader to the Tuscan countryside, with plenty of pasta, mozzarella, and gelato in store. I’m still in shock that Lina didn’t know what a cannoli was before coming to Italy. I guess I live in a somewhat Italian- area because cannolis are (thankfully) available in almost all of the bakeries. I think it was also really obvious how much research Jenna must have put into this book. For example. Ren and Howard often explain Florence’s history and landmarks to Lina.

While there is some romance, the book has a bigger focus on family. Lina is grieving from her mother’s death and moves to Tuscany to meet her father for the first time. I liked seeing Howard and Lina form a relationship, and the journal was a great way for Lina’s mom to have an ongoing role in the story. But I. just. wanted. Lina. to FINISH READING IT! THE ANSWERS ALWAYS LIE IN THE PAGES.

However, it was fun seeing Ren and Lina bond over figuring out her mother’s past, and their banter often made me laugh out loud:

“ “I want to try for another record tomorrow. What was the last kind I had? With the chocolate chunks?”
“Stracciatella.”
“I’m naming my first daughter after it.”
“Lucky her.” ” (173)

My four years of taking Italian between high school and college finally came to use because of Love & Gelato. Knowing Italian isn’t a must for this book, as it’s occasionally used by some of Lina’s friends and locals for smaller phrases. Most of the books I read that do feature other languages usually are in Spanish or French, so it was fun to not have to rely on Google Translate.

Overall, I loved Love & Gelato for its setting, humor, and focusing more on family than romance. I just put Love & Luck on hold from my library and I’ll be reading it as soon as it comes in!

 Have you read Love & Gelato? What’s your favorite ice cream/gelato flavor? Share in the comments!

Sweet Summer Reading: Stay Sweet Review

Summary: Working at Meade Creamery is more than just a summer job for Amelia. The ice cream stand represents a sisterhood, dating back to the WWII era when the stand first opened with an all-girl staff. It’s the place where she met her best friend, Cate, and the two can’t wait to spend their last summer before college scooping ice cream and competing for tips. As the new Head Girl, Amelia is prepared to give the girls in her charge the best summer yet. But when tragedy strikes and Molly Meade’s grand nephew comes to take over the business, Molly goes into protection mode- for the stand, her friends, and her heart.

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My Rating: 5/5 Stars

 Cover Lust?: Absolutely! Simon & Schuster slays the cover design game (exhibit A and B being Morgan Matson and Jenny Han’s books), and Stay Sweet is no exception. The cover gives you the perfect image of Meade Creamery, and I love how it continues from front to back.

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TBB Asks: Summer Lovin’

As many of you know, summer is my favorite season (and not just for getting to sit by the pool with a good book). I’ve been wanting to do a more lifestyle-type posts lately, and what better way to do so by  participating in The Blended Blog’s June link-up, Summer Lovin’!

Walk or Bike Ride?

Walk. I either like waking up early and getting a nice walk or run in before work or a beach day, or taking a walk later at night with my friends and family.

Favorite Picnic Food?

Watermelon

Pool or Lake?

I’ve actually never been swimming in a lake (I grew up surrounded by the ocean and pools), so pool it is!

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor?

Strawberry. In a waffle cone, please!

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Flip Flips or Slides?

Flip flops!

Jean Shorts or Jean Carpis?

I always have trouble finding jean shorts that I’m comfortable in (I’ma much bigger fan of Under Armor shorts in the summer), but I love wearing jean carpis to dinner with friends or on casual dress days.

Favorite Summer Fruit?

Pineapple! I’ve been on a bit of a pineapple-addiction lately, it’s one of my new favorite breakfast foods and dessert.

Corn on the Cob or Cutt of the Cob?

Despite the amount of floss I need after, corn on the cob always wins.

Favorite summertime song?

“Rollercoaster” by Luke Bryan

Bikini’s, tankini’s, or one pieces?

I definitely go for bikinis first, but I have a Nike one-piece that I also love wearing.

Dresses or skirts?

Dresses! I just picked up this dream summer dress from Old Navy:

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One word to describe summer?

Sunshine! While summer can have its fair share of stormy days, I love being outside during the summer, from laying out by the beach to hanging out in the pool with a good book.

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What’s your favorite summer activity, other than reading, of course? Share in the comments!

 

My Beach TBR

While you most likely know Fangirl Fury as a fangirl, I am also  a beach girl. I’ve been very fortunate enough to grow up near the shore and basically have the beach as my backyard- I’m still trying to wrap my mind around how people spend their summer not near the ocean (or that many of my hometown friends don’t like the beach..).

As you can probably guess, the beach is one of my favorite places to read during the summer. On a beach day, I often alternate between reading and going into the water- no worries, I never do both at the same time. Today I’m going to be walking you through my somewhat summer, somewhat beach TBR. Basically, these are books that I’d like to read during beach trips, days by the pool, and in between this season. I’m also going to talk about the books that I have such fond memories of reading in these same spots last summer.

My 2017 Beach TBR Included:

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia- After reading and loving Eliza and Her Monsters, I immediately needed more Francesca Zappia, which led me to Made You Up. Read while tanning on the beach, Made You Up sheds light on mental health, and not knowing what to expect kept me glued to the sand!

The Start of Me & You by Emery Lord- If I had to name my summer after an Emery Lord book, it’d be The Start of Me & My Pool Raft. I read many books floating around the pool (no books are harmed in doing so), including The Start of Me & You. Emery Lord is one of my go-to contemporary authors, and any of her books make for the perfect summer read.

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WHERE’S MY NEW BOOKSHELF? : Most Anticipated Summer 2018 Releases

Summer calls for days spent by the pool and on the beach, catching on TV and movies, and of course, reading ALL the books. Especially some of the amazing new releases lined up for Summer 2018. The books below all come out from June through August, and I actually plan on reading all of them before summer’s end! And don’t mind me while I plan out my anticipated fall releases post– make sure you get some finger workouts in this season for all of that scrolling..

Save the Date by Morgan Matson (June 5)- Save the Date is hands-down my most anticipated release for this summer. I’ve grown to absolutely adore Morgan Matson’s books, and the fact that this book is about a wedding has me ready to read. This blogger LOVES Say Yes to the Dress and Four Weddings on TLC, and I’m loving this wedding books in June trend continue in 2018 (2017 gave us Sarah Dessen’s Once and For All). I’ve read Morgan Matson’s other books through the library, but I decided to preorder Save the Date because I know I’m going to love it and it has an awesome preorder campaign.

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