It's kind of funny, when I left my job, I thought that I would finally have so much time to read. I have always been a book-worm and as most of you probably know, adulthood leaves little time for hobbies like reading. Well, working from home running this blog is just as time-consuming as my day job was - even more so, because being a blogger is a 24/7 kind of job. I've found that the only time I have to read is when I am on vacation - which is what summertime is all about! I just came back from a Caribbean cruise and guess what? I was able to read two entire books! I thought I'd share my Top 5 Summer Beach Reads with you all, in hopes that you find a little downtime this summer to do some reading of your own!
Of course it's just lovely to lay on a sandy beach for hours with nothing to do, nothing to worry about...but it's always a little better with a great book in your hand.
Every summer, I like to revisit some of the classics, or just reread a book that I haven't read in years. Last year, while on a 9 day cruise through the Mediterranean, I reread the entire Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice. While on vacation in the mountains of North Carolina, it rained nonstop for seven days. I reread the Mayfair Witches series, then read all of the Red Dragon/Hannibal books by Thomas Harris.
This year, while on an eight-day cruise through the Mediterranean, I tried a few new books. This Top 5 Summer Beach Reads list only has new titles, as I can only reread the same ones so often, and just a short year later, my favorites were too fresh in my mind!
Top 5 Summer Beach Reads
Mr Mercedes by Stephen King
It's no secret that Stephen King is my favorite author. I just adore everything he's ever written. I know that most write Stephen King off as a horror writer, but once you delve into one of his novels, you'll realize that while yes, there is always an element of terror in his stories, he is writing about the human condition. Mr Mercedes is no different, and while it lacks the usual supernatural and gore that we have all come to know and love in a King novel, it was suspenseful, emotionally touching and thrilling at all once!
The official synopsis
In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.
In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the “perk” and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.
Brady Hartsfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again. Only Bill Hodges, with a couple of highly unlikely allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands.
Four by Veronica Roth
Now, I am not usually a fan of young adult fiction. Veronica Roth, while clearly playing to the interests of teens in her Divergent series, writes in such a way that even I am always enthralled by her stories. I won't give away any spoilers in case you haven't read the entire series yet, but let's just say it provided a much-needed sense of closure to see the story from Four's point of view!
The official synopsis
Readers first encountered Tobias as "Four" in Divergent. His voice is an integral part of Allegiant. Readers will find more of this charismatic character's backstory told from his own perspective in Four: A Divergent Collection. When read together, these long narrative pieces illuminate the defining moments in Tobias's life. The first three pieces in this volume—"The Transfer," "The Initiate," and "The Son"—follow Tobias's transfer from Abnegation to Dauntless, his Dauntless initiation, and the first clues that a foul plan is brewing in the leadership of two factions. The fourth story, "The Traitor," runs parallel with the events of Divergent, giving readers a glimpse into the decisions of loyalty—and love—that Tobias makes in the weeks after he meets Tris Prior.
The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra by Helen Rappaport
I have to admit, I came across this title on Amazon and bought it for my Kindle app simple because I love anything to do with history. I didn't even check to see if it was a historical fiction or just a biography. I was pleasantly surprised by how detailed and informative the novel was! It's must-read for anyone with an interest in the Romanov family.
The official synopsis
Over the years, the story of the four Romanov sisters and their tragic end in a basement at Ekaterinburg in 1918 has clouded our view of them, leading to a mass of sentimental and idealized hagiography. With this treasure trove of diaries and letters from the grand duchesses to their friends and family, we learn that they were intelligent, sensitive and perceptive witnesses to the dark turmoil within their immediate family and the ominous approach of the Russian Revolution, the nightmare that would sweep their world away, and them along with it.
The Romanov Sisters sets out to capture the joy as well as the insecurities and poignancy of those young lives against the backdrop of the dying days of late Imperial Russia, World War I and the Russian Revolution. Helen Rappaport aims to present a new and challenging take on the story, drawing extensively on previously unseen or unpublished letters, diaries and archival sources, as well as private collections. It is a book that will surprise people, even aficionados.
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
If you loved A Thousand Splendid Suns and the Kite Runner, then you should definitely check out And the Mountains Echoed. I am in the middle of reading it now and can tell you that it follows suit in the style of his previous best sellers! I find myself so caught up in the story, it's incredibly difficult to put it down!
The official synopsis
Khaled Hosseini, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations. In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most. Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.
Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf
I just read Little Mercies while in the Caribbean. It was a quick read, which I love when sitting on a sandy beach.
I was a bit hesitant to begin the book because not even one day before I picked it up, there were two stories on the news about children being left in cars and dying...which is exactly the kind of story that Little Mercies revolves around.
Little Mercies is a story about Ellen, a social worker who is 100% dedicated to helping children - so dedicated, in fact, that she is distracted to the point of leaving her own baby in the backseat of her car while handling an emergency, which results in disaster.
We follow the story of Ellen as she goes through the steps of grief, guilt, shame and hope. You can imagine the firestorm a social worker would fun under when doing something so horrible! As a reader, I had a hard time sympathizing with her character until we got a few chapters in, when it became apparent that this really could happen to anyone. I think it was an eye-opening read and definitely changed the way I might see parents who do this unintentionally.
The official synopsis
Veteran social worker Ellen Moore has seen the worst side of humanity—the vilest acts one person can commit against another. She is a fiercely dedicated children's advocate and a devoted mother and wife. But one blistering summer day, a simple moment of distraction will have repercussions that Ellen could never have imagined, threatening to shatter everything she holds dear, and trapping her between the gears of the system she works for.
Meanwhile, ten-year-old Jenny Briard has been living with her well-meaning but irresponsible father since her mother left them, sleeping on friends' couches and moving in and out of cheap motels. When Jenny suddenly finds herself on her own, she is forced to survive with nothing but a few dollars and her street smarts. The last thing she wants is a social worker, but when Ellen's and Jenny's lives collide, little do they know just how much they can help one another.
A powerful and emotionally charged tale about motherhood and justice, Little Mercies is a searing portrait of the tenuous grasp we have on the things we love the most, and of the ties that unexpectedly bring us together.
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