Author Archive | marybeth

Book, Meet Book

Today we’re introducing two books to each other– and to you– that are both examples of the best in women’s fiction by authors at the top of their game. Both books have a little suspense and a lot of emotion. Meet these books today, then add them to your TBR list!

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The Perfect NeighborsThe Perfect Neighbors by Sarah Pekkanen

How well do you ever really know the family next door?

Bucolic Newport Cove, where spontaneous block parties occur on balmy nights and all of the streets are named for flowers, is proud of its distinction of being named one the top twenty safest neighborhoods in the US. It’s also one of the most secret-filled.

Kellie Scott has just returned to work after a decade of being a stay-at-home mom. She’s adjusting to high heels, scrambling to cook dinner for her family after a day at the office—and soaking in the dangerous attention of a very handsome, very married male colleague. Kellie’s neighbor Susan Barrett begins every day with fresh resolutions: she won’t eat any carbs, she’ll go to bed at a reasonable hour, and she’ll stop stalking her ex-husband and his new girlfriend. Gigi Kennedy seems to have it all together—except her teenage daughter has turned into a hostile stranger and her husband is running for Congress, which means her old skeletons are in danger of being brought into the light.

Then a new family moves to this quiet, tree-lined cul-de-sac. Tessa Campbell seems friendly enough to the other mothers, if a bit reserved. Then the neighbors notice that no one is ever invited to Tessa’s house. And soon, it becomes clear that Tessa is hiding the biggest secret of all.

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In Twenty YearsIn Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch

Twenty years ago, six Penn students shared a house, naively certain that their friendships would endure—until the death of their ringleader and dear friend Bea splintered the group for good. Now, mostly estranged from one another, the remaining five reluctantly gather at that same house on the eve of what would have been Bea’s fortieth birthday.

But along with the return of the friends come old grudges, unrequited feelings, and buried secrets. Catherine, the CEO of a domestic empire, and Owen, a stay-at-home dad, were picture-perfect college sweethearts—but now teeter on the brink of disaster. Lindy, a well-known musician, is pushing middle age in an industry that’s all about youth and slowly self-destructing as she grapples with her own identity. Behind his smile, handsome plastic surgeon Colin harbors the heartbreaking truth about his own history with Bea. And Annie carefully curates her life on Instagram and Facebook, keeping up appearances so she doesn’t have to face the truth about her own empty reality.

Reunited in the place where so many dreams began, and bolstered by the hope of healing, each of them is forced to confront the past.

About Marybeth Whalen

Marybeth Whalen is the co-founder of She Reads, mother of six, and life-long reader. She is also the author of two novels with a third out in July: The Mailbox, She Makes It Look Easy, and The Guest Book.

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Add a Little Chill to Your Summer With These Thrillers

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

There’s just something about summer that makes me want a big stack of page-turning thrillers at the ready. If you feel the same then today is YOUR day. We’ve got your stack right here!

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The American GirlThe American Girl by Kate Horsley

From a bright new talent comes a riveting psychological thriller about an American exchange student in France involved in a suspicious accident, and the journalist determined to break the story and uncover the dark secrets a small town is hiding.

On a quiet summer morning, seventeen-year-old American exchange student Quinn Perkins stumbles out of the woods near the small French town of St. Roch. Barefoot, bloodied, and unable to say what has happened to her, Quinn’s appearance creates quite a stir, especially since the Blavettes—the French family with whom she’s been staying—have mysteriously disappeared. Now the media, and everyone in the idyllic village, are wondering if the American girl had anything to do with her host family’s disappearance.

Though she is cynical about the media circus that suddenly forms around the girl, Boston journalist Molly Swift cannot deny she is also drawn to the mystery and travels to St. Roch. She is prepared to do anything to learn the truth, including lying so she can get close to Quinn. But when a shocking discovery turns the town against Quinn and she is arrested for the murders of the Blavette family, she finds an unlikely ally in Molly.

As a trial by media ensues, Molly must unravel the disturbing secrets of the town’s past in an effort to clear Quinn’s name, but even she is forced to admit that the American Girl makes a very compelling murder suspect. Is Quinn truly innocent and as much a victim as the Blavettes—or is she a cunning, diabolical killer intent on getting away with murder…?

Told from the alternating perspectives of Molly, as she’s drawn inexorably closer to the truth, and Quinn’s blog entries tracing the events that led to her accident, The American Girl is a deliciously creepy, contemporary, twisting mystery leading to a shocking conclusion.

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The Woman in Cabin 10The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

With surprising twists, spine-tingling turns, and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another taut and intense read in The Woman in Cabin 10—one that will leave even the most sure-footed reader restlessly uneasy long after the last page is turned.

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Under the HarrowUnder The Harrow by Flynn Berry

When Nora takes the train from London to visit her sister in the countryside, she expects to find her waiting at the station, or at home cooking dinner. But when she walks into Rachel’s familiar house, what she finds is entirely different: her sister has been the victim of a brutal murder.

Stunned and adrift, Nora finds she can’t return to her former life. An unsolved assault in the past has shaken her faith in the police, and she can’t trust them to find her sister’s killer. Haunted by the murder and the secrets that surround it, Nora is under the harrow: distressed and in danger. As Nora’s fear turns to obsession, she becomes as unrecognizable as the sister her investigation uncovers.

A riveting psychological thriller and a haunting exploration of the fierce love between two sisters, the distortions of grief, and the terrifying power of the past, Under the Harrow marks the debut of an extraordinary new writer.

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Wilde LakeWilde Lake by Laura Lippman

Luisa “Lu” Brant is the newly elected state’s attorney representing suburban Maryland—including the famous planned community of Columbia, created to be a utopia of racial and economic equality. Prosecuting a controversial case involving a disturbed drifter accused of beating a woman to death, the fiercely ambitious Lu is determined to avoid the traps that have destroyed other competitive, successful women. She’s going to play it smart to win this case—and win big—cementing her political future.

But her intensive preparation for trial unexpectedly dredges up painful recollections of another crime—the night when her brother, AJ, saved his best friend at the cost of another man’s life. Only eighteen, AJ was cleared by a grand jury. Justice was done. Or was it? Did the events of 1980 happen as she remembers them? She was only a child then. What details didn’t she know?

As she plunges deeper into the past, Lu is forced to face a troubling reality. The legal system, the bedrock of her entire life, does not have all the answers. But what happens when she realizes that, for the first time, she doesn’t want to know the whole truth?

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Little Girl GoneLittle Girl Gone by Gerry Schmitt

On a frozen night in an affluent neighborhood of Minneapolis, a baby is abducted from her home after her teenage babysitter is violently assaulted. The parents are frantic, the police are baffled, and, with the perpetrator already in the wind, the trail is getting colder by the second.

As family liaison officer with the Minneapolis P.D., it’s Afton Tangler’s job to deal with the emotional aftermath of terrible crimes—but she’s never faced a case quite as brutal as this. Each development is more heartbreaking than the last and the only lead is a collection of seemingly unrelated clues.

But, most disturbing of all, Afton begins to suspect that this case is not isolated. Whoever did this has taken babies before—and if Afton doesn’t solve this crime soon, more children are sure to go missing . . .

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 A Game for all the familyA Game For All The Family by Sophie Hannah

Pulled into a deadly game of deception, secrets, and lies, a woman must find the truth in order to defeat a mysterious opponent, protect her daughter, and save her own life in this dazzling standalone psychological thriller with an unforgettable ending from the New York Times bestselling author of Woman with a Secret and The Monogram Murders.

You thought you knew who you were. A stranger knows better.

You’ve left the city—and the career that nearly destroyed you—for a fresh start on the coast. But trouble begins when your daughter withdraws, after her new best friend, George, is unfairly expelled from school.

You beg the principal to reconsider, only to be told that George hasn’t been expelled. Because there is, and was, no George.

Who is lying? Who is real? Who is in danger? Who is in control? As you search for answers, the anonymous calls begin—a stranger, who insists that you and she share a traumatic past and a guilty secret. And then the caller threatens your life. . . .

This is Justine’s story. This is Justine’s family. This is Justine’s game. But it could be yours.

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Behind Closed DoorsBehind Closed Doors by BA Paris

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do.

You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.

Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.

About Marybeth Whalen

Marybeth Whalen is the co-founder of She Reads, mother of six, and life-long reader. She is also the author of two novels with a third out in July: The Mailbox, She Makes It Look Easy, and The Guest Book.

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Finding Time For Our Friends: Guest Post by Erin Duffy

Today’s post by Erin Duffy

Today we bring you novelist Erin Duffy. This post hit home with both Ariel and I who, though we don’t live near each other and only see each other maybe twice a year, cherish our funny texts, phone conversations shared over top of screaming children in the background, and those rare times when we’re actually together and can not stop talking because we have so much to make up for. So, here’s to girlfriends, and to the books that remind us just how valuable they are. Read on…

Erin Duffy Author Photo Credit Elena Seibert (1)FINDING TIME FOR OUR FRIENDS

I’m just going to come right out and say it: I don’t trust girls who don’t have girlfriends. I’m sorry. I just don’t. If we meet and you tell me that you don’t have any girlfriends, you can bet that I’m operating under the assumption that you’re either half-alien or that there’s something seriously wrong with you.

I love my friends. I cherish them. I don’t have any sisters and without them I don’t know how I’d have made it through junior high, or high school, or college, or my twenties. Now that I think about it, I’ve needed them desperately throughout my thirties, too.

You get where I’m going with this.

Here’s the thing: maintaining adult friendships isn’t easy. We are busy women. I don’t know a single woman who has an abundance of free time on her hands. Everyone I know is either working like a lunatic, or taking care of lunatic children, or working like a lunatic while also taking care of lunatic children. It’s hard to schedule lunches, or dinners, or even phone calls in the middle of the week when 90% of the time everyone, this author included, is so tired by 7:00 P.M. that it takes herculean strength not to face plant into a bowl of pasta before Alex Trebek throws out the final Jeopardy question. It’s not easy to keep in touch in a meaningful way, but really good friends will understand that sometimes text messages, or pictures on Instagram will have to be enough. We are busy women. We are doing the best that we can.

Those quick connections will have to be enough until you and your besties are able to steal away for a weekend together––which is what I did this past spring. My girlfriends and I spent the first two hours catching up on the basics: jobs, husbands, relationships, kids, and the rest of it pretending like none of those things existed. Forty-eight hours on a beach with them was all I needed to completely recharge my oh-so-very-drained battery, and tap into a part of myself I’d forgotten existed. Girlfriends are awesome like that. We made tentative plans to do it again next year, and I hope that we can make that happen. If not, no biggie! We all understand that leaving real life isn’t easy. We are busy women. We are also best friends.

That’s not to say that I haven’t had challenging friendships, or that there haven’t been people who’ve gotten lost along the way. (No plug intended)! A few years ago, I had a difficult conversation with a then close friend who’d become a major source of stress in my life. Originally, I’d wanted us to work through our problems. Then she uttered two little words that all but caused me to choke on my latte, “You’ve changed.”

I’ve changed? Since when? The nineties? Thank God! I’m proud to say that I’m nowhere near as stupid as I used to be. A friendship that expects, or demands, that you never grow, is one that you can do without. At least, that’s how I felt about it, and it’s why I haven’t spoken to her since. I beat myself up over the end of our friendship for a long time. I wondered if I should’ve done something differently. Then I realized that it was okay to let her go.

We are busy women. We are allowed to decide who we want to be without anyone else’s expectations holding us back. I have a girlfriend who used to shop with me at Banana Republic suddenly decide she only wanted to speak Spanish and dance in underground Dominican clubs in the East Village. Good for her! I hope she learns to salsa with the best of them, but we probably won’t hang out on weekends quite as much because I don’t speak Spanish and I definitely don’t dance. We now have very different definitions about what makes a fun Saturday and that’s totally fine. I’m happy she’s happy with her life. I don’t think she owes anyone an apology for becoming the woman she wanted to be.  She certainly does not owe one to me.

We have to be smart with how we allocate our spare time, and we have to be forgiving of our friends who have very little of it. I don’t need to talk to my girlfriends every day, though I certainly wish that I could. I know that if I send a text asking, ‘are you free?’ I’ll get a response. It’ll go something like this: “I’m running around like crazy, but I’m here if you need me.”  We are busy women, but we will always make time for our girlfriends.

That’s how we know who they are.

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LostAlongtheWayhcA fresh, funny, and insightful novel about what it really means to be “friends forever” from the acclaimed author of Bond Girl and On the Rocks.

All through childhood and adolescence, Jane, Cara, and Meg swore their friendship would stand the test of time. Nothing would come between them, they pledged. But once they hit their twenties, life got more complicated and the BFFs began to grow distant. When Jane eloped with her slick, wealthy new boyfriend and didn’t invite her oldest friends to the ceremony, the small cracks and fissures in their once rock-solid relationship became a chasm that tore them apart.

Ten years later, when her husband is arrested and publically shamed for defrauding his clients, Jane realizes her life among the one percent was a sham. Penniless and desperate, deserted by the high-society crowd who turn their surgically perfected noses up at her, she comes crawling back to her childhood friends seeking forgiveness. But Cara and Meg have troubles of their own. One of them is trapped in a bad marriage with an abusive husband, while the other can’t have the one thing she desperately wants: a baby. Yet as much as they’d love to see Jane get her long overdue comeuppance, Cara and Meg won’t abandon their old friend in her time of need.

The story of three friends who find themselves on a laugh-out-loud life adventure, Lost Along the Wayilluminates the moments that make us, the betrayals that break us, and the power of love that helps us forgive even the most painful hurts.

About Marybeth Whalen

Marybeth Whalen is the co-founder of She Reads, mother of six, and life-long reader. She is also the author of two novels with a third out in July: The Mailbox, She Makes It Look Easy, and The Guest Book.

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Quick Lit For July

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen and Ariel Lawhon | @MarybethWhalen and @ArielLawhon

It’s that time again– time to join Modern Mrs Darcy’s Quick Lit roundup in which we share quick reviews of what we’ve been reading. There’s never been a better time to read than summer– and our lists this month show it!

What Marybeth is reading…

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The Girls by Emma Cline: This book was disturbing. And not for the faint of heart. So if you pick it up, do so with that in mind. But if you’re at all interested in Charles Manson and the girls who followed him, or if you– like me– have been enjoying Aquarius starring David Duchovny, I do recommend it. Not only for the fascinating retelling of what could’ve happened, or how it could’ve been back then (though Cline changes the name of the hypnotic, charismatic leader so she’s not claiming it is Manson– if you know the history, the story is very, very similar) but for the writing itself. This will end up being one of my best books of the year– not because it was uplifting and made me feel wonderful about the human race– but because I appreciated what the author accomplished in writing it.

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott: I’ve read most all of Megan Abbott’s books and I raced through this one just as I’ve raced through her others. This one, set in the world of gymnastics, is about a mysterious death and exactly what happened– and why. But more than the mystery, this is a stark look at the world of competitive girls’ gymnastics, and what can happen when parents– with the best of intentions– get overly invested. I found that part even more compelling than the mystery itself. Plus, Abbott is just so good at rendering the teenage girl on the page.

Here’s To Us by Elin Hildebrand: My summer is not complete without an Elin Hilderbrand novel, so of course I dove into this one as soon as it hit the shelves. While this will not go down as my most favorite of hers ever (that title belongs to Summerland), it was a fun read and the continual food mentions kept me perpetually hungry. No one writes food like Elin Hilderbrand.

The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell: I read this in four days. It kept me turning pages and wondering just what the truth was about the situation– with lots of red herrings to keep me guessing. I found the resolution satisfying but the final scene still niggles at me a bit. Not sure why. If you read it and agree, message me and we can talk!

Hungry Heart by Jennifer Weiner: This is not out yet, but I snagged an early copy and then quickly tore through it. I have read every single one of her books so it was so fun for me to read more about her life and writing. I appreciated her honesty, her humor, and her willingness to share herself with those of us who’ve read and loved her work. Well done! If you, too, are a fan put this on your radar (0ut October 11, 2016)

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What Ariel is reading….

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The Expats by Chris Pavone.  It’s a really great, smart thriller by a new-to-me author. My agent raved about this book recently and she has great taste so I picked up a copy and I’m absolutely loving it. It’s one of those books where you feel like the author has been reading your mail. The book is told from a woman’s point of view–often something male writers don’t pull off well–but he absolutely nails the voice and the inner dialogue and fears that are common to women. Highly recommended so far.

The Romanovs by Simon Sebag Montefiore. This book is 650+ pages and covers three hundred years of Romanov history. It’s fascinating and comprehensive and surprisingly very readable. Technically this is for research but I’m enjoying it so much it doesn’t feel like work. Always a good thing!

And…that’s it. I’m doing a little experiment at the moment where I’m limiting myself to reading one book for pleasure and one book for work and no more. I’ve have a terrible habit of starting so many books that I don’t finish any. So this allows me to be more focused and more productive. It’s working great so far!

What are you reading this week?

 

About Marybeth Whalen

Marybeth Whalen is the co-founder of She Reads, mother of six, and life-long reader. She is also the author of two novels with a third out in July: The Mailbox, She Makes It Look Easy, and The Guest Book.

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Book, Meet Book

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

When we read (and loved!) these two books we decided they just had to meet. (One is one of our “Books of Summer”!) Both feature men who survived a traumatic event and bonded with a young boy in the aftermath. And yet both are very different stories. Read on and then… read on!

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Before the FallBefore the Fall by Noah Hawley

On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs–the painter–and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.

With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the crash and the backstories of the passengers and crew members–including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot–the mystery surrounding the tragedy heightens. As the passengers’ intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy. Was it merely by dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations. And while Scott struggles to cope with fame that borders on notoriety, the authorities scramble to salvage the truth from the wreckage.

Amid pulse-quickening suspense, the fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy glows at the heart of this stunning novel, raising questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us together.

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Two If By SeaTwo If By Sea by Jacquelyn Mitchard

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Deep End of the Ocean, an epic story of courage and devotion that spans three continents and the entire map of the human heart.

Just hours after his wife and her entire family perish in the Christmas Eve tsunami in Brisbane, American expat and former police officer Frank Mercy goes out to join his volunteer rescue unit and pulls a little boy from a submerged car, saving the child’s life with only seconds to spare. In that moment, Frank’s own life is transformed. Not quite knowing why, Frank sidesteps the law, when, instead of turning Ian over to the Red Cross, he takes the boy home to the Midwestern farm where he grew up. Not long into their journey, Frank begins to believe that Ian has an extraordinary, impossible telepathic gift; but his only wish is to protect the deeply frightened child. As Frank struggles to start over, training horses as his father and grandfather did before him, he meets Claudia, a champion equestrian and someone with whom he can share his life—and his fears for Ian. Both of them know that it will be impossible to keep Ian’s gift a secret forever. Already, ominous coincidences have put Frank’s police instincts on high alert, as strangers trespass the quiet life at the family farm.

The fight to keep Ian safe from a sinister group who want him back takes readers from the ravaged shores of Brisbane to the middle of America to a quaint English village. Even as Frank and Claudia dare to hope for new love, it becomes clear that they can never let Ian go, no matter what the cost. A suspenseful novel on a grand scale, Two If by Sea is about the best and worst in people, and the possibility of heroism and even magic in ordinary life.

About Marybeth Whalen

Marybeth Whalen is the co-founder of She Reads, mother of six, and life-long reader. She is also the author of two novels with a third out in July: The Mailbox, She Makes It Look Easy, and The Guest Book.

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Book, Meet Book (Where Did You Say You’re From?)

Today we’re introducing two books to each other– and to you– because they have something unique in common. These two books needed to meet because the main characters are both from a place that defines their pasts and informs their futures. We think they’ll get along famously!

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paradise ballroomThe Girl From The Paradise Ballroom by Allison Love

The first meeting between Antonio and Olivia at the Paradise Ballroom is brief, but electric.

Years later, on the dawn of World War II, when struggling Italian singer Antonio meets the wife of his wealthy new patron, he recognizes her instantly: it is Olivia, the captivating dance hostess he once encountered in the seedy Paradise Ballroom. Olivia fears Antonio will betray the secrets of her past, but little by little they are drawn together, outsiders in a glittering world to which they do not belong. At last, with conflict looming across Europe, the attraction between them becomes impossible to resist–but when Italy declares war on England, the impact threatens to separate them forever.

The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom is a story of forbidden love and family loyalties amid the most devastating war in human history.

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savoyThe Girl From The Savoy by Hazel Gaynor

Dolly Lane is a dreamer; a downtrodden maid who longs to dance on the London stage, but her life has been fractured by the Great War. Memories of the soldier she loved, of secret shame and profound loss, by turns pull her back and spur her on to make a better life.

When she finds employment as a chambermaid at London’s grandest hotel, The Savoy, Dolly takes a step closer to the glittering lives of the Bright Young Things who thrive on champagne, jazz and rebellion. Right now, she must exist on the fringes of power, wealth and glamor—she must remain invisible and unimportant.

But her fortunes take an unexpected turn when she responds to a struggling songwriter’s advertisement for a ‘muse’ and finds herself thrust into London’s exhilarating theatre scene and into the lives of celebrated actress, Loretta May, and her brother, Perry. Loretta and Perry may have the life Dolly aspires to, but they too are searching for something.

Now, at the precipice of the life she has and the one she longs for, the girl from The Savoy must make difficult choices: between two men; between two classes, between everything she knows and everything she dreams of. A brighter future is tantalizingly close—but can a girl like Dolly ever truly leave her past behind?

About Marybeth Whalen

Marybeth Whalen is the co-founder of She Reads, mother of six, and life-long reader. She is also the author of two novels with a third out in July: The Mailbox, She Makes It Look Easy, and The Guest Book.

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What We’re Into June Edition

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen and Ariel Lawhon | @MarybethWhalen and @ArielLawhon

First question? How is June nearly over?? Our first month of summer break has gone in a flash! What did we fill it with? Read on…

June’s over?

Julying.

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Marybeth Whalen

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#ReadSavannah: We are hard at work on all the details for this event. Not registered yet? We recommend doing it soon as tickets are selling steadily. Click to learn more and register. The lunch option is almost sold out but even if you don’t make it in in time for that, we say grab lunch at a nearby restaurant (there are some great ones within a short walk from the hotel) and then head to the hotel for the panels and keynote WITH LIANE MORIARTY!! Sorry to yell but… it’s LIANE MORIARTY!! For realz. #booklovers #fangirls

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Bullet journal: June was my first full month of bullet journaling, as I bought myself a Leuchtterm 1917 journal for my birthday in May. I was juggling several different planners, and lamenting said juggle, when I decided to use summer as a tryout period for using just a bullet journal and nothing else. So far, so great. I love having one extremely portable book with everything in it– my ideas, my lists, my daily and weekly to-do’s, my calendars, etc. And I love that I can adapt it to fit my needs. This thing is my brain and is making me feel more together and capable. It’s like Long Duk Dong in 16 Candles saying “I’ve never been so happy in my whole life…Now I have a place to put my hand.” Well for me, it’s “I’ve never been so happy in my whole life… Now I have a place to put all the things.” #bujo #plannerpeace

Swim Team: It rules our lives in June. I forget just how much in the 11 intervening months. But then I remember all too well how monopolizing being at practice every night and having meets twice a week can be. Our team ended a long, long undefeated streak with one loss this season, which was sad. But then went on to win the All Star Meet and be declared league champions. As it should be. Ahem. #wearethechampions #swimmeetsarelong

Finding Dory: I was able to take two of my daughters to see an advance screening of this. It cracked me up that my 16yo daughter wanted to see it as bad– or worse– than my 10 yo daughter. We all enjoyed the movie even if we felt that the ending was a bit over the top. It was still better than some entertainment alternatives I can think of, and the time together was rare and precious. #justkeepswimming

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School’s Out/Graduation: School got out much later than I would’ve liked (June 9th) and my youngest son ended a long career at the same charter school (elementary/middle school in one school) with his 8th grade graduation. Which means he is going to high school. My baby boy. We now have only one child left in elementary school– and next year is her last year! The years, they do go by. <Hold me.> #sunrisesunset #slippingthroughmyfingers

Concerts: We saw Chris Botti at the lovely Carolina Theater in Durham NC and Death Cab for Cutie in our hometown of Charlotte. Chris was good, as always (we’ve seen him several times– if you think a jazz trumpeter concert would be boring, think again.) Death Cab was the worst concert I’ve ever been to because they made everything way too political. I like my music without a heaping helping of politics, thankyouverymuch. From now on I will just listen to them and skip the concert. #preachingbelongsatchurch

Other things… Aquarius is back starring David Duchovny. It’s even better this season than last. (And if you missed season 1 it’s on Netflix now. You’re welcome.) I paired the premiere of this season of Aquarius with reading The Girls by Emma Cline the same week, which just upped the creepy factor because, hello Charles Manson…I’ve been baking up a storm. I highly recommend this blueberry crisp.…I’ve given up wine, much to my dismay, but it needed to happen. My love affair with wine had reached a familiarity that is common to longterm relationships. Suffice it to say we needed a break from each other. This summer when I really want an adult beverage I make a cocktail that’s light on the gin and heavy on the Sprite Zero. This is working much better for me…My hydrangeas are gorgeous. I keep fresh ones in my kitchen and on my desk at all times. It makes me happy… Finally, all my children like to sleep late now.  #lovesummer

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Ariel Lawhon

ariel bujo

Bullet Journals. Listen, I don’t even want to talk about it. All I’m willing to say right now is that Marybeth harassed me about this for months and I resisted (because that’s what I do, people, I RESIST) but she was right and now I can’t live without mine. It’s worth noting that I am not a cutesy, crafty, Pintersty person. And yet here I am, trolling Etsy twice a week for the “right” sheet of coffee stickers. Fair warning: the stickers suck you in. Put your toe in that water and suddenly you want stickers for everything. It’s ridiculous. #saveyourselves

Curbside Grocery Pickup. Again, with my current theme: I’ve resisted trying curbside grocery pickup for months. It seemed, I don’t know…snobby, somehow. Like “I’m so busy I don’t have time to shop for groceries.” I don’t want to be a person who gets so busy I despise the small duties of my life. But here’s the truth: grocery shopping with four boys is really hard. And it takes a lot of time. And I’m not always my nicest self. Then there’s the fact that I’m so exhausted afterward that I basically throw a box of cereal at them and tell them to fend for themselves for dinner. So my husband convinced me it was worth a shot. He said, “Why not make something easy on yourself for once?” Smart man. Honestly, this one is a game changer. I probably saved $50 on my first order because I didn’t wander up and down the aisles throwing things in my cart. There were no impulse buys. And the entire experience took a grand total of 30 minutes. That includes making the list, placing the order from my phone, and driving to the store to pick it up. It is worth noting, however, that because I placed my order around 4:00 in the afternoon, I had to wait until the next morning to pick up my groceries. (Which meant carry out pizza for dinner. Ooops.) So that time was cumulative. The experience was so great, in fact, I may never set foot in a grocery store again. #lifechanger

Social Media Hiatus. I haven’t been on Facebook or Twitter in a month. I asked my husband to change my passwords and not tell me the new ones until August. I instructed him that, regardless of what I said later on, he was not to capitulate. He’s Texan. I knew he would stand firm. And even though it still feels a little weird sometimes to sit down at the end of a long day and not log on to social media, I’m so glad I made this decision! Simply put, I’m happier about life. I’m not wasting time online. I’m getting a lot of writing done. And–this is very important–I’m not angry about stupid people on the internet all the time. So far I’m thirty days into this little experiment and not only have I not asked for the password once, I have found that I do not miss the swamp of social media. One interesting observation: Facebook is FREAKING OUT that I haven’t logged on. They send me emails every day, saying “you’re missing out!” I find that creepy and invasive (I think they’re still mad because I won’t give them my phone number). Makes me want to break up with them forever because: #resistance #socialmediahiatus #youshouldtryit

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Our Summer Book Club Picks. We believe in the reading experience. Books should always transport you somewhere else and the three novels we chose as our book club selections this summer do just that. You’ll take a road trip through the American south, you’ll experience New York society, and you will fall from the sky in a life-altering plane crash. #booksofsummer

This Cardigan. Yes, I do realize that it’s summer and no one needs a sweater right now. But fall is my favorite season and it will be here before we know it. So in effort to save a little time in the mornings I’m going to try having a daily uniform. I’ll be buying three of these cardigans–black, red, and charcoal–so don’t expect to see me in anything else all fall. #keepingitsimple

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The Spoils of Summer. Fresh berries and ripe watermelon. The smell of fresh cut grass. The tiny siskins nesting in my geraniums. My neighbor’s hydrangeas (because I don’t have any yet). My favorite summer strawberry salad. Taking the boys to pool (they can all swim now!) Staying up late. Sleeping in late. Mandatory reading time in the afternoons. Grilling on the deck. Having nowhere to be. Watching movies in the back yard (we bought a projector and canvas screen to celebrate the first summer in our new house). Playtime with the cousins. #afewofmyfavoritethings

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About Marybeth Whalen

Marybeth Whalen is the co-founder of She Reads, mother of six, and life-long reader. She is also the author of two novels with a third out in July: The Mailbox, She Makes It Look Easy, and The Guest Book.

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The Big Books Of Summer

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

Summer usually means a new crop of novels from novelists we’ve all come to love– and their bestseller status shows it.  So, in case you’ve missed them, here are some of the big books of summer!

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the weekendersThe Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews

Some people stay all summer long on the idyllic island of Belle Isle, North Carolina. Others come only for the weekends-and the mix between the regulars and “the weekenders” can sometimes make the sparks fly. Riley Griggs has a season of good times with friends and family ahead of her on Belle Isle when things take an unexpected turn. While waiting for her husband to arrive on the ferry one Friday afternoon, Riley is confronted by a process server who thrusts papers into her hand. And her husband is nowhere to be found.

So she turns to her island friends for help and support, but it turns out that each of them has their own secrets, and the clock is ticking as the mystery deepens…in a murderous way. Cocktail parties aside, Riley must find a way to investigate the secrets of Belle Island, the husband she might not really know, and the summer that could change everything.

Told with Mary Kay Andrews’ trademark blend of humor and warmth, and with characters and a setting that you can’t help but fall for, The Weekenders is the perfect summer escape.

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Here's to usHere’s To Us by Elin Hilderbrand

(Elin was our headliner at last year’s #ReadRaleigh event. This year we’ve got Liane Moriarty, who’s also got a new book coming out this summer! Look for Truly Madly Guilty in late July!)

Three romantic rivals. One crowded house. Plenty of room for jealousy.

Laurel Thorpe, Belinda Rowe, and Scarlett Oliver share only two things; a love for the man they all married, Deacon Thorpe–a celebrity chef with an insatiable appetite for life–and a passionate dislike of one another. All three are remarkable, spirited women, but they couldn’t be more different. Laurel: Deacon’s high school sweetheart and an effortlessly beautiful social worker; Belinda: a high-maintenance Hollywood diva; and Scarlett: a sexy southern belle floating by on her family money and her fabulous looks. They’ve established a delicate understanding over the years–they avoid each other at all costs.

But their fragile detente threatens to come crashing down after Deacon’s tragic death on his favorite place on earth: a ramshackle Nantucket summer cottage. Deacon’s final wish was for his makeshift family to assemble on his beloved Nantucket to say good-bye. Begrudgingly, Laurel, Belinda, and Scarlett gather on the island as once again, as in each of their marriages, they’re left to pick up Deacon’s mess. Now they’re trapped in the crowded cottage where they all made their own memories–a house that they now share in more ways than one–along with the children they raised with Deacon, and his best friend. Laurel, Belinda, and Scarlett each had an unbreakable bond with Deacon–and they all have secrets to hide.

Before the weekend is over, there are enough accusations, lies, tears, and drama to turn even the best of friends–let alone three women who married the same man–into adversaries. As his unlikely family says good-bye to the man who brought them together–for better or worse–will they be able to put aside their differences long enough to raise a glass in Deacon’s honor?

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fallingFalling by Jane Green

(A personal favorite of ours because she once wrote a post for us that has continues to be one of our most popular posts ever!!)

When Emma Montague left the strict confines of upper-crust British life for New York, she felt sure it would make her happy. Away from her parents and expectations, she felt liberated, throwing herself into Manhattan life replete with a high-paying job, a gorgeous apartment, and a string of successful boyfriends. But the cutthroat world of finance and relentless pursuit of more began to take its toll. This wasn’t the life she wanted either.

On the move again, Emma settles in the picturesque waterfront town of Westport, Connecticut, a world apart from both England and Manhattan. It is here that she begins to confront what it is she really wants from her life. With no job, and knowing only one person in town, she channels her passion for creating beautiful spaces into remaking the dilapidated cottage she rents from Dominic, a local handyman who lives next door with his six-year-old son.

Unlike any man Emma has ever known, Dominic is confident, grounded, and committed to being present for his son whose mother fled shortly after he was born. They become friends, and slowly much more, as Emma finds herself feeling at home in a way she never has before.

But just as they start to imagine a life together as a family, fate intervenes in the most shocking of ways. For the first time, Emma has to stay and fight for what she loves, for the truth she has discovered about herself, or risk losing it all.

In a novel of changing seasons, shifting lives, and selfless love, a story unfolds—of one woman’s far-reaching journey to discover who she is truly meant to be…

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first comes loveFirst Comes Love by Emily Giffin

Growing up, Josie and Meredith Garland shared a loving, if sometimes contentious, relationship. Josie was impulsive, spirited, and outgoing, Meredith hardworking, thoughtful, and reserved. When tragedy strikes, their delicate bond splinters.

Fifteen years later, Josie and Meredith are in their late thirties, following very different paths. Josie, a first grade teacher, is single—and this close to swearing off dating for good. What she wants more than the right guy, however, is to become a mother—a feeling that is heightened when her ex-boyfriend’s daughter is assigned to her class. Determined to have the future she’s always wanted, Josie decides to take matters into her own hands.

On the outside, Meredith is the model daughter with the perfect life. A successful attorney, she’s married to a wonderful man, and together they’re raising a beautiful four-year-old daughter. Yet lately Meredith feels dissatisfied and restless, secretly wondering if she chose the life that was expected of her rather than the one she truly desired.

As the anniversary of their tragedy looms, and painful secrets from the past begin to surface, Josie and Meredith must not only confront the issues that divide them but also come to terms with their own choices. In their journey toward understanding and forgiveness, both sisters discover that they need each other more than they knew—and that in the search for true happiness, love always comes first.

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all summer longAll Summer Long by Dorothea Benton Frank

All Summer Long follows one charming New York couple – prominent interior designer Olivia Ritchie and her husband Nicholas Seymour, an English professor and true southern gentleman. They are seemingly polar opposites, yet magnetically drawn together and in love for more than fourteen years.

As they prepare to relocate to Charleston, S.C., Olivia, the ultimate New Yorker, has reservations about the promise she made to retire in the Lowcountry, where Nick wants to return home and lead a more peaceful life. They are moving north to south, fast pace versus slow pace and downsizing. Nick is ecstatic. Olivia is not. She can’t let Nick know that their finances are not what he thought. Her client list is evaporating, their monetary reserves are dwindling and maybe that house she picked out on Sullivans Island needs too much work. Thank God, for her assistant, Roni Larini, her right (and sometimes left) hand.

As they find themselves pondering the next step of their lives, Olivia and Nick travel with her billionaire clients and their friends and are swept up into the world of the ultra-rich and explore the globe with a cast of zany eccentrics over one tumultuous, hot summer. All as Olivia grapples with what lies ahead for her and Nick.

This is a story of how plans evolve and lives change in unexpected ways, how even those who have everything are still looking for something more. Even the most successful people can often struggle to keep things together. All Summer Long asks the ultimate question: can money buy happiness? From Sullivans Island to Necker Island to Nantucket to the beaches of Southern Spain, we’ll come to recognize the many faces of true love, love that deepens and endures but only because one woman makes a tremendous leap of faith. And that leap changes everything.

 

About Marybeth Whalen

Marybeth Whalen is the co-founder of She Reads, mother of six, and life-long reader. She is also the author of two novels with a third out in July: The Mailbox, She Makes It Look Easy, and The Guest Book.

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We’ve Got Your Beach Books Right Here

Today’s post by our own Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

It’s beach season– which always means new beach books on the bookstore shelves. Today we have literal beach books, so there’s no mistaking the best place to read them! (We’d assert that a hammock in your backyard or poolside in your own neighborhood would do just fine as well.)

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Forever BeachForever Beach by Shelley Noble

One woman struggling to hold on to what she has,

One woman learning to forgive

Their lives entwined by one little girl.

Sarah Hargreave is anxious to finalize the adoption of her foster daughter Leila. Once a foster child herself, Sarah longs to become Leila’s “forever” family and give her all the love and stability she was denied in her own childhood. When Leila’s biological mother suddenly reappears and petitions the court for the return of her daughter, Sarah is terrified she’ll lose the little girl she loves to the drug addicted mother who abandoned her.

Having grown up in foster care, Ilona Cartwright fights for the rights of children who have no one to fight for them. But to Sarah she is Nonie Blanchard, who grew up in the same group foster home as Sarah. They’d promised to be best friends forever, then Nonie was adopted by a wealthy family, and Sarah never heard from her again. Sarah still hurts from the betrayal. But Nonie harbors her own resentment toward the past.

Mistrustful of each other, the two women form a tenuous alliance to ensure Leila’s future, but when Leila’s very survival is on the line, they’ll have to come to terms with their own feelings of hurt and rejection to save the child they both have come to love.

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Sunshine BeachSunshine Beach by Wendy Wax

There’s nothing that a fresh coat of paint and a few glasses of wine can’t fix…

After losing their life savings in a Ponzi scheme, Maddie, Avery, and Nikki have banded together to make the most of what they have left, using their determination, ingenuity, guts, and a large dose of elbow grease. It’s Maddie’s daughter Kyra who stumbles across a once glorious beachfront hotel that has fallen into disrepair. The opportunity to renovate this seaside jewel is too good to pass up—especially when they come up with the idea of shooting their own independent television show about the restoration. What could possibly go wrong?

Everything. With the cameras rolling, Maddie’s second-chance romance with her all-too-famous new boyfriend gets complicated, Avery struggles with grief over the loss of her mother, and Nikki’s reluctance to commit to the man who loves her could leave her to face the biggest challenge of her life. Even the hotel seems to be against them, when their renovation uncovers a decades-old unsolved murder which just might bring their lives tumbling down all over again…

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Barefoot BeachBarefoot Beach by Toby Devens

The beach house carried some kind of spell, concocted of—I don’t know—salt air, sea grass and Old Bay seasoning that over the years had permeated its walls and floorboards. Whatever it was, the place cast fabulous magic.

For Nora Farrell, Tuckahoe, Maryland, isn’t just a summer refuge, it’s home—where she married the love of her life, decided to have a child, and has remained connected with her two closest friends. Even now, long after her husband’s passing, Nora reunites with Margo and Emine every June….

But this year, challenges invade the friends’ retreat. Even as Nora delights in teaching at her dance studio, she is shaken by the possible loss of her beach house…and by a tentative new romance. While Margo directs a musical at the Driftwood Playhouse, she finds her marriage on rocky ground. And Em, who relishes running her family’s café, struggles to handle her rebellious daughter.

With their personal dramas reaching a fever pitch, the women will discover that it isn’t only the beach that brightens their lives. Their bond with one another provides the ultimate magic.

About Marybeth Whalen

Marybeth Whalen is the co-founder of She Reads, mother of six, and life-long reader. She is also the author of two novels with a third out in July: The Mailbox, She Makes It Look Easy, and The Guest Book.

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An Amazing YA Summer– Four New Titles!

Today’s post by Melissa Carpenter | @MelissaCarp

I’ve read so many great new Young Adult books lately that I couldn’t help but share more than one with you this month. Below, find books representing all of the best that summer has to offer: romance, music, adventure, and much more!

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Holding CourtHOLDING COURT by K.C. Held

Sixteen-year-old Jules Verity knows exactly what’s in store at her new job at castle-turned-dinner-theater Tudor Times. Some extra cash, wearing a fancy-pants dress, and plenty of time to secretly drool over the ever-so-tasty–and completely unavailable–Grayson Chandler. Except that it’s not quite what she imagined.

For one, the costume Jules has to wear is awful. Then there’s the dead body she finds that just kind of…well, disappears. Oh, and there’s the small issue of Jules and her episodes of what her best friend calls “Psychic Tourette’s Syndrome”–spontaneous and uncontrollable outbursts of seemingly absurd prophecies.

The only bright side? This whole dead body thing seems to have gotten Grayson’s attention. Except that the more Jules investigates, the more she discovers that Grayson’s interest might not be as courtly as she thought. In fact, it’s starting to look suspicious…

Why I love it: A YA romantic comedy mystery? Count. Me. In. The protagonist, Jules, is a fascinating, lovable, honest, and quirky character that I just couldn’t get enough of. Her seemingly random psychic blurting made me LOL more than once, and her love of Grayson Chandler’s abs created plenty of adorably awkward teenage crush moments. This reminded me of a fun, younger version of Psych (LOVED that show) set at a Medieval Times dinner theater, which might sound cheesy but is actually magically delicious.

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Tone DeafTONE DEAF by Olivia Rivers

Ali Collins was a child prodigy destined to become one of the greatest musicians of the twenty-first century—until she was diagnosed with a life-changing brain tumor. Now, at seventeen, Ali lives in a soundless world where she gets by with American Sign Language and lip-reading. She’s a constant disappointment to her father, a retired cop fighting his own demons, and the bruises are getting harder to hide.

When Ali accidentally wins a backstage tour with the chart-topping band Tone Deaf, she’s swept back into the world of music. Jace Beckett, the nineteen-year-old lead singer of the band, has a reputation. He’s a jerk and a player, and Ali wants nothing to do with him. But there’s more to Jace than the tabloids let on. When Jace notices Ali’s bruises and offers to help her escape to New York, Ali can’t turn down the chance at freedom and a fresh start. Soon she’s traveling cross-country, hidden away in Jace’s RV as the band finishes their nationwide tour. With the help of Jace, Ali sets out to reboot her life and rediscover the music she once loved.

Why I love it: I’ve never read anything quite like this before. Ali and Jace, with their experiences with music and the Deaf culture, were absolutely fascinating characters. I loved their connection. Ali is a great, strong, smart protagonist who I couldn’t help but cheer for all the way through. I’m also a fan of how skillfully the topic of abuse was woven into the story, bringing in a serious topic without making the whole story depressing.

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Little Black Dresses LITTLE BLACK DRESSES, LITTLE WHITE LIES by Laura Stampler

Harper Anderson always believed she belonged somewhere more glamorous than her sleepy Northern California suburb. After all, how many water polo matches and lame parties in Bobby McKittrick’s backyard can one girl take? That’s why Harper is beyond ecstatic when she lands her dream internship as a dating blogger at the elite teen magazine Shift. Getting to spend the summer in New York City to live her dream of becoming a writer? Harper’s totally in.

There’s just one teeny, tiny, infinitesimal problem: Apart from some dance floor make-outs, Harper doesn’t have a lot of – or, really, any – dating expertise. In fact, she might have sort of stolen her best friend’s experiences as her own on her Shift application. But she can learn on the job…right?

From awkward run-ins with the cute neighborhood dog-walker to terrifying encounters with her crazed editor, from Brooklyn gallery openings to weekends in the Hamptons, Harper finds out what it takes to make it in the Big City–and as the writer of her own destiny.

Why  I love it: Harper’s story, along with the characters, the pacing, and the settings are all spot on. Harper as a main character is relatable and flawed yet still totally likable, and I found her summer adventures to be just irresponsible enough to have fun without crossing the line into encouraging destructive behaviors. I also loved the ending and how Harper grew throughout the course of the story.

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Love & GelatoLOVE & GELATO by Jenna Evans Welch

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then Lina is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept from Lina for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.

Why I love it: I have all the love in the world for well-written YA books involving an American teen traveling to a place I’d love to go. Through the journal that was left for her in Italy, Lina makes some new and strong connections to her mom, and she learns some truths about her father, which ultimately lead her to really understand and appreciate what family means. She also finds love and adventure throughout the summer, and the story is really just beautiful. It also left me with a serious desire to go to Italy… But I settled for making a feast of Italian food for my family.

About Marybeth Whalen

Marybeth Whalen is the co-founder of She Reads, mother of six, and life-long reader. She is also the author of two novels with a third out in July: The Mailbox, She Makes It Look Easy, and The Guest Book.

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