The school year (in Texas) is finally over and we are more than ready for summer! Well, maybe not the heat, but we’re ready for fun, summer sports, and, of course, reading for fun every day. Every year I like to give my kids a few fun outdoor toys to celebrate the last day of school and I always include a couple of books as well. (And as you can see, I also stock up on sunscreen-that’s about 10% of our current supply . . .) It’s a little harder to buy books for my kids now, because they really like to choose their own, but I think I picked some that fit their reading personalities, and they were excited to get started on these!
I picked this series out for my 7-year-old. He loves being read to, but when he reads to himself he always goes for funny books. Captain Underpants, The 13-Story Treehouse, Galactic Hot Dogs . . . you get the idea. This series is written by Megan McDonald, the author of the Judy Moody series, and it’s about Judy’s younger brother, Stink. They’re beginner chapter books, and Stink kind of reminds me of my 7-year-old: a good kid who somehow gets into trouble, has a bossy older sibling, and loves being silly and funny. There’s a also a comic strip written by Stink within the books, which is a great addition if you have a kid who loves graphic novels. My 7-year-old has already finished the first book and is ready to read the second and he loved it!! As in, he chose to sit and read this book over playing with race cars at his big brother’s basketball practice. I’ll be buying the rest of the series as soon as he finishes this set!
Endling 1: The Last
I had no idea that Katherine Applegate had a new book out, so I grabbed this up the second I saw it. When I saw that it’s the first in a new series, I got even more excited-my 9-year-old and I love series, and this one sounds perfect for him. My 9-year-old really likes reading books with a lot of adventure, peril (of the kid-friendly variety, like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson), and relatable characters. This series sounds exactly right for an adventure-loving reader. The series is about a group of fantastical animals who behave like humans. One in particular, Byx, believes she is the last of her kind and sets out on a journey to find a new, safe home, and to see if she can find any more of her species. Along the way she gets into trouble, but also finds allies and uncovers some secrets she wasn’t planning to find. It honestly sounds amazing, and I might read this one to my 9-year-old . . . because I want to find out what happens to! It feels a little bit like Narnia and The Golden Compass series too, so I would suggest this for fantasy lovers as well.
It’s that time again! Summer, when we all make plans to read ALL THE BOOKS. I’m doing the same thing, but I’m also doing something a little differently (for me) this year. As much as I love receiving advanced copies of books from publishers (and one of the books is one of those) and digital review copies of books, I can also get very bogged down with all of the things that I “have” to read. So this summer I’m coming up with a list of books I want to read. And that’s the only requirement. Yes, I will still be reading and reviewing my publisher copies, but I want to make a lot more time for books I want to read, whether they’re backlist, new, and in between. Today I’m sharing 15 books I’ve been wanting to read, and I will be putting them first as much as possible this summer! The rest of the books I read will be a combination of planned books and last-minute picks! Tell me what books you’re excited to read this summer, and if you’ve read any on my list tell me what you thought!
(Be sure to check my Instagram account very soon for a giveaway I’m really excited about!)
This is our June Bucket List Book Club pick, along with the sequel, Us Against You (out June 5), and it’s because I’ve been wanting to read it for what feels like forever! Fredrik Backman is one of my very favorite authors, and I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about Beartown. Beartown is a small community where everyone knows everyone. The town has come together over the possibility of the local hockey league winning a national semi-final game. That game ends with a violent act that begins the action of the rest of the novel. Beartown is about small communities and how close, and far apart, the people who live there can become. And because it’s Backman, I know the writing is going to be stellar.
This is the second book in L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series, and I’ve been wanting to re-read it all year! In this sequel, Anne becomes a schoolteacher, has more adventures at Green Gables, and continues her friendship with Gilbert Blythe. I love this series so much, and if anyone else is looking for a warm, funny, surprisingly poignant series, I would love for you to read along with me!
I know some people consider themselves Anne girls, and some people consider themselves Emily girls. I’ve never read Emily of New Moon, also my L.M. Montgomery, and it’s been sitting on my shelf for almost a year. Emily is different from Anne, but I really trust Montgomery, so I’m excited to read about her adventures. Like Anne, Emily is an orphan, and she goes to live with relatives at New Moon Farm. While her relatives aren’t exactly kind and welcoming, she makes friends and might start to finally feel at home.
Another book I’ve wanted to read for quite awhile! Now that it’s being made into a movie (out August 15), I definitely want to read it this summer so that I can see it. (Book before movie, people, book before movie.) Rachel Chu and her boyfriend Nick Young live in New York. When Rachel agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with Nick and his family, she’s not expecting for his home to basically be a palace and to realize that his family is rich and famous. Rachel has to navigate her new view of Nick, in addition to his relatives and other people who might not have her best interests at heart. This is the first in a trilogy, and seems like a fantastic option if you like family sagas, which I do!
The Ensemble was released on May 15, and when I heard Annie B. Jones talk about it on her podcast (From the Front Porch), I immediately added it to my must read list. It’s not something I would usually go for (except for that gorgeous cover), but she made it sound so good that I already have it in from my library holds! It’s the story of four friends who all play classical music together in their group, the Van Ness Quartet. Seems benign, but as a group they go through failures and successes, ups and downs, and all the hard things that friendships can go through. It is getting wonderful reviews, and I love finding books by debut authors!
Lilac Girls has been on my TBR forever, and when Katie (at Katie Lady Reads) sent it to me and said it was her favorite book of the year so far, I knew I needed to finally get it read! It takes place during WWII when the Nazis invade Poland and then turn to France. This particular WWII story is told through the eyes of three women: New Yorker Caroline, Polish Kasia, and German Herta. I really love how war stories about women are becoming more prevalent-they played a huge role and often went unnoticed and unthanked. I am so ready to lose myself in this story and find out what happens to these three women.
This book was my Book of the Month selection for May-when I saw that Taylor Jenkins Reid recommended it (another one of my favorite authors), I added it to my box immediately. It’s part romance, part drama, and deals with how a person might react when put into an impossible situation, and I am always here for that. Margaret Jacobsen has a new fiance, a great job, and a perfect life. When an accident lands her in the hospital at the beginning of the novel, she has to deal with her whole world falling apart, and figure out if what has been important to her still is, and if she still has the ability to let people in.
Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for the free copy of this book! I have read every one of Mary Kay Andrews’ books, and this one looks just as good as the rest, maybe even better. Her books feel like summer to me, so this one is on my must-read summer list as well. Like so many of the books I love, this is about a group of women who were best friends and kept all each other’s secrets. Fast forward decades later, and only one is still alive. Josephine hires an attorney, Brooke Trappnell, to find the descendants of her friends so that she can make amends . . . and maybe solve a murder.
I feel like I’m the last person to read this book, and I need to correct that. Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’ is a YA novel about a high school girl, Willowdean, whose former beauty pageant mom nicknames her Dumplin’. This is a coming of age novel about how a non-stick-figure girl shows everyone that size doesn’t matter. And she does it by entering the Miss Teen Bluebonnet Pageant. I am ALL IN for a book that shows teens (and let’s be honest, adults) that a body is just that, a body, and it’s what in your heart and mind that really counts. We could use a lot more of this type of story. (And it takes place in Texas. Which just makes it even better.)
Puddin’ is the sequel to Dumplin’ and I intend to read them both this summer! I believe this is more of a companion novel and follows a few side characters from Dumplin’, but the sentiment is the same. This book follows Millie Michalchuk (a fat camp graduate) and Callie Reyes (the popular and pretty dance team captain) and their unlikely friendship. I honestly can’t wait to read this one. (And again, it’s in Texas!)
This is a novella in the Court of Thorns and Roses series, and while I’m a little wary (I loved the first two books in the original trilogy and felt let down by the third), I still can’t wait to go back to the Night Court and see what Feyre and Rhysand are up to. They are rebuilding from the devastating events of the last novel, and are about to celebrate the Winter Solstice. But of course, the dark clouds never really go away, and Feyre will have to navigate those while learning how to be the High Lady of the Night Court. I believe this novella is meant to be a bridge between the original trilogy and the next, so I’m interested to see how Sarah Maas connects them.
Let’s be honest. Regardless of your political affiliation (or lack of affiliation, as a lot of find ourselves these days), the political world can be fascinating. Cutthroat, fast-paced, and never the same from one day to the next. But what about the spouses? I love stories about the other side of big things, and Campaign Widows is just that: the story of a group of women in Washington, D.C., who become “widows” when their husbands go on the campaign trail. This seems gossipy, juice, and based in just enough fact to make me wonder how much of it is actually true.
Are you a Cassandra Clare fan? If you’re not, what are you even doing with your life?? Just kidding! Kind of. If you like fantasy, please, please go read her books. All of them. Her Shadowhunters series (The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices, and The Dark Artifices) are some of my favorites, and unlike other authors, her books truly get better with each new one. Ghosts of the Shadow Market are a series of short stories about the characters from those series and are meant to give more insight to them and what they’ve been up to. (And I think they’re meant to tide us over until her next book comes out!) These look quick and short, and I can’t wait to read them all.
So this is not a book I would normally pick up. It’s about a married couple who, having fallen into all the trappings of a traditional, suburban life, decide to make theirs an open marriage for six months as an experiment. At first glance, this is not my type of book. But when Knox McCoy greenlit it as a favorite book on The Popcast, I changed my mind. On the surface, yes, this is a book about an open marriage. But what it really seems to be about is marriage, relationships, and how the people in that relationship change when pressure is applied. And as I’m sure you can tell from a lot of this list, I do love books about what happens to regular people when put into extraordinary circumstances.
This is such a fitting book to end my summer TBR list with. Y’all, I am ready for school the be out and to not have to sign up for 10,000 things on 5,000 SignUpGeniuses. (But I love SignUpGenius. Don’t mistake end of year burnout for hatred of the SignUpGenius.) This book is what it looks like: a book about the different types of moms, how they try to contribute to their children’s classrooms, and how hilarious it can be when trying to get all of these moms to work together and agree. Now that it’s summer, I’m definitely ready to laugh about it. It seems like a lighter, bookish version of the movie Bad Moms, and I can’t wait!
There were drifts of clutter in every corner, like sticks and leaves in the edges and eddies of a stream. Half-finished craft activities. Library books that had become so overdue it would have been cheaper to buy them in the first place.
I had to put that quote in this review because it could have been written by me. And people everywhere, let’s be honest. Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman is not only thought-provoking, it’s hilarious. I laughed out loud multiple times throughout this book, which is rare for me with books. Smile? Yes. Smirk? Yes. Actually laughing out loud? Rare. This book did it for me. If you’re looking for a gossipy, straightforward story about friends, neighbors, and family, I would definitely suggest this book.
Frances Bloom is the ultimate mom. She runs the carpool, is a member of all the committees, knows whose projects are due on what days, and always has snacks. She is the most trusted woman on the block, and knows everyone’s secrets. When she walks in on a close friend making love to a man NOT her husband . . . on the kitchen floor . . . she has to decide whether to break the news to her husband or keep quiet. Her decisions, and the guilt her friend feels, will impact the entire neighborhood and make her question every moral she has.
When I started reading this book, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. Waxman uses a lot of curse words, which I don’t have a problem with, but a lot of them seemed just thrown in and not what the characters would actually say. I still think it’s excessive, but I can ignore that for what is so good about this book. The story is about neighbors and family and how well we really don’t know each other, but it’s really about relationships and marriage and what happens to those out in the real world. The book got under my skin very quickly: the author unapologetically gets right at the heart of marriage and parenting in a humorous way. I laughed out loud and cried while reading this book, and that is rare for me. She has taken serious situations (infidelity, lackluster marriage, a child running away) and turned them just a bit to show not only the serious side but the humorous side of life. Because isn’t life like that? There are terrible and hilarious things about a lot of situations, and this book will make you laugh at them all.
Other People’s Houses gives a hilariously honest view of all different marital relationships, and if you’re married, with or without kids, I guarantee you’ll find something to relate to. It’s really a perfect summer read, and a wonderful option if you’re looking for something light that still has some literary heft to it.
Our Bucket List Book Club pick for May is Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate! This is a fictionalized telling of the real life Georgia Tann and her Tennessee “adoption” agency. (Hint: she didn’t exactly have legal adoptions going on.)
Description from the publisher:
“Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge–until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents–but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.
Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.
Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals–in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country–Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.”
I am so, so excited for this one. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about both the story and the writing.
If you want to join in, we’ll be reading it throughout the month of May, with a discussion on June 3 at 2PM CST on my Instagram page!
You can also follow the hashtag #bucketlistbookclub on Instagram to see other people’s posts as we read Before We Were Yours.
I’ll post my review here when I’m finished, and you can also use the comments section on that post, and this one, to discuss it.
Thank you to NetGalley and Algonquin Books for the free digital review copy of this book. All opinions are my own!
Sometimes when you like where you end up, you don’t care how you got there.
Sometimes when there is a lot of hype surrounding a book, I put off reading it because I’m afraid it won’t live up to what everyone is saying. That’s what happened with An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. I put it off for awhile, and finally started listening to the audio version. And then I was mad at myself for waiting for so long to start it! I started with the audio (which is very, very good) and when my library hold on that ran out, I finished up reading the digital copy I had because I couldn’t stand to wait any longer to finish it. This book lives up to the hype and is truly an amazing book.
Celestial and Roy are newlyweds, just starting out on their journey. They’re both figuring out what they want out of life and starting out their careers. When Roy is falsely accused of a crime, he is sentenced to 12 years in prison. Celestial and Roy’s relationship changes unequivocally as a result of their time apart. When Roy is released after five years, nothing is the same for either of them, and they have to figure out how to make a life out of what they have left. The book alternates chapters between Roy, Celestial, and their good friend Andre telling the story of what happens through those years.
In my opinion, this is one of the best books written this year, although certainly not the most uplifting. And that’s ok. The relationship between Roy and Celestial is so very real, and Jones does not take lightly how people’s feelings for each other change over the years, especially during an exacerbating situation. The way they speak to each other, the way they interact with each other and each other’s families, and the way they behave as strong individuals rang so true to me, and I was heartbroken for the decisions they had to make. This story is about marriage, and what happens when you put a marriage through the ringer.
As much as this is about marriage, I can’t fail to mention that it is also about race and justice in America. The story lends itself to an honest discussion about being black in America and what that means, and how biased the justice system truly is. I think it’s an important topic, and this book is a great starting point for some of those difficult discussions.
An American Marriage lived up to the hype for me, and I’m so glad it did. I absolutely love books that really delve into personal relationships and how people react to hard situations. This book does that and more, and I guarantee it will make you wonder what you would do in the same situation if nothing else.
This book is very reminiscent of One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Check out my review of that book HERE.), and I think they would make great companion reads.[Top]