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Recently, Andy and I spent an entire week in the Dominican Republic for a much-needed, hard-earned vacation. No work, very little Wi-Fi, no television and did I mention no work?! Just the two of us on our “second honeymoon” on a tropical island. It was pure heaven. I will definitely be blogging more about our trip in future posts.
One of the things I enjoyed most about our vacation was reading for fun! Even though I read 2-3 books per month, I rarely have the opportunity to read an entire book in one sitting or stay up as late as I want to finish reading (which is my favorite way to read.) Since this trip was all about trying something new, I decided to follow that trend with the books that I chose to read by picking a genre that I tend to steer away from: chick lit. It was the perfect genre for an enjoyable, care-free vacation and I have to be honest, I think chick lit might be my one-and-only genre of beach reads from here on out.
Par for the course, I’ve included a book summary from Amazon or GoodReads in italics with my thoughts below.
In Toulouse, Louisiana finding your one true love happens sometime around high school. If you’re lucky, he might be the man you thought he was. But as four friends are about to find out, not every girl has luck on her side. As these young wives come together to help each other through life, love, and heartbreak, they discover that there are no easy answers when it comes to matters of the heart.
This book follows the 4 young wives from a small Louisiana town: Madison is in love with a bad boy but settles for a good guy named George because he can financially provide for her. Laura dropped out of high school to marry her quarterback husband, but their dreams of him making the NFL are shattered when he is injured. On the outside, Claire appears to have a perfect life: wife to a prominent pastor, mother of an adorable daughter. Gabrielle is engaged to the son of a congressman, but the entire relationship is founded on lies.
Coming from a small-ish Southern town where some people live for generations, I can relate to the plot. Since the chapters alternate viewpoints between the characters, the plot moved at a good pace. If you enjoyed Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Steel Magnolias, you would love this book.
Seventeen-year-old Jonah Daniels has lived in Verona Cove, California, his whole life, and only one thing has ever changed: his father used to be alive, and now he is not. With a mother lost in a deep bout of depression, Jonah and his five siblings struggle to keep up their home and the restaurant their dad left behind. But at the start of summer, a second change rolls in: Vivi Alexander, the new girl in town. Vivi is in love with life. Charming and unfiltered, she refuses to be held down by the medicine she’s told should make her feel better. After meeting Jonah, she slides into the Daniels’ household seamlessly, winning over each sibling with her imagination and gameness. But it’s not long before Vivi’s zest for life begins to falter. Soon her adventurousness becomes all-out danger-seeking. Through each high and low, Vivi and Jonah’s love is put to the test . . . but what happens when love simply isn’t enough?
The main character of this book (Viv) has bipolar disorder; through the book, the author shows how Viv is a teenager with a mental illness who still deserves to be loved and respected as a human being and how Jonah accepts Viv wholeheartedly. In fact, the book was so compelling in portraying mental illness that it brought me to tears on the plane. The book doesn’t end the way I would have liked, though. If you enjoyed The Fault in Our Stars, you would enjoy this book.
Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer–they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.
The plot is your general “teenagers on summer vacation at the beach falling in love” plot — nothing too earthshattering — but what I found incredibly captivating was that the two teenage boys involved in the love triangle are brothers. I am anxious to read the other books in this trilogy and find out who Belly picks!
After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of breakup ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking.
As I was reading, I had the impression that the author loosely based her novel on Taylor Swift or Miley Cyrus. I guess because the plot felt like it could have been an episode of Hannah Montana! Again, this book was fairly fluffy since it’s a young-adult novel, but it was a quick and enjoyable read perfect for vacation!
When Sarah’s grandfather gives her a beautiful horse named Boo—hoping that one day she’ll follow in his footsteps to join an elite French riding school, away from their gritty London neighborhood—she quietly trains in city’s parks and alleys. But then her grandfather falls ill, and Sarah must juggle horsemanship with school and hospital visits. Natasha, a young lawyer, is reeling after her failed marriage: her professional judgment is being questioned, her new boyfriend is a let-down, and she’s forced to share her house with her charismatic ex-husband. Yet when the willful fourteen-year-old Sarah lands in her path, Natasha decides to take the girl under her wing. But Sarah is keeping a secret—a secret that will change the lives of everyone involved forever.
To be honest, I struggled with enjoying this book for the first 1/3 or so. I kept thinking the book would focus on the love story of the characters in chapter 1, but it wasn’t until the end when the first chapter tied in with the rest. This book shows that there are so many different types of love besides man-and-woman: but grandfather-and-granddaughter, horse-and-human, and mother-and-child. If you are looking for an enjoyable beach read that is a little more “complex,” this book would be perfect for you.
She never saw it coming. Without even a sliver of suspicion to warn her, art curator Caroline Hammond discovers that her husband is having an affair with a man—a revelation that forces her to question their entire history together, from their early days as high school sweethearts through their ten years as a happily married couple. In her now upside-down world, Caroline begins envisioning her life without the relationship that has defined it: the loneliness of being an “I” instead of a “we”; the rekindled yet tenuous closeness with her younger sister; and the unexpected—and potentially disastrous—attraction she can’t get off her mind. Caroline always thought she knew her own love story, but as her husband’s other secrets emerge, she must decide whether that story’s ending will mean forgiving the man she’s loved for half her life, or facing her future without him. Compassionate and uplifting, Results May Vary is a bittersweet celebration of the heart’s ability to turn unexpected troubles into extraordinary strength.
Like the previous book, this wasn’t a standard young adult “summer love” read; some of the themes in this book are more adult, to be honest. It was so well-written that it was painful to read because I easily imagined being in Caroline’s shoes. If you are a fan of any of Emily Giffin’s novels, you will enjoy this book by Bethany Chase.
This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray. Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches. Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . . And yet, first impressions can be deceiving.
I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I had hoped and even contemplated not adding this book to my “beach reads” list. You see, I’ve read all of Jane Austen’s works, and while I don’t consider myself an Austenite, even I felt this book paled in comparison to the original. I do think of bringing Pride and Prejudice to the 21st century was an interesting concept, but the book itself wasn’t well-written. There were an astonishing 148 chapters; some of those chapters were as short as one single swipe of a page on my Kindle! That being said, it was a New York Times bestseller, so maybe I just had too high of standards.
What are your top “beach reads?”