Skip to main content

Summer Reading 2020

Summer Reading

Summer Reading 2020

All summer long, we at Bookreporter.com have been sharing some great summer book picks with our Summer Reading Feature. While our series of 24-hour contests have ended, we encourage you to take a look at our featured titles for some sizzling summer reading ideas.

» Click here to see the winners of this year's Summer Reading contests.

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane - Fiction


Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. What happens behind closed doors in both houses --- the loneliness of Francis’ wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian’s wife, Anne --- sets the stage for the explosive events to come. ASK AGAIN, YES is a deeply affecting exploration of the lifelong friendship and love that blossoms between Kate Gleeson and Peter Stanhope, born six months apart. One shocking night their loyalties are divided, and their bond will be tested again and again over the next 30 years.

The Beauty of Broken Things by Victoria Connelly - Fiction

After the tragic loss of his wife, Helen, Luke Hansard is desperate to keep her memory alive. In an effort to stay close to her, he reaches out to an online friend Helen often mentioned: a reclusive photographer with a curious interest in beautiful but broken objects. But first he must find her --- and she doesn’t want to be found. Orla Kendrick lives alone in the ruins of a remote Suffolk castle, hiding from the haunting past that has left her physically and emotionally scarred. When Luke tracks Orla down, he is determined to help her in the way Helen wanted to: by encouraging her out of her isolation and back into the world. But Orla has never seen her refuge as a prison, and when painful secrets and dangerous threats begin to resurface, Luke’s good deed is turned on its head.

Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner - Fiction


Six years after the fight that ended their friendship, Daphne Berg is shocked when Drue Cavanaugh walks back into her life, looking as lovely and successful as ever, with a massive favor to ask. Daphne hasn’t spoken one word to Drue in all this time, so when Drue asks if she will be her maid-of-honor at the society wedding of the summer, Daphne is rightfully speechless. Letting glamorous, seductive Drue back into her life is risky, but it comes with an invitation to spend a weekend in a waterfront Cape Cod mansion. When Drue begs and pleads and dangles the prospect of cute single guys, Daphne finds herself powerless as ever to resist her friend’s siren song.

The Black Swan of Paris by Karen Robards - Historical Fiction

Paris, 1944. Celebrated singer Genevieve Dumont is both a star and a smokescreen. An unwilling darling of the Nazis, the chanteuse’s position of privilege allows her to go undetected as an ally to the resistance. When her estranged mother, Lillian de Rocheford, is captured by Nazis, Genevieve knows it won’t be long before the Gestapo succeeds in torturing information out of Lillian that will derail the upcoming allied invasion. The resistance movement is tasked with silencing her by any means necessary --- including assassination. But Genevieve refuses to let her mother become yet one more victim of the war. Reuniting with her long-lost sister, she must find a way to navigate the perilous cross-currents of Occupied France undetected --- and in time to save Lillian’s life.

The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel - Historical Fiction

Eva Traube Abrams, a semi-retired librarian in Florida, is shelving books one morning when her eyes lock on a photograph in a magazine lying open nearby. It’s an image of a book she hasn’t seen in 65 years: The Book of Lost Names. The accompanying article discusses the looting of libraries by the Nazis across Europe during World War II --- an experience Eva remembers well --- and the search to reunite people with the texts taken from them so long ago. The book in the photograph, an 18th-century religious text thought to have been taken from France in the waning days of the war, is one of the most fascinating cases. It appears to contain some sort of code, but researchers don’t know where it came from --- or what the code means. Only Eva holds the answer. But will she have the strength to revisit old memories and help reunite those lost during the war?

East Coast Girls by Kerry Kletter - Fiction


Childhood friends Hannah, Maya, Blue and Renee share a bond that feels more like family. Growing up, they had difficult home lives, and the summers they spent together in Montauk were the happiest memories they ever made. Then, the summer after graduation, one terrible night changed everything. Twelve years have passed since that fateful incident, and their sisterhood has drifted apart, each woman haunted by her own lost innocence. But just as they reunite in Montauk for one last summer, hoping to find happiness once more, tragedy strikes again. This time it’ll test them like never before, forcing them to confront decisions they’ve each had to live with and old secrets that refuse to stay buried.

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes - Fiction/Humor


Recently widowed Eveleth “Evvie” Drake rarely leaves her house nearly a year after her husband’s death. Everyone in town, even her best friend, Andy, thinks grief keeps her locked inside, and Evvie doesn’t correct them. Meanwhile, Dean Tenney, former Major League pitcher and Andy’s childhood best friend, is wrestling with what miserable athletes living out their worst nightmares call the “yips”: he can’t throw straight anymore, and, even worse, he can’t figure out why. When he moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie’s house, the two make a deal: Dean won’t ask about Evvie’s late husband, and Evvie won’t ask about Dean’s baseball career. What starts as an unexpected friendship soon turns into something more.

Finding Mrs. Ford by Deborah Goodrich Royce - Mystery/Thriller

Early one morning in the summer of 2014, the FBI arrives to question Mrs. Ford about a man from Iraq --- a Chaldean Christian from Mosul --- where ISIS has just seized control. Sammy Fakhouri is his name, and they have taken him into custody, picked up on his way to her house. Back in the summer of 1979, on the outskirts of a declining Detroit, college coed Susan meets charismatic and reckless Annie. They are an unlikely pair of friends, but they each see something in the other --- something they’d like to possess. Together, the girls navigate the minefields of a down-market disco where they work their summer jobs. It’s a world filled with pretty girls and powerful men, some of whom --- like Sammy Fakhouri --- happen to be Iraqi Chaldeans. What happened in that summer of 1979 when Susan and Annie met? Why is Sammy looking for Susan all these years later? And why is Mrs. Ford lying?

Ghosts of Harvard by Francesca Serritella - Psychological Thriller/Mystery


Cadence Archer arrives on Harvard’s campus desperate to understand why her brother, Eric, a genius who developed paranoid schizophrenia, took his own life there the year before. Losing Eric has left a black hole in Cady’s life, and while her decision to follow in her brother’s footsteps threatens to break her family apart, she is haunted by questions of what she might have missed. And there’s only one place to find answers. As Cady struggles under the enormous pressure at Harvard, she investigates her brother’s final year, armed only with a blue notebook of Eric’s cryptic scribblings. She knew he had been struggling with paranoia, delusions and illusory enemies --- but what tipped him over the edge?

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah - Historical Fiction


Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam War a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier. Thirteen-year-old Leni dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if it means following him into the unknown. At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. But as winter approaches, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within.

The Guest List by Lucy Foley - Psychological Thriller/Mystery


On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed. But as the champagne is popped and the festivities get underway, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast. And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And, perhaps more importantly, why?

Her Last Flight by Beatriz Williams - Historical Romance


In 1947, photographer and war correspondent Janey Everett arrives at a remote surfing village on the Hawaiian island of Kauai to research a planned biography of forgotten aviation pioneer Sam Mallory, who joined the loyalist forces in the Spanish Civil War and never returned. Obsessed with Sam’s fate, Janey has tracked down Irene Lindquist, the owner of a local island-hopping airline, who she believes might actually be the legendary Irene Foster, Mallory’s onetime student and flying partner. Foster’s disappearance during a round-the-world flight in 1937 remains one of the world’s greatest unsolved mysteries. At first, the flinty Mrs. Lindquist denies any connection to Foster. But Janey informs her that the wreck of Sam Mallory’s airplane has recently been discovered in a Spanish desert, and piece by piece, the details of Foster’s extraordinary life emerge.

Hideaway by Nora Roberts - Romantic Suspense

Caitlyn Sullivan had come from a long line of Hollywood royalty. At nine, she was already a star --- yet still an innocent child who loved to play hide and seek with her cousins. It was during one of those games that she disappeared. Some may have considered her a pampered princess, but Cate was a smart, scrappy fighter who managed to escape her abductors. Her ordeal, though, was far from over. First came the discovery of a shocking betrayal that would send someone she’d trusted to prison. Then there were years spent away in western Ireland. Finally, she would return to Los Angeles, gathering the courage to act again. What she didn’t yet know was that two seeds had been planted that long-ago night --- one of a great love, and one of a terrible vengeance.

His & Hers by Alice Feeney - Psychological Thriller

When a woman is murdered in Blackdown, a quintessentially British village, newsreader Anna Andrews is reluctant to cover the case. Detective Jack Harper is suspicious of her involvement, until he becomes a suspect in his own murder investigation. Someone isn’t telling the truth, and some secrets are worth killing to keep.

Hollywood Park: A Memoir by Mikel Jollett - Memoir


Mikel Jollett was born into the Church of Synanon, one of the country’s most infamous and dangerous cults. Per the leader’s mandate, all children were separated from their parents when they were six months old, and handed over to the cult’s “School.” After spending years in what was essentially an orphanage, Mikel escaped the cult one morning with his mother and older brother. Raised by a clinically depressed mother, tormented by his angry brother, subjected to the unpredictability of troubled stepfathers and longing for contact with his father, a former heroin addict and ex-con, Jollett slowly, often painfully, builds a life that leads him to Stanford University and, eventually, to finding his voice as a writer and musician.

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See - Historical Fiction

Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju, are best friends who come from very different backgrounds. When they are old enough, they begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving collective, led by Young-sook’s mother. As the girls take up their positions as baby divers, they know they are beginning a life of excitement and responsibility but also danger. Little do they know that after surviving hundreds of dives and developing the closest of bonds, forces outside their control will push their friendship to the breaking point.

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner - Historical Fiction

Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable. One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England's finest novelists. Now it's home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen's legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen's home and her legacy. These people --- a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor and a movie star, among others --- could not be more different, yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.

The Last Flight by Julie Clark - Psychological Thriller

Claire Cook has a perfect life. Married to the scion of a political dynasty, with a Manhattan townhouse and a staff of 10, her surroundings are elegant, her days flawlessly choreographed, and her future auspicious. But behind closed doors, nothing is quite as it seems, and she has worked for months on a plan to vanish. A chance meeting in an airport bar brings Claire together with Eva, whose circumstances seem equally dire. Together they make a last-minute decision to switch tickets, believing that the swap will give each of them the head start they need to begin again somewhere far away. But when one of the flights goes down, Claire realizes it's no longer a head start but a new life. With the news of her death about to explode in the media, Claire will assume Eva's identity --- and, along with it, the secrets Eva fought so hard to keep hidden.

The Lies That Bind by Emily Giffin - Fiction


It’s 2am on a Saturday night in the spring of 2001, and 28-year-old Cecily Gardner sits alone in a dive bar in New York’s East Village, questioning her life. Feeling lonesome and homesick for the Midwest, she wonders if she’ll ever make it as a reporter in the big city --- and whether she made a terrible mistake in breaking up with her longtime boyfriend, Matthew.  As Cecily reaches for the phone to call him, she hears a guy on the barstool next to her say, “Don’t do it --- you’ll regret it.” Something tells her to listen, and over the next several hours --- and shots of tequila --- the two forge an unlikely connection. Then Grant disappears in the chaos of 9/11. Fearing the worst, Cecily spots his face on a missing-person poster, and realizes she is not the only one searching for him. Her investigative reporting instincts kick into action as she vows to discover the truth.

The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs - Fiction


In the wake of a shocking tragedy, Natalie Harper inherits her mother’s charming but financially strapped bookshop in San Francisco. She also becomes caretaker for her ailing grandfather Andrew, who has begun displaying signs of decline. Natalie thinks it’s best to move him to an assisted living facility to ensure the care he needs. To pay for it, she plans to close the bookstore and sell the derelict but valuable building on historic Perdita Street, which is in need of constant fixing. There’s only one problem --- Grandpa Andrew owns the building and refuses to sell. To Natalie’s surprise, her sorrow begins to dissipate as her life becomes an unexpected journey of new connections, discoveries and revelations, from unearthing artifacts hidden in the bookshop’s walls, to discovering the truth about her family, her future and her own heart.

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell - Fiction


2000. Bright, ambitious and yearning for adulthood, 15-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful 42-year-old English teacher. 2017. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager --- and who professed to worship only her --- may be far different from what she has always believed?

One Year of Ugly by Caroline Mackenzie - Fiction/Humor


Having escaped crumbling, socialist Venezuela, Yola Palacio hopes she and her family can finally settle into a peaceful new life in Trinidad. And so what if they’re there illegally --- them and half the island! But life for the Palacios is never quiet, and when Yola’s formidable Aunt Celia dies, the family once again find themselves living on the edge. For Celia had been keeping a very big secret --- a local criminal called Ugly to whom Celia owes an awful lot of money. Without the funds to pay him off, Ugly forces the entire family to do his bidding until Celia’s debt is settled. But in the midst of the turmoil strolls Roman --- Ugly’s distractingly gorgeous right-hand man. And although she knows it’s a terrible idea and a dangerous betrayal of her family’s predicament, Yola just can’t help herself.

The Silent Wife by Karin Slaughter - Mystery/Thriller

Investigating the killing of a prisoner during a riot inside a state penitentiary, GBI investigator Will Trent is confronted with disturbing information. One of the inmates claims that he is innocent of a brutal attack for which he has always been the prime suspect. The man insists that he was framed by a corrupt law enforcement team led by Jeffrey Tolliver and that the real culprit is still out there. If Will reopens the investigation and implicates the dead police officer with a hero’s reputation of wrongdoing, the opportunistic convict is willing to provide the information GBI needs about the riot murder. Only days ago, another young woman was viciously murdered in a state park in northern Georgia. Is it a fluke, or could there be a serial killer on the loose?

The Swap by Robyn Harding - Psychological Thriller


Low Morrison is not your average teen. She just doesn’t fit in --- and neither does Freya, a once-famous social media influencer who now owns the local pottery studio. After signing up for a class, Low quickly falls under Freya’s spell. And Freya is compelled to share her darkest secrets and deepest desires. Finally, both feel a sense of belonging...that is, until Jamie walks through the studio door. Desperate for a baby, she and her husband have moved to the island hoping that the healthy environment will result in a pregnancy. Freya and Jamie become fast friends, as do their husbands, leaving Low alone once again. Then one night, after a boozy dinner party, Freya suggests swapping partners. It should have been a harmless fling between consenting adults, but instead it upends their lives.

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger - Historical Fiction


In the summer of 1932, on the banks of Minnesota’s Gilead River, Odie O’Banion is an orphan confined to the Lincoln Indian Training School, a pitiless place where his lively nature earns him the superintendent’s wrath. Forced to flee after committing a terrible crime, he and his brother, Albert, their best friend, Mose, and a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi and a place to call their own. Over the course of one summer, these four orphans journey into the unknown and cross paths with others who are adrift, from struggling farmers and traveling faith healers to displaced families and lost souls of all kinds.

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware - Psychological Thriller


When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss --- a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten --- by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family. What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare --- one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder. Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unraveling events that led to her incarceration.

 

Two Truths and a Lie by Meg Mitchell Moore - Fiction

Truth: Sherri Griffin and her daughter, Katie, have recently moved to the idyllic beach town of Newburyport, Massachusetts. Rebecca Coleman, former leader of the Newburyport Mom Squad, has made a surprising effort to include these newcomers in typically closed-group activities. Rebecca’s teenage daughter, Alexa, has even been spotted babysitting Katie. Truth: Alexa has time on her hands because of a recent falling-out with her longtime best friends for reasons no one knows --- but everyone suspects have to do with Alexa’s highly popular and increasingly successful YouTube channel. Lie: Rebecca Coleman doesn’t have a new man in her life. Alexa is not seeing anyone new herself and is planning on shutting down her YouTube channel in advance of attending college in the fall. Sherri Griffin’s real name is Sherri Griffin, and a bad divorce is all she’s running from.

A Walk Along the Beach by Debbie Macomber - Fiction

The Lakey sisters are perfect opposites. After their mother died and their father was lost in grief, Willa had no choice but to raise her sister, Harper, and their brother, Lucas. Then, as an adult, she put her own life on hold to nurse Harper through a terrifying illness. Now that Harper is better and the sisters are living as roommates, Willa has realized her dream of running her own bakery and coffee shop, bringing her special brand of caretaking to the whole Oceanside community. Harper, on the other hand, is always on the go. Overcoming a terrible illness has given her a new lease on life, and she does not intend to waste it. When Harper announces her plan to summit Mount Rainier, Willa fears she may be pushing herself too far. Harper, for her part, urges Willa to stop worrying and do something outside of her comfort zone --- like taking a chance on love with a handsome new customer.

The Woman Before Wallis: A Novel of Windsors, Vanderbilts, and Royal Scandal by Bryn Turnbull - Historical Fiction

In the summer of 1926, when Thelma Morgan marries Viscount Duke Furness after a whirlwind romance, she’s immersed in a gilded world of extraordinary wealth and privilege. For Thelma, the daughter of an American diplomat, her new life as a member of the British aristocracy is like a fairy tale --- even more so when her husband introduces her to Edward, Prince of Wales. In a twist of fate, her marriage to Duke leads her to fall headlong into a love affair with Edward. But happiness is fleeting, and their love is threatened when Thelma’s sister, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, becomes embroiled in a scandal with far-reaching implications. As Thelma sails to New York to support Gloria, she leaves Edward in the hands of her trusted friend Wallis, never imagining the consequences that will follow.