Summer reading recommendations

Summer Books for the Beach Bag

Light reads for light weather.

Historical fiction is such a broad genre. And one thing I hear people say is, I love it, but it can be so “heavy” and “serious”. That most definitely can be true. And I don’t know about you, but during summer I’m naturally looking for lighter reads. There’s just something about the warmer weather and more playful activities that have me reaching for books that match that mood. Hence the roundups for “beach” reads! (Stay tuned, I do have a book list coming soon for that also that isn’t just historical fiction.) But here, I have “lighter” historical fiction summer books to read! Enjoy!

Go as a River

Go as a river

Go as a River by Shelley Read is already an international bestseller. It came out as Read’s debut novel in February of 2023 and is taking the world by storm! 

I consider it a perfect summer historical fiction read for a few reasons. For starters, Read’s descriptive outdoor settings are exquisite. The book is set in Colorado in the 1960s and the wild beauty of the area is a character in and of itself. 

Yes, there is hardship and a disaster or sorts like many historical fiction novels. But there is also a courageous coming of age story, a passionate love affair and an incredibly strong protagonist you can’t help rooting for. See the book description below and add it to your list this summer!

Seventeen-year-old Victoria Nash runs the household on her family’s peach farm in the small ranch town of Iola, Colorado―the sole surviving female in a family of troubled men. Wilson Moon is a young drifter with a mysterious past, displaced from his tribal land and determined to live as he chooses.

Victoria encounters Wil by chance on a street corner, a meeting that profoundly alters both of their young lives, unknowingly igniting as much passion as danger. When tragedy strikes, Victoria leaves the only life she has ever known. She flees into the surrounding mountains where she struggles to survive in the wilderness with no clear notion of what her future will bring. As the seasons change, she also charts the changes in herself, finding in the beautiful but harsh landscape the meaning and strength to move forward and rebuild all that she has lost, even as the Gunnison River threatens to submerge her homeland―its ranches, farms, and the beloved peach orchard that has been in her family for generations. 

Inspired by true events surrounding the destruction of the town of Iola in the 1960s, Go as a River is a story of deeply held love in the face of hardship and loss, but also of finding courage, resilience, friendship, and, finally, home―where least expected. This stunning debut explores what it means to lead your life as if it were a river―gathering and flowing, finding a way forward even when a river is dammed.

The Secret Book of Flora Lea

The Secret Book of Flora Lea by Patti Callahan Henry- Ok, yes, this is another WWII historical fiction book. Or at least half the storyline is. But I swear it is an incredibly fresh take on that time period! The one word I can use to describe this book is Magical.

This is a story about sisters and the unbreakable bond between them. It’s also a tale of a magical world created just for them. This book just came out recently in May of 2023 and was an instant NY Times bestseller. It was a fast and enchanting read and I can’t recommend it enough! See the description below and make sure you add it to your list!

Summer books: The secret book of flora lea

In the war-torn London of 1939, fourteen-year-old Hazel and five-year-old Flora are evacuated to a rural village to escape the horrors of the Second World War. Living with the kind Bridie Aberdeen and her teenage son, Harry, in a charming stone cottage along the River Thames, Hazel fills their days with walks and games to distract her young sister, including one that she creates for her sister and her sister alone—a fairy tale about a magical land, a secret place they can escape to that is all their own.

But the unthinkable happens when young Flora suddenly vanishes while playing near the banks of the river. Shattered, Hazel blames herself for her sister’s disappearance, and she carries that guilt into adulthood as a private burden she feels she deserves.

Twenty years later, Hazel is in London, ready to move on from her job at a cozy rare bookstore to a career at Sotheby’s. With a charming boyfriend and her elegantly timeworn Bloomsbury flat, Hazel’s future seems determined. But her tidy life is turned upside down when she unwraps a package containing an illustrated book called Whisperwood and the River of Stars. Hazel never told a soul about the imaginary world she created just for Flora. Could this book hold the secrets to Flora’s disappearance? Could it be a sign that her beloved sister is still alive after all these years?

As Hazel embarks on a feverish quest, revisiting long-dormant relationships and bravely opening wounds from her past, her career and future hang in the balance. An astonishing twist ultimately reveals the truth in this transporting and refreshingly original novel about the bond between sisters, the complications of conflicted love, and the enduring magic of storytelling.

Did You Hear About Kitty Karr?

Summer books: Did you hear about kitty karr?

Did You Hear About Kitty Karr? By Crystal Smith Paul was a Reese’s Book Club pick and instant bestseller! Kitty Karr is a fun and thought-provoking book about a black movie star passing as white and rising to the top. This storyline has been told in some variance before. But Paul does a fantastic day of creating another intriguing and fresh version that examines the complexities of racial identity. See the full description below and make sure you add to your list for the summer!

When Kitty Karr Tate, a White icon of the silver screen, dies and bequeaths her multimillion-dollar estate to the St. John sisters, three young, wealthy Black women, it prompts questions. Lots of questions.

A celebrity in her own right, Elise St. John would rather focus on sorting out Kitty’s affairs than deal with the press. But what she discovers in one of Kitty’s journals rocks her world harder than any other brewing scandal could―and between a cheating fiancé and the fallout from a controversial social media post, there are plenty.

The truth behind Kitty’s ascent to stardom from her beginnings in the segregated South threatens to expose a web of unexpected family ties, debts owed, and debatable crimes that could, with one pull, unravel the all-American fabric of the St. John sisters and those closest to them.

As Elise digs deeper into Kitty’s past, she must also turn the lens upon herself, confronting the gifts and burdens of her own choices and the power that the secrets of the dead hold over the living. Did You Hear About Kitty Karr? is a sprawling page-turner set against the backdrop of the Hollywood machine, an insightful and nuanced look at the inheritances of family, race, and gender―and the choices some women make to break free of them.

What are you looking forward to reading this summer? Please share below in the comments. I’m always looking for new recommendations!

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