Blanche’s Book Club: 2020 Summer Reading Guide!

At the end of 2019, I did something I should have been doing for years: I planned out what I was going to read each month in 2020! At the time, I was working 60+ hours a week and not really reading much, so I planned to read 15 books this year.

I obviously didn’t take into consideration the possibility that there’d be a global pandemic, I’d lose most of my clients and we’d all be sitting at home for months relying on books for entertainment and escapism!

While I am still reading the books I planned to read this year (I mapped them out by month), I have already read 20 books and I have a feeling I’ll read at least 20 more before the year-end holidays. So, I wanted to share some ideas for summer reading if you’re like me and have ZERO plans this summer.

Before I dive into some of these newer books, here are the books I already planned to read this summer:

Now, let’s dive into some of the newer books you should probably add to your cart…

“The Imperfects” by Amy Meyerson

The Millers are far from perfect. Estranged siblings Beck, Ashley and Jake find themselves under one roof for the first time in years, forced to confront old resentments and betrayals, when their mysterious, eccentric matriarch, Helen, passes away. But their lives are about to change when they find a secret inheritance hidden among her possessions—the Florentine Diamond, a 137-carat yellow gemstone that went missing from the Austrian Empire a century ago.

Desperate to learn how one of the world’s most elusive diamonds ended up in Helen’s bedroom, they begin investigating her past only to realize how little they know about their brave, resilient grandmother. As the Millers race to determine whether they are the rightful heirs to the diamond and the fortune it promises, they uncover a past more tragic and powerful than they ever could have imagined, forever changing their connection to their heritage and each other.

I enjoy a good family drama, plus this one has the added bonus of the diamond. I attended a virtual book event where Meyerson talked about all of the extensive research she did to make sure all of the jewelry-related content was right and I immediately bought this book!

“The Jetsetters” by Amanda Eyre Ward

When seventy-year-old Charlotte Perkins submits a sexy essay to the Become a Jetsetter contest, she dreams of reuniting her estranged children: Lee, an almost-famous actress; Cord, a handsome Manhattan venture capitalist who can’t seem to find a partner; and Regan, a harried mother who took it all wrong when Charlotte bought her a Weight Watchers gift certificate for her birthday. Charlotte yearns for the years when her children were young, when she was a single mother who meant everything to them.

When she wins the contest, the family packs their baggage—both literal and figurative—and spends ten days traveling from sun-drenched Athens through glorious Rome to tapas-laden Barcelona on an over-the-top cruise ship, the Splendido Marveloso. As lovers new and old join the adventure, long-buried secrets are revealed and old wounds are reopened, forcing the Perkins family to confront the forces that drove them apart and the defining choices of their lives.

I have heard mixed reviews about this book, but the description sounds so good, I’m just going to have to see it for myself! I like this idea of entering a contest for such a lavish trip, and again with the family drama — are you noticing a theme here?

“Beach Read” by Emily Henry

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

I wish the characters didn’t have such bizarre names (sorry, but I get confused by this) but otherwise, this book sounds like the perfect summer book. A bookseller I follow mentioned that writer’s block was a theme in a lot of new books coming out and honestly, it seems fitting for the times.

“Tweet Cute” by Emma Lorde

Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming — mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.

All’s fair in love and cheese — that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life — on an anonymous chat app Jack built.

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate — people on the internet are shipping them — their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.

Teen love drama + social media + burgers = consider me SOLD! I actually bought this book at the beginning of quarantine, but haven’t read it yet. I figure the summer months will be the perfect time to start it.

“Girls Night Out” by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

For estranged friends Ashley, Natalie, and Lauren, it’s time to heal the old wounds between them. Where better to repair those severed ties than on a girls’ getaway to the beautiful paradise of Tulum, Mexico? But even after they’re reunited, no one is being completely honest about the past or the secrets they’re hiding. When Ashley disappears on their girls’ night out, Natalie and Lauren have to try to piece together their hazy memories to figure out what could have happened to her, while also reconciling their feelings of guilt over their last moments together.

Was Ashley with the man she’d met only days before? Did she pack up and leave? Was she kidnapped? Or worse—could Natalie or Lauren have snapped under the weight of her own lies?

As the clock ticks, hour by hour, Natalie and Lauren’s search rushes headlong into growing suspicion and dread. Maybe their secrets run deeper and more dangerous than one of them is willing—or too afraid—to admit.

I have been following Liz & Lisa for years because of their blog and amazing book recs, but admittedly I haven’t read one of their books! This one isn’t their newest one, but it sounded like a good summertime mystery.

“Big Summer” by Jennifer Weiner

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—she doesn’t even hate-follow her ex-best friend on social media—so when Drue asks if she will be her maid-of-honor at the society wedding of the summer, Daphne is rightfully speechless.

Drue was always the one who had everything—except the ability to hold onto friends. Meanwhile, Daphne’s no longer the same self-effacing sidekick she was back in high school. She’s built a life that she loves, including a growing career as a plus-size Instagram influencer. 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. 

On a perfect summer night, as generations of Cavanaughs descend on the family beach in Cape Cod, the cute guy materializes and a family feud erupts. With rumors swirling about everything from a failing business to infidelity, it’s clear why Drue wanted Daphne by her side. When Daphne wakes up the morning of the wedding to find that her crush has vanished and that something terrible has happened to her friend, it’s up to her to dig deep into Drue’s past, to unpeel the layers of illusion, and to find out the complicated truth about perfect Drue Cavanaugh. 

I mean, you can’t go wrong with Jennifer Weiner… and this one sounds like her best work yet! I am expecting some twists and turns in this one — which I’ve already ordered.

“East Coast Girls” by Kerry Kletter

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.

You had me at Montauk. I just finished reading “Out East” by John Glenn and now I am going to live vicariously through anyone and everyone in Montauk for the summer.

“Girls of Summer” by Nancy Thayer

Lisa Hudson feels more alive than she has in a long time after hiring hunky carpenter Mack Whitney to renovate her old Nantucket home. There’s no denying the spark growing between them–despite the fact that Mack is ten years her junior. But her twentysomething children, Juliet and Theo, on the island for the summer, worry that the new relationship will only lead to Lisa’s heartbreak.

Yet Juliet and Theo are in for tangled love stories all their own. When dreamy Ryder Hastings moves to the island to pursue a new environmental venture, Juliet feels an unwelcome attraction, her rocky romantic history pushing her to steer clear of love. Theo only has eyes for Mack’s daughter, Beth, with whom he was bound by an unspeakable tragedy in high school–but can they overcome their past?

By August, when an impending storm threatens to shatter the peace of the golden island, everyone discovers what they can and cannot control. Nancy Thayer dazzles again with this new tale of a magical summer.

This is one I wouldn’t have likely come across on my own, but I attended a virtual literary lunch earlier this week and it was mentioned there. The description sounds very Elin-Hilderbrand-esque and I am always down for that.

“Sea Wife” by Amity Gaige

Juliet is failing to juggle motherhood and her stalled-out dissertation on confessional poetry when her husband, Michael, informs her that he wants to leave his job and buy a sailboat. With their two kids—Sybil, age seven, and George, age two—Juliet and Michael set off for Panama, where their forty-four foot sailboat awaits them.  

The initial result is transformative; the marriage is given a gust of energy, Juliet emerges from her depression, and the children quickly embrace the joys of being feral children at sea. Despite the stresses of being novice sailors, the family learns to crew the boat together on the ever-changing sea.  The vast horizons and isolated islands offer Juliet and Michael reprieve – until they are tested by the unforeseen.

Sea Wife is told in gripping dual perspectives: Juliet’s first person narration, after the journey, as she struggles to come to terms with the life-changing events that unfolded at sea, and Michael’s captain’s log, which provides a riveting, slow-motion account of these same inexorable events, a dialogue that reveals the fault lines created by personal history and political divisions.  

This book sounds fascinating! There’s a possibility I’ve been watching too much “Below Deck: Sailing Yacht” but… I am excited for this one!

“The Summer of Us” by Cecilia Vinesse

American expat Aubrey has only two weeks left in Europe before she leaves for college, and she’s nowhere near ready. Good thing she and her best friend, Rae, have planned one last group trip across the continent. From Paris to Prague, they’re going to explore famous museums, sip champagne in fancy restaurants, and eat as many croissants as possible with their friends Clara, Jonah, and Gabe.

But when old secrets come to light, Aubrey and Rae’s trip goes from a carefree adventure to a complete disaster. For starters, there’s Aubrey and Gabe’s unresolved history, complicated by the fact that Aubrey is dating Jonah, Gabe’s best friend. And then there’s Rae’s hopeless crush on the effortlessly cool Clara. How is Rae supposed to admit her feelings to someone so perfect when they’re moving to different sides of the world in just a few weeks?

I’ve seen this a few places online and thought it looked cute — I am a sucker for a YA novel. Plus, I liked the international aspect of this one. I caught it during a Nook sale, so it’s waiting for me to start!

“The Royal We” by Heather Cox & Jessica Morgan

American Bex Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister Lacey was always the romantic, the one who daydreamed of being a princess. But it’s adventure-seeking Bex who goes to Oxford and meets dreamy Nick across the hall – and Bex who finds herself accidentally in love with the heir to the British throne.

Nick is wonderful, but he comes with unimaginable baggage: a complicated family, hysterical tabloids tracking his every move, and a public that expected its future king to marry a Brit. On the eve of the most talked-about wedding of the century, Bex looks back on how much she’s had to give up for true love… and exactly whose heart she may yet have to break.

I’ve been slow to jump on the royal craze, but earlier this year I read “Red, White & Royal Blue” and really liked it. Plus, this one is said to be based on William and Kate — here for it!

“Love at First Like” by Hannah Oreinstein

Eliza Roth and her sister Sophie co-own a jewelry shop in Brooklyn. One night, after learning of an ex’s engagement, Eliza accidentally posts a photo of herself wearing a diamond ring on that finger to her Instagram account beloved by 100,000 followers. Sales skyrocket, press rolls in, and Eliza learns that her personal life is good for business. So she has a choice: continue the ruse or clear up the misunderstanding. With mounting financial pressure, Eliza sets off to find a fake fiancé.

Fellow entrepreneur Blake seems like the perfect match on paper. And in real life he shows promise, too. He would be perfect, if only Eliza didn’t feel also drawn to someone else. But Blake doesn’t know Eliza is “engaged”; Sophie asks Eliza for an impossible sum of money; and Eliza’s lies start to spiral out of control. She can either stay engaged online or fall in love in real life.

I read Orenstein’s debut novel “Playing With Matches” earlier this year and enjoyed it, so I picked this one up right away. As a millennial and a professional in digital marketing, any relatable plots are always good for me!

***

And there you have Blanche’s Book Club’s 2020 Summer Reading Guide! I’d love to know if any of these books are on your TBR list or what others you’ve been eyeing.

Happy summer reading!

For more book recommendations, be sure to subscribe to the blog (look to the right) and follow me on Goodreads @thebitterlemon – where I share more of my book picks. You can also get exclusive blogging and bookish content on The Bitter Lemon’s Patreon

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