10 May 2021

2021 Summer Reading Guide

 Every year I comb through the books I have read in the last year and determine which of those books would make a great vacation read.  I determine a vacation read as something that might be hard to put down, it could be something light and fluffy, maybe a can't look away from drama-filled adventure, or even something you have never tried before.  This year's list will have a new feature, something I have not read, but can't wait to get my hands on.  Thanks for reading this list and I hope it inspires you to pick up a book this summer.

WWII fiction

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

One of the most interesting aspects of WWII was the fact that women entered the workforce and proved to all that they could indeed succeed at any job.  This book focuses on the women that worked as code breakers.  There is a side story with a romance with a code breaker and Phillip Mountbatten (yes, THAT Phillip).  

The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel

My second WWII pick is another with a strong female character.  Our heroine here saves the lives of children by changing their identities and getting them away from the Nazi army. She kept a book that had a code and this code featured the true identities of the children.  I loved this book!!! 

The Last One Home by Shari Ryan

The story features a girl that is the daughter of the commanding officer at a naval base on Oahu. She wants to be a nurse and her father does not want her to date anyone in the military. Fate has a way of intervening starting with the day she meets a handsome former actor turned soldier.   Then Pearl Harbor is bombed and war breaks out, everyone in her family joins the military and are scattered all over the world.  I love the meaning of the title with the story.  

The Girl with the Blue Star by Pam Jenoff

The book was so good and so very different from any WWII book I had read before now.  An entire Jewish family evacuates to the sewers where they will live in hopes that they can hide from the Nazi army.  This book is full of action and beautifully written.   

The Hollywood Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal 

The Hollywood Spy is number 10 in a series that I have encouraged you to read for years, if you have not please pick up Mr. Churchill's Secretary and see what I am talking about.  This series follows a woman named Maggie Hope that becomes an agent for England during WWII.  Her adventures lead her through some violent times, murder, intrigue, and captivity. Number 10 focuses on her coming to America to help solve the murder of an actress that was engaged to her long-time friend, John. Each book in this series is action packed.  

General Fiction

The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner

This is going down as one of the best books of 2021 for me,  We get to meet a mail order bride that is running away from a past life and another country.  We soon see she isn't the only one running or hiding secrets.  Her new husband and her new daughter also have secrets of their own.  These secrets will be revealed about the time that the 1906 earthquake rocks their hometown of San Francisco.  

The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman

Another pick book of the year! I have always loved a story wrapped around the pandemic of 1918,  this one focused more on family than some of the others I have read.  Pia is a small child who ends up caring for her twin baby brothers.  When they vanish, she risks everything to find them. That sounds easy, but there is a pandemic going on out there and some very bad people do very bad things when they think they can take advantage of people in a desperate situation.  This was a gripping book, maybe you should carve out the weekend for this one.   

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

The Last Apothecary is another great 2021 book.  This one takes place in two time periods, 1790 and the present day.  In modern times we find a woman a little lost in life and seeking direction.  She goes to this event where she finds a vial from an old apothecary's office and sets off to discover where the vial came from and what it had once contained.  In the past timeline, we got to meet the apothecary and see that her business operates by providing poisons to women that have been hurt/wronged by men.  I have heard the audiobook is just as good as the print book.  

Surviving Savannah by Patti Calahan Henry

Another two-time period book, where most of the action takes place in post-civil war Savannah.  A ship named The Pulaski is taking wealthy folks from their plantations up the river to their summer homes to avoid some of the spoils of summer (mosquitos and heat mainly).  Something happens and the ship blows up leaving the people to fight to live.  Fast forward to the present day and the wreckage has been found.  The conservators are hoping to answer questions about the explosion.  Both timelines feature a woman that is very unhappy due to circumstances she really couldn't change, and is looking for a way to overcome.  


Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

I 100% admit that I checked out this book because of the darling cover.  I will also admit that I found this one fascinating.  Here we have a daughter telling the story of her life with her mom during two periods of her life.   When she was a child, her mother made her sick to fleece the community for money.  Rose Gold will tell you about how her mother got caught and what is going on in her life today.   That is all I am going to say, but I very much enjoyed this book.  

Kind of Science Fiction

The Echo Wife by  Sarah Gailey

Imagine a world where clones are walking among us.  Imagine a world where your husband has decided he wants to be with someone else and has dumped you.   Imagine your husband engaged to another woman before you are even divorced.  Imagine that woman is your clone that he created.   Imagine that you and the clone meet.  That is all I will say except that this book had me guessing all along and I loved it!!!!

Beach Reads (when I use this terminology I am referring to books that you can just sit down and enjoy...quick reads and maybe even funny) 

You had me at Hola by Alexis Daria

I was looking for something totally different and thought I would give this one a chance. It has a typical formula....

hot girl meets hot guy

hot guy might be into her

 yes, he is into her

they date

he has a secret

they break up.

...You know the drill.   The fun part was this was set on the set of a telenovela soap opera  and featured tons of scenes with families and friends that made parts of this funny.  You don't need to invest any major time here.  It is a rather quick read to enjoy poolside or in the car on the way to the beach.  If you are not into Rom-Com books, I would skip this one.  

The Floating Feldmans by Elyssa Friedland

Grandma decides to take the entire family (her husband, two grown kids, and their families/girlfriends) on a NOT ALL EXPENSES PAID cruise.  Yes, you already know there is going to be drama, lies, and secrets, and that everything will spill out at some point.  The fun parts of this book were how the lies and secrets spilled out and what exactly they were.  I admit, I 100% picked up this book because I miss cruising so much, but I had a fun time on the journey.  


How Y'all Doing by Leslie Jordan

OH my goodness, how can you not love Leslie Allan Jordan?  I have only been a fan since The Cool Kids aired, right before he became a sensation, so I am a newbie.    I thought he was so funny on the show that when his Instagram started, I hopped right on.  Then the pandemic hit and he was so worried about how we were doing and hunkering down with us telling us stories of his life.  If you have not experienced this account, stop reading this and go follow him, do it now!  Leslie loves Jesus, his mama, and gospel singing, in that order and that is just a sprinkling of what you will find in this book.  I did the audio and e-book, but found the audio to be my favorite way to enjoy. I recommend you do it that way so he can read it to you in that southern drawl.  I highlighted a few things while reading and I wanted to share my favorite one...

Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey 

I would say if you like Matthew this is a must-read. If you are interested in Matthew (I fall in that category, not even sure if I have seen any of his films), then this could be enjoyable for you also.  I admit I picked it up because it was talked about as an honest look into Matthew's life. I agree with that statement.  I will add that I think you should do the audiobook.  I listened to this while I did some construction work on my house and it made the time pass quickly.  Matthew's voice was animated and entertaining.  He seemed honest, sincere, and a bit crazy. Ok, maybe a lot crazy.   His story weaves through the times and he will tell you exactly what a "greenlight" is to him.  I loved his take on this, he is striving to build a happy life and succeeding on all levels.  Maybe now I will watch one of his movies.  

Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey

I have had this book on my TBR for a long time, it would come off hold and I would have so many books waiting I would set it aside. I seriously wish I had not waited as this book made me have all the feels.  Natasha's mother was a woman that worked hard for everything.  She was well educated with a good job, had a brilliant mind, was a stellar mother, and just fell in love with the wrong guy. When she tried to escape, he murdered her. Natasha tells the story in beautiful, poetic language.  

President Book

Grant's Tomb by Louis Picone

Most of the people I know do not even like a good US President book, and normally I would not include them.  They can be very long and boring.  I chose this one as a good read because you not only get a shortened synopsis of Grant's life and his horrific death, but you also see how America loved him and wanted to honor him.  Most people have no clue in this day and age exactly what Grant did to save our country, what he sacrificed to keep our nation whole, the reverence of our country is displayed on these pages of just how much America wanted to honor him for everything he to save her.  Grant's Tomb touches on all of that and takes you through the history of the conception, fundraising, building, deterioration, and resurgence of the tomb that stands above all in Riverside Park, NYC.  

Michelle can't wait to read

I may not know much about these, but I am excited to read them (yes, some of these were added to the TBR because of the very awesome cover).  

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