Summer Reading Recommendations

Rather than list off all of the books I hope to read this summer, I am going to update this periodically with the best books I read - my recommendations for summer reading:

Murder, madness, & Mystery at the fair that changed America.  

Wow.  Some reviewers have noted that this is two storied in one, but I think they are wrong.  I think there are closer to ten stories here, all woven together.  The creation of the ferris wheel (which was created to outdo the Eiffel tower at the Paris World Fair), the ship from Europe that began to go to the Titanic's aid but did not make it there, the start of frank Lloyd wrights career, the story of a delusional man who murdered the mayor,  and the obvious 1893 celebration of 400 years since Columbus' arrival (known as the worlds fair) and the story of one of the first known american serial killers, just to name a few.  

It does not read like non fiction.  It is so well written, so interesting, that it is hard to put down.

Evanovich is always good for a light, funny, summer read.  Her newest,  is coauthored by Goldberg, who wrote the Monk series that the tv show was based on.

A quick, light, entertaining, read. It reminds me a lot of the show White Collar, but with a Stephanie Plum cast of characters. (this is not a plum novel, but the crew sounds like a lot of her associates). I enjoyed it and look forward to more in this series.

When I was reading Christmas themed books last Christmas, I discovered this series by Rhys Bowen. I've read books 1 & 2 so far - and I love them.  Set in the 1930's in England, they are quick, easy, entertaining reads.  Book #7 - Heirs & Graces, is due out in August.

Not since reading The Room by Emma Donaghue have I been so completely pulled into a novel. This was a riveting read, near impossible to put down.

This book is set in the prohibition era, and at times you expect Rose & Odalie to run into Gatsby himself. It is delightful to read, with the speakeasies and the clothing so vividly described without being tedious. (I've recently read Inferno & The Kill Room, Brown & Deaver could take some notes from this on how to set a scene without being so tedious that the reader forgets why anyone is in that scene to begin with.)

The narrative is fantastic. The early reference to The Wasteland by TS Elliot hints at the depths and twists in this book, which are at once so clear, and so unclear, that at the end you may wonder what this book was really about. Normally I cannot stand that in a book, I like clear endings with everything wrapped up neatly, but in this book I simply do not care that I don't have all the answers. It's truly that well done.

If you like to think more deeply about plot lines and inferences that the author quite likely never intended be sure to read Odalie by Alice Dunbar. It is very short, not really much longer than this review, and free to read online.

(a side note - I read through some of the reviews here, and many seem to think there are only two options for the ending. I see a third. Not one or the other, but a blending of the two. I'm not prone to over thinking things though, and allowing for the blending allows me to take the text pretty literally as the author wrote it. ) 

It is rare that I am unable to predict where the "twists and turns" of a book are leading, but this one surprised me. It was hard to put down, and an awesome story.  My first Coben read, but definitely not my last.
This series drives me nuts, in that it was supposed to be a trilogy, and it's now up to book 5 being released in May 2014.  Maybe it will end up being TWO trilogies, at this rate.  But, the definition of "trilogy" aside, this is hard to beat for great summer reading.  Read all 4 books.  Light, interesting, quick reads.

This is a series - VIntage Ladybug Farm is the 4th & latest in the series, and it was, like the others before it, VERY good.  More light reading, well written, mildly sappy, a feel good series without being drivel.  Fantastic summer reading.

From Goodreads:
Their husbands were gone, their families were grown, and the future stretched out before them like an unfulfilled promise...

Tired of always dreaming and never doing, Cici, Lindsay, and Bridget make a life-altering decision. Uprooting themselves from their comfortable lives in the suburbs, the three friends buy a run-down mansion, nestled in the picturesque Shenandoah Valley. They christen their new home "Ladybug Farm," hoping that the name will bring them luck.

As the friends take on a home improvement challenge of epic proportions, they encounter disaster after disaster, from renegade sheep and garden thieves to a seemingly ghostly inhabitant. Over the course of a year, overwhelming obstacles make the three women question their decision, but they ultimately learn that sometimes the best things can happen when everything goes wrong..

I read my first Kate Morton novel earlier this year, The Secret Keeper.  Loved it.  I have a bunch more of hers on my summer to read list.  From goodreads:

During a party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the road and sees her mother speak to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy. 

Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress, living in London. She returns to the family farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday and finds herself overwhelmed by questions she has not thought about for decades. From pre-WWII England through the Blitz, to the fifties and beyond, discover the secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds—Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy—who meet by chance in wartime London and whose lives are forever entwined.

The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams, the lengths people go to fulfill them, and the consequences they can have. It is a story of lovers, friends, dreamers, and schemers told—in Morton’s signature style—against a backdrop of events that changed the world

Not My Favorites, But Still A Good Read:
Stick with it through the first 4 chapters or so, and it does get better.  It's really a great story, it just could have used a lot more editing.

This is actually a really good, light, summer read, if you ignore the title and change your expectations. My goodreads review: 

It didn't actually seem to have much to do with Martha Stewart endeavors really. She put some stuff in some jars, & used glitter. It was more about her dogs, and her mammogram. Interesting to read about on their own, it felt wrong to then try to pull them into some "tao of Martha". It reminded me of one of my kids school assignments, where they wrote the essay then realized they read the assignment wrong, and rather than rewrite it they tried to tie it into the assigned topic. Minus points for language (It just feels rude when authors swear in a book like this. Crass, & so opposite the "tao of Martha". ).