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Summer Reading 2024

Summer Reading

Summer Reading 2024

Summer will be here before you know it! At Bookreporter.com, this means it's time for us to share some great summer book picks with our Summer Reading Contests and Feature. We are hosting a series of 24-hour contests for these titles on select days through early August, so you will have to check the site each day to see the featured prize book and enter to win. We also are sending a special newsletter to announce the day's title, which you can sign up for here.

Our next prize book will be announced on Tuesday, May 21st at noon ET.

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

Animals I Want to See: A Memoir of Growing Up in the Projects and Defying the Odds by Tom Seeman - Memoir


On Bronson Street, in the projects of Toledo, Ohio, in a crowded house occupied by a family of 14, Tom Seeman starts a very important list. Just as the trash-strewn field in his backyard is home to a treasure trove of wild animals, Tom’s list, “Animals I Want To See One Day,” is home to dreams of adventure in places far away from the downtrodden neighborhood where he lives. But for all its hardship and crime, Bronson Street is also something of a mythical street, populated by unforgettable people who share food, protect each other, and give surprising gifts of beauty and merriment, proving that the bonds of community and friendship (often across racial and social lines) can bridge any divide and transcend what many of us are taught to believe about each other.

Belonging by Jill Fordyce - Fiction


Jenny is 13 when an epic dust storm rolls into her central California town in December 1977. Bedridden after contracting a life-threatening illness in the storm and suffering a shocking loss, Jenny realizes she will never be cared for by the mother who both neglects and terrifies her or the father who allows it. She relies on her cousin, Heather, who has the loving home Jenny longs for; her beloved great-uncle, Gino, the last link between generations; her best friend, Henry, a free spirit with whom she shares an inexplicable bond; and earnest baseball star Billy, who becomes her first love. After a stunning turn of events in both their lives, Jenny and Henry leave for college in LA together in the summer of 1982. When she returns home years later, the life Jenny so carefully created collides with the one she left behind.

The Days I Loved You Most by Amy Neff - Fiction


In the summer of 1941, on the New England shores where they were raised, Evelyn and Joseph fell in love. Now, more than 60 years later, with a lifetime between them, they have gathered their three grown children to share the staggering news: she has received a tragic diagnosis, and he cannot live without her. So in one year’s time, they will end their lives on their own terms. As the couple comes to grips with their fate, they retrace their past --- the joys and regrets, the laughter and the sorrow --- that brought them to this moment. They embark on a journey to live out their greatest dreams and to comfort and connect with each of their children before they're gone. But as their final days draw closer, they must confront the stark reality of what they are about to do, and make peace with the legacy they will leave behind for their family.

The Far Side of the Desert by Joanne Leedom-Ackerman - Political Thriller/Mystery


Sisters Samantha and Monte Waters are vacationing together in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, enjoying a festival and planning to meet with their brother, Cal. But the idyllic plans are short-lived. When terrorists’ attacks rock the city around them, Monte, a U.S. foreign service officer, and Samantha, an international television correspondent, are separated, and one of them is whisked away in the frenzy. The family mobilizes, using all their contacts to try to find their missing sister, but to no avail. She has vanished. As time presses on, the outlook darkens. Can she be found, or is she a lost cause? And even if she returns, will the damage to her and those around her be irreparable?

The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club by Helen Simonson - Historical Fiction

It is the summer of 1919. Now that all the men have returned from the front, Constance Haverhill has been asked to give up her cottage and her job at the estate she helped run during the war. She is sent as a lady’s companion to an old family friend who is convalescing at a seaside hotel. Despite having only weeks to find a permanent home, Constance is swept up in the social whirl of Hazelbourne-on-Sea after rescuing the local baronet’s daughter, Poppy, from a social faux pas. Poppy runs a ladies’ motorcycle club, to which she plans to add flying lessons. She and her friends enthusiastically welcome Constance into their circle. As the country prepares to celebrate its hard-won peace, Constance and the women of the club are forced to confront the fact that the freedoms they gained during the war are being revoked.

Honey by Isabel Banta - Fiction


It is 1997, and Amber Young has received a life-changing call. It’s a chance thousands of girls would die for: the opportunity to join girl group Cloud9 in Los Angeles and escape her small town. She quickly finds herself in the orbits of fellow rising stars Gwen Morris, a driven singer-dancer, and Wes Kingston, a member of the biggest boy band in the world, ETA. As Amber embarks on her solo career and her fame intensifies, her rich interior life is frequently reduced. Surrounded by people who claim to love her but only wish to exploit her, and driven by a desire for recognition and success, for love and sex, for agency and connection, Amber comes of age at a time when the kaleidoscope of public opinion can distort everything and one mistake can shatter a career.

House of Glass by Sarah Pekkanen - Domestic Thriller


Rose Barclay is a nine-year-old girl who witnessed the possible murder of her nanny --- in the midst of her parents' bitter divorce --- and immediately stopped speaking. Stella Hudson is a best interest attorney, appointed to serve as counsel for children in custody cases. From the moment Stella passes through the iron security gate and steps into the gilded, historic DC home of the Barclays, she realizes the case is even more twisted, and the Barclay family far more troubled, than she feared. And there's something eerie about the house itself: It's a plastic house, with not a single bit of glass to be found. As Stella comes closer to uncovering the secrets the Barclays are desperate to hide, danger wraps around her like a shroud, and her past and present are set on a collision course in ways she never expected.

I Will Ruin You by Linwood Barclay - Psychological Thriller

English teacher Richard Boyle certainly never thought he would find himself talking down a former student intent on harming others. But when Mark LeDrew shows up at Richard’s school with a bomb strapped to his chest, Richard immediately jumps into action. Thanks to some quick thinking, he averts a major tragedy and is hailed as a hero. However, Richard’s brief moment in the spotlight puts him in the sights of a deranged blackmailer with a score to settle. The situation rapidly spirals out of control, drawing Richard into a fraught web of salacious accusations and deadly secrets. As he tries to uncover the truth, he discovers that there’s something deeply wrong in the town --- something that ties together Mark, the blackmailer and a gang of ruthless drug dealers, and Richard has landed smack in the middle of it. What price will he pay for one good deed?

Lady Tan's Circle of Women by Lisa See - Historical Fiction

According to Confucius, “an educated woman is a worthless woman,” but Tan Yunxian is being raised by her grandparents to be of use. Her grandmother is one of only a handful of female doctors in China, and she teaches Yunxian the pillars of Chinese medicine. Yunxian learns about women’s illnesses alongside a young midwife-in-training, Meiling. The two girls find fast friendship and a mutual purpose. No mud, no lotus, they tell themselves: from adversity beauty can bloom. But when Yunxian is sent into an arranged marriage, her mother-in-law forbids her from seeing Meiling and from helping the women in the household. Yunxian is to act like a proper wife --- embroider bound-foot slippers, pluck instruments, recite poetry, give birth to sons, and stay forever within the walls of the family compound, the Garden of Fragrant Delights.

The Lion Women of Tehran by Marjan Kamali - Fiction


In 1950s Tehran, seven-year-old Ellie lives in grand comfort until the untimely death of her father, forcing Ellie and her mother to move to a tiny home downtown. Luckily, on the first day of school, Ellie meets Homa, a kind, passionate girl with a brave and irrepressible spirit. Together, they play games, learn to cook in the stone kitchen of Homa’s warm home, wander through the colorful stalls of the Grand Bazaar, and share their ambitions for becoming “lion women.” But their happiness is disrupted when Ellie and her mother are afforded the opportunity to return to their previous bourgeois life. Now a popular student at the best girls’ high school in Iran, Ellie’s memories of Homa begin to fade. Years later, however, her sudden reappearance in Ellie’s privileged world alters the course of both of their lives.

Meet Me at the Starlight by Rachel Hauck - Historical Romance


1987. Supermodel Harlow Hayes seeks solace in a quaint Florida beach town to heal from a heartbreak that shattered her entire world. To her surprise, she encounters Matt Knight --- a Hollywood A-lister with a bad-boy reputation --- who has returned to his hometown to help his plucky grandmother, Tuesday, save her century-old skating rink. The Starlight holds a special place in the hearts of the community, once acting as a refuge for Depression-era families and bringing the town together with gatherings and celebrations. Yet, when the Starlight is threatened with demolition, Tuesday begins to wonder if an era has come to an end. As Matt and Harlow strategize to save the rink, they find themselves on a journey of surprises, self-discovery and the kind of healing that leads to love.

The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley - Science Fiction/Romance

In the near future, a civil servant is offered the salary of her dreams and shortly afterward is told what project she’ll be working on. A recently established government ministry is gathering “expats” from across history to determine if time travel is feasible --- for the body, but also for the fabric of space-time. She is tasked with working as a “bridge”: living with, assisting and monitoring the expat known as “1847,” or Commander Graham Gore. Over the next year, what the bridge initially thought would be, at best, a horrifically uncomfortable roommate dynamic evolves into something much deeper. By the time the true shape of the Ministry’s project comes to light, the bridge has fallen haphazardly, fervently in love, with consequences she never could have imagined.

The Pecan Children by Quinn Connor - Gothic Horror/Magical Realism


In a small southern pecan town, the annual harvest is a time of both celebration and heartbreak. Even as families are forced to sell their orchards and move away, Lil Clearwater, keeper of a secret covenant with her land, swears she never will. When her twin Sasha returns to the dwindling town in hopes of reconnecting with the girl her heart never forgot, the sisters struggle to bridge their differences and share the immense burden of protecting their home from hungry forces intent on uprooting everything they love. But there is rot hiding deep beneath the surface. Ghostly fires light up the night, and troubling local folklore is revealed to be all too true. Confronted with the phantoms of their pasts and the devastating threat to their future, the sisters come to the stark realization that in the kudzu-choked South, nothing is ever as it appears.

Shelterwood by Lisa Wingate - Historical Fiction


Oklahoma, 1909. Eleven-year-old Olive Augusta Radley knows that her stepfather doesn’t have good intentions toward the two Choctaw girls boarded in their home as wards. When the older girl disappears, Ollie flees to the woods, taking six-year-old Nessa with her. Together they begin a perilous journey to the remote Winding Stair Mountains, the notorious territory of outlaws, treasure hunters and desperate men. Oklahoma, 1990. Law enforcement ranger Valerie Boren-Odell arrives at newly minted Horsethief Trail National Park seeking a quiet place to balance a career and single parenthood. But no sooner has Valerie reported for duty than she’s faced with local controversy over the park’s opening, a teenage hiker gone missing from one of the trails, and the long-hidden burial site of three children unearthed in a cave.

Such a Lovely Family by Aggie Blum Thompson - Domestic Thriller/Mystery

The cherry blossoms are in full bloom in Washington, D.C., and the Calhouns are in the midst of hosting their annual party to celebrate the best of the spring season. With a house full of friends, neighbors and their beloved three adult children, the Calhouns are expecting another picture-perfect event. But a brutal murder in the middle of the celebration transforms the yearly gathering into a homicide scene and all the guests into suspects. Behind their façade of perfection, the Calhoun family has been keeping some very dark secrets. As the investigation heats up, family tensions build, and alliances shift. Long-buried resentments surface, forcing the Calhouns to face their darkest secrets before it’s too late.

Summers at the Saint by Mary Kay Andrews - Fiction

Traci Eddings was one of those outsiders whose family wasn’t rich enough or connected enough to vacation at St. Cecelia. But she could work there. One fateful summer she did, and she married the boss’s son. Now, she’s the widowed owner of the hotel, determined to see it return to its glory days, even as staff shortages and financial troubles threaten to ruin it. Plus, her greedy and unscrupulous brother-in-law wants to make sure she fails. Enlisting a motley crew of recently hired summer help --- including the daughter of her estranged best friend --- Traci has one summer season to turn it around. But new information about a long-ago drowning at the hotel threatens to come to light, and the tragic death of one of their own brings Traci to the brink of despair.

Within Arm's Reach by Ann Napolitano - Fiction

Releasing in a new paperback edition, Ann Napolitano’s 2004 debut novel charts the emotional life of three generations of an Irish-Catholic family. Shaken reluctantly into self-examination by the unexpected pregnancy of its youngest member, the McLaughlin family is forced to confront ghosts of both past and present, and to reappraise its values in a world of rapid change. Narrated through six subjective first-person accounts --- the pregnant Gracie, her sister Lila, their parents, their matriarchal grandmother, and a family outsider with a curious connection --- WITHIN ARM’S REACH dissects the markedly variant responses that such supposedly similar people can have to the same events.