10 Must Read Summer 2021 Releases

While summer doesn’t officially begin for a few more weeks, it feels like it’s already here. So I want to get you ready for summer with this list of the best reads to take along on your adventures or have on hand for your staycations!

I’m sticking with fiction here, and I’ve put them in order of publication date since not all of them are available right now. Some are books I’ve read and others are on my own TBR list for this summer!

10 Must Read Summer 2021 Releases

Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny

Literary Fiction, published April 13

This is a charming novel that hasn’t gotten the buzz it deserves. Jane is a teacher in a small town who falls for Duncan, a local woodworker and handyman. The trouble with a small town is that everyone knows everyone else’s business, and Duncan has had “business” with many of the women in the town. Jane feels like their relationship includes more than just the two of them! This is a book about how love can take many forms. The writing is very witty, and the story will keep you thoroughly engaged.

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

Mystery, published May 4, 2021

This is a suspenseful mystery with family at its core. Hannah has been married to Owen for one year when he disappears, leaving her with his teenage daughter, Bailey. The two women have a strained relationship, which begins to heal as they work to piece together what might have happened to Owen. This story made me consider the age old question of whether or not we ever really know the people we’re close to. It also make me think a lot about what decisions I might make if in the characters’ shoes -what are we willing to do to keep our loved ones safe?

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

Contemporary romance, published May 11

This is a lot more than a straight forward romance. It’s the story of two friends who fall in love with each other, and it’s really the story of their friendship. Alternating in time between the present and the past twelve summers of their friendship, we get to know Poppy and Alex. At first they seem like total opposites who would never get along. Then they become best friends, each the only one in the others life who truly sees them for all that they are. This is a sweet story, it’s also hilarious and realistic. It shows how life is messy, especially in regard to relationships of any kind. It also shows that what you think you want isn’t always what your truly want and need deep down.

That Summer by Jennifer Weiner

Contemporary fiction, published May 11

This novel is labeled as a romance in some places and want to be clear it is NOT one. This a timely work of contemporary fiction focused on the #MeToo movement. It’s a compelling, intricately woven story. I’m impressed with Weiner’s ability to structure the story as she did. We follow two different women with the same name, through separate timelines as their lives begin to intertwine, because of something that happened in the past. I listened to the audio book narrated by Sutton Foster and found it absolutely riveting. I would look for things to do around the house that would let me listen to my book a little longer, that’s how I know it’s good! Foster matches the fast pace and emotional content of the writing to create a powerful listening experience. This is a novel about trauma and recovery. It explores different paths for healing and closure, and the long term consequences of rape as both the victim and the perpetrator.

Playing the Palace by Paul Rudnick

Contemporary romance, published May 25

If you’re going to read this book in public, be warned that it’s FUNNY. Like, snort laughing out loud hilarious. Carter is a fabulous protagonist and all I wanted for him the whole time was for him to get his shit together and let himself believe he was deserving of being loved and happy. Prince Edgar is the first ever openly gay royalty and it’s a big deal. He struggles with all the expectations thrust upon him by society and tradition and the desire to please his family. He also needs to learn that he’s worthy of being loved for who he is as a person and not on the surface. It’s a fun emotional rollercoaster of a read. It’s generally hopeful and positive, with powerful messages about self love and coming into your own despite others’ expectations.

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Historical fiction, published June 1

 The strength is this novel is in the storytelling, setting, and character development. This is a multi-generational family drama that follows the Riva family in Malibu, California. The ocean is as much of a character as the humans are. The descriptions of Malibu and the coast are vivd and I could almost hear and smell the ocean. We get alternating timelines between one day in 1983 and the history of the family starting with the Riva children’s grandparents. I enjoyed seeing how the family changed over the years, how the women in particular adapted and took charge when they needed to. This is a dramatic, emotional read.

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams

Contemporary fiction, published June 1

This one is at the top of my summer wish list. Since I haven’t read it, here’s a description from Goodreads:

Brooklynite Eva Mercy is a single mom and bestselling erotica writer, who is feeling pressed from all sides. Shane Hall is a reclusive, enigmatic, award-winning literary author who, to everyone’s surprise, shows up in New York.When Shane and Eva meet unexpectedly at a literary event, sparks fly, raising not only their past buried traumas, but the eyebrows of New York’s Black literati. What no one knows is that twenty years earlier, teenage Eva and Shane spent one crazy, torrid week madly in love. They may be pretending that everything is fine now, but they can’t deny their chemistry-or the fact that they’ve been secretly writing to each other in their books ever since. Over the next seven days in the middle of a steamy Brooklyn summer, Eva and Shane reconnect, but Eva’s not sure how she can trust the man who broke her heart, and she needs to get him out of New York so that her life can return to normal. But before Shane disappears again, there are a few questions she needs answered. . .

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dayla Harris

Mystery/Thriller, published June 1

From Goodreads:

Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and microaggressions, she’s thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, and Nella is left in the dust. Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW. It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realizes that there’s a lot more at stake than just her career.

One Two Three by Laurie Frankel

Literary fiction, expected publication June 8

From Goodreads: Everyone knows everyone in the tiny town of Bourne, but the Mitchell triplets are especially beloved. Mirabel is the smartest person anyone knows, and no one doubts it just because she can’t speak. Monday is the town’s purveyor of books now that the library’s closed―tell her the book you think you want, and she’ll pull the one you actually do from the microwave or her sock drawer. Mab’s job is hardest of all: get good grades, get into college, get out of Bourne. For a few weeks seventeen years ago, Bourne was national news when its water turned green. The girls have come of age watching their mother’s endless fight for justice. But just when it seems life might go on the same forever, the first moving truck anyone’s seen in years pulls up and unloads new residents and old secrets. Soon, the Mitchell sisters are taking on a system stacked against them and uncovering mysteries buried longer than they’ve been alive. Because it’s hard to let go of the past when the past won’t let go of you.

The Guilt Trip by Sandie Jones

Mystery/Thriller, expected publication August 3

From Goodreads: Rachel and Noah have been friends since they met at university. While they once thought that they might be something more, now, twenty years later, they are each happily married to other people, Jack and Paige respectively. Jack’s brother Will is getting married, to the dazzling, impulsive Ali, and the group of six travel to Portugal for their destination weekend. As they arrive at a gorgeous villa perched on a cliff-edge, overlooking towering waves that crash on the famous surfing beaches below at Nazaré, they try to settle into a weekend of fun. While Rachel is looking forward to getting to know her future sister-in-law Ali better, Ali can’t help but rub many of the group up the wrong way: Rachel’s best friend Paige thinks Ali is attention-seeking and childish, and while Jack is trying to support his brother Will’s choice of wife, he is also finding plenty to disagree with Noah about. But when Rachel discovers something about Ali that she can hardly believe, everything changes. As the wedding weekend unfolds, the secrets each of them hold begin to spill, and friendships and marriages threaten to unravel. Soon, jumping to conclusions becomes the difference between life and death.

What’s your most anticipated read for this summer?

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