Roundup: Favorite Reads

Looking for a great summer read? The Sweethearts have some fabulous recommendations for you this week, from a “classic” series to a book that hasn’t even been released yet and lots in between. But first, of course … the announcements:

We are thrilled to share that TIED UP IN YOU, the sequel to Erin Fletcher’s Athena-nominated ALL LACED UP, has a release date (July 10, which is like, really, really, really soon) and a cover (which is like, super-duper adorable) and is now available for pre-order over on Amazon. You can (and should) check it out here!

Next, congratulations to Theresa Snyder, winner of our June contest. Theresa gets some fun Sweetheart swag and her choice of an e-book.

Now, on to our recs:

Robin Constantine: One of my favorite reads of the past few months has been THE SUMMER AFTER YOU AND ME by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski. The story is set in Seaside Park, New Jersey, and takes place the summer after Superstorm Sandy. (NJ is still feeling the after effects of this historic and horrible storm.) Lucy is a multi-faceted heroine—and her take on love is kind of hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time. Every chapter begins with a quote from her junior thesis “What’s Love Got to Do with It? The Dating and Mating Habits of North American Sea Life.” and gives you a little insight into the coming pages. It’s romantic and funny and so relatable. It’s also filled with Jersey gems—so if you want a taste of what the Jersey shore is really like—I highly recommend it!!

Darcy Woods: If you’ve been searching for that perfect enemies-to-lovers romp to take to the beach, have I got the book for you! Imagine an uptight, sharp-tongued, rule-following Paris Geller type, going head-to-head at a boarding school with a smooth-talking, rule-breaking, Ferris Bueller-esque guy (but an über hot, lacrosse-playing Ferris). Intrigued? Well, after reading the synopsis for WHY I LOATHE STERLING LANE by Ingrid Paulson, I’m pretty sure I clicked buy-it-now fast enough to break the sound barrier. The masterful banter alone between Harper and Sterling sent this snark-loving girl’s heart all aflutter. But when this powder keg of sexual tension was mixed with wicked-smart humor, and sharply drawn (and delightfully flawed) characters, I was flipping pages like I’d find a pot of gold at the end. And I did. Because this book is absolute gold! Highly recommend for summer fun and frolic!

Erin Fletcher: Is it strange that my favorite read of the summer so far is one I haven’t even finished yet? Strange but true. Right now I’m almost done with LETTERS TO THE LOST by Brigid Kemmerer. I’m loving it so much that I feel confident telling y’all how awesome it is before I get to the end! I recently saw Brigid speak on one of her tour stops, and the premise of her book sucked me right in: Juliet Young writes letters to her mom and leaves them on her grave. Declan Murphy, working at the cemetery for community service, discovers the letters and starts writing back. Little do the anonymous letter-writers know that they’re not strangers at all. Fantastic premise, right? Brigid’s writing is absolutely beautiful. The dual POV is so well done, and I’ve become so wrapped up in this story! I can’t wait to see how it ends, and hope you enjoy it as much as I am!

Stephanie Scott: Right away I’m going to cheat and name two! The first is THE SECRET OF A HEART NOTE by Stacey Lee. This is an utterly unique story about a mother-daughter team with the gift of acute smell who craft matchmaking elixirs (aka love potions!). There are rules of course, including no actual romantic relationships for themselves or their treasured noses will become average sniffers. So of course, our YA heroine falls for someone she can’t have! The sensory descriptions are so vivid and the touch of magic is a lot of fun. The other book is the upcoming SASQUATCH, LOVE, AND OTHER IMAGINARY THINGS by Betsy Aldredge and Carrie Dubois-Shaw. It’s a loose Pride & Prejudice retelling set in a reality TV competition about Sasquatch trackers. Yes, all of that is in one book! I laughed out loud so many times reading.

Karole Cozzo: I know the OCEAN CITY/MAKING WAVES series by Katherine Applegate dates back to my teen years, but the fact that the series has been republished is a testament to the timelessness of this most fabulous YA romance romp. I think there was something about the stories being set in the beach town I always visited—it was all too easy to insert myself into these stories and dream of the torrid teen romances that could be if I were ever to share a summer house with several attractive strangers. In Book One, MC/good girl Kate realizes she’s living with her ex, Justin, when she runs into him in nothing but a towel coming out of the communal bathroom. Chapter 1 and you know it’s going to be good! Did I mention Justin is a brooding, dog-loving lifeguard? I’m planning on a reread of these books this summer (I still have the original Ocean City collection). Even if today’s young adults find some of the content outdated—and I don’t really think they would—I’m willing to bet any adult YA fans looking for fluffy beach reads will devour this series.

Linda Budzinski: Pretty much all of my YA reads this year have been books by either my fellow Sweethearts or our guest authors. They’ve all been awesome and fun (and sometimes ugly-cry inducing) and there’s no way in heck I’m going to pick a favorite! So, I’m going to dig back into the shelves and share one of my favorite all-time YA books, from a few years ago—OUT OF THE EASY by Ruta Sepetys. Set in New Orleans’ French Quarter in the 1950s, it’s about a girl named Josie whose mother is a prostitute but who dreams of a very different future for herself. It’s not a romance per se, though it does have a swoon-worthy boy or two in there as well as intrigue and a colorful cast of characters and lots of scenes set in an old bookstore that is pretty swoon-inducing itself. The thing I love most about this book, though, is the writing. The prose is like a favorite hymn—beautiful and rousing and comforting all at the same time. You’ll want to take your time reading it so you can taste every word.

So, those are our recommendations. We’re always looking for great reads, too, so please share yours in the comments! xoxoxo