What I’m Reading Wednesday: Summer Reads, Part 1

It’s May, the end of the school year beckons, as does a full summer ahead of us. A summer for which I am making plans (including an escape to the Outer Banks) for the family and lots of activities for the kids.

Along with the fun, I need to make sure the kids keep up their good reading habits, and what better way than by modeling good reading habits myself?

Fine. I never need an excuse to read. And in all honesty, I’m avoiding the impending end of my personal free time by escaping in a book or two – all of which will make great reads for y’all for summer. There are no fluffy light reads here: these all offer something to sink your teeth into while escaping into a beautifully crafted story.

So here we go:

I love historical romance, and when one teaches me about a piece of history that was before unknown to me, it is an added treat. Hope at Dawn is set in Iowa in 1918, in the midst of WWI, at a time when the use of foreign languages in the US was made illegal. Olivia “Livy” Campbell, whose two older brothers are fighting the war overseas, is given the opportunity to teach in a community far from her family’s farm.   She soon discovers that it is a German-American community, and the one room schoolhouse she is given charge of is filled with German-American children. The tension of living in a place where the families of the children are oft accused of being spies and anti-American is vividly portrayed in her tale, as is the conflict she encounters – both within her and within the community – as a relationship develops with Friedrick Wagner, a patriotic German-American farmer who has a deferment from fighting in order to help run his dying father’s farm.

Henrie’s portrayal of life in 1918 for  the immigrants and the young schoolteacher as she finds her way through the conflicts she finds herself in is lovely as it is heart-breaking.

Hope at Dawn by Stacie Henrie will be released on June 24, 2014


A Wedding in Provence centers around Olivia and Brody, who have chosen a friend’s inn set in the lush surroundings of Cassis, in Provence, for their wedding.

As their small wedding party arrives, plans for a quiet wedding quickly evaporate.

Olivia’s oldest daughter Nell is the first to arrive, accompanied by a mysterious, sexy stranger that she impulsively invited while seated together on the flight to France.  Impulsive and irresponsible, that is what she has always been tagged with, a struggling actress and yoga instructor still reliant on mom to help pay the bills at age twenty-five. Nell is joined by Olivia’s other daughter Carly, who is by all signs the opposite of Nell – driven & responsible, and chooses this weekend to do something totally unpredictable.  If you are a child who has lived under a family label, you will be touched by their respective need to break free of their own stereotypes.

Olivia’s family is joined by Brody’s best friend Jake, a playboy who seems to disapprove of Olivia, along with Brody’s mother, Fanny, who is struggling with her own marriage issues – alone.  The weekend is soon swept up in drama as Olivia tries to pull her wedding together.

A romantic novel with likable characters (in spite of their flaws), this story is pure escapism.

A Wedding in Provence by Ellen Sussman will be released on July 15, 2014.





Lucky Us is a sweeping tale of hopes and dreams, luck and disappointment. The story begins as Eva’s mother unceremoniously leaves her at the home of her father and half-sister Iris with a suitcase and not a word of goodbye.

With big dreams and Eva at her side, Iris travels to 1940s Hollywood in search of fame. With the rise and fall of her career, the story follows them to Brooklyn, rediscovery, reinvention and a new idea of family – as unconventional as it is.  Love, lies, war, a pack of tarot cards and a bit of ingenuity guide this comic and tragic journey.

And I dare not tell too much more, lest I give away too much of the plot.

Beautifully written, this is simply a lovely, luscious read.

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom will be released on July 29, 2014


Disclosure: Advance copies were provided to me by the respective publishers in exchange for feedback. The opinions and choices to review here are entirely my own.


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