July 2023 – Summer Vibes/Vacation TBR Book List

Welcome, fellow readers!

How have you been? How’s your summer going so far?

If you’d prefer to listen to this review, you can check out the full episode on The Bookmarks ‘n Blankets Podcast on your favorite podcast platform or listen below. 

So June was an exciting reading month for me because I read in an area of fiction that I don’t normally read in, mystery & thriller. Well, I’m keeping this momentum going because in this month, I’m also reading in an area of fiction that I usually don’t read in – Romance. I’ve also never read a romcom book, and I have quite a few on my list, so I’m really excited to dive into a new reading realm.

June Reading Theme

With that being said, let’s reveal my July reading theme: 🏖️ Summer Vibes/Vacation 🏖️

We’re now in the heart of summertime, and as I’ve mentioned in previous episodes, I’m a seasonal reader, so it felt like the perfect time to read some “beach reads,” as they say. Not that I’m going to the beach this summer or on any kind of vacation (I wish), so instead, I’m escaping and taking some vacations through the fictional worlds of my books. 

When I was choosing titles to go with this theme, a lot of them happened to be romance, romcom, or chick lit, so I just went with it and chose them all in this genre because I wanted to explore a new area of fiction (to me).

I’m also really excited to read these types of books because June was a heavy month with mystery & thriller, and now I’m ready to lighten the mood and read some happier and funnier books. 🌴 😎

July To Be Read (TBR) Book List

Like my previous TBR lists, I have a mix of some huge titles and some not so well-known titles or not talked a lot about titles. I don’t have any middle grade reads this month, but I do have two YAs and then the rest are standard adult books. 

As I do with this type of episode, I’ll let you know the 10 books I’ve put into my Pile of Possibilities, read the Amazon or GoodReads (GR) description, explain why I chose them, and then during July, I’ll choose which ones I want to read based on my mood and interests. Books that I don’t get to will be put into my Leftovers List that I’ll do something with at some point. I’m still figuring that out.

If you have any beach reads or summer book recommendations that I can check out in the future, I invite you to comment on my post on Instagram

Also, because I loved the graphic novels that I read last month so much, I decided to read a couple more this month, but those will be a surprise for you when I do my reading wrap-up episode at the end of the month. 😉

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Average rating on GR: 4.23

Amazon Description: Everyone knows DAISY JONES & THE SIX, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock ’n’ roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

Why I Chose This Book: I first saw the trailer for the TV series on Amazon Prime, and instantly knew it was a show that I wanted to watch. I love music, I love 60s & 70s rock, I love romance and love triangles…it seemed to be right up my alley. But then I found out that the show was based on a book, and I’ve been trying to read books before I watch film adaptations. So I knew this book would be perfect for my July summer vacation reading theme. The trailer gave me summer vibes and as a huge, popular band, they travel around the world on tour. 

Plus, this book has absolutely blown up within the book community. I’ve seen everyone talking about it and saying how good it is. On GR, it has over 1.1 million ratings and almost 148,000 reviews. On Amazon, it has over 76,000 ratings. It was also GR’s winner in 2019 for Best Historical Fiction. So I’m going into this one with pretty high expectations. I’m also really interested to read a book from this author. I know she is a favorite in the community, and I’ve seen so many people talk about her books. I have another huge, huge book of hers coming next month (a little teaser for August). *wink wink

(You can purchase the book here.)

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (and Mrs. Harris Goes to New York) by Paul Gallico

Average rating on GR: 3.91

GR Description: Mrs. Harris is a salt-of-the-earth London charlady who cheerfully cleans the houses of the rich. One day, while tidying Lady Dant’s wardrobe, she comes across the most beautiful thing she has ever seen in her life—a Dior dress. In all the years of her drab and humble existence, she’s never seen anything as magical as the dress before her and she’s never wanted anything so badly. Determined to make her dream come true, Mrs. Harris scrimps and saves until one day, after three long, uncomplaining years, she finally has enough money to go to Paris.

When she arrives at the House of Dior, Mrs. Harris has little idea of how her life is about to be turned upside down and how many other lives she will transform forever. Always kind, always cheery, and always winsome, the indomitable Mrs. Harris takes Paris by storm and learns one of life’s greatest lessons along the way.

This treasure from the 1950s reintroduces the irrepressible Mrs. Harris, part charlady, part fairy godmother, whose adventures take her from her humble London roots to the heights of glamour.

Why I Chose This Book: This is another book where I saw the movie trailer first on Amazon Prime and instantly knew that I wanted to watch it. But then, later learned it was based on a book, so I got the book to read first. I don’t know if this is a book that’s talked a lot about. I haven’t really seen anything on YouTube or Instagram about it. It’s a really old book that was first published back in 1963. 

I thought this looked like a really cute, sweet movie about an older lady that chases her dream later in life. I’m not into fashion at all, so I probably won’t get any fashion references, but I have heard of Dior. I know that’s a big, bougie brand that people like. But mainly, I love an underdog story and this seems like one, so I’m excited to dive in and read the book, then watch the movie. A classic chick flick!

(You can purchase the book here.)

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

Average rating on GR: 3.92

GR Description: Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.

Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.

Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.

Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?

Why I Chose This Book: So I’m learning that Emily Henry is one of the many queens of romance/romantic comedy books, even though she only has five books in this genre of fiction. I’ve seen SO many people talk about her books, and the BookTubers that I follow just gush over them All. The. Time. So I definitely knew that I had to check out this author’s titles. But they all seemed to take place during summer so it was hard to pick which one to start with. Happy Place is her newest release that just came out, and everyone and their mother is talking about it and reading it and reviewing it. So I didn’t want to be one of the sheep in the herd and read it too. I like to be different, so I went with this one. (On a side note, I heard she also has some really good YA books, so I may check those out at some point too.)

I’ve also heard that they are making this book into a movie, along with a couple other of her books. So that could be fun to watch down the road. This is also a very popular book with over 56,000 ratings on Amazon and almost 884,000 ratings and over 86,000 reviews on GoodReads. It was also a GR’s winner in 2021 for Best Romance.

I’m extremely new to reading romance and romcom novels, so I’m hoping that I really like this one. The friends to lovers trope sounds good in theory to me, but I’ve only read one book with this trope and it wasn’t even a main part of the plot. So I’m excited to read a book like this one. From the description, it gives me When Harry Met Sally vibes, which is one of my favorite romcoms movies. I really hope I’m not disappointed since there’s such an incredible amount of hype around this author and her works.

(You can purchase the book here.)

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Average rating on GR: 3.94

GR Description: Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

Why I Chose This Book: So as I’m adding all these romance and romcom titles with different tropes, one trope that I’ve never read and was curious about that I hear many readers talk about is the enemies to lovers trope. It also has the fake dating/fake married trope, which I have enjoyed in movies that I’ve seen, so now I can see if I like it in books. The plot sounds like a good time and could also mix with some humor, or at least I hope so. Plus, the cover art is stunning and gives me all the summer vacation vibes. 

This one is also another very popular read with over 42,000 ratings on Amazon, and on GoodReads, almost 678,000 ratings and over 65,000 reviews. It was also a GR’s nominee in 2019 for Best Romance.

(You can purchase the book here.)

The Beach Trap by Ali Brady

Average rating on GR: 3.96

GR Description: When twelve-year-olds Kat Steiner and Blake O’Neill meet at Camp Chickawah, they have an instant connection. But everything falls apart when they learn they’re not just best friends—they’re also half-sisters. Confused and betrayed, their friendship instantly crumbles.

Fifteen years later when their father dies suddenly, Kat and Blake discover he’s left them a joint inheritance: the family beach house in Destin, Florida. The two sisters are instantly at odds. Blake, who has recently been demoted from regular nanny to dog nanny, wants to sell the house, while social media influencer Kat is desperate to keep the place where she had so many happy childhood memories.

Kat and Blake reluctantly join forces to renovate the dilapidated house with the understanding that Kat will try to buy Blake out at the end of the summer. The women clash as Blake’s renovation plans conflict with Kat’s creative vision, and each sister finds herself drawn into a summer romance. As the weeks pass, the two women realize the most difficult project they face this summer will be coming to grips with their shared past, and learning how to become sisters.

Why I Chose This Book: This was actually my last pick that I added to this month’s list, and I don’t think this is a book that’s reviewed a lot. I’ve only seen one BookTuber that I watch talk about this one and she admitted that she’s had this book on her shelf but hadn’t read it. This came out just last year, so it’s a newer release but I think it’s gone under the radar. 

When I read the description, immediately, I thought of the Disney movie, The Parent Trap, which is one of my favorite older Disney movies from the ‘60s and a summer movie that I watch every year. It sounds like it could be a fun, humorous story mixed with some emotion. It’s about two sisters, which I can’t relate to because I grew up with brothers, but I still enjoy reading about sister relationships and family drama. This may be my underdog pick of all these choices, and I hope it’s a pleasant surprise.

(You can purchase the book here.)

One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle

Average rating on GR: 3.62

GR Description: When Katy’s mother dies, she is left reeling. Carol wasn’t just Katy’s mom, but her best friend and first phone call. She had all the answers and now, when Katy needs her the most, she is gone. To make matters worse, their planned mother-daughter trip of a lifetime looms: two weeks in Positano, the magical town Carol spent the summer right before she met Katy’s father. Katy has been waiting years for Carol to take her, and now she is faced with embarking on the adventure alone.

But as soon as she steps foot on the Amalfi Coast, Katy begins to feel her mother’s spirit. Buoyed by the stunning waters, beautiful cliffsides, delightful residents, and, of course, delectable food, Katy feels herself coming back to life.

And then Carol appears—in the flesh, healthy, sun-tanned, and thirty years old. Katy doesn’t understand what is happening, or how—all she can focus on is that she has somehow, impossibly, gotten her mother back. Over the course of one Italian summer, Katy gets to know Carol, not as her mother, but as the young woman before her. She is not exactly who Katy imagined she might be, however, and soon Katy must reconcile the mother who knew everything with the young woman who does not yet have a clue.

Why I Chose This Book: This book just came out last year, and I’ve seen it making its rounds in the book community this year. There are many people talking about this one, but it’s also had a lot of mixed reviews. The plot also sounds really interesting. My mother died when I was 16, so for me, it sounds like I may be able to relate and connect with the protagonist. I’m pretty sure this book will make me cry, given the topic, but I’m still curious about it. Plus, I’ve seen some reviewers say that it makes you feel like you’ve been transported to Italy with descriptive details of the scenery and food. This is perfect for my summer vacation theme.

(You can purchase the book here.)

Every Summer After by Carley Fortune

Average rating on GR: 4.27

GR Description: They say you can never go home again, and for Persephone Fraser, ever since she made the biggest mistake of her life a decade ago, that has felt too true. Instead of glittering summers on the lakeshore of her childhood, she spends them in a stylish apartment in the city, going out with friends, and keeping everyone a safe distance from her heart.

Until she receives the call that sends her racing back to Barry’s Bay and into the orbit of Sam Florek—the man she never thought she’d have to live without.

For six summers, through hazy afternoons on the water and warm summer nights working in his family’s restaurant and curling up together with books—medical textbooks for him and work-in-progress horror short stories for her—Percy and Sam had been inseparable. Eventually that friendship turned into something breathtakingly more, before it fell spectacularly apart.

When Percy returns to the lake for Sam’s mother’s funeral, their connection is as undeniable as it had always been. But until Percy can confront the decisions she made and the years she’s spent punishing herself for them, they’ll never know whether their love might be bigger than the biggest mistakes of their past.

Told over the course of six years and one weekend, Every Summer After is a big, sweeping nostalgic look at love and the people and choices that mark us forever.

Why I Chose This Book: This one sounds like the perfect summer book. From digging a little bit, I found out that this book was a huge release last summer, and now this summer, the sequel has come out and again, it’s been one of those books that has blown up all over the book community. I’ve seen it everywhere and everyone is talking about it. So I actually got both books. If I love the first one so much, I will be able to read the sequel, which I have seen get mixed reviews. So I’m not sure if it’s as good as the first one, but we shall see. This is another friends to lovers book, so I’m here for it. 

This popular book has over 35,000 ratings on Amazon and over 336,000 ratings and over 34,000 reviews on GoodReads. This was also a nominee for two GoodRead’s awards last year (2022) for Best Romance and Best Debut Novel. I really hope it’s a good one!

(You can purchase the book here and the sequel here.)

Shipped by Angie Hockman

Average rating on GR: 3.65

GR Description: Between taking night classes for her MBA and her demanding day job at a cruise line, marketing manager Henley Evans barely has time for herself, let alone family, friends, or dating. But when she’s shortlisted for the promotion of her dreams, all her sacrifices finally seem worth it.

The only problem? Graeme Crawford-Collins, the remote social media manager and the bane of her existence, is also up for the position. Although they’ve never met in person, their epic email battles are the stuff of office legend.

Their boss tasks each of them with drafting a proposal on how to boost bookings in the Galápagos—best proposal wins the promotion. There’s just one catch: they have to go on a company cruise to the Galápagos Islands…together. But when the two meet on the ship, Henley is shocked to discover that the real Graeme is nothing like she imagined. As they explore the Islands together, she soon finds the line between loathing and liking thinner than a postcard.

With her career dreams in her sights and a growing attraction to the competition, Henley begins questioning her life choices. Because what’s the point of working all the time if you never actually live?

Why I Chose This Book: Again, with the cover art (and the plot), I’m definitely getting summer vacation and summertime vibes from it. This title sounds like a fun romcom with the enemies to lovers trope. Also, my day job is in marketing, so with these two characters working in my world, I’m interested to see how closely I can connect and relate to them, at least with their jobs. That could be fun for me. I also know this is a popular book, and it was a GoodRead’s nominee in 2021 for Best Romance.

(You can purchase the book here.)

The Summer of Broken Rules by K. L. Walther

Average rating on GR: 4.02

GR Description: Meredith Fox has been going to Martha’s Vineyard for the summer as long as she can remember. But this summer is the first one back since the death of Meredith’s sister. It will all be overwhelming, but even more since the entire extended family will be together for her cousin’s big wedding.

Unfortunately, Meredith’s longtime boyfriend unexpectedly dumped her two weeks before the wedding, leaving her dateless. Luckily, she has the perfect distraction. Her family has a tradition of playing the ultimate game of Assassin every summer, and this year it will take place during the week of wedding festivities.

But her target just happens to be a very cute groomsman. She’s determined to not let herself get distracted, not let herself be lost in another doomed relationship. But as the week progresses, she can’t help falling for him, which may cost her not only the game, but also her heart.

Why I Chose This Book: This book came out a couple of years ago in 2021. It was actually a suggested title on Amazon when I was looking at some other summer romance books. It had a decent amount of positive ratings and reviews and the plot sounded intriguing, so I thought I would give it a shot. The cover art is gorgeous and absolutely gave me all the summer feels. Since adding it to my TBR list, I’ve seen a few of my BookTubers talking about this book and they also have it on their summer reading lists, so it feels like it’s gaining some popularity this season and gaining some traction. I’ve also seen more and more readers talk about it on Instagram as well. We shall see how it goes.

(You can purchase the book here.)

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Average rating on GR: 4.08

GR Description: Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is go back home.

But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires her, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.

Why I Chose This Book: I saw a few BookTubers talk about this book and say that it’s a really sweet, cute YA romance. With the setting in Italy, it sounds like a perfect read for my vacation reading theme. I also enjoy family secrets, and again, I’ll be able to relate to Linda, being 16 and losing her mother. Full disclosure, I bought the trilogy. It looks like each book has different characters in them, and they are set in different countries. Like I said, this one is in Italy, then one is in Greece and one is in Ireland. So if I really like this story, I could read one of the other books that I have. I also know this is a Netflix movie, but we don’t subscribe to that streaming platform, so unfortunately, I won’t be able to watch it and review it with the book. This is a very popular book with over 122,000 ratings and almost 17,000 reviews on GoodReads. It was also a nominee in 2016 for Best Young Adult Fiction on GR.

(You can purchase the book here or the trilogy box set here.)

Hot Summer Reading

Well, there you have it, my fellow bookworms – 10 books for some hot summer reading. Check back at the end of the month to see which ones I chose to read and what I thought about them. In my reading wrap-up episode, I’ll also reveal which two graphic novels I read.

Again, I invite you over to my Instagram post, where you can let me know what you’re reading this summer, or you can drop some book recs for me. I love to keep adding to my TBR lists and seeing suggestions from other readers. 

Until next time, my story lovers, happy reading!

*Please note that I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program and a member of other affiliate programs. I may receive commissions from qualifying purchases made through links in this article.

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