Pack Your Beach Bag With These 2014 Summer Releases

Posted by Diana R. Wallach

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The start of summer officially begins June 21st, and with it come the flip flops, beach bags, and of course, summer reads.

So to ensure you don’t get caught grabbing the first thing you see at the airport gift shop, below is a list of highly anticipated, and highly reviewed, beach books to get you through the summer. Whether you’re a fan of YA, fantasy, or biographies, this list has something for everyone.

1. To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han (YA): If you like your YA straight-up, no retellings, no vampires, check out To All the Boys I've Loved Before. I know every woman out there has written an un-mailed letter to her ex-boyfriend; it’s probably still sitting in a drawer somewhere. Now, imagine that letter, or say dozen of ex-boyfriend letters, were mailed to the intended recipients without your consent. Yeah, that would suck.

2. Great by Sara Benincasa (YA, classic retelling): The idea of actual adults reading young adult novels has received a lot of buzz in the media recently. As a YA author and a diverse reader in general, I say read and let read. If you want to fly through a YA novel on the plane, do it. And this retelling of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is a “great” book to try. (See what I did there?) Written by a well-known comedian, this teen romance takes place in the present day Hamptons with the female party-throwing “Jacinta” taking the place of Jay Gatsby.

3. Half a King (Shattered Sea Series) by Joe Abercrombie (Fantasy): Now, I’m not a fantasy reader myself, but I respect that there are millions of readers who are, and this new release from Abercrombie (no relation to the shirtless catalog brand, I checked) has a blurb from Game of Thrones Author George R. R. Martin. “A fast-paced tale of betrayal and revenge that grabbed me from page 1 and refused to let go.” As far as blurbs goes, in the fantasy genre, I’d say this would have been the holy grail of the moment. Worth a read, just for that.

4. Hard Choices, A Memoir by Hillary Rodham Clinton (Biography): Feeling political? Can’t seem to escape all the Hillary clips on Diane Sawyer, CNN, and Access Hollywood? Well, why not give in and read the latest book that Clinton’s touring. If you’ve got a bucket list item to read a biography by every American President, then this might put you ahead of the game if she decides to run in 2016.

5. Saints of New York by R.J. Ellory (Mystery): Yes, it’s another crime novel set in New York City, but the tone of this novel, which follows homicide detective Frank Parrish, is almost reminiscent of the movie Seven. It’s bleak, realistic, and perfect for a reader who wants to escape from the sunshine of vacation with the darkness of NYC murder investigations.

6. Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker (True Crime): If fictional crime isn’t enough for you, try the true crime stories of five Craiglist prostitutes murdered in Long Island in 2010. While not a light and fluffy read, this chillingly accurate account by an award-winning investigative journalist will have you so busy turning pages you won’t even notice the seagulls trying to steal your bagel.

7. The Good Girl by Mary Kubica (Thriller): Not to be confused with the rather excellent film of the same name starring Jennifer Aniston, this generically titled book is actually incredibly thrilling. If you like Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, you’ll like The Good Girl. A young, wealthy, beautiful woman decides to teach art in inner-city Chicago, then follows the wrong man home from a bar one night. Only instead of delivering her to his superiors, her kidnapper has other plans.

8. Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok (Multicultural Fiction): From the bestselling author of Girl in Translation, this book features a 22-year-old ABC (America-born Chinese) who stumbles upon the world of ballroom dance and becomes increasingly distant from her family’s strict Eastern ways. That is until an illness in the family forces her to really analyze the teachings of both her cultures.

9. The Hidden Child by Camilla Lackberg (International Crime): Written by a celebrated Swedish author, and already released as a film in Sweden in 2013, this international thriller is just now hitting the U.S. When a Nazi medal is uncovered among her late mother’s belongings, Erika sets out to learn who her mother really was and inadvertently puts her entire family in danger. Hey, if you like foreign films, you could even rent the movie.

10. All Fall Down: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner (Women’s Fiction): A Philly native, so I had to include the queen of summer fiction, Weiner’s latest novel features a mom who’s slipping into the grips of prescription pill addiction. While a somewhat dark and maybe too realistic theme for some, Weiner’s trademark writing style is so full of wit, it’s sure to be an excellent pick for your next trip down the shore.

Diana Rodriguez Wallach is the author of three young adult novels, Amor and Summer Secrets, Amigas and School Scandals, and Adios to All The Drama (Kensington Books). In Fall 2013, she will publish Mirror, Mirror, a short-story trilogy based on the Narcissus myth (Buzz Books). She hold a B.S. in Journalism from Boston University, and currently lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter. Follow Diana online:, or