11 of Summer's Must Read New Books

It’s summertime readers!  Are you ready to relax, hit the beach, put down your phone, and pick up a nice new book? Great! Because this summer’s newest book releases from your favorite authors and some fresh debut titles will have you lounging in your beach chair for hours on end devouring each and every word, while ignoring each and every iPhone ding. Whether you fancy psychological thrillers, contemporary fiction brain candy, chick lit, historical fiction, or even a steamy page turner, there is something for everyone on this list. 

Perhaps the most anticipated release this summer, Moriarty is at her finest in this keep you guessing multi-family drama surrounding a tragic event at a casual neighborhood barbecue. You will not soon forget this cast of troubled yet very likable characters, and the relationships that both bind and nearly destroy them. 

First class chick lit as well as a love letter to New York, this delightful charming story around the happenings of one little black dress and the women who wear it is a sweet, simple, satisfying, and cheeky summer read. You'll want to dig your little black number out of the closet and play along.

If you loved “A Man Called Ove,” you will be happy to know Backman’s latest is just as good. A heartfelt story including a keen description of one woman’s OCD, this novel is both funny and starkly real, and you'll quickly fall in love with its varied and lovable cast of characters. 

Gone Girl fans rejoice! This wickedly written psychological thriller will keep you up late into the night. Forever twisting and turning, this novel will take you down a spinning and gripping rabbit hole of jaw dropping “I didn’t see that coming” moments. 

The steamiest one of the bunch, this light erotica is intelligently and beautifully written, and boasts a cast of characters that actually have depth and are relatable. This deep yet delicious debut will get you warm in all the right places.  If you long shied away from this genre, give this one a try. You won’t be sorry.  

Two rocky marriages and one trip to Italy form the basis of this sharply written and suspenseful novel that digs deep into the intricacies,  paradoxes, and secrets of married  life. Booklist describes it as a “bewitching take on relationships—marital, parental, casual, and serious—in this read-in-one-sitting, escapist escapade with a message.” A heavy, edgy,  and thought provoking novel. 

Green, a NYT bestselling author, is back at it with this story of a young woman’s journey from leaving home to finding herself, and ultimately discovering who she is and what she wants out of life. Set in the backdrop of busy Manhattan and then small town Connecticut, Green’s version of the struggles befalling contemporary women is both warm and intelligent. This is a tall glass of cold lemonade on a hot day.

Fans of historical fiction this needs to be your go to summer indulgence.  Set half in the late 1800s and half in modern day California, this coming of age story for two women linked by a tragedy is a fascinating tale that manages to seamlessly stay woven together. 

A Library Journal starred review that states,  “Reading this novel is a test of how fast you can turn pages,” this debut novel will have fans of Girl on the Train relieved to have found another compulsively readable and unpredictably delicious  book to devour. 

If you’ve never had the pleasure of reading Ann Leary, you’ve been missing out on some very special storytelling. Her latest is no different, and is filled with dark humor, layers of edgy prose, and  is fast paced enough to be the perfect vacation read.

Chicago Sun Times has called Giffin a “Modern day Jane Austen” because of her ability to write with ease the inner feelings and emotions of both a female protagonist and antagonist. Here she does it exceptionally well, with a sweeping story of the bonds between two sisters who are worlds apart, yet find they need each other more than they ever knew. Giffin fans will not be disappointed.

Stop BLAMING Parents for Accidents. Please.

Parents, I beg of you, stop blaming and shaming other parents.

35 years ago, a mom shopping in a Sears department store went to go look at lamps, and left her six year old with another group of boys, who were all trying out the new Atari game at a kiosk. That boy’s name was Adam Walsh.

30 years ago, an 18 month old toddler playing in her aunt’s backyard fell into a well. Rescuers worked nonstop for 58 hours, finally freeing “Baby Jessica” from the well.

In both cases a tragedy happened, an unforeseen tragic accident took place which left Adam  dead, and a toddler fighting for her life deep underground. But they also has something else in common; they had an entire  country of moms and dads supporting the grieving parents. 


No questions asked, not one single “Where were the parents?” comment. Just a country of other moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas watching in horror as a set of parents, one of their own, went through the unthinkable. Adam was our son. Jessica was our baby daughter. 


Flash forward to 2016, the year of THE PERFECT PARENT. 

Yesterday, a two year old boy, splashing in the magical lakefront waters of a Disney Resort, succumbed to the wilds of mother nature. An aggressive alligator scooped him out of the water, right under the watch of his father, who attempted to fight with the alligator to free his baby son. Pure horror. Sheer Terror. Parents who actually had to watch their baby be taken from them, as if they were in some African nature documentary. 

A tragic and unforeseeable accident. An accident. 

I weep for this mother and father. I am sick with anguish for the pain, agony, misery, and regret pulsating through their viens this very second. And I bet you are too. 

But not everyone is. 

You see, we now live in a time where accidents are not allowed happen. You heard me. Accidents, of any form, in any way, and at any time, well, they just don’t happen anymore. 

Why? Because BLAME and SHAME. 

Because we have become a nation of BLAMERS and SHAMERS. 

And how are accidents allowed to happen if we can’t blame someone? Surly, they can’t, right? I mean, random acts of nature, unpreventable tragedies, and fateful life changing events that take place in a matter of nanoseconds cannot possibly take place if everyone is being a responsible parent, right? NOPE.

They can’t,  because this country and its population of perfect pitchfork carrying mothers and fathers sitting behind keyboards needs to accuse. They NEED TO BLAME, to disparage, to criticize in every damn way and at every damn corner, the parenting of another. 

And when do they really get to lick their blaming chops? When a tragic accident happens.  That’s when the pouncing is at its freshest, when raw emotion and ignorance collide, and they dig their word claws in, and take hold of whatever grace these grieving mothers and fathers have left in their souls. 

And then they tear it out. 

Listen to me very clearly perfect parents, VERY CLEARLY. 


 I’ve had enough of scrolling through comment threads and seeing over and over again questions like “Where were the parents?” and thoughts like, “This is what happens when you don’t watch your kids.”  

I have simply HAD ENOUGH. 

I have one question for the blaming and shaming moms and dads. You know the ones who immediately  blame the parents, the ones who go on the internet and type comments like, “This is nothing but neglect by the parents,” and  “They should have known better. Who was watching that little boy?”  and my favorite, “I would never let that happen to my kid.”

Here is my question, 

Have you ever been to a child’s funeral before? 

I have.

The funeral of a child is an event in life that you never, ever want to experience. 

Now let me ask you another question.

In the coming week these parents will fly back to their home in Nebraska without one of their children. They will leave a vacation resort, packing up his Buzz Lightyear pajamas and his favorite blanket, and they will make an excruciatingly difficult journey home. A journey that they never in a million years thought they would be making. 

They will meet with a funeral director, pick out a tiny casket, a tiny burial suit, and surrounded by family,  they will bury their baby boy. 

And they will suffer every single day for the rest of their life. 

At the funeral for this two year boy who died in front of his parents, can you do me a favor? Can you walk up to the mother and say the words that you just typed out last week? Can you? Can you greet her, hug her, shake the father’s hand and then say, “ Who was watching that little boy? You should have known better. I would never let that happen to MY child.”

Can you do that for me? I mean, you felt those words so deeply in your heart and soul that you typed them for a million people to read. 

Certainly you can say it straight to the faces of  the people you meant it for, right?

Here, let me help you. 

Put away your pitchfork for a moment and try this.

To the mother and father who went for a walk on vacation for the last time with their little boy yesterday, I am deeply sorry that you had to experience the worst kind of tragedy possible, an accident. I grieve with you. Your baby was my baby. Your son was my son. I have nothing but love for you,  love to help you get though the pain yesterday, today, and for what is gonna seem like a thousand tomorrows. I wrap my thoughts  and prayers around your aching heart and soul. May the God of this universe in some miraculous  way bring peace to you and your family.  

That is what you say. THAT. And just THAT. 

Stop the blaming. 

Stop the shaming. 

In their darkest hours, can we please just LOVE other parents. Please?

Because Childhood Summers Go By Way Too Fast

This Summer...


First Week of Summer Thoughts

1. I’ve done more laundry this week than I do during the school year. STOP with the 10 towels a day kids. For the love of Downy Unstoppables just freakin' STOP.  See the TOWEL hook? Use. It. 

2. We’ve done  outdoor play and non screen time this week and I think it was wonderful.  Now, please take the iPad and go binge watch something until next Wednesday.

3. My grocery bill is going to triple over the next 8 weeks. Last night at 10 p.m.someone asked me what was for “second” dinner. I guess we are  summer in Spain’s time zone. 

4. One of the kids hasn’t taken shower since last Saturday. This and #1 do not make sense. And I don’t think I want to know where the towels are really coming from.

5. I have already read one book. Not one I had planned to read, not a bestseller, a book club choice,  a must read, or a deep and moving piece of quality literature. Thank you Carl Hiaasen for once again writing characters that make this  “one sandwich short of picnic kind of momma” feel normal.  And laughing really, really hard. Summer satirical fiction at its best. 

6. Waking up at 9 a.m. every day is lovely and a blessing but I FEEL LIKE A SLOTH. Do I set my alarm next week or continue my post traumatic school year disorder sleep recovery therapy?

7. By the way, Jiffy Pop works as a second dinner. So do burnt marshmallows. And bomb pops. 

8.  Someone at Milton Bradley really needs to update the board game “The Game of Life.”  A Victorian house with a library, parlor, servants’ quarters, marble fireplace, and wraparound porch for $200,000? For me and my three cars and five sets of boy/girl twins? Show me the way.

9. Ice cream cones make everyone stop talking.

10. Grateful for living without a schedule, a to do list, a deadline, a homework assignment, and a sports practice. Amen summer. Bring on the next two months! 

I'm DONE. With the School Year, and Jerks Who Comment.

Are you done? I sure am. It's been a long busy school year and I'm overdue for plenty of down time and alarm clock free mornings.

I made this meme yesterday, and it has gone viral. It makes me happy to know that I'm not alone in feeling ready for summer and there are about half a million moms who like me, are limping to the school finish line.

But here's the thing, I got a few pretty awful comments about what I said up there.

Like, just plain AWFUL.

Why does a total stranger feel the need to say this...

and this.....

My oldest son turns 18 next week, graduates high school, and then a few weeks later heads off to college. And you know what my biggest concern is? He has to share the world with assholes like the above. People with zero sense of humor who feel the need actually type the words "Go fuck yourself" to someone they know absolutely NOTHING about.

Stephanie Hatfield O'Balles- I'm gonna pray hard for you. I'm gonna send good and happy thoughts your way today. And then when the karma bus slows down to pick you up, I'm gonna make sure to give the driver  a BIG, FAT TIP.

Signed, a mom with AMAZING kids.