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Beach-Bag Books for Grownups

Ready to start your summer reading? Check out our picks from your favorite authors

  • Grab a Good Book

    Whether you are basking in the sun or snuggled up in the shade to escape the UVA beams, there is one accessory you need: a good summer read. Here, for each summer month, is our selection of new books — ranging from fluffy fun to heart-racing thrillers to meaty history. Enjoy!

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  • Bill Miles

    'Save the Date'

    This delicious romance by Mary Kay Andrews mixes laugh-out-loud humor, overwrought bridezillas and a runaway puppy. Set in Savannah, Ga., the story centers on a struggling florist who’s trying to become the go-to flower girl for society nuptials. Focused on her business, she has no time for love until a certain charmer shows up. Andrews, already a best-seller, captures the family dramas that weddings generate as well as why they remain important traditions. An absolute delight! — St. Martin’s Press, June 3

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  • Adrian Peacock

    'The Bees'

    This mesmerizing and unique debut novel by Laline Paull begs for reviewers’ bad puns — “it’s a book with buzz!” Don’t let bad wordplay or the book’s strange premise turn you off. The main character is a worker bee named Flora 717, a lowly member of a hive with a Byzantine hierarchy and a grim group-think motto: “Accept, Obey, Serve.” When the colony is threatened, Flora 717 may be its unlikely savior. It’s billed as The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Hunger Games — but, truly, it’s probably not much like anything you’ve read before. — Ecco, in stores

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  • Bingo Rimer

    'The Hidden Child'

    Swedish crime writer Camilla Läckberg is a sensation, the top best-selling woman writer in Europe last year with more than 5 million books in print. In her new novel, she explores what happens when her heroine, Erica Falck, finds a Nazi medal among her late mother’s belongings. Meanwhile, a local historian is brutally murdered after Erica visits him, asking about her mother’s past. Läckberg’s series is a treat for readers who like their fiction Nordic noire. — Pegasus, in stores

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  • Isabelle Selby

    'All the Light We Cannot See'

    Guaranteed to be on a slew of “best of 2014” lists, Anthony Doerr’s poignant World War II-era tale centers on two young people whose lives touch during the German occupation of France. Blind Frenchwoman Marie-Laure is forced to flee to the safety of a small coastal town, and Werner is a brilliant German orphan recruited by the Nazis to build radios for spying. With the exception of an evil Nazi leader, Doerr’s characters are drawn with depth and sensitivity and, despite being steeped in tragedy, the story is ultimately hopeful and beautifully written. — Scribner, in stores

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  • Rebecca Calavan

    'Fourth of July Creek'

    Set in Montana, this highly praised debut novel explores what happens when a troubled social worker named Pete Snow tries to help an almost-feral 11-year-old boy, the son of a paranoid survivalist named Jeremiah who awaits the end-times. Meanwhile, Snow’s own family is collapsing around him. Born and raised in Montana, author Smith Henderson knows the terrain and its people, crafting a profoundly American tale that explores our love for freedom, our individualism and the price people sometimes pay. — Ecco, in stores

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  • Patricia Williams

    'China Dolls'

    The always talented Lisa See, author of the best-selling Snow Flower and the Secret Fan among other novels, weaves a tale around three young women who meet in an all-Asian nightclub in San Francisco in the late 1930s. Helen, Grace and Ruby bond despite their different backgrounds, but the friends’ lives soon get turned upside down by the approaching war and Pearl Harbor bombing. — Random House, in stores

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  • Michelle Adams

    'We Are Called to Rise'

    Here’s a publishing Cinderella story. Laura McBride, 53, is an English teacher from Las Vegas with zero connection to the publishing world. This, her first novel, tells the story of four lives intersecting in the Las Vegas that tourists never see. At its heart, it is a story of profound hope and compassion. As McBride writes, “I wanted to tell a story that might have a reader have a big feeling, the sense that no matter how cruel life could be in a given moment, no matter how terrible the consequences of a tiny mistake, it is ultimately beautiful to live.” — Simon & Schuster, in stores

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  • Victoria Lustbader

    'The Bourne Ascendancy'

    With book series, familiarity doesn’t breed contempt — it breeds affection. Readers love to kick back with a protagonist they know and love. Since 2003, at the request of the Robert Ludlum estate, Eric Van Lustbader has been writing thrillers starring Jason Bourne. In this newest adventure, Jason finds himself in Qatar — and the target of an infamous terrorist who is determined to keep the U.S. president from brokering a Mideast peace treaty. — Grand Central, in stores

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  • François Bourru

    'The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street'

    The author of the best-selling Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress, Susan Jane Gilman tells the story of little Malka Treynovsky. In 1913, she arrives with her family from Russia. Over the decades, through pluck and grit, she reinvents herself as Lillian Dunkle, "The Ice Cream Queen," with an empire of franchises. But the real woman is very different from the motherly icon she projects. It's a novel about fame and fortune and the American dream. — Grand Central, in stores

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  • Edmund Morris

    'Price of Fame: The Honorable Clare Boothe Luce'

    This is a follow-up to Sylvia Jukes Morris’ outstanding 1997 biography of one of the most remarkable women in American history, Clare Boothe Luce. Ambitious, beautiful and brilliant, Luce triumphed in multiple fields: as a playwright, as the managing editor of Vanity Fair, as a Republican congresswoman, as the first woman to be appointed a U.S. ambassador. Married to the powerful publisher Henry Luce, she lived an extraordinary life of accomplishment, glamour and pain. — Random House, in stores

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  • AARP Offer

    Sign up for the AARP Lifestyle Newsletter to find out about new movies, great games and travel ideas each month. By joining AARP today, you can also save on movie tickets, restaurants, airfare, hotels and more and have even more fun!

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  • Alison Rosa

    'Cop Town'

    Author of the best-selling Will Trent crime series, Georgia native Karin Slaughter pens her first stand-alone novel, which is set in 1974 Atlanta. A police rookie named Kate Murphy and other women on the Atlanta police force are trying to break into an old boys club while the city copes with social upheaval and a serial killer who targets cops is on the loose.
    — Delacorte, in stores

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  • Thomas Engstrom

    'The City'

    A staple on best-seller lists for decades, the always fascinating and talented Dean Koontz continues to grow as a storyteller. In this new novel, he explores the bonds between a mother and son, the power of music and what happens when a musical prodigy crosses a group of very dangerous people. — Bantam, July 1

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  • Stacey Evans

    'Fierce Patriot: The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman'

    Robert O’Connell, the author of The Ghosts of Cannae and Of Arms and Men, now takes on one of our greatest and most famous generals from the Civil War. O’Connell goes beyond Sherman’s public image of “Uncle Billy” marching through the South to reveal the complicated private man. — Random House, July 1

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  • Stephanie Mohan

    'The Care and Management of Lies: A Novel of the Great War'

    Jacqueline Winspear, the marvelous creator of the best-selling Maisie Dobbs series about a World War I nurse turned investigator, has now written a stand-alone novel. The story opens during the fateful summer of 1914 and focuses on two friends. In serene Kent, England, Kezia is about to walk down the aisle to marry Tom, the brother of Kezia’s childhood friend. Within months, Tom will be in uniform and the world in chaos. A personal favorite and highly recommended! — Harper, July 1

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  • Jules Beresford

    Jacqueline Winspear, the marvelous creator of the best-selling Maisie Dobbs series about a World War I nurse turned investigator, has now written a stand-alone novel. The story opens during the fateful summer of 1914 and focuses on two friends. In serene Kent, England, Kezia is about to walk down the aisle to marry Tom, the brother of Kezia’s childhood friend. Within months, Tom will be in uniform and the world in chaos. A personal favorite and highly recommended! — Harper, July 1

    Having stormed the steppes with Genghis Khan and triumphed with Julius Caesar, British historical fiction superstar Conn Iggulden is ready to plunge into English history circa 1437, when King Henry VI of the House of Lancaster takes the throne. Trouble is brewing within the royal rival House of York, and you know it all ends in tears, blood, betrayal and unforgettable battles.

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  • Ann E. Chapman

    'Angels Make Their Hope Here'

    The author of a 1999 Oprah Winfrey Book Club selection (River, Cross My Heart), Breena Clarke returns with a historical novel. Its heroine, Dossie Bird, has escaped through the Underground Railroad and finds herself in Russell’s Knob, a peaceful New Jersey community. But far less tranquil are the streets of New York City and the 1863 draft riots. — Little, Brown, July 8

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  • Gary Oakley

    'In the Kingdom of Ice'

    Hampton Sides, author of the best-selling Ghost Soldiers, heads to the uncharted North Pole for his latest historical venture. On July 8, 1879, the USS Jeannette set sail from San Francisco. The ship ended up getting trapped in ice and after nearly two years adrift, it finally sank, leaving the 32-man crew trapped a thousand miles north of Siberia. On the long journey home, the men faced nature at its coldest and cruelest. — Doubleday, Aug. 5

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  • Bill Taylor

    'No Safe House'

    Readers with an appetite for thrillers will want to check out this Canadian author and former Toronto Star columnist whose previous best-sellers include Trust Your Eyes and No Time for Goodbye. In No Safe House, Linwood Barclay centers on a family threatened on all sides by ruthless criminals and the choices they must make to stay alive. — New American Library, Aug. 5

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  • Deborah Feingold

    'Love Letters'

    Set at the Rose Harbor Inn in Debbie Macomber’s imaginary community of Cedar Cove, this tale of love centers on different guests as well as the inn’s proprietor. A Washington state native, Macomber has more than 170 million books in print. She is also known for her top-rated Hallmark Channel movies and a 2013 Hallmark-produced original series, Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove. — Ballantine Books, Aug. 12

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  • Louise Donald


    Colleen McCullough returns with a work her publisher is calling “her first romantic saga since The Thorn Birds.” Set in McCullough’s native Australia right after World War I, the tale focuses on four beautiful sisters, the Latimers of New South Wales. Together the quartet decides to train as nurses. (McCullough herself worked as a researcher at the Yale School of Medicine.) — Simon & Schuster, Aug. 19

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  • Mark Mainz

    'I’ll Be Right Back After This'

    Famous from his years on TV’s Access Hollywood and having covered the biggest sporting events — from Super Bowls to NCAA Final Fours to the Olympics — Pat O’Brien tells his own story of how a skinny kid from South Dakota became a household name. O’Brien details the ups and the downs, including a serious struggle with addiction. — St. Martin’s Press, Aug. 19

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Christina Ianzito contributed to this article.

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