July is almost here and that means it time to pick up some amazing new summer reads. As some of you know, I’m a published author (shameless plug: you can find my debut novel, The Legacy of Us, here). I’ve also been a massive book nerd pretty much my entire life. Kind of goes with the territory of being a writer!
I belong to three book clubs, including Royally Good Reads, a royal book club I co-run with Mallory Bowling of The Palace Avenue. I try to read at least 40-50 books each year. I’m a little behind after being so busy with the royal wedding, but my list of summer reads is long!
I thought I’d do a roundup of some of my recent favorite books – both royally-themed and otherwise – along with the summer reads I’m packing in my beach bag this year.
Royal Reads: Non-Fiction
Harry: Life, Loss, and Love by Katie Nicholl: This book, by one of my favorite royal correspondents, gives a pretty thorough overview of Prince Harry’s life from the time he lost his mother to the current day. I enjoyed the little insights and insider comments that pepper the book, and felt like I learned some new things about Harry along the way. It’s a fast read and I highly recommend! Harry was also the June pick for Royally Good Reads (more on how to join the club at the bottom of this post!).
A Royal Duty by Paul Burrell: This is an older book, but I just listened to the Audible version and found it fascinating. Paul Burrell, Princess Diana’s former butler, is a controversial figure in royal circles. Seriously, Google him right now if you aren’t familiar. But no matter your opinion on the man himself, his story is ridiculously interesting. You get all sorts of behind-the-scenes info about what it’s like to work for Diana and The Queen.
Meghan: A Hollywood Princess by Andrew Morton: I’m currently listening to this book on Audible (it’s the July pick for Royally Good Reads!) and very much enjoying it so far. Written by the well-known royal biographer Andrew Morton, it gives some interesting background on Meghan’s life before Harry. He interviewed many people who know Meghan, such as old friends, former teachers, and her half-brother, Tom. The book also touches on past royal marriages/relationships and how Meghan and Harry are helping to change the monarchy.
Royal Reads: Fiction
Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn: If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if Her Majesty crept out of the palace and hopped on a train to Scotland while wearing a skull-print hoodie … well, I might be slightly concerned. But that’s exactly what happens in this absolutely charming novel. Various members of the palace staff go on a hunt to find The Queen, and all of them have interesting backstories of their own. Get it on audiobook because the narration is wonderful!
Royally Wed by Teri Wilson: Teri is a writer friend and royal-watching friend of mine, and I really enjoy her royal-themed novels. This fun romance is a retelling of the classic movie Royal Wedding (which happens to be the favorite movie of the main character in the book I’m writing right now!). An American musician is hired to perform at a British royal wedding, but he doesn’t expect a rebellious princess, a royal scandal, and a life-changing romance. The perfect beach read!
The Last Tudor by Philippa Gregory: I’m such a fan of her books! If you’re even remotely interested in Tudor history or royal history, I suggest a Philippa G. binge session. This one covers Lady Jane Grey, otherwise known as the Nine Days Queen, and her two sisters. While I’ve read many novels featuring Jane, I knew nothing about her sisters. This one – like all of Philippa’s books – is packed with courtly intrigue and scandal.
All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin: Emily is one of my favorite authors of all time and her latest (just released this week) did not disappoint. I flew through it in two days! I thought this was such a timely novel with its plot about a social media scandal in a high school. The story is told from three POVs: the girl whose photo was sent around school, her father, and the mother of the boy accused of taking the photo. One of my book clubs is reading it for July and I’m excited about leading the discussion. (Side note: I love how Emily is a devoted royal watcher!)
Girls Who Travel by Nicole Trivilas: I got a kick out of the main character, Kika, and her adventures as a nanny to a posh family in London. Her money runs out and she’s forced to get a “real job” rather than travel the world. But Kika never gave up on her dreams in this funny and fast-paced novel.
Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser: This was a twisty story about a mother and her twins who suddenly go missing after a neighborhood party. Everyone suspects foul play – and the husband – but is he really capable of hurting his own family? If you like your suspense on the not-super-scary side, this should be your cup of tea. I didn’t see the end coming at all!
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows: This novel, about the German occupation of the English Channel island of Guernsey in WWII, was one of my book club reads this spring. It ranks as one of my top five favorites of all time and I really cannot recommend this novel enough! I suggest listening on Audible, because the book is written entirely in letters. Each character is read in a different voice (rare for audiobooks) which really added to the story for me.
London Belongs to Me and London Can You Wait by Jacquelyn Middleton: If you love London as much as I do, you must check out these novels! Playwright Alex moves from America to England to chase her dreams of seeing her work on the London stage. When she falls for Irish actor Mark Keegan, she realizes stardom isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Alex deals with anxiety and panic attacks, and I really admire how the author, who has become a good friend of mine, tackles mental health issues in her books. Like William, Kate and Harry’s Heads Together campaign, it’s done in a very relatable way. I think having these conversations is so important!
In My Beach Bag
So many books, so little time! These are a few of the novels I’m planning to read this summer:
The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen: This thriller is the summer pick for one of my book clubs and I’ve heard it’s one of those novels you just can’t put down!
Boardwalk Summer by Meredith Jaeger: This one was just released last week and it’s one of my favorite types of stories, with a historical plot line that intersects with the present day. Isn’t the cover gorgeous, too?
Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America’s Favorite Guilty Pleasure by Amy Kaufman: I’m a massive fan of The Bachelor so this behind-the-scenes book is right up my street.
The Summer Sail by Wendy Francis: This story, about a trio of college friends who reunite aboard a cruise ship, sounds like the perfect beach book!
Playing with Matches by Hannah Orenstein: I’ve heard great things about this romantic comedy, written by a former matchmaker at an elite dating service.
The Royally Good Reads Book Club
Back in May, I posted about my author friend Lindsay’s fabulous new royal-themed book. After seeing the post, my friend Mallory mentioned the idea of starting a royal book club. A few DMs later, Royally Good Reads was born!
Our first discussion is taking place today in our private Facebook group and I’m really excited. Want to join us for July’s book chat? Leave a comment below or e-mail me and I’ll send you a link to join the FB group.
What are some of your favorite summer reads? Share your top picks in the comments!
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