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Another summer, another trip to Navarre Beach, FL, with my mom and brother. Despite COVID-19, we were able to visit our usual condo while practicing social distancing and wearing our masks. Every summer, I bring five books to read and usually make a Target run for even more books. Instead of leaving the condo, I decided to risk bringing along my Amazon Fire tablet and it was the perfect solution for beach reading. Like last year's article, I'll be running through the six Goodreads categories of perfect beach reads. Without further ado, here we go!!!

Books That Draw You In

The Hand on the Wall (Truly Devious #3) by Maureen Johnson

"Ellingham Academy must be cursed. Three people are now dead. One, a victim of either a prank gone wrong or a murder. Another, dead by misadventure. And now, an accident in Burlington has claimed another life. All three in the wrong place at the wrong time. All at the exact moment of Stevie’s greatest triumph . . .

She knows who Truly Devious is. She’s solved it. The greatest case of the century.

At least, she thinks she has. With this latest tragedy, it’s hard to concentrate on the past. Not only has someone died in town, but David disappeared of his own free will and is up to something. Stevie is sure that somehow—somehow—all these things connect. The three deaths in the present. The deaths in the past. The missing Alice Ellingham and the missing David Eastman. Somewhere in this place of riddles and puzzles there must be answers.

Then another accident occurs as a massive storm heads toward Vermont. This is too much for the parents and administrators. Ellingham Academy is evacuated. Obviously, it’s time for Stevie to do something stupid. It’s time to stay on the mountain and face the storm—and a murderer." From Barnes and Noble

While I struggle to read YA books anymore, I've been holding on to Maureen Johnson's Truly Devious trilogy to the very end. I've gone through such a transformation in the past two years regarding my reading preferences and while I'm now a contemporary romance gal, these YA mystery books will leave you hanging on every last word. Stevie Bell is the badass MC that we all want to be and the cast of friends she has are serious friend goals. Despite the constant murders at Ellingham Academy, I would love to visit for at least just the weekend. I gave this stunning conclusion 5 stars!

Books with Short Chapters

The Heir Affair (The Royal We #2) by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

"After a scandalous secret turns their fairy-tale wedding into a nightmare, Rebecca "Bex" Porter and her husband Prince Nicholas are in self-imposed exile. The public is angry. The Queen is even angrier. And the press is salivating. Cutting themselves off from friends and family, and escaping the world's judgmental eyes, feels like the best way to protect their fragile, all-consuming romance.

But when a crisis forces the new Duke and Duchess back to London, the Band-Aid they'd placed over their problems starts to peel at the edges. Now, as old family secrets and new ones threaten to derail her new royal life, Bex has to face the emotional wreckage she and Nick left behind: with the Queen, with the world, and with Nick's brother Freddie, whose sins may not be so easily forgotten — nor forgiven. " From Barnes and Noble

I waited SO LONG for the sequel to The Royal We and I was not let down at what I got! Are these books practically Prince William and Kate Middleton fanfiction? Yes. Am I going to continue to read them and obsess over being royal? ABSOLUTELY. I can't get enough of the royal romance trend and I promise these books are just as good as the reviews say they are. The chapters are nice and short and these books are easy to put down and pick back up if you're looking for something a little slower to read. I gave this HIGHLY anticipated sequel 5 stars. 

Books That Make Your Heart Race

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

"The bride – The plus one – The best man – The wedding planner  – The bridesmaid – The body

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?" From Barnes and Noble.

I won't lie to y'all...I hesitated to buy this book. I wasn't sure it was something I would enjoy reading. While the description was giving me an Agatha Christie And Then There Were None vibe (which I love), that didn't mean I would ultimately enjoy this book in the long run. Boy was I wrong. This book drew me in immediately. The suspense is turned on from the first page and doesn't stop until the very last sentence. You're left turning page after page and unable to put the book down. The murder--which you know happens almost off the bat--has your heart racing so fast in anticipation. I promise you'll love this book if you're looking for a hot new mystery. I knew early on this would be getting 5 stars from me. 

Books with Sunny Settings

Beach Read by Emily Henry

"A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast. 

They're polar opposites. 


In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they're living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer's block. Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She'll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he'll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really." From Barnes and Noble

This was my most anticipated summer read. I tried so hard to get my hands on this book that the guy at the Barnes and Noble knew who I was by the third time I came in looking for the book. Y'ALL they couldn't keep this book on the shelves it was so popular...that should tell you something. I will say that this book was not at all what I was expecting when I got to the meat of it. What I thought would be lighthearted and fun was actually very deep and heartfelt...and I wasn't mad about it. Emily Henry wrote a beautiful story of love and loss and I feel better for having read it. I hope you do too! Easily 5 stars. 

Books That Make You Laugh

You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

"Naomi Westfield has the perfect fiancé: Nicholas Rose holds doors open for her, remembers her restaurant orders, and comes from the kind of upstanding society family any bride would love to be a part of. They never fight. They’re preparing for their lavish wedding that's three months away. And she is miserably and utterly sick of him.

Naomi wants out, but there's a catch: whoever ends the engagement will have to foot the nonrefundable wedding bill. When Naomi discovers that Nicholas, too, has been feigning contentment, the two of them go head-to-head in a battle of pranks, sabotage, and all-out emotional warfare. But with the countdown looming to the wedding that may or may not come to pass, Naomi finds her resolve slipping. Because now that they have nothing to lose, they're finally being themselves—and having fun with the last person they expect: each other." From Barnes and Noble

Another book that absolutely surprised me was Sarah Hogle's You Deserve Each Other. Of course, based on that description I was expecting a deep and heartfelt storyline, but wow, I loved the character development that happened in this book. Nicholas was not at all what I was expecting him to be and Naomi went through a complete change of heart by the end. A Facebook friend of mine told me I would really enjoy this book and that it was a contemporary romance that genuinely made her laugh, the first one to do that in a while. I have to agree with her. The banter between Naomi and Nicholas is actually really funny. I hope to see more from Sarah Hogle, especially if she's that good at rom com. Another 5 stars here. 

Books That Transport You

Bringing Down the Duke (A League of Extraordinary Women #1) by Evie Dunmore

"England, 1879. Annabelle Archer, the brilliant but destitute daughter of a country vicar, has earned herself a place among the first cohort of female students at the renowned University of Oxford. In return for her scholarship, she must support the rising women's suffrage movement. Her charge: recruit men of influence to champion their cause. Her target: Sebastian Devereux, the cold and calculating Duke of Montgomery who steers Britain's politics at the Queen's command. Her challenge: not to give in to the powerful attraction she can't deny for the man who opposes everything she stands for.

Sebastian is appalled to find a suffragist squad has infiltrated his ducal home, but the real threat is his impossible feelings for green-eyed beauty Annabelle. He is looking for a wife of equal standing to secure the legacy he has worked so hard to rebuild, not an outspoken commoner who could never be his duchess. But he wouldn't be the greatest strategist of the Kingdom if he couldn't claim this alluring bluestocking without the promise of a ring...or could he? Locked in a battle with rising passion and a will matching her own, Annabelle will learn just what it takes to topple a duke..." From Barnes and Noble.

I had high hopes for this book. From its cute cover to a very promising storyline, I really thought I would like this more than I did. Sebastian, known more as his title of Montgomery, was not my kind of man. He was just a little controlling and overbearing for me though he was never abusive towards Annabelle that I could tell. What saved the book for me was Annabelle's friendships she made through the suffragette movement and the Oxford suffragist plot line as a whole. I felt like those bits were well researched and written and made her a better character. I wish she had been more independent from Sebastian though. Oh well, this isn't a review of the book. I will say that you should check out other reviews of this book before reading it so you can see what you think of it. I rated this 3/5 stars. 


Callie Smith is a senior public relations major with nonprofit leadership studies and theatre minors at Murray State University. She is a lover of Jesus, an avid YA reader and a listener of Broadway records. In her spare time, she loves to watch The Umbrella Academy, Arrested Development, Veep and The X-Files. She loves to bake, perform, read and spend all the time she can with her friends. Callie's plans include working in public relations for a nonprofit organization she loves. Callie is the President and Co-Campus Correspondent of Her Campus at Murray State.
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