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Book Review: The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand

If you are looking for a great summer read that is light and airy but still intriguing enough to be a page-turner, this is it. Take a vacation to Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard in this family saga. 

Tabitha and Harper Frost are estranged identical twins who have lived separate lives in an unconventional way: upon their parents' divorce, Harper went to one island with her father and Tabitha went to the other with their mother.  When their father passes away and Tabitha's teenage daughter heads down a dangerous path, the two sisters must come together to help each other, even though this means facing painful pasts and potentially uncovering secrets, they both know what they have to do.

That part of the story- the estrangement, the past, their parents lives...that is all just one layer. On top of that you also get glorious details about life on Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. The descriptions of the weather, the elaborate homes, the majestic islanders, the clothes, the food... it was like reading from a rich cookbook with recipes on how to live the good life.

Did I mention there is also steamy secret affairs, drool worthy fashion, home remodeling and lots of cocktails mixed in? See what I mean?! 

It's a must for your summer reading list! If you've read it, tell me what you think! If you want more beachy reads, check out The Forever Summer, The Sunshine Sisters, Hello, Sunshine and The Arrangement

Book Round Up: Books You Must Read Right Now:

I looked up the other day and realized that the stacks of books in my living room are getting a little out of control. Now, to me, this makes me over the moon happy. I don't mind stack and stacks of books but to anyone stopping by, they might think I am becoming a hoarder. Or to the kids who are running through the living room, the stacks kind of get in their way of endless cartwheels. So as I started to put them away (a.k.a. use them as decorations in various parts of the house) I decided to at least make a list of the next few reads and voila- a book round up for you was born! Here are a list of books you need to put on your TBR list right away and get to reading!

Arboria Park by Kate Tyler Wall- This book really reminded me of Miller's Valley. Epic descriptions of the 1950s setting, where bikes meant freedom and street signs were the boundaries to other worlds. Rich in history about the culture of the time, this book will intrigue you and make you wish you could turn back time just to live in this sub division for a day. Because of her curious and observant nature, Stacy Halloran grows up in her sub-division watching the people around her grow and change, from divorce to sexuality, she is overcome with the need to ask more questions about life but her sheltered world keeps the answers at bay. (Recieved this book as part of BookSparks #PopUpBlogTour)

The Map That Leads To You by J.P. Monninger - A romance overseas. A young woman on what she thinks is a European adventure with her girlfriends unexpectedly leads to a relationship with a mysterious older man. She takes a chance on what might be her last experience with freedom before settling down with life and responsibilities but she has taken on more than she can handle with her lover and his secrets? 

Cruel, Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt- When Caroline emailed me asking if I would like to read her book, I was instantly intrigued. It's set in a time that always grabs my attention: the 1970s, during a time where Vietnam was still confusing and the older generation was still reeling from WWII but the younger people were just as confused by the new liberal movement sweeping into their once safe living rooms. Cruel, Beautiful World is about 16-year-old Lucy, who has decided to run away with her much older English teacher. Her plan, unknown by her older sister and caretaker (her parents were killed in a tragic fire years before) eventually proves to be a poor thought out choice with major repercussions. I can't wait to find out: how far does Lucy go? How does she come back? And I need to know more about this teacher who convinces a child to trust him enough to run away from the only life she has ever known. 

The Heirs by Susan Bieger- Family loyalty takes center stage in this  saga about the Falkes: an upper-crust Manhattan widow and her 5 adult sons. After the death of the family matriarch, Eleanor is still coping with the death of her husband, Rupert. So imagine her deep and utter shock when another woman shows up to sue the Falke estate, claiming that she has been in a relationship with Rupert herself and had two sons with him. Everyone that once loved and respected Rupert must re-evaluate their entire lives with him. It will be interesting to see what it will  take to keep this family together with so many circumstances trying to rip them apart. 

The Identicals by Elin Hildenbrand - We are going on a beach vacation next week so this book is an obvious must- have in my beach bag. Elin Hildenbrand always delivers on a good romance with a spectacular setting. With only 2 and 1/2 hours of travel by ferry between them, sisters Tabitha and Harper have much more keeping them apart. A family crisis forces them to band together but there may be too many betrayals and secrets to build a bridge to mend their relationship. 

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy- Two families go on a vacation that quickly turns tragic when the children get lost while on an onshore visit during their cruise. As panic sets in, the parents start to turn on each other. Told from perspectives of both the parents and children, I anticipate this story to be very thought provoking and emotionally charged. 

No One Is Coming To Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts- I keep seeing this book every where and was intrigued even more so when I read the description: "The Great Gatsby brilliantly recast in the contemporary south: a powerful first novel about an extended African-American family and their colliding visions of the American Dream." Yes. Please. 

Pretend We Are Lovely by Noley Reid-  A summer in the life of the Sobel family in 1980s Blacksburg, Virginia, seven years after the tragic and suspicious death of a son and sibling. All of the family members are dealing with the tragedy differently, which in turn is going to rip them further apart. And then when another family member disappears, there is hardly anything left to save. I heard about this through my Book Riot Insiders membership and I cannot wait until its release on July 18! 

Words is Deep Blue by Cath Crowley- Unrequited love, a book store and hidden love letters? Nothing can keep me away from this story. 

Book Review: The Salt House by Lisa Duffy

When a family loses their youngest daughter in an unthinkable accident, how do they rebuild? 

I can't even begin to imagine. Lisa Duffy helps you understand how this family, the Kellys, can possibly live another day without their precious little girl, Maddie. Their other daughters are just as effected by the tragedy and in this book, you get to read from everyone's perspectives about how life is now that Maddie is gone. 

Jack and Hope Kelly had a lot of dreams: Jack's lobster business would grow, Hope would continue writing for women's magazines, they would rebuild their dream home in Maine with their 3 girls. When their future suddenly looks very differently, every one reacts different. Hope slips into a depression that no one can bring her out of. Jack slips further away from everyone and starts to lose his grip on the mounting responsibilities of his business and providing for his family.

I think the parts of this book that were the most powerful were when the characters were so honest and raw. The author really laid it all out there for you. I felt pride at some points on their behalves, but also shame, sadness, frustration and hope... it was quite the roller coaster. 

The best book I've read this summer. A must-read. 

Praise for The Salt House includes:

“…Duffy eloquently displays the emotional complexities of a family going through the healing process. Readers of Elin Hilderbrand or Luanne Rice will enjoy.”
-Library Journal

“[Duffy] deftly sketches the edges of grief. A poignant story of the power of faith, hope, and love to transcend loss.”

“This insightful, emotionally potent debut is ideal for fans of Amy Hatvany.”

“… a compelling examination of grief and the way loss threatens the lives of every family member. Though all thecharacters are vivid and memorable, I am especially drawn to the younger voices as they maneuver in theuncharted wake of their parents, attempting normal lives under conditions that are anything but.”
-Jill McCorkle, NYT Bestselling author of Life After Life

-I received a copy of The  Salt House from Touchstone Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.