Best Beach Reads

Family Circle's sizzling roundup of this season's hottest books.

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Mothers & Daughters


Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner

Chick Lit grows up — and so does Cannie Shapiro — in this humorous and wise sequel to the best-selling Good in Bed. Weiner is equally adept at capturing the frustrations and anguish as well as the joy of being a mom to an almost-teen girl whose sole goal in life is to thwart her mother. You'll breeze right through this cleverly touching charmer.—Darcy Jacobs

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The English American by Alison Larkin


When very British Pippa learns her birth parents are actually American Southerners she goes in search of them — and ultimately herself — in this comedic clash of cultures.—Gay Norton Edelman

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A Little Romance


Summer Blowout by Claire Cook

You won't have to don your sunglasses for this sunny delight by the author of Must Love Dogs. Makeup artist Bella Shaughnessy has a thing for lipstick — with names like Catfight, Damaged, and Revive — a family that gives new meaning to the expression blended (thanks to a half-sister who's dating Bella's ex-husband) and a ban on men (see ex-husband). Which is too bad because she's just met Sean Ryan, an entrepreneur with sparkling eyes and a proposal, business that is — or is it? — for Bella. As refreshing as an icy drink on a sultry day.—D.J.

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Twenty Wishes by Debbie Macomber


Four women, four friendships, four lives gone slightly awry. To help take control of their destiny — especially in matters of the heart — Anne Marie suggests they each write a wish list and then try to make them come true. An inspiring tale of getting what you want in unexpected ways. —Cheryl Grant

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Thrills and Chills


The Host by Stephenie Meyer

In this romantic sci-fi tale by the author of the hugely popular vampire series Twilight, Melanie Stryder's body has been taken over by the soulful alien Wanderer. Unlike most of the human race, Melanie fights back by refusing to relinquish control of her mind. Instead she haunts Wanderer with her memories of Jared (now in hiding) until the two have joined forces — and shared emotions — and go in search of him. A disquieting look at possession and the undying power of love.—D.J.

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The Body in the Gallery by Katherine Hall Page


For caterer, amateur sleuth, and mom Faith Fairchild, solving a whodunit — there's both a stolen painting and a dead body to deal with — may have to take a backseat to what's eating her suddenly rebellious teenage son. —D.J.

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Moving Memoirs


Split: A Memoir of Divorce by Suzanne Finnamore

With the speed and precision of a machine gun, Finnamore gives a chapter-by-chapter dissection of her dissolving marriage, and somehow manages not to leave readers despising her ex. She turns to her now-remarried mother for advice, but it is the supportive safe haven of her friends that truly brings her comfort. Far from a bitter divorce diatribe, this is a witty, graceful journey through denial, acceptance and ultimately triumph.—Cheryl Grant

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Forward from Here: Leaving Middle Age and Other Unexpected Adventures by Reeve Lindbergh


In a series of essays, Lindbergh reflects on the past — raising kids, being a teacher and her relationship with her famous father, Charles Lindbergh — but also ponders what the future will hold. With her warm and witty style, she gives us solace for the troubles and imperfections of life and inspiration to continue to live it to the fullest.—Lisa Kelsey

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The Kids' Club by Darcy Jacobs

You won't hear any groans when you put these on their must-read list.

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The Facttracker by Jason Carter Eaton (8 to 12)


Life has turned upside down in the fantastical land of Traakerfaxx, where truth had reigned supreme until the lies took over. Now one boy is in search of the facts so he can set things right again.

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The Calder Game by Blue Balliett (9 to 12)


In this sequel to the best-selling Chasing Vermeer, arty kid sleuths Petra and Tommy head to England to solve the puzzling disappearance of their friend Calder and a famous sculpture.

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House of Dance by Beth Kephart (12 and up)


Rosie's mom is dating a married man. Her grandfather is dying. And she's in love with her best friend. But through dance 15-year-old Rosie learns the steps to making sense of her life.

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Airhead by Meg Cabot (12 and up)


After a TV falls on her, video game player Emerson Watts is just not feeling herself. She's lost her taste for cookies, a hot guy is leaving her flowers, and she has the face and body of a supermodel.

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No One You Know by Michelle Richmond


When Ellie Enderlin was a college student, her brilliant mathematician sister, Lila, was mysteriously murdered. Twenty years later Ellie is still searching for answers to Lila's death — and life. The sister she thought she knew so well was not exactly who she though she was. The man Ellie initially turned to after her sister's death uses the crime to create his own celebrity — and inadvertently destroys another person's life. In math logic dictates, but Ellie learns that in life the truth is a malleable object that people spin as their desires dictate. The whodunit in this luminous novel is not really the hunt for the killer but what drives people's action and the decisions they make. As complex and beautiful as a mathematical proof, this gripping, thought-provoking novel will keep you thinking long after the last page has been turned.
—Darcy Jacobs

Copyright © 2008. Used with permission from the June and July 2008 issues of Family Circle magazine.