Heather Day Gilbert’s Summer Reading List

We are excited to have author Heather Day Gilbert join us today to share her summer reading list.  Heather was born and mostly raised in the mountains of West Virginia, and lives here once again. She love bringing generational stories to readers, just like the ones she heard growing up. Her novels tend to be bittersweet, reflecting the triumphs and trials we experience in our lives.

Adam BedeAdam Bede by George Eliot
Publication Date: 1859
Publisher: John Blackwood

What’s it about:

Carpenter Adam Bede is in love with the beautiful Hetty Sorrel, but unknown to him, he has a rival, in the local squire’s son Arthur Donnithorne. Hetty is soon attracted by Arthur’s seductive charm and they begin to meet in secret. The relationship is to have tragic consequences that reach far beyond the couple themselves, touching not just Adam Bede, but many others, not least, pious Methodist Preacher Dinah Morris. A tale of seduction, betrayal, love and deception, the plot of Adam Bede has the quality of an English folk song. Within the setting of Hayslope, a small, rural community, Eliot brilliantly creates a sense of earthy reality, making the landscape itself as vital a presence in the novel as that of her characters themselves.

Heather’s Comments: One of my favorite books of all time is The Mill on the Floss by Eliot, and my mom’s cousin, who was an English teacher, recommended this one to me. I love catching up on classics.


The BungalowThe Bungalow by Sarah Jio
Publication Date: December 27, 2011
Publisher: Plume

What’s it about:

A sweeping World War II saga of thwarted love, murder, and a long-lost painting.

In the summer of 1942, twenty-one-year-old Anne Calloway, newly engaged, sets off to serve in the Army Nurse Corps on the Pacific island of Bora-Bora. More exhilarated by the adventure of a lifetime than she ever was by her predictable fiancé, she is drawn to a mysterious soldier named Westry, and their friendship soon blossoms into hues as deep as the hibiscus flowers native to the island. Under the thatched roof of an abandoned beach bungalow, the two share a private world-until they witness a gruesome crime, Westry is suddenly redeployed, and the idyll vanishes into the winds of war.

A timeless story of enduring passion from the author of Blackberry Winter and The Violets of MarchThe Bungalow chronicles Anne’s determination to discover the truth about the twin losses-of life, and of love-that have haunted her for seventy years.

Heather’s Comments: I really enjoyed The Last Camellia and Blackberry Summer by Jio (can’t seem to get into The Violets of March). I’m hoping this one will contain the elements I so love in Jio’s books: past/present timeline, a hint of mystery, and interesting relationships.


The Girls of AugustThe Girls of August by Anne Rivers Siddons
Publication Date: July 8, 2014
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing 

What’s it about:

Every August, four women would gather together to spend a week at the beach, renting a new house each year. The ritual began when they were in their twenties and their husbands were in medical school, and became a mainstay of every summer thereafter. Their only criteria was oceanfront and isolation, their only desire to strengthen their far-flung friendships. They called themselves the Girls of August. But when one of the Girls dies tragically, the group slowly drifts apart and their vacations together are brought to a halt. Years later, a new marriage reunites them and they decide to come together once again on a remote barrier island off the South Carolina coast. There, far from civilization, the women make startling discoveries that will change them in ways they never expected.

Heather’s Comments: I love stories that intertwine the lives of friends, and this one sounds like it does. Plus, one of my all-time favorite books is Colony by Siddons. I haven’t loved all her books, but this one sounds promising.


The Secret Life of Book ClubThe Secret Life of Book Club by Heather Woodhaven
Publication Date: January 31, 2015
Publisher: Blue Azalea Press

What’s it about:

Book Club Just Got Real.

Jeanine Phelps is tired of reading about other women who grab life and have epiphanies. She challenges her book club to live like the heroines in the books they love.

At first, seizing the day is pure fun until it generates an upset in each of their lives:
Jeanine’s husband is so inspired by her new vitality it triggers a bizarre mid-life crisis involving tacos.
Paula, the model PTA soccer mom, starts fighting with her man about the family printing business until she’s drawn back to her
secret passion.
Kate, a single mom and teacher, can’t figure out if the rekindled friendship with the new museum creator is worth the romantic risk.
Anne, a mother of four babies, works to hold the book club together while trying to figure out her own identity.

When everyone wants to quit the challenge, the media’s spotlight makes it impossible. Can they rely on each other while keeping their priorities? And more importantly, is their sanity worth the chance to each become a heroine in her own life?

Heather’s Comments: Speaking of intertwining lives of friends, I read and LOVED this one. All the adventures had me living vicariously, and the women’s marriages and life with kids were so spot-on realistic. Highly recommend.


The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Riverhead Books

What’s it about:

A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.

Heather’s Comments: I finally got my hands on this one and could NOT put it down. I felt it was more hopeful than Gone Girl without so much language and sexual situations. Right now, I’m wishing there were another Paula Hawkins book I could charge into. I love psychological mysteries.


Lodg_9780307731777_cvr_ALL_r1.inddReservations for Two by Hillary Manton Lodge
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: WaterBrook Press

What’s it about:

Food writer-turned-restaurateur Juliette D’Alisa has more than enough on her plate. While her trip to Provence might have unlocked new answers to her grandmother’s past, it’s also provided new complications in the form of Neil McLaren, the man she can’t give up.

Juliette and Neil find romance simple as they travel through Provence and Tuscany together, but life back home presents a different set of challenges. Juliette has a restaurant to open, a mother combating serious illness, and a family legacy of secrets to untangle – how does Neil, living so far away in Memphis, fit into to her life?

As she confronts an uncertain future, Juliette can’t help but wish that life could be as straightforward as her chocolate chip cookie recipe. Can her French grandmother’s letters from the 1940’s provide wisdom to guide her present? Or will every new insight create a fresh batch of mysteries?

Heather’s Comments: I loved the large-family dynamic in Lodge’s first book in this series, A Table by the Window. I don’t have the skills to make all the recipes in the books, but they are certainly inspiring!


The Sound of GlassThe Sound of Glass by Karen White
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Publisher: Penguin Group 

What’s it about:

The New York Times bestselling author of A Long Time Gone now explores a Southern family’s buried history, which will change the life of the woman who unearths it, secret by shattering secret.

It has been two years since the death of Merritt Heyward’s husband, Cal, when she receives unexpected news—Cal’s family home in Beaufort, South Carolina, bequeathed by Cal’s reclusive grandmother, now belongs to Merritt.

Charting the course of an uncertain life—and feeling guilt from her husband’s tragic death—Merritt travels from her home in Maine to Beaufort, where the secrets of Cal’s unspoken-of past reside among the pluff mud and jasmine of the ancestral Heyward home on the Bluff. This unknown legacy, now Merritt’s, will change and define her as she navigates her new life—a new life complicated by the arrival of her too young stepmother and ten-year-old half-brother.

Soon, in this house of strangers, Merritt is forced into unraveling the Heyward family past as she faces her own fears and finds the healing she needs in the salt air of the Low Country.

Heather’s Comments: I read Katherine Scott Jones’ review of this book and it sounded great, and I trust Katherine’s taste in books!


All the Way To HeaveAll the Way to Heaven by Becky Doughty
Publication Date: January 18, 2016
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing

What’s it about:

Anica Tomlin, business major, has just learned that the man she’s been planning her future around, her Global Finance professor, already has a beautiful wife and family. Ani cashes in her graduation gift to herself a little early—a trip to Tuscany—but from the moment she boards the wrong train in Pisa, her plans for solitude and self-indulgence begin to unravel around her.
When a bicycle accident thrusts Ani into the skilled hands of the dashing Dr. Cosimo Lazzaro, she reluctantly accepts his invitation to recover in his family’s country villa, perched on a hilltop surrounded by the Lazzaro olive groves. But it’s been a black year for olive growers all over Italy, and generations of tradition are being put to the test like never before.
Ani is swept up in the drama of life in Tuscany, the convergence of old and new, and the passions that drive people to pursue the desires of their hearts. Just as Ani begins to get her feet under her again, an unexpected turn of events leaves her doubting the very existence of happily-ever-after, unless she can learn to trust the desires of her own heart.
Although All the Way to Heaven is a stand-alone novel, it is the first book in The Fallout Series, a collection of sweet contemporary romances that follow characters featured in the first book.

Heather’s Comments: This NA novel set primarily in Lucca, Italy, was spellbinding and unforgettable–and I don’t just say that because Becky is my critique partner. I can’t wait until this releases in January for others to enjoy!


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