2008’s Best Beach Bag Books Review
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As you pack your bags and head to the beach (or the pool) on your late-summer vacation, don’t forget to pack plenty of books! After all, a good read is sure to keep beachy boredom at bay while the kids are off building sandcastles and perfecting their cannonball.

Whether they’re action-filled thrillers, steamy romances, fun and fluffy chick lit, or anything in between, these beach-worthy books will keep you tuning pages until the kids are ready to call it a day. Just be sure to put on some extra-strong sunblock before you start—because they’re so absorbing that you might forget to flip!

LoveHampton by Sherri Rifkin
Rifkin’s breezy debut novel tells the story of a 30-something Manhattanite whose friends force her to get over her ex by ambushing her with a reality TV makeover and a share-house in the Hamptons. With her new look—and her fabulous new friends—her social life takes off in no time at all. But life at the house in the Hamptons proves to be a lot like life in the house on The Real World. The characters may be older and more grown-up, but the story has all the drama and gossip of your favorite guilty-pleasure reality TV show—only with a little more introspection and self-realization in the end.

The Woman Who is Always Tan and Has a Flat Stomach (And Other Annoying People) by Lauren Allison and Lisa Perry
There’s no better place than the beach for reading this oh-so-observant collection of short, silly essays. Where else will you find those annoyingly perfect women, with their annoyingly perfect children in tow? If you’ve ever felt intimidated by those perfect families, Allison and Perry will have you laughing out loud (at the perfect people’s expense).

The Art of French Kissing by Kristin Harmel
If you’re dreaming of a summer vacation that’s a little more elegant than a trip to the local pool, pick up a copy of Kristin Harmel’s The Art of French Kissing. When Emma Sullivan finds herself both dumped and fired, she ends up jetting off to Paris to help her friend, Poppy, with her new PR firm. What follows is a light and funny mix of humor, romance, and crazy rock stars. Though it’s not exactly an unpredictable read, it’s definitely an enchanting one.

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
If history and heavy suspense are more your style, pick up this gripping historical thriller. It’s the story of Leo Demidov, a handsome war hero and a hard-working member of the Soviet Union’s State Security in the 1950s. One day, a suspect who’s clearly innocent makes Leo realize that the system is corrupt—but trying to stop it will only put him on the other side of the interrogation room. Though Smith’s unusual writing style takes a little getting used to, it’s well worth it. Child 44 is a fast-paced adventure about a fascinating character—and its constant twists and turns will have you gripping the arms of your deck chair and holding on for dear life.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Though it’s not a recent release, be sure to read this truly moving romance now—before the big-screen adaptation hits theaters this winter. It tells the unforgettable story of time-travelling Henry DeTamble and his wife, Clare—who first meets her future husband (meaning both that she’ll marry him in the future and that he comes to visit her from the future) when she’s just six years old. Their story is entangled in time, yet their love defies the barriers of time. Though this imaginative story will sometimes break your heart (so don’t forget to pack your tear-proof sunscreen and some tissues!), it’s sure to warm your heart, too.

James Patterson: Take Your Pick
For the most part, you just can’t go wrong with a book by James Patterson—and, since he’s an incredibly prolific author, you’ve got plenty to choose from. Hopeless romantics will be captivated by the unusual love story in Sundays at Tiffany’s (with Gabrielle Charbonnet). And fans of crime thrillers will want to pick up Patterson’s latest paperback, Step on a Crack (with Michael Ledwidge). Then, later in July, check out Patterson’s new sci-fi teen adventure, The Dangerous Days of Daniel X (also with Ledwidge).

Blood Captain by Justin Somper
Though the Vampirates series was written for kids, the likeable characters and solid storylines are sure to grab grown-up readers’ attention, too. The series follows 14-year-old twins Grace and Connor Tempest who find themselves lost at sea in a sudden storm. Connor is rescued by a pirate ship—and he quickly takes to the pirate life. Grace, meanwhile, is rescued by a very different kind of pirates—the Vampirates. If you’re still missing everybody’s favorite boy wizard, the thrills and chills in this stormy series will help to fill the void. Just be sure to start with Book One, Demons of the Ocean.

Hungry Girl by Lisa Lillien
Okay, so it’s not exactly a book that you’re going to take to the beach for a light and interesting read. But if you want to get your bod in beach-worthy condition, this is a great place to start. Lillien lets you eat the foods you love—like fries and onion rings and creamy coffee drinks—without all the guilt. Most of the recipes are in single-serving sizes (perfect for the hungry single girl), but it’s still easy to multiply the numbers—so you can prepare healthy (and tasty) dinners for the whole family and look your best on the beach.

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