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The 10 Best Beach Reads for Summer 2014

The Heiresses by Sara Shepard

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From the mastermind of Pretty Little Liars comes this gripping look into the privileged (and scandalous) upper echelons of New York City society. The Saybrook family, blessed with a fortune from the diamond industry, has spawned a generation of beautiful young women. But not everything in their lives is as shiny as their gorgeous jewels, and after a series of shocking deaths, the Saybrook women must confront the deepest, darkest secrets of their own lives, or risk losing them altogether. ($16;

The Vacationers by Emma Straub

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A two-week trip to the Balearic island of Mallorca sounds like an idyllic way to spend a summer vacation, right? Not so much for the Post family, whose visit to the island paradise ends up dissolving in drama. As Jim Post recently lost his job (possibly for reasons that could end his marriage of 35 years), daughter Sylvia has made it her mission to lose her virginity to her Spanish tutor, and son Bobby has a major favor to ask of his dad, this is one family vacation that all involved will never forget. ($16;

All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner

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To an outsider, Allison Weiss seems to have it all: She has a handsome husband, an adorable daughter, and an amazing job writing for an up-and-coming website. But when her once-perfect life starts to unravel, Allison turns to painkillers to help her cope. As her pill popping continues, Allison is forced to re-evaluate her addiction. You’ll root for the likeable yet troubled protagonist as she struggles to pull herself out of a dizzying, downward spiral. ($16,

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We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

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This young adult novel is anything but childish. Full of intrigue, scandal, and secrets, this page-turner centers on the distinguished Sinclair family, who gather one summer on the family’s private island off of Cape Cod. After the young protagonist, Cadence, suffers a mysterious accident, she spends the next two years convalescing and trying to piece together exactly what happened to her—an investigation that leads to a shocking, gut-wrenching conclusion. ($11;

A Long Time Gone by Karen White

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Transport yourself to the low country of the Deep South in this touching novel about family, love, and loss. Reeling from her recent divorce and struggling with addiction, Vivien Walker returns to her family home in the Mississippi Delta, even though she’d sworn not to go back. But back home, Vivien is forced to uncover long-hidden family secrets, reconcile her relationship with her aging mother, and face important truths about herself. ($20;

The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand

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With 42 happy couples to her credit and all of them still together, Nantucketer Dabney Kimball Beech has always had an uncanny gift for matchmaking. Married to a Harvard professor, her life seems perfect, except that her daughter is engaged to the wrong man (so she claims), and her long lost high school love returns to the island. Plagued by confusion and tragedy upon his return, she is forced to share painful secrets with her family and come face to face with the choices she’s made in her life before it is too late. ($30,

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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Taylor Jenkins Reid offers an entirely fresh perspective on what can happen after "happily ever after." It all started out well for Lauren Spencer and Ryan Cooper—an all-consuming college romance, a perfectly imperfect proposal, a lovely wedding, and a rustic honeymoon. Now, almost 10 years later, Lauren and Ryan find themselves rehashing the same arguments with increasing vehemence. In a last-ditch effort to save their marriage, they decide to take a yearlong break from each other, abstain from all communication, and figure out how they’d like to move forward. Once Ryan moves out, Lauren spends the next year learning more about herself, her marriage, and what she really wants. ($12,

Uganda Be Kidding Me by Chelsea Handler

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Complete with pictures, this fifth release by the E! Television star is hilarious. Nevermind recovering from ACL surgery, Chelsea books an impromptu vacation for her and close friends and family. She covers all of your travel concerns—getting back to nature, hedonism, margaritas, and airplane seatmates. If you’re one of the millions who enjoy Handler’s sarcastic, self-deprecating humor (and her tendency to be pantless), then you may just pee yourself laughing as she humiliates herself from Montenegro to Telluride. ($24,

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Jennifer, Gwyneth, and Me by Rachel Bertsche

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We focus on celebrities because there is some element of their lifestyle or persona that we want in our own lives—be that fitness, style, career, or relationships—and the key is not to envy them, but to try and enhance that element in our own lives. We all want Jennifer Aniston’s body, Gwyneth Paltrow’s culinary skills, and Sarah Jessica Parker’s wardrobe. Bertsche, juggling her career, her marriage, and her dream of becoming a mother, embarks on a journey to try to unlock the stars’ secrets while keeping with her real-life restrictions. (Pre-order,

Blue Mind by Wallace J. Nichols

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In this profound study, biologist and researcher Nichols shares the many ways in which water positively impacts not just our lives, but also our minds. Nichols supports these claims with research spanning across multiple disciplines exploring neuroplasticity and neurochemistry, happiness, and creativity. He also reviews the impact of water on each of the human senses: its blue color and gentle motion, the smells and tastes we perceive in water or rain, and how we feel when immersed. He discusses water activities, including surfing, swimming, and fishing activities, with respect to their impact on the brain. With many citations for the scientifically curious, and numerous anecdotes that entertain, Blue Mind will captivate everyone from beach-goers to ecologists. (Pre-order,