2020 Books for the Beach, Summer Outings, and Your Summer Downtime

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It’s summertime and the living is, well, it’s not easy. But as COVID-19 restrictions are being eased, you may find yourself wanting to head to a park or a beach to relax, catch some rays, and lose yourself in a book.  Fashion Reverie has curated a list of new and exciting books that you won’t be able to put down. Make sure you bring some SPF lotion, water, and masks. Because we’re not out of the COVID-19 woods just yet, wash your hands, social distance, and wear that mask! Just make sure you put SPF on your face. You thought tan lines on your shoulders was unseemly, mask lines on your face will be really embarrassing.  

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Chiffon Trenches by Andre Leon Talley

The larger than life former creative director of American Vogue details his career from working with Diana Vreeland at the Costume Institute to stints at Ebony, Interview, WWD and finally working with and developing an unlikely an intimate friendship with Anna Wintour.  Talley pulls no punches in describing the backbreaking work that goes into producing a magazine whose subscribers’ number in the millions. He also broaches the delicate subject of race and how he not only survived but thrived as a black man in the cutthroat world of fashion. There is an entire chapter on Eunice Johnson, and her groundbreaking Ebony Fashion Fair which made it possible for black communities to see haute couture fashion. This man has stories to tell and he is a skilled and talented wordsmith. Fashion Reverie cannot recommend this book enough.

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 The Wolf Wants In by Laura McHugh

Award-winning writer Laura McHugh returns with another compelling mystery novel set in rural Kansas.  As the town of Blackwater is overrun by the opioid crisis and rampant crime, the local police can’t even fake interest in the death of Sadie Keller’s brother. But Sadie is determined to find out how her brother died, even if no one else thinks it’s worth investigating. Long-buried secrets boil over as the danger intensifies and Sadie comes closer to discovering the truth.

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Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara’s beautiful face scarred and the two sisters unable to be in the same room together. Their community is rocked when a 9-year-old goes missing. When Dara disappears, Nick is determined to find her sister and reconnect, but uncovers far more than she bargained for.

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#MurderTrending and #MurderFunding by Gretchen McNeil

While these books were written a few years ago, their themes of police corruption and false convictions seems painfully timely. Welcome to an America where a reality star is the President and good citizens can enjoy watching the executions of society’s most infamous convicted felons, streaming live on The Postman app from the suburbanized prison island Alcatraz 2.0. The book cuts back and forth between the POV of the falsely convicted Dee Guerrera and the message boards where she, her fellow convicts, and their wildly creative executioners, aka Painiacs, are discussed. Action-packed and surprisingly funny, #MurderTrending and its sequel #MurderFunding are engrossing reads. The third book #NoEscape is due out in September.

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Meals, Music, and Muses: Recipes from my African American Kitchen by Alexander Smalls

Celebrated chef and world-renowned opera singer Alexander Smalls combine his two passions”—food and music”—in Meals, Music, and Muses. Smalls takes his readers on a mouthwatering tour through the South, exploring the recipes that have shaped the area. Each chapter is named for a type of music, guiding readers into the heart and soul of these delicious foods.

This book contains many classic Southern recipes as well as twists on old favorites, including Hoppin’ John Cakes with Sweet Pepper Remoulade, Carolina Bourbon BBQ Shrimp, Okra Skewers and main dishes like Roast Quail in Bourbon Cream Sauce, and Prime Rib Roast with Crawfish Onion Gravy.

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Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Camino Rios is excited for the summer when her father will visit her in the Dominican Republic. But when she goes to meet his plane, she finds crowds of people weeping. Meanwhile, in New York City, Yahaira Rios is summoned to the principal’s office, her mother is waiting to give her the bad news that her father, her hero, has died. Separated by miles and their father’s secrets, the two girls try to adjust to a new reality only to find out they have a sister.

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What We Inherit by Jessica Pearce Rotondi

This stunning nonfiction book centers around a real-life mystery. When her mother passes away, among her belongings Jessica finds, letters, declassified CIA reports, and newspaper clippings shedding light on a family ghost; her uncle Jack who disappeared in 1972.  A memoir, a spy novel, a travelogue, and an investigative report that moves with the energy of a thriller, this haunting true story will stay with you.

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The Jetsetters by Amanda Eyre Ward

With restrictions on international travel pretty much killing all of our summer plans, why not take a literary trip through Athens and Rome?  When Charlotte Perkins wins a family cruise, she decides to use the time to reunite with her estranged children. Delicious and smart, this book was chosen by Reese Witherspoon for her book club.

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Legendary Children: The First Decade of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the Last Century of Queer Life by Tom Fitzgerald and Lorenzo Marquez

Tom and Lorenzo, of the eponymous enthralling fashion blog and deliciously sassy podcast, have written a fascinating tome that looks at last century of queer history through the prism of the gayest show on television, “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

Like settling in to hear stories from your favorite bitchy uncles, this delightful book takes you through the queer history that has been left out the mainstream academia. It’s not a “RuPaul’s Drag Race” book. It uses the show as a jumping-off point and a connection to the mainstream—as arguably it’s the largest connection to queer culture. Really though this is a history book full of color, life, and determination in the 20th century.

—Cameron Grey Rose

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