Remember when we were in school and we had to write essays when we went back in the fall to talk about what we did on summer vacation? Well this is a variation on that. A. Summer’s not over yet, and I will cling to summer for dear life. B. My vacation only lasted 10 days, and not the entire freaking summer like it did back then. (Seriously, I am 43 and I still haven’t quite gotten over the concept of having to go to work between Memorial Day and Labor Day.)

While we were on vacation the last 2 weeks, in the Florida Keys and in Turks and Caicos, I did a lot of scuba diving (which I will blog about in the coming weeks) but I also read a lot in my down time. Scuba is a tiring activity, and when I am on a dive trip I don’t rage in the nightlife scene because I want to get up early and get back into the water. So I end up reading instead. A lot. Man, I know how to party. Here are the books I devoured on vacation, and they were all awesome.

1. BJ Knapp read Lily and the Octopus by Steven RowleyLily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley This one took me by surprise. I started it before I left for the trip and finished it on the plane. The flight from Providence to Fort Lauderdale is almost three hours, so I was able to finish this one during take off and landing, and work on my next book Before the Music while I was able to keep my computer on my unlocked, unstowed, down position try table.

This book is told from the perspective of Ted. Single and gay, Ted struggles with intimacy, and his closest relationship is with Lily, his dachshund. One day he and Lily discuss that she has an octopus on her head. But it’s not an octopus, it’s a tumor. This is a story of fighting death for someone you love. It’s quirky, it’s funny, and it’s heartbreaking and hopeful all at the same time.

BJ Knapp read Queen of the Universe by Geralyn Corcillo2. Queen of the Universe by Geralyn Corcillo. When I started this book, while waiting for the Uber at the Fort Lauderdale airport, I didn’t realize that this was the second book in a series. Have you ever started a book when you didn’t realize it was a in a series and didn’t feel like you knew who the characters were and what’s going on? Annoying right? That was not the case with this book. Geralyn Corcillo did a nice job of not making me feel disoriented when I started reading. She let me know who is who, and I think I was most of the way through when I finally realized it was the second in the series.

This one is about Lola, who is the manager of a new TV show. She stumbles upon the perfect guy to be the male lead. The problem is, the guy thinks he’s there to interview to be the contractor on her home renovation, but she thinks he’s there to audition for the role. Can she convince him to play the role anyway, even though he’s not an actor and save the show? Also, her heart throbs and palms sweat every time he’s around.

BJ Knapp read The Mosquito Hours by Melissa Corliss DeLorenzo3. The Mosquito Hours by Melissa Corliss Delorenzo. This is another one that took me by surprise. It’s set in coastal Massachusetts, and covers three generations of women. It starts out when Vivian loses her home in the housing crisis in 2008. Her twin daughters are 22, one daughter has 2 children of her own, and Vivian herself gave birth to her girls when she was a teen. The story follows Vivian and her daughters, Guin and Tania, as they try to figure out their path in life even though they are a generation apart. Beautifully written, I could almost smell the salt air from the screened in porch behind Vivian’s mother’s house.

BJ Knapp read Secondhand Purses by Elizabeth Butts4. Secondhand Purses by Elizabeth Butts. This is the second book I’ve read by her, and I love Elizabeth Butts. She has positioned her books as chick lit for real chicks, and she’s not kidding. This is the story of 16 year old Vicki who befriends her elderly Italian neighbor, Nonna. From Nonna she learns the secrets to baking Italian pastries and falls for Nonna’s nephew, Nick. Nonna becomes Vicki’s adopted grandmother she never had. Nonna decides Vicki needs to rebrand herself and starts to call her by her middle name, Alex. And Nonna’s rebranding and baking has made all the difference as Vicki grows into Alex. Also, all I wanted to do was eat cake and pastry after reading this book, the descriptions of these goodies was so thorough.

BJ Knapp read Little Gray Dress by Aimee Brown5. Little Gray Dress by Aimee Brown. I read this one after we got back to Fort Lauderdale from Turks and Caicos. I literally read it in less than 24 hours, that’s how good it was. The story is about Emi going home for her twin brother’s wedding, and her ex is there. That ex. The one she caught cheating 2 days before their wedding day. Problem is, she’s flying solo and the ex is there, and engaged to, the one woman she cannot stand. Emi hilariously stumbles through the wedding festivities trying to appear cool but completely heartbroken, and she dodges attempts at beauty sabotage by the other woman. A very well done debut.

OK, so, here’s the answer to “what should I read next.” You are welcome.

BJ Knapp is the author of Beside the Music, available for purchase here. Please sign up for the Backstage with BJ Knapp mailing list to get updates on events, signings, dog pictures and so much more.

BJ Knapp is the author of Beside the Music, available for purchase here. Please sign up for the Backstage with BJ Knapp mailing list to get updates on events, signings, dog pictures and so much more.