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Sweet Summertime Reads: The Bookish Places We Would Go

Sweet Summertime Reads - Summer Beach Reads Feature

Welcome to our first post for Sweet Summertime Reads, a feature we’re co-hosting with Tara at Fiction Folio and Ginger at GReads! Ginger kicked us off yesterday with a trip to the beach and a giveaway of Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen. (Go enter!) Today we’re taking you to two places we’ve both read about and are inspired to go visit now. What better time than summer, right?


I’m not going to lie. I wanted to pick up Sarah Strohmeyer’s How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True because it was set in a theme park. I know theme park vacations are not for everyone but for almost every summer since I turned 13 and until I was 21, my parents, sister, and I would spend about 10 glorious days in Walt Disney World. In August.

Yes, it was hot. Yes, it was sometimes crowded. But I kid you not: you can do a Walt Disney World vacation and still relax. These are most definitely my happiest summer memories.

How Zoe Made Her Dreams Come True Traveling to Theme Parks Walt Disney World

I think this is why I related so much to Zoe (mostly). Like me, she’s a character who has such a strong pull to a place. When she was little her mom used to take her to Storytown all the time: an amusement park where fairy tales came true. And now many summers later, she was working at the neighboring theme park called Fairyland Kingdom as Storytown decays nearby.

History plays a huge part in my pull to WDW. I love that I can go there and relive favorite moments from my childhood, but also make some new memories as an adult (and with my husband alongside me!) For however amount of days, I can act like a kid, escape reality, and give into pure fantasy. (It might seem monotonous to go to the same place over and over, but I swear it feels like a new experience every time.)

While Strohmeyer’s book certainly poked fun at “the Mouse” and Fairyland Kingdom held many similarities to the real park’s processes, I totally smiled the whole time I read it — thinking of those lovely vacations from before and all the ones I’ll have in the future.

Add How Zoe (Mostly) Made Her Dreams Come True to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon


Recently, I finished reading When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney, and I LOVED IT. Not only is the story really gripping, but it was filled with new sites that left me aching to visit them. For reasons I won’t dive into here, Danny visits Tokyo after his mother passes away. It’s a place his family has visited time and time again. He’s searching for answers and a new friend, Kana, becomes his tour guide.

Tokyo might be an unconventional choice for a summertime destination because often beaches and sunshine come to mind when I think about my trips, but I was so inspired by the scenes Whitney described I wanted to fly there immediately.

They visit a very special tea house his mother frequented often because it was known for its healing tea. Danny finds some peace in knowing he was able to sit at the same table as his mother, swap stories with Kana as his mom did, and was happy to get to know the woman who served his mother tea. It was such a peaceful experience to read about; I’ve never been to a tea house before, but I certainly had a vivid picture of the darker environment and somber atmosphere and wished I were there to sip tea with a friend.

A little known fact about myself? — I don’t really like sushi. I’ve tried several times and I haven’t acquired a taste for it yet. However, that being said, I definitely wanted to try it again when Danny visited his favorite outdoor sushi hut where he and his mom were known by name. My stomach rumbled as the food was described. Yum, yum.

And lastly, but maybe most importantly, there were Kana’s outrageous outfits. She was always wearing something Danny took note of because it was wild and colorful. In fact, I began searching Japanese street fashion after reading When You Were Here because I was so intrigued by the outfits Whitney imagined for Kana. Maybe if I visited Tokyo, I could experiment and let go of my rather boring and conservative wardrobe.

 Add When You Were Here to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon

October 7, 2016 - 11:44 pm

Summer Reading: Young Adult for the Disney Fan – This Happy Place Blog - […] interns at a theme park in New Jersey that sounds very much like the Magic Kingdom so, of course, I wrote about Disney. (Melissa from Mouse on the Mind liked it so much she featured it in her Weekly […]

June 13, 2013 - 9:01 am

Summer Reading: Young Adult for Disney Fans - […] interns at a theme park in New Jersey that sounds very much like the Magic Kingdom so, of course, I wrote about Disney. (Melissa from Mouse on the Mind liked it so much she featured it in her Weekly […]

June 11, 2013 - 5:05 am

Weekly Round Up: June 11 | Mouse on the Mind - […] from This Happy Place Blog shared some Disney memories and a great summer book pick on  Rather Be […]

June 10, 2013 - 4:58 pm

Alexa Y. - I love this post so, so much! Seriously, you guys have named two of my favorite places in the world – Walt Disney World & Japan. I’ve been lucky enough to go to both in my lifetime, though I wouldn’t mind a return trip, particularly to Japan. I haven’t read either of the books that inspired your ideas for these trips though so… I may need to get on that!

June 7, 2013 - 9:01 am

The Big Kids' Table: Summer is the Word (in Fiction) - […] The weather has been so August-like in NYC, the AC is up and running like crazy at work, and our Sweet Summertime Reads series has kicked off again so I’m in the summer mode + that means SUMMER […]

June 6, 2013 - 11:26 am

Asheley Tart (@BookwormAsheley) - Ok so Estelle we talked a little a few days about about my as-yet non-existent Disney adventures. I want some Disney adventures. I haven’t read this book but perhaps I might enjoy it as a lighter read? Also, that guy on the front is like Donnie Wahlberg from NKOTB days just as sure as I’m sitting here in my favorite paisly-print chair right now. TRUTH. I think I’ve discussed this before with people. I can’t get over that hair and shirt.

Also, Magan, I just finished When You Were Here and oh my goodness gracious, such a wonderful book. I’ve never really wanted to visit Japan before necessarily, but after that book – I’d totally go. Whitney had such a nice and gentle way of writing it that the culture and setting didn’t overwhelm me even though sometimes that particular place can be overwhelming because it is just so unapologetic and bright and wonderful. Also, we should talk about sushi because you can actually eat sushi that isn’t raw, which is what I do and I PROMISE there is a sushi for everyone. *smiles*

Love this, ladies. LOVE IT.

June 6, 2013 - 11:23 am

Candice @ The Grown-Up YA - Great destinations! I haven’t been to Disney since high school. I’d LOVE to go back as an adult! Zoe was such a cute book that made me reminisce about our own childhood memories at Disney! Haven’t read When You Were Here, but it looks so good! Love that you picked this as your destination!

June 5, 2013 - 5:19 am

Laura @ the Booksmartie - I love this post! Like…so much 🙂 I would love to spend my summers in a theme park -that’s such an awesome idea! My parents always took me and my brother hiking -which was…umm…not always fun 🙂 Then again, I turned to like and appreciate it when I grew older! As for Tokyo – I’d leave behind every sunny beach if I could go visit that city at one point in my life. I’m pretty sure it’d be one of the most interesting places to go in the world!!

June 4, 2013 - 3:04 pm

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - Yayyyyy WDW!! You know I love it!!! I’m interested in reading Zoe, purely for the fact that it’s in a theme park! 🙂

June 4, 2013 - 2:10 pm

Rachel - I give your family kudos, Estelle, for going to Disney in August. I went in July a few years ago as a graduation present and I definitely suffered in the heat. Disney has the same meaning to me that it does to you. Growing up I went there once or twice a year and to me it truly was the most magical place on earth.

I also liked what you picked, Magan! I’ve been hearing so much about that book lately and it’s interesting to see the culture behind the story.

June 4, 2013 - 1:34 pm

Morgan - I followed Estelle’s tweet about how different the two locations are; lo and behold they are my two FAVORITE destinations! Adding both to GR now. Magan, the fashions in Tokyo are amazing!

June 4, 2013 - 12:31 pm

Tink - Just found your blog thru the Disney Food Blog..I love Disney and reading, perfect! Even better, that Zoe book sounds great, definitely going to have to check it out!

June 4, 2013 - 10:39 am

Tara - Estelle, I love that pic of you when you were a kid–so cute! Magan, I love your not-typical destination and can’t wait to read that book!

June 4, 2013 - 8:40 am

Ginger @ GReads! - I love that you both chose “out of the box” summer destinations & paired it with a book. Estelle, I know how close Disney is to you & it’s always fun to see your pictures from previous trips. Magan, this book is coming up soon on my TBR list – you’ve definitely made me more excited for it!

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