Hooray for the summer! Probably the best time for new book releases and relaxing by the beach to read. This challenge is hosted by Cathy at 746 Books. Now given the fact that I have taken the time to list these books out and talk about them, I’ll probably want to read everything but the stuff I’ve listed, but I’m going to take this as a personal challenge to structure my reading a little bit! I will be reading a lot of summer new releases that I got ARCs for, so something extra to look forward to!
This list is in no particular order, though the first listed are likely going to be some of the first books I read. I will very likely be reading more than what’s on this list for the summer if I keep up the pace that I’ve been reading at, but this list will in the very least give a pretty good taste of the books that I will be reading and writing about for the next three months.
The longest book on my list is And I Darken by Kiersten White at 498 pages, while the shortest is Audition by Ryu Murakami coming in at only 190 pages. My book choices are likely to change over the course of the summer due to several factors but I will update the list as I finish books.
Here and Gone
By Haylen Beck
I have been really digging the mystery and psychological thriller genres for the last couple of months, I haven’t been able to stop reading them! When I read the synopsis for this I knew I had to have this book, doesn’t it sound terrifying? Being a mother of two myself this just sounds like nightmare fuel to me. I will also be buddy reading this with my lovely friend Liz.
It begins with a woman fleeing through Arizona with her kids in tow, trying to escape an abusive marriage. When she’s pulled over by an unsettling local sheriff, things soon go awry and she is taken into custody. Only when she gets to the station, her kids are gone. And then the cops start saying they never saw any kids with her, that if they’re gone than she must have done something with them… Meanwhile, halfway across the country a man hears the frenzied news reports about the missing kids, which are eerily similar to events in his own past. As the clock ticks down on the search for the lost children, he too is drawn into the desperate fight for their return.
Heart of Mist
By Helen Sheuerer
The second genre that I’ve been really enjoying this year has been High Fantasy. The synopsis hooked me and I am so thrilled to have gotten an early copy from the author. What is the mist, and what kind of power would Bleak want to “cure” I wonder. Reminds me a bit of a certain amazing female super hero that also seeks a cure for her gift. I am so excited for this book’s debut in August and am hoping this will be the start of an amazing new fantasy series for me.
In a realm where toxic mist sweeps the lands and magic is forbidden, all Bleak wants is a cure for her power.
Still grieving the death of her guardian and dangerously self-medicating with alcohol, Bleak is snatched from her home by the commander of the king’s army, and summoned to the capital.
But the king isn’t the only one interested in Bleak’s powers.
The leader of an infamous society of warriors, the Valia Kindred, lays claim to her as well, and Bleak finds herself in the middle of a much bigger battle than she anticipated.
The Haunting of Hill House
By Shirley Jackson
I really enjoyed Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery and have been dying to get into her work since I graduated from university in 2015. I took a break from reading for my first year after some serious burnout–a reading, research, and writing heavy degree will do that to you–and since I’ve picked reading back up again last year I have been oogling this book. When I got a library card last month I instantly put a hold down. I can’t even begin to tell you how anxious I am to dive into this classic! I probably have unreasonably high expectations given how much I love haunted house stories but I just can’t help it. This book should definitely get my horror fix in for the summer.
The story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.
And I Darken
By Kiersten White
This cover is absolutely gorgeous and drew my attention immediately. Then after reading a couple of rave reviews I knew I had to have it. The book has been described as a young adult version of Game of Thrones. While I normally don’t like comparisons to other books or authors, this comparison really intrigued me.
No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.
Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.
But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.
The Crystal Ribbon
By Celeste Lim
This is one of the few Middle Grade books on my list and one of a handful of Asian lit books. Oh. My. God. The synopsis! A medieval Chinese fairy tale that gives me a serious Bride of the Water God vibe. I have been really loving fantasy this year and this book just sounds phenomenal!
In the village of Huanan, in medieval China, the deity that rules is the Great Huli Jing. Though twelve-year-old Li Jing’s name is a different character entirely from the Huli Jing, the sound is close enough to provide constant teasing-but maybe is also a source of greater destiny and power. Jing’s life isn’t easy. Her father is a poor tea farmer, and her family has come to the conclusion that in order for everyone to survive, Jing must be sacrificed for the common good. She is sold as a bride to the Koh family, where she will be the wife and nursemaid to their three-year-old son, Ju’nan. It’s not fair, and Jing feels this bitterly, especially when she is treated poorly by the Koh’s, and sold yet again into a worse situation that leads Jing to believe her only option is to run away, and find home again. With the help of a spider who weaves Jing a means to escape, and a nightingale who helps her find her way, Jing embarks on a quest back to Huanan–and to herself.
The Hate U Give
By Angie Thomas
How could I put together a summer reading list without including this year’s number one YA book? The Hate U Give has held the top spot on the New York Times Bestselling List for YA lit for almost half the year and for good reason. This book tackles some pretty difficult subject matter including racism, the Black Lives Matter movement, and police brutality. This book has had the blogging community in a buzz and so I have to check it out for myself!
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
Men Explain Things to Me
By Rebecca Solnit
For those that don’t know me, I am a feminist, and I enjoy reading feminist fiction and essays. I had heard the phrase “mansplaining” before but didn’t know that it was inspired by an essay. After seeing a lot of either love or hate reviews on Goodreads I thought that I ought to see what the fuss was about and pick the book up at my library.
In her comic, scathing essay “Men Explain Things to Me,” Rebecca Solnit took on what often goes wrong in conversations between men and women. She wrote about men who wrongly assume they know things and wrongly assume women don’t, about why this arises, and how this aspect of the gender wars works, airing some of her own hilariously awful encounters.
She ends on a serious note— because the ultimate problem is the silencing of women who have something to say, including those saying things like, “He’s trying to kill me!”
This book features that now-classic essay with six perfect complements, including an examination of the writer Virginia Woolf ’s embrace of mystery, of not knowing, of doubt and ambiguity, a highly original inquiry into marriage equality, and a terrifying survey of the scope of contemporary violence against women.
Shimmer and Burn
By Mary Taranta
Another debut book in the Young Adult High Fantasy genre due August that I am absolutely thrilled about. From the synopsis the plot actually sounds pretty dark, which is exactly how I like my fantasy books.
To save her sister’s life, Faris must smuggle magic into a plague-ridden neighboring kingdom in this exciting and dangerous start to a brand-new fantasy duology.
Faris grew up fighting to survive in the slums of Brindaigel while caring for her sister, Cadence. But when Cadence is caught trying to flee the kingdom and is sold into slavery, Faris reluctantly agrees to a lucrative scheme to buy her back, inadvertently binding herself to the power-hungry Princess Bryn, who wants to steal her father’s throne.
Now Faris must smuggle stolen magic into neighboring Avinea to incite its prince to alliance—magic that addicts in the war-torn country can sense in her blood and can steal with a touch. She and Bryn turn to a handsome traveling magician, North, who offers protection from Avinea’s many dangers, but he cannot save Faris from Bryn’s cruelty as she leverages Cadence’s freedom to force Faris to do anything—or kill anyone—she asks. Yet Faris is as fierce as Bryn, and even as she finds herself falling for North, she develops schemes of her own.
With the fate of kingdoms at stake, Faris, Bryn, and North maneuver through a dangerous game of magical and political machinations, where lives can be destroyed—or saved—with only a touch.
By Ryu Murakami
What was that I was saying before about Japanese lit? I actually own the Audition film and had seen it multiple times before realizing it was based off of a book. To say that I am thrilled to read the source material is a severe understatement. As much as I love the movie, I’ll admit that the plot is a bit hard to follow, so I’m really looking forward to reading the story in better detail and seeing how the book and movie differentiate from each other. This is probably going to be the bloodiest, most violent book that I read this year.
Aoyama, a widower who has lived alone with his son ever since his wife died seven years before, finally decides it is time to remarry. Since Aoyama is a bit rusty when it comes to dating, a filmmaker friend proposes that, in order to attract the perfect wife, they do a casting call for a movie they don’t intend to produce. As the résumés pile up, only one of the applicants catches Aoyama’s attention―Yamasaki Asami―a striking young former ballerina with a mysterious past. Blinded by his instant and total infatuation, Aoyama is too late in discovering that she is a far cry from the innocent young woman he imagines her to be. The novel’s fast-paced, thriller conclusion doesn’t spare the reader as Yamasaki takes off her angelic mask and reveals what lies beneath.
When Dimple Met Rishi
By Sandhya Menon
There’s something about the summer season that screams romance and even though contemporary isn’t my usual genre I had to pick up When Dimple Met Rishi. This has been another debut novel that has been making waves in the blogging community and so I’m excited to read it. The premise sounds cute and is definitely a change of pace, plus the serious cover love for this one! It’s so eye catching! This is one of my favorite covers for 2017.
Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?
Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.
The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?
Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.
When the Scoundrel Sins
By Anna Harrington
I like to read a good historical romance once in a while to cleanse my palette. There’s something about a sweet romance that just brightens my mood and makes me feel happy. After reading and being conflicted about If the Duke Demands I wanted to read the next book in the Capturing the Carlisles series to see if it was just a one-off. I’m optimistic that I’d enjoy the rest of the series better, plus look at the cover! It’s marvelous!
A MOST INDECENT PROPOSAL
Annabelle Green needs a husband-and quickly. To inherit the only home she’s ever known, she must be married by her twenty-fifth birthday. But finding a suitor has been next to impossible after a reckless rogue named Quinton Carlisle seduced her into a scandalous midnight tryst. Her reputation in ruins, Belle now needs a rather large favor. And she knows just who to turn to . . .
Quinn can hardly believe that the shy bookish girl he teased as a child has grown into such a brazen beauty. The very idea of marrying Belle to right the wrongs of his past is downright shocking . . . and deliciously tempting. Too bad marriage, convenient or otherwise, is the last thing Quinn wants. He’ll help Belle find a husband and be on his way. But if he can’t control his attraction to the bride-to-be, this marriage could go up in flames-of wicked desire.
The Readymade Thief
By Augustus Rose
I am so excited to have been granted an ARC for this book because it was unexpected, and I have been dying to check this book out. Homeless kids being disappearing, secret societies, a mysterious key? This book sounds incredible and I can’t wait to dive into something new.
Betrayed by her family after taking the fall for a friend, Lee finds refuge in a cooperative of runaways holed up in an abandoned building they call the Crystal Castle. But the façade of the Castle conceals a far more sinister agenda, one hatched by a society of fanatical men set on decoding a series of powerful secrets hidden in plain sight. And they believe Lee holds the key to it all.
Aided by Tomi, a young hacker and artist with whom she has struck a wary alliance, Lee escapes into the unmapped corners of the city—empty aquariums, deserted motels, patrolled museums, and even the homes of vacationing families. But the deeper she goes underground, the more tightly she finds herself bound in the strange web she’s trying to elude. Desperate and out of options, Lee steps from the shadows to face who is after her—and why.
Power Play: How Video Games Can Save the World
By Asi Burak & Laura Parker
This was another unexpected pick up, I hadn’t heard about this book but I saw it sitting on the new release shelves at my library. Being a lifelong gamer I like to occasionally pick up books that talk about the industry and development of the medium. The cover for this book caught my eye immediately and I like the premise, “how video games can be used for good in the real world.” It should be an insightful read and I’m glad to see video games recognized for their utility outside of just entertainment.
The phenomenal growth of gaming has inspired plenty of hand-wringing since its inception–from the press, politicians, parents, and everyone else concerned with its effect on our brains, bodies, and hearts. But what if games could be good, not only for individuals but for the world? In Power Play, Asi Burak and Laura Parker explore how video games are now pioneering innovative social change around the world.
As the former executive director and now chairman of Games for Change, Asi Burak has spent the last ten years supporting and promoting the use of video games for social good, in collaboration with leading organizations like the White House, NASA, World Bank, and The United Nations. The games for change movement has introduced millions of players to meaningful experiences around everything from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the US Constitution.
Power Play looks to the future of games as a global movement. Asi Burak and Laura Parker profile the luminaries behind some of the movement’s most iconic games, including former Supreme Court judge Sandra Day O’Connor and Pulitzer-Prize winning authors Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. They also explore the promise of virtual reality to address social and political issues with unprecedented immersion, and see what the next generation of game makers have in store for the future.
By Heather Demetrios
I discovered this book via reviews by other bloggers and it sounded really intense. To my knowledge this book is about relationship abuse so I’m expecting this to be a difficult read but it’s a topic I feel strongly about. Plus the cover is to die for, I couldn’t resist picking it up.
Grace wants out. Out of her house, where her stepfather wields fear like a weapon and her mother makes her scrub imaginary dirt off the floors. Out of her California town, too small to contain her big city dreams. Out of her life, and into the role of Parisian artist, New York director—anything but scared and alone.
Enter Gavin: charming, talented, adored. Controlling. Dangerous. When Grace and Gavin fall in love, Grace is sure it’s too good to be true. She has no idea their relationship will become a prison she’s unable to escape.
Deeply affecting and unflinchingly honest, this is a story about spiraling into darkness—and emerging into the light again.
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
By Trevor Noah
I couldn’t make a summer list without including a little non-fiction and I LOVE Trevor Noah. I’m a very big fan of his stand up comedy and I was happy to see that he was chosen to take over The Daily Show from the impeccable Jon Stewart. I have a bit of a celebrity crush on him so I couldn’t resist picking up his memoir.
Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.
Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.
The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.
It’s Always The Husband
By Michele Campbell
This is another debut this year that I have seen around quite a bit on advertisements and on Goodreads. The premise sounds really intense and I’ve been really into mystery thrillers this year, so I’m thrilled that I got my hands on a copy of this book at my library.
Kate, Aubrey, and Jenny. They first met as college roommates and soon became inseparable, even though they are as different as three women can be. Twenty years later, one of them is standing at the edge of a bridge . . and someone else is urging her to jump.
How did things come to this?
As the novel cuts back and forth between their college years and their adult years, you see the exact reasons why these women love and hate each other—but can feelings that strong lead to murder? Or will everyone assume, as is often the case, that it’s always the husband?
The Black Witch
By Laurie Forest
The Black Witch has been one of the most controversial releases this year. It started with an extensive ARC review that claimed the book was harmful and racist. This led to a brigade of angry one star ratings and boycotts by followers and a campaign of harassment towards the author, the editor, the publisher, fellow authors and any reviewer that dared to give the book a positive review. The thing is, most of the reviews by folks that read the book have been heaping on the praise. I want to make a judgment for myself and see what the fuss is about.
Elloren Gardner is the granddaughter of the last prophesied Black Witch, Carnissa Gardner, who drove back the enemy forces and saved the Gardnerian people during the Realm War. But while she is the absolute spitting image of her famous grandmother, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above all else.
When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren joins her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University to embrace a destiny of her own, free from the shadow of her grandmother’s legacy. But she soon realizes that the university, which admits all manner of people—including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals, the sworn enemies of all Gardnerians—is a treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.
As evil looms on the horizon and the pressure to live up to her heritage builds, everything Elloren thought she knew will be challenged and torn away. Her best hope of survival may be among the most unlikely band of misfits…if only she can find the courage to trust those she’s been taught to hate and fear.
Not A Sound
By Heather Gudenkauf
Not A Sound appears to be one of this year’s big mystery thrillers and I couldn’t be more excited for Heather Gudenkauf, whose debut novel The Weight of Silence blew me away. The story in Not A Sound follows a deaf woman and her service dog that find themselves caught in the middle of a murder investigation. This sounds absolutely incredible and I just had to pick it up.
When a tragic accident leaves nurse Amelia Winn deaf, she spirals into a depression that ultimately causes her to lose everything that matters–her job, her husband, David, and her stepdaughter, Nora. Now, two years later and with the help of her hearing dog, Stitch, she is finally getting back on her feet. But when she discovers the body of a fellow nurse in the dense bush by the river, deep in the woods near her cabin, she is plunged into a disturbing mystery that could shatter the carefully reconstructed pieces of her life all over again.
As clues begin to surface, Amelia finds herself swept into an investigation that hits all too close to home. But how much is she willing to risk in order to uncover the truth and bring a killer to justice?
By Kanae Minato
I fell in love with Kanae Minato’s Penance and enjoyed it so much I ran out to pick up her debut novel, which is the only other one currently translated to English. The premise sounds absolutely terrifying and I can’t wait to see more of Minato’s work.
Her pupils killed her daughter. Now, she will have her revenge.
After an engagement that ended in tragedy, all Yuko Moriguchi had to live for was her four-year-old child, Manami. Now, after a heartbreaking accident on the grounds of the middle school where she teaches, Yuko has given up and tendered her resignation.
But first, she has one last lecture to deliver. She tells a story that will upend everything her students ever thought they knew about two of their peers, and sets in motion a maniacal plot for revenge.
Pretending to Dance
By Diane Chamberlain
So there’s one that is out a left field, I had never heard of this author but I agreed to do a buddy read with Jorie who is a fellow participant in the summer challenge, and so I chose a book from her list picks. I don’t know much about the author, but the cover caught my eye and the synopsis sounds intriguing.
Molly Arnette is very good at keeping secrets. She and her husband live in San Diego, where they hope to soon adopt a baby. But the process terrifies her.
As the questions and background checks come one after another, Molly worries that the truth she’s kept hidden about her North Carolina childhood will rise to the surface and destroy not only her chance at adoption, but her marriage as well. She ran away from her family twenty years ago after a shocking event left her devastated and distrustful of those she loved: Her mother, the woman who raised her and who Molly says is dead but is very much alive. Her birth mother, whose mysterious presence raised so many issues. The father she adored, whose death sent her running from the small community of Morrison Ridge.
Now, as she tries to find a way to make peace with her past and embrace a future filled with promise, she discovers that even she doesn’t know the truth of what happened in her family of pretenders.
Editing Note: I changed up a few books from the original list due to my schedule changing over the summer between blog tours, arc due dates, and library check outs. There was only one book that I DNF which was Parable of the Sower due to the gruesome content but I replaced it with a different book on this list.
Do any of these look appealing to you? Want to do a buddy read?
Let me know in the comments below!