My 20 Books of Summer List
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.
After compiling page numbers, if I finish this challenge I will read 6,768 pages. Which means that I would need to read roughly 71 pages a day over 95 days, 7 books a month. 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.
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.
By Hye-young Pyun
I have been really digging Asian literature lately, particularly in the mystery and horror genres. To date I have only picked up and read Japanese literature which I have only barely dipped my toes into. When I saw this book on Edelweiss I was intrigued, the cover and synopsis really caught my attention. I have never read any Korean literature before so I’m actually pretty excited to give it a try.
In this tense, gripping novel by a rising star of Korean literature, Ogi has woken from a coma after causing a devastating car accident that took his wife’s life and left him paralyzed and badly disfigured. His caretaker is his mother-in-law, a widow grieving the loss of her only child. Ogi is neglected and left alone in his bed. His world shrinks to the room he lies in and his memories of his troubled relationship with his wife, a sensitive, intelligent woman who found all of her life goals thwarted except for one: cultivating the garden in front of their house. But soon Ogi notices his mother-in-law in the abandoned garden, uprooting what his wife had worked so hard to plant and obsessively digging larger and larger holes. When asked, she answers only that she is finishing what her daughter started.
The Alchemists of Loom
By Elise Kova
I kind of went nuts last month when I found the whole lot of Elise Kova’s books on sale. I’ve been eyeballing both The Alchemists of Loom and Air Awakens for quite some time and snatched up everything I could for both series. With the release of the sequel, The Dragons of Nova coming in July I decided to try the Loom series first, I figure it’s a good time to start. My local library already has The Dragons of Nova on order and who is in line to get it first? This girl. I already got the first hold on it and I am so excited to dive into another new fantasy world.
Her vengeance. His vision.
Ari lost everything she once loved when the Five Guilds’ resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now, she uses her unparalleled gift for clockwork machinery in tandem with notoriously unscrupulous morals to contribute to a thriving underground organ market. There isn’t a place on Loom that is secure from the engineer turned thief, and her magical talents are sold to the highest bidder as long as the job defies their Dragon oppressors.
Cvareh would do anything to see his sister usurp the Dragon King and sit on the throne. His family’s house has endured the shame of being the lowest rung in the Dragons’ society for far too long. The Alchemist Guild, down on Loom, may just hold the key to putting his kin in power, if Cvareh can get to them before the Dragon King’s assassins.
When Ari stumbles upon a wounded Cvareh, she sees an opportunity to slaughter an enemy and make a profit off his corpse. But the Dragon sees an opportunity to navigate Loom with the best person to get him where he wants to go.
He offers her the one thing Ari can’t refuse: A wish of her greatest desire, if she brings him to the Alchemists of Loom.
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.
The Waking Land
By Callie Bates
What’s that? Another YA Fantasy debut? I can’t tell you how much I really scored on ARCs this year, no joke. 2017 has been an incredible year for Fantasy and I am SO excited. Warring kingdoms with a dash of nature magic? I couldn’t hit the request button fast enough.
Lady Elanna Valtai is fiercely devoted to the King who raised her like a daughter. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Elanna is accused of his murder and must flee for her life.
Returning to the homeland of magical legends she has forsaken, Elanna is forced to reckon with her despised, estranged father, branded a traitor long ago. Feeling a strange, deep connection to the natural world, she also must face the truth about the forces she has always denied or disdained as superstition powers that suddenly stir within her.
But an all-too-human threat is drawing near, determined to exact vengeance. Now Elanna has no choice but to lead a rebellion against the kingdom to which she once gave her allegiance. Trapped between divided loyalties, she must summon the courage to confront a destiny that could tear her apart.
Scandal of the Season
By Liana LeFey
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 being pleasantly surprised by LeFey’s Once a Courtesan I picked this book up immediately. She may just be one of my new favorite romance authors and this is the pick me up I have planned after I finish a few of the darker books on my list.
Five years ago, Lord Sorin Latham fled England’s shores to avoid heartbreak and scandal in the form of one Lady Eleanor Cramley. On returning home, he finds the young miss he used to scold for lack of decorum is now a stunning woman who fires his blood. But he must resist temptation or risk losing his honor as a gentleman and the friendship of those he holds dear, including Eleanor.
Lady Eleanor is determined to be the paragon of propriety Sorin urged her to become. But now that he’s back, the man she once thought of as an older brother makes her long to be anything but proper. She must make Sorin see her as worthy of his heart and his desire without losing his good opinion, or her Season will end in disgrace.
By Riley Sager
I LOVE horror movies, especially those slasher flicks from the 1980s. Even one of my favorite video games has a similar 80s horror movie survival feel to it, I can’t get enough. This premise is right up my alley. I think that the idea behind this book, what happens to the final girls of these gruesome slasher killings, is incredibly intriguing.
Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.
Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.
That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.
A Beautiful, Terrible Thing
By Jen Waite
What’s a reading list for me without a little non-fiction? A Beautiful, Terrible Thing is a memoir about the destruction of the author’s marriage. I love true stories about the very real struggles that people face every day and overcoming adversity. I’m preparing myself for a cry fest with this one.
These are the questions facing Jen Waite when she begins to realize that her loving husband–the father of her infant daughter, her best friend, the love of her life–fits the textbook definition of psychopath. In a raw, first-person account, Waite recounts each heartbreaking discovery, every life-destroying lie, and reveals what happens once the dust finally settles on her demolished marriage.
After a disturbing email sparks Waite’s suspicion that her husband is having an affair, she tries to uncover the truth and rebuild trust in her marriage. Instead, she finds more lies, infidelity, and betrayal than she could have imagined. Waite obsessively analyzes her relationship, trying to find a single moment from the last five years that isn’t part of the long-con of lies and manipulation. With a dual-timeline narrative structure, we see Waite’s romance bud, bloom, and wither simultaneously, making the heartbreak and disbelief even more affecting.
Age of Myth
By Michael J. Sullivan
I have been slowly getting into the high fantasy genre and have made it a sort of bucket list goal to read all of the major writers out there. I picked up Age of Myth not too long ago to check out Michael J. Sullivan’s writing, and got lucky when I was granted an ARC copy of the sequel, Age of Swords. Ideally I would like to read these books back to back so I can have my review up for the second book’s release date, but for now I’m going to at least make sure that I read the first book by the end of summer. Sullivan is very active on social media and often gives advice to aspiring writers on reddit. I’ve been really meaning to read his work especially because of how friendly and insightful he is.
The gods have been proven mortal and new heroes will arise as the battle continues in the sequel to Age of Myth.
In Age of Myth, fantasy master Michael J. Sullivan launched readers on an epic journey of magic and adventure, heroism and betrayal, love and loss. Now the thrilling saga continues as the human uprising is threatened by powerful enemies from without—and bitter rivalries within.
Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhune make it all but impossible to unite against a common foe. And even if the clans can join forces, how will they defeat an enemy whose magical prowess makes the Fhrey indistinguishable from gods?
The answer lies across the sea in a faraway land populated by a reclusive and dour race who feels nothing but disdain for both Fhrey and mankind. With time running out, Persephone leads the gifted young seer Suri, the Fhrey sorceress Arion, and a small band of misfits in a desperate search for aid—a quest that will take them into the darkest depths of Elan. There, an ancient adversary waits—an enemy as surprising as it is deadly.
Don’t Close Your Eyes
By Holly Seddon
Another exciting psychological thriller about twin sisters facing a dark past. I’m not sure what to expect, but the beautiful cover and haunting synopsis made this book really stand out to me. A perfect beach read for the fourth of July weekend.
When the past knocks, someone must answer.
In a bustling suburban neighborhood in Manchester, England, sits an unassuming house. There is no sign of life behind the unwashed windows, but Robin Marshall is inside. Driven by fears and obsessions, racked by anxiety, Robin is frantically pushing her body through punishing workouts, eating little, haunted by what happened to her family when she was a girl. Robin’s only connection to the outside world is through her rear windows and the lives she spies upon in the apartment house across the way. Then a stranger starts pounding on her door.
Sarah Marshall is Robin’s twin, estranged from her sister after their parents’ betrayal and a violation at the hands of a man she should have been able to trust. Sarah has recently lost custody of the child she loves more than anything and has set off on her own, hoping that somewhere in England she can find Robin, the braver twin, the rock star, the survivor, the savior.
These two young women, polar opposites, cannot go on unless they reckon with the past. While Sarah, slowly unraveling, searches for her sister’s hiding place, Robin sees another life hanging in the balance in the lighted windows across the street. It is a life only Robin can save—as long as she never looks away.
A Fading Sun
By Stephen Leigh
Where would my summer be without a book about the paranormal? This book seems to blend the supernatural with high fantasy and it looks and sounds amazing. Serious love for the cover as well, it’s one of my favorite that I’ve seen all year.
Voada Paorach can see the dead. It is a family trait, but one that has had to remain hidden since the Mundoan Empire conquered her people’s land three generations ago. But this ghost isn’t the same as the others she has glimpsed, the lost souls she has helped to find their way to the land beyond life. This ghost demands that Voada follow a new path, one that will mean leaving behind everything and everyone she has known and loved.
Voada will come to understand the power that her people possess, but she will also learn the steep price that must be paid for such a gift.
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.
Bring Her Home
By David Bell
A mystery thriller about two girls that go missing and only one makes it home. I read another book with this same sort of premise earlier this year but this book sounds much darker than the previous mystery books that I’d read. I’ve been really into missing persons type noir mystery novels this year and this one sounds really intense.
Just a year and a half after the tragic death of his wife, Bill Price’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Summer, and her best friend, Haley, disappear. Days later, the girls are found in a city park. Haley is dead at the scene, while Summer is left beaten beyond recognition and clinging to life.
As Bill holds vigil over Summer’s bandaged body, the only sound the unconscious girl can make is one cryptic and chilling word: No. And the more time Bill spends with Summer, the more he wonders what happened to her. Or if the injured girl in the hospital bed is really his daughter at all.
When troubling new questions about Summer’s life surface, Bill is not prepared for the aftershocks. He’ll soon discover that both the living and the dead have secrets. And that searching for the truth will tear open old wounds that pierce straight to the heart of his family…
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.
Parable of the Sower
By Octavia E. Butler
I’ve yet to read any of Butler’s books, but as one of the great female science fiction writers she’s on my list of authors that I need to read. Planned buddy read with one of my favorite bloggers, Litha Nelle.
Lauren Olamina and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods remaining on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren’s father, a preacher, and a handful of other citizens try to salvage what remains of a culture that has been destroyed by drugs, war, and chronic shortages of water, gasoline, and more. While her father tries to lead people on the righteous path, Lauren struggles with hyperempathy, a condition that makes her extraordinarily sensitive to the pain of others.
When fire destroys their compound, Lauren’s family is killed and she is forced out into a world that is facing apocalypse. With a handful of other refugees, Lauren must make her way north to safety, along the way conceiving a revolutionary idea that may mean salvation for all mankind.
What summer reads do you have planned?
Do any of these look appealing to you? Want to do a buddy read?
Let me know in the comments below!