Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Books To Read In Summer

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I've been on a book buying ban since August 2022, and I'm slightly running out of books to read. Here are the final 11 unread books on my shelf. Do you think I can finish all of them this summer? I'm not optimistic because a few of them are massive.

🌻  Books To Read In Summer  🌞


Young Adult Fantasy

Arek hadn’t thought much about what would happen after he completed the prophecy that said he was destined to save the Kingdom of Ere from its evil ruler. So now that he’s finally managed to (somewhat clumsily) behead the evil king (turns out magical swords yanked from bogs don’t come pre-sharpened), he and his rag-tag group of quest companions are at a bit of a loss for what to do next.

As a temporary safeguard, Arek’s best friend and mage, Matt, convinces him to assume the throne until the true heir can be rescued from her tower. Except that she’s dead. Now Arek is stuck as king, a role that comes with a magical catch: choose a spouse by your eighteenth birthday, or wither away into nothing.

With his eighteenth birthday only three months away, and only Matt in on the secret, Arek embarks on a desperate bid to find a spouse to save his life—starting with his quest companions. But his attempts at wooing his friends go painfully and hilariously wrong . . . until he discovers that love might have been in front of him all along.

Why I want to read it: It's my New Year's resolution to read happier books. I want to be a less bleak b*tch in 2024. One of the few happy series I've read and enjoyed is the Simon Snow series by Rainbow Rowell, so I searched for cozy fantasy books with similar vibes. I found this one and plopped it on my wish list. I hope it's just as clever and escapist as Simon Snow.

Buy it on Amazon


Young Adult Contemporary

In Samsboro, Kentucky, Kalyn Spence's name is inseparable from the brutal murder her father committed when he was a teenager. Forced to return to town, Kalyn must attend school under a pseudonym . . . or face the lingering anger of Samsboro's citizens, who refuse to forget the crime.

Gus Peake has never had the luxury of redefining himself. A Samsboro native, he's either known as the "disabled kid" because of his cerebral palsy, or as the kid whose dad was murdered. Gus just wants to be known as himself.

When Gus meets Kalyn, her frankness is refreshing, and they form a deep friendship. Until their families' pasts emerge. And when the accepted version of the truth is questioned, Kalyn and Gus are caught in the center of a national uproar. Can they break free from a legacy of inherited lies and chart their own paths forward?

Why I want to read it: Mostly because of the cover. I added this book to my Christmas wish list because I loved the cover. Then my friend bought it for me because she liked the story. She said it's about two quirky friends. Friends! No romance. I'm hyped.

Buy it on Amazon


Middle Grade Contemporary

Born into a polygamous community in the foothills of New Mexico, Gentry Forrester feels lucky to live among God’s chosen. Here, she lives apart from the outside world and its “evils.”

On her thirteenth birthday, Gentry receives a new violin from her father and, more than anything, she wants to play at the Santa Fe Music Festival with her brother, Tanner. But then the Prophet calls from prison and announces he has outlawed music in their community and now forbids women to leave.

Determined to play, Gentry and Tanner sneak out. But once they return, the Prophet exercises control from prison, and it has devastating consequences for Gentry and her family. Soon, everything Gentry has known is turned upside down. She begins to question the Prophet’s teachings and his revelations, especially when his latest orders put Gentry’s family in danger. Can Gentry find a way to protect herself and her family from the Prophet and escape the only life she’s ever known?

Why I'm excited to read it: It's clearly inspired by Warren Jeffs and how he's running his cult by phone from prison. The plot sounds exactly like a billion other cult books. (I feel like I've read a billion cult books.) However, I'm stoked to read cult book number one billion and one.

Buy it on Amazon


Adult Literary Fiction

For Leila, each minute after her death brings a sensuous memory: the taste of spiced goat stew, sacrificed by her father to celebrate the long-awaited birth of a son; the sight of bubbling vats of lemon and sugar which the women use to wax their legs while the men attend mosque; the scent of cardamom coffee that Leila shares with a handsome student in the brothel where she works. Each memory, too, recalls the friends she made at each key moment in her life—friends who are now desperately trying to find her. . .

Why I'm excited to read it: "Excited" is the wrong word because the book is about a murdered sex worker who remembers her whole life during the 10 minutes, 38 seconds it takes for her to die. That's . . . severely depressing. I'm mostly interested in this book because of its structure. The whole plot takes place in 10 minutes, 38 seconds. I want to see how the author does it.

Buy it on Amazon


Young Adult Historical Fantasy

Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them, and he’s hunted Romanov before.

Nastya’s only chances of saving herself and her family are to either release the spell and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya has only dabbled in magic, but it doesn’t frighten her half as much as her growing attraction to Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her.

That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.

Why I'm excited to read it: Ever since I read The Long Walk as a teenager, I've been obsessed with alternate history. If a book blends speculative elements with real-life events, I want to read it. Romanov has gotten great reviews from my bookish friends. Also, look at the cover! It's so swirly!

Buy it on Amazon


Middle Grade Contemporary

Decades after the Vietnam War and Toby's life-changing summer with Zachary Beaver, Toby's daughter Rylee is at a crossroads—her best friend Twig has started pushing her away just as Joe, a new kid from New York, settles into their small town of Antler. Rylee befriends Joe and learns that Joe's father was a first responder on 9/11. The two unlikely friends soon embark on a project to find Zachary Beaver and hopefully reconnect him with Rylee's father almost thirty years later.

Why I'm excited to read it: This is a companion novel to When Zachary Beaver Came To Town. I was in love with that book as a young teen. I read it over, and over, and over. It may have sparked my passion for historical fiction and stories set in small towns. Of course I need to read the sequel!

Buy it on Amazon


Young Adult Contemporary Fiction

Six years ago, Moss Jefferies' father was murdered by an Oakland police officer. Along with losing a parent, the media's vilification of his father and lack of accountability has left Moss with near crippling panic attacks.

Now, in his sophomore year of high school, Moss and his fellow classmates find themselves increasingly treated like criminals by their own school. New rules. Random locker searches. Constant intimidation and Oakland Police Department stationed in their halls. Despite their youth, the students decide to organize and push back against the administration.

When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.

Why I'm excited to read it: I'm interested in the school-to-prison pipeline and how to prevent kids from ending up in prison before they've even gotten a chance to live independently. That's what this book is about.

Buy it on Amazon


Adult Historical Fiction

When the Black Death enters England through the port in Dorsetshire in June 1348, no one knows what manner of sickness it is—or how it spreads and kills so quickly. The Church cites God as the cause, and fear grips the people as they come to believe that the plague is a punishment for wickedness.

But Lady Anne of Develish has her own ideas. Educated by nuns, Anne is a rarity among women, being both literate and knowledgeable. With her brutal husband absent from the manor when news of this pestilence reaches her, she looks for more sensible ways to protect her people than daily confessions of sin. She decides to bring her serfs inside the safety of the moat that surrounds her manor house, then refuses entry to anyone else, even her husband.

Lady Anne makes an enemy of her daughter and her husband’s steward by doing so, but her resolve is strengthened by the support of her leading serfs . . . until food stocks run low. The nerves of all are tested by continued confinement and ignorance of what is happening in the world outside. The people of Develish are alive. But for how long? And what will they discover when the time comes for them to cross the moat again?

Why I'm excited to read it: I bought this during the COVID times because it sounded relatable. Can you imagine hiding in a manor house and not having access to news from the outside world? (Now that I'm thinking about it, that might actually be awesome.)

Buy it on Amazon


Adult Historical Fiction

The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it—from garden seeds to Scripture—is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.

Why I'm excited to read it: I wrote a post about modern books that I think will become classics. While researching that post, I kept coming across this book. I don't read enough about Africa, so I decided to give it a shot.

Buy it on Amazon


Adult Literary Short Story / Essay Collection

In pieces ranging in length from a mere paragraph to several pages, Atwood gives a sly pep talk to the ambitious young; writes about the disconcerting experience of looking at old photos of ourselves; gives us Horatio's real views on Hamlet; and examines the boons and banes of orphanhood. Bring Back Mom: An Invocation; explores what life was really like for the "perfect" homemakers of days gone by, and in The Animals Reject Their Names she runs history backward, with surprising results.

Why I'm excited to read it: I'm on a quest to read all of Margaret Atwood's fiction and poetry. This book is next on my list. According to reviewers, it's not one of Atwood's better books. If you're interested in her work, please start with The Handmaid's Tale. That's what got me hooked.

Buy it on Amazon


Adult Historical Fiction

Forty thousand years in the past, the last family of Neanderthals roams the earth. Girl, the oldest daughter, is coming of age and her family is determined to travel to the meeting place to find her a mate. But the unforgiving landscape takes its toll, and Girl is left alone to care for Runt, a foundling. As Girl and Runt face the coming winter, Girl realizes she has one chance to save her people, at great cost to herself.

In the present, archaeologist Rosamund Gale works well into her pregnancy, racing to excavate newly found Neanderthal artifacts before her baby arrives. Linked across the ages by the shared experience of birth and early motherhood, and inspired by the recent discovery that many modern humans have inherited DNA from Neanderthals, Girl's story and Rosamund's story examines the often taboo corners of women's lives.

Why I'm excited to read it: Neanderthals are cool, and we need more books about them! Recommend all the Neanderthal books to me. I don't care if they're fiction or nonfiction.

Buy it on Amazon

What are you reading this summer?


  1. The Last Neanderthal sounds really good!

  2. Interesting collection of books. I've read "The Poisonwood Bible," and really like how, through the eyes of each daughter, she gives a different way those in the Western World attempt to handle the African continent.

  3. Wild and Crooked sounds super interesting. I'm already guessing at theories about their pasts.

  4. Anger is a Gift sounds like such a good read.

    Here is my Top Ten Tuesday.


  5. That's amazing that you have stuck to your ban for so long. I remember there being good buzz for both Wild and Crooked and Anger is a Gift. Hope they are all hits.

  6. This is the first book I read by Barbara Kingsolver, which made me read almost all her other books! Enjoy!
    Back in March, I read an amazing French scifi with Neanderthals, so I want to read more with them or about them (https://wordsandpeace.com/2024/03/03/sunday-post-106-manga-binge/)
    Here is my summer list:

  7. Wow, I'm impressed that you've stuck with your book ban for so long and that you've emptied your shelves of unread books. That's amazing! I hope you enjoy your summer reading.

    Happy TTT!

  8. I added several of these to my TBR based on your descriptions! The only one I've already read is The Poisonwood Bible (I love Barbara Kingsolver's books–fiction, nonfiction, poetry, all of it). I'm definitely going to have to read Wild and Crooked, because I'm on the hunt for more Middle Grade and YA about boy/girl friendships that stay platonic.

  9. Getting to the final 11 unread books is quite impressive! I loved So This Is Ever After, hope you will too!

  10. I really really enjoyed Anger is a Gift. It is so well done.

  11. Yeah read the Neanderthal novel pronto ... it's good fun to be in prehistoric times. I liked it. And I still need to read The Poisonwood Bible -- we're the only ones left who haven't, lol.

  12. What happpens when you finish these 11? Do you get to buy more books!? That is exciting! Romanov I loved, so I hope you do too! I also really liked Wild and Crooked. Definitely some good looking books here, good luck getting them finished! So impressed that you have made it two years!