Monday, June 4, 2012

Summer Reading!

This will come as no surprise to anyone that I loved to read as a kid, and the best time to read was summer vacation. I played outside with friends plenty, but some of my favorite moments were spent lying on the couch, stretched out on my bed, or on a lounge chair outside, taking a break with my favorite characters. I spent many a lazy summer with Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary. The summer before my seventh grade year I read 1001 Arabian Nights. The next summer I spent with Douglas Adams and Joyce Ballou Gregorian’s excellent fantasy trilogy, now long out of print. In high school I discovered romance novels, David Eddings, Stephen King, and so many more. The joy was in the discovery of new authors, new stories, new worlds.

Summer has come around again, and now that I’m done teaching for the semester, I can’t wait to get reading! This year my list is full of books that have been collecting beside my bed for months. Here’s a list of the top five I’m most eager to open and explore:

1. Insurgent by Veronica Roth. The second novel in a dystopian trilogy, Roth’s future Chicago is divided into sectors defined by values. It seemed like an odd premise when I first picked up Divergent last year, but the first novel in this series was well written and thoroughly engaging. It rivals Hunger Games, and it some ways, is even better.

2. Beyond the Gate by Terri-Lynne DeFino. I’m bragging here, but I get to beta read Terri’s forthcoming novel this summer. Woot! If you haven’t read Finder and A Time Never Lived, you are missing out on some phenomenal summer reads, with unique, non-European inspired worlds and well-drawn characters you will fall in love with.

3. The Kingdom of Gods by N.K. Jemisin. I’ve been looking forward to reading this, the third book in Jemisin’s Inheritance trilogy, since I picked it up at World Fantasy last November. Her unique fantasies and worlds are inspiring, her characters rich and engaging, the writing beautiful.

4. Starters by Lissa Price. I received a chapter sample of this book at World Fantasy. My fifteen-year-old picked it up and bought the book as soon as it came out. Another dystopian, this novel posits a future in which the elderly can “rent” the bodies of young men and women in order to experience youth again. The premise is fresh and different, and my daughter recommended it, so I think I have to read it!

5. Timeless by Gail Carriger. This is the final book in Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series, which is a steampunk/ paranormal/ comedy of manners/ mystery set in 19th century London. Vampires, werewolves and soulless, those who can negate paranormal powers with a touch, abound in London’s high (and low) society. Alexia Tarabotti, wife of a werewolf and friends of vampires, is an Austen-esque heroine with a cool head in a crisis and plenty of wit.

If none of these appeal, I’d also highly recommend the fantasies of some of our summer guests, who are also on the list of my favorite authors:

June 25th: The Psalms of Isaak series by Ken Scholes is high on my list of all-time favorite fantasy series. Start with Lamentation, read Canticle and Antiphon, then wait on pins and needles for Requiem with the rest of us.

July 23rd: Dorothy Hearst’s Wolf Chronicles are a fantastic summer read for paranormal fans and animal lovers alike. Who doesn’t love wolves?

July 30th: Sharon Shinn’s Twelve Houses series is a fantastic blend of fantasy and romance, with strong female characters and phenomenal worldbuilding.

August 13th: Jim C. Hines, our final summer guest, re-envisioned storybook princesses as kick-ass heroines long before Once Upon a Time and Snow White and the Huntsman. His damaged but awesome Sleeping Beauty is probably my favorite.

Now a question for all of you, gentle readers: what are you reading this summer? Sound off!

by Kim Vandervort


Terri-Lynne said...

Aww--Thanks, Kim! I can't wait to get your feedback on Beyond the Gate.

My summer reading lists consists of book club books--one of which is my pick 'The Silence of Trees" by Valya Dudycz Lupescu. This is a small press published book that has gotten rave reviews. Russian folklore! And magical realism. I can't wait to read it.

I also have George Martin's, "A Dance With Dragons" on my pile, though I may have to re-read book three to refresh my memory first.

Melissa Mikelsen's "Nightingale" and Jodi Meadows' "Incarnate" are both on that pile too. Summer reading, skychair time--bliss!

Unknown said...

I highly recommend Jemisin's new book too, The Killing Moon. I liked it more than the kingdoms books.

Karin Rita Gastreich said...

I haven't really decided on my summer reading list, though I will have to soon as I will be in a remote field station most of the summer, and whatever I'm going to read I will need to take with me. (This, unfortunately, will probably push Mark Nelson's "Poet's of Pevana" and Melissa Mickelsen's "Nightingale" to the fall, as I don't want either of my copies to get mussed up by the tropical humidity...)

Right now I am finishing up "The True Adventures of Charlie Darwin" by Carolyn Meyer. It's been wonderful summer reading. A delightfully written YA novel; interesting, informative, full of adventure. It's getting me very excited for my own trip to the tropics.

I've also been working on "The Dove Keepers" by Alice Hoffman. It's an excellent book, but dense and steeped in a harsh reality, so it's a much slower read. I will also probably have to leave it behind & finish in the fall, as the hardcover edition would probably consume half of my baggage weight allowance on the flight. And also, I don't want it to get mussed up.

It so happens I have an e-copy of Dance With Dragons, so that will probably go with me, though I won't commit just yet to actually reading it...

Sorry to be so indecisive. In truth, I'm not very good at putting together reading lists, but prefer to simply pick up what moves me in the moment. ;)

This was another great post, Kim. Thank you!