Back for a second year in a row welcome to My Summer Reading List. It’s not a list of all the books I had to read over the summer, nay, forced reading sucks. This is a list of all the fun books I read over the summer and a short summary/review of each. Some books and series will get their own reviews later on (of course, I said that last summer and it didn’t happen. But those will come! I promise!)
Due to the strangeness of the summer this year, I have to define it some way or another. For this purpose, we’re going to say my “Summer Reading” began when my summer swim season began, (Sorry Legacy you don’t quite make this one’s cut) and ends with a series of short storied I had been meaning to finish (because then I’m going to get into another series and I don’t want the hassle of that).
In alphabetical order and without any further ado, this years Summer Reading!
100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Emmons
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this book, actually. Like many I borrow from the Best Friend Library, I was just taking her word that I’d like it. The book follows Weston and Tessa, a boy with no legs and a girl who’s lost her sight following a car accident.
This book made me laugh, almost made me cry and was just so overall enjoyable. Both of the main characters were so incredibly well developed. Like… wildly well. Weston is this silly goofball who’s also somehow into running and is… my goodness he’s such a boy at times. But he also is so gentle with Tessa and plays ukulele and makes amazing waffles? I knew that but some how I didn’t see that coming. And then there is Tessa and her deep seated pain she has over losing her sight. She’s angry and you see it early on, but she’s also a beautiful poetry blogger and the way she explains her newfound experiences through her senses is just beautiful. I’m such a sucker for stuff like that. The way the two come together and really pull on each other’s strengths and help each other’s weaknesses isn’t something you often see in fiction, and I loved the story for it.
This book made my heart soar and ache and wrench all at once. Also, it added to my endless repertoire of book jokes and references to make about waffles. It also made me want to write poetry again. One thing’s for sure I 10/10 recommend this one to any and everyone who’s ever struggled with loss or pain. And anyone who really needs a good smile and a sweet story.
Between Burning Worlds by Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell
Anyone who knows reading knows that often the second book in a series is often the worst one, but in this case, I think it was an exception. The second book in the Systems Divine series (which I think is going to be a trilogy? but I don’t honestly know) Between Burning Worlds is the sequel to Sky Without Stars, which I read almost entirely in one day thanks to a long road trip. This book took me a bit longer than that (they’re decently thick books) but was no less putdownable. The series is a retelling of Les Misérables, but dystopian kind of, and in space. It’s AWESOME. Obviously there’s many creative liberties taken, but they’re all so well executed. The books follows Chantine (Eponine), Marcellus (Marius), and Allouette (Cosette) in third person limited perspective, with each character split between chapters. It’s an awesome take and I really enjoyed the first book as a whole. Like I said, I couldn’t put it down. It really expands well on the characters themselves just like the original book does. It also makes me really like Allouette, the Cosette character. No one likes Cosette, but this girl? Awesome. She’s smart and kind but also can fight, which is super cool. Marius (Marcellus) Is as oblivious as ever (of course) and Chantine? 10/10 love this girl. She’s feisty and sad and strong and yes.
The second book I think was just as good. It didn’t introduce anything too new out of the blue, all of the new characters were integrated well, and all of the plot twists were both surprising enough to be good, but also completely plausible. It fostered a better relationship between the two leading ladies (instead of just ‘stay away from my man’ like most people would portray the two). This book series in intense, just like what it was based off of, and for anyone who enjoys classic literature and/or scifi and/or dystopia this book series is for YOU. Seriously, this book series is incredible and I can’t WAIT to do a review of the whole thing. I love it so much.
The Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo
Though I finished the first book back in December for 2019, I took some time to read a few books that had just come out between the first and second book, so this duology belongs here!
The first time in encountered Leigh Bardugo was actually in King of Scars, a sequel of sorts that tell the tale of the aftermath of her trilogy (see last summers reading list) and this duology. As you might imagine, I was quite lost at the time, but I knew I wanted to find the story of one character at all costs: Nina Zenik. She wasn’t in the trilogy, but ladies and gents I found her here.
The duology follows Kaz Brekker, a thief, con man, and all around shady dude. They don’t call him ‘Dirtyhands’ and the ‘Bastard of the Barrel’ for nothing. He leads a team of… well, criminals like him (more or less) containing Inej, an acrobat he saved from the brothels (also, kanej for life thank you), Jesper, a sharpshooter with a gambling addiction, Wylan the musician who can’t read and is really good at blowing things up, Nina an awesome Grisha* heartrender who likes waffles (anyone who’s read this series… I hear your laughter), and Matthias, an ex-prisoner and Grisha-hunter from up north. What a crew, right?
I love these guys with my whole heart, I tell you.
The characters themselves, as well as their dynamics, are completely awesome. Each character has their own intense backstory that intertwines with the others at some point that truly bring them together. They feel like real people, and their relationships to themselves and their world are stunningly written. Also, the worldbuilding of Ketterdam? Fantastic? I’m in love? The plot is just wild too. Like… no ‘chosen one’ nonsense. The first one is basically “We’re gonna break into this giant ice pentagon because someone’s offering us a ton of money, oops maybe we found a couple rogue morals along the way.” and the second book? “Revenge on EvilTM Also Jesper’s dad is great.” XD Seriously, these books are like nothing I’ve ever read and I love every minute.
This duology has something for everyone, I almost swear. I think I’m going to try and do a whole review for these books as well. There’s a lot to unpack. They do everything from drive a tank to almost drown a couple times, to sneaking around a rumored haunted island, to a pirate (or is he a pirate?), to hiding away in a hotel room to eat lots of waffles. This duology is incredibly done. I know it might sound a little strange a first, but sooner or later you’ll find yourself longing for more of the story. 10/10 recommend. Leigh Bardugo is a fantastic author and these are no exception
*The Grisha are the magical elite in the books, with abilities like summoning wind or making someone’s heart explode. (fun times) Nina, a heartrender, falls into the latter category.
The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson
My goodness I never thought I’d be saying this, but ah, the Wingfeather Saga, my Big ReadTM of the summer.
When we left off with this series, I was, and I’ll say it, overall dissatisfied. The worldbuilding was good, the characters were interesting, but the first book as a whole, and this is a first, I think is the worst book in the series in my opinion. It’s my least favourite. Remember how it’s usually the second book that’s the rut? Again, we break the mold. These books get better and better the more you read, like, it’s almost insane. A lot of my qualms with the series subside or go away entirely. By the second book, it’s clear Peterson has a plan, and he’s going to reveal it in layers. Also, by the way, there are dragons in this story. Awesome dragons, evil dragons, cool, dragons give me all the morally grey dragons please and thank you.
The following three books, North! Or be Eaten, The Monster in the Hollows, and finally The Warden and the Wolf King reveal more and more of the story unfolding in this incredibly detailed world. On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness now seems less like a first book and more like an information manual. You can’t read the rest of the series without reading that first book, or else you’d be lost, even if you are lost in the first book for a while as well. But bits and pieces of the first book? Don’t just end there. Information that seemed silly and contradictory at first ends up having this deep meaning behind it. So many things in the series have more to them than meets the eye. My original example of the ridiculousness was a character named ‘Peet the Sock Man’. That character? Became one of my all-time favourites in the whole series. The amount of ways this series took and played on my heartstrings I never could have predicted. Autumn was right. This series had me in almost-sobs by the end (I was at work, or else they would have been true sobs), but yet somehow when I look back, I see funny moments as well as the melancholy ones. Moments of incredible strength, tender care, and brotherly love. My love and care for Janner (the MC who I was originally annoyed with) grew with the series as we saw him grow and face things like the Fork Factory (actually an awful place despite what you may first think. it had even me quaking). The way I saw myself in Tink didn’t change as he grew into Kalmar, and his incredible compassion almost gave me something to aspire to. And little Leeli I think will forever hold a special place in my heart.
I think I’m going to try and do a full review of these too. But I really recommend these for anyone who just completely loves fantasy. Stick with it, everything about this series is worth it. It somehow left me completely breathless.
To Best the Boys by Mary Weber
Another one recommended to me by Autumn (don’t come for me, I spend most of my summer checking off books I’ve been meaning to read, or in some cases reread and a lot of those are borrowed from her). She actually used this one as bait to get me to read The Wingfeather Saga. XD She texted me one day and was like “Allie!! You have to read this one!! The MC is you!!!” So, I did!
The story takes place in a relatively sleepy fishing town with a big enough population to have quite the upper crust, and for good reason. The town has a fancy manor home to a mysterious dude who every year hosts a contest for all the boys in the town from 16-19 to compete for a scholarship to the local Boy’s CollegeTM. Whoever wins, wins the scholarship and gets to attend college for free.
Rhen Tellur is a girl, and more importantly she is a girl scientist. Now, proper ladies don’t study science or medicine. They look pretty and bake and dance and get married and have babies. Rhen doesn’t want any of this. She wants to work alongside her discredited scientist father in their basement and study anatomy and how to cure diseases, especially one creeping through her town and afflicting her mother. Pretty soon, there’s only one clear choice. Dress as a boy, enter the contest (with her best friend at her side, of course), and hope to win. For herself, for her future, and for her mother.
I read this book in.. two sittings? Yeah, sounds about right. Despite being not that long of a book, it manages to pack a wild ride of a story into it’s pages. Before I go too much further, I want to comment on the utterly insane and incredible worldbuilding. I don’t think I’ve ever been so hungry to know more. Like, this story takes place in a world with rich history and politics, and I’d place it around turn of the century rural England kind of time? Like, they don’t have cars or telephones, but it’s clear there’s some kind of advancing tech in the world based on Rhen’s science lab alone. Also, I’m pretty sure magic is real in this world. Oh yeah, so are ghosts (well, they’re called ghouls and are a bit different, but same principle) and SIRENS and by goodness who even knows what else?? Like… the fact she managed to work these kinds of things, just… into her world?? And they felt natural and not cheap or superstition-based at all? Like? How incredible is that? It makes me want to know so much more of where they came from and about the world and just yes. Give me more stories set here. I want to explore this whole world please.
Anyway, Autumn was right, again (she’s right a lot in this post) Rhen and I are very alike. XD Personality, love of science, distain of getting married… Of course, it couldn’t be a YA story without a romance, but I actually like the love interest. He’s a sweet, decent guy, and defends Rhen’s honor but knows when to step down… Just.. he’s a good guy. One thing the author got so many major points for is saying something about how ‘we needed to get out of here before someone’s fright caused them to die of heart failure’. She didn’t say heart attack. I’d never been so happy. Pretty sure I squealed. (background: fright’s not going to give you a heart attack (because that’s when a heart’s artery is blocked), but it could send you into sudden cardiac arrest (when it’s electrical system goes haywire) so yeah. 😉 Unlikely you’re going to suddenly develop an artery blockage from fright) It really just went to show her knowledge of the character. And that off chance random reader who’d notice a detail like that. XD
Overall this book was a spectacular read and I will both 10/10 read it again and have already recommended it to another friend of mine with whom I have a lot in common with.
Some Hannah Heath Short Stories; Colors of Fear, Flames of Courage, and Sounds of Deceit
These were Birthday/Christmas presents from, you guessed it, Autumn. (we have somewhat of a tradition of giving each other books) I read the first one last November after receiving it, but after getting the next two… I dunno what happened. I kept meaning to read them and it never happed. Well, I’m glad I read them when I did because now I can share them with you!
I just have to say I felt so attacked reading these books. D: Somehow, each of the main characters called attention to something I personally find myself struggling with. Fear, self-image, self-hatred and confusion… each spoke to something I’ve dealt with and feel in my own self. It’s almost wild how Heath managed to nail these things I struggle with so well. Sure, none of the characters themselves are like me almost at all otherwise, but their core fears and worries are things that spoke to me.
All that said, the writing in these three stories is amazing, and according to Autumn there’s supposed to be two more before the novel is released. I just have to say I need them. I need them now. The way the three established characters connect already is fascinating and I’m desperate to know what draws them all finally together. Also, can we talk about the world building?? Because I am LOVING the worldbuilding. It’s awesome. XD I can’t wait to get to know more of the world in the rest of the stories, and eventually the book(s). I don’t want to say too too much since the stories aren’t out yet and so on, but I have to say, you should give these a try. It’s an indie author with amazing worldbuilding and relatable characters even though one of them is an elf and another is a mage and the other is a half-elf. Somehow they all seem like real people and characters you could encounter if dumped into a world like theirs. I cannot wait to read (and likely get seriously called out) more.
I hope you enjoyed this summers reading list, and I also certainly hope you give some, if not all, of these books a try. They’re all so, so worth it. I’ll see you all with my next post, and in the meantime I’ll be reading a heck ton more books!
~ Allie 🙂