Book Recommendations – Summer 2012

Here are all my summer book recommendations! I’m sorry this post is so enormous. I seriously vow to write these once a month instead of quarterly! (See my spring book recommendations here. I said the same thing then but SERIOUSLY this time, I mean it. Eep.)

PUSHING THE LIMITS by Katie McGarry: Noah – the school bad boy, determined to get his brothers out of the foster-care system that’s abused him – and Echo – the former popular girl who can’t remember what happened the night she almost died  – are brought together by a school social worker. The romance between them develops in alternating povs, and it’s definitely smoldering. Noah and Echo are both so broken at the beginning of the book; the adults in their lives have let them down in horrible ways. I was particularly empathetic to Echo’s problems – not just the mystery of what happened to her the night she got scars all over her arms – but the smaller ones, like how she feels like she’s being replaced in her dad’s life by her stepmother and their new baby, and how her former friends urge her against hooking up with Noah because of his reputation. I think this would absolutely appeal to Simone Elkeles fans, but I found it more intense and connected more with the characters. I’d definitely pick up McGarry’s next book. Recommend! (read via Netgalley, out now)

♥ MY LIFE NEXT DOOR by Huntley Fitzpatrick: Samantha’s grown up watching the loud, loving, crazy chaos of the Garrett family next door – the antithesis to her quiet life with her control-freak mom. When she starts dating Jase Garrett, she practically becomes one of them – until she’s forced to choose between the family she wants and the family she was born with. I love this book so much. It’s full of vibrant, wonderful, flawed, amazing characters. It reminds me of Stephanie Perkins’ books in that the characters are so memorable, fully realized, quirky without feeling contrived.  It’s the kind of contemporary that reminds you world-building isn’t just for fantasy. The romance between Sam and Jase is swoon-worthy without being idealized, and – bonus – the way the author handles sex is super well-done. Even the characters you hate – and there are some! I found Sam’s supposed best friend to be absolutely maddening – have their vulnerable sides. It would be so easy to make Sam’s mom into a caricature villain, but she isn’t, and the book is better for it. And, oh, the Garrett family is marvelous. I wanted to be one of them, and yet – as with the romance – the author doesn’t hide the fault lines. MY LIFE NEXT DOOR is a summer read to be savored.  Highly recommend! (read via the Apocalypsies ARC tour, out now)

THE VICIOUS DEEP by Zoraida Cordova: Tristan Hart’s life changes when he’s swept out to sea by a tidal wave; he comes back different and discovers a family heritage he never expected. I’ve read lots of mermaid stories before, but this one stands out for the male pov and the Tristan’s often-hilarious internal monologue. After you’ve read a certain number of paranormals, you may tend to dread the “disbelieving protagonist finds out s/he’s a magical creature” bit, but Tristan’s revelation is handled really well; I read the book 3 months ago and still smile at the thought of him flopping around in the bathtub, flipping out at his parents about having a tail. Zoraida does a fantastic job creating an authentic male voice; Tristan sounds like a dude, not a girl’s idealized imagining one, and Tristan is by turns arrogantly macho and vulnerable. The Coney Island setting is unique, but what really stuck in my mind were the gruesome attacks by the half-breed sea creatures sent to kill Tristan. They were genuinely spooky! I’m looking forward to the sequel, THE SAVAGE BLUE. (Also: how great are these titles?) Recommend! (read via Netgalley, out now)

THE LITTLE WOODS by McCormick Templeman: When Calista Wood transfers to St. Bede’s Academy, she’s determined not to tell anyone about her family tragedy – her sister went missing in the woods here years ago.  But when she finds out that the previous inhabitant of her room also went missing, she starts looking for answers. I love boarding school books, and this one features its share of damaged, potentially homicidal rich girls (Helen, Freddy, Pigeon, and Chelsea were all intriguing secondary characters); quirky scholarship students (Sophie!); secret trysts with cute boys (one who left me swooning, and one who made me want to beat him with a stick); mysterious professors; and an appropriately creepy setting. Cally’s interest in Iris’s disappearance makes sense; she’s driven to investigate not just because she used to live in her room or because she wants to poke her nose into everything, but because of the potential link to her sister’s disappearance. And she’s a likable, compassionate protagonist with a wry sense of humor. The way the mystery played out surprised me (I am terrible at guessing whodunit), but it also felt believable.  And while I do love a good HEA, I appreciated that maybe Cally’s not quite ready for that yet; I liked that the book ends on a note of hope instead. Recommend! (read via Netgalley, out now)

♥ CHANTRESS by Amy Butler Greenfield: Lucy’s grown up shipwrecked on an island, warned against the evil of music. When she first hears it on All Hallows Eve, she can’t resist singing – and her song casts a spell that sends her whirling back to England, where she discovers she’s the last Chantress and the only one who may be able to save them from the harsh Lord Protector. I loved this book! So much so that I offered my second-ever blurb, which says: With a spirited heroine, fearsome monsters, and luminous worldbuilding, this story had me hooked from the first page. CHANTRESS is truly enchanting. I was excited to blurb it in part because I think it’s a great book match for readers who liked BORN WICKED; the voice is very similar.  It’s not fast-paced, but it’s such an absorbing read, if that makes sense. The Shadowgrims – the magical, mind-reading ravens – are super-spooky. The romance doesn’t play an enormous part in things, but it’s lovely, and there’s one moment where Lucy demands respect for herself and her magic that had me cheering out loud. Also, how gorgeous is that cover? I love the pink font so much! Highly recommend! (read in manuscript; releases May 2013)

♥ THINGS I CAN’T FORGET by Miranda Kenneally: A companion novel to the equally fabulous CATCHING JORDAN (out now) and STEALING PARKER (out Oct 1!), this follows Kate as she spends the summer before college as a church camp counselor, questioning her faith as she falls in love for the first time. This book has amazing characterization. At the beginning of the book, Kate’s seldom questioned her fundamentalist Christian church’s teachings, even though it’s caused a major rift between her and her BFF. She isn’t immediately popular with some of the other counselors, who think that she’s being judge-y. But over the course of the book, Kate grows up so much — without ever giving up her own beliefs or being untrue to who she is. The romance is super-hot; I think Matt might be my favorite of the three very appealing boys Kenneally’s created, and I can definitely understand why Kate might be tempted to forget some of her church’s rules. At the same time, Matt totally respects Kate’s beliefs and just wants the same from her! It’s so refreshing to see a mutually-respectful relationship! I also loved how we get to see Jordan and Parker again  – in fact, there’s a fantastic female friendship here between two characters who really need girl friends that made me just as happy as the romance! Highly recommend! (critiqued in manuscript form; releases March 2013)

♥ ALTERED by Jennifer Rush: When the four genetically-engineered boys living in the lab below her farmhouse escape, Anna goes on the run with them. They’ve got to unlock the secrets of their pasts and discover their true identities before the Branch catches up with them. So, I keep calling this thriller DOLLHOUSE with hot boys! It’s such a page-turner, with a twisty-turny plot and constant surprises, but it doesn’t forget to actually make sense in the process. I love that Anna is no damsel in distress; she’s feisty and determined and kick-ass. Even though Anna’s in love with Sam throughout, I think all four of the boys will have their fans. Personally, I’m Team Cas (the mischievous blonde). Highly recommend! (borrowed ARC from a friend; releases January 2013)

THE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS & GIRLS by Claire Legrand: When Victoria’s best friend Lawrence disappears, she decides to investigate and discovers something amiss at the local orphans’ home. First of all, I adored Victoria, who is a controlling little perfectionist likes things just so and has a horror of getting a B. To be honest, she reminds me a bit of my insufferable younger self, though I wasn’t as awesome and fierce. Second, the atmosphere is deliciously spooky: the Cavendish home is a place full of horrors like stinging creepy-crawlies and mystery meat and the cruel Mrs. Cavendish, who reads like a cross between the Other Mother from Coraline and awful Professor Umbridge. Honestly, I tend to get bored by middle-grade books (I really like kissing scenes, okay?), but I really, really enjoyed this! Recommend! (read via Apocalypsies ARC tour; out now!)

ORIGIN by Jessica Khoury: Pia’s been genetically engineered to be perfect: the start of a new immortal race. But when she escapes the compound where she’s been raised by scientists and meets a boy from the rainforest, she’s forced to question everything. ORIGIN is such a page-turner! I had to know what was going to happen. I loved the creeping sense of unease that built until I, like Pia, wasn’t sure who to trust. Despite her supposed perfection, Pia is very human in her flaws – she’s been purposefully sheltered, and she’s terribly naïve, and not a little stubborn and self-centered. But it makes her feel very real. I really enjoyed some of the side characters, too; I wanted to know more about Aunt Harriet and Pia’s father. The lush setting of the rainforest was both fascinating and unique. I loved some of the images, particularly one scene where Eio’s swimming through a bioluminescent pool. And there’s a scene with an anaconda that had me seriously scared to turn off the light. Recommend! (read via an ARC from Penguin; out now)

What about you? Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

1 Response

  1. Yaaayy I'm so glad to hear that Chantress, Things I Can't Forget and Altered were all great reads! I'm super excited for all 3. And I can definitely agree with Pushing the Limits being a must-read. 🙂

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