It’s been a hot minute, but I’m back to talk about books. To me summer always equals extra reading time. Living in the real world (eww) it’s harder to make time for the books I used to stay up late reading on summer nights. I think I’ve finally found a good balance between watching TV, being a literal couch potato, and inching towards that GoodReads goal. Whether you are lounging by the pool or pretending that real life isn’t coming on Monday morning, you’ll need a nice stock of books to choose on summer nights. Here are my top picks for books to read this summer.
Cinder & Ella – Kelly Oram
Ellamara is a book blogger (so totally unrelatable) and she forms an online friendship with Cinder based on their love of the same series, The Cinder Chronicles. Ella and Cinder were messaging when a car accident, that killed Ella’s mother, disconnects them. Ella spent the next eight months relearning how to walk and deal with the burn scars covering her body. Eventually she moves in with her estranged father and his new family. Cinder, who is playing Cinder in the upcoming movie adaptation finds out his friend, who he thought was dead, is back and he wants to tell her who he is.
There are actually two books in this series. They are sweet and heartbreaking, funny and emotional. Cinder and Ella try to move from internet friends to IRL friends, dealing with Cinder’s fame and Ella’s disability and shame regarding her appearance. It’s guaranteed to make you squee at prince charming and laugh at Ella’s snark.
Duels & Deception – Cindy Antsey
Following up her debut, Love, Lies, & Spies, Antsey has taken the regency era and made it interesting beyond another retelling of Darcy’s childhood or a story about life after Austen’s heroines closed the book. There is an obvious Austen influence in Antsey’s writing and that only adds to the enjoyment. Duels & Deception tells the story of Lydia Whitfield, the sole heir to her family’s estate. Lydia has planned to marry a neighboring lord (since he needs money and is willing to let her run the estate without interference), but unlike all the women in her family, marriage has never been her top priority.
I found both Love, Lies, & Spies and Duels & Deceptions and devoured them. They are filled with all the character types we’ve come to love and love to hate from regency era writing. Lydia is strong willed and empowered by her father to know she’s intelligent, but she is still bound by the rules of propriety which makes for fun hijinks.
The Wrath & the Dawn – Renee Ahdieh
In the vein of 1,001 Arabian Nights, Ahdieh tells the story of a girl who sacrifices herself to a murderous boy-king to avenge her best friend, whom he’d already married and killed. Shahrzad offers herself to Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan, as a bride and tells him a story in hopes he won’t kill her. Things are not as they seem in the court of Khorasan and soon Shazi learns the boy-king isn’t mad, but cursed.
Throughout this story, there was an underlying question: can you still forgive and fall in love with a man who killed dozens of people (seemingly without remorse) even if he had a good reason? I was captivated the entire book, full of betrayal, politics, magic, love, action (both sword, fists, and bow). This series will leave you wanting more, so be sure to check out the short novellas available on Amazon.
Hopeless – Colleen Hoover
Sky has been homeschooled her whole life. Not anymore. For her senior year, she’s convinced her Mom to let her enroll in public school, and the only friend she’s ever had is doing a semester abroad in Italy. She’s all alone (with her bad reputation) until she becomes friends with a fellow outcast, Breckin, and meets a guy at the grocery store, Dean. Dean Holder is an exercise in extremes. He’s hot and cold with Sky until she can’t stop thinking about him.
I recently discovered Colleen Hoover and I’ve loved the books I’ve read by her so far. Sky and Dean’s story was romantic and full of surprises. Sky is not your typical heroine, but Dean is definitely the bad boy – which seems to be Hoover’s favorite character to write. There is more to this love story than the love. It’s also about discovering the pieces of yourself you thought were buried.
The Hating Game – Sally Thorne
Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. They spend their days sharing an open-air office and playing passive aggressive games to see who can blink first (seriously that is one of their games). Lucy is the epitome of a free spirit who won’t fit in the corporate box, while Josh loves routine and wears his shirts in a color rotation. They are both up for the same promotion and all bets are off, but what happens when Lucy realizes that the fine line between love and hate might be more muddled than she thought?
I loved, loved, loved this book. Lucy and Josh’s rivalry -turned-simmering-romance was sweet and funny. This story is all Lucy and Josh. Lucy is short and sweet and everyone’s best friend. Josh is the soul-crushing corporate monster who doesn’t eat or smile. There are not a lot of other characters we care about or even get the full story on, but the life Thorne portrays feels real and relatable.
Once and for All – Sarah Dessen
Louna has watched dozens of couple profess their love. As the daughter of a famed wedding planner, she’s seen the seedy inside of relationships that are doomed from the start and ones that profess the deepest of love only to crash and burn. After her own relationship ends tragically she’s decided love isn’t worth the pain or the hassle. Ambrose is a serial dater who is carefree and happy despite all Louna’s efforts to the opposite. Ambrose wants to convince Louna that love can be real and it’s worth it, but his serial dater ways display otherwise.
Sarah Dessen can write anything and I’ll read it. I am conductor of the Sarah Dessen train so you better get on board. This is Dessen’s 13th book and I loved it. Louna’s story is heartfelt, heartbreaking, and hopeful, which is what I’ve come to expect from Dessen’s books.
When Dimple Met Rishi – Sandhya Menon
Dimple doesn’t want to be what her parents and society expect from her. She doesn’t want to talk about marriage, especially arranged marriage. She just wants to go to an exclusive coding summer program and make an app that will help people and win first place. Rishi wants to please his parents, so he’s going to MIT for engineering instead of art school, and when the topic of arranging a marriage comes up, he’s excited. He wasn’t expecting Dimple.
This is a coming of age story. Dimple realizes what she wants is different than what her parents want for her and that’s enough. Rishi realizes that his happiness should be a factor in decisions. Together they become friends with a funny meet cute.
London Belongs to Me – Jacqulyn Middleton
Alex is a recent grad who is in love with all things London, pop culture, and comic cons. She is an outsider, a geek and fangirl. She dreams of becoming a playwright and moves to London after a relationship ends to give her dreams a chance. She believes London is where she is meant to be, where she belongs. Alex’s panic attacks, fear of failure, and broken relationships are hard to escape, especially faced with a jealous rival and few friends.
Alex was captivating because she is so flawed. Not her personality – she’s hysterical – but her mind is constantly working against her creativity and talent and we’ve all felt like that. She does the bravest thing any of us can do: leave everything we know to go to a place we’ve never been and try and make our dreams come true. The people she meets along the way and the friends she makes remind her that she is talented and worthwhile no matter how tiny the world makes her feel.
The Princess Saves Herself in this One – Amanda Lovelace
In Amanda’s first book of poetry, she tells us who she is. Her poems walk us through some of the hardest things she has lived through and survived–difficult family life, death, abuse from those who profess to love you. She also shares with us her strength. Not only the strength to endure difficulty, but the ability to not let it destroy you. Her book of poems is empowering, heartbreaking, and lovely.
I loved every single minute I spent reading Amanda’s words. She is honest, brutal, and heartfelt when it would be easier to hide her pain. She is currently working on her second book of poetry and I cannot wait to see where her work will go from here.
Let us know what your favorite summer reads are in the comments or tweet us @litdarling.
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I NEED to talk about how the first book centers around girls who are fans of a real series. I LOVE THIS. All of these books are such great recommendations. I can’t wait to snatch up The Princess Saves Herself in this One.