As writers, we often spend so much time writing we forget to stop and enjoy the reading side of things. Summer is a great time to sit back and find some new books, and maybe even try a genre or author you've never read before. Expand your reading horizons a little!
I invite you to share your recent reads and even give a shout out to some of your favorite books if you'd like.
Here are some great books I've read recently:
Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away by Trisha Slay (young adult)
A coming-of-age nostalgia mystery reminiscent of Stephen King's The Body (Stand By Me for you movie buffs), set in a small town during the 1977 release of Star Wars. I admit, this is a book I probably would not have picked up if I hadn't heard the author speak about it at a conference. She totally hooked me on the premise and I bought it immediately after. Fantastic book, especially if you're a Star Wars fan or grew up during the original Star Wars explosion. Though it's peppered with Star Wars elements, it's not a sci fi "Star Wars" book, but a wonderful story about a girl who finds herself and her strength, and is empowered by a gal named Princess Leia.
The Blurb: It's a terrible thing to live under a question mark.... When Erika's best friend, teen beauty queen Cassandra Abbott, disappears during the early hours of Memorial Day 1977, Erika isn't exactly surprised. After all, they've been plotting and planning Cassie's escape for months. But then Cassie's departure unleashes a whirlwind of questions, suspicions and accusations that Erika never expected. She's lying to the police. She's being bullied by older students. Worst of all, she's starting to doubt she ever REALLY knew Cassie Abbott at all. Under the weight of scrutiny and confusion, Erika struggles just to breathe...until a strange new movie transforms her summer with A New Hope.
For Erika, Star Wars changes EVERYTHING. So she volunteers to do chores for a local theater owner to gain unlimited access to a galaxy far, far away from her current reality. At the Bixby Theater-a beautiful but crumbling movie palace from a more civilized era-Erika discovers new friendships, feels the crush of first love and starts an exciting new romance with Super 8 film making...but she can't hide in a darkened movie theater forever. As the summer wears on, tensions escalate over the unsolved mystery surrounding Cassie's disappearance. Someone seems to think Erika knows too many of Cassie's secrets. Eventually, Erika must step out of the shadows and, armed only with her Super 8 camera and the lessons she's learned from Star Wars, fight to save herself and the theater that has become her second home.
A Bird On Water Street by Elizabeth O. Dulemba (middle grade)
Another coming of age tale, this one focuses on a boy in a town devastated by copper mining, who's torn between his love of nature and his wish to see it come back to his home, and the pressures of following in his family's mining footsteps. Based on a real town and real stories, this book is wonderfully researched and brought to life through the eyes of Jake, who just sees this as his home, not the dangerous environment it has become.
The Blurb: When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing?
A Bird on Water Street is a coming of age story about Jack, a boy growing up in a Southern Appalachian town environmentally devastated by a century of poor copper-mining practices and pollution. Jack is opposed to the mine where so many of his relatives have died, but how can he tell that to his Dad who wants him to follow in the family trade? Jack just wants his dad safe and the land returned to its pre-mining glory with trees, birds, frogs, and nature--like he's learning about in school. After Jack's uncle is killed in a mining accident and the Company implements a massive layoff, the union organizes and the miners go on strike. It seems Jack's wish is coming true. But the cost may be the ruin of his home and everything he loves.
The Saint by Tiffany Reisz (adult)
I first read Tiffany's Original Sinners series because she was a friend and colleague and I wanted to be supportive and try a genre I had never read before. The story blew me away and I was utterly hooked. This newest book is just as good as the others, and it's the start of a new series that looks like it will cover the early days of the characters--Nora, Kingsley, and Soren--and how they all met. I eagerly await the next one.
The Blurb: Before she became Manhattan's most famous dominatrix, Nora Sutherlin was merely a girl called Eleanor…
Rebellious, green-eyed Eleanor never met a rule she didn't want to break. She's sick of her mother's zealotry and the confines of Catholic school, and declares she'll never go to church again. But her first glimpse of beautiful, magnetic Father Marcus Stearns—Søren to her and only her—and his lust-worthy Italian motorcycle is an epiphany. Eleanor is consumed—yet even she knows being in love with a priest can't be right.
But when one desperate mistake nearly costs Eleanor everything, it is Søren who steps in to save her. When she vows to repay him with complete obedience, a whole world opens before her as he reveals to her his deepest secrets that will change everything.
Danger can be managed—pain, welcomed. Everything is about to begin.
The Encyclopedia of Me by Karen Rivers (middle grade/young adult)
This was on the "recommended reading" table at the same conference I discovered Not So Long Ago, and it had such an unusual structure (and great voice) I had to give it a try. Another wonderful coming of age story told alphabetically through a series of encyclopedia entries. Full of humor and truly touching moments of a young girl's life as she realizes certain truths and figures out how she fits into the world. Tink is a delightful character and I loved her.
The Blurb: Tink Aaron-Martin has been grounded AGAIN after an adventure with her best friend Freddie Blue Anderson. To make the time pass, she decides to write an encyclopedia of her life from "Aa" (a kind of lava--okay, she cribbed that from the real encyclopedia) to "Zoo" (she's never been to one, but her brothers belong there).
As the alphabet unfolds, so does the story of Tink's summer: more adventures with Freddie Blue (and more experiences in being grounded); how her family was featured in a magazine about "Living with Autism," thanks to her older brother Seb--and what happened after Seb fell apart; her growing friendship, and maybe more, with Kai, a skateboarder who made her swoon (sort of). And her own sense that maybe she belongs not under "H" for "Hideous," or "I" for "Invisible," but "O" for "Okay."
So what have you read lately? Share!