Summer is the perfect time to relax, and what better way to relax than with a good book? I’ve compiled mini-reviews for the books I’ve finished lately, and they just so happen to be my favorite genres for summer reading.
Eleanor is quirky, endearing, and—you guessed it—completely fine. Or so she thinks. When Eleanor strikes up an unlikely friendship with the IT guy from her office, she realizes she’s not completely fine. Her life is missing some very important things—love and friendship. The dark past Eleanor has kept buried for so long begins to unfold. As she addresses these issues, she learns what life is really about.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, although I got a little impatient with it. Eleanor would drop subtle hints about her past, but the reader doesn’t learn what really happened until the end. Maybe this was meant to keep the reader engaged—in my case, it did. Finally, the past was revealed in a twist I didn’t see coming, and I was satisfied. Be patient with Eleanor, and it’ll be worth it.
Contemporary fiction covers a wide range of stories, and I love reading stories like Eleanor’s in the summer because Eleanor is the perfect companion. Her voice was so cute and hilarious, and I felt like I’d made a new friend. The story also deals with heavy topics like depression and suicide, so I learned a lot from her, too. Reese Witherspoon is adapting this book into a movie, so I’d recommend all adult audiences make Eleanor’s acquaintance before she hits the big screen.
This story is about an elderly Hollywood star, Evelyn Hugo, who wants a young magazine reporter, Monique Grant, to write and publish her biography after she’s dead. As she takes Monique through the glitz, glam, and drama of old Hollywood, Evelyn spills all her secrets, including her biggest one about a love she kept hidden from the world.
Evelyn teaches Monique to go after what she wants and be bold, which is important, but I also felt this book was missing something. In a story about people seeking love–romantic, passionate, familial, or forbidden–what I wanted was a sacrificial love. Instead, I found a lot of use. So many of these characters used others for fame, power, keeping secrets, and everything in between. Hollywood is a ruthless world where people go after what they want to succeed, so I appreciated this story showing those struggles. Still, I wanted a sacrificial love somewhere in the mix. I felt like I got a bit from one character toward the end, but not enough. This book focused on more sexual content than I prefer—I guess I should’ve expected that—but I still enjoyed aspects of the overall story.
Despite my disappointments with this particular book, I really enjoy reading women’s fiction during the summer. This genre is like having a girls’ night out with my friends, but it’s with my literary friends.
IN A DARK, DARK WOOD is a fast-paced crime thriller, and I devoured it in two nights. Nina, a crime fiction writer, attends a bachelorette party (a hen party, as the British call it. Can we please adopt that term, America?) for an old friend from school. The party takes place in a secluded house in the woods, and before long, a murder occurs. Nina can’t remember if her friends are guilty or if Nina herself committed the crime.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but I figured out who the murderer was fairly early on. To be fair, I channeled my sleuthing skills and thought like a writer, but I wanted to be completely taken aback by the perpetrator. Despite this, I was hooked. This is another title coming to the big screen, so check it out before it gets there.
THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 is Ware’s second crime thriller about Lo Blacklock, a travel journalist. Shortly after becoming the victim of a burglary, she embarks on a small cruise ship to cover its maiden voyage. Lo thinks she overhears a murder in cabin 10, but no one believes her and no evidence exists. Did Lo’s PTSD from the burglary cause her to imagine it? She’s determined to find out the truth.
I enjoyed this one even more than Ware’s first. Though I figured some things out, I was much more surprised as the story unfolded. I felt the story was more original than the first, and I’m officially a Ruth Ware fan.
What’s better than curling up in a dark room on a warm summer evening with a nail-biting thriller? Nothing! I read Ware’s second novel in one night. I couldn’t put it down, and that’s exactly what I want in a great summer read. Adult audiences should read both these books, but proceed with caution if you’re reading alone in your room before bed…
YOUNG ADULT FANTASY
This book follows Scarlett Dragna, who has spent her life dreaming of attending Caraval, the annual game in which the audience participates. This year, the winner will receive a wish, and Scarlett hopes to wish herself and her sister, Tella, away from their abusive father. This year, her invitation to Caraval arrives. Scarlett knows Caraval is just an act, but when Tella is kidnapped and becomes the object of the game, things start feeling all too real.
I enjoyed Caraval’s plot more than the characters. I liked Scarlett, but I wasn’t as invested in her as I’d like to be with my heroine. Scarlett teams up with Julian, a handsome, devious sailor, to play Caraval’s game and save Tella. I’m not a huge fan of the “guy who comes across as a jerk but is actually nice” male lead, so Julian wasn’t my favorite. I liked him more by the end, but my lingering resentment stuck around. The author used vivid color imagery for descriptions of feelings, surroundings, and everything in between, which enhanced Caraval’s magical feel for me. I enjoyed how clever the story was, and I’m looking forward to the sequel. I’m also excited for its film adaptation, discussed here under an earlier title. Young adults, I encourage you to play Caraval’s game and see if you can figure out if it’s fact or fiction.
Summer is the perfect time for a vacation, and vacationing to a fantasy land sounds pretty good to me. YA fantasy is the perfect summer reading genre for an adventure unlike any other.
Even if you don’t know the story of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, odds are you’ve heard of them. Mr. Bennett’s five daughters can’t inherit his estate, so one must marry well in order to support the family. The second daughter, Elizabeth, is witty and intelligent, but she has a tendency to judge on first impressions. When she and the prideful Mr. Darcy meet, they don’t like each other. As the story progresses, he overcomes his haughtiness while she overcomes her first impression, and the two fall in love.
Growing up, I read Dickens, Alcott, Lewis, Tolkien, Austen, and so many others. I love reading classics during the summer because these books are true works of art which bring me so much nostalgia. I don’t particularly care for modern romance novels, but there’s something about a classic romance which is so captivating. Summertime is the perfect time to get swept away by timeless works of literature. Everyone should read Austen’s classic love story.
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
Summer is one of the best times of year for reading. These five genres–contemporary fiction, women’s fiction, thriller, young adult fantasy, classic literature–are great options for this fun, relaxing season. Whether you’re sunbathing by the pool, enjoying a picnic, sprawling out on a sandy beach, or somewhere in between, I hope my favorite summer reading genres come along for the adventure and become your summer favorites, too.