Summer shines, Spring blossoms, Winter glistens and Autumn crunches. Seasons affect our lives constantly. As part of Nori’s Book Blogger Creativity Project aka the #BBCreativityProject, Team Hot Pink is celebrating and honoring the seasons with some special book posts over the next month.Before I start my post I’d like to introduce you to the Hot Pink Team: Brittany from The Book Addict’s Guide, Debbie from Silk Serif, Erica from Escape Under the Cover, Kailia from Life According to a Bibliophile; Kj from Birds that Love Words, Let from Other Side of Ordinary, Maggie from The Novel Orange, Nori from Read Write Love, Orchid from The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia, and Myself from Grounded Wanderlust.
We have all worked really hard and hope you enjoy what we have created.
Now, I know what you're thinking, "But Veronica, summer is already over! Why are you posting a list of summer books when you could be posting Halloween or Autumn themed books?" My answer: it's never too early to start stocking your bookshelf and stalking your library or favorite bookshop! To that end, I have compiled a list of my top 10 favorite summer reads. Not all of them have summer themes, but they are all books that put me in a summery mood.
Before I show you my choices, I want to give you a quick overview of the criteria I used to pick them and how this post is going to work. I really only had 2 criteria for choosing books. First, they are all books that I have read before. I am not the type of person who can recommend a book or Author if I don't have first hand knowledge of it. So, it was important to me that I be familiar with the work. Second, these are all books that I have given a rating of 5 out of 5 stars. I have read plenty of summery books that I rated 4 out of 5 or 4.5 out of 5 stars, but I wanted the books I recommend to you to be the best of the best that I have read. I have tried to keep books that have a similar theme or feeling together. Other than that though, this list is in no particular order. I am going to include the synopsis for each book, which I am taking directly from goodreads. I will link my goodreads' review of the book (if there is one) or the book's page at the end of the post. Now that the boring stuff is out of the way, let's get to the books!
Synopsis: Hayley’s parents disappeared when she was a baby. Since then, she has been raised and homeschooled by her grandparents. Grandad is overworked and travels a lot; Grandma is much too strict and never lets her meet any children her own age. When Hayley does something wrong—she is not quite sure what—they pack her off to her aunts in Ireland. To Hayley’s shock, her family is much bigger than she thought; to her delight, the children all play what they call “the game,” where they visit a place called “the mythosphere.” And while she plays the game, Hayley learns more about her own place in the world than she had ever expected. This original novella by Diana Wynne Jones is sharply funny, fast-paced, and surprising until its very end—like all of this acclaimed author’s work.
My Opinion: I am a huge fan of Diana Wynne Jones, and this book doesn't disappoint! It has a smudgy, indistinct feeling to it that actually added to my enjoyment of the story. The overall theme of family always puts me in mind of summer vacations spent visiting far-away family and friends. I originally borrowed this book from the library, but immediately ordered myself a copy once I was finished reading it.
My Opinion: I have been reading Vivian Vande Velde's books since I was 11, but this was the first of her works that I picked up. Every summer, my family would drive halfway across the country to stay with my grandparents for the summer. I checked this book out every summer after the first time I read it! The story is actually set during the Autumn. However, the sense of adventure and mystery that the story gave me always made me forget that fact and think it was summer instead.
Synopsis: When her mother dies, fifteen-year-old Keelie Heartwood is forced to leave her beloved California to live with her nomadic father at a renaissance festival in Colorado. After arriving, Keelie finds men in tights and women in trailer trash-tight bodices roaming half-drunk, calling each other lady and lord even after closing time! Playacting the Dark Ages is an L.A. girl’s worst nightmare. Keelie has a plan to ditch this medieval geekland ASAP, but while she plots, strange things start happening? Eerie, yet familiar. When Keelie starts seeing fairies and communicating with trees, she uncovers a secret that links her to a community of elves. As Keelie tries to come to grips with her elfin roots, disaster strikes, and Keelie’s identity isn’t the only thing that’s threatened.One part human determination and one part elfin magic, Keelie Heartwood is a witty new heroine in a world where fantasy and reality mix with extraordinary results.
My Opinion: I don't actually remember if the book mentions a specific month or season, but the lack of school activity always made me think that the story was set during the summer. It doesn't hurt that I impulse bought (and devoured and enjoyed) the first 3 books in the series during one of the best summer vacations I have ever taken! This book is a fun contemporary with a dash of magic (a la Maggie Stiefvater) that deals with some heavy topics in a responsible and fun way. It also straddles the border between Middle Grade and YA, which makes it a good pick for a range of people.
Synopsis: 15-year-old Emma has long suspected that something is not quite as it should be in her life. With her long, pale face and white hair, she looks nothing like her parents or frail younger sister. She acts nothing like them, either. While her parents happily pursue their daily routine, Emma senses danger. She knows she must watch over the family day and night -- but why, she doesn't know. Things spin out of control when Emma takes a summer job caring for an eccentric elderly neighbor and is drawn into playing a strange board game. She's suddenly plagued by surreal, frightening dreams that begin to invade her waking hours. Emma is soon hurtled from her quiet farm life into strange worlds of intrigue and terror. As she becomes a participant in a bizarre game of life and death, the mystery surrounding her is solved ? and her future decided.
My Opinion: Out of all the books on the list, this one is the one I read before all of the others. Not only is the story set during summer vacation, I first read it during summer vacation! I enjoyed this book, and the series as a whole, a lot. The plot twist was something I never saw coming. It still blows my mind when I think of it. It took me many years to track down a copy to buy, but it has been totally worth it!
Synopsis: Nia, a young mermyd of the Bluefin clan, has had one wish all her life - to be Avatar in her beloved home of Atlantis. To be one of the ten Avatars that rule the undersea city is an honour and a great responsibility. Now at 16, Nia has a chance to see her dream come true.
My Opinion: I adore this series! Like The Watcher, I first read Ascension over a summer break when I was younger. I fell in love with the world and the characters almost immediately. It is an origin story (I can't tell you whose because it would ruin the surprise) unlike any I have ever read before. The watery setting and prevalence of games and adventure always reminded me of summer.
Synopsis: Canadian Gwen and her Irish cousin, Findabhair, have long planned a summer of backpacking around Ireland, visiting sites out of the old legends of fairy folk. Little do they know that it is the summer of the Hunter's Moon, a dangerous time for mortals who meddle with the kingdom of Faerie. One night, camping out on old ruins, Finn is kidnapped by the Faerie king, who wants her for a bride and possible sacrifice. It is up to Gwen, the more indecisive of the two, to rescue her cousin. Beautifully written, romantic, exciting, and evocative of both modern-day and mystical Ireland, this is a treat for girl fantasy readers.
My Opinion: This is, by far, one of my favorite summer books, not only because it is set during summer vacation, but because it reminds me of so many happy summers, sitting outside in the sun, reading! Chock full of adventure, traveling, and faeries (faeries being a favorite subject of mine), I have read and reread this book more times than I can count!
Synopsis: This second book in a series "shimmering with magic, myth, and romance" ("Booklist"), follows sixteen-year-old Laurel as she tries to understand the cause of her twin sister's mysterious death. Honor believed in Faerie, a parallel land of mischievous immortals. Laurel doesn't. That is, until the fairies come and ask her to take up her sister's failed quest to find the Summer King, a lord who can light the midsummer fire that keeps the two worlds, human and Faerie, cleaved. Laurel must decide to help those whose cause killed her sister, and, in the process, come to believe that there is still magic and love in the world.
My Opinion: After telling you that The Hunter's Moon is one of my favorite books, I feel like I have to mention that I liked this book a lot more than the first! The summer is strong with this book and keeps you on your toes throughout. If I was stuck on a desert island and could only bring 5 books with me, The Summer King would definitely make the list.
Synopsis: Her castle under siege by an evil knight who keeps beheading all her would-be rescuers, Lady Lynet sets out for help and finds assistance from an odd dwarf named Roger and a scruffy kitchen hand named Beaumains. As the three unlikely companions return to Lynet’s castle, they face surprising adventures, including encounters with the uncanny Squire Terence, his master, Sir Gawain, and the majestic sorceress Morgan. And somewhere along the way, Lynet discovers that people can be much more than they seem.
My Opinion: This book is my go-to for summer road trips. It is an Arthurian tale that kept me interested the whole way through. It does have some darker, more adult elements, but was still appropriate for me to read at 13.
Synopsis: This summer the Penderwick sisters have a wonderful surprise: a holiday on the grounds of a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon they are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel’s sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts. But the best discovery of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel’s owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their adventures. The icy-hearted Mrs. Tifton is not as pleased with the Penderwicks as Jeffrey is, though, and warns the new friends to stay out of trouble. Which, of course, they will—won’t they? One thing’s for sure: it will be a summer the Penderwicks will never forget.
My Opinion: The Penderwicks is solely a middle grade book, but that is part of why I loved it so much. Once again, this book is set during summer vacation. It was light hearted and fun, a little mysterious, and a whole lot whimsical. It did deal with one tough subject, but it was handled flawlessly.
Synopsis: One of our most universal myths is that of the Green Man, the spirit who stands for Nature in its most wild and untamed form. Through the ages and around the world, the Green Man and other nature spirits have appeared in stories, songs, and artwork, as well as many beloved fantasy novels, including Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Now Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, the acclaimed editors of over thirty anthologies, have gathered some of today's finest writers of magical fiction to interpret the spirits of nature in short stories and poetry. Folklorist and artist Charles Vess brings his stellar eye and brush to the decorations, and Windling provides an introduction exploring Green Man symbolism and forest myth. The Green Man is required reading, not only for fans of fantasy fiction but for those interested in mythology and the mysteries of the wilderness.
My Opinion: The odd-man-out in this list, The Green Man is actually a collection of short stories instead of a novel. It is the perfect summertime read because you can pick it up in between fun summer activities or at the end of a long day vacationing and just relax. The stories contained within are set during different seasons, but my favorite, Grounded by Nina Kiriki Hoffman, is set during summer vacation.
I hope this list of summery books inspires you to get out and read! I'd love to know if you've read any of my picks or which ones sound interesting to you! What books would be on your list of summer reads?
The Game by Diana Wynne Jones
Dragons' Bait by Vivian Vande Velde
The Tree Shepherd's Daughter by Gillian Summers
The Watcher by Margaret Buffie
Ascension by Kara Dalkey
The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf by Gerald Morris
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
The Green Man edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow