Leaves have started to fall here in Boston, which means summer is actually starting to come to an end. So I thought I would take this time to look back at the books I read this summer and talk about some favorites! I enjoyed a lot of what I read, so this is really just top of the tops (in no particular order):
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
It’s always hard to go into books that come with a lot of hype, because there’s that extra set of expectation. But, I have to feed into the hype with this book because it totally lived up to it for me. THUG tackles lots of incredibly important issues with nuance and insight, while creating an utterly realistic backdrop of setting and character. Every character felt distinct and like a real person. I have to try so hard not to make a “5 Starrs” pun every time I talk about this book, but…whoops, I did it again.
Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali
I was so pleasantly surprised with the contemporary fiction I read this summer, and this was another one I ended up loving. This book has such a great voice. Janna is a really strong character — not meaning a bad-ass with a ton of confidence, but in terms of how nuanced and realistic she feels. I felt a couple characters and plots got lost in the sea of how much was covered, but for the most part this is a compelling coming of age story filled with detailed characters and layered relationships.
A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi
I read The Star-Touched Queen and had pretty mixed feelings about it, but I liked parts of Chokshi’s writing style. So I was really looking forward to this book, hoping it might mix that beautiful prose with a more concrete story. And it did! There is gorgeous description and imagery that creates a magical backdrop for a story about two smart and strong-willed characters. Gauri and Vikram have amazing chemistry; they are very different but equally matched, and it’s so fun to watch as their relationship develops.
Shadowshaper by D.J. Older
A urban fantasy tale about the ties between art, heritage, and magic. Shadowshaper deals with issues from colorism to cultural appropriation organically within the larger story of an intriguing magic society woven into the fabric of Sierra’s Brooklyn neighborhood. The teenagers feel super realistic, and every character has a distinct voice. It is a slightly shorter story, so it could be a great fit for younger or more reluctant readers. But so much fits into the tightly plotted story that I–a notorious short-book-disliker–didn’t have much to complain about. Looking forward to this story continuing!
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
My one non-fiction/non-YA book in this list. I don’t really watch The Daily Show except on occasion so I didn’t have much of an idea about Trevor Noah before reading this book. But wow, has he lived a life. I had some issues with the timeline of how the story was told (it jumped around slightly too much for me), but the stories themselves are utterly fascinating. Noah weaves together the history of South Africa with his personal story and shows how the strict rules of apartheid manifested in everyday life — and he shares hilarious stories about the absolutely crazy shenanigans he got up to.
The Girl of Fire & Thorns series
This series has been on my list to read for forever, since my mom read it ages ago and recommended it to me (sorry for putting it off, you were totally right). I had started the first book once before but it just wasn’t speaking to me. While looking for books on a trip this summer, I found this one at the library and picked it up for another shot. And this time I’m glad I stuck with it, because I really loved the series. The main character deals with a lot of body confidence issues which can be a tricky subject, but I felt that it was dealt with pretty well. The worldbuilding is incredibly detailed and immersive, and the characters go through tremendous amounts of growth.
The Queen’s Thief series
So, I read the first book in this series ages ago and, similar to The Girl of Fire and Thorns, it just didn’t stick with me. But after seeing Megan Whalen Turner on a panel at BookCon, I decided to dive back into the series for another shot. And this time I was completely hooked. I whipped through all of these books in less than a week. Complicated characters, clever twists, confident writing. The one thing these books don’t have is a fast-moving plot, but I was so wrapped up in the motivations of the characters and the complicated politics and relationships of the world that these were still page-turners for me. The mythology is effortless too; it makes you feel like you’ve discovered the history of a world instead of reading something made up. As soon as I finished this series, I wanted to start reading it again.
This book is so unique and great. There are so many little elements that I loved about this that come together to make it really great: historical fiction, diversity, magic, mysteries and intrigue, and to top it off, a strong female friendship at the core. This book is not like many I’ve read (you don’t see diverse stories about 1920s Boston with music magic speakeasies every day), and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
And those are just some of my favorites from this summer! I have quite the TBR list for fall books so I’m going to try to restart my monthly reads posts to cover those. More soon!