in which I read books over the summer

I did a lot of reading this summer. Not as much as I usually do, but still a lot. Here are some short and sweet reviews of the things I read. Because books are the only thing I know how to talk about. 

A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange and Deadly, #2)Five Stars – books I can’t live without.

A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard – Steampunk zombie killers in 1870s Paris. This book was made for me. A superb sequel to a really stellar debut.

The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan – Beautiful and unique. If Camus wrote (500) Days of Summer. The writing is really pretentious, but I eat that stuff up.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – I didn’t like Neil Gaiman when I was his target audience. Now I’m a die-hard fan, and this is by far my favorite of his books. A beautiful, thoughtful blend of magical realism and reflections on childhood.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – Fourth time reading it, first time with the audiobook (which is so stellar!). It gets better every time, and I sob and sob and sob. I will never get over this book.

Millions by Frank Cotrell Boyce – I will never stop loving this book. Read my full review on Nova Ren Suma’s blog!

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling – The best of the Harry Potters. The plotting in this book still blows my mind.

Tell the Wolves I'm HomeFour Stars ­– books I really enjoyed.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling – Harry Potter is what I think of when I need to cast a patronus.

Divergent by Veroinca Roth – Though you could drive an L train through the plot holes, I was pretty engaged for all five hundred pages.

The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro – Art history, true crime, and Boston. It did not disappoint.

Bunnicula by James Howe – A book from my childhood. Didn’t realize how many words this book taught me until I read it again as an adult.

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt – Award for best title ever. Gorgeous book about art and love and family set against the AIDs epidemic of the 80s.

Graceling by Kristen Cashore – Written by a Simmons grad! The pacing was really slow at times, but when it was good, it was good. Loved the fantasy superheroes concept.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – Holy Mary. This was one of those “It’s ten pm, so I’ll just read a few pages…jk nope, it’s 4 am.” Heart-stopping thriller.

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King – Sherlock Holmes in retirement meets a feisty, smart Oxford girl. They team up, and it is magnificent. Mary Russell is my new literary idol.

The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran – So different than what I usually read. Really thoughtful and moving. I could live a hundred years and never understand the world this deeply.

Belle EpoqueThree Stars – Enjoyable but not memorable. Or books that have a fatal flaw. 

Paradise Lost by John Milton – Worked all summer on this one. In the end, even with the guidance of a good friend, it was too hard to figure out what was going on.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling – Liked it better than I did when I was ten and terrified of snakes, but this is still my least favorite Potter.

Clockwork by Phillip Pullman – A little novella. Didn’t do much for me as a story, but it was good inspiration for my thesis.

Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross – Fantastic premise: ugly girls as beauty foils for the rich in Belle Epoque France. Light and lovely historical.

Legend by Marie Lu – Wanted to love this. Did not. Too many YA clichés—isolated dystopian world that makes no sense, totalitarian government, instalove. Did not live up to the hype.

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Berry and Riddley Pearson – Read this as a kid and it was totally unmemorable. Read it again as an adult after seeing the MARVELOUS play based on it. The play outshines the book by far.

Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan – I SO wanted to love this—spies in Queen Elizabeth’s court! But I just never got into it. Too long!

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins – Interesting Gothic romance. A less cool Wuthering Heights.

In the Shadow of BlackbirdsColonel Roosevelt by Edmund Morris – SO LONG. But I now know a lot about TR.

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris – See above.

Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl – Cute, fast read. Very Dahl.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters – Enjoyable historical fantasy. Different perspective on WWI. All the paranormal elements weren’t quite developed or explained well enough for me, but overall a good read.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan – Decided to see what all the Percy Jackson fuss was about. Turns out it’s about a light, fun book that I really enjoyed.

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff – Little too weird for me. Could never quite figure out what was going on, but the writing was unique and interesting.

Just One Day by Gayle Forman – I just don’t do YA contemporary well. Though I liked the Europe setting and the girl starting college angle, it didn’t do much for me.

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Anne Folwer – I’m obsessed with the Fitzgeralds, so I loved the source material. But there was no narrative arc—felt like a weird cross between historical fiction and nonfiction.

Transparent by Natalie Whipple – Cute, quick, and fun. X-Men meets the Godfather but not super deep.

Two Stars – Has a flaw I can’t get past. Usually I don’t finish or skim.


A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle – Wish I’d read this as a kid. As an adult, it didn’t do much. And it’s hard to read the original source material of a movement after you’ve read everything that came from it.

Starstruck by Rachel Shukert – I was promised Hollywood glamour in the 40s. What I got was clichéd writing and too many characters. Did not finish.

Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede, Caroline Stevermer – Jane Austen meets JK Rowling. Really cute, but the letter format made it hard for me to really connect to the stories or characters other than the two main ones.

Chime by Franny Billingsley – So wanted to love this one, but it was too weird. Could not figure out where it was set or what was going on.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – I think the problem was this book was too built up for me. Too many people loved it, and my expectations were too high. I thought the whole thing was boring, and the “twist ending” did nothing for me.

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5 thoughts on “in which I read books over the summer

  1. Carson Center says:

    First of all, Azkaban is my favorite of the Harry Potters as well. Always has been! Secondly, you have heard of Sorcery and Cecilia?!?! And I agree completely with your ranking :-)

  2. hannahkarena says:

    I’m sitting here drooling over your reading list. I thought I read a lot this summer–but you read pretty much everything I still wish I had time to read! I just want to go home and read everything now!!

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