Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Amazing Summer Reads

Some people, when they are stressed, go for the chocolate. I tend to bake. And read. In the months of June, July and August, I have baked cheesecake, cookies, baguettes, challah, and countless other treats that my skinny jeans are already protesting about. I've also read 42 books. Yeah. It's been quite the binge. At least the reading binge won't show up on my hips :P

I've discovered some fantastic books this summer, and one that I'm going to give away. Read on for your chance to win.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
Published March 2010 by Bantam

I adored this book.

Set in a quirky North Carolina town, these characters are as rich and tasty as the southern barbecue they all enjoy. Told from alternating viewpoints, the novel follows Julia, who left as a teenager and returned after her father died to run his restaurant, and Emily, a teenager sent to live with a grandfather she's never met in a town she'd never heard of until her mother died. Secret pasts, mysterious lights and forbidden friendships keep the story moving along. But the beautiful descriptions and palpable emotions of every character made me slow down to savor each page. The touch of magical realism (and romance) didn't hurt either.

Even though The Girl Who Chased the Moon is marketed to adults, I can see it having crossover appeal. And certainly, readers who enjoy paranormal YA will be more open to the fantastical elements of this story. One of my favorite books of the summer. I'll be reading everything this author has written.

Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez
Expected Publication October 2011

So much to love about this book!

Jessica Martinez does an excellent job of capturing the intensity of child prodigy musicians. Carmen is feisty, ready to push beyond the boundaries and expectations her equally intense stage mother has set. While she's drawn to Jeremy, her own competitive streak pushes her to make hard choices.

I fell for these characters right away and sacrificed sleep to finish the book. It was incredibly readable and an exciting glimpse into the world of competitive classical musicians. I couldn't give it the full five stars because a couple of turning points pulled me out of the story. Completely. But maybe that's just me. And in spite of that, I still highly recommend this book. I'm looking forward to reading whatever Jessica Martinez publishes next.

The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon
Published May 2011

This is another book that I think has crossover appeal, though it's not a YA. Told in alternating viewpoints in third person, I wasn't sure if I would feel close to the characters from that distance. I did. 

I loved seeing how much these characters evolved because of a short encounter that changed their lives. Beautiful story, beautiful writing. I loved everything about Beautiful Girl.

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John
Published November 2010

I don't know how I even managed to stumble across this book, but I'm so glad I did. Great characters with depth, great premise (Deaf girl managing a band? Hello!) and wonderfully realistic situations. To top it off, it's set in one of my favorite places: Seattle, the birthplace of grunge and Jimi Hendrix (and  both play an important part in the story).

Piper is a wonderful character, full of determination, pride, intelligence and humor. I love how the band comes together, how they grow together. Definitely made me want to plug in an amp and start wailing to Nirvana :D

Brilliant book.

The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni
Published March 2010

Another story featuring a high school rock band. (I must have a thing for these!) I checked this book out from the library and loved it so much I had to buy my own copy. The weird and wonderful characters aren't just randomly odd for the sake being eccentric. These are fully realized people, delightfully complex and full of all the strange foibles that make us human. Set in Iowa, this coming of age story borrows philosophy from Buckminster Fuller and several punk rock gods. Yeah, it sounds strange. But trust me, the book is awesome.

This was Bognanni's debut novel. I can't wait to read what he comes up with next. 

And now, the book I'm giving away my ARC of...

Ripple by Mandy Hubbard
Published July 2011

Lexi suffers from a curse, handed down for generations, that turns her into a siren on her 16th birthday. Unaware of the power of her voice, she accidentally kills someone and ends up shunned by all her former friends. Things start to change when a new boy shows up at school, and one of her old friends reaches out to her. Soon Lexi is torn between keeping her secret and walking away from love. Talk about a deadly love triangle...

You can read my full review at Shelf Awareness for Readers.

If you'd like to win my copy of Ripple, leave a comment. You have through August 29 to enter.

What great books have you read this summer? I'm off to bake some banana bread :)


Becky Levine said...

You know I'm always up for a book giveaway! Especially, because just like you, reading is my stress escape.

And thanks for adding to my reading list...again. :)

Kristan Hoffman said...

"At least the reading binge won't show up on my hips."

Nope, just on your credit card bill. :P

(Except for the library books, of course.)

That first book, Girl Who Chased the Moon, sounds a lot like one I started writing a couple years ago... May have to check that out.

Thanks for the giveaway, and for sharing all these great stories with us!

JEM said...

Dude, you have shamed me with your power reading! I think I've read maybe 3 or 4 books this whole summer. I should check out that "library" place.

My biggest obsession this summer was the Mortal Instruments series. Oh, forgot those were 3 books I read them so fast :). So maybe I read more than 3 or 4 books.

I love the cover of Ripple, I'm really interested in the story!

Aleeza said...

Virtuosity was SOOO good!

other books I liked this summer: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard, The Monstrumologist series by Rick Yancey, Witchlanders by Lena Coakley, The Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima...the list is endless, really!

thanks for the giveaway!

here's my email address: aleeza876(at)yahoo(dot)com

Kelly Polark said...

Five Flavors has been on my TBR list for a while now. Need to bump it up!
And Ripple sounds amazing!

Susan R. Mills said...

As if my to-read list wasn't already long enough! Seriously, though, thanks for the reviews. They all sound wonderful.

Sherrie Petersen said...

Becky: All of these are worth adding to your reading list -- definitely excellent escape books :)

Kristan: Lucky for me, my birthday was over the summer and I got plenty of gift certificates to the book store!

JEM: At one point I think I had 15 books from the library and only three weeks to read them so I was reading almost a book a day :P I agree about the Mortal Instruments books. I got caught up in those, too!

Aleeza: I've been wanting to read The Monstrumologist series (glad to hear it'll continue, too) and I just started The Demon King. You and I obviously have similar tastes in books!

Kelly: I thought of you when I read Five Flavors of Dumb. I think you'd really like it. And House of Tomorrow, too. The MC ends up starting a punk rock band. Great book.

Susan: I was trying to make my TBR list shorter by reading a lot this summer, but then I just keep finding more books I want to read!!

Riv Re said...

Five Flavor of Dumb was amazing. I absolutely loved Piper, and I could totally sympathize with her.
I meant to read Ripple this summer, but I never got around to getting a copy and reading it. The cover is really pretty. (I soooo want that dress!) Thanks for the bonus giveaway. :)
Great book list!

Arianne said...

Oooh please enter me :)
Some of my best reads this summer was Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine and any book from DeeAnne Gist - she's truly amazing. Oh, and also Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers! I met her too! :D

Arianne said...

oops, forgot my email..

Christina Lee said...

Um did you say 42?!?!?! Holy WOW! And how cool a title is FIVE FLAVORS OF DUMB!!

Laura Pauling said...

They all sound really good! Esp. the first one! :)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Five Flavors of Dumb sounds like a great find--I'm def. getting that one. I've been wondering about Ripple, so I'm glad you reviewed it for us!

A few of my summer favorites include: THE LAST MARTIN by Jonathan Friesen, which I really enjoyed. Also, Bloodlines by Richelle Mead, Huber Hill and the Dead man's Treasure by B.K. Bostick, In the Forests of the Night (second in the series) by Kersten Hamilton, and Wildwood. :-)

Krispy said...

Ooh, the Girl Who Chased the Moon has such an eye-catching cover! The number of books you've read puts me to shame! I think my goal for the whole YEAR is 40, and I'm behind!

I just finished two awesome books: the 3rd book in the Demon's Lexicon Trilogy and Graceling!

Joanne R. Fritz said...

That's an impressive number of books to read in one summer! Wow! And I'm still impressed that you're reviewing books for Shelf Awareness! Good job!

I already have an ARC of Ripple, so don't include me in your giveaway. Good luck to everyone else!

Lauren Goff said...

This is my entry for the book giveaway! <3 I read one of the other's other books and LOVED it! So excited to read Ripple!

Rebecca Gomez said...

I'm always up for winning a book! And it's good to have some more ideas for my reading list.

Theresa Milstein said...

I want to read The Girl Who Chased the Moon. I'm adding it to my list right now.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Ooh! Ripple sounds awesome! Sign me up! (the rest too) ;)

Angela Ackerman said...

I would love to win Ripple--love Mandy Hubbard.

I loved reading Divergent this summer, and also Liar's Society. I have a ton of great books here still to get through, so i'm going to pretend that it's still summer! :)

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

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