Five Summer Book Recommendations

reading-925589_960_720Free time can be hard to come by, but I always hope that summer will allow for a few quiet moments to appreciate some solid storylines. I have read and loved each of the five books mentioned below. They have also been out long enough to get in paperbook, e-book, or via a short hold time at the local library. So don’t be afraid to read one of these while waiting for your children to wrap up swimming lessons or during a long car ride to the cheese capital of the world. Just click on the links provided for quick purchase. Happy Summer Reading!

1: Cinder by Marissa Meyer (The 1st Book in the Lunar Chronicles)

This book is a shout-out to youth fiction enthusiasts. If you enjoyed Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Divergent, or Twilight, then this is a solid bookmark choice. Plus it is a five book series with all novels already out on bookshelves, so that means there is no wait to find out how the whole sha-bang ends. *FULL DISCLOSURE: Reading Cinder, almost guarantees that one should read the second book (Scarlet), because Cinder’s ending has a decent cliff-hanger.

This story takes place in the future, while dancing around the theme of classic fairy tales. The e-book-1209040_960_720characters are fun and great to follow through an epic journey. The main character is a cyborg named Cinder, who is so human yet so robotic I can’t even do justice in my description. Just read it. She is not a damsel, but a mechanic with a comical sidekick named Iko (who is not even a person, but an android/computer program). I love the science fiction in this book, and even though there are romantic moments, it is not a sappy love-fest. The story falls under the young adult label, but I really think it has mass appeal for bookworms of all ages. The female characters are strong and intelligent. The male characters make a lot of sense, and there is a truly delicious villain in the form of a wicked queen who has the power to glamour herself from a disfigured wretch to a completely fearsome beauty.

2: The Big Love by Sarah Dunn

I am a big fan of chic lit books, mostly because the characters in them tend to chronicle around the same time-frame as my own life only with much more style and hot bodied men. Fans of Emily Giffin and Sophie Kinsella, should pick up this 2005 novel by Sarah Dunn, if for no other reason than the guaranteed giggles. I am one of those types of people that belly laugh on very rare occasions, but this story got a few out of me. It was comical to the extreme. I hardly ever laugh out loud while reading, however the main character is Alison Hopkins and her voice in this story is hilarious. I felt for her, while simultaneously laughing at her. The book is no Pride & Prejudice, but it is a very fun read. A definite romantic comedy for the pages. There is a part in one of the chapters regarding a childhood experience at a roller-rink, and it had me choking on my water. I then attempted to read the scene to my mother-in-law through my giggles, hiccups, and laughing tears. I am not sure if my mother-in-law was laughing more at me or the book, but it has to say something if I read this novel over ten years ago and still remember its humor.

3.Rules of Prey by John Sandford (Lucas Davenport Series, Book #1)

MORE books-791923_960_720If you like mainstream best-sellers and aren’t reading John Sandford, put down the mailed in writings of James Patterson and check these books out ASAP. Lucas Davenport is the main character, and as my dad’s best friend says “Every time I read a Prey book it is liking visiting an old friend.” Lucas is a cop, but also has a wealthy side business and a network of street informants that allow him a different way of following a case and catching the bad guys. He is a ladies’ man and also a former hockey player. This book takes place in the Twin Cities, which I think is awesome since I have frequented that area of the country. Every time I visit the Gopher State I try to ask a random person if they know the author John Sandford, with a quick follow-up regarding if they love seeing their home state as a backdrop to one of New York Times’ Best Sellers. However, I have yet to meet a Minnesota native that can introduce me to the author or has even read the books. If anyone from the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” has read a John Sandford novel, or even better met this amazing storyteller, please send me an email at

These books are cool and so very well written. I love a good mystery, but the neat thing with Rules of Prey (and all the other novels in this series) is that the reader typically knows WHO committed the crime within the first few chapters, and the plot is really all about tracking and chasing down the criminal (and sometimes an unknown accomplice or two). Adrenaline reading for sure and just so dang smart.

Rules of Prey was published in 1989, so it is dated in terms of characters using payphones and maps (which is actually kind of neat from a reminiscent stand-point.). Also the first three books in this series are a slow burn of goodness, but things really hit an unbelievable stride in books #4 (Silent Prey) and #5 (Winter Prey). There are 26 books in the series currently, with no end in sight (THANK GOODNESS) and there are also some spin-off series with different characters from Lucas Davenport’s posse. I started reading these books as a teenager and then during my second pregnancy I found myself needing to stay off my feet a bit more, so I re-read the entire series (except for #15 Hidden Prey, it is the one and only Prey book that I felt was not an A+. It was more of a B).

#4 The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (Cormoran Strike Series, Book #1)

Okay, so I am obviously a sucker for a good book series and this is another Book #1 that begins a trail of great reading. The twobook-1313472_960_720 main characters absolutely rock in The Cuckoo’s Calling. They are deep, they are frustrating, and they are strong. Cormoran is a private eye and ex-military investigator. Robin is a temp, who enthusiastically becomes Cormoran’s assistant. She has a past that gets dealt out only a bit at a time, which makes her very interesting. The characters are flawed, which makes them perfect and I also liked taking a visit to London (which sets the stage for these stories) without having to leave the comfort of my own home.

The case in this one involves a dead model and some creepy rich people with a lot of secrets. Cormoran can be hard to like, especially by people of authority, so his uphill battle in solving the case is a journey worth taking. His past is as interesting as his present mystery, so there are no dull moments in this 455 page novel.

Currently there are three books in this series, and I got them all for my dad for Christmas this year. I waited a bit to tell him that the author Robert Galbraith is really JK Rowling of Harry Potter fame. My dad was happily surprised, as he is not really a fan of the Hogwart’s fiction. He has recommended this book to some of his buddies who read the likes of Ridley Pearson, Harlan Coben, and C.J. Box.

5-The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

I am ending my list with one of my all-time favorite reads. The Time Traveler’s Wife was a book that I could not put down and luckily read before I started losing all the minutes in my day to my children. It is a love story, but also so much more. It is part-science fiction, part-romance, and all the rest very, very intelligent. Somehow the author was able to write a time travel book that was intriguing and smart without too much confusion. I like books that make me think, this one did that but instead of being technical it was emotional. I will totally own it that I cried while reading parts of this story. It deals so much with time in general and the choices we make in life (or the choices that get made for us).

girl-791037_960_720Henry and Clare are the two main characters. Clare meets Henry when she is six years old, but Henry does not meet Clare until she is in her 20’s. Sounds confusing, but don’t worry because the author writes it to all make sense. The story is powerful and I loved seeing the past creep up into the present moments. Henry’s time travel episodes were funny at times, while also cryptic and frustrating.

I have never ever felt so connected to characters in a book. They were powerful and written in a very compelling voice. If you saw the movie of this book (with Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana) and liked it…read the novel, because it is so much better. If you didn’t like the film, still read the book because trust me that there was no way Hollywood could do this work of fiction justice. Plus the endings are different. The book’s ending (aka the true ending) left me wishing I was in a book club, because I could have discussed it forever.

Reading with girlsDo you have a paperback to recommend that would be great for lying on the beach? Or a novel that is worth sneaking a chapter in before going to sleep at night? Share your favorite titles with us by sending a note to or be sure to comment on our website or Facebook page.

4 thoughts on “Five Summer Book Recommendations

  • June 27, 2016 at 1:50 am

    Fun read. Hoping my local library has “cinder” on audio book! Although Lee Childs “Jack Reacher” series has gotten me through many many miles of audio book listening while traveling for work of late.

  • June 27, 2016 at 3:13 am

    Thanks for reading the blog John and for recommending the “Jack Reacher Novels” by Lee Childs. They are great. “Cinder” would be an awesome story to listen to via an audio book.

  • June 27, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    Kelly, nice recap for summer reading. I enjoy authors that develop characters along with a good mystery to boot…a couple of my favorites are Robert Crais (his Elvis Cole and Joe Pike characters are the best); David Baldacci (has several different series, but I enjoy John Puller (my wife Jane’s new fav) and the Camel Club group with John Carr aka Oliver Stone; Harlan Coben (the older books with Myron Bolitar and his sidekick Win are my favorite). Take the time and enjoy a good read. Keep up the good work Kelly. Proud pop…RU

    • June 27, 2016 at 1:38 pm

      Randy/Dad-You mention so many good characters. I could see quarterly book review posts becoming a thing for the blog. Tessa has one coming in the near future. Thank you for all of the support!


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