Even though I'm now living in San Francisco, which means jeans, sweaters and scarfs in the summer (wtf?!), June still means swim suits, soft beach towels, and hours of devouring books pool side or on the beach to my So-Cal born-and-raised heart. In honor of this, I've assembled a list of my favorite recent reads! You might want to check a few of them out if you haven't yet!
1) On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson
Once, in a cottage above the cliffs on the Dark Sea of Darkness, there lived three children and their trusty dog Nugget. Janner Igiby, his brother Tink, their crippled sister Leeli are gifted children as all children are, loved well by a noble mother and ex-pirate grandfather. But they will need all their gifts and all that love to survive the evil pursuit of the venomous Fangs of Dang who have crossed the dark sea to rule the land with malice and pursue the Igibys who hold the secret to the lost legend and jewels of good King Wingfeather of the Shining Isle of Anniera.
Andrew Peterson spins a quirky and riveting tale of the Igibys’ extraordinary journey from Glipwood’s Dragon Day Festival and a secret hidden in the Books and Crannies Bookstore, past the terrifying Black Carriage, clutches of the horned hounds and loathsome toothy cows surrounding AnkleJelly Manor, through the Glipwood Forest and mysterious treehouse of Peet the Sock Man (known for a little softshoe and wearing tattered socks on his hands and arms), to the very edge of the Ice Prairies.
Full of characters rich in heart, smarts, and courage, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness presents a world of wonder and a tale children of all ages will cherish, families can read aloud, and readers’ groups are sure to discuss for its layers of meaning about life’s true treasure and tangle of the beautiful and horrible, temporal and eternal, and good and bad. Bonus: This series has four books in total, so you can keep reading and enjoy the whole story!
2) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
"The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local posts or newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not." Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance. I couldn't put this one down, and still devour it regularly.
3) Magician: Apprentice by Raymond E. Feist
To the forest on the shore of the Kingdom of the Isles, the orphan Pug came to study with the master magician Kulgan. But though his courage won him a place at court and the heart of a lovely Princess, he was ill at ease with the normal ways of wizardry. Unbeknownst to Pug, his strange sort of magic would one day change forever the fates of two worlds, for dark beings from another world had opened a rift in the fabric of spacetime to begin again the age-old battle between the forces of Order and Chaos.
This book is the first in the Riftwar Saga, and I couldn't stop reading and reading and reading, as Raymond Feist wove together an enchanting world of medieval castles, wizards, knights, space travel, aliens, and magic. If you love sci-fi, you'll love this.
4) The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman
Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the sinister impresario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a Coney Island freak show that thrills the masses. An exceptional swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid in her father’s “museum,” alongside performers like the Wolfman and the Butterfly Girl. One night Coralie stumbles upon a striking young man taking pictures of moonlit trees in the woods off the Hudson River. The dashing photographer is Eddie Cohen, a Russian immigrant who has run away from his community and his job as a tailor’s apprentice. When Eddie photographs the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, he becomes embroiled in the mystery behind a young woman’s disappearance.
Mystery and romance all rolled into one. I was enthralled from cover to cover.
5) Dracula by Bram Stoker
While technically a horror novel from the late 1800's, Dracula is a brilliantly woven narrative, tying together the loves and lifes of many different men as they join to avenge the woman they all loved and destroy the horror that took her from them.
The novel tells the story of Dracula's attempt to move from Transylvania to England so he may find new blood and spread undead curse, and the battle between Dracula and a small group of men and women led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing.
Dracula thrills, entices, and excites through every single page. If you haven't perused this classic yet, you need to.
6) The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin
Love Downton Abbey? Then this historical fiction is a must for your summer reading! Traveling abroad with her mother at the turn of the twentieth century to seek a titled husband, the beautiful, vivacious Cora Cash, whose family mansion in Newport dwarfs the Vanderbilts’, suddenly finds herself Duchess of Wareham, married to Ivo, the most eligible bachelor in England.
Cora and Ivo are blissfully in love. Or, so, at first, it seemed. Now, Ivo is withdrawn and secretive, and the English social scene is full of traps and betrayals. Will Cora learn how to navigate her new social circle before she loses Ivo? Can her money buy her happiness? Or is it ultimately her downfall? Guess you'll have to read to find out ;-)
7) The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
I've been a lover of Philippa Gregory's Historical Fiction novels ever since reading The Other Boleyn Girl. Her newest underaking, a series covering the historical period and events surrounding the Cousin's War (also known as the War of the Roses) is breathtaking.
The series starts with The White Queen, Elizabeth Woodsville, who orchestrates an "accidental" meeting with Edward of York, the White Rose King of England. The two fall into a passionate romance, propelling Elizabeth from commoner to Queen.
Not everyone loves the new royal family, however, and Elizabeth must use all her wit and ... allegedly... wizardry... to preserve her family and their reign.
This is a beautifully written novel, sticking to the historical facts while filling out the motivations and thought lives of the characters. Worth every flip of the page.
8) La Reine Margot by Alexandre Dumas
Alexandre Dumas has been one of my favorite authors since my early teens. While most people know him for works like The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo (also highly recommeded!), one of my favorite series of his is the trilogy he wrote surrounding the life of Henri IV of France. This first book, La Reine Margot, starts with the marriage of the Catholic princess Marguerite to the Huguenot prince Henri, followed closely by the St. Bartholomew Night massacre of the Huguenots by the Catholics.
In this stunning narrative, Dumas lays out a chessboard where allies are constantly shifting, religion rules ambition, and wit battles muscle. There are surprises around every page turn. Full of humor, fencing, revenge, and true love, this book is sure to be a good one.
9) The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emuska Orczy
My final recommendation to you is on my yearly reading rotation. Set in the heart of the French Revolution, the Scarlet Pimpernel tells the story of the naive but brilliant Marguerite St. Just, who married the English Lord Sir Percy Blakeney and left France just before the revolution became bloody. Unfortunately, a secret from her past caused her once happy marriage to dissolve into nothing more than polite formality.
Like all english, she shares an awstruck love of the Scarlet Pimpernel, a daring englishman who, with his band of loyal followers, whisks French royalty to safety right under the noses of the revolution's mightest. Unlike the other english, she has a weakness: Her brother, Armand, has been discovered to be working against the new Republic of France, and the government agent Chauvelin has offered Marguerite this terrible choice: discover and reveal the identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel, or watch her beloved brother walk to his death. With her husband estranged and her brother in peril, can Marguerite pit her brilliant mind against Chauvelin and save both her brother and the enigmatic Pimpernel?
So there you have it, reader! I hope this list has introduced some new books to your summer reading list! Happy devouring!