Thursday, September 14, 2017

What Summer Reading List?

I need to stop making summer reading lists. Every year, I have such good intentions... and every year, I end up reading entirely different books than the ones that I picked out.
This year, for example, I wanted to read a mix of Shakespeare, nonfiction, and the rest of the Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne Jones.
What did I read instead? ALL Young Adult/Middle Grade books (with one or two nonfiction books for research). On one hand, I feel ashamed. On the other hand, I feel accomplished because I read a lot of books.

From May through August, I read twenty books, and here they are:


The Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne Jones – 5 stars. The second of the Chrestomanci books. This one followed Christopher as a child, and I enjoyed it immensely. 

The Magicians of Caprona by Diana Wynne Jones – 5 stars. The third of the Chrestomanci books. This one was one of my favorites because it had cats and a nice protagonist and Punch and Judy.


Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson – 5 stars. This is a book that I've loved for many a year. Highly recommended if you like journeys, rivers, and seas. Also if you like stories about orphans relocating to far away relatives, interesting characters, and boys named Finn who are hiding from the law. This book is great for kids 8+.

Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones – 4 stars. The fourth of the Chrestomanci books. This one was my least favorite, but it was still nice. I enjoyed the ending a lot, but the setup was a little slow.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – 4 stars. Oh, The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. I have many mixed feelings about this series. I have plans to re-read it over Christmas break so that I can write a full review on the books. 
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater – 4 stars.
Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater – 4 stars. 
The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater – 4 stars. 

Rosie the Riveter by Penny Colman – 3 stars. This is a nonfiction book about women in World War II. I read it for research for my future book She's Leaving Home. 


The Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve – 3 stars. A steampunkish book set in a future where cities move. It was okay, but I didn't enjoy it enough to finish the series. Peter Jackson is turning it into a movie, which I am excited about! 

Slacks and Calluses by Constance Bowman and C.M. Reid – 4 stars. This is another nonfiction book about World War II. This one is about the authors' experiences working in a bomber factory. I enjoyed it a lot! Highly recommended. 

Conrad’s Fate by Diana Wynne Jones – 5 stars. The fifth of the Chrestomanci books. Along with The Magicians of Caprona, this one was my favorite. It had a crazy, moving house, fun characters, and shenanigans.

The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones – 3 stars. The final of the Chrestomanci books. I didn't like this one as much as the others. I thought it was too long and meander-y; however, I would recommend the entire series for people who are looking for an easy, whimsical read. 


The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – 4 stars. This is a book about a circus and a romance. I loved the circus, but I didn't enjoy the romance. Recommended for people who like magical realism, monochrome colors, and slow-moving stories. 

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson – 3 stars. I enjoyed the realism in this book, but mostly felt meh about it. Recommended for those who like history with a splash of magic and stories where a girl pretends to be a boy. 

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman – 3 stars. A Sleeping Beauty retelling with a twist. I've discovered this summer that I love Neil Gaiman's ideas, but not necessarily how he executes them. I suppose it's a difference in style. 

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness – 3 stars. A sad book about dealing with grief. I enjoyed it, but, at the same time, I felt like the book's message was just beyond my grasp. Maybe I need to read it again to fully understand everything. 

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – 3 stars. This book is about a boy whose parent's are murdered, so he is adopted by some ghosts. I enjoyed the setting of this book and I enjoyed exploring the graveyard with the main character, but, again, Mr. Gaiman's writing style doesn't match my reading style. All of his books get points for having great illustrations in them, though.

I Am Lavina Cumming by Susan Lowell (audiobook) – 5 stars. This one is a childhood favorite. My mom and I listened to it on the car trip back to the Midwest for school. Recommended for people who like accurate historical fiction, good storytelling, and orphans going to live with distant relatives. This is another book that is great for kids age 8+.

The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall (audiobook) – 5 stars. This is my favorite Penderwicks book. Again, my mom and I listened to this on the way to school. Recommended for people who like the ocean, family stories, and friendship stories (though please please read the first two books in the series first! They are worth it).

What did YOU read this summer? Have you read any of the books on my list? 


  1. A Monster Calls definitely needs at least two reads to fully enjoy it. If you think of the monster as a metaphor for grief, it helps. (At least for me.)

    And Dianna Wynne Jones is awesome :)

    1. I'm looking forward to reading it again in the future. I understood the basic metaphor of the monster as grief, but some of the deeper metaphors (the monster's stories and actions) didn't fully make sense to me. I guess that's why re-reads are beneficial. :)
      Diana Wynne Jones IS awesome!

  2. Why ashamed? No shame! You kept your brain activated, you exercised your imagination, and you enjoyed reading! You learned more about what makes writing great and about what does not work in good fiction narrative. Now you are back in school, concentrating on more demanding authorship. I'm glad you could have a relaxed reading summer break!

  3. I have only read the last two books on your list... and they are great.

    This Summer I read: A Tale of Two Cities, Uncle Tom's Cabin, and at your suggestion, Howl's moving Castle. All three were very good. I also just finished the first book in the Wingfeather Saga; is was good as well.

    1. I didn't know you read Uncle Tom's Cabin! That's a good one. So are the others on your list (at least, I assume so... I haven't read A Tale of Two Cities or the Wingfeather Saga yet).

  4. Ooh, you read the Raven Cycle books! I was super curious about those, but I was a little turned off since they include all the clairvoyance and stuff. *shrug*

    1. The clairvoyance was more of a magic system, which I thought was interesting (at least, that's how I viewed it). They were good books, but they are definitely to be read with a guarded heart, a discerning mind, and a lot of questions (like, in what ways does this book agree with what I agree? What ways does it disagree? How do I deal with the stuff that doesn't agree with my worldview?).

  5. I am the same way! Summer reading is the sort of thing that just needs to be allowed to be wild and free and just HAPPEN... it can't be planned. It shouldn't be tame... it should be browse-through-the-library-OOOH-This-Looks-Interesting or I've-Always-Wanted-To-Read-This-But-Had-Forgotten-I-Wanted-To-so-I'll-pick-it-up-now sort of reading...

    The only books I've read on your list are the Diana Wynne Jones ones. LOL The others sound very interesting.

    This summer I read a lot of random stuff. I've finally picked up the Lunar Chronicles, and they are AH-MAZING. Also read the newest offering from Merrie Haskell and reviewed it this morning. Um... been reading some books to my kids that have been quite enjoyable... and some beta reading that has taken over my life (in a good-I-can't-tear-myself-away sort of way... except I have to every now and then because my family needs to eat and have clean clothes and things occasionally) LOL

    1. I like the way you put that! I agree! Let the rest of the year be structured, but give me my summer! (I guess I should tell myself that, because I always end up trying to structure my reading too much.)

      Yesss. I'm so glad you are reading and enjoying the Lunar Chronicles! I don't know if I've heard of Merrie Haskell; I'll have to check out your review! It's great to have a book so good that you can't tear yourself away—especially if it's a beta read. Those are always so much fun to read.