Seven Books for Summer Nights

I used to have one of the best jobs in the world . . . I was able to read countless books while at work (yes, I did get work done, and did it well, thank you very much). It was heavenly. Then life happened, and, sadly, I am not able to enjoy near the number of books I used to. The withdrawals are rough. Books are "my place"--you know, everyone has "their place" they go to. For some people, it is frolicking pleasantly in dreams whilst napping, for others, it is 41 miles into a grueling 6,000 feet climb on their road bike. For some, it is strumming their guitars in a dark room, and for others, it is being amidst a crowd of adoring friends. My place, is my books. Not being able to venture off to my place nearly as often as I used to, has been a serious adjustment (of the not-so-pleasant variety). Though, it does make me appreciate the time I have in my place world's more. Now that I have rambled you ears (eyes?) off (out?), here is my lift of Seven Books for Summer Nights. I am still working my way through them, so not all of them will be accompanied by my personal rating and review. Please feel free to recommend your own summer reads, I am always (seriously, always) looking for more adventures to encounter.

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”
It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.
His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little."*

Phenomenal. Maggie shocked me with this book. I was entertained by her book Shiver, but The Raven Boys blew Shiver out of the water. The story, the characters, and the setting was in depth and multi-dimensional. The Raven Boys drew me in like a free bowl of gourmet pistachio ice cream. I loved how magical and mysterious the characters and plot were, it definitely kept me reading until late hours of the night (or morning, depending on how you look at it). Blue is definitely one of my favorite female characters in the YA genre--she is a very unique girl in a sea of female protagonists, and I loved it. For those who have a soft spot for YA literature, this book is a must.

Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges Trilogy #1) by Stephen King
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

"In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.
In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the "perk" and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.
Brady Hartsfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again.
Only Bill Hodges, with a couple of highly unlikely allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands."*

All hail Stephen King, the king of all things beautifully evil (horrible pun intended). Mr. Mercedes is brutally realistic, disturbingly so. It is a fantastic murder mystery thriller, not one I would recommend for the faint of heart. King, as always, does an incredible job developing multidimensional characters that will suck you into the story from page one. Brady Hartsfield is a master villain with a frightening past, an alarming relationship with his alcoholic mother, and unremorseful psychopathic tendencies. He's like a train wreck, horrifying to watch but you can't seem to look away. Then we have the retired, overweight detective Bill Hodges, who, for a good guy, finds himself caught in the middle of some not-quite-legal situations. The tangled dance these two find themselves in is addicting. If you enjoy cruel plot twists, colorful prose, and brilliantly written, chilling stories, I highly recommend this novel. 

The Calling (Endgame #1) by James Frey
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

"Twelve thousand years ago, they came. They descended from the sky amid smoke and fire, and created humanity and gave us rules to live by. They needed gold and they built our earliest civilizations to mine it for them. When they had what they needed, they left. But before they left, they told us someday they would come back, and when they did, a game would be played. A game that would determine our future.
This is Endgame.
For ten thousand years the lines have existed in secret. The 12 original lines of humanity. Each had to have a Player prepared at all times. They have trained generation after generation after generation. In weapons, languages, history, tactics, disguise assassination. Together the players are everything: strong, kind, ruthless, loyal, smart, stupid, ugly, lustful, mean, fickle, beautiful, calculating, lazy, exuberant, weak. They are good and evil. Like you. Like all.
This is Endgame.
When the game starts, the players will have to find three keys. The keys are somewhere on earth. The only rule of their Endgame is that there are no rules. Whoever finds the keys first wins the game. Endgame: The Calling is about the hunt for the first key. And just as it tells the story of the hunt for a hidden key, written into the book is a puzzle. It invites readers to play their own Endgame and to try to solve the puzzle. Whoever does will open a case filled with gold. Alongside the puzzle will be a revolutionary mobile game built by Google’s Niantic Labs that will allow you to play a real-world version of Endgame where you can join one of the lines and do battle with people around you."*

The Calling was defintiely not what I expected. From reading the description, it seems like a new version of The Hunger Games. Nope. Not at all. The twists, turns, violence, and rivalry in this book had me engrossed in the pages and thirsty for more.

Revival by Stephen King
Rating: not yet read, rating pending

"In a small New England town, over half a century ago, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs. Jacobs; the women and girls feel the same about Reverend Jacobs -- including Jamie's mother and beloved sister, Claire. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond based on a secret obsession. When tragedy strikes the Jacobs family, this charismatic preacher curses God, mocks all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.
Jamie has demons of his own. Wed to his guitar from the age of thirteen, he plays in bands across the country, living the nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll while fleeing from his family's horrific loss. In his mid-thirties -- addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate -- Jamie meets Charles Jacobs again, with profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil's devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings."*

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein 
Rating: not yet read, rating pending

"Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.
Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn't simply about going fast. On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through."*

The Art of Racing in the Rain is by far the hardest book I have ever read, and will probably ever read. It is also, undoubtedly, one of the best books I have ever read. It is brilliant in it's unique perspective, through Enzo, of heartbreak, hope, love, and the exhilaration of racing and living. If only more humans were like dogs, were like Enzo. The world would be a far more pleasant place. A dog can teach you everything you need to know. This book may be heartbreaking to get through, but I promise you that every page is well worth it. The Art of Racing in the Rain is one of those books that will change you. See full review here!

The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave #1) by Rick Yancey 
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

"After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.
Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker.
Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up."*

I absolutely adored this book. Rick Yancey has a very fun writing style; the personality of the characters come through strong and hard, keeping you attached throughout the entire book. I also loved how Rick had the grim, dirty, and ugly in this book--a lot of authors kind of skirt around the 'reality' but Rick wasn't scared to make it real and bring it home to the heart.

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz
Rating: currently reading, raring pending

"The dead don't talk. I don't know why." But they do try to communicate, with a short-order cook in a small desert town serving as their reluctant confidant. Odd Thomas thinks of himself as an ordinary guy, if possessed of a certain measure of talent at the Pico Mundo Grill and rapturously in love with the most beautiful girl in the world, Stormy Llewellyn.
Maybe he has a gift, maybe it's a curse, Odd has never been sure, but he tries to do his best by the silent souls who seek him out. Sometimes they want justice, and Odd's otherworldly tips to Pico Mundo's sympathetic police chief, Wyatt Porter, can solve a crime. Occasionally they can prevent one. But this time it's different."*

As noted, I am currently reading this book... and loving it. I had to bribe myself with a cookie to put down the book long enough to write this post. Koontz is a thrilling story-teller, and Odd Thomas is highly entertaining.

Hope you enjoy!


*Synopsis provided by goodreads.com 

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