It’s that time of the year again. Time to stock our bags full of books to read while we travel our way through the summer. Here are our picks ranging from all ages, young adult, middle school, to adult.
Ottoline and the Yellow Cat by Chris Riddell (Fantasy)
Ottoline is a young girl who loves to solve mysteries. She lives alone, since her parents travel a lot, and has a companion: Mr. Munroe, a small and hairy creature her parents found in a bog in Norway. Fully illustrated, this fun journey will display a ton of details about the mysterious yellow cat and a series of robberies that are taking place in Ottoline’s city.
“Chris Riddell loves to draw and does so every single day. The man is a genius who seems enthralled by the possibilities drawing has to offer: Ottoline’s parents are collectors, and Riddell displays all kind of collections, in such a fun and interactive way that kids will be inspired to draw and tell their own stories as well. His female characters are both strong and totally engaging. He is the Children’s Laureate 2015-2017, and has an online drawing journal.” – Recommended by GeekMom Mariana Ruiz
The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey (Humor)
Mr. Wolf, Mr. Snake, Mr. Piranha, and Mr. Shark, with their lengthy rap sheets and tailored black suits, certainly fit the bill for the quintessential “bad guys,” but they are planning on reforming their reputations by breaking some 200 dogs out of a Maximum Security City Dog Pound. This puppy rescue doesn’t go completely as planned, making it difficult for them to flip over to the “good guy” side. Heck, it isn’t too easy for Mr. Snake to quell his appetite for Mr. Piranha.
“If you want a new reader to get into the summer reading habit, this is one funny, action-filled story they will not only read quickly, but re-read again. And again. My own daughter kept reciting lines from this all ages appropriate “Reservoir Dogs”-style group of misfit animals to anyone within earshot, and laughed the whole time. Plus, there are two sequels (and another coming soon) they will likely want to devour, as well.” – Recommended by GeekMom Lisa Kay Tate
Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderley, Marjory Wentworth, and Edua Holmes (Poetry)
Magnificently talented poets write their own original poems in the style that celebrate the styles of twenty poets admired across the land and time. Once you add in the amazing original illustrations by Ekua Holmes, a great book becomes a magnificent book.
“It is simply delicious to let your mind read these words while your eyes move across the beautiful pages. Each poem is an experience, not just a set of pages.” – Recommended by GeekMom Samantha Fisher
YOUNG ADULT (AGES 12-18)
Mind Magic: Extraordinary Paranormal Tricks to Mystify and Entertain by Marc Lemezma (Education)
If you wanted to learn the art of magic but weren’t sure where to start, this book gives you a nice overview of some classic tricks that are easy to learn. It breaks it down into categories so you can work on the area that interests you.
“My husband is a magician by trade and knowing some of these tricks already, he said they were well taught and easy to understand.” – Recommended by GeekMom Dakster Sullivan
Evil Speaks by Sandra Woffington (Fantasy)
A band of misfits, each with a uniqueness of their own, go on a journey to go from ordinary teenagers to warriors.
“It’s not often you find a title that includes kids with obvious disabilities.” – Recommended by GeekMom Dakster Sullivan
Protogenesis by Alysia Helming (Fantasy, Mythology)
Greek mythology meets teenager girl, a love triangle, and a quest.
“This is another one on my “to read” pile. The idea of a young girl’s life being mixed with Greek mythology has me interested to see where this goes.” – Recommended by GeekMom Dakster Sullivan
The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein (History)
Before she became a WWII spy (THAT’S in Code Name Verity), Julie was a relatively ordinary Scottish teenager (okay, she’s the granddaughter of an Earl, but besides that), just a little more tenacious than most. Which is how, after waking up in the hospital after being knocked unconscious, she jumps right into solving the mystery, befriending shunned Travellers, and helping her family save the estate that’s in financial ruin.
“It just came out—I haven’t read this yet! It’s the one I’m most looking forward to reading myself, though, BECAUSE IT’S JULIE. If you haven’t read Code Name Verity yet, get on that: it’s a tough, twisty, heart-wrenching WWII spy novel in which Julie, um, is awesome. I really can’t say more than that for fear of spoiling the experience of watching it unfold yourself. If you think you’ll have any interest in harrowing historical spy stories with lots of Girl Power, just read it. Code Name Verity, that is. Then join me in reading this new prequel that will plant the seeds of what makes Julie who she is, able to accomplish what she will later accomplish.” – Recommended by GeekMom Amy Weir
Geekerella by Ashley Poston (Fiction)
The tale of Cinderella gets a modern science fiction geek twist. Throw in some cosplay, a ball, and a chance to meet her “prince charming” actor Darien Freeman and you have a fun evening. Darien has his own issues as well which makes this for a more rounded and character driven story.
“I love retellings of fairytales, especially Cinderella (my other favorite is Goose Girl). It’s an interesting modern and trendy take on the classic.” – Recommended by GeekMom Dakster Sullivan
Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell (Fantasy)
Magic is a con game. This coming of age fantasy adventure story is more like a western than The Lord of the Rings. Kellen is a teenager used to using his cunning to get out of scrapes, but when he meets the mysterious Ferius Parfax, his life moves in directions he never expected.
“This Young Adult novel reads like a blend of Rowling and Pratchett. Its short, sharp chapters keep you reading all the way through. The novel has a great central concept and Sebastien De Castell writes with flair and panache.” – Recommended by GeekDad Robin Brooks
Momotaro: Xander and the Dream Thief by Margaret Dilloway (Fantasy)
This is a sequel novel to Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters. The hero is a biracial hero who must overcome his mistakes and save his family’s dreams from being lost forever.
“I haven’t read this title yet, but the cover along draws me in. And yes, I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but this one is just too darn good.” – Recommended by GeekMom Dakster Sullivan
MIDDLE SCHOOL (11-14)
See You In the Cosmos by Jack Cheng (Fiction)
Follow 11-year-old Alex Petroski as he tells his story to his golden iPod with the hope to launch it into space the way his hero, Carl Sagan, did with his golden record.
“This is another book that had me at the cover. I’ve listened to the audio book on Random House’s Volumes app and it was a relaxing but fun distraction from my work day.” – Recommended by GeekMom Dakster Sullivan
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World by Shannon Hale (Comic Trade)
Who runs the world? Squirrels. This novelization of the Marvel Squirrel Girl series sees Doreen Green move to the suburbs of New Jersey. Unsure of her place in the world, Doreen finds solace stopping a group of neighborhood troublemakers. But when a true Supervillain steps out of the shadows, can Doreen balance being a teenager and a real-life superhero?
“I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about this book. I left my review copy on the side only for my son (11) to pinch it. He returned several hours later to inform me it was “brilliant!” “Why?” I asked. “Because it’s about somebody who isn’t a superhero being a hero.” came the reply. He highly recommends it.” – GeekDad Robin Brooks
Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales by Nathan Hale (Historical Fiction)
A series of historical fiction graphic novels with a humorous twist. A bit educational, a bit irreverent. Perfect for that kid with the slightly off-kilter sense of humor.
“These books are both historically based and funny. They are age-appropriate in the history, but they do broach slightly mature themes in a PG-rated way. After all, one is about the cannibalism of the Donner Party. However, they are not violent. The jokes are right in the 8- to 12-year-old interest zone. My kid has read them more times than I can count.” – Recommended by GeekMom Karen Walsh
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafsai (Non-Fiction)
Malala discusses her childhood in Pakistan when the Taliban took over when she was shot, and how she stood up.
“Malala is someone all kids should know about, her story one that needs to be told. Her writing is easy to follow, engaging. She’s ambitious and unapologetically so. Audio version (narrated by Neela Vaswani) won an Oscar.” – Recommended by GeekMom Nivi Engineer
Star Wars: Join The Resistance by Ben Acker & Ben Blacker (Fantasy)
Bring your younglings into the Star Wars world with this fun romp of a book. Mattis Banz wants to be the next Poe Dameron and when he is recruited to The Resistance, he thinks he now has a shot at his dreams. When he joins a group of other younger folks in training and things aren’t all smooth sailing, he realizes they will need to step up and work together if they want to succeed.
“I picked this book up for my 12-year-old son when it came out in March 2017. As with most things that aren’t video or board games, it sat idle on a shelf until a few weeks ago. The boy decided to give it a whirl for bedtime reading and I knew it was a hit when I walked by 45 minutes later, heard a chuckle, and had to go in to tell him to stop reading and go to sleep.” – Recommended by GeekMom Samantha Fisher
ADULT (17 AND UP)
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman (Mythology) (Audiobook)
Gaiman is at his best in this re-telling of the Norse pantheon: Odin, Thor, and Loki are here described in a new way, very much like the real sagas that told their story, but with new life breathed into them. In this book, you will learn about the nine worlds, the birth of the gods and their inevitable end: Ragnarok, the final battle, the destiny Norse gods have been waiting since the beginning of time.
“It’s Neil Gaiman telling you a story, what’s not to like? Since Norse mythology heavily influences his work, especially American Gods and the Sandman, it’s great to hear these stories. There are some I was not familiar with, but that feel achingly close to the ones previously featured in other Gaiman’s works, so it is kind of an egg hunt, as well.” – Recommended by GeekMom Mariana Ruiz
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (Fantasy)
Well, it appears there’s been a mix-up in prepping the Antichrist for the End of the World, and a group of satanic nuns has delivered him to the wrong couple. Now, while the Rapture is at hand, it seems he’s been growing up in a perfectly happy home, while the baby they thought was their prince of darkness isn’t. In the meantime, an Earth-dwelling Angel and a Demon have are now working together to prevent this whole mess, as they are perfectly happy with their current way of life.
“Neil Gaiman’s American Gods is getting plenty of well-deserved attention this summer, with the series in full force, but Gaiman’s and Pratchett’s much, much, sillier look into the supernatural realm will be getting its own series soon, thanks to Amazon Prime. This summer is a good time to catch up on this wonderfully goofy, offbeat collaboration by two amazing authors, before there are any set cast or series images to get in the way of your imagination. Readers will especially enjoy following the back-and-forth between the angel Aziraphale and demon Crowley. They’re almost worth the read alone.” – Recommended by GeekMom Lisa Kay Tate
Drake by Peter McLean (Fantasy)
Gritty urban fantasy, following the trials of a down-on-his-luck diabolist. Features demons, furies, and fallen angels.
“The first in the Burning Man series, Drake came recommended by GeekDad favorite Dave Hutchinson (author of the Fractured Europe Sequence). It’s a tough grimy version of the “Rivers of London” series with Mclean playing Raymond Chandler to Aaronovitch’s Agatha Christie.” – Recommended by GeekDad Robin Brooks
The Berlin Project by Gregory Benford (Science Fiction)
What would have happened if the atom bomb was ready in time to be used as the Allies invaded on D-Day? The Berlin Project is alternate history that wonders what would have happened if Hitler could have been stopped before he’d killed millions of people.
“There are few better ways to while away the summer hours than reading a gripping alternate history. This new book from one of SF’s old guard draws on real-life accounts of the Manhattan Project. It uses a thrilling blend of science, biography, and history to create an intriguing and entertaining ‘what if?'” – Recommended by GeekDad Robin Brooks
31 Days of Wonder by Tom Winter (Fiction)
Two twenty-somethings meet by chance in the park. They connect, but before numbers are exchanged they are separated by the tides of modern life. Over the next 31 days, the two discover the magic of a brief encounter and how even the shortest meeting can spark great change.
“Tom Winter wrote the brilliant and bitter-sweet Lost and Found. He is great at skewering the absurdities of life. It’s tiny triumph and inconsequential heartbreaks. Filled with dry humor, his books dissect the trials of modern life with razor-sharp observation.” – Recommended by GeekDad Robin Brooks
The Chalk Artist by Allegra Goodman (Fiction)
A teenage boy is obsessed with the virtual reality world of Everwhen. By night, he is a champion, by day he is mundane—school, chores, homework. When he is sent a reality-bending black box that allows him to travel into Everwhen, his addiction comes close to destroying his life. Can his teacher, Nina, save him? And at what cost to her own life?
“Allegra Goodman writes brilliantly about academia. Her novel about research graduates, Intuition, is the best book about science I’ve ever read. Now she’s back with The Chalk Artist, which, using a tapestry of characters, examines art, technology, and the pitfalls of virtual reality.” – Recommended by GeekDad Robin Brooks
Red Sister by Mark Lawrence (Fantasy)
Eight-year-old Nona Grey is falsely accused of murder, yet guilty of worse. Rescued from the gallows by the Convent of Sweet Mercy, she is tried in the ways of blade and fist. Despite the security of the isolation of the convent where she is trained, Nona’s past catches up with her. The only way to escape it: become a deadly assassin.
“Magic, politics, religion, and violence. The hallmarks of a Mark Lawrence novel are all present in Red Sister. This is the first book in a brand new trilogy which promises to build on the strength of The Broken Empire series, delivering a powerful new female heroine for fans of fantasy fiction.” – Recommended by GeekDad Robin Brooks
Do you have a favorite summer read? Drop the name of it in the comments so we can check it out!
Disclaimer: Some of the titles listed were provided to GeekMom/GeekDad for review consideration.