Hit the Summer Season With a Good Book: Summer Reading Guide 2021

Books Comic Books Entertainment

Summer days are ahead of us. Long days on the beach or by the pool. Days off from school and finally some time to focus on your to-be-read pile. Let us give you a few of our recommendations for you to pick up during these lazy days of summer. 

Elementary School (Ages 8 – 12)

Kitty Quest

Kitty Quest by Phil Corbett (Available June 15th)
Category: Comic/Manga
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers
Synopsis: Two adventure-seeking kitty cats decide to enter the lucrative business of monster-slaying but quickly get in over their tales and need to get into shape before they take down the evil dragon of the land.

Why we recommend it: This is a brightly colored and fun kids’ comic. There are not that many kids’ comic books available, so check this one out if you are looking to introduce your child to the world of comics.

Mellybean

Mellybean and the Wicked Wizard by Mike White (Available June 15th)
Category: Comic/Manga
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers
Synopsis: In the second installment of the Mellybean series, this story follows the pup who discovers a portal to a new world in her backyard, but this time she returns to find a wicked wizard has taken over.

Why we recommend it: Just like Kitty Quest, this is a brightly colored and fun kids’ comic. There’s humor, adventure, and a good time for all young readers.

Atlantis: The Accidental Invasion

Atlantis: The Accidental Invasion by Gregory Mone
Category: Science Fiction
Publisher: Amulet Books
Synopsis: A young girl (Kaya) sets out to the surface to find out the truth of the Sun people, people who live above the surface of the sea. A young want-to-be scientist (Lewis) stows away on his step-father’s top-secret research trip and finds himself on the edge of the adventure of his life when he runs into Kaya.

Why we recommend it: This book is full of action and adventure. It’s a new take on the Atlantis myth and introduces a cast of interesting characters you will enjoy learning about. – Dakster Sullivan

Middle School (Ages 11 – 14)


The Raconteur’s Commonplace Book by Kate Milford
Category: Fantasy
Publisher: Clarion Books
Synopsis: The Raconteur’s Commonplace Book is Kate Milford’s version of The Canterbury Tales: a dozen guests are trapped at the Blue Vein Tavern because of the rising floodwaters, and they pass the time by telling tales. The tales intertwine with one another, and each one reveals a little bit about the teller as well. The book itself was first mentioned in The Greenglass House, when Milo is presented with a copy of it, and the story alludes to two of the tales in the book. Now, you get to read the stories in full, along with the framing story of the Blue Vein Tavern, which has mysteries and magic of its own.

Why we recommend it: One of the delights of Milford’s world is the way that stories have power. The individual stories are great, slightly spooky, and would be great told around a campfire. But tied together with the framing story of the guests at the tavern, the book has its own story that unfolds, and the stories themselves are part of what develops. If you love magical stories, you won’t mind being trapped in this tavern for a spell. While you don’t need to be familiar with The Greenglass House series before reading this title, fans will spot a lot of references and connections to the rest of the books. – Jonathan H. Liu

Young Adult (Ages 12 – 18)

Bookish and the Beast

Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston
Category: Rom-Com
Publisher: Quirk Books
Synopsis: After a series of unfortunate events, Rosie Thorne is stuck working a debt off at the house where Starfield actor Vance Reigns is serving a sentence handed down by his parents. Over the course of a month, sparks start to slowly fly and the two start to wonder if they can go from enemies to more than that. What they don’t know is they’ve already fallen for each other at a convention where they were both cosplaying as Starfield characters, and their identities were hidden from the world. This is the fourth book in the Once Upon A Con series but can be read as a stand-alone title with no confusion. 

Why we recommend it: This is a fun read with a diverse LGBTQ+ cast of characters. I’m a sucker for a retelling of fairy tales, and this being a retelling of Beauty and the Beast means it was right up my alley. I connected with the non-binary character (the first I’ve read) being non-binary myself and it felt great to see the inclusion. – Dakster Sullivan

Rescuing Lord Inglewood
Rescuing Lord Inglewood by Sally Britton
Category: Romance
Publisher: Blue Water Books
Synopsis: Esther Fox was minding her own business when a statue falls from a building, and her quick thinking had her knocking Lord Inglewood flat on his back and out of the way. Landing on top of a man in broad daylight with people watching isn’t the best thing for a woman’s reputation and, through a series of events, Esther and Lord Inglewood end up in a marriage to save her from the wagging tongues of the ton. The story doesn’t end there; it’s just beginning. In this clean regency romance, we watch as two people who barely know each other find love in an unexpected way.

Why we recommend it: While this isn’t exactly a young adult book, I think any young adult interested in the Regency era and doesn’t mind a bit of romance thrown in will enjoy this book. It’s one of my all-time favorites and I’ve read it and listened to it over and over. It’s the first book in a five-part series, but each book can be read by itself and be enjoyed. – Dakster Sullivan

Made in Korea

Made In Korea by Sarah Suk
Category: Romance
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Synopsis: Valerie Kwon and her cousin Charlie run V&C K-Beauty, their school’s most successful student-run enterprise. Using the funds from their sales, Valerie hopes to go to her dream city of Paris, France. New kid Wes Jung wants to pursue music after graduation, and, to help pay for his school tuition, he starts his own enterprise selling K-pop branded beauty products. Valerie and Wes try to outsell each other and take the throne for the best business in school while trying to deny the spark that is between them.

Why we recommend it: This is a fun young adult ride that takes you into the American high school experience from the view of young Korean-American entrepreneurs. It’s a great read for anyone that is a fan of K-beauty and Korean pop culture that wants a little romance in their life. – Dakster Sullivan


What Unites Us: The Graphic Novel by Dan Rather, Elliot Kirschner, and Tim Foley
Category: Young Adult
Publisher: First Second
Synopsis: This is a graphic novel adaptation of Dan Rather’s non-fiction book of essays. He starts with the question “what is patriotism?” and explores the things that make up our country, good and bad, and talks about the challenge of making America home for all of its citizens, not just a privileged few. He talks about democracy and the importance of participating in it, through our votes and through dissent, and describes the ways in which people have been prevented from taking part.

Why we recommend it: Rather believes that it’s important to focus on the things that bring us together, but he’s not describing a Pollyanna “let’s all smile and get along” scenario where we pretend we all agree or ignore conflicts. He recognizes that there are a lot of barriers and that there are those who make it difficult for others to experience the freedoms and benefits that America promises. I don’t necessarily agree with everything Rather says, but I appreciated that the book ultimately is optimistic about our future: he acknowledges the ugliness of injustice, but he’s also seen the people who are working to make changes for the better and believes they can succeed. In a time when it often feels like our differences are insurmountable, it was comforting to read a book that hopes we’re up to the challenge. – Jonathan H. Liu

Adult (Ages 17 and up)


by Stephen King (Author) Owen King (Author) Rio Youers (Author) Alison Sampson (Artist) Jenn Woodall (Cover Artist) Triona “Tree” Farrell (Colorist)
Category: Comic/Manga
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Synopsis: A bizarre sleeping sickness, known as Aurora, has fallen over the world. It only affects women. All women. Whoever has the heart and soul of a woman, regardless of genetics, is prone to fall asleep.

Why we recommend it: This graphic novel will have you wondering about the Aurora syndrome and its possible consequences for years to come. I would catalog it under “Onyric Sci-Fi”. – Mariana Ruiz


The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers
Category: Science Fiction
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Synopsis: Three travelers meet up due to a layover at the Five-Hop One-Stop, a sort of rest stop on a tiny planet that’s only important because it serves as a crossroads on the way to somewhere else. When a malfunction shuts off communications and halts travel, they find themselves stuck together, along with the One-Stop host and her child. The characters are cut off from the outside world, and end up getting to understand each other a little better.

Why we recommend it: Becky Chambers has created a vibrant world full of different alien species, and her stories tend to be character-driven, focusing on the relationships between characters rather than explosions and intense chases. As the characters interact with each other, they encounter a lot of cultural barriers and start to recognize their own assumptions and prejudices. And although Chambers is writing about alien species, she’s also, of course, writing about us. It’s a well-written and thoughtful piece of science fiction and is already a contender for my favorite book of the year. – Jonathan H. Liu


Queen of None by Natania Barron
Category: Fantasy
Publisher: Vernacular Books
Synopsis: Anna, the only full-blooded sister of King Arthur, is married away from the love of her life and exiled to a loveless life in Orkney. When she is returned a widow she is still but a pawn in Merlin’s game. However, the shadow of a prophecy that has ever hung over her may not be all that they once thought it was. She wants revenge on Merlin, and she will get it.

Why we recommend it: Natania is a former GeekMom and I absolutely adored her Frost & Filigree series. As an aficionado of alternative tellings of myth and legend, I was drawn immediately to the idea of King Arthur’s story from the perspective of his sister. This is the “Arthur” movie that should be made. – Sarah Pinault


Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
Category: Fantasy
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Synopsis: In one fell swoop, Perseus defeated the Minotaur, shamed King Minos, and abandoned a princess of Athens. But what if that wasn’t the point of the story? What is the story of Ariadne took center stage, and we lingered with her in her abandonment. In this version of the story, the mighty heroes are as petty as the gods themselves.

Why we recommend it: This is an excellent re-telling of a familiar Greek myth from the female perspective. This is not a retelling of the story of Theseus, this is the story of Ariadne, with a brief appearance by Theseus. The unheard voices of Ariadne and Phaedra tell what it was like to see Theseus for the first time, and for the last. But there is so much more to both of their stories than the stories of old that we are used to. Saint explores postpartum depression, sibling rivalry, and adds flesh and bone to what is so often left to the footnotes. The reader is brought along into the uneasy “what comes next” after the failure of the happily-ever-after. – Sarah Pinault

China: The Novel

China: The Novel by Edward Rutherfurd
Category: History
Publisher: Doubleday
Synopsis: Starting in 1839 at the dawn of the First Opium War during Britain’s Queen Victoria’s rule, we are taken all the way through Mao’s Revolution to the present day. This “unforgettable tale is told from both sides of the cultural divide.” We get to see the struggles of the people during a period of military defeats, reparations, and one-sided treaties as the Westerners exploit the riches of the land and culture.

Why we recommend it: Need a good book that scratches off your 500+ pages reading BINGO card? You can’t go wrong with China: The Novel. It’s engaging as it takes you through Chinese history and the struggles of the people. – Dakster Sullivan

Unfinished

Unfinished: A Memoir by Priyanka Chopra Jonas
Category: Memoir/Biography
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Synopsis: Unfinished follows Priyanka’s childhood in India, her teenage years in America, and then her adult years back in India as she balances her family with her unexpected career in the spotlight. We learn how she went from an unknown in the pageant world to winning Ms. World on her first try. Later, we follow her as she is launched into the acting world and the extent she is willing to go for a role. Finally, she wraps up with her relationship with Nick Jonas and gives us some inside knowledge of her wedding festivities.

Why we recommend it: I love this book. It’s one of the first books I listened to on the Volumes app by Random House publishing. It’s read by the author, and her voice is soothing and calm as you listen to her successes, struggles, all the way up to the present day with her new husband, Nick Jonas. I knew little of her life before her marriage and this was a wonderful insight into a strong and independent woman’s life.

Disclaimer: GeekMom/GeekDad may have received a sample of some titles on this list.

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