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Summer Reading Wrap-Up!

During the summertime, Ms. T and I always take home overly-ambitious summer reading piles. Neither of us ever make it all the way through our “to-read” list in the summer, but it’s fun to try! This summer, in the midst of all that 2020 has thrown at us, we found ourselves struggling to enjoy books we normally would have loved, or even struggling to read at all! But we both found some real gems that we loved escaping into.

Here’s our 2020 Summer Reading Wrap-Up. Maybe you’ll find one you’d like to check out!

Ms. T’s Top 3

What I Carry by Jennifer Longo

While my tastes run more towards fantasy/sci-fi, I love a solid entry in the realistic fiction genre. As long as there are characters I can connect to and root for, I’m in. And this story had that in spades. A story of a girl, Muiriel, who has spent her whole life in the foster care system and gave up all hope for adoption years ago. She stays under the radar, doesn’t make waves, and doesn’t get attached. She never stays in the same home for very long and is a master at packing everything she needs in a single suitcase. Until this last placement. Her last placement, and the foster parent’s last foster child. She just needs to make it to 18, when she ages out and is on her own for good. But then she meets Francine, and Kira, and Sean, and her carefully constructed persona and outlook on how relationships work, how trust works, starts to unravel. It’s a slice-of-life book full of fluff, angst, a fantastic old dog named Terry Johnson, and a cast of characters that I really enjoyed spending time with. 

The Extraordinaries by T.J. Klune

I could not put this book down. It was like reading an epic work of fanfiction. Nick Bell is a huge fan of the resident superheroes – Extraordinaries. In particular, Shadow Star. He’s actually the author of many a fanfic about Shadow Star and his nemesis, Pyro Storm, the latest of which is a 250,000+ epic in which he’s inserted himself as the love interest for Shadow Star. In real life, Nick’s a 16-year-old with ADHD, a small, sassy, quirky, loyal and loveable group of friends, and a dad who’s struggling to be a good single dad after the death of Nick’s mom. While much of the story is devoted to Nick’s obsession with the Extraordinaries (and becoming Extraordinary himself), it’s much more than that. It’s about the ups and downs of friendships, the relationship between father and son, and navigating being a teenager who’s filled with angst and feelings.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 12: To All the Squirrels I’ve Loved Before by Ryan North

I’m cheating here just a little bit, because this is really a recommendation for the entire series. North does a masterful job of bringing this delightful – and less-well-known – superhero to life. In his hands, Doreen Green, aka Squirrel Girl, leaps off the page, defeating her foes through the power of her words and the help of her friends (human and squirrel alike) rather than her fists. She even manages to turn some of those enemies into friends, which winds up being pretty crucial in this final volume. (As are her collection of Deadpool’s Guide to Supervillain Cards). The footnotes alone are worth the price of admission (which, these being available in our library and at the HCL, is 100% FREE!), as they are filled with North’s trademark wit, science facts, and puns (you’ll want to squirrel away these gems).

Mrs. Florida’s Top 3ish

Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang

Unbelievably compelling storytelling. This is an engrossing graphic memoir that is so good, even my friends who hate reading in this format couldn’t put it down. You don’t need to like basketball or graphic novels to enjoy this story. Told from multiple perspectives, this book is a testament to Gene Luen Yang’s masterful narrative ability and the power of just a good, honestly told human story. Everyone should read this!

Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

This was the non-stop, action-packed sequel to Aurora Rising. If you loved Illuminae Files by this author duo, you may love this series even more. The characters are fabulous, you will care about them and their safety with alarming speed, and you will not be able to put this down. My heart was racing during multiple scenes that had me completely invested. Read this series so you can join us in our anguished wait for book 3. **Ms. T: DITTO. LOVED. IT. Am wondering why the next book in the series is not in my hands right. Now.**

Shadow of the Batgirl by Sarah Kuhn

I am a sucker for superhero reimaginings, especially when there’s canon crossover. While this take on Batgirl was something different than we’ve ever seen, new readers and old fans alike will find fun references and nods to the traditional superhero story that were absolutely delightful. This was so endearing and empowering. The humor was perfectly placed, and having Barbara Gordon as the teen services librarian was awesome! Cassandra and her supporting cast were wonderful to get to know. Highly recommended!

Bonus Book!!

**Bent Heavens by Daniel Kraus – I can’t help but highlighting

I’m cheating and adding a fourth book. I technically didn’t read this during the summer – it was my last book before everything shut down due to Covid-19. I’m highlighting it, though, because I never read books in this genre. I normally hate horror, but read this on a whim because I saw another librarian’s blog post about it. I was surprised at how very quickly I was drawn in and couldn’t look away. It was both tragic, like looking into a cursed mirror and seeing the worst parts of humanity, and captivating in it’s empathy. It horrified me, angered me, saddened me, and shocked me – and I don’t think I’ve devoured a book that quickly in a while!


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