Books

Some Great Books to Read This Summer

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Photo credit: FutUndBeidl via Foter.com / CC BY

I love to read.  Like, more than normal – it’s an obsession for me.  As a kid, I was under the covers with a flashlight or using the tiny bit of light coming into my room under the door from the hall to read after bedtime.  The only punishment that ever worked on me was taking away my books.  My mother used to joke that she worked just to keep me in books.  That love for reading has never slowed down for me, and I’ve read some amazing books that I wouldn’t have expected, so I thought I’d share them with you.
The Hangman’s Daughter -Oliver Pötzsch
Hangman's Daughter
Who would have thought a book about a hangman in medieval Austria would be interesting?  I got the first book as a freebie on Amazon (gotta love the Prime membership) and I was hooked.  Basically, this guy, Jakob, is the outcast of this small town because he’s the hangman, just as his father was, and his grandfather before that.  In between executing people for their crimes, he also works as a healer, using plants to do what the highly educated town doctor can’t do – actually help people.  In the meantime, his daughter Magdalena is…a trial, to say the least.  She’s always out doing stuff, and in her adventures, she, her father, and the doctor’s son get pulled into a huge mystery.  This book is the first of several, and you will laugh, you will sympathize, you will love it.  I started reading it, thinking “wow, this book is slow-moving, I’m never going to finish it” and then around 3 am, when I finished the last page, I couldn’t believe I was already done, because it was so amazing.
Bitter Is The New BlackJen Lancaster
Bitter Is The New Black.jpg
So back in 2009, I caught a really bad case of the flu.  I mean, really bad.  Like, “missed three weeks of work and wanted to die bad”.  It turned into bronchitis and pneumonia…it was a thing.  Anyway, so about halfway through, when I was really grumpy and unhappy, I ran out of books to read.  I didn’t want to re-read anything so while I was at Target picking up my meds, I decided to pick up a new book.  Nothing looked good, but in complete frustration I decided to just grab the book with the dress on the cover, figuring it would be mindless chick-lit.  Instead, I got what is, to this day, one of the funniest books I’ve ever read.  It’s a memoir about how a spoiled, superficial, financially-well-off woman was brought to her knees by the recession following September 11th.  I could go on for days about this book (and her other memoirs that follow it), but seriously, just read it for yourself – so worth it.
Naked In Death – J.D. Robb
Naked In Death.jpg
J.D. Robb is the pen name for Nora Roberts, bestselling romance author.  Her J.D. Robb In Death series is a bit different for her – while there is still romance, the series is more about the adventures of protaganist Eve Dallas, “murder cop”.  Set in the 2060s, this futuristic series follows Eve Dallas as she tracks down serial killers, keeps the people and the city she cares about safe, and navigates her newly developed social life, a task which scares her far more than the bad guys she faces.  Naked in Death is the first in the series, but one of my favorites is Ceremony in Death because I loved the building of Feeney and Eve’s relationship.  It’s also really interesting to see how much of the technology Nora Roberts predicts in the future we’re already developing – auto-piloting cars, auto-chefs that 3D-print food, holograms, virtual reality…
The Six Wives of Henry VIII – Alison Weir
Six Wives of Henry 8
If you’re into Tudor England like me, this book was really well-written.  Styled as a fictional diary written by Henry the Eighth himself, it goes in depth with the numerous marriages the king had, and presents a believable theory of the mindset of a man who could so carelessly change his affections.  Weir writes him with almost a lunacy, which is not out of the realm, and while he is the protaganist, he is not a sympathetic character.  It’s an interesting take, and will make you want to pick up other books on the topic.
Memoirs of A Geisha – Arthur Golden
Memoirs of a Geisha
If you are 9 years old and haven’t had the sex talk yet, you should definitely not swipe this book off your mother’s shelf without permission and read it.  If you do, you will absolutely have nightmares for weeks about eels and caves.  True story.  However, with the wisdom and maturity of age, I can say this book was very well-written, and does a great job discussing the good and bad of the geisha culture in Japan, at least in my opinion.
The Academy: Introductions – C.L. Stone
The Academy
Ok, yes, this book is technically in the young adult category.  Yes, this book involves polyamorous relationships.  Yes, this book touches on relationships with an age gap that is controversial.  However, this book and the rest of the series are amazing.  C.L. Stone has put out ten books in the Ghost Bird series, and none of them have involved anything more sexual than a light kiss.  It also took me about 4 books to really believe where she was going with the storyline.  It’s a little odd reading about teenagers, but the story itself is mature and ridiculously addicting.
 
*Be careful of the In Death series, Memoirs of A Geisha, and the first few books of the Ghost Bird series if you are triggered by rape or child abuse.  While they do touch on these issues, they do so in a way that adds to the story (creates the story, even) but I know these topics can be very troubling for some people.

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