June 3, 2013

Melissa's 3rd Annual Summer Reading List!

Wow, the time, it is flying by. I can't believe this is the third time I'm doing one my summer lists. (here's the one from last year.) AREN'T YOU SO EXCITED??? I am pretending in my mind that you are very much excited.

This year, I decided to enlist my husband Andrew's help in putting together my list. Here are his thoughts on whether these are books worthy of your time and consideration.

'The Starboard Sea' by Amber Dermot is one I just got from the library after seeing it mentioned on 101 Cookbooks. If you are paying close attention (PAY CLOSE ATTENTION), you will notice a theme to this year's selections and it is this: Melissa loves the idea of East Coast Prep Schools. They just sounded so cool to me when I was growing up in Hawaii.

I actually went to an East coast women's college, (a.k.a. PMS Camp) which was something that made my mother very happy. She wanted me to get out of the pineapple fields (we literally lived a half mile from a pineapple field) and see Something Else. I learned very quickly that there are big differences between West coast people and East coast people. I'm definitely a West coast person. (I don't give a flying yahoo whether or not you wear white after Labor Day.)

So I'm reading this book right now and I need to talk about it with someone. Because I think I hate the protagonist. And I can't tell if the whole book is a cliche about prep school boys, or are things not cliches if they're true? Can things be cliches if they are super true? Also, I think I might not really know the true definition of cliche. (I just looked it up. True things can also be cliches.) I just used the word "true" four times. Now five. Please help me. Anyway, if you read it, email me, because I need to discuss some stuff about this crazy book.

Andrew's thoughts: "Is this about an all boys prep school? British prep school?" (no, East Coast.) "This looks boring, that's all there is to it."

I just finished 'The Raven Boys' by Maggie Stiefvater and IT WAS FABULOUS. If you like the idea of prep school dudes, long-buried Welsh kings, and psychics. Also ley lines, which are mystical channels of energy. YEAH, LEY LINES! WOOOOO! Doesn't that totally sound interesting? It IS totally interesting!

I'm a huge Maggie Stiefvater fan. To my mind, in the realm of YA fiction, there's Maggie Stiefvater.....and there's everyone else. This lady can describe a scene unlike anyone I've ever read. She can actually WRITE. Like, she uses interesting adjectives and whatnot.

One Amazon reviewer said "If Edgar Allan Poe had taught the boys of Dead Poets Society, this is the type of story he might've told." OH YEAH! This book was so so good, you guys. I just can't praise it enough, I adored it and I am seriously counting the days until Book 2 comes out.

The other interesting thing about the story is this ~ "There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark's Eve, Blue. Either you're his true love...or you killed him."

The sequel is coming out this fall! It's called 'The Dream Thieves'. I can't wait!

Andrew's thoughts: "I don't know. It looks like a 'Game of Thrones' book cover."

I've heard that 'The 5th Wave' by Rick Yancey is super cool, it's brand spanking new YA fiction, and it's about the end of life as we know it, which is always a fun and entertaining thing to ponder upon.

Andrew's thoughts: "Is this the one about the aliens who come up with the most complicated plan ever to obliterate mankind ? Do they not have bombs? It took them 5 tries?"

I tried to explain to him that the aliens wanted to make sure that we were all WELL AND TRULY DEAD. But turns out that we're not! That's why there's a story!

Instead of East Coast prep school boys, we have Southern debutantes in the Blue Ridge Mountains in 'The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls' by Anton Disclafani, which comes out this June. Doesn't that sound intriguing? According to my BFF Amazon, it's about "family secrets and girls' school rituals, set in the 1930's South", and the Wall Street Journal put it on its list of most anticipated books for summer 2013.

Andrew's thoughts: "I can't even pronounce the title."

Did you guys ever read 'Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell' by Susanna Clarke? That was the longest, and most confusing-while-also-being-cool book about magic and fairies I've ever read. I read a chapter every night when Julia was a baby. I think it took me 4 months to get through it. It was very cool, but it was an ENDEAVOR. But a fun one if you're into those sorts of things. What things, Melissa? Oh you know, magic, evil fairies, and period English drama. THAT stuff. Anyhoo, 'The Ladies of Grace Adieu' is a collection of Clarke's short stories about magic, evil fairies, and period English drama.

Andrew's thoughts: "That book looks pretty cool. I bet if you had a handsome, clever husband, he would have bought that book for your birthday several years ago and you would have read one story out of it."

I'm gonna try reading the rest of it this summer. #shesayssheepishly

 Ok, 'The Secret History' by Donna Tartt is super old at this point, I read it in my early 20's, and guess what it's about! It's about a secret society in an EAST COAST COLLEGE. I loved this book. I re-read this book. I longed for the movie version of this book, but it never came (a young Gwyneth Paltrow would have been perfect, I think at one point she was attached to whatever tenuous plans for a film were then in the works).

It's basically about a secret college club and the kids in it are all filthy rich (except one. there's always the poor one. always.), and at one point they go kind of crazy and murdery. But not ordinary murdery. Oh no. I don't want to get too spoilerish on you, but they go murdery in a really spectacular way. If you've never read it, oooooh this book will suck you in and lay claim to all of your waking moments until you've finished it. And maybe cause you to want to brush up on your ancient Greek. You TOTALLY took ancient Greek in school, right?

I love this book so much.

Andrew's thoughts: "I don't know but the author's last name is Tartt. That's rad."


"What's this about?"

I've never read anything by Sophie Kinsella, but I keep seeing her books pop around, and her stories about British modern-young-hip-people-romantic-comedy-type-stuff seem like the sort of thing I would enjoy and should therefore read. So I think I will. I believe that 'I've Got Your Number' is her latest.

Andrew's thoughts: "What is going on here? Is it about how our modern technology.....I don't know. Some B.S. or whatever about how our cell phones are dividing us instead bringing us together? LOOK AT THAT COVER. They're facing away from each other! Wake up people. Put down the smartphones."

'The Maze Runner' by James Dashner is supposed to be some sort of mash-up between 'Lord of the Flies', 'The Hunger Games' and 'Lost'. I like how these days, dystopian plots consist of combining other dystopian plots. Some day there's going to be a plot that looks like this:

'Emma' + 'Harry Potter' + 'War and Peace' + 'Divergent' + 'Driving Miss Daisy'. 

And there's going to be a movie! (or so they say) Lookey here.

Andrew's thoughts: He says that he liked this story when it was called 'The Running Man' ("that movie was fantastic"). HA HA HA Mr. Funnypants. I asked him if he had any other bon mots to throw my way. His reply: "I don't know, got any other crappy books for me to look at?"

I told him that this book was supposed to be really good. And he said, "well yeah, 'The Running Man' was really good too." Then he wanted you to know that all kidding aside, "while 'The Running Man' is very entertaining, you should just watch 'Battle Royale'."

He says if he wanted to read about mazes, he'll "stick with Borges, thankyouverymuch". (who apparently wrote some short stories involving mazes. whatever.)

At this point, he said that he was bored and wandered out of the room.

HAPPY SUMMER READING MY FRIENDS! Got any tips for me? Did my east coast prep school boys and secret societies and YA fiction about aliens and English period pieces not totally do it for you? Tell me if there is some gem I'm missing on here! But keep it light. Because if it's not pretty ridiculous and dumb, I probably won't want to read it this summer.

Oh and here's Entertainment Weekly's 10 book list of their summer reading picks. I want to read 'Crazy Rich Asians' and 'The Bone Season'!!!!


  1. I did totally study Ancient Greek in school ... I knew one day it would come handy! ^_^

    Not too keen on East Coast Prep School stories though. If it's mostly about School cliques and rich spoilt kids, I might run the other direction!

    I read two Kinsella books: breezy easy summer reads but soon forgettable.

    The Maze Runner though is something I would totally want to read and watch. It really scares me but intrigues me at the same time!

    And your hubby's comments are hilarious!

    1. wow, did you really! good for you! ha ha, I don't know what it is about the east coast prep school thing, I just am so fascinated :)

      Ah yes, Mr. Andrew...he is full of the funny. or full of the something :)

    2. I was joking about the useful part...plus I don't remember any of it! LOL

    3. I don't remember anything I learned in school ever. :)

  2. Hahaha!

    I have friends who keep telling me to read The Secret History. Hasn't happened yet, though. I'm finally making myself read grown-up books that I own but have never read, at least during rehearsals. (My character disappears after Act IV, Scene 2.) I'm leaving Mary Poppins at home. ;o)

    And maybe I'll try picking up Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell again. For the third time.

    1. HA HA HA. those who finish that book should get some kind of medal. it's really really good, but OH FOR ALL THE WORLD'S PANCAKES, it is so so long!

      you should totally read 'The Secret History'. for years I claimed it was my favorite book of all time. that was before 'Twilight' and 'Harry Potter' though. HA HA HA on the Twilight, except not really. :)

  3. What a cool diverse list doll.

    1. thanks lovey! Entertainment Weekly's list is way better, but do they have evil fairies on their list? I think not. :)

  4. Great list! I will check some of these out!

  5. Great list! I'm gathering books for our camping trip and so for think I'm going for the new one by the Suspicions of Mr Whicher author and one Benjamin Black. have you read Curtis Sittinger (wrong spelling but close I think!) book about the East Coast boarding school. (She wrote American Wife too) Its good. I think it's called Prep. Need to get reads for my almost twelve year old too - its hard to find something NOT about vampires etc.

    1. Oooh, more books I haven't read or heard of. Off to check and add them to my library hold pile! I think I did hear about that Prep book, come to think of it. How have vampires become such a thing? I'm a fan of vampires in books, but really, there's a thing as too much of a good thing....

  6. Hehehe, thank you BOTH for your suggestions and insights! These all sound intriguing! I am also so terrible about judging a book by its cover. The 1930s girls riding camp one jumped out at me, probably becaue i live with a horse obsessed girl, and here in OK we're more southern leaning.and how can their not be drama with a bunch of southern debutantes? plus...ponies!! ;)