The 2014 Summer Reading List

Did you participate in a summer reading program as a kid?  I did.  Our local library passed out green, lined cards.  We wrote down the books we read and turned full cards in for new ones.  Whoever read the most books got a certificate.  I never did, believe it or not.  There were people who read even more, and faster, than I did.

PecanTreeAs summer approaches, I always remember those reading cards and think of what I’ll read in my spare time when the hot weather forces me in doors.  I can tell that time is coming.  This Memorial Day has been hot and muggy.  The only thing missing from the trifecta of outdoor summer annoyances is the mosquitoes.  They haven’t arrived yet.  When they do, sitting outside to read will become a mere memory until the fall.

Some people prefer lighter books, ones that require less focus, during the summer, especially if they’re going to the beach.  That doesn’t make a lot of difference to me, as I have trouble reading in the glare on the beach and would be appalled if I got sand in a book (Yeah, I know that’s weird.).  

Summer’s arrival doesn’t change my preference for books in that have happy endings, stories where good triumphs over not-good.  It can be HEA romance or bad guys getting their just desserts in other genres.  The muggy, hot, mosquito-y weather does encourage me to stay inside, where it’s air conditioned, which leads me to make an exception to the TE (triumphant ending) rule by  reading history or other nonfiction.

Like most of you, I have a towering TBR mountain.  I’m always on the lookout for new titles, though.  So let’s talk summer books.  These are the ones on my list.  I hope you’ll look at them and then share some of your prospects.

Clean-Sweep-Cover-Small-e1397775212366I’m having a new reading experience because of fantasy author Ilona Andrews, whose Kate Daniels books I love.  This husband-and-wife author team is writing a serialized novel on their website.  I bought the first book in this series about an innkeeper with magical powers because it as complete by the time I discovered it.  I love it so much that I’m reading the sequel online, something I haven’t done before.

In this universe, inns are neutral ground for all the non-human races, and innkeepers occupy as special position of respect.  Andrews puts a unique, science fiction-based spin on vampires and other shifters that quickly captured my imagination.  The books also feature strong, sometimes steamy, romantic elements.  

Y’all may remember that I don’t read a lot of vamp or shifter books because they don’t generally call to me.  These–and the Kate Daniels books–are different enough that they do.  For info or to check out the sequel, to  Or click the cover at right and read the blurb on Amazon. 

kate1lgIf you like shifters, vamps and magic and enjoy continuing characters, you really should check out the Kate Daniels books.  I totally love them and was ready to cheer over certain romantic details I won’t reveal lest I spoil things for you.  It’s best to read them in order.  The first book, Magic Bites, is pictured at left.

The next Kate Daniels adventure (with Curran, the were-lion playing, a biiig supporting role, I hope), Magic Breaks, will be out July 29.  You can find info at the Ilona Andrews website.

Pure-Heat-300Already out and available is M. L. Buchman’s Pure Heat.  I loved Buchman’s military RS series about the Nightstalkers helicopter crews.  

This is the first in a new series based around wildland firefighters.  I didn’t think it was coming out until next month and was delighted to see a May release date on his website.  I’ll be reading this one soon, and there’s a sequel coming in a few weeks.

For more on Buchman and his books, check out his website.

 9780425270172_CL-250x403Jill Shalvis’s next Animal Magnetism release, Then Came You, is coming July 1.  As with the other books in the series, this forthcoming one involves the vet clinic in Sunshine, Idaho.  It involves a vet who comes to the clinic to fulfill a scholarship obligation, only to find that her new boss is the same sexy guy she had a one-night stand with at a conference.  Oops. *g*  

I’m so looking forward to it.  

Shalvis has a busy rest of the year ahead, with several scheduled releases, including three in the Lucky Harbor series, featured on her homepage.

Since today is Memorial Day, it’s a fitting time to talk about my new reading project.  This year marks the centennial of the beginning of the First World War.  The Great War, as it was known until a conflagration even broader ripped across the world a couple of decades later.  The men who returned from this conflict helped usher in America’s Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties, a favorite era of mine.

So I’ll be shuffling novels and nonfiction about the Great War into my reading list. 

This hasn’t been a popular period for romance writers.  It’s too far in the past to be relatable, some people say, yet too modern to be historical.  Mystery readers and writers have been much more welcoming.

nogravesyet_usAnne Perry deserted Victorian England to write a five-book series on the Great War. The first, No Graves as Yet, will be start my fiction reading.  Opening before the start of the war, it features two brothers, a college professor and a British intelligence officer, who become involved in espionage and a blackmail case while investigating their parents’ deaths in a car crash.

I enjoyed Perry’s Charlotte and Thomas Pitt mysteries and read the first couple of William Monk ones before I drifted away from reading mysteries so much.  Both of these series are installed on my keeper shelf, though.

The blurb on Perry’s website indicates that No Graves as Yet is about the runup to the war and then about its early days.  The final book in the series is about the last days of the war.  I suspect this series is another that should be read in order.

A friend introduced me to a mystery series set in London in the years immediately after the War.  Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs, a former housemaid, was a nurse on the western front.  Now the war is over, but the man she loved is a tragic casualty.  Maisie must build a life for herself and so starts her own investigations agency.

maisie-dobbs-2014I’ve read two of the ten books in this series and will be reading more this summer.  One of the other bandits likes this series–I think it may be Anna Campbell–and I understand Maisie finds a new love as the series progresses.

Winspear weaves her stories around the war’s aftermath for the people in London, using the losses and resulting social changes to enrich the mysteries Maisie solves.  Her website has a moving essay about her visit to the battlefields at The Somme and Ypres.

Those are a few highlights from my summer reading plan.  What categories of books do you enjoy in the summer, and which particular books do you plan to read this year?

Donna and I will be at the Lori Foster Reader & Author Get Together in West Chester, Ohio, June 5-8.  If you’re there, stop by to say hello.



Posted in , , , , , ,



  • Jane says:

    Hello Beth,
    The summer program we went to would take us to the library every week so that we can browse the shelves and check out books. I don’t have certain books I reach for in the summer. It’s been a while since I read Anne Perry. The last one was “Cater Street Hangman.”

  • Alyn says:

    I don’t have any particular books that I want to read this summer. I plan to just grab what ever I feel like reading at the moment. It’s usually a toss up between YA books or Historical Romance.

    • Alyn, I usually choose my next book on a whim, too. But I know I’ll be reading all of these between now and September. I don’t read a lot of YA, but I love historical romance.

  • Nancy, I’m definitely a fan of the Maisie Dobbs books. She’s such a fascinating character and the world around her is so rich, they’re a joy to read. Hope you enjoy getting into the series. They’re much lighter but they also deal with the aftermath of the First World War, but have you read the Daisy Dalrymple books by Carola Dunn? They’re cozy mysteries, really, but so charming and there’s a lovely romance that builds across the books.

    • Anna, you may have mentioned the Daisy Dalrymple books to me before. Someone has. They sound interesting. And I enjoy romances that arc over several stories.

      I also have Charles Todd on my WWI list. That’s a mother-son team who write two series set in and just after the war. The post was getting long, though, so
      I stopped with Maisie.

  • flchen1 says:

    Ooh, I have a few of the Kate Daniels books on my TBR but haven’t started the series, Nancy… I don’t have big summer plans for reading yet–but my TBR IS enormous, so I’m sure no matter which way I run at it, it’ll still be huge in September 😉 I’m sure I’ll be enjoying some Bandita stories for sure though!

    • Fedora, I really love the Kate Daniels books. I wish they came out more often. I’m also looking forward to the next in Ann Aguirre’s series about the prison ship though the romance isn’t as prominent.

      With some anxiety, I’m awaiting The Book of Life, the conclusion to Deborah Harkness’s All Souls Trilogy. If she kills the vampire hero, I don’t think I can stand it.

      Several bandits have releases in the next few months,and we certainly hope you’ll enjoy them. 🙂

  • Helen says:

    Hi Nancy

    It is just about winter here in Australia although you would not know it we have had the hotest May forever I think and there is no sigh of it cooling down LOL although not scorshing hot like summer still to warm for autumn for me I read romance all the time all the genres and I have a massive TBR pile and choosing the next book to read is always hard for me LOL but I have some great ones to read

    Have Fun

    • Helen, I’m sorry the weather has been so unpleasant. I hope it will ease off soon. At least you have plenty of books to occupy you when you’re indoors to escape the heat!

  • Nancy –

    I envy you your organizational ability that you already have a plan for summer reading. I don’t. I tend to read whatever book graps my fancy. I prefer lighter reading as a rule no matter the season. Hope to work some into my summer. I have a huge TBR pile but I’m not sure what’s on it 🙂 Hope to make a dent.

    • Donna, I’m really not as organized as this looks. These just happen to be books I know I’ll read sometime in the next few months. There’s no guarantee I’ll read them in any order.

      Right now, I’m about to start Nalini Singh’s Caressed by
      Ice, part of her Psy Corps series. I’ve never read any of her books, and I thought it was time. Someone recommended this series as a place to start.

  • catslady says:

    That was the best part of summer – getting to the library every week. My sister and I always joined the summer reading and got ribbons for how much we read. And I don’t change my reading habits in summer. My children are grown so nothing changes lol.

    • Catslady, ribbons for reading sound fun! I grew up in a small town, so I often rode my bike to the library in the summer. I always went home with the basket full of books.

  • Shannon says:

    As a teenager, summer was my reading time. My brothers had baseball games on lost of summer evenings. I did score keeping sometimes, but I usually went to the library on Mondays and Thursdays when it opened at 7pm. I read young adult, graduated to Mills & Boon, then Signet Regencies, E. M. Forester, Victoria Holt, Catherine Gaskins, and some biographies. I think Mom made me read some Shakespeare but I couldn’t relate to his very adult world. And yes, I usually was in the top 3 for the number of books I read.

    I tend to light fiction, some paranormal (mages more than shape-shifters), now steampunk, and some sci-fi. I’m glomming onto Carla Kelly’s older books as well as Susan King’s Celtic Night series. For more challenging reading I keep thinking I’ll read one of Kate Elliot’s fantasy series.

    My favorite summer activity is to lay outside by the pool and read. No sand to get in my books or Kindle there.

    Of course, if I get a new job, then I’ll have to shift to non-fiction and read as much as I can on my new account. About the second thing they’ll do is hand me a reading list.

    • Shannon, I also like mages (of course!) and steampunk. Alyssa Day has a series that skates the PNR/UF line, The League of The Black Swan. The first book, The Cursed, is out, and the next, The Unforgiven, is due this fall.

      I’d intended to include those books in my post until I realized the second book wouldn’t be out soon.

      Have you tried Meljean Brooke’s steampunk? I loved The Iron Duke and its sequels. I just read an urban fantasy, Charmed, by Elliott James, that has wry humor and an engaging voice. The hero is descended from a long line of monster slayers. There’s an interesting spin on shifters, vamps, and Knights Templar.

      • Shannon, I forgot to say the hero of the Alyssa Day series is a mage.

      • Shannon says:

        I’ve read everything of Maljean Brooke except her Kraken series. I like to read series straight through if I can. She made the mistake of saying she’d collect the stories into a volume/box set in August at the earliest, October more likely. A long indulge in that is going to be a huge treat.

  • Deb says:

    Well, shoot. My TBR pile is already tottering on the brink of collapsing, so to do a summer reading program would not help much. 🙂 Actually, our little library is starting a program this summer. We are to get together and either decide on one book or have several of us read different books and discuss them.

    I like to read historical romances and I’ve never really participated in a reading program because I want to be able to choose which books I will read. I know it sounds like I am not broadening my horizons, but I want to read for enjoyment and not feel restricted….if that makes sense?

    • Deb, I know what you mean about the TBR pile. E-readers have made that so much better!

      I also like to pick what I’m going to read next and so have tended to shy away from book clubs. The summer reading program at the library when I was growing up didn’t have prescribed lists. As long as you read a book, it counted.

      I’ve also been wary of book clubs because many of them read only “serious” books, and there is enough in the world for me to be depressed about without giving my reading time over to it. I’ve bought the SF novel the local geek book club is reading next, though, and I’ll see how I like both the book and the experience.

      As you say, I read for enjoyment. I don’t enjoy things that are depressing or books that, while they may be well written and someone else’s favorite, don’t engage me for whatever reason.

  • Becke says:

    As with the other guests, my TBR pile is ridiculous. To keep it under control, I give many in the pile to friends as gifts. However, that clever little plan fizzles with the Kindle. The good news is it’s now called my “Wish List.” Same Stuff, Different Title (SSDT).

    I rotate between a book in my targeted line and then any book in my “wish list.” My choice doesn’t change with the seasons. However, the pile will reproduce like bunnies with conference!

    • Becke, I’m intrigued by the Wish List concept. Are the books on yours actually on your Kindle? Isn’t it great how an e-reader makes the TBR mountain more or less invisible?

  • Barbara Elness says:

    I remember the library summer reading program. We had a chart with little sail boats and mine went off the page because I read more books than they had spaces. 😀 They also handed out bookmarks for the states every time you read a book, and I got them all. You might say I read a lot. Now I read the same summer or winter, since I work during the week, but I enjoy the nice summer sunlight, it makes it easier to see the page.

    • Barbara, your reading program had better swag than ours did. Congrats on snagging all of those bookmarks!

      I like to read outside in nice weather and am sorry to see mosquito season approach. We just got patio furniture, after years of talking about it, and I’d hoped to enjoy it a bit longer before the little pests arrived.

  • Tawny Weber says:

    FAB summer reading plans, Nancy 🙂 Mine aren’t nearly as interesting. At the moment, they are more along the lines of ‘read if I get a chance’ plans since summer is always extra busy for us for some reason.

    Because of that, I’m more of an autumn, winter reader 🙂 But if I do get a break now and then to go to the pool or on a trip that doesn’t involve a car ride, I read lighter, fun and frothy books.

  • The Kate Daniels series sounds like my cup of tea. I’ll try them. I am more organized in my research book reading than I am in my fiction reading. I have my TBR stacks stored in Rubbermaid totes and I am simply trying to get through those before Nationals. I just started Hope Ramsey’s latest Last Chance book – Inn at Last Chance. I really love this series because I get to visit the town of Last Chance and hang out with old friends.

    And it finally happened. I remember another reason I love print books. My Kindle is on the fritz! I’ve never had a paper book insist on going back to page one and never let me get past chapter 3! I have no idea what the problem is nor do I have any clue how to fix it. 🙁

    • Louisa, let me know how you like the Kate Daniels series. I’m also more organized with research, maybe because I’m looking for specific things, than with fiction reading. I have a plastic bin and a bunch of boxes for the TBR. The problem is, I think I need them for research books. They’re scattered higgledy-piggledy, and it’s to the point where I no longer know what I have, even!

      Sorry the Kindle is not cooperating. Technology can be a pain. After going with no electricity for two weeks because of Hurricane Hugo, I refuse to go completely paperless. I hope the machine settles down. Did you try calling Amazon?

  • Caren Crane says:

    Nancy, I keep heaving books onto the TBR pile. It is a teetering menace at this point! I couldn’t resist re-reading A Dance With Dragons, the latest in G.R.R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice and Fire series, so that’s what I’m doing now.

    After that, I’ll read Kimberly Brock’s The River Witch (which I’ve had for many months and haven’t yet read); Kristan Higgan’s Waiting On You, which I am letting myself read when I finish my WIP; Deborah Smith’s Bear Mountain AND The Yarn Spinner, because I love her so; Elizabeth Essex’s Almost a Scandal, because I adore her; Harlan Coben’s Missing You, because he is always a must-read treat; Emma Holly’s Hidden Talents, because she’s the master of erotica; JL Bryan’s Jenny Pox, a highly-recommended YA dystopian fantasty; Michael Malone’s Handling Sin for at LEAST the 4th time, because it’s SOOOO GOOD; Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, because it’s a must-read, apparently.

    Please note, there are NO Bandita books in this pile, because those get read FIRST. Cream rises to the top, people! 😀

    • Caren, that’s quite a list! Looks like your summer reading is set. You have a lot of variety in there, too. I’m intrigued by all the dystopian series in YA/NA. I like those settings but am not generally drawn to that subgenre.