My Summer Reading List

I did the unthinkable the other day - cleaned my study. In the course of doing so, I had to organize my "to be read" pile of books. Well, pileS is more accurate. There are five of them, to be exact, each with four to five books of varying size and shape.

Having just finished the last of the Sookie Stackhouse novels (I wrote about them a post or two back), it was time to choose my next read. So what better time than to organize my summer reading list?

This is a practice I got into in prep school. As an entering freshman, we were sent a list of "summer reading" which was to be completed before school started. While I never needed encouragement to read, it was a nice challenge to have a specific list of reading to do.

Then one summer, during which we rented a cottage at a lake, I read my way through a series called  The Blackwater Series. It was all about a slightly-supernatural silkie woman from Lake Perdido in Louisiana. The novels were Gothic, a little scary, very lush, and 100% silly. But thereafter, I associated summer reading with this type of highly imaginative, highly involving, little bit romantic fiction, with supernatural or mysterious overtones.

So... without further ado, here are the books I intend to tackle (in no particular order), and why they're on the list:

The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters. I added this book because I love-love-love a good ghost story, and the magazine The Week reviewed this book and said of it, "Set in 1947 in Warwickshire, England, The Little Stranger mines its scares from the collapse of the prewar social order that had cocooned the Ayres family in gradeur and comfort. Waters' narrator, a modest-born doctor, falls into a "tentative friendship" with the family as their deterioratinbg country manor is visited by a series of quietly creepy events. These "nibblings of unease" are exquisitely handled; as a reader you feel "the wrongness" of what's developing "crawl around under your skin."

Nancy says: Ok,that's enough for me... there is nothing I like better than a good, creepy ghost story on a hot summer night!

Twilight, by Stephanie Myers. Now that the hype is over, I'm ready to meet Edward the vampire. "Bella Swan's move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Bella's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Bella, the person Edward holds most dear.

Deeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful, Twilight captures the struggle between defying our instincts and satisfying our desires. This is a love story with bite."

Nancy says: Love stories with a supernatural fillip are another ideal read. Just picture yourself on the lawn chair, warm summer twilight, reading til you can't make out the words on the page. A little breeze, the scent of mown grass, a dog barking in the distance. And a little chill running down your spine.

Dissolution, by C. J. Sansom.  "Murders on the grounds of a monastery, 16th-century intrigue, an unconventional sleuth-readers might wonder if this is a knock-off Name of the Rose set two centuries later, but Sansom's debut is a compelling historical mystery in its own right, with fewer pyrotechnics and plenty of period detail. It is 1537; the English Reformation is in full swing; and Lord Thomas Cromwell, King Henry VIII's vicar-general, is busy shutting down papist institutions. When one of his commissioners is beheaded at a remote Benedictine monastery, Cromwell dispatches a second emissary, hunchbacked lawyer Matthew Shardlake, to investigate the murder."

Nancy says: Being deeply immersed in ShowTime's The Tudors, I'm always ready for some more Tudor-era fiction. It has always seemed to me that this period must have been one of the most frightening to live in - when a simple slip of the tongue could cost you your life - and not in the most pleasant of ways! I'm also a fan of the Brother Cadfael mystery novels, so this one is right up my alley.

Deeper, by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams. "In TUNNELS, boy archaeologist Will Burrows went in search of his missing father--and discovered a sinister subterranean world. Now, wandering the dark, hot bowels beneath the Colony with his best friend Chester and his brother Cal, Will stumbles across the Styx's dastardly plan to exterminate all Topsoilers by unleashing a lethal plague. Slowly he begins to piece together the plot. But how can Will save the Topsoilers from annihilation when his own life is at risk--and his killer stepsister is still at large?"

Nancy says: I reviewed Tunnels several months ago, and I'm ready for another adventure with Will and Chester. This book has gotten some less-than-steller reviews, but I still think it will make for good beach reading! After all, there are times when the object isn't too think too hard...

Power to Save the World, by Gwyneth Cravens. "Novelist and science reporter Cravens (The Black Death) begins this journey of discovery "through the Nuclear world" dubious of nuclear power's safety and utility: "I'd participated in ban-the-bomb rallies" but "never considered the fate of a retired weapon." Her trip begins with a casual conversation with nuclear physicist Dr. Richard "Rip" Anderson on the hidden warheads being dismantled outside Albuquerque, N.M.; as it turns out, the nuclear "pits" were to be used for fuel in nuclear reactors. Curiosity, and Rip's conviction that no other large-scale energy source is as "safe, reliable, and clean," drives Craven to spend 10 years with the scientist traveling to national laboratories, uranium mines and nuclear waste sites; reviewing accounts of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island; and examining modern reactor designs, the life cycle of uranium and studies on radiation's effects since 1945. Gradually convinced that "uranium is cleaner and safer throughout its shielded journey from cradle to grave than our other big baseload electricity resource, fossil fuel," Craven has submitted a thorough, persuasive report from the front lines of the world's energy and climate crises, illuminating for general readers the pros and cons of a highly misunderstood resource."

Nancy says: I have been meaning to read this book for a while now; given the emphasis on energy savings and "Global Climate Change," this is a better time than ever to dig into this book.

Drood, by Dan Simmons. "In this creepy intertextual tale of professional jealousy and possible madness, Wilkie Collins tells of his friendship and rivalry with Charles Dickens, and of the mysterious phantasm named Edwin Drood, who pursues them both. Drood, cadaverous and pale, first appears at the scene of a railway accident in which Dickens was one of the few survivors; later, Dickens and Collins descend into London�s sewer in search of his lair. Meanwhile, a retired police detective warns Collins that Drood is responsible for more than three hundred murders, and that he will destroy Dickens in his quest for immortality.

Nancy says: Dan Simmons, author of Hyperion, is one of my all-time favorite writers. This is a book for that 2-week summer vacation (if you get one) - it's long, long, long (771 pages), so you'll run out of vacation before you run out of book.

The Gargoyle, by Andrew Davidson. "A beautiful and compelling, but clearly unhinged, sculptress of gargoyles by the name of Marianne Engel appears at the foot of the morally-bankrupt, horribly burned and suicidal narrator's bed and insists that they were once lovers in medieval Germany. In her telling, he was a badly injured mercenary and she was a nun and scribe in the famed monastery of Engelthal who nursed him back to health. As she spins their tale in Scheherazade fashion and relates equally mesmerizing stories of deathless love in Japan, Iceland, Italy, and England, he finds himself drawn back to life—and, finally, in love. He is released into Marianne's care and takes up residence in her huge stone house. But all is not well. For one thing, the pull of his past sins becomes ever more powerful as the morphine he is prescribed becomes ever more addictive. For another, Marianne receives word from God that she has only twenty-seven sculptures left to complete—and her time on earth will be finished."

Nancy says:   Time-traveling romances are another great choice as the summer wears down. It may come down to this one, or Twilight, if time runs out.

Perfume, by Patrick Susind. "In the slums of eighteenth-century France, the infant Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born with one sublime gift-an absolute sense of smell. As a boy, he lives to decipher the odors of Paris, and apprentices himself to a prominent perfumer who teaches him the ancient art of mixing precious oils and herbs. But Grenouille's genius is such that he is not satisfied to stop there, and he becomes obsessed with capturing the smells of objects such as brass doorknobs and frest-cut wood. Then one day he catches a hint of a scent that will drive him on an ever-more-terrifying quest to create the "ultimate perfume"—the scent of a beautiful young virgin. Told with dazzling narrative brillance, Perfume is a hauntingly powerful tale of murder and sensual depravity."

Nancy says: Are you catching a theme for this summer? Mysteries, supernatural romance, and history. This one has it all.

Terminal Freeze, by Lincoln Child. "A breathtaking discovery at the top of the world...
A terrifying collision between modern science and Native American legend...
An electrifying new thriller from New York Times bestselling author Lincoln Child.

Two hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle lies Alaska’s Federal Wildlife Zone, one of the most remote and inhospitable places on Earth. But for paleoecologist Evan Marshall and a small group of fellow scientists, an expedition to the Zone represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study the effects of global warming.

Everything about the expedition changes, however, with an astonishing find. On a routine exploration of a glacial ice cave, the group discovers an enormous ancient animal, encased in solid ice."

Nancy: Lincoln Child is the co-author of one of my favorite mystery series, which features modern-day Sherlock Holmes Aloysius Pendergast. I can always count on Child (and co-author Douglas Preston) to serve up a chilling romp on the edges of science.


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