Today I’m reviewing a smattering of hot summer releases I’ve been looking forward to for a long, long time. Some were better than others, of course, but all were well worth reading.
Cline's 2012 sci-fi novel Ready Player One was a surprise hit—the kind of story I'm so happy I found but never thought I'd enjoy. I was hoping for more of the same with Armada, but this one felt like a command performance. It wasn't terrible, but it felt cliché-ridden and predictable, especially in comparison with the fresh and inventive RP1. I listened to the audio version, and while it wasn't a time-waster, I had hoped for more. Published July 14. More info →
Like many of you, I've been anxiously awaiting a second novel from The Language of Flowers author Diffenbaugh. While this standalone follow-up lacks the charm and originality of its predecessor, it's still very readable, and deftly weaves together tricky topics like immigration law, biology, and teen parenthood. Gorgeous prose, heartwarming story, likable characters—although I sincerely wish the adults' romantic storyline had had half as much depth and nuance as the parallel kid's relationship. Publication date: August 18. More info →
A few weeks ago, my 10-year-old and I were curled up on the couch on a rainy day, reading books by the same author: Ivy & Bean for her, The Truth According to Us for me. The books couldn't be more different, and contemplating how Barrows made the leap boggles my mind. I was a wee bit skeptical, but this was a satisfying read, and well worth its 500+ pages. This time the action takes place in small-town West Virginia circa 1938, following an unlikely author for the New Deal's Federal Writers' Project. Guernsey lovers (or haters), take note: while this story contains quite a few lengthy letters, it's not an epistolary novel. Published June 9. More info →
Fans of Amber's writing love her distinctive, lyrical voice. I was so happy to see that it works in this book-length spiritual memoir. The details lend the story its richness: the scent of wild grapes, the cacophony of the woods on a Southern evening, the ginormous swimming pool slide with no pool at the bottom. A hard and beautiful book, and a must-read for fans of Amber's blog. More info →
It's been nearly four years since I found Hatmaker (along with the rest of the world) through her book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, and I've been more or less impatiently waiting for her next book ever since. I was delighted to discover this title doesn't just refer to wholehearted, holy living but to that phrase's other meaning: for crying out loud. Wise and funny, full of lots of grace and Jesus, but also high-waisted jeans and Netflix addictions. Now I want to start a supper club—read it and you'll see what I mean. (Publication date August 18, but word is it's already at Barnes & Noble.) More info →
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