The Best Books of Summer 2017 / by Madeleine

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I have not one, not two, but twenty-one bloggers here today who are just dying to share their summer favorites with you. Many of these books you'll recognize from all of the buzz this summer, but these bloggers want you to know that these are the books that you'll want in your reading stack.

And what I love about this list? It represents a range of genres and publishing dates, so not everything is new and there's something for every type of reader.

Let's get started, shall we?

Christine of Buckling Bookshelves Recommends: 

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

This was my pick for my August YA-for-Grownups book club meeting. Whenever it’s my turn, I choose an unread book from my shelves, so I never know for sure if I’ll like it, let alone the rest of book club! This turned out to be a new favorite of mine and I now want to dive into Donnelly’s entire backlist. I tend to appreciate characters in books more than plot and I think this is a perfect example of that. There are plenty of plot threads happening, but the people are just so real – flawed, struggling, conflicted, and there are no easy answers. Whether or not you usually read YA, if you like historical fiction, I highly recommend this book – the writing is excellent and it deserves all the awards and accolades it has received!

Hollie of Reading on the Run Recommends:

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

To even begin to tell you how important this book is feels overwhelming. Roxane Gay has written one of the most powerful memoirs I’ve ever read. Her honest, and raw perspective of her body and the world that she lives in with it can be difficult to read, but it SHOULD be read by everyone. As a woman, and a mother, this book felt so important for me. Being inside a woman's head is sometimes full of negative thoughts, and Roxane's perspective is encouraging that we as women are not alone. Then, being a mother... this is where it really taught me to stop that negative "body" talk, and just embrace who and what our body is... exactly what we want our children to do. Please do me a favour (I'm Canadian), and read this book, then pass it on to a friend!!

You can also find Hollie on Instagram @readingontherun.

Lori of The Novel Endeavor Recommends: 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give is the fictional account of Starr, a teenage girl who witnesses the murder of her best friend at the hands of a police officer. I read this earlier this summer and it still lingers in my mind. I enjoyed it because it tells the story from a perspective that many of those in the majority white culture never get to hear. Not only was it helpful from an ideological stand point, but I also loved it for the writing and the story itself.

You can also find Lori on Instagram @thenovelendeavor.

Carla from Happiest When Reading Recommends: 

The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs

Literally the only thing we are guaranteed in this life – is death. Through my mama’s passing, I have learned to cherish the time I have…now. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring – I could get a terminal diagnosis, I could die in a car accident, I could have a heart attack – but I do have right now. I am breathing – in and out, in and out – and I will honor that miracle for what it is by appreciating this moment. This book provided the perfect comfort to my heart that is endlessly searching for pieces of my mama while I navigate this world without her physical presence. Our loved ones may be gone physically, but through our love and memories, we keep them alive and present in our hearts.

You can also find Carla on Instagram @happiestwhenreading.

Jackie of Jackie Reads Books Recommends:

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

I read a ton of books this summer, but The Good Daughter was the novel that really caught my attention.

The Good Daughter is a thriller and it doesn't take that description lightly. This is gritty and will have you cringing. I don't recommend it for sensitive readers or people who may have triggers, but if you can read through some pretty terrible and graphic scenes (and if you're reading thrillers, I think you can!), then you will love this one! I have yet to hear a negative review from any reader. I recommend that you read this and get as obsessed as I still am!

You can also find Jackie on Instagram @jackiereadsbooks.

Gabriella of The Novel Nook Recommends:

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

I read SO many amazing books this summer, and one of the thrillers I absolutely loved was Fierce Kingdom. The story focuses on a mother and son who get trapped in a zoo during a mass shooting, and once I started reading, I couldn't stop! The mother/child relationship was a central part of the story, and it reminded me of the close bond my mom and I share, so that's one of the reasons I loved this book so much. Also, I got to meet Gin Phillips during her book tour, which was a highlight of my summer! Witnessing her passion for books and hearing her talk about this incredible story reminded me how special and life-changing literature is and how lucky we are to live in a world where amazing storytellers exist. Fierce Kingdom was beautiful, tense, and thrilling, making it the perfect summer read!

You can also find Gabriella on Instagram @thenovelnook.

Rachael of Reading Brings Joy Recommends: 

The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve

I loved this book. The writing pulled me in instantly and the story was so readable. The main character Grace Holland is a wife, mother, friend, and daughter. I related to all of her roles because I fill each one of those roles too. She is something to everyone but does not realize her own strength until a fire that burns her coastal town tests her resolve and ability to survive. I read this book in two days time because I could not put it down. Every time I picked up the story I got so lost in Shreve’s writing. This is not a happy go lucky book, and to be perfectly honest it is a very depressing read but it done so well and the writing is very strong that you want to keep reading.

You can also find Rachael on Instagram @readingbringsjoy.

Lindsay of Bibbidi Bobbidi Bookworm Recommends:

The Book of Polly by Kathy Hepinstall

I fell completely in love with Willow Havens, her mother Polly, and all the other characters in the eclectic mix provided by Kathy Hepinstall in The Book of Polly. From the very first chapter, we learn that Polly is not the average mother. Along with being very much older than her daughter’s classmates’ mothers, she has all the spunk and sass a reader could possibly hope for. From her feuds with the neighbors to her battle with the Bear (her term for cancer), it’s absolutely impossible not to be drawn completely into her story through Willow’s search for answers to the secrets her mother has kept locked away from her. When I read this book, I found myself clutching my side from laughter, gasping in surprise at some of Polly's actions, and wiping away the tears brought on by the pure heart of this book.

You can also find Lindsay on Instagram @bibbidibobbidibookworm.

Alexandra of Booked Up Blog Recommends:

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

If We Were Villains is one of those books that will make you want to stay up past your bedtime so you can finish reading it. (I know because I speak from experience.) This twisty and intriguing tale of loyalty, betrayal, friendship, and personality centers around Shakespeare and will leave you just as obsessed with his plays as his characters are. It is part homage to Shakespeare’s brilliance, part murder mystery, part coming of age, part confession. M. L. Rio uses Shakespeare’s plays as the basis of her novel, using their plots and character dynamics to build this tangled, yet intriguing tale of identity and belonging. It is one of those rare novels that made it to the "Page-Turners Club" and five star read status for me. Don't let the Bard scare you away from this one-I promise it's one that you can enjoy even if you aren't familiar (or even if you didn't enjoy) his works. I honestly could not stop talking about this book from the moment I picked it up until well after my book club discussion ended.

You can also find Alexandra on Instagram @bookedupblog.

Amber of Teachers Who Read Recommends:

Three Pennies by Melanie Crowder

I loved how deep this book was without being beyond the grasp of my ten-year-old fourth graders. Told from three perspectives: the main character named Marin, her adoptive mother and an owl, this book keeps the reader wondering, "Will Marin find her biological mothers? If she does find her, what will happen?" I cannot wait to use this book in my classroom this year!

You can also find Amber on Instagram @iowaamber.

Carol of Reading Ladies

AND Lindsay of Literature with Lindsay Recommend:

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

Carol: This summer, my favorite read was Dreamland Burning for multiple reasons. If you love historical fiction, this is a great read for you. Given recent racial tensions in the news, Dreamland Burning is a timely read. In fact, Dreamland Burning would be a perfect companion read or flight pick to read alongside Jodi Picoult’s “Small Great Things.” In addition, Dreamland Burning is categorized as YA and lends itself to engaging and involving young people in important discussions about race. One of the most important reasons I loved Dreamland Burning is that Jennifer Latham’s transitions between two timelines and main characters is seamless. It flowed as one story in that I wasn’t distracted or disoriented by the changing perspectives or points of view. Throughout the story, I greatly admired and appreciated the author’s skill in creating smooth transitions. I must note that of the two story lines, I was more engaged with the past than the present. Once in a while a book (such as this one) will give me a book “hangover,” and readers who’ve experienced it will know what I mean! Dreamland Burning has everything I love about a 5 star read: captivating characters, unputdownable engagement, important and timely themes, substantial content, and beautiful writing. I highly recommend this for men and women, for older teens, and especially for thoughtful book club discussions.

You can find Carol on Instagram @readingladies_book_club.

Lindsay: I loved the two perspectives of the main characters in this story. Since they were from different time periods it was exciting to see connections in their storylines. The ending had me on edge! Plus, I learned something new about an event in history that often gets overlooked.

You can find Lindsay on Instagram @litwithlindsay

Kayla of Read Voraciously Recommends:

The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley

The Bedlam Stacks is the perfect combination of adventure and folklore. Pulley writes with an impressive imagination and produces a tale brimming with heart, excitement and dedication that challenges our ideas of what is real.

You can also find Kayla on Instagram @readvoraciously.

Chelsea of Mama and Little Bookworm Recommends:

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is what summer reads are meant to be (at least for me)! It was a fun story that kept me interested, made me want to stay up late to keep reading and had me wondering about so many hollywood marriages (does this really happen!?).

You can also find Chelsea on Instagram@mamaandlittlebookworm.

Jamie of Fashion & Fiction Recommends:

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Packed with magic, illusion and danger, (and a little bit of love) this whimsical, fairytale-like YA novel was one I could not put down this summer. Though completely outside of my usual wheelhouse, I was quickly caught up in the world of Caraval and had to keep reminding myself, "Remember, it's only a game..." Now I'm patiently (or not so patiently) waiting for its sequel.

You can find Jamie on Instagram @jamiesfashionandfiction

Kirsten of Beyond the Bookends Recommends:

Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge

Castle of Water is a story about hope, loss, survival and love. Two strangers are stranded on a deserted island without any chance of rescue. They must work together to survive and overcome obstacles thrown their way. The writing is mesmerizing, the story captivates the imagination, and the characters became friends. I laughed, I cried, I could not put it down.

Jackie of Beyond the Bookends Recommends:

Hum if You Don't Know the Words by Bianca Marais

Hum if You Don't Know the Words is a brutally honest and emotionally compelling story, unlike anything I have ever read. This book is set in apartheid South Africa and features the 1976 Soweto uprising in which thousands of black students marched in protest of the apartheid government. The themes in the story are so relevant in today's world and sadly showcases how history repeats itself.

You can find Kirsten & Jackie on Instagram @beyondthebookends.

Book Club Sunday Recommends:

The Dry by Jane Harper

The Dry was our book club's unofficial selection for the summer because we could not stop talking about it! In addition to being a thoroughly engrossing, page-turning mystery (though more of a character-driven slow burn than a thrill ride), it also had such a clear and transporting sense of place. We could literally feel the hot misery of the Australian drought as though we were there ourselves! We can't wait for the next book in the series and might have to make it an official book club selection this time!

On Instagram @bookclubsunday

Marwa of Unapologetic Writer Recommends:

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

It was a completely special novel. Nothing like I've ever read before. The writing style was so compelling and as a historical fiction novel, I never felt like the story was dragging. There was always something new happening, and the characters were extremely exquisite and constantly developing and unfolding before my eyes. 5/5!

You can also find Marwa on Instagram @seeminglymarwa

Andrea of Born and Read in Chicago Recommends:

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

I loved several new releases (that have received a lot of buzz) this summer. But, I thought it would be worthwhile to share my praise for this backlist gem. I have heard about this 'southern fiction' writer several times over the last year or so, but never picked up Sarah Addison Allen's books. I am far from Southern, and the covers didn't GRAB me. I finally gave Garden Spells a try for a light summer read and found it DELIGHTFUL. It's full of vivid and lovable characters - including a magical apple tree. Magic does play a part, but in a smart and engaging way. There are intense and provocative scenes that kept me turning the pages, as well as great humorous and romantic ones that made me laugh and smile wide. This would be a great pick for fans of Practical Magic or The Language of Flowers.

You can also find Andrea on Instagram @bornreadchicago.

Sara of Meaningful Madness Recommends:

I See You by Clare Mackintosh

This suspenseful thriller is centered around crime against women in the London subway. The book follows Zoe, the protagonist, after she sees a photograph of herself attached to a personals website called FindTheOne.com. In her quest to uncover why her photo appears in this ad, she realizes that other women are victims of a similar fate, and that several of the women are the victims of assault. I loved this book for a summer read, because it was a suspenseful, page turner. The multiple perspectives with short interludes by the mastermind behind FindTheOne.com add to the anticipation of the resolution of Zoe's story. The audio version of this book is fantastic.

You can also find Sara on Instagram @meaningfulmadness

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What was your favorite read from this summer?

(P.S. You can find all of these wonderful bookworms and their blogs over on the blogroll on the right hand column of Top Shelf Text. I highly suggest browsing their sites when you have some time to spare!)