Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

Peek Over Our Shoulders: What Rioters Are Reading April 26, 2018

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María Cristina García lives in New York with her favorite spouse, her favorite toddler, her favorite cat, and her second-favorite cat. When not ranking members of her household, she's catching up on Supergirl, strumming her mandolin, or trying to beat the clock on her library loans. Twitter: @MeowyCristina Blog:

In this regular feature, we give you a glimpse of what we are reading this very moment.

Here is what the Rioters are reading today (as in literally today). This is what’s on their bedside table (or the floor, work bag, desk, whatevskis). Your TBR list is about to get some new additions.

We’ve shown you ours, now show us yours; let us know what you’re reading (right this very moment) in the comment section below!

Liberty Hardy

Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao (Philomel Books, November 6): Hooray, the sequel to Forest of a Thousand Lanterns!!! (egalley)

S.W. Sondheimer

Factory Made: Warhol and the Sixties by Steven Watson: A multi-biography/“sociogram” of the diverse artists who came together at Warhol’s Silver Factory between 1964 and 1968 (including Edie Sedgwick, Lou Reed, and Ultra Violet) and fused their passions for art, music, drag performance, and film into something entirely new under the unifying influence of Warhol himself. One of the reasons I picked it up is a back cover quote from art historian John Richardson: “…Warhol’s…movies are among the most boring ever made, this book about them is endlessly fascinating.” An excellent reminder that art is subjective but one doesn’t have to love a particular piece for it to mean something historically or culturally. And that art history isn’t always a dusty, stodgy discipline requiring suede elbow patches and representations of disproportionately muscled white men. (2003 hardcover)

Teresa Preston

Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett: I read the first two Tiffany Aching books years ago and enjoyed them, but it has taken me ages to get around to the rest. I’m treating this as the year to finish series I enjoy, so I’m finally tackling the last two. (paperback)

Lacey deShazo

A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole: Since I finished A Princess in Theory, I’ve been jonesing for more of Cole’s Reluctant Royals series. This one picks up with Portia, who appeared in A Princess in Theory as the main character’s best (but messy) friend. In A Duke by Default, Portia is trying to get her life together. This quest takes her to Scotland, where she meets the handsome Tavish Mackenzie. I’m really loving this one! (egalley)

Claire Handscombe

The Power by Naomi Alderman: I’ve been meaning to read this for months, and now my book club has finally caved to my one-woman pressure and agreed to read it with me. Thanks, Obama. (galley)

Sarah S. Davis

You All Grow up and Leave Me: A Memoir of Teenage Obsession by Piper Weiss: In this this addictive read, Weiss scrutinizes her adolescence growing up in the world of elite New York City private schools and her attachment to her tennis instructor, Gary Wilensky, a charismatic man who focused on coaching a highly selective roster of young girls. When Wilensky tries to kidnap one of his students, the scandal exposes complicated feelings Weiss had buried under the privilege to be one of his coveted “Gary’s Girls” crew, including a disappointed urge to ask, “Why not me?”

Beth O’Brien

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl (Delacorte Press, June 5): I devoured Pessl’s Night Film a couple of years ago and when I heard that she was coming out with a young adult title I had to get my hands on it. So far it’s weird and mysterious and wonderful. (galley)

Laura Sackton

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie: This one has been on my TBR for a while, and it’s as good as everyone said it would be. It’s also got wonderful, authentic, complicated teenage characters, something I’ve been seeking out (and thoroughly enjoying) in fiction recently. (audiobook)

Aimee Miles

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland: I’m only a couple of chapters into this new release, but wow, I can see why it’s so popular around Book Riot! Jane is enrolled in Miss Preston’s, a combat school training negro girls to protect the white communities from the shamblers, the dead who rose up in the middle of the Civil War and started eating any living person. The story is well-paced and engaging, and I think it’s time for me to stop writing and go read. (audiobook and ebook)

Daisy Johnson

Our Uninvited Guests : The Secret Life of Britain’s Country Houses 1939-45 by Julie Summers: I saw a good review for this, and the subject caught my eye. Plus, who doesn’t want to read about fancy country houses and their secret histories? (hardcover)

Rebecca Renner

When Rap Spoke Straight to God by Erica Dawson (September, Tin House Books): Okay, so this book isn’t out until September, but I managed to finagle a copy out of Tin House. I can’t say enough how much I love it. I finished reading it once, but I’m going to read it again. If you follow the poetry scene at all, you definitely have to pick this one up when it comes out. I honestly think Erica Dawson is going to be the next big thing.

Christina Orlando

I Think I’m Ready to See Frank Ocean by Shayla Lawson: Full disclosure: I jacked this from my office. This poetry collection dropped in March and I’ve been itching to get my hands on it so I nicked it right off the shelves as soon as it appeared. Poet Shayla Lawson uses Frank Ocean song titles for her poems about music, yes, but also about femininity, love, god and The Ocean—Frank or the sea, or both. She writes with a sweeping, inspired cleverness that makes me want to put on a record, turn off all the lights, and sit in my feelings.

Dana Lee

The Great Passage by Shion Miura, translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter: I picked this one up from the list of Amazon’s World Book Day free translation picks and added Audible narration. It’s a warm and fuzzy story about a group of people working on writing a new dictionary called The Great Passage. There’s a shared love and respect of words and their multiple meanings between the characters. And a shared passion to bring their grand dictionary project to publication. With quirky characters and an emphasis on the beauty of the everyday, I’m really digging this one as a simple, wholesome, quick listen in between a bunch of dystopian reads. Also, there’s a cat! (audiobook)

Christina M. Rau

Seinfeldia: How A Show About Nothing Changed Everything by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong: My brother put this book in my hands and said, “You have to read this.” Then he said, “And we’re going to the Cyclones’ Seinfeld Night this year.” Clearly, we are fans of the show, and this book shares a lot of behind-the-scenes stories about how the show developed into what it is today. I’ve found myself laughing while reading, and that’s always fun when reading in public. (borrowed paperback)

Jamie Canaves

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson (Razorbill, May 8): A teenage girl who accidentally brings dead girls back to life in order solve their murders was all I needed to read in order to want this book. Then I saw a comp to The Craft and Veronica Mars and it’s written by an Afrolatina—I don’t remember the last time I downloaded a book so quickly, ignored all responsibilities, and immediately started reading. (egalley)

Jessica Avery

Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope: This book I’ve been waiting for for absolutely ages. A diverse fantasy romance novel which so far has explored both racism and the prejudice against immigration, and is as painful at times to read as it is enthralling? Sign me up twice over. Penelope’s world-building is delightfully subtle and beautiful, and the romance between the two leads just star-crossed enough to keep you on your toes! (egalley)

Tasha Brandstatter

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George: This one has been on my radar for a while, and since I was traveling to Paris I decided to take the plunge. (audiobook)

Rebecca Hussey

Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion by Michelle Dean: A book about ten whip-smart lady critics? I’m in! Included in Dean’s discussion are Joan Didion, Mary McCarthy, Rebecca West, and Janet Malcolm, who are four of my favorite writers, and also Dorothy Parker, Hannah Arendt, Susan Sontag, Pauline Kael, Renata Adler, and Norah Ephron. (egalley)

Tiffani Willis

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan: Every month my book club has a theme and we read a book based on that theme. This month’s theme was Asian or Asian American authors and the book that won the vote was Crazy Rich Asians. It’s a soap opera centering on the richest of the richest in Singapore. So far it’s a fun (albeit long) read.

Anthony Karcz

Circe by Madeline Miller: Goddess of magic, the first witch, enchantress, nymph; Miller takes the Greek goddess’s multi-threaded origins and weaves into a satisfying story of a god who is unwilling to sit by and let history happen to her and is fed up with the status quo.

Susie Dumond

Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro: Moss is a sophomore who has suffered from panic attacks and anxiety since witnessing a police officer murder his father. Now, with an increased police presence bringing violence to his underfunded high school, he and his friends are organizing to push back. It speaks to police brutality against people of color, lack of support for public schools, student activism, anxiety, and young queer love. This book is smart, moving, painful at times, and so important. Oshiro has created a beautifully diverse and powerful cast of characters, each with something new to contribute to the conversation. I can’t put it down. (egalley)

Danielle Bourgon

The Unleashing by Shelly Laurenston: My second foray into the world of romance novels. I heard about it on the Book Riot Recommended podcast. So far it is full of Norse mythology and badass women so all signs point towards awesome. (library paperback)

Elizabeth Allen

The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple by Jeff Guinn: My reading kryptonite is books about cults. If you know me, you know this about me. I just can’t help myself. I’ve been looking forward to this book by Jeff Guinn for a bit as this topic is like catnip to me. So far, it does not disappoint. The level of detail and insight into Jones’s childhood and the creation of Peoples Temple is fascinating. The reader is left with a feeling of unease as you learn about Jones’s passion for social justice causes and equal rights. Who wants to cheer on a man who lead 909 people to their deaths? (audiobook)

Steph Auteri  

Dora: A Headcase by Lidia Yuknavitch: After falling deeply, madly in love with Yuknavitch’s Chronology of Water, I have been slowly making my way through the rest of her oeuvre. (paperback)

Jessica Pryde

The Chieftain’s Daughter by Holley Trent: I saw a bunch of people talking about The Viking Queen’s Men on Twitter last week, and went ahead and bought it, having really enjoyed Holley Trent in the past. When I finished it, there were seconds between my turning the last page and hitting the one click button for this, the second in the series. It’s been really hard to put down, but you know, work, money, that kind of thing. (ebook)

Jaime Herndon

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage (St Martins Press, July): I don’t usually go for thrillers or psychological suspense-type books, but when I heard about this one, where a little girl wants to get rid of her mother…permanently, and her mom suspects that all is not quite right with her, I had to read it. (ARC)

Erin McCoy

Bound for Eden by Tess LeSue (May 1, Berkley): Historical Western romances are hard to find out there on bookshelves. I’m not surprised, however, that this book made it through the grueling writing and publishing process. Cowboys are always popular, and I, for one, love a good road trip no matter the time period. Set on the Oregon Trail, the book follows Alex and her siblings as they flee their home heading West. They join up with wagon train leader, Luke, and a case of mistaken identity leads to comedy, heartache, and delicious sprinkling of lust. (galley)

Priya Sridhar

Fantasy & Science Fiction January/February 2018: I hope to one day win over editor Charlie Finlay and earn my spot in this magazine. We have a plethora of compelling tales, that range from ordinary citizens double-thinking dystopias, to alien diplomats getting involved in war. It’s a strong issue, and one that inspires a writer to think what stories can add features to the SFF landscape. (Kindle e-subscription)

Ashley Holstrom

Tease by Amanda Maciel: Sara and her friends are facing criminal harassment and bullying charges after a classmate commits suicide, and Tease is Sara’s version of the story—the chaotic months leading up to the suicide and the lonely months leading up to the trial. It’s complicated and nuanced and I don’t know how I feel about anyone, but I am HOOKED. (audio)

Margaret Kingsbury   

Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism edited by Danielle Barnhart and Iris Mahan: April is National Poetry Month, and this collection seems very appropriate right now. (egalley)

Rachel Brittain

Lifelike by Jay Kristoff (Knopf Books for Young Readers, May 29): I was excited to see that Jay Kristoff (one of the authors of the Illuminae Files) had another YA sci-fi book coming out, especially since it has mechanized gladiators suits, electronic-manipulating superpowers, and robo-sidekicks. I’m only a chapter in so far, but I can definitely say it starts with a bang—and a literal robot death match. (egalley)

Alyssa Eleanor Ross   

Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin Trilogy, Book 1 by Robin LaFevers: I’m racing to finish Grave Mercy by May 1 so I can stay on track to complete this year’s Read Harder Challenge (this book fulfills the new-to-me YA series requirement). Luckily, it’s so fast-paced and juicy I don’t think I’ll have any trouble! Nun assassins, evil plots, dashing courtiers, magic…this is the good stuff. (ebook)

Emily Polson

Junk by Tommy Pico (May 8, Tin House Books): I could’ve finished this longform poem in one sitting if I hadn’t started it on my lunch break. Imagine if Howl were written in modern day by a queer Native American man with a wicked sense of humor. That is this poem, and it is everything. One minute I’m laughing at lines like “I’m writing a // sitcom about butts and counting called Number Two The tag- / line is ‘turn the other cheek’” and the next I’m left speechless with others like “I’m an expert at // peacing out We all have our survival strategies growing up on / the rez America’s first POW camps In a way I’m indebted to // dissociation.” It’s crude, profound, and hilarious in all the right ways, and I can’t wait to finish it.

Christine Hoxmeier

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang: Things I know about this book: there is a prince and there is a dressmaker, they explore gender identity and roles (I think?), the colors are very pleasing (from a quick flip through the book), and most importantly, a lot of the people who work at my local comic book store loved this graphic novel. That is pretty much all I need to know, because I generally love what they love! I’ve been in a bit of a comic reading slump, so I’m hoping this will pull me out and get me into reading more comics again. (paperback)