Summer Beach Reads – Part 2 – More Fiction

Yesterday, I posted part one of my recommendations for summer beach reads.  Today is part two of great fiction beach reads.  Thursday I will post great non-fiction beach reads.  And Friday I will post about books that are not out yet that look to be good summer reads.

Be sure to leave some of your own suggestions in the comments.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerThe Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger – Review

546 pages, 1797 of 2474 reviews are 4 or 5-star

The Time Traveler’s Wife is one of my favorite novels ever.  You may have seen the movie.  The movie is fine, but a great example of a movie that gets the basic story right, but misses all of what makes the book great.

The story is about a man that spontaneously time travels.  And the woman who will eventually become his wife.  When they first meet she is 6 and he is 38.  When he first meets her she is 21 and he is 26.  This is a great book.

This is a book that is only available as paperback or audiobook (the author is opposed to ebooks)

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow RowellEleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell – Review

335 pages, 142 of 156 reviews are 4 or 5-star

I am a fan of good young adult novels.  A good young adult novel can encourage teens to look at things differently, can encourage adults to remember their youth and can encourage everyone to dream of what can be.

Eleanor and Park is set in the mid 1980s, when I was a teen.  Eleanor is poor and abused by her mother’s boyfriend.  Park is the only (half) Asian kid in a small Iowa town.  Neither is what you would call ‘cool’.  But together they forge an unlikely friendship and eventually a romance.  It is one of the better young adult novels I have read in a while. (Still has sex and language and is not for all young adults themselves.)

Wool Omnibus by Hugh HoweyWool Omnibus by Hugh Howey – Review (part 1, part 2)

550 pages, 5107 of 5426 reviews are 4 or 5-star, Lending Enabled, Audiobook is discounted to $1.99 with purchase of Kindle Book 

Wool is an independent author’s phenomenon.  It is not at the number of sales of the 50 Shades series.  But 50 Shades really took off once it was picked up by a major publisher.

Wool is still an independent series that is just being published in paperback because it has sold so well.

Wool is a dystopian world that looks at life in the middle (after the world has gone nuts) but before the recreation can get underway.  Everyone is in the Silo waiting to see when they can come out.

The series unfolds well and if you like them there is a second series that both gives back story and continues the story on, Shift.

Thin Blue Smoke by Doug WargulThin Blue Smoke by Doug Worgul – Review

462 pages, 55 of 55 reviews are 4 or 5-star, Lending Enabled 

Thin Blue Smoke is the cheapest of the books I have suggested (only $3.99).  But it is the most literary of today’s recommendations.  This is a novel about people.  The story line is relatvely thin.  There is not really a lot that happens.  Instead it is a novel about people.  Worgul makes you care about and love the people of this little hole in the wall barbecue joint.

They are all loved by God (and Worgul communicates that by helping you understand how you could love them as well.)  Thin Blue Smoke is not a traditional Christian novel.  But is is on that I think many will love.  In my review I said it is like Wendell Berry, but urban and modern.

Fledgling by Octavia ButlerFledgling by Octavia Butler – Review

320 pages, 96 of 123 reviews are 4 or 5-star, Lending Enabled 

In general I am not a fan of horror or scary novels.  But there is a subset of novels that skirt the edge of that world that I like.  Since Twilight, the vampire novel has had the edge taken off.

And Butler contributes a bit to the nicer, gentler vampires.  But this is still a vampire novel with bite.  These vampires live outside of normal society and are not evil in their being, they are just long lived and therefore less interested in humans.

So this is a middle ground for vampire novels.  It still has a lot of the erotic qualities of older vampire lore.  But none of the sparkles.  Also as Butler tends to do, it is a female vampire that is the lead in this book, which is a welcome change.

Once a Spy by Keith ThompsonOnce a Spy/Twice a Spy by Thomas Keith – Review of Once A Spy and Twice a Spy

I am a big fan of spy fiction.  Once a Spy is a completely new take on the spy novel.  Drummond Clark is one of the elite spies.  But now that he appears to have early onset alzheimers, everyone is after him.  The good guys want to control him, the bad guys want to use him.  His son, who really doesn’t know him (and doesn’t know that he is a spy) is just trying to keep him alive.

This is serious spy story, with a bit of humor and some real family drama.  The second book picks up pretty much right after and continues the story.  Both are well worth reading.

Glittering Images by Susan HowatchGlittering Images by Susan Howatch – Review

450 pages, 30 of 37 reviews are 4 or 5-star

Like Thin Blue Smoke above, this is not really Christian fiction.  Howatch is a Christian, but she is not a ‘Christian Fiction’ author in the way that many Musicians and Actors are not ‘Christian Musicians’ or ‘Christian Actors’.  She has had a long and successful writing career before this series.

Glittering Images is the start of a six novel series (about 2600 pages total) that I loved reading this spring.  In every book there is some sense of romance, they are all historical fiction (ranging from 1930s to 1980s England) and they all deal with religious themes.  If I had to boil the theme down it would be the relation of sin to our spiritual life.  But that is too stark.

This first book deals with a 37 year old Professor/Clergy member that is secretly investigating a Bishop.  While investigating he falls in love with a member of the Bishop’s staff.  The investigations of the Bishop bring up his own issues of sin and shame and half way through the book there is a major shift and the book becomes much more about investigation of spiritual life and the use of Spiritual Directors to bring about healing and repentance.

These are not light reads, but for those that like depth to their summer reading, this is a series I highly recommend.

Boomsday by Christopher BuckleyBoomsday by Christopher Review

Not everything needs to be heavy.  I really like a good comedy.  And Christopher Buckley is one of my favorite comic authors.  Boomsday is about a young political blogger that as a joke suggests that all seniors kill themselves to save the federal budget. But the joke takes on a life of its own.

Other Buckley books that would make good summer reads are Supreme Courtship about a young, pretty TV judge (think a Texan version of Judge Judy but 20 years younger) that gets nominated to the Supreme Court.  The president is frustrated with his nominations being turned down, so he nominates someone so ridiculous that it has to point of the problems with the system.  But she gets approved.  As with many of Buckley’s books there is a fair amount of language and sex in the books.

The other one I really like is God is My Broker, a skewering of the self help book.  ( Review)


This is a good list. I’m going to pick one out. They all sound good. That is funny what you said about Niffenegger not liking ebooks. She must be a strange person. Have you ever read any of her other books?

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