Readers' Favorite

Featured Post

Reflections on the #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I discussed different book genres/categories. Each day, I gave a few details about the genre/catego...

June 14, 2017

Summer Splash – A Wave of #SummerBooks for the Beach, Pool, and Lake

by Alison DeLuca

beach scene
photo courtesy of Pixabay
Summer means water in various forms: the lake, the pool, the beach. And of course, I’m going to need books while my husband and daughter wakeboard, skim board, surf, and waterski. Those two are athletic and love challenging themselves on the water. As for mom, not so much.
Amazon affiliate links are used in this post.

So while those two flail and wipe out and catch wicked surf, I’ll be under my umbrella with a novel, thank you very much. Here’s what’s on my to-be-read list:

cover of Sweetbitter
Sweetbitter – This book has received wildly different reviews. Some people hate its tone of ‘AP Writing Class’, others love Stephanie Danler’s use of language. Just between us, I couldn’t wait to dive into this 1st-person account of a backwaiter (aka busser) in a fancy New York restaurant.

As a former waitress, I'm enthralled by the description of restaurant life. It's great to revisit the kitchen pick up / picking up scenes and the post-dinner hangout with the restaurant workers.

However, I never lived in New York. Danler's scenes of fitting into the city, becoming something new in the big city, are a nice discovery. And I love the characters: Tess, the young backwaiter, meets a mysterious duo in Simone and Jake. In a way, she falls in love with them both.

It takes strength and courage to write a story that confronts weakness and all the human nasties we hide during the day. Danler, as far as I can see, is doing a great job of airing her server’s black and white linen.

Buy Sweetbitter at Amazon

cover of Do Not Become Alarmed
Do Not Become Alarmed – Another novel with feedback all over the spectrum, this is the story of two families on a cruise. During an ashore excursion, the kids disappear and the parents turn on each other. The point of view includes the children, who discover how strong they can be during a catastrophe.

If Sweetbitter is written with poetry, Alarmed is a much simpler style. Again, some readers don’t like that. My peek inside showed me a self-assured writer who amply handles the action she’s serving up. In my case, this is a Yes Please.

Buy Do Not Become Alarmed at Amazon
cover of The Fireman
The Fireman – I’m a sucker for Joe Hill, and this story of a pandemic that causes people to burst into flames is a Must Read for me. I know I’m late to the party on this one, but there was a reason for that – cough, expensive Kindle book, cough.

I refused to pay that much for a book I might not enjoy, so finally, I got my act together and took it out of the library. My sample shows a compelling thriller with Hill’s usual fascinating broken characters. Harper is a nurse whose husband is losing it when faced with the epidemic. When she discovers she’s contracted the disease, she has to depend on the mysterious Fireman to save her – and her unborn child.

Since I'm enjoying it and it's a large volume, I'll go ahead and load it on my Kindle.

Buy The Fireman at Amazon

cover of The Summer Book
The Summer Book – Really. That’s the title. This collection of vignettes about 6-year-old Sophia and her grandmother is by Tove Jansson. Anyone know who she is? Anyone?

This Finnish author wrote some of the most beloved books of my childhood, the Moomin series. Basically, Tove could write laundry lists and I’d read them. Add this to my list.

Buy The Summer Book at Amazon

cover of My Family and Other Animals
My Family and Other Animals – by Gerald Durrell, this is another classic. You’ve read it already, right? RIGHT? No? Well then. I’m very jealous. Oh, to be you, new reader – about to dive into this delicious romp about a British widow and her children on the island of Corfu. It’s told through the eyes and ears of Gerald, who spent his days collecting animals of all kinds, often with hilarious results.

In Greece, the family meets the most incredible characters. Honestly, this is one of the few books that made me laugh out loud. My copy is falling apart, so I plan to buy a new one and reread this summer.

Buy My Family & Other Animals at Amazon

Maybe you're tired and need something else to do? 

Here’s my Mom Brain bonus, complete with a series to marathon and games to play when you’re just too tired to read:

Poster for Riverdale TV series

Series to stream 

Riverdale – This noir take on the Archie comics (yes, The Archies) was a bit of a yawn until I realized Jughead (yes, Jughead) is one of the greatest characterizations I’ve seen on TV in years. All the kids get compelling backstories, including my favorite girl, Betty, and Veronica – who is fantastic.
I just didn’t get into any of the storylines about Archie himself. Sorry, writers: abs do not equal compelling plotlines. MmHmm.

Games to play 

Quick version – Need a short game to get your zen on during a coffee break? has tons of 10-minute escape games, complete with links and hints. There are longer games as well, such as....

map for Kingdom of Loathing
Adventure and collect items to climb the Sorceress's Tower

Long version – Want something to take you through the summer? Check out the, an ingenious free browser-based adventure game. Don’t worry about getting too sucked in, since you only get 40 turns a day (and they will fly by.)

The graphics are stick figures, but the story takes place in your head. Before you know it, you’ll be attempting an Ascension of the Naughty Sorceress’s Tower and fighting your own shadow (good luck with that one!)

I started this column with water. Reading books at the beach is fun, but eventually, you'll finish the book and summer will roll into fall. If you want to make a lasting change this season, consider visiting, a charity that seeks to bring water to children and families where there is little or no potable water.

What summer recommendations do you have?

Alison DeLuca is the author of several steampunk and urban fantasy books.  She was born in Arizona and has also lived in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Mexico, Ireland, and Spain.
Currently she wrestles words and laundry in New Jersey.

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.


  1. Great recommendations. Thanks Donna!

  2. The Joe Hill book looks interesting. What could be better then Fun in the Sun and a guilty reading pleasure?