Friday, August 16, 2013

My Summer Haul of Books: Kick off Your School Year

Hall of Fame? 
My Summer Haul of Books is what it's all about. At least, in my little world it is. Every year I like to compile a list of books I read during my vacation and tell you what I loved - or didn't love - about them. So here are my choice picks, most of which you can pick up on Kindle for just a couple of bucks just in time to kick off the school year. 

The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker 

Sherry and her family have been living in a bunker beneath their Los Angeles home for three years. Why? Well, the world above was infested with rabies the last time they checked. But when their food runs out, Sherry and her father hit the road to find supplies. Unfortunately, the rabies has turned the world into a wasteland, and the rabies? It's turned people into monsters. 
Major. Bummer. 

Confession: I read through this book incredibly fast, because I LOVED it. It started right in the middle of the action, and despite Sherry's inept and naive father (never ask him to protect you if the world ends, okay?), Sherry manages to survive with the help of handsome, sweet Joshua. It's got some zombie-ish elements, but these monsters aren't quite the usual walking dead I'm used to reading about. It was awesome. I highly recommend. 

Snag it on Kindle for a mere 3.99 

PODS by Michelle Pickett 
The world is being wiped out by a virus. A select group of people get to survive. Those people will live in underground containment units known as PODs until the virus wipes out everybody above ground and the healthy peeps can surface again and start over. Too bad the government lied. Which, of course, means something bad is about to happen to our main character, Evangeline. 

I had heard about this book a while ago, and I was curious to see how the author pulled it off. She did it well. I loved the first half of the book. She crafts a believable situation and a likable main character. The second half of the book is comprised of half a dozen kissing scenes (I think there were more, I just stopped counting...) that were too repetitive for me, but hey. I'm just that way. It was an excellent read. The love interest, David, is very sweet, and they both adapt to the crazy new world in a believable way. 

Get it on Kindle for 5.79 

Defect by Ryann Kerekes 
When you turn sixteen, you must have a mindscan. If the government finds any scrap of rebellion or malicious intent locked away in your head, it's off to jail you go for a crime you didn't even commit yet. (Sounds frighteningly realistic) But until now, nobody has ever failed the mindscan. Enter Eve Sterling. She fails, and she's shoved into a military training program because she's deemed a "Defect." Her instructor happens to be Will - a swoonworthy soldier with a soft spot for our Eve. 

I. Loved. This. Book. 

Based on the cover, you'd think it was a hardcore steamy romance, but it's not. It's actually very similar to Divergent, and I enjoyed it. It's thrilling, adventurous, romantic and mysterious. It had some romance in it, but even though the description is hawked as a YA novel, I would describe it as Upper YA. It's got language and thematic elements I wouldn't recommend to a younger audience. Still, I think with a different cover, the audience would broaden. 
This book is a bargain on Kindle for 2.99 

Sergeant Rex by Mike Dowling 
The story of one military working dog in the marines and the bond he has with his handler, Mike Dowling. 

I don't normally read nonfiction during the summer. Why? Because I'm just weird, and I usually save the real-life stories for winter and fall. Don't ask. It's a me thing. But this was an exceptionally sweet story about the relationship between one marine and his military working dog, a German Shepherd named Rex. I loved it. I wanted to take Rex home and give him a hug, even though hugging a military dog is a terrible idea if you want to stay alive. Very touching. Definitely recommendable. It gives you a good idea of what our military boys went through during the early 2000s - especially the K9 units. 

Kindle for this is 9.73

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers 
Angel. She's one of the soiled doves of the old west. More specifically, 1850, California. She's known no other life, and the horrors she's gone through since her childhood have made her a walking stone wall. Until good looking Michael Hosea comes along and insists that she marry him. Really. The dude is relentless (and I'm pretty sure just a little bit crazy). And what ensues is a gigantic drama-fest like no other. 

So this is the first Christian fiction book I've ever read in my entire life. (I had to try it sometime, okay?) And here's my confession: I guess I thought Christian books would leave out the thematic elements, but I was wrong. Apparently basing expectations of Christian literature on my experience with Larry Boy was a bit naive. There's plenty of it to go around - tons, actually! It was a gritty, dramatic look into the world of a lost, hopeless prostitute and her quest for happiness. Honestly, Angel was an absolute idiot. She kept making stupid decisions and I was mad at her - and at Michael for failing to dump her butt on a dirt road and let her tough it out in the wilderness. Because that's exactly what she needed and deserved. But that's not what the story needed. It needed...Redeeming Love! A very nice romantic tale that offers its female readers what they're after: A fulfilling ending and a spark of hope, which is more than I can say for most books these days. 

Find it on Kindle for 9.99

Strength by Carrie Butler 

Rena, Rena, Rena. She's got a sharp wit, a strong sense of independence and...just a little bit of a soft spot for the rumored "madman" on campus, Wallace Blake. But don't worry. Wallace is just as handsome as he is mysterious, and hey. Maybe he's not so crazy after all. In fact, maybe there's a lot more to him - and the entire world - than meets the eye. Thus begins Strength, and the beginning of Rena's conundrum - plus a sweet, realistically developed relationship between her and Wallace. 

You know what I really liked about Strength? Like, really liked? Rena's narration.  My girl Carrie has an epic writing voice. In addition, there's a whole host of entertaining and witty supporting characters that keep the story from getting bogged down in plot lulls.  Plus, Wallace is one of those swoonworthy heroes that you love to love. He even takes Rena to church. A real gentleman's gentleman. 
**insert sigh here** And Cole? Oh, my! I can honestly say I do not like the dude. He's got behavioral...issues.  
This one is a total steal on Kindle for 3.99
You should check out some of these books. The authors of Defect, PODs and The Other Life are all up and coming, and I expect great things from them! 


  1. Already have Strength and have been meaning to get PODs for a while. My recommendations would be The Selection by Kiera Cass and Undead and Unfed by Kirsty McKay. Thanks for sharing your reads and thoughts.

    1. Omg, thanks for the recommendations!! They're definitely going on my TBR pile!!! :))

  2. Thank you so much for the shout-out, Summer! <3

    And for anyone who happens to read this before next week, Strength may appear unavailable right now, but it will be back. :)

    1. Yes, ma'am!! My pleasure - I really did love your book!! <3

  3. Impressed by the amount you can consume in a single vacation! Probably amounts to more reading for leisure / pleasure than I reach in a whole year.


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