Summertime and the living is easy or so they say. All that free time but what to do? More importantly what to read? There’s way too many choices these days and what happens when you go into a library and they don’t have what you’re looking for? Ugh, so frustrating! You do have a few choices: you can browse the shelves, you can ask friend or a trusted librarian for recommendations, check the Summer Reading book lists or... you can read this post. I’ve researched some of the most ask for genres at branches and compiled some great read-alikes. Surely there’s something here that’ll do the trick.
Spies & Assassins
If you like action, adventure, mystery, international locales and perhaps just a bit of romance then this is the genre for you! Maybe you’ve read Anthony Horowitz’s amazing teen spy series featuring Alex Rider. Starting with Stormbreaker, it follows a teen spy as he’s recruited by Britain's MI6 agency and sent off on dangerous missions around the globe. In the new companion novel, Russian Roulette, you get the inside story on one of Alex’s worst nemesis, assassin-for-hire Yassen Gregoravich. You might also enjoy the Young James Bond series by Charlie Higson. Set in the 1930s, it starts with SilverFin and shows what it takes to become the world’s most famous secret agent. Another great series is CHERUB starting with The Recruit by Robert Muchamore. It follows boys and girls as they're recuited, trained and sent out on secret missions. If you enjoy that series you’ll be happy to know that there are many installments and two companion series Cherub series 2 and The Henderson Boys set during World War II). If you want something a little darker, try Boy Nobody about a nameless boy assassin sent to kill the Mayor of New York City but things get complicated when he falls for the mayor's daughter. Something lighter is Au Revoir Crazy European Chick (Summer Reading 2014 title), a laugh out loud, rapid-fire read that has Perry following his nerdy Lithuainian prom date through NYC as she goes on a killing spree, turns out she’s actually a femme fatale assassin on a mission!
Girls are never left out of the spy equation and a good, girl spy series is the popular Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter starting with I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You about a top secret boarding school for young spies. Then there's Also Known As by Robin Benway about a 16-year-old safecracker and active-duty daughter of international spies sent out on her first mission. Or maybe you'll like Two Lies and a Spy about a girl searching for her missing spy parents who gets caught up in a love triangle. Then there's Spies & Prejudice, a fun play on the classic Pride & Prejudice that combines love and corporate espionage. Continuing the romance theme, there’s Arm of the Starfish (Summer Reading 2014 title) by Madeline L’Engle. Set in Portugal, it’s a story of chance meetings, science and international intrigue (including murder and kidnapping!).
If you like your girl spies and assassins to come with costumes and a historical setting start with the excellent Grave Mercy by Robin Lafevers (Summer Reading 2014 title). Part of the His Fair Assassins trilogy, it is the riveting tale of Ismae, rescued from a brutal marriage by a convent of nun assassins in 15th century France and then trained to become a femme fatale assassin herself. Her first mission is to act as the mistress to the handsome brother of a young duchess and protect her from harm. The second book in the trilogy, Dark Triumph, is just as good as the first although a bit darker in theme. Other historical spy novels are the Maid of Secrets series set at the court of Queen Elizabeth I and Palace of Spies series set at the royal court in London during the early 18th century. For a more fantastical approach, there's Sarah Maas epic Throne of Glass series about a master female assassin caught in a web of court intrigue and lies and Etiquette & Espionage set in a Steampunk Victorian England at a school that is more about knife throwing and deceit lessons than art and dance.
John Green/The Fault in Our Stars Read-a-Likes
If you’ve read The Fault in Our Stars and cried like a baby, you’re not alone. Hands down it’s one of the library’s most popular titles this summer. If you’re looking for something to read afterwards you could try one of Green's other award-winning titles: Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (written with David Levithan). Or you could read This Star Won’t Go Out, the journal memoir of Esther Earl, the girl who inspired John Green to write TFIOS. However, if you can’t find any of those either, don’t get discouraged there are plenty of other books and authors that give you the the same heart breaking honesty, the same wit and charm and the same profound sense of hope that a John Green novel gives you.
If you haven’t read Gayle Forman before prepare to be blown away! Start with If I Stay (coming to movie theaters in August!), the story of a girl dealing with a horrible tragedy and figuring out whether or not to move on with her life. The story continues three years later in Where She Went from her (ex) boyfriend, Adam's, p.o.v. as he deals with his own issues. Have tissues handy! Another great Forman novel is Just One Day (Summer Reading 2014 title). Allison has one life changing day in Paris after she meets the handsome and charming actor, Willem. That story continues from Willem's perspective in Just One Year. They will have you believing in chance meetings and fate.
Other great authors whose every book are solid winners are Sarah Dessen, Laurie Halse Anderson, Courtney Summers, Jennifer E. Smith and Rainbow Rowell. If you haven’t read Rowell’s beautiful Eleanor & Park yet, RUN don’t walk to your nearest library! Also try E. Lockhart’s latest We Were Liars, a short but jaw dropping story of family, jealousy and lost memories. Deb Caletti is another author that fills her books with love, heart break and family. She never fails to impress and in her latest The Last Forever, she explores what it truly means to move past tragedy and love unconditionally. In It’s Kind of a Funny Story, author Ned Vizzini tackles teen depression, mental hospitals and first love with a large dose of understanding and humor. The author commited suicide last year, after his own long battle with depression, bringing even more poignancy to the novel. Author Jandy Nelson’s heartfelt The Sky is Everywhere has a shy girl dealing with the sudden loss of her sister and the guilt that comes with finding love and happiness in the midst of all that grief.
If its teens dealing with the reality of a terminal illness that perks your interest there are some great titles for you. Try Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor about the power of friendship when one friend is disgnosed with Leukemia. Or the tissue worthy Before I Die by Jenny Downham in which a dying British girl is determined to live and die by her own terms and that includes falling in love with the boy next door. In the comitragic The Probability of Miracles, terminally ill Cam moves with her miracle-seeking mother and sister to a town in Maine known for it's healing properties. And lastly, there is the odd but sweet Noggin by John Corey Whaley. Whaley who wow’ed with his beautiful and poignant first novel Where Things Come Back, gives us the story of Travis who, dying from cancer, has had his head removed and cryogenically frozen. Five years later, after everyone has moved on, his head is reattached to a healthy body. It’s a weird premise that has a beautiful heart and reverberates with honest emotion.
Find anything here you like? Do you have any titles to suggest that I might have missed? Please leave your suggestions below.