Bees, Bots, & Bits: My Favorite Summer Books of 2014
This Summer was a season of unique young adult books, awesome sequels better than the first books, and conclusions to book series that I’ve adored. And that’s okay. I can deal with that. I’ve had a good cry (or eight), and I’m recovering.
Now that September is here, I figured I’d ramble a little bit about some of my favorite reads this Summer. These are all books that came out during the Summer, mind you. I read a lot of amazing YA novels that didn’t, like The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson, Dueled by Elsie Chapman, and The Well’s End by Seth Fishman. I highly recommend you pick those three up ASAP.
In the meantime, check these Summer reads out, and add them to your to-read lists.
Honestly, you’ve never read a coming of age story quite like this one. Adam is a YA novel that I’ll make my kids read, touching on gender and sexuality in a way no other novel really has… with plenty of humor and heart.
DEADOUT (Jon McGoran): If you’re a friend of mine here in Philadelphia, you’ve probably heard me prattling on and on about Jon McGoran. Local folks might know his name from GRID Magazine, or any of the many other local projects he’s had his hands in. But he’s also one hell of an amazing author, and his novel with TOR last year, DRIFT, was one of my favorite reads of the year.
This year, Tor published the sequel in McGoran’s amazing series. DEADOUT. It’s a must purchase. Topical, thrilling, dark… full of mystery and intrigue. Jon manages to entertain and teach at the same time, exploring complicated issues surrounding how bio-engineering
alters our natural world. In this case, the mass death of bees everywhere.
My favorite thing about reading Jon’s books, is how I inevitably end up in Wikipedia Hell as a result, reading up on every little thing I don’t quite fully understand. I love it.
DELIVER ME (Kate Jarvik Birch): One of the perks of having INKED (add it on Goodreads, guys!) coming out with Bloomsbury’s digital imprint, Bloomsbury Spark, is that their list is currently still pretty small, with just a few books publishing here and there.
Which means I have time to read every single book that comes out.
The latest Spark title I picked up, Deliver Me by Kate Jarvik Birch, is a YA dystopian title that’s really different from any other I’ve read as of late. A screwed up, corrupt, utilitarian government? Yeah, we’ve got that. But in this society, girls are kept separate from men most of their life, and are taught to aspire to become “vessels” as teenagers… women who will carry babies and the future of the world’s society.
It’s a really dark story, and wow, it was amazing.
Side note, Kate had another novel come out fairly recently with Entangled called PERFECTED, which I’ve made a note to pick up next time I’m in my local bookstore.
And now I have to type a little extra here so the book cover line up right. Hi. Hello. You look nice today.
GUY IN REAL LIFE (Steven Brezenoff): This was my Best Book 0f 2014 (So Far) pick over on BookRiot back in July, and you know what? It still is my favorite book of the year.
I pretty much ramble about this wonderful geek love story any chance I get. A book that felt like it was written specifically for me, Guy In Real Life features two mismatched geeks and a story that’s incredibly endearing.
And that cover. I need a poster of that 8-bit, inspired by the Golden age of LucasFilm / Sierra age art. I am eagerly awaiting Brezenoff’s next novel, and will be one of the first people to pre-order it.
I didn’t just discover a favorite new read this year with Guy in Real Life. I found a new favorite author. I feel like I need a studio audience to say “aww” right now.
IN REAL LIFE (Cory Doctorow): I adore Doctorow’s writings. Like Jon McGoran, I can’t walk away from a Doctorow novel without feeling as though I’ve really learned something.
In the case of In Real Life, his graphic novel with First Second (I ramble about it on BookRiot here), Doctorow discusses real world economics in the digital landscape of MMORPGs. And he does so through a sweet, touching story about a girl finding her place in the world, both real and virtual.
ROBOGENESIS (Daniel H. Wilson): Robopocolypse by Daniel H. Wilson is one of my favorite pieces of science fiction in recent memory. A thrilling novel about the robot uprising, written by an author who actually worked with robots, it’s World War Z only with bots. And I tell everyone I meet to read it.
I was shocked when I found out there was going to be a sequel to what I felt was a perfect stand alone title. But there it was at Book Expo America 2014, a huge poster of the book’s cover. I pre-ordered it immediately, and the day it showed up, I stayed up two nights in a row, powering through Wilson’s exciting narrative.
Pick up the first book first, obviously. And once you’ve torn through that, enjoy the sequel. It’s just as good, if not better, than the first.
STRANGE & EVER AFTER (Susan Dennard): I discovered Susan Dennard last year, when I was busy devouring as much YA as I could. It was research, I said to myself, staying up way too late to finish her first and second novels. Her Strange & Ever After series, a great trilogy full of love, fantasy, and zombies (in Philadelphia!), quickly became one of my favorites. I even picked up the eBook novellas.
The wonderful trilogy came to a close this August with Strange & Ever After, and now I just have to sit here, anxiously awaiting her next series with Tor. Truthwitch.
WORLD OF TROUBLE (Ben H. Winters): Am I allowed to talk about books I worked on at Quirk? Will this get me sent to book jail? I’m always worried about that. But whatever. Some risks you just have to take, you guys.
Before I started working at Quirk, I was a fan of Ben H. Winters. I loved his mashup books, and over the past few years, it has been a real thrill working with him, marketing his books to the Internets. And not just that, but watching him grow as a novelist, from writing mashups to penning the Edgar-award winning sci-fi mystery, The Last Policeman.
I remember when The Last Policeman was presented to Quirk, during our usual acquisitions meeting. The second our publisher, Jason Rekulak, read the synopsis, I wanted to read that book. I needed it in my hands immediately. And now, three years later, the series is coming to an end, has been published in a ton of languages, and has become one of my favorite series. Ever.
The final book in his award-winning trilogy, World of Trouble, came out in July. I read it quickly, cried a lot at the end, and continue to tell everyone I can to read this series.
It is fantastic, and I can’t wait to see what he does next. Great job, Ben!