2021 Summer Reading Guide

Spring is in the air and summer is almost here. And that means, books, books, books!

There are so many great books that have come out recently and are coming out. Of course, they’re all on my TBR pile.

After reading Mexican Gothic, I’ve been keeping an eye on Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Untamed Shore came out in February 2020, but it has a summery feel. And keeping in line with Mexican Gothic, Untamed Shore is a coming-of-age set in Mexico.

Untamed Shore by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

A coming-of-age story set in Mexico quickly turns dark when a young woman meets three enigmatic tourists.

Baja California, 1979. Viridiana spends her days watching the dead sharks piled beside the seashore, as the fishermen pull their nets. There is nothing else to do, nothing else to watch, under the harsh sun. She’s bored. Terribly bored. Yet her head is filled with dreams of Hollywood films, of romance, of a future beyond the drab town where her only option is to marry and have children.

Three wealthy American tourists arrive for the summer, and Viridiana is magnetized. She immediately becomes entwined in the glamorous foreigners’ lives. They offer excitement, and perhaps an escape from the promise of a humdrum future.

When one of them dies, Viridiana lies to protect her friends. Soon enough, someone’s asking questions, and Viridiana has some of her own about the identity of her new acquaintances. Sharks may be dangerous, but there are worse predators nearby, ready to devour a naïve young woman who is quickly being tangled in a web of deceit.

Keeping up with the Silvia Moreno-Garcia theme, The Beautiful Ones came out a few days ago, and I’m ready to settle in with it.

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Beautiful Ones

They are the Beautiful Ones, Loisail’s most notable socialites, and this spring is Nina’s chance to join their ranks, courtesy of her well-connected cousin and his calculating wife.

But the Grand Season has just begun, and already Nina’s debut has gone disastrously awry. She has always struggled to control her telekinesis—neighbors call her the Witch of Oldhouse—and the haphazard manifestations of her powers make her the subject of malicious gossip.

When entertainer Hector Auvray arrives to town, Nina is dazzled. A telekinetic like her, he has traveled the world performing his talents for admiring audiences. He sees Nina not as a witch, but ripe with potential to master her power under his tutelage. With Hector’s help, Nina’s talent blossoms, as does her love for him.

But great romances are for fairytales, and Hector is hiding a truth from Nina—and himself—that threatens to end their courtship before it truly begins.

The Beautiful Ones is a charming tale of love and betrayal, and the struggle between conformity and passion, set in a world where scandal is a razor-sharp weapon.

Coming out in August, The Tale of Princess Fatima, Warrior Woman: The Arabic Epic of Dhat Al-Himma, by Melanie Magidow (editor) has been published for the first time in English! It tells the tale of a legendary medieval warrior universally known throughout the Middle East and long overdue to join world literature’s pantheon of female heroes.

The Tale of Princess Fatima, Warrior Woman: The Arabic Epic of Dhat Al-Himma

A fearsome, sword-slinging heroine who defeated countless men in stealth attacks on horseback, Dhat al-Himma, or Princess Fatima, was secretly given away at birth because she wasn’t male, only to triumph as the most formidable warrior of her time.

Known alternately as she-wolf, woman of high resolve, and calamity of the soul, she lives on in this rousing narrative of female empowerment, in which she leads armies of more than seventy thousand men in clashes between rival tribes and between Muslims and Christians; reconciles with her father after taking him prisoner; and fends off her infatuated cousin, who challenges her to a battle for the right to marry her.

Though her cousin suffers an ignominious defeat, he impregnates Fatima against her will and, when she gives birth to a Black son, disowns his own son, who also grows up to be a great warrior, eventually avenging his mother’s honor. The epic culminates in a showdown between Fatima and another formidable woman warrior, and earns Fatima a place alongside the likes of Circe, Mulan, Wonder Woman, Katniss Everdeen and other powerful women.

By the author of The Silent Patient, Alex Michaelides comes out with another intriguing book, also about a murderer.

The Maidens

Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek Tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike—particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens.

Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana’s niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.

Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld?

When another body is found, Mariana’s obsession with proving Fosca’s guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships. But Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything—including her own life. 

My mother being from Trinidad & Tobago, I’m especially excited about this fun, lively, and musical book by Sarah Dass, set in Tobago.

Where the Rhythm Takes You

Seventeen-year-old Reyna has spent most of her life at her family’s gorgeous seaside resort in Tobago, the Plumeria. But what once seemed like paradise is starting to feel more like purgatory.

It’s been two years since Reyna’s mother passed away, two years since Aiden – her childhood best friend, first kiss, first love, first everything – left the island to pursue his music dreams. Reyna’s friends are all planning their futures and heading abroad. Even Daddy seems to want to move on, leaving her to try to keep the Plumeria running.

And that’s when Aiden comes roaring back into her life – as a VIP guest at the resort.

Aiden is now one-third of DJ Bacchanal – the latest, hottest music group on the scene. While Reyna has stayed exactly where he left her, Aiden has returned to Tobago with his Grammy-nominated band and two gorgeous LA socialites. And he may (or may not be) dating one of them…

Inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Where the Rhythm Takes You is a romantic, mesmerizing novel of first love and second chances.

Tahereh Mafi needs no introduction in the YA book realm, and yet again, she comes out with another book that’s sure to be as delightful, yet serious, as her others.

An Emotion of Great Delight

From bestselling and National Book Award–nominated author Tahereh Mafi comes a stunning novel about love and loneliness, navigating the hyphen of dual identity, and reclaiming your right to joy—even when you’re trapped in the amber of sorrow.

It’s 2003, several months since the US officially declared war on Iraq, and the American political world has evolved. Tensions are high, hate crimes are on the rise, FBI agents are infiltrating local mosques, and the Muslim community is harassed and targeted more than ever. Shadi, who wears hijab, keeps her head down.

She’s too busy drowning in her own troubles to find the time to deal with bigots.

Shadi is named for joy, but she’s haunted by sorrow. Her brother is dead, her father is dying, her mother is falling apart, and her best friend has mysteriously dropped out of her life. And then, of course, there’s the small matter of her heart—

It’s broken.

Shadi tries to navigate her crumbling world by soldiering through, saying nothing. She devours her own pain, each day retreating farther and farther inside herself until finally, one day, everything changes.

She explodes.

An Emotion of Great Delight is a searing look into the world of a single Muslim family in the wake of 9/11. It’s about a child of immigrants forging a blurry identity, falling in love, and finding hope—in the midst of a modern war.

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