A Few New Releases For Your Summer Reading List

Finding new releases you enjoy can be hard. We see pretty covers in bookstores, certain titles over and over on Bookstagram, and quotes from authors who may or may not have read the book splashed across the backs of books, but often there’s simply not enough to go on to try to determine if a book is right for you.
Below I’m giving my frank reviews of a few of the books I received from publishers that have already come out this summer, with the exception of Where the Crawdads Sing, which comes out on August 7. I liked them to varying degrees myself, but also know that everyone’s reading tastes are so different, so I hope you can read between the lines of my thoughts to help yourself see whether or not it’s a book you’ll enjoy.  After all, reading is such a unique experience.  Isn’t it so interesting how many factors that we aren’t even fully aware of go into what makes us fall in love with a book or cast it aside? Or how you can think that a book is so perfectly wonderful and then pass it on to a friend who just doesn’t get it? Or put down a book in disgust only to pick it up again at some point later and find that it’s just what you need? I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the X factors that go into our enjoyment of books, from our personality quirks to the happy coincidences that might be occuring in our lives at the moment, and it’s definitely a complex formula.  Ah the wonderful mysteries of our reading lives : ).
If you like some cheese with your romance, a detailed English setting, and a healthy dose of British lit…
Julia Whelan’s My Oxford Year
Romance is not a genre I reach for, but I enjoyed this one because of the rich details of the Oxford setting that made me long to leap into the pages and the delightful sprinkling of English literature nerdiness throughout.  It wasn’t a book that I would particularly rave about, but it reminded me of Me Before You with a less quirky main character and I’d say it’s a good one to toss into your carry-on or beach bag if you’re looking to vicariously live in Oxford and enjoy an emotional rollercoaster of a romance. Thank you to William Morrow for the free review copy.
If you like some lightness in a complex story of family and secrets and loss, precocious children narrators, and multiple points of view…
Katy Regan’s Little Big Love
Ohh this one is gooood. I’ve seen it around, but I feel like it hasn’t gotten the attention that it deserves. I was thoroughly swept up in the emotional journeys of these characters. It’s one of those books that while I was reading I kept thinking to the author: “Do not mess this up! Do not turn this nuanced, beautifully aching and authentic story into something cliche or overwrought!”. She does not. I highly recommend this one for your summer reading lists when you’re looking for a book with substance and complexity that won’t bog you down. Thank you to Berkley Publishing for the free review copy.
If you like richly atmospheric writing, murder mystery thrills, and family drama…
Delia Owens’ Where The Crawdads Sing
The writing in this is so evocative and atmospheric. I found myself becoming fascinated with the rich descriptions of the wildlife of the marsh, which is not something I expected.  The beautiful writing is coupled with both the sad tale of a young girl abandoned by her family and murder, intrigue, and courtroom drama.  I was mostly taken by the writing and setting and usually don’t like quite this much drama in my stories, but I found myself completely absorbed by the story and I can really see this book being a favorite summer read for many of you.  Thank you to Putnam Books for the free review copy.
If you like a quirky narrator who doesn’t fit into society, modern Japanese culture, and are looking for something short and sweet…
Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman
This one wasn’t for me, but I think I had too high expectations.  The book was compared to Amelie, one of my favorite movies, and it made it onto the Modern Mrs. Darcy Summer Reading Guide, so I was very excited.  Unfortunately, for me, unlike other books with quirky narrators who don’t fit into society, like The Rosie Project and Eleanor Oliphant is Just Fine, I felt like the voice in this one was constantly drawing attention to itself as different, which took away from the absorbing effect that those other books have. It left me feeling blah and disconnected (perhaps that was purposeful?), but other readers seem to have really enjoyed Keiko’s unique voice and the convenience store culture in Japan.  Thank you to Grove Atlantic for the free review copy.
I have a few other new releases I’m hoping to write about soon, but with a baby coming any day now we’ll see when that might be! In the meantime, please let me know what books you’ve really enjoyed reading this summer and how you try to figure out what books are ones you’re likely to like!

If you would like to join in on the fun, please go to the submissions page!

*If you are interested in buying any of the books mentioned here, please use my link to Powell’s Books below. Any support is deeply appreciated.

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