It's that time of year again: time to roll out the beach towels, stick on those sandals and settle in for a summer of glorious sunshine and endless blue skies.
Or, if you're like me and you live in a place where it rains more often than it shines and practically everyone suffers from Vitamin D deficiency, it's time to wrap up warm and find your summer inside a great book.
Today I'll be taking you on a guided tour of some of my favourite summer reads. If you happen to be out getting that fabulous suntan or showing off your toned beach bod. lucky you - please do share what it's like with us! Why not pick up a few recommendations while you're here?
If you're not so lucky and haven't quite jetted off to a land of golden dunes or poolside snackbars just yet, don't despair! There are plenty of ways to get the holiday in the sun you're yearning for - just look at all the choices there are!
Take a trip to the beach house with The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
This is one of my all-time favourite summer books It's sweet, funny and a perfect introduction to the world of summer stories. The tone may be light-hearted, but the characters are guaranteed to stay with you - they did for me. I'm not ashamed to admit that main character Conrad Fisher remains one of my longest-standing literary crushes - and after reading this book, you'll definitely see why!
Find a place you truly belong with Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
Sarah Dessen is definitely a queen of summer, exemplifying everything you could wish for in a summer book with this gorgeous standalone novel. It's about making choices and not allowing yourself to be defined by others - but there's also something so solid and warm about Along for the Ride it just makes you want to shut up shop and move to the tight-knit town of Colby right away. The fact that here's a cute boy involved is just a bonus!
Venture into a different era with The Year the Gypsies Came by Linzi Glass
This is probably the most unusual book I've ever read in summer - and I love it. It's powerful, moving, heartbreaking and addictive, telling the story of life in apartheid South Africa at a time when the rest of the world was taken up by Beatlemania and Jackie O's dress sense. Twelve-year-old Emily is an engaging protagonist but this is the kind of book that appeals across the generations. The baking heat of Johannesburg in spring is probably more than any of us could handle, but Emily has to deal with her parents' failing marriage, strangers taking over her home, and a devastating series of events which will change her forever. If you're looking for more than your average beach read this year, look no further than this.
For me, however, summer 2013 will definitely be one of new-release YA contemporaries. It's almost impossible to choose, but I've managed to whittle it down to ten books I'll be spending my summer with.
This year, I'll be...
...risking a forbidden romance with The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler
Fans of Sarah Ockler both old and new have been raving about this, her third contemporary novel. The Book of Broken Hearts isn't just a romance, however - there's family, sisterhood and some very cool bikes to bulk up the story of Jude Hernandez, and I for one can't wait to read it.
...seeking answers and healing hearts with When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney
This book has a male viewpoint, cross-continental self-discovery and a dog named Sandy Koufax - what's not to love? Summer for our hero Danny means Tokyo, cherry blossoms and the busy crowds of an even busier city, but travelling there after the death of his mother is different. I'm most looking forward to finding out whether the answers Danny really needs are the ones he can find within himself.
...rediscovering how much friends matter with How I Lost You by Janet Gurtler
This book was published in April but takes place in summer, following the story of best friends Kya and Grace as they navigate their last few months of freedom before senior year kicks in. It's great to see such a strong emphasis on friendship in a book like this, so I'm hoping it'll be a friendship I'll want to remember.
...facing up to the future and making hard choices with Burning by Elana K. Arnold
It wouldn't be summer if there wasn't at least one book that looked at coming of age on the wrong side of the tracks. This is the gritty story of a girl who feels both intensely proud of and horribly trapped by her gypsy roots and a boy who dares to look past everything she thought defined her, and it's a fine addition to anyone's reading list.
...fighting for survival on a desert island with Shipwrecked by Siobhan Curham
Let's face it, nobody could resist a book described as 'Lost meets Gossip Girl'. No matter how bad you think both ill-fated series were, this book promises much in the way of sizzling tension and rollercoaster adventure. Siobhan Curham is an auto-buy author for me, but Shipwrecked is very different from anything she's written before.
...taking a road trip with Right of Way by Lauren Barnholdt
I'm the first to admit that road trip stories haven't always worked for me, but this one really caught my attention. It's character-led and takes the phrase 'holiday romance' to a whole new level - because what happens if that holiday is an endless car journey and the romance has turned to resentment and hatred? Intriguing!
...indulging in geekdom with The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller
Released in May, this looks like a great way to start a summer of reading. Most of us have guilty geek pleasures we don't talk about - but this is your chance to let them shine in the name of nerd pride!
...becoming a rebel with The Summer Prince by Alaya Johnson
I don't think I've ever come across a book as unique as this one. A tropical tale bursting with passion, rebellion and technology, it's a vivid and fiery adventure set deep in the heart of futuristic Brazil. Even the synopsis pulses with the heartbeat of a cityscape like no other. I can't wait to get my hands on it.
...asking questions and discovering secrets with Golden by Jessi Kirby
Everyone's talking about Jessi Kirby and from what I know about this book, I'm not surprised. This isn't just a book about a girl taking a chance and living a little. It's not just a book about the most popular couple in school. There's a strong plot and a real blend of mystery and contemporary which makes it stand out from the crowd.
...catching up on what I've missed with Perfect Escape by Jennifer Brown
This book was published last year, and for me it's one I definitely regret not reading sooner. It focuses on a sibling bond and what it's like to have to compete for space with OCD. Kendra cares about her brother, but in the end his condition always seems to dominate her life. It's very brave of this author to tackle such a tough subject from an even tougher viewpoint, and that's what makes me want to read it.
I'll also be trying to finally get around to My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick - it's been on my wishlist for way too long and I think I may spontaneously combust if I don't get to read it soon!
What are you looking forward to reading this summer?
-Ariannea Rafflecopter giveaway
To be in with a chance of winning some of Arianne's favourite summer reads, just fill in the rafflecopter form below.
One lucky winner will get to choose from the following prize packs:
Prize Pack #1: The Summer Classic: The Summer I turned Pretty & Along for the Ride.
Prize Pack #2: The 2013 Contemp Special: How I Lost You & The Summer I Became a Nerd.
-- Or you can mix & match between packs!
Competition is open internationally (Wherever The Book Depository ships).
Competition Ends: July 21st 2013.
Don't forget you can also enter to win some great summer reads in my Summer Spotlight Launch Party Giveaway: CLICKY