Summertime, and the Reading Is Easy: Genre Fiction Summer Reads

By Getaway, by Lisa BrackmannALA RUSA-CODES Reading List Council Members

Summer is the perfect time to dive into genre fiction, and members of the American Library Association’s Reading List Council, which annually present its picks for the best in genre fiction, are happy to share some of their favorite summer reading choices. The eight genres the council currently considers include adrenaline titles (suspense, thrillers, and action adventure), fantasy, historical fiction, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction, and women’s fiction. The below list pairs each 2012 release with an older read-alike. Whether you choose one of the new books or one of the backlist read-alikes (in grey), you’re sure to find a perfect summer read.


Brackmann, Lisa. Getaway. Soho, dist. by Random House. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9781616950712. pap. $15. F

On vacation in the Mexican resort town of Puerto Vallarta, newly widowed Michelle Mason has a fling with a good-looking stranger named Daniel. But after Daniel is attacked in her room and she is arrested for drug possession, Michelle quickly realizes that her holiday romance is turning into a nightmare. Her only option is to locate Daniel and hope he can help her find a way out of this mess before it is too late. VERDICT The ideal staycation thriller for armchair travelers from the author of the best-selling Rock Paper Tiger.

Child, Lincoln. The Third Gate. Doubleday. Jun. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780385531382. $25.95. F

Archaeologist Porter Stone and Yale professor Jeremy Logan delve deeply into the swamps of Northern Sudan in search of a powerful artifact: the crown of King Narmer, the first pharaoh of Egypt. VERDICT A master of spine-chilling suspense, Child (Terminal Freeze) creates a tension-filled, fast-paced adventure sure to please fans of the supernatural thriller.

Haynes, Elizabeth. Into the Darkest Corner. Harper: HarperCollins. Jun. 2012. 416p. ISBN 9780062197252. $25.99. F

This intensely dark and suspenseful tale is told through two parallel storylines. One, set four years in the past, centers on the young and vivacious Catherine Bailey, barhopping with her girlfriends and looking for love. The second storyline focuses on Catherine’s life in the present, in which she has changed her name, moved to a new city, trusts no one, and compulsively checks the locks on her doors and windows. What happened to her in the intervening years and can she reclaim her life? VERDICT This chilling debut tale of obsession will keep readers awake late into the night.


Harkness, Deborah. Shadow of Night. Viking. (All Souls Trilogy). Jul. 2012. 592p. ISBN 9780670023486. $28.95. F

Picking up where last summer’s best-selling A Discovery of Witches left off, geneticist and vampire Matthew Clairmont and Oxford scholar and witch Diana Bishop travel back in time to Elizabethan England to hunt for the enchanted Ashmole 782 manuscript and to seek magic lessons for Diana. VERDICT Readers who enjoyed the first book’s striking detail and complex world-building will be equally as thrilled with this second book in the trilogy, as Harkness, a scholar herself (history, Univ. of Southern California), focuses her lens on the denizens, culture, and geography of late 16th-century Europe.


Miller, Madeline. The Song of Achilles. Ecco: HarperCollins. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9780062060617. $25.99. F

Patroclus, exiled prince of ancient Greece and lover of the famous warrior Achilles, is at the center of this romantic tale, Miller’s first novel, which also features many other mythical heroes, both human and divine, with the Trojan War as a backdrop. VERDICT The interference of the Greek deities in mortals’ daily lives makes for a stunning mix of larger-than-life action and authentically human emotions, while stellar writing and sympathetic portrayals of complex characters breathe new life into an ancient story.

Rash, Ron. The Cove. Ecco: HarperCollins. 2012. 272p. ISBN 9780061804199. $26.99. F

In the rural North Carolina mountains, Laurel, an outcast and supposed witch, lives with her brother, maimed during World War I, in a cove the townspeople believe is haunted. She comes upon a mute stranger in the woods playing a silver flute. Their meeting changes the lives of these three protagonists in unexpected and glorious ways. VERDICT Haunting, poetic and wise, Rash’s (Serena) latest novel is a book to savor on long summer days.


Powers, Tim. Hide Me Among the Graves. Morrow. 2012. 528p. ISBN 9780061231544. $25.99. F

The late John Polidori, author of The Vampyre, returns to Victorian London to haunt his young relations, Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his sister, poet Christina. Polidori’s malevolent presence prompts the siblings to join forces with a reformed prostitute and the father of her missing child, whose life is also threatened by Polidori, to destroy the vampiric creature. This is a semi-sequel to The Stress of Her Regard (1990), a supernatural take on the Romantic poets, from the always inventive and genre-blending Powers. VERDICT A fascinating exploration of the fine line between inspiration and insanity, this horror/historical fiction/adrenalin blend will make your flesh creep and your heart pound.


Barr, Nevada. The Rope. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. (Anna Pigeon Mysteries). 2012. 368p. ISBN 9780312614577. $25.99. F

Summer in the National Park Service would seem like a great opportunity to mend a wounded spirit, but when a young Anna Pigeon signs up for seasonal work at a park on the shores of Utah’s Lake Powell she finds herself in serious trouble. The story opens with Anna trapped in an isolated canyon, wounded, drugged, and unsure of who put her there. Anna’s attempt to escape and find out who wants her dead makes for a tension-filled tale. VERDICT This prequel to Barr’s long-running series (Burn; Borderline) gives fans a terrific new look at a beloved crime fiction character.


Quinn, Julia. A Night Like This. Avon. (Smythe-Smith Quartet). Jun. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9780062072900. pap. $7.99 F

Long-time Quinn fans remember the Smythe-Smith family from her popular series about the Bridgertons. In this second book in the more recent series (after Just Like Heaven), she focuses on the burgeoning relationship between Daniel, the lone Smythe-Smith brother, and governess Anne Wynter. VERDICT A governess and an exiled Earl? This is, of course, the perfect pairing for a Quinn novel, as usual full of fantastic characters and a sweet and spicy romance.


Thompson, Karen Walker. The Age of Miracles. Random. Jun. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9780812992977. $26. F

This melancholy debut novel examines the impact of a global natural disaster on ordinary people. When the earth’s rotation slows to a crawl, resulting in longer days, civilization begins to unravel. Eleven-year-old Julia documents society’s steady decline while coping with the challenges of everyday life, such as friendship and first love. VERDICT Beautifully written and with great appeal for both teens and adults, this combination of an end-of-the-world story line with coming-of-age fiction equals a tour de force.


Barbieri, Heather. The Cottage at Glass Beach. Harper: HarperCollins. Jun. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780062107961. $24.99. F

When Nora Cunningham discovers that her attorney general husband has been having an affair, she takes her two daughters to Burke Island, off the coast of Maine, for the summer. Nora hasn’t been back to the island since her mother disappeared there many years before. Tradition says that Burke Island is a magical place. Can that magic help Nora heal her broken heart, understand what happened to her mother, and chart a new life for herself? VERDICT Barbieri’s (The Lace Makers of Glenmara; Snow in July) mix of fairy tale and family drama in a picturesque seaside resort makes her third novel a terrific beach read.

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  1. Erica says:

    I think that this is a great summer reading list, particularly because I feel like summer is a time for fiction reading instead of the things I often feel required to read. My favorite summer reading lists I’ve found are all compiled of fiction, including this one which has a great list of novels, some new and some old.

    • Wilda Williams says:

      Erica, Thank you for sharing your thoughts on our reading list and for offering another unusual reading list of old and new titles. Summer reading is a time for the discovery of new voices or for returning to literary favorites. And I think both our lists help readers do just that‚ Wilda Wiliams, Fiction Editor, Library Journal