Our Big Book Summer Reading (W)rap Up [The 2018 Edition]

Every summer, we participate in the Big Book (S)ummer Reading Challenge hosted by Book By Book where the goal is to read at least one 400+ page book between Memorial Day through Labor Day (May 25-Sep. 3, 2018). Here’s how we did this summer.

Kim – I ended up reading two books for Big Book Summer Reading Challenge. I’m starting to see that I prefer short and sweet in the summer. It’s the time of the year that I can get the most reading done so I like to get as many titles in as I can. That being said, I really enjoyed both of the big books I read.

Dread Nation, Justina Ireland

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead.

[Buy Dread Nation @ Amazon]

Jade City, Fonda Lee

When a powerful new drug emerges that lets anyone—even foreigners—wield jade, the simmering tension between the Kauls and the rival Ayt family erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones—from their grandest patriarch to the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets—and of Kekon itself.

[Buy Jade City @ Amazon]

Tanya – I finished 5 big books for the Big Book Summer Reading Challenge – 2 more than last year.

Macbeth, Jo Nesbo

446 pages. Liked. I’m a huge fan of the Harry Hole series by Nesbo, and while this book is not part of that series, it also has a cop with some bad vices. But alas, I didn’t love this book as much. It was full of action and intense, but after a while, I got tired of the non-stop drama … and of the  good cop turned bad cop for no reason other than his girlfriend told him so. Seriously, that stretched my patience. It’s difficult to read an entire book from the perspective of an evil person who doesn’t see himself as evil … which actually kept me tuned in. I wanted to root for him – but then I was like – oh wait – he’s not really the good guy. Macbeth is part of The Hogarth Shakespeare Series.

He’s the best cop they’ve got. When a drug bust turns into a bloodbath it’s up to Inspector Macbeth and his team to clean up the mess. He’s also an ex-drug addict with a troubled past. He’s rewarded for his success. Power. Money. Respect. They’re all within reach. But a man like him won’t get to the top. Plagued by hallucinations and paranoia, Macbeth starts to unravel. He’s convinced he won’t get what is rightfully his. Unless he kills for it.

[Buy Macbeth @ Amazon]

Us Against You (Beartown #2), Frederik Backman

448 pages. Last year Kim introduced me to Beartown, Frederik Bachman, which was one of her Big Book Reads from last summer. This year, I managed to get a hold of the follow up book, Us Against You, which I can tell you is just as fantastic. The plot, the characters, the setting … all so well detailed and designed to take us into the story. The backdrop of the story is hockey, but it’s the story of the players, their supporters and their plans, hopes, dreams and schemes. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Marin Ireland, who did a phenomenal bringing this story to life for me.

Us Against You

After everything that the citizens of Beartown have gone through, they are struck yet another blow when they hear that their beloved local hockey team will soon be disbanded. What makes it worse is the obvious satisfaction that all the former Beartown players, who now play for a rival team in Hed, take in that fact. Amidst the mounting tension between the two rivals, a surprising newcomer is handpicked to be Beartown’s new hockey coach. Soon a new team starts to take shape around Amat, the fastest player you’ll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; and Vidar, a born-to-be-bad troublemaker. But bringing this team together proves to be a challenge as old bonds are broken, new ones are formed, and the enmity with Hed grows more and more acute.

[Buy Us Against You @ Amazon]

The Sudden Appearance of Hope, Claire North

468 pages. This book started out well enough, giving us the backstory of when Hope was a child and when she first started being forgotten and how she felt. Then it moved a little into things she thought about doing as someone who can never be remembered before ultimately falling on being a thief. And then she got obsessed by one thing – an app called Perfection – and then the author lost me. There are just so many fascinating ways this book could have gone but the constant stream of self-doubt was just too much. I wished there was more details about Claire’s regular interactions throughout her life – the little glimpses we got were the most fascinating parts of the book for me.

The Sudden Appearance of Hope (Book)

My name is Hope Arden, and you won’t know who I am. We’ve met before – a thousand times. But I am the girl the world forgets. No matter what I do, the words I say, the people I hurt, the crimes I commit – you will never remember who I am. That makes my life tricky. But it also makes me dangerous.

[Buy The Sudden Appearance of Hope @ Amazon]

Legendary (Caraval #2), Stephanie Garber

451 pages. Okay – I did like this book, but it does suffer from some of the more disparaged YA troped – especially the one where the young girl is the ONLY person that can save everyone and do everything – I’m talking about Tella here, who was the focus of this book. Her sister was MIA during most of the book despite the fact that she was right there in the same city. Instead of me feeling like Tella was strong and independent, I felt more annoyed that she would not seek help and annoyed by how shallow that seemed, as well as how shallow the entire book seemed beause none of the other characters were portrayed in any detail. I did read Caraval, the first book in the series, and liked it better.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister, Scarlett, from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

[Buy Legendary @ Amazon]

The Outsider, Stephen King

561 pages. First off – listen to the audiobook if you can. The narration by Will Paton is amazing – he portrays the characters, the emotions, the suspense in a such a masterful way that you will be transported by this novel. King twisted me up inside with this one as I followed along with the plot – and yes – for bringing Holly into the drama (from Mr. Mercedes). Loved this one – just go pick it up.

Outsider (Book) Stephen King

An eleven-year-old boy is found in a town park, hideously assaulted and murdered. The fingerprints (and later DNA) are unmistakably those of the town’s most popular baseball coach, Terry Maitland, a man of impeccable reputation, with a wife and two daughters. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland coached, orders an immediate and public arrest. Maitland is taken to jail, his claim to innocence scorned. Maitland has a foolproof alibi, with footage to prove that he was in another city when the crime was committed. But that doesn’t save him either.

[Buy The Outsider @ Amazon]


What’s the biggest book you read this summer? Or do you gravitate towards smaller books … or have a reading slump? Thanks to Book by Book for hosting the Big Book Summer Reading Challenge every summer.

(Photo by João Silas on Unsplash)

// Comments //

  1. I’m glad you liked The Outsider and Us Against You. I need to read both of those. I have read Dread Nation. I liked that one.