Friday, June 7, 2019

Summer Reading Recommendations (For Vacation!) Pt. 1: Adventure!

I've been in the process of planning a vacation with my husband over the past couple of months and of course, as a reader, one of my big questions is: what book(s) do I bring!? It's hard to know if you'll have time to read, what mood you'll be in, or what sort of space you'll have for books. I still haven't decided what books I'll bring, but it did inspire me to create a mini summer/vacation-themed recommendation series. I'll do these for the next few Fridays with various themes, all centered around books that might be good to bring on a vacation. This week, I'm sharing books that have adventurous vibes with fast-paced plots and plenty of action because sometimes when you're busy or on the road it's nice to have book that are quick, easy, and entertaining reads.

I also just have to add that although most people who are either out of school already or don't have kids tend to just vacation at any time of year (one of the downsides of leaving school as an adult is no more summer vacations, am I right?), I thought a vacation theme still fit well with the summer season, so I'm running with it!

The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library, #1)The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it's already been stolen. 

London's underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that this world is chaos-infested—the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic to run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something—secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself.

Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option—because it isn’t just Irene’s reputation at stake, it’s the nature of reality itself...

This is about a woman who goes on mini-adventures to track down books. It's a ton of fun and has so many clever references to books and various literary ideas that makes this a really easy and exciting book to dive into.
Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Grey Bastards (The Lot Lands #1)The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French
Jackal is proud to be a Grey Bastard, member of a sworn brotherhood of half-orcs. Unloved and unwanted in civilized society, the Bastards eke out a hard life in the desolate no-man's-land called the Lots, protecting frail and noble human civilization from invading bands of vicious full-blooded orcs.

But as Jackal is soon to learn, his pride may be misplaced. Because a dark secret lies at the heart of the Bastards' existence - one that reveals a horrifying truth behind humanity's tenuous peace with the orcs, and exposes a grave danger on the horizon.

On the heels of the ultimate betrayal, Jackal must scramble to stop a devastating invasion - even as he wonders where his true loyalties lie.

I never knew how much I needed a story about half-orcs that ride hogs (instead of horses) in my life, but now I can never go back. This book is packed with excitement and various adventures with memorable characters and I think it'd be the perfect pick as something to jump into anytime.
Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Spellslinger (Spellslinger #1)Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell
Magic is a con game. 

Kellen is moments away from facing his first mage's duel and the start of four trials that will make him a spellcaster. There's just one problem: his magic is gone. As his sixteenth birthday approaches, Kellen falls back on his cunning in a bid to avoid total disgrace. But when a daring stranger arrives in town, she challenges Kellen to take a different path. Ferius Parfax is one of the mysterious Argosi - a traveller who lives by her wits and the three decks of cards she carries. She's difficult and unpredictable, but she may be Kellen's only hope...

Whenever I'm trying to think of fast-paced, easy-to-get-into books, Spellslinger is almost always the first one to pop into my mind. This book's plot is constantly moving forward with very little downtime and has some great action-heavy scenes packed throughout.
Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)Illuminae by Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman
This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
      The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than a speck at the edge of the universe. Now with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to evacuate with a hostile warship in hot pursuit.
     But their problems are just getting started. A plague has broken out and is mutating with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a web of data to find the truth, it’s clear the only person who can help her is the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.
      Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, maps, files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

Illuminae is an intense sci-fi told in a mixed media format that reads way quicker than any 500+ page book has any right to be read. This one is extremely easy to fly through and find yourself lost in without struggling to get situated in the world.
Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

LexiconLexicon by Max Barry
At an exclusive school somewhere outside of Arlington, Virginia, students aren’t taught history, geography, or mathematics—they are taught to persuade. Students learn to use language to manipulate minds, wielding words as weapons. The very best graduate as “poets,” and enter a nameless organization of unknown purpose.
They recruited Emily Ruff from the streets. They said it was because she's good with words.

They'll live to regret it.

They said Wil Parke survived something he shouldn't have. But he doesn't remember.

Now they're after him and he doesn't know why.

There's a word, they say. A word that kills.

And they want it back . . .

I read this a while ago, so my memory of exact details is a bit fuzzy, but I do remember this was one of those books where you never really have a chance to catch your breath. This premise where words can be used as actual weapons is a fascinating one and makes this book a great pick for a fast-paced vacation read.
Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound
The Book of Air and ShadowsThe Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber
A fire destroys a New York City rare bookstore—and reveals clues to a treasure worth killing for. . . . A disgraced scholar is found tortured to death. . . . And those pursuing the most valuable literary find in history are about to cross from the harmless mundane into inescapable nightmare.

From the acclaimed, bestselling author of Tropic of Night comes a breathtaking thriller that twists, shocks, and surprises at every turn as it crisscrosses centuries, from the glaring violence of today into the dark shadows of truth and lies surrounding the greatest writer the world has ever known.

This is another one that I don't remember the fine details of, but if you like books like The Da Vinci Code, The Rule of Four, etc. (all great 'plane reads'), then this is the perfect book. It's fast-paced, full of twists, and is the perfect thriller to keep you occupied. 
Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, #1)The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker's Guide ("A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have") and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox—the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod's girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years

I couldn't not include this--what better book to sit down and relax with? It's compelling, amusing, and a classic adventure.
Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Blackwing (Raven's Mark #1)Blackwing by Ed McDonald
The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow's Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow and a mysterious noblewoman must investigate a long dead sorcerer's legacy. But there is a conspiracy within the citadel: traitors, flesh-eaters and the ghosts of the wastelands seek to destroy them, but if they cannot solve the ancient wizard's paradox, the Deep Kings will walk the earth again, and all will be lost.

The war with the Eastern Empire ended in stalemate some eighty years ago, thanks to Nall's 'Engine', a wizard-crafted weapon so powerful even the Deep Kings feared it. The strike of the Engine created the Misery - a wasteland full of ghosts and corrupted magic that now forms a No Mans Land along the frontier. But when Galharrow investigates a frontier fortress, he discovers complacency bordering on treason: then the walls are stormed, and the Engine fails to launch. Galharrow only escapes because of the preternatural magical power of the noblewoman he was supposed to be protecting. Together, they race to the capital to unmask the traitors and restore the republic's defences. Far across the Misery a vast army is on the move, as the Empire prepares to call the republic's bluff.

If you like your adventurous books more on the grimdark fantasy side, then you might want to pick up Blackwing! This is a shorter book and has a really fascinating (and rather horrifying) setting with tons of action to keep things fresh.
Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound
The Wishing Spell (The Land of Stories, #1)The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer
Alex and Conner Bailey's world is about to change, in this fast-paced adventure that uniquely combines our modern day world with the enchanting realm of classic fairy tales.
The Land of Stories tells the tale of twins Alex and Conner. Through the mysterious powers of a cherished book of stories, they leave their world behind and find themselves in a foreign land full of wonder and magic where they come face-to-face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about.

But after a series of encounters with witches, wolves, goblins, and trolls alike, getting back home is going to be harder than they thought.

And lastly, if you prefer some middle grade--or need books for middle grade readers--you can't go wrong with the Land of Stories series! This is about two young kids who are transported to a land inspired by fairy tales--and the action pretty much never stops after that.
Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Have you read any of these? What adventurous books would you recommend for a vacation read?


  1. Illuminae would be a fun vacation book. I’ve heard it’s really good on audio. Good audiobooks are perfect for a long plane trip.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  2. Fun list! I've been eyeing Hitchhiker's Guide for awhile!

    It's not fun not having two months off in the summer like we did in school, but it's also nice not to HAVE to take vacations only in the summer!

    1. Agreed! Summer is my least favorite season because I hate the heat--I love being able to travel in the cooler months. :)

  3. Oh yes, I definitely miss summer vacations. I'm jealous of my son right now because he's already out for the summer. Great list of summer recs here. I love the idea of Illuminae for vacation reading since it's such a wild ride and so easily binge-able. The Invisible Library is also one I've been wanting to try.

    1. I could definitely use a summer off, haha. The Invisible Library is a ton of fun!