Ready for a gripping read this summer? These book recommendations will help.

From kids’ books to romance to true crime, we have everything you need.

By Sarah AschJuly 4, 2024 8:30 am, ,

Summer is a season for sitting out by the pool – or staying inside in the AC, if that’s more your style. But no matter where you relax, for many, summer is a season for reading.

Libraries often program to keep kids – and increasingly, adults – reading books, and many of the year’s biggest blockbuster titles are released this time of year, just in time for readers to pick up a copy before a vacation or for their next book club meeting.

So what are some of the big books coming out this summer? Julia Green, the manager at Front Street Books in Alpine, stopped by the Texas Standard to share some recommendations.

Iguana Be a Dragon‘ by Maddie Frost

This is a picture book for kids ages 3 to 6 that details the story of an iguana who moves to a new neighborhood and is nervous about making friends at a pool party being thrown by Cheetah.

“Iguana is very worried because he doesn’t think there’s anything really special or amazing about him. And Cheetah is obviously really cool,” Green said. “Cheetah can run really fast; Cheetah has beautiful spots. And all iguanas are, in Iguana’s mind, are green. And so he tries to figure out ways to disguise himself to be special.

“[The other guests] get really excited because iguanas can swim really fast. He’s great at hide-and-seek because he’s green and he can hide in the leaves. He can climb really well. So everybody gets really excited about him, and he realizes that he doesn’t really have to be anything different than himself.”

I Feed Her to the Beast and the Beast Is Me‘ by Jamison Shea

This is a young adult novel that is coming out in paperback this summer and offers a thrilling horror tale about a Black girl who is trying to make it in the Parisian ballet.

“She’s incredibly talented, and she really discovers that sometimes talent isn’t all you need,” Green said. “She is faced with oppression; she’s faced with discrimination. So in frustration, she makes a deal with the devil.

“So it explores a lot of issues with madness, systemic privilege, how blind ambition can be your undoing. And it’s kind of bloody. It’s a little creepy. It’s a great horror novel.”

You Should Be So Lucky‘ by Cat Sebastian

This LGBTQ romance novel takes place in the world of baseball in 1960, following two men who are falling in love in a world where they are not supposed to be together.

“It’s about a baseball player who gets transferred to a new team and he loses his support group. And it’s about a reporter whose life partner has just passed away, and he’s not allowed to grieve,” Green said. “And these two find each other and form just a really beautiful, sweet friendship that – you know, it’s a romance, so it evolves. But at the core, it’s about this friendship and safety and finding acceptance.”

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Voyage of the Damned‘ by Frances White

This book has been likened to if Agatha Christie wrote a novel with a fantasy spin. It takes place on a ship where an emperor throws a party for his heirs – and then they start dying one by one.

“This one heir who’s kind of the joke, nobody takes him seriously, he takes it upon himself to figure out who’s killing everybody off,” Green said. “Even though he’s a flawed character, you know, you don’t have to be perfect to be a hero. People are messy; heroes can be messy, too. And you can still, no matter how much of a wreck you are, do heroic things.”

The Devil Behind the Badge‘ by Rick Jervis

For those who like nonfiction best, Green recommends this true crime story about a Border Patrol agent in Laredo who turned into a serial killer.

“This is an incredible, incredible discussion about the border crisis, abuse of law enforcement, the challenges law enforcement face trying to police themselves,” Green said. “This is about a heavily marginalized population of sex workers in Laredo that this Border Patrol agent was praying upon.

“It’s an amazing, gripping story. And Jervis does an incredible job really deconstructing the Border Patrol agent’s life, the events that led to his killing spree, and the women that he preyed upon.”

Women in the Valley of the Kings‘ by Kathleen Sheppard

This book follows the untold stories of women Egyptologists in the 1800s who preserved despite working in a male-dominated field.

“Sheppard does an amazing job of exploring and recounting the adventures of these incredible women,” Green said. “We never hear about these women. They battled oppression. They battled exclusion, not just from the Egypt government, but certainly from other archeologists.

“They had to fight constantly with their crew, which is one of the reasons why they finally got an all-female excavation crew, because at that point they could at least not have the barriers within their team. And they had many, many important discoveries. It’s so well-written. It reads like a novel. You pick it up and you can’t put it down.”

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