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Hidden Gems I Read This Summer

For reasons my boss doesn’t need to know about, I had a lot of time on my hands this summer to get some reading in. I blew through my to-read list and turned to my roommate for recommendations. Now, not every book you read is going to be a new favorite, but I think I might have found a few this summer, so if you’re looking for that special book/series to get you reading for fun again, here are my recommendations from this summer:

Death Prefers Blondes by Caleb Roehrig

I read this one the weekend after finals ended so this counts as a summer read. And boy is it a gem. I’m talking drag queen heist novel. I can’t believe you’d need more info past that but here we go: The story follows the young, but very bored, socialite Margo Manning as she pulls off daring heists with her friends, some killer drag queens, all with their own specialty. A story that sounds like it’ll just be a fun read becomes an honest to god good read as Margo’s heists get personal and you learn more about each of her friends. 

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

I’m not sure how much of a hidden gem this is because it is getting a lot of hype, but it surprised me how much I loved this series because I don’t generally lean towards fairy books. So for those of you like me, here’s my pitch: Jude has lived in Faerie with her equally human twin sister, Taryn, and half-faerie elder sister, Vivienne, since she was seven and Vivienne’s faerie father slaughtered their human parents. Now, Jude wants nothing more than to belong to this world of beauty and danger, even if the faeries aren’t willing to let a human fit in. Enter Cardan, the youngest Faerie prince and an overall jackass. Jude’s unapologetic ambition (which is so refreshing for a female character) gets her tangled up in Faerie drama of the highest order, but Jude’s determined to come out the victor. 

The Young Elite by Marie Lu

Another not new series, but being able to read the series all the way through to completion is what made this such a stellar binge read. Have you ever ached for the villain’s point of view, start to end? Look no further. Adelina Amouteru has known nothing but pain and abuse from her father ever since the blood fever left her a marked survivor, but with none of the powers the markings usually left. This changes as Adelina’s powers finally emerge, killing her father and setting her free… for a few days. As her debacle worsens, she’s rescued by a group calling themselves the Dagger Society and Adelina slowly realizes that freedom isn’t enough for her. She wants power, and she’ll stop at nothing to get more.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

I saved the best for last, y’all. Stay with me. Illuminae is another book I wasn’t sure I would like. For starters, it’s a futuristic space book, a genre that’s also not one of my go-to’s. On top of that, the story is written as a collection of files detailing what happened during and after the destruction of the illegal mining colony on the planet of Kerenza by the company known as BeiTech. I was very skeptical of the file format, figuring a proper story couldn’t really be conveyed. I was wrong— dead wrong. Kaufman and Kristof use their atypical storytelling structure to convey humor and depth masterfully (flip through an eleven page casualty list and try not to be affected). The series is in three books, following first the survivors of Kerenza, then the happenings of the jumpstation the survivors are trying to reach, and finally a team up for justice. Let me tell you this book left me s t r e s s e d, but it is so worth the read and while the books are bricks, the atypical story structure makes them fast reads (text-esque conversations are frequently used and sometimes pages have like two words on them for aesthetic). I have no idea how I’d gone so long never hearing about this book series, and I intend to rectify that for everyone else. 

You don’t have a lot of time to read for fun in college, I know that, Lord do I ever, but if you’ve got enough time to pick up a book, you know you’ve got to make it count. I hope I’ve helped you make the most out of your next reading endeavor.

Skyler Kane

Hamline '20

Creative Writing Major, Campus Coordinator for Her Campus, and former Editor and Chief for Fulcrum Journal at Hamline University