Rebecca Kuitems
July 03, 2013 1:00 pm

Summer beach reading is pretty stereotypical for me. I usually go for something with a little romance and mystery that will keep me interested in reading and help me relax. Well, these two books aren’t my “typical” summer reading, but I wanted to recommend something y’all can’t put down while you’re gettin’ that tan on (or lazing around the house because it’s too dang hot or raining all day).

These books really only have a few things in common: a likable, down-on-his-luck protagonist, a girly computer nerd sidekick, and a thrilling search for what the heck is really going on?? (In fact, they kind of remind me of The plot lines differ pretty heavily, but both in good ways. If you’re looking for the alternate to the traditional romance summer beach read, then read ahead!

Playing Tyler by T.L. Costa

Tyler MacCandless can’t focus on much of anything except for caring for his all-but-absentee mother and older brother, Brandon, who’s in rehab. Tyler’s life is in turmoil when his mentor, Rick, offers him the chance to test an incredible new video game. While his ADHD has him failing the classes he isn’t skipping, this new game uses his “curse” as a sort of gift. And, if his score is high enough he can join a place at a specialized flight school. His life seems to be working out when he meets Ani the video game design super genius behind the new game he is beta testing. Ani is a 16-year-old Yale freshman, three-time ILG champion, and just happens to be a super cute girl. The two aren’t really supposed to keep in contact while he tests the game, but everything changes when Brandon goes MIA, and Tyler and Ani discover that the game she designed is being used for much more than what it seems.

You’ll like this if: you want the feel of The Hunger Games or Divergent without the “dystopian” plot, you’re a fan of gaming, and/or you want a fast and addicting read like The Always War.

Quote: “Here, with the windows of the plane open and the real, full tremble of the steering wheel in your hand, the hum becoming a roar as you barrel down the runway, the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach as you lift into the air, the wind nipping at your hair and the smell of fuel, this is nothing like the sim. Nothing at all. This is real. This is a thing of glory.”

14 by Peter Clines

What in the world is in apartment 14?! Nate and his fellow Kavach building residents start a self-described Scooby Doo-style investigation of their creepy apartment building. The rent is low, the location is great, and the green cockroaches and padlocked doors can totally be overlooked… right? I needed something interesting and about the length of my latest road trip, and this book did not disappoint! Once Nate moves in to this seemingly amazing building, it’s not too long before he discovers some… oddities. Each new neighbor he meets seems to have something else to add to the growing list of peculiarities. When Nate and his neighbors turn into amateur detectives, they discover something hiding in the walls that leads them to more questions and even more startling discoveries!

You’ll like this if: you want a book filled with Steven King-esque mystery, Scooby Doo throwback references, and a sci-fi story ripe for the big screen (If this isn’t made into a movie I will be shocked!).

Quote: “A cockroach had appeared on the counter. It wasn’t one of the huge ones Nate saw sometimes at night out on the sidewalks, but it was big enough – half the size of his thumb. Its antennae wiggled as it followed a zigzag path across the counter.

‘I’m so sorry,’ Tony said. She glanced at her iPad again. ‘We have an exterminator in every other month, but it’s impossible to wipe them out, you know?’

The insect paused in a shaft of sunlight to give them a look and Nate got a good look back. Then it pressed itself behind the outlet plate and was gone. ‘Was that cockroach bright green?’

Tony shrugged and her smile reasserted itself. ‘Maybe? It’s an old building. You have to expect some weirdness.’”

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Disclosure in agreement with FTC Guidelines 16 CFR Part 255 and other legal nonsense: One or more of the books reviewed on this blog was provided as an advanced review copy. However, I am not paid for or required to write positive reviews. In fact, if I don’t like it, you won’t hear about it! Are you still reading this? Here, go read one of these instead.

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