My Sweet Newsletter Subscribers,
The New York Times has officially reported it: Google searches for “high heels” are up; and, in all its June-gloom-shrouded glory, summer has landed. At the confluence of these two facts — and judging by the clogged freeways — Santa Barbara is crawling with townies and tourists coming out of Pandemic Hibernation. Heat wave or not, I’m definitely not ready to put on heels. I may, however, don my Chacos and slip down to East Beach to luxuriate in a new book. You might choose to do something similar. Perhaps you’re a morning reader, maybe you’re a night owl, but either way, I hope these summery suggestions strike you in just the right mood.
Sometimes summer reading calls for a little romantic heat. If that’s what you’re craving, then look no further than Talia Hibbert’s The Brown Sisters series. Each book in this trilogy (the first installment is pictured) follows the romantic pursuits of a different sister in the Brown family, and all of them are a hot (and sexy) helping of modern romance featuring representation of people with disabilities and memorable, loving relationships. (Great on audio!)
If magical realism is your jam, take a trip to Hawai‘i this summer while swimming through the pages of Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn. One day in 1995, while on a family boating trip, Nainoa Flores falls overboard and into the Pacific. A shiver of sharks miraculously delivers him back to his family unscathed, and the future of the Flores family is forever changed. As Nainoa begins to show more abilities, the community starts to see him as a sign sent by ancient Hawaiian gods to save the islands, while his family grapples with the weight of these beliefs. With a story that spans more than a decade, Washburn’s poetic prose explores the murky area between where heritage and family bonds intersect.
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If you’re looking for something set by the sea, but a bit more realistic, then you might be interested in The Mermaid from Jeju by Sumi Hahn. This work of historical fiction flips between post-WWII Korea and present-day Philadelphia. Our protagonist, Goh Junja, hails from the sea-diving women of Jeju Island (Haenyeo). Her ancestors have been free-diving to harvest food from the ocean for generations. Hahn has crafted a page-turning novel that deftly tells the politically tumultuous history of Jeju Island through the eyes of a young woman coming of age. The final product shines a light on the effect that war has on individual lives and on the immigrant experience.
For all my die-hard fantasy lovers out there, I must recommend the Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty. In the first installment of this series, The City of Brass, Nahri, a young woman living in 1800s Cairo, makes her way in the world as a con artist and thief. One night, she accidently conjures a spell that brings her face to face with Dara, a Djinn who tells her that she is the last of an elite people with magical healing abilities. He then whisks her away on a flying carpet to the magical city of Daevabad on an unforgettable adventure. Based on Middle Eastern legends and steeped in Islamic traditions, Chakraborty creates a complex and engaging fantasy universe unlike any I had read before. May the fires burn brightly for you as you read this tale that will take you the whole summer to finish.
Have you read a book recently that is hot and sweaty and salty and screams summer? I’d love to hear your recommendations.
Grab a book, kick off those stilettos, and stay in just a little longer, my friends.
With love from your salty bookworm,
If you are a local author, host book events in the Santa Barbara area, or have any other fun bookish tips for us, please send your recommendations for consideration to email@example.com.