SUMMER READS 2014: Fantasy and YA fiction dazzle with debuts and trilogy finales

If you’re anything like me, you want your beach reads to be as eclectic as possible – filled with romance, dystopia, and maybe even some paranormal ass-kicking. It might sound like a tall order, but upcoming young adult, sci-fi, and fantasy novels have got you covered. Whether you want to read about young love or post-apocalyptic worlds, here are four summer novels for those long lazy days at the beach:

Image 1 - City of Heavenly FireCity of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare (Simon and Schuster, May 27)

Cassandra Clare is one of the most popular young adult writers around – and for good reason. Her Mortal Instruments series, about a young girl who discovers she’s part of a secret world of paranormal warriors called Shadowhunters, spans five books and even a motion picture. City of Heavenly Fire is the sixth and final chapter in the story, and this time Clary is forced to fight the ultimate villain – her own half-demon brother. This might be the most anticipated YA novel of the season, so be sure to order in advance.

Image 2 - Isla & the Happily Ever AfterIsla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (Penguin, August 14)

After her previous two books, Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door, fans of Perkins have been anxiously, desperately, crazily waiting for the third installment of these companion novels. This time around we’re following Isla, a dreamer and a romantic, who is forced to face some harsh realities about love and her boyfriend Josh (one of the supporting characters in Anna!), against the backdrop of Manhattan and Paris. Like Perkins’ other work, it will be funny, poignant, and impossible to put down.

Image 3 - Memory of WaterMemory of Water by Emmi Itärana (HarperCollins, June 10)

 This debut novel by Emmi Itärana may be striking a little too close to home these days; it imagines a world in which global warming has altered the world’s landscape, making water scarce and safety even scarcer. Noria Kaitio, the young female protagonist, is learning to be a tea master – one of the few with the knowledge of how to find fresh water. But of course this makes her a target, and she’s forced to choose between her family, her safety, and the craft that she’s been born to learn. Lyrical, lush, and inventive, Itärana’s debut promises to be a summer must-read.

Image 4 - Half a KingHalf a King by Joe Abercrombie (Random House, July 15)

 Lauded by authors like George R.R. Martin and Robin Hobb, Abercrombie is quickly making a name for himself in the world of fantasy. His newest novel, Half a King, follows Prince Yarvi, a man who must overcome huge odds to regain a throne he’s not sure he wants. Born with only one good hand, he can’t fight like other warriors, forcing him to rely on his wits and his courage. He’ll need both in order to survive his enemies and the Shattered Sea. Fans of fantasy cannot miss this coming-of-age tale of adventure, outcasts, and finding heroes in unexpected places.

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