These books are heavy on adventure and humor, and light on drama: kind of the equivalent of a popcorn movie. (And I mean that in only the best possible way.)
So, in no particular order, here goes:
Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment, by James Patterson
I was a little surprised no one suggested this series after my last review post; these books (there are three, I think - or is it four?) are pure adrenaline, with almost non-stop action and torturous cliff-hanger endings. The endings were my biggest beef; there's no closure at all, so you'll want to have the next title already on hand, if possible. I remember having a few other issues with the story, too, but the heroine Max is amazing - tough and yet still relatable - and the fast pace will make the pages really zip by. Besides, they're genetically mutated kids who have giant wings - c'mon, that is AWESOME.
[Correction: per the comments, there are now eight (EIGHT??) books in the series - but someone suggested Patterson should have stopped after four. Heheh.]
Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer
This was a series John actually picked up before I did, and I only started it myself after seeing him devour so many of the titles. (I've lost track of how many there are now - eight? Nine?) The writing is for a slightly younger audience than most of the YA fiction I read (there are fart jokes. You have been warned) but they're great fun and perfect for finishing in one or two sittings, if you're a quick reader. In a nutshell, Artemis is a budding evil genius who stumbles across the world of the fairies - but these fairies pack less glitter and more guns.
Sound like fun? Believe me, it is!
I was about to recommend The Lightning Thief, but then I remembered: I already did! (I really need to get a master list going of all my reviews...) So instead, how about The Lost Hero, the first book in another of Rick Riordan's series called Heroes of Olympus:
The Red Pyramid. That one is set in Egypt, but it just didn't grab me the way his Olympus series have. (The narrative style by the two main characters drove me a little batty.)
The Squire's Tale, by Gerald Morris
If you like modern-day re-tellings of myths (like Rick Riordan's work up there), then you'll love Gerald Morris' re-tellings of the Arthurian legends. It's not set in the modern day, but the language and writing is more current, and it's filled with humor and unbelievably endearing characters. Compared to the other books in this post it might seem a bit tame, adventure-wise, but there are quests and snappy dialogue and lovable characters that will keep you coming back for more. And if that doesn't convince you, I'm pretty sure this is one of John's favorite series of all time; he's read all eleven or so in the series, and was positively giddy the last time a new one came out.
Everlost, by Neal Shusterman
This is, quite literally, a haunting tale - but despite the cover art it's not scary at all. Promise. :) Two teens get "stuck" between worlds after a car crash, and their adventures in Everlost are both gripping and bizarre. The premise is fabulous - a truly creative twist on the supernatural - but something didn't quite click for me with the characters, and the ending left me a bit hollow. Still, give it a try if the premise sounds interesting; from all the stellar reviews over on Amazon, I'd say I'm in the minority by not loving it.
Dealing with Dragons, by Patricia Wrede
This is a super light, super funny read about a princess who runs away to live with dragons. It's awesome. You should read it. (And when you're done with that, there are three more books in the series! Just look for The Enchanted Forest Chronicles.)
The Wee Free Men, by Terry Pratchett
Though the tiny blue Nac Mac Feegles (think drunk Scottish smurfs) often steal the scenes, this is really the story of a young girl named Tiffany (yes, Tiffany) who sets out to become a witch - albeit a good one. It's absolutely hysterical, full of fantasy and adventure, and it's perfect for fans of Patricia Wrede looking for a longer, meatier story. Plus, after this there are three more Tiffany Aching novels - and I just realized I haven't read the last one! Woohoo!
I actually read Wee Free Men to John during a long car ride, and we had to pause a lot due to all the giggling. I'd love to get the audio version, just to see how the narrator handled the Nac Mac Feegles' dialogue. Hee.
So there you have it: a few more titles to add to your summer reading list! Now it's your turn again: what would you suggest for a fun vacation read? I'm talking adventures and humor, people, and I need more titles! So....GO!