SONG SATURDAY: “cruel summer” by taylor swift


Introducing a new blog meme (meme? we’ll just call it a meme): SONG SATURDAY’s! Some variance of this post has been in the back of my mind, and I finally decided to do it because this song has been stuck in my head like a broken record. For real, I’ll wake up and my brain is screaming, “I LOVE YOU, AIN’T THAT THE WORSE THING YOU’VE EVER HEARD?”

So here are some books that I’m matching up with the lyrics of Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer”! View the lyrics in their entirety here, and bold lyrics are the ones I’m particularly associating with the respective books.

Fever dream high in the quiet of the night
You know that I caught it (Oh yeah, you’re right, I want it)
Bad, bad boy, shiny toy with a price
You know that I bought it
(Oh yeah, you’re right, I want it)

Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar

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From Kirsty Eagar, Summer Skin is a young adult novel about a modern-day riot grrl and an alpha male jock who explore love, trust, and double standards against the backdrop of today’s hookup culture.

Jess Gordon is out for revenge. Last year the jocks from Knights College tried to shame her best friend. This year she and a hand-picked college girl gang are going to get even.

The lesson: Don’t mess with Unity College girls.

The target: Blondie, a typical Knights stud, arrogant, cold . . . and smart enough to keep up with Jess.

A neo-riot grrl with a penchant for fanning the flames meets a rugby-playing sexist pig–sworn enemies or two people who happen to find each other when they’re at their most vulnerable?

It’s all Girl meets Boy, Girl steals from Boy, seduces Boy, ties Boy to a chair, and burns Boy’s stuff. Just your typical love story.

Kirsty Eagar expertly handles a searingly honest and achingly funny story about love and sex amid the college hookup culture.

| read my review here |

Killing me slow, out the window
I’m always waiting for you to be waiting below
Devils roll the dice, angels roll their eyes
What doesn’t kill me makes me want you more

Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali

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From William C. Morris Award Finalist S.K. Ali comes an unforgettable romance that is part The Sun Is Also a Star mixed with Anna and the French Kiss , following two Muslim teens who meet during a spring break trip.

A marvel: something you find amazing. Even ordinary-amazing. Like potatoes—because they make French fries happen. Like the perfect fries Adam and his mom used to make together. 

An oddity: whatever gives you pause. Like the fact that there are hateful people in the world. Like Zayneb’s teacher, who won’t stop reminding the class how “bad” Muslims are. 

But Zayneb, the only Muslim in class, isn’t bad. She’s angry.

When she gets suspended for confronting her teacher, and he begins investigating her activist friends, Zayneb heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break.

Fueled by the guilt of getting her friends in trouble, she resolves to try out a newer, “nicer” version of herself in a place where no one knows her. 

Then her path crosses with Adam’s. 

Since he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, Adam’s stopped going to classes, intent, instead, on perfecting the making of things. Intent on keeping the memory of his mom alive for his little sister. 

Adam’s also intent on keeping his diagnosis a secret from his grieving father. 

Alone, Adam and Zayneb are playing roles for others, keeping their real thoughts locked away in their journals. 

Until a marvel and an oddity occurs…

Marvel: Adam and Zayneb meeting. 

Oddity: Adam and Zayneb meeting.

rep: Muslim Pakistani/Guyanese/Trinidadian-American protagonist, Muslim biracial (Chinese, white) protagonist; (ownvoices for Muslim rep)

And it’s new, the shape of your body
It’s blue, the feeling I’ve got

And it’s ooh, whoa oh
It’s a cruel summer
It’s cool, that’s what I tell ’em
No rules in breakable heaven

But ooh, whoa oh
It’s a cruel summer
With you

What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

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Gwen Castle has never so badly wanted to say good-bye to her island home till now: the summer her Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, takes a job there as the local yard boy. He’s a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners who keep the island’s summer people happy. Gwen worries a life of cleaning houses will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she’ll never escape her past—or the island—Gwen’s dad gives her some shocking advice. Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—with what really is.

rep: biracial (Brazilian, white) main characters

Hang your head low in the glow of the vending machine
I’m not dying (Oh yeah, you’re right, I want it)
We say that we’ll just screw it up in these trying times
We’re not trying (Oh yeah, you’re right, I want it)

Stay a Little Longer by Dawn Lanuza

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They were perfect strangers—all perks, no strings. Until they weren’t.

Elan wasn’t supposed to meet Caty. She lived halfway around the world, and he barely left Manila. Yet here he was, giving her a ride to the airport. Convinced that they would never have to see each other again after that day, Elan and Caty started to bond over truths, dares, stolen kisses, and games in hotel rooms and bars. 

With brief encounters that turned them from acquaintances to friends — tipping to the point of lovers, always — will Elan and Caty keep settling for a day, or will someone finally dare to stay long enough to discover: Is this love?

rep: ownvoices Filipino main characters and setting

So cut the headlights, summer’s a knife
I’m always waiting for you just to cut to the bone
Devils roll the dice, angels roll their eyes
And if I bleed, you’ll be the last to know

Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi

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After a year of college, Pablo is working at his local twenty-four-hour deli, selling overpriced snacks to brownstone yuppies. He’s dodging calls from the student loan office and he has no idea what his next move is.

Leanna Smart’s life so far has been nothing but success. Age eight: Disney Mouseketeer; Age fifteen: first #1 single on the US pop chart; Age seventeen, *tenth* #1 single; and now, at Age nineteen…life is a queasy blur of private planes, weird hotel rooms, and strangers asking for selfies on the street.

When Leanna and Pab randomly meet at 4:00 a.m. in the middle of a snowstorm in Brooklyn, they both know they can’t be together forever. So, they keep things on the down-low and off Instagram for as long as they can. But it takes about three seconds before the world finds out…

| read my review here |

rep: biracial (Pakistani, Korean) protagonist, biracial (Mexican, white) main character; (ownvoices for Korean-American rep)

Oh, it’s new, the shape of your body
It’s blue, the feeling I’ve got
And it’s ooh, whoa oh
It’s a cruel summer
It’s cool, that’s what I tell ’em
No rules in breakable heaven
But ooh, whoa oh
It’s a cruel summer
With you

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

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It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

| read my review here |

rep: ownvoices queer main characters

I’m drunk in the back of the car
And I cried like a baby coming home from the bar (Oh)
Said, “I’m fine,” but it wasn’t true
I don’t wanna keep secrets just to keep you
And I snuck in through the garden gate
Every night that summer just to seal my fate (Oh)

And I scream, “For whatever it’s worth
I love you, ain’t that the worst thing you ever heard?”
He looks up, grinning like a devil

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

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What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through?

Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn’t always diplomatic.

rep: biracial (Mexican, white) bisexual protagonist, gay main character/love interest (ownvoices for bisexual rep)

It’s new, the shape of your body
It’s blue, the feeling I’ve got
And it’s ooh, whoa oh
It’s a cruel summer
It’s cool, that’s what I tell ’em
No rules in breakable heaven
But ooh, whoa oh
It’s a cruel summer
With you

Small Town Hearts by Lillie Vale

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Rule #1 – Never fall for a summer boy. 

Fresh out of high school, Babe Vogel should be thrilled to have the whole summer at her fingertips. She loves living in her lighthouse home in the sleepy Maine beach town of Oar’s Rest and being a barista at the Busy Bean, but she’s totally freaking out about how her life will change when her two best friends go to college in the fall. And when a reckless kiss causes all three of them to break up, she may lose them a lot sooner. On top of that, her ex-girlfriend is back in town, bringing with her a slew of memories, both good and bad.

And then there’s Levi Keller, the cute artist who’s spending all his free time at the coffee shop where she works. Levi’s from out of town, and even though Babe knows better than to fall for a tourist who will leave when summer ends, she can’t stop herself from wanting to know him. Can Babe keep her distance, or will she break the one rule she’s always had – to never fall for a summer boy?

| read my review here |

rep: ownvoices bisexual protagonist

I’m drunk in the back of the car
And I cried like a baby coming home from the bar (Oh)
Said, “I’m fine,” but it wasn’t true
I don’t wanna keep secrets just to keep you
And I snuck in through the garden gate
Every night that summer just to seal my fate (Oh)

And I scream, “For whatever it’s worth
I love you, ain’t that the worst thing you ever heard?”
(Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah)

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

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The third installment in the all-new series from the #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater!

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs. 

The trick with found things, though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.

rep: gay protagonist, bisexual protagonist

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