Kelly Dearth, founder of Delicious Reads, reads to her children to share her love of reading. (Photo by summernicolephoto.com)

With summer coming to a close (don’t hate us for saying it), there’s only a little bit of time left to squeeze in those summer reads.

With so many celebrated Utah Valley authors, you don’t need to look further than your library’s “local author” bookshelf to find your next favorite read. We went to reading guru Kelly Dearth, founder of the wildly popular book club and blog, Delicious Reads, for some recommendations.

Kelly, who lives in Lehi, Utah, throws extravagant book club soirees every month and shares all of the exciting details and discussion bits on her blog and Instagram account. Her first meeting started 10 years ago with seven guests, some slightly burned cookies, and not much enthusiasm. Now, the group of 30 meets monthly, often in full costume and with themed food and decor.

Dearth says she’s goes to great lengths to make her book club meetings unforgettable because of her intense love for reading, which she wants to encourage in others.

“Books are my friend, my counselor, my advocate, my teacher, my companion, my family and my delight,” Dearth said. “I have learned something from every book I have ever read, even if that something was to never read from that author again, I still learned, didn’t I?  Books are the greatest teachers of tolerance, perspective, culture and education. Why would anyone choose not to invite them into their minds?”

Dearth also shares her reading love with her children and others through her monthly book box subscription, LitJoy Crate.

“As a mother of two girls, I have found a new fountain of love for reading to my children,” Dearth said. “They light up when I open a book, point to things on the page, act out the animal noises and beg me to read more and more. Children see what adults often forget as they by pass a book to grab the TV remote. As Stephen King said, books are uniquely portable magic. Did you hear that? Books are magic!”

Get ready to discover some magic in Kelly’s favorite novels by local authors:

“Books are the greatest teachers of tolerance, perspective, culture and education. Why would anyone choose not to invite them into their minds?” —Kelly Dearth, founder of Delicious Reads

1. “Edenbrooke,” by Julianne Donaldson

“I love anything Julianne Donaldson writes,” Dearth said. “‘Edenbrooke’ is so much more than a page-turning tale of love and intrigue. It’s the kind of book you read time and time again and recommend to everyone.”

Donaldson also wrote “Blackmoore”, which is part of Shadow Mountain’s “Proper Romance” series.

“I couldn’t put it down and got nothing done until I had finished,” Dearth said. “But good news — Julianne is releasing a contemporary ‘Proper Romance’ set in Scotland next February. I’m already itching to get my hands on it!”

2. “The False Prince,” by Jennifer Nielsen

“The False Prince” is the first in a young adult fantasy trilogy.

“I’ve personally heard Jennifer speak at author events before and I’m always impressed with her talent for words, written or spoken,” Dearth said. “She is a master of anticipation and layer building.”

3. “Book of a Thousand Days,” by Shannon Hale

“I love reading Shannon’s books because most often, as in ‘Book of a Thousand Days’, she chooses to write from the perspective a young girl who reminds me of my younger self. Her characters always seem to learn about who they are and what they believe is truth and start to come into their own which is such an empowering gift to readers.

Other popular Shannon Hale books include “Austenland”, “Princess Academy” and “The Goose Girl”.

4. “Mistborn,” by Brandon Sanderson

“I still can’t believe that Brandon Sanderson lives and teaches in Utah,” Dearth said. “I don’t know if people realize just how amazing a writer he truly is. Brandon’s books are epic. They will change you. ‘Mistborn’ has the best, most well-thought-out, most original magic system ever written. Nothing comes anywhere close to rivaling its intricacy and intelligence. I still don’t know how he keeps it all straight because when he writes, he invents entire cultures, laws, back stories and universes. Epic. My husband, who reads close to 150 books a year, read Sanderson’s ‘The Way of Kings,’ (which is over 1000 pages) and he told me he uses it to gauge how good every book he’s read since is.”

5. “Fablehaven,” by Brandon Mull

“Who doesn’t love reading about fantastic adventures that involve mythical creatures?” Dearth said. “Brandon Mull writes children’s fantasy better than anyone. His books are complete with fantastic creatures, far-off lands, and dangerous quests.”

6. “Rembrandt,” by Robin King

“Rembrandt” is a young adult spy novel by up-and-coming author Robin King.

“The second book in the series, ‘Van Gogh Gone,’ is a tension-filled, anxiety-ridden, pulse-pounding second book and I’m itching to read how it all ends with the final book this fall,” Dearth said.

Find more of Dearth’s book recommendations on her blog, Instagram account and LitJoy Crate website.

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