Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Summer Reads

As a follow on to my 'Summer Book Haul', this post has all the books I've read this summer that I already owned, or borrowed. I haven't got photos for all of them; a few have already been given back to their owners and the rest were black and white pixely covers on my Kindle. But I thought this small sample would give you some idea and add a splash of colour to this post :)

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Madame Bovary (or Emma) is the central character. The story starts with her marriage and continues on to her adulterous affairs. This was the last book I attempted to read last summer. I got about half way through, but then Autumn life got in the way. This year I picked it up again. I found it a bit of a slog. It wasn't bad, or really long, I just found all the characters pretty unlikable. I'm still happy to have read it though. It's definitely well written, and it has deeper messages than the simple and obvious 'adultery is bad'.

How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
I love Caitlin Moran, and I wanted to love this book. I definitely liked it, and parts where hilarious, but overall I had mixed feelings. I didn't agree with everything she said, but these bits still got me thinking. I made me question my own views, albeit sometimes indirectly, which can't be a bad thing. I wouldn't treat this book as gospel, but there is a LOT of goodness in it - it's worth a read.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

The chances are that you've already read this book, or if not, heard about it. I don't want to say too much, but if you haven't read it yet, make sure it's on your too read list! You join the central character in a search for the truth, but the Goodreads description has pretty much everything you need to know before starting. Its a quick read, don't over think it, just read it, and then you're in for a treat.

The Legacy by Gemma Malley

This is the last book in The Declaration trilogy. All the books are set in a dystopian world where death and illness have been removed with the life preserving 'longevity' drug, but not everything is good as it may seem.

I read the other two quite a while ago, but this didn't matter as everything was nicely recapped. This probably could get annoying if you'd only just finished the others, but for me it was great. I don't know if I preferred the others, or have just got higher expectations now, but it was still a nice ending to the trilogy. My big criticism is that there were a few too many 'female characters are nothing without male love interest' moments, that made me cringe (and think angry feminist thoughts). I do love the concept behind these book though, and from what I can remember, I would really recommend the first.

Dominion by C.J. Sansom
Don't let the size of this book put you off, it's large, but the font and margins are too. Sansom is a historical fiction author, which is always a good place to start with me. In Dominion he went for a bit of fictional revisionism, basing his story in an England that had surrendered to Germany in the Second World War. Obviously the whole concept is a bit controversial, but overall I thought Sansom executed it well.

His dialogue does really annoy me though. I feel that at times he tries too hard to make his characters seem down to earth and real, wasting time with unnecessary direct speech. Lots of information is revealed through stop start conversations. However, my Dad loves his books, so I wouldn't let this put you off. I'd still recommend giving Sansom a go, and I'm tempted to try a few of his other books. Dominion stands alone from his popular series, and it may have stylistic exceptions too.

Just in Case by Meg Rosoff

I've owned this for ages, and I really wish I'd got round to reading it sooner. First things first, the main character has an imaginary greyhound, and this instantly got me on his side. The book's strange, following David Case, who changes his name to Justin (Justin Case - I'm all for a subtle bad pun), to avoid fate; having become convinced that it's out to get him. The book is really well written, and has a clever first person narration from Fate (much like 'Death' in The Book Theif) that pops up from time to time. I really enjoyed this.

Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley
This is an autobiographical account of Alexandra Heminsley's (Hemmo's) struggle to take up running, and end up running countless marathons. It's not a straightforward journey, and she has more than her fair share of ups and downs. The book's also packed with helpful running tips, and Hemmo is really really down to earth and relatable. For someone that's trying to get in to running regularly, this book was just what I needed. If running isn't your thing, it's still a well written, inspirational, and funny autobiography,

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

The title sums up the first chapter, and the book goes on to follow the subsequent actions of the hundred- year- old- man, and all those that are trying to find him. You also learn the central character's remarkable life story, that somehow brings him into contact with countless historical figures, and fills the reader in on nearly everything that happened prior to the starting moment of the book At times it may be a little repetitive, and I can see why this book may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I really really enjoyed it.

A House by the Shore by Alison Johnson

This is an autobiographical story of two impoverished teachers that buy a derelict house on the Isle of Harris and, with a lot of hard work, converted it into an award winning guest house. This isn't what I would call a page turner, and I dipped in and out of this book, but it was still really interesting. A good part dealt with the conversion process, so expect many a D.I.Y story. Its written with humor, and helps you understand the practicalities behind starting a guest house, and the added difficulties of doing this in a remote location. I'm not planning on doing this, but it was still a good book, and I loved reading about the Isle of Harris and all the wildlife and scenery.

We Brought an Island and Tales From our Cornish Island by Evelyn E. Atkins

These are two more autobiographical books that recount Evelyn, and her Sister Bab's, purchase of St George's Island (also known as Looe Island). Both sisters had always dreamed of living on an island, and the first book shows you how they managed to fulfill this dream. The second book is split into chapters that deal with different aspects of island life, and continues to provide you with witty antidotes. The first book was published in 1970, and the language is just what you would expect from this time period and a few decades before. I loved this, it was a slightly more modern, grown up, Swallows and Amazons, but I understand that it's not for everyone.

I'd love to hear you're opinions if you've read any of these books, or if you have any recommendations for me based on my thoughts. It would be great to hear what everyone else has been reading this summer too. :)

You can also follow what I'm reading on my Goodreads account


  1. Have you read any other Sansom books yet?

    1. Not yet :( I would still like to though. My Dad's recently finished reading the Shardlake series, and he's really enjoyed, so it all sounds promising! Have you read any? :)


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