Because I read quite a number of books this summer, and I feel like some of them don’t need as in-depth a review as others, I’m going to publish a series of ‘Summer Reads’ posts, which will each have a few of the books and their reviews on. I’ll also be doing some full, in-depth reviews.
So here’s the first of my Summer Reads:
- The Five People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom
This was such a sweet and lovely read, that in a way is less about the story itself and more about a journey of self-reflection. Because the chapters are fairly short and the narrative style is simple, it’s a really easy read, which means that everyone should really be reading it. It tells the story of Eddie, who after death meets five people whose life he impacted, whether he was aware of it or not.
This is definitely a book that is more about the characters and character development than the narrative plot, because at its most simplistic level, it is a very basic narrative plot, which allows Albom to develop Eddie’s character, and the characters of those around him.
I found this book a really valuable read, and a very easy read, so I would definitely recommend it to anyone.
2. Dangerous Creatures – Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
I loved the original series Beautiful Creatures and I think it’s such a shame they really messed up the movie, because I thought the book was so brilliant. I don’t know about you, but when I read an original series, sometimes I get more attached to secondary characters than primary characters, and that definitely happened to me with Link and Ridley, so I was super excited when I found out about this spin-off.
I think it was an excellent idea and really well-written, keeping Link and Ridley the same characters that we loved in Beautiful Creatures, but I did feel like the plot and the story itself wasn’t as deep or well-thought out as the original series. I definitely felt that the original was a lot stronger and more emphatic, whereas this was more take-it-or-leave-it. I read the whole of the Beautiful series in a week, whereas I feel like I could leave Dangerous to the side and not be massively bothered.
Having said that, I do feel like it might grow and develop as the series continues, so maybe it is worth persevering and seeing whether Dangerous Deception adds a little more depth and gravitas to the series.
3. These Days Are Ours – Michelle Haimoff
Interestingly, when I just Googled this book to find the cover image, an alternative cover popped up that was different to the one I read. I definitely think the original is better suited to the novel as the second one is a little too dark and thriller-y for a novel that in my opinion was about growth and rebirth.
This book is about a post-9/11 group of privileged Upper East Siders (though far less wild and dramatic as Gossip Girl would have you believe), primarily the protagonist Hailey, who is drifting after college with no real direction, in a way that I think represents the same sentiments felt by many New Yorkers after 9/11.
Haimoff states that she wrote the novel because she was surprised to see how little actually changed in the lives of New Yorkers post-9/11 and she wanted to represent it. Indeed, for the characters in These Days Are Ours, life seems to go on as it did before. Hailey is dealing with unemployment, divorce drama and the unstoppable desire for a boyfriend. But her world starts to change bit-by-bit when a non-Upper East Side boy enters her life and changes the life she was accustomed to.
It was a really easy read, I think it took me half a day, and it was light and reflective and really enjoyable. It packed a bit of a punch at the end, and got me totally terrified about graduating university next year, but I would definitely recommend it for anyone look for a light read.
4. The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson
This title isn’t actually a metaphor or something literary and fanciful, this novel actually is about a hundred year old man who climbs out of a window and disappears. It’s not a thriller either. I’m struggling to decide what genre of novel it really is: it’s humorous, it’s very literal (as in, it relays facts and events, not metaphors and themes) and it’s rather uplifting.
Whilst relaying the events of what happens after centenarian Allan Karlsson wanders off from his retirement home and goes on an adventure, the parallel storyline tells of Allan’s life and in many instances he accidentally finds himself involved in world events and associating with world powers such as Franco, Truman, Stalin and Mao.
It was a really enjoyable read, though I didn’t find it as enjoyable as my dad who told me he had laughed out loud many times whilst reading. It definitely made me smile, and I enjoyed reading how Allan figured into world history, though I felt overall it was a long book and definitely took effort to get through the first half.
I think it’s one of those books you need to read, just to see what the fuss is all about. Even though it was a hard read at times I would still recommend it.
5. The Secret Place – Tana French
The beauty of this novel is that it inserts the reader right into two sets of action: past and present; the past action events leading up to the crime, and the present, one year later, in the aftermath of the crime and solving a crime that was laid to rest immediately after the initial investigation.
It tells of a murder of a boarding schoolboy that takes place in the grounds of the girls’ parallel boarding school. The key characters are a group of girls seemingly unconnected to the murdered Chris, their ‘rival’ gang and the two detectives on the case. French also brings in the legal thriller genre by making one of the girls the daughter of a detective who has worked with the lead detective, Stephen, in the past.
The novel is a work of ice: there are many layers and parts to chip away at, with more clues and details becoming apparent as the novel develops. I thoroughly enjoyed the relationship between the group of girls, and that of the two detectives, and seeing the plot lines in tandem. It’s definitely a worthy read and really highlights the themes of loyalty and betrayal with both the young and adult characters.
So there you have it! The first volume of my Summer Reads, with a solid mix of books in there I think. Let me know in the comments below if you’ve read any of these and what you thought of them!