Monday, June 23, 2014

Some Awesome Reads - Just In Time For Summer!

For those of you lucky enough to have some holidays planned for the summer months, I thought I'd put together a list of books which I've really enjoyed over the last few years (including my all time favourite). I've got a little bit of everything, there's a good horror novel, something for those of you who felt Twilight didn't quite hit the mark, a good old weepy and something from the Victorian era. I'll try not to give the game away, but I've done a wee synopsis and my final verdict so you can see if it's something you'd like.
First up, we have Fingersmith by Sarah Waters which is my Victorian Era book of choice. In short, this book tells the story of two orphaned girls who are leading very different lives. One of these girls, Susan spends her days living with pickpockets (or fingersmiths as they were called in those days) and the other, Maud is a wealthy heiress who Susan's adoptive mother and a chap called the Gentleman plan on defrauding.

The plan is for Susan to instill herself as a maid in Maud's house and to convince her to marry the Gentleman before they leave Maud in an insane asylum allowing them to split the fortune between themselves. As Susan becomes closer and closer to Maud, all is not as it seems.  It soon becomes clear that it isn't just Susan who's playing a game. This book has it all, intrigue, deviousness and a pretty wicked twist at the end. It captures the essence of Victorian London with ease and you really do feel as though you're there on the grimy streets of London with them.

Next up, it's a weepy one, I watched the movie adaptation of this at the weekend and I thought it was brilliant. I am of course talking about Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. If you were a fan of Everything Is Illuminated then you'll enjoy this as well as it's on a similar vein with a journey of self-discovery driving the plot forward. The hero of our story is Oskar Schell who it's implied may (or may not the tests were inconclusive) have Asperger's syndrome. As such, his Dad sets him on expeditions to help him to interact people and build his confidence. When his Dad looses his life in the 9/11 attacks, Oskar is desperate to keep the connection with his father. Whilst rummaging through his Dads belongings, he stumbles across a key which sets Oskar on a mission to find what, amongst the millions of locks in New York it opens.

This is a really touching story and is so well written that you will be in tears while reading, the paperback does come with pictures and notes to help tell the story so the Kindle version may not be the best. When I picked up this book, I was concerned that there would be a focus on 9/11 but this is more of a passing detail than a key plot point. What really gets you is the desperation that Oskar feels in trying to keep his Dads memory alive.

If you found that Twilight didn't quite cut the mustard, then A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness is going to be one for you and is part of the All Souls Trilogy. It tells the story of Diana Bishop, a witch with an impressive lineage and Matthew Clairmont, a very old and seemingly gorgeous vampire (obviously this is relevant to your enjoyment of the book). Naturally supernatural creatures tend to keep to their own and maintain their distance from others so you can imagine what happens when two groups collide. What I loved about this was that I personally found that when reading the Twilight books it felt as though nothing really happens until the final few pages, however, with this, whilst it certainly isn't action packed with all guns blazing there is enough mystery, intrigue and other weird and wonderful supernatural creatures to keep you gripped.

In addition, Diana is strong, confident and incredibly likable as a character, to boot she doesn't spend the entire book complaining about how dreadful life is when you're torn between two men who want to devote their every waking moment to making you happy. No, instead, Diana has Matthew who's mysterious past and interest in Darwinian theories have her hooked from the get go. Oh yes, this is an adult version of Twilight and will have you hooked. I'm keeping my eyes peeled for the final instalment!

My final recommendation for you, my lovely readers is the classic that is Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice. I'm sure I don't need to give much of a synopsis as many of you will have no doubt either read this or seen the movie (Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt!), but this book is what started my love affair with supernatural horror stories. Essentially, Louis decides to tell his story to a newspaper reporter. The reader follows Louis life from his human years, to his creation right through to the current time. Anne Rice is a fantastic author and the book really sucks you in, there's something quite romantic about the style in which this is written without needing a heavy reliance on gore to keep you intrigued.

If you haven't read this, then you really need to, it's kinda what started the whole vampire craze!

What books would you recommend reading over the summer? 


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