Book Club- Books To See You Through Summer

Hello and welcome to my second book club blog post! The last time we discussed some of my favourite books of the year so far was back in March when life was a little different to say the least. Now three months on, all of which were in lockdown, I think it's safe to say I've had the time to get stuck into a whole new pile of incredible books and oh my, have I been a busy reader! As we enter into summer I've been trying to keep up the positivity towards lockdown, especially as it can increasingly feel more and more tedious from day to day. I've been taking full advantage of the last few week's incredible weather, reserving regular  slots of "me time" and enjoying the sunshine accompanied by a whole host of books. Summer generally for me, is a prime time for discovering new books whether that's a good holiday read or a moments peace in the garden. Granted this year there will be no holidaying but that doesn't mean we can't get stuck into an amazing summer time read and I've got a few suggestions to keep you ticking over for the next few months...

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Truth be told- I started the book a while back, after it was suggested to me on numerous occasions and rightly so. It's right up my street with it's 1970s "Almost Famous" vibe and so was bound to be a sure fire winner with me right? Weirdly it took me a while to really get into the swing of things, again I've no idea why exactly because on paper (excuse the pun) it ticked a lot of boxes. I can only put this slow start down to the fact that my head just wasn't in the right place. Not to make excuses but this is very much a "summer feel" kind of story in my opinion and I started it way back in early March so maybe- without sounding too pernickety- I just needed the sunshine to get me fully immersed?

Once I got into this book I've got to say, it really didn't disappoint and having taken weeks to read the first couple of chapters, it than only took me two days to read the rest. I just couldn't put it down. The story as you may probably have guessed centres around the fictitious group The Six, having had one hit album back in the 1970s, the band mysteriously and rather abruptly split up. No one ever knows why and from that moment onwards none of the band members make music together ever again. Fast forward decades later and a mystery journalist makes it their mission to interview all those involved in the band and unpick their sudden ending. The book is set out as a series of interviews with band members, friends, family and everyone else associated with the band in the 1970s. It's this unique interview format which really makes this book what it is! It's completely immersive 3-Deminsional storytelling, in which you'd be excused for thinking these events actually took place and the characters truly existed. Hearing about the events that unfold through several different perspectives and in such a candid style makes each character totally captivating, drawing you in and urging you to find out more much like a journalist would. By the end of this book I found myself wishing this album truly existed and with such realistic storytelling I don't think anyone would blame me.

The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

If you're looking for a book with a whole lot of twists and turns than this is the one for you. It's full to the brim with mystery and shock revelations, that will make you dizzy. This story isn't for the faint hearted and if I had to give one piece of advise, it would be to take notes and consider every word you read. I know, I know! This all sounds a little intense doesn't it? But it goes with the territory as this story will continually leave you on the edge of your seat and tends to offer more questions than it does answers.

This book very much starts as it means to go on as we begin our journey through the eyes of a very panicked and confused Doctor Sebastian Bell. Having suddenly woken up to find himself in the middle of a forest with complete loss of memory, Sebastian Bell tries to piece together the mystery of how he got there and the harrowing events which follow. This is a book packed full of incredible, diverse and often complicated characters with even the setting of Blackheath Hall acting as a foreboding character in itself. From the first page you are instantly transported on to the grounds of Blackheath and although you may found yourself often lost within the plot, I feel like you stick around just to simply immerse yourself further in the surroundings. This is very much a "who done it" murder mystery, with it's own unique twist which breathes some much needed contemporary life into an old, often predictable genre. If you like Agatha Christie than you'll be overjoyed. I often felt like the story was one step ahead of me, running away with itself. It's easy to see how you can loose your way and possibly even get a little tired of the guessing game, I definitely felt moments of loosing patience once or twice myself. But credit where credit's due, the writing is second to none and the atmosphere is like very few books I've read before and it's this alone which I personally felt kept me going. By the time I finished I actually missed Blackheath and the- often detestable- characters within. 

The Beekeeper's Promise by Fiona Valpy

From one rather intense book to the other end of the scale with "The Beekeeper's Promise". This is very much your typical summertime read and in all honesty not usually my kind of vibe. Often romanticised and a little twee in places, I would probably suggest reading this book if you're after a bit of escapism with minimal effort required. The narrative follows the lives of two contrasting characters; the modern day English Abi Howes and French Elaine Martin living through World War 2. Both of their stories centre around Chateau Bellevue in the south of France, Elaine the daughter of a mill owner close to the village and Abi currently at a yoga retreat who finds herself working at the Chateau through a happy accident.

The book explores the idea of both women from extremely different backgrounds and lives finding the strength to overcome their own adversities. It's a really lovely idea which if I'm brutally honest sometimes falls a little flat- Abi's story sadly pales in comparison to Elaine's struggle living in occupied France during the war. This is a real shame because Abi's story is utterly heartbreaking but lacks the depth of Elaine's and her ending comes across quite fanciful. I realise so far I probably sound quite negative about this story, but on the contrary I really enjoyed reading it I promise! Elaine's story is so compelling and I often found myself eager to get back to her dedicated chapters. It was a real insight into the horrors of occupied France, something I'd never really explored before and Elaine as a character is completely inspirational as she becomes an instrumental role within the resistance. After finishing this book I immediately found myself researching into the resistance further and as a lover of history it's no surprise really that this was the element of the book I loved most. This is really a story with something for everyone and if tales of World War 2 are a bit too heavy for you right now, than I'd still suggest giving this book a try for the idyllic settings alone which Fiona Valpy perfectly transports you to. A story which will move you but not mountains.

Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce

Another easy read but this time with a bit more punch to it, I read Blood Orange in two days. It's utterly addictive, at times scandalous and very dark. If like me your guilty pleasure is often books such as "The Couple Next Door" and "Girl On The Train" than you're going to love this one too. It's very much your classic thriller which draws you in hook, line and sinker from the very start and I'd whole heartedly recommend it for a day of relaxing in the sun.

I'm going to be really careful here not to give too much away, as much like "The Seven Deaths Of..." this is a book full of twists and turns which will have you clinging to the edge of your seat (or sun lounger). Blood Orange follows the story of high flying defence lawyer Alison as she navigates her way through a passionate, often complex affair, a failing marriage and a flourishing career. In theory Alison is really a character you should immediately feel pitted against and in all honesty after the first chapter I found myself preparing to really dislike her. But like any good thriller should, this book has you second guessing yourself at the turn of a page and as the story progresses, revelations slowly unfold will have you completely invested in Alison and continually rooting for her. This a story where all is not as it seems and although there are a few obvious twists, the real beauty of this plot is found in the subtle unfolding of her relationship with her husband. I challenge anyone to read this book and not be completely speechless from the last few chapters alone. Undoubtably readable and just what the doctor ordered for those in need of a gripping thriller with a unique plot.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

And saving the best until last, I don't even know where to begin of this beautiful book! I've had Little Fires Everywhere on my GoodReads "want to read" list for a while now, having seen it pop up time and time again as a book people seem to rave about. As a firm believer that reading a book should come before watching the adaptation (allowing your imagination to make up it's own mind first), I finally decided to give it a try once I saw the series was now available to watch on Amazon. I'm honestly so glad I did, firstly because the book drastically varies from the series and secondly, because I truly believe this is a book everyone should read at seem point in their lifetime.

Set in American Suburbia, in the unassuming yet very desirable town of Shaker Heights this is a book which touches upon a variety of ambitious topics from class and race, to adolescence and motherhood. The book follows the middle class life of law abiding, model citizen Elena Richardson, her lawyer husband and four teenager children. Having lived in Shaker all her life, Elena is very much an authority on the ins and outs of town as well as the people within it. However when she lets out one of her properties to the enigmatic, often aloof Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl, life in Shaker begins to unravel accumulating in a custody trail between long time Shaker residents and Chinese immigrant Bebe over Bebe's baby girl. The beauty of this book for me is really in it's character development. This isn't a book which will necessarily keep you in suspense or have you frantically turning the next page, instead it draws you slowly in by setting the scene in great detail and introducing you to each character in meticulous depth. Half way through this story I found myself hugely invested in every character, finding likability in each one even those you least expect. This is a really poignant book to read at this moment in time as it tackles the issue of white privelege perfectly. Most notably with an admittedly uncomfortable to read court scene in which Celeste Ng eloquently addresses the toxic lack of diversity within Shaker Heights, an American upbringing and away from the book, everyday white washed culture. With the first page starting at the end of the story, this book really isn't about a shock revelation or a sensationalised conclusion. It's just a really honest and insightful story of motherhood and so much more.

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