The absolute best thing about the summer holidays, as far as I am concerned, is the chance to read lovely, long, happy books – whiling away the hours on a sun lounger, or during a delicious lie in accompanied by hot tea and buttered toast. There’s nothing nicer than diving into a story so you can forget about your every day life and, just for a while, live in the heads of completely different people.
My requirements for summer reads are different to the rest of the year. To begin with, they’ve got to be long. I have more time, so want to fully immerse in the author’s world. Also, I love a thriller – don’t get me wrong – and I love crime books. However, for some reason I am not so keen on them on holiday. Probably because they require too much thinking. Also high brow, good-for-you stuff goes by the wayside too, as I leave improving myself for the winter and when I am teaching.
Of course you can’t go wrong with the brilliant Lisa Jewell, and you can look under my ‘Books! Lovely Books!’ category for other authors I have written about.
So what do I look for in a summer read? Well I quite like ones set abroad in sunny climes; happy endings are important and I like them to charm me. I’m afraid I’m pretty low brow all the way when the sun shines.
I have been thinking for a while about putting together summer read recommendations as I couldn’t find anything that fitted my bill in the usual internet articles this year.
I started reading ‘The Memory Shop‘ as it showed up on my Kindle and was about 99p. It caught my eye because one of my favourite authors, Mariane Keyes, had recommended it. I am already 23% of the way through it and I LOVE IT! So much so I had to stop reading it to write this recommendation.
It’s set in Dublin and centres around Nora who winds up in her grandparents’ house after they have died and she is sorting through their amazing collection of things from around the world. Griffin has a wonderful way of writing which makes these objects become real and the real hook is the character Nora finds scraps of writing left by her grandmother detailing each memory the object inspires.
Hmm, I am conscious as I am writing that I am not really selling this book – I am doing Griffin a disservice. Her characters are relatable, the writing clear and vivid, and the plots are gripping. I particularly like how the book centres on the shop, but through the eyes of lots of other characters who circle and converge on Nora’s story.
Let me give you an example. Nora decides to sell some of her grandparents’ beautiful things by using the empty shop which forms part of the house. She is an artist and a set designer. She uses her skills to put together a display window, basing it around a moonstone necklace. You see Nora finding the necklace, reading her grandmother’s notes about the day it was given to her, and then thinking through how best to display it. We are told about her sketching out her ideas, and deciding which bits and pieces from the house to use.
The next page, you follow two young lovers, coming home from the pub who stop by he lit shop window. It is described to us through their eyes, which works really well. It’s always satisfying to read about someone doing up a house, or a shop; getting rid of years of dirt and making something beautiful. Probably because I’m a such a slattern myself this really appeals to me.
I am only a quarter of the way through this book, but sometimes you just know this is going to be special. It certainly gets on my book list, because I haven’t even finished it yet and I am already trying to find out what else she has written.
Do have a read, it’s so lovely and so cheap!
I got ‘The Wife Between Us‘ because it was on a number of internet ‘Best Summer Reads 2018’ lists and it was one of the few I liked the sound of. It is a thriller, but I found I couldn’t put it down and it was long enough for me to think I could put it on my summer list. Also, I am conscious I keep recommending books that came out a while ago, so I wanted to recommend some recent reads.
This is a very clever book. The authors have meticulously plotted so you do have to keep on your toes. Not ideal when you are lying brain dead by the pool (paddling pool in my case at the moment), but it’s good enough for you to want to stay focused. It is written with good pace, and Hendricks & Pekkanen have done the Nicci French thing of combining their styles so well you can’t see the join. It’s one of those books I am looking forward to reading again now I know the ending.
This, from the author who wrote ‘The Devil Wears Prada‘ is lots of fun and ideal summer reading. It follows the character Emily from the Devil Prada books, as well as the tales of her two friends who are struggling with the husbands/kids yada yada stuff I love to read about.
I think Weisberger has really found her feet now. ‘Devil’ was brilliant, I suspect because it was based on her own experience so had a real sense of authenticity. Her other novels I was less impressed by, they were OK, but not ‘savour every moment until the end’- this one was. A good length and great characters with an absorbing plot. Plus the requisite happy ending!
I LOVE Veronica Henry. I’ve read all her books and enjoyed every one. Especially her ‘Honeycote‘ series, which I would recommend. I also enjoyed ‘Love on the Rocks‘ and loads of others.
I was delighted when this one came out, just in time for my 2018 summer reading. Henry is a sort of grown up version of the Jilly Cooper/Jackie Collins bonkbusters I used to read in the 80’s and 90’s. They are very warm, family oriented stories – usually concerning a cad or two thrown in, along with some skulduggery which is averted at the last minute.
What I particular love about Veronica Henry – and she’s a bit like Jenny Colgan in this respect – is she includes recipes her characters use, which I never make but always sound amazing.
The stories are never particularly earth-shattering, but the are ones you can relate to no matter what your age. Her characters could be teenagers trying on life for the first time; women falling in love with their ‘ones’; women who have had their one, who turned out to be a shit so they are finding another -or going it along; empty nesters; or older women rocking it into their 80’s. Also men of course!
‘A Family Recipe‘ follows Laura who is facing a big transition in her life as her children leave home – the big surprise mentioned in the blurb turns Laura’s life upside down and she has to shake off routines and habits formed over 20 years and start again. It’s uplifting and leaves you smiling.
In the interests of balance, I have to mention a male writer, of course, and for the summer Harlan Coben hits the spot when you’ve read too many family based domestic dramas in a row. I’m a little bit in love with the character from his series whose name is Myron Bolitar, but the others are good too – gripping and solid page turners.
I’ve gone a bit mad with Harlan Coben and have read about eight of his books in the last few months. This is my most recent favourite.
It’s a great premise. The book opens with stories focusing on different characters; the thread joining them comes in the form of a ‘stranger’ who visits to tell a secret about someone they love. These revelations have nasty consequences.
Good, clear, and engaging writing with a twisty plot, often focusing on events rising from the past, Coben has a tried and tested formula lifted to readable heights by forthright and convincing leads enlivened by a strong dash of humour. (Coben’s dedications are very funny). I have a proper soft spot for Coben as he liked one of my tweets. I am hoping for a follow one of these days.
Finally, if you’re in the mood for something sexy but well-written (unlike everything to do with 50 Shades which I find too badly written to actually read – and I’ll read the back of cereal boxes) you can’t go wrong with Rebecca Chance.
Now I know her from the days when she wrote some fabulous books in the 90’s using her real name – Lauren Henderson. I thought she was great, her books were wry, clever, fast moving with fantastic kick ass heroines. If you’re interested check out her Sam Jones series starting with ‘Dead White Female‘ or the stand alone ones including ‘My Lurid Past.’
But we are looking at sexy summer reads, so it’s her Rebecca Chance novels I’m recommending. The sex scenes are SO explicit and naughty you actually find your self looking around to check if anyone can see what you’re reading. I’ve found myself blushing when reading and coming out in a bit of a sweat. Perfect for the summer! She’s got one coming out this month called ‘Bad Twins‘ which I have already pre-ordered, but you can get last year’s one now.
Like all of Rebecca Chance’s novels this has mind boggling sexual positions, a rip roaring plot, fashionable clothes, great settings and wise cracking characters you will wish were your best friends. But be warned, you don’t want your kids reading this over your shoulder! Phew!
Enjoy the summer my warriors!
I’m off out to the garden to finish reading ‘The Memory Shop‘.
Let me know your summer favourites.
NB: I get a little commission if you go on to buy any books using my links.