Five Summer Must Reads!

A list of all the books that will make your summer even greater:

Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid – a fabulous book with a twist of romance, the plot focuses on a hilarious attempt to break through high school cliches ; you will be re-reading this one for years to come.

Jasmine Skies by Sita Brahmarachi – a beautiful story of a girl who travels to India for the first time, finding romance; but also finding out the disturbing secrets of her family’s past.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman – this is both touching and tragic; a story of a girl who finds herself in a coma and has an out of body experience in which she decides whether to live or die. It sounds heavy but I promise that it’s not – only incredibly heart-warming.

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider – the gripping romance between two teenagers who are quarantined that shows you how to appreciate life; again, a book you will love and re-read more than a million times.

Flawed by Cecelia Ahern – another fabulously gripping book, this time set in a parallel society in which the faction of flawed exist; but the flawed are not criminals, only people who have done something morally or ethically wrong. This is the story of one girl’s struggle to challenge the status quo ina perfect society.

All these books are the ‘creme de la creme’ of my favorites and I highly recommend that you read each and every one of them!

 

Five Summer Must Reads!

Shine by Candy Gourlay

A twisted, scarred neck. Rendered mute. There is no denying that Rosa has the Calm. This disease will manacle her in the grip of confinement – because every single person on the island of Mirasol sees her as a monster.

Rosa desperately spends all her time online – her only glimpse of the tempestuous outside world. She meets a boy. A boy who takes heart-stopping photos of the island. Photos that look like they have been taken from her window.┬áTheir friendship is precious and unique. But when the two meet in a world that is not computer generated – everything could fall to pieces.

Secrets are made to be found out. The past is doomed to haunt the present. And it seems that friendships are made to be broken.

This book has an eerie, mysterious quality that is captured inside the pages and draws you in until you can’t stop reading. Every character is an enigma who lies and sneaks yet knows gasp-worthy secrets. The writing describes a weird world that seems to be wavering in the haze of a boundary between reality and unreality. This is what makes the story so unique and original. Commencing as what seems a story set in our world; a mute girl who finds ways to communicate online, the book rapidly dissolves into a weirdly wonderful tale of ghosts and diseases, of secrets and lies.

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!

Shine by Candy Gourlay

My Name’s Not Friday by Jon Walter

What would you do if I whipped you like an animal? Would you thrash and fight and kick – or would you stand and know you had no choice but to to take it. This is the story of the people who had to stand and take it. This is the story of the one boy who fought. He used to try to be good, at the orphanage. He used to look after his brother. He used to have more worth than a cigarette butt that has been ground into the street. As soon as they sent Samuel to be a slave it was as if they had shoved a coarse, brown sack onto his head that he couldn’t get out from. They changed his name. They forged his papers. They forbade him to read or write. And unless he could make them believe that his name wasn’t Friday – that he wasn’t a slave, they wouldn’t let him go. In the midst of a place where people are treated like animals, where the American Civil War rages, Samuel will learn how difficult it is to be a good man in a bad world.

The allure in this book is captured and harnessed in its language style and phraseology. Infused inside coarse manners and rough lives there is some indescribable, unique quality in the way the most heartfelt of emotions are conveyed in a few unsophisticated sentences. This modest, unpolished language portrays every sentiment as pure and rare, coming from the heart. But in addition to this, the language creates the setting of the story better than any description. Without elaboration, a world of dirty streets and basic food is created. Without mention of luxuries we know that in this world everything is sparse and meagre. Another engaging aspect is the conflict of character in the protagonist, Samuel. As the story opens he is depicted as an unusually pious character, always obedient and virtuous, and regarded highly at the orphanage.

My Name’s Not Friday by Jon Walter

A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass

It was long ago that Mia decided to keep it a secret. Nobody could ever know. It was integral that nobody ever knew her strange ability.

Mia saw colors at the slam of a door, the thud of a hammer, the whirr of a helicopter. Shapes and tones danced in front of her eyes as soon as she heard a sound. But her gift was abnormal. Mia knew that all too well. And anything abnormal must be quickly veiled from the eyes of scheming bullies.

When Mia’s colors begin to affect her life drastically – she knows that she is going to have to reveal her secret.

This is a story rich in the lush, vibrant description of colors and sounds that far exceed any other book – one of the things I loved most about ‘A Mango-Shaped Space’. In addition to the wonderful, unique language of the book, the writer adeptly adds the subtle touch of the conflicting emotions of growing up. The storyline itself is based on the intriguing, rare condition of synesthesia which, simply put, leaves the synesthete able to perceive colours when tasting or hearing. This is a story that I would definitely recommend to anyone who is interested.

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!

A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya van Wagenen

Maya is a ‘Social Outcast’. She is at the bottom of her school’s hierarchy, awkward and shy. And then, one day, her father picks up a battered vintage book at a bookstore. Each chapter dictates a perfect way to pull off different aspects of being popular. Betty Cornell, the teenage author, has formed a guidebook that could save Maya’s life. The catch – it was written in the 1950s.

Maya decides to construct an experiment. For every month of the school year she will focus on the rules of each chapter and look at the reactions it will get. At the end of the year, Maya will decide if she has become popular. And hopefully, she will have found out its definition too.

The most striking and appealing thing about ‘Popular’ is that it is true; the plot is so clever and original that I wondered how it could be taken from life. Although the title suggests a perhaps shallow and boring book, the story was inspirational and brought a hidden meaning into the word popular. My only criticism would be the slightly irritating amount of Spanish translation. Other than that, I would recommend this book to any age.

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya van Wagenen

The Secret Countess by Eva Ibbotson

Anna Grazinsky is the daughter of one of the wealthiest families of Russia. Respected and renowned, the Grazinskys have everything they could wish for. But the Russian Revolution catapults them into poverty. When they leave Russia, they entrust their collection of worldwide famous jewels to Anna’s old wet nurse – who runs away with them; the only thing that could give Anna’s family a life in England.

For now the Grazinskys are destitute.

Anna must go to work in the English household Mersham, where everything is new and strange, and where Anna, for the first time, will not be at the top of the house’s hierarchy. She will be at the bottom. And when you are a maid, you are not supposed to fall in love with you’re master. Especially if he is engaged already.

The Secret Countess is a rich, vibrant and original story. The change from Russia to England highlights the stereotypes of an olden day English household, through the eyes of a girl who knows what goes on above the servant’s quarters. Another aspect of the book that I admired was that every character was unique and had an intriguing background behind them, which kept the story interesting and not only focusing on the main characters. However, one criticism I had was that I thought more time could be spent on describing the Grazinsky family’s situation once they reached England. I was uncertain of exactly how they managed to obtain a residence and send Anna’s brother to school on their meagre amount of money. Apart from that, I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the story.

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!

The Secret Countess by Eva Ibbotson

A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson

Ellen Carr should have had at least a streak of feminism in her. Her mother and aunts were all strong suffragettes who had gone on hunger strikes, been in prison and had firm beliefs in freedom and education for women. But Ellen’s beliefs were in cooking and housekeeping.

When her grandmother and mentor passes away, Ellen goes to work in the land that her grandmother loved : Austria. Ellen will be the housekeeper of a ‘progressive’ boarding school, and she develops a bond with all the children as she brings to their sorrowful lives joy, and to their raw hearts love. But there is one person at the school whom Ellen cannot get to confide in her – and that is Marek, the gardener. Their lives become entangled as Ellen realizes that Marek is working in the resistance to help Jews – and the pair fall in love.

So why is there no happy ending for them?

A Song for Summer is an embroidery of places, people, secrets, mysteries, romances, music – every imaginable idea woven into this tapestry of words. The treasures of the book, though, are the characters. Eva Ibbotson has created unique characters, each one interesting and different. Ballerinas, musicians, opera singers, cooks, suffragettes, gardeners, lords, every type of person and profession features in the book, making it original, gripping, intriguing and vibrant. However, I felt that the ending of the book was very rushed and the plot became too fast-paced, with not enough time for the reader to process events. Aside from this, the book had no undesirable language and I would recommend it too anyone aged ten and up.

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!

A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson