Who doesn’t love a good seasonal read? In summer a good book has to primarily do one thing – make you feel happy. And maybe match the the colour of your funky summer shoes. It is one of the things that I most look forward to – spending my days outside with a good book, eating ice cream while the sun warms my skin.
I have six mini reviews for you today – all very different stories, all of them as lovely as can be!
The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester
I bought this book a couple of years back in an airport shop in Sydney on my way home from New Zealand. Having a 26-hour journey ahead this was a story that lifted my spirits to no end.
The McClouds have always lived an ordinary life in an ordinary small town. So it comes somewhat as a surprise when their young daughter, Piper, turns out to be very extraordinary indeed. Because Piper can fly. When the secret spills itself Piper is invited to attend a top-secret school for children with marvellous abilities. But something about the institute feels very off and Piper is determined to get a look behind the welcoming façade.
The Girl Who Could Fly is simply heartwarming. The characters are very vivid and real; Conrad, for example, is as despisable as Piper is sweet. But moreover the story essentially talks about the issue of «being normal». What is normal and by who’s definition? The plot shows a few interesting twists and turns, so although it is really a children’s story it is as much of a page turner for adults of all ages. I was 17 when I first read it and I still find myself coming back to it, and everytime I do I am taken aback by the simplicity of the language Victoria Forester uses, and how utterly beautiful she can make it sound.
Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher
I am a big fan of stories where a celebrity falls in love with an ordinary person. So obviously, I could not resist Giovanna Fletcher’s debut novel.
Sophie has lived all her life in a small village. She still lives with her mum and works in a coffee shop, and secretly she is still blaming herself for her father’s tragic death all those years ago. But then she meets Billy Buskin, a famous actor who is currently starring in an adaption of Pride and Prejudice. He whisks Sophie off her feet and soon she is drawn into Billy’s world of glitter and fame – with all its perks and drawbacks.
If you are going for brain food, this is not your book. It’s not complicated in its essence and the plot is very predictable. But Billy and Me has a lot of heart to it and works as an instant antidepressant; it focuses strongly on the possibility of love and its immanent presence all around us. Although the characters don’t always feel very authentic, they are likeable and you’ll find yourself caring about them anyway. Chick-Lit is very much not a genre that I usually enjoy, but I greatly enjoyed Billy and Me.
Finding Colin Firth by Mia March
Doesn’t the title intrigue you? I doubt there’s any girl or woman out there who doesn’t fantasise about Colin Firth getting out of that pond, soaking wet, his hair slick and his expression smoldering. You’re probably looking at the title and, like me, think, Ooh, a manual on how to catch myself a Colin!
Finding Colin Firth ist he story of three women whose lives are about to touch and thus be changed forever: Bea has just found out she was adopted and is now going to meet her real mother. Veronica gave up her baby for adoption when she was a teenager and is now coming to terms with the decision she made twenty years ago. And Gemma, whose own pregnancy has caught her by surprise, is writing an article on teen mothers. What they all have in common? Why, their love for Colin Firth of course!
I was surprised to find the story actually holds a certain depth – it’s certainly not a manual on how to meet Colin Firth. The story revolves around the issue of motherhood and self-apprciation and leads to a number of very endearing and heartwarming discoveries. The plot line is kept very simple and straight with no major surprises and twists. The characters are believable enough and easy to love which makes the story an enjoyable ride. Finding Colin Firth has left me feeling warm and fuzzy to the core and I can only recommend it to everyone who is in desperate need for a mood-lifter!
Paper Towns by John Green
As it so often happens, I discovered Paper Towns via a comment on YouTube. I instantly fell in love with the blurb – and two days later with the book itself.
Margo and Quentin have been neighbours since they were little children, and Quentin has been in love with Margo since the day she moved in next door. In their adolescence they are no longer friends – until one night Margo turns up at Quentin’s window, and together they «right some wrongs and wrong some rights.» But the following day Quentin discovers that Margo has disappeared, leaving behind only a handful of hints that may just lay the trail leading right to her.
What I found most beautiful about this particular book is what many readers apperntly have found to be dull – the poetry. Quentin discovers a book and he reads it from cover to cover repeatedly. He interprets and re-interprets. This makes the story much less action filled but describes the inner journey of a boy in love. Interpretations are what make the story come to life. Who is Margo outside of Quentin’s mind? The characters have heartbeats and personalities that go deeper than the average 2D-picture other authors paint. I found this book to be especially wonderful before starting a new project – such as the time I went to live in Honduras. Paper Towns encourages you to try out a new You, it encourages new beginnings and it leaves a splinter of hope in your chest.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
This book is an old classic that I first encountered when I was about six or seven years old. I used to play I had a secret garden myself; when I reread this gem a year ago it instantly brought back the magic.
Mary, an English girl brought up in India, is suddenly orphaned when her neglecting parents tragically die from Cholera. She is sent to live in her uncle’s house on the moors in England where she feels lonely and unwanted. But things are very odd at Misselthwaite Manor: whose cries can Mary hear late at night? And why don’t any oft he servants appear to be bothered by the noise? Then, one day, Mary discovers the key to a secret garden and the lives of everyone attached to it begin to brighten.
The Secret Garden is very innocent in both language and action. The events are perceived through the eyes of ten-year old Mary which help the reader see ordinary things for the first time again and let them appear in a magical light. It’s easy to fall in love with the characters and the scenery described in the book as everything is set up in loving detail. The garden is enhances the growth of personality and health and appears very vivid on the pages. Every sentence in this book is a tiny masterpiece and I keep losing myself in their beauty: «That afternoon the whole world seemed to devote itself to being perfect and radiantly beautiful and kind to one boy.»
Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park
This particular book was given to me as a birthday present some two years ago (which is why the cover is in German – but isn’t it pretty?). I read it in one sitting and absolutely adored this very different love story.
When Julie's off-campus housing falls through a befriended family offers her to stay with them. They look like the picture book family, three beautiful children, the parents a happy couple, a big house and expensive cars. No one ever talks about the fact that Celeste, the youngest oft he lot, carries a life-size paper cut-out of her brother Finn with her, who is currently travelling the world. Then there’s Matt, an MIT tech geek with the social skills of paper Finn. And Finn himself, who sends Julie those beautiful e-mails until she has to wonder: Is she falling for a paper figure?
Flat-Out Love is incredibly witty and quirkie – it comes with emails, Facebook status updates, and instant messages. The humour is very well thought through and will make you laugh heartily; it’s such a unique idea and it leaves space for many giggles, frowning, cringing and wiping away a tear or two. Julie is a protagonist you instantly respect and possibly wish to give you a make-over, too!
What else could you possibly need for a perfect summer?! Maybe you have your personal literary summer favourites? Don't hesitate to share them in the comments!
Published by Noemi Harnickell