Six In Six – A Look Back At Some Of My Top Books Of 2017 So Far…

6 I saw this over at Cleopatra Loves Books, and thought it was a great idea to look back at books read so far in 2017. Hosted by Jo’s Book Journey, the idea is sharing 6 books, in 6 categories from the first half of the year. So here’s my choices:

6 Books I Have Enjoyed The Most 

 

 

6 Psychological Thrillers I Have Read & Enjoyed 

 

 

6 New To Me Authors 

 

 

6 Covers I’ve Loved

 

 

6 Books Which Took Me To The Past 

 

 

Six Books I Own & Can’t Believe I Haven’t Managed To Read Yet 

 

Blog Tour Book Review: Where The Wild Cherries Grow by Laura Madeleine

I closed my eyes as I tried to pick apart every flavour, because nothing had ever tasted so good before. It was like tasting for the first time. Like discovering colour . . .

It is 1919 and the war is over, but for Emeline Vane the cold Norfolk fens only are haunted by memories of those she has lost. In a moment of grief, she recklessly boards a train and runs from it all.

Her journey leads her far away, to a tiny seaside village in the South of France. Taken in by cafe owner Maman and her twenty-year-old son, Emeline discovers a world completely new to her: of oranges, olives and wild herbs, the raw, rich tastes of the land.

But when a love affair develops, as passionate as the flavours of the village, secrets from home begin blowing in on the sea wides. Fifty years later, a young solictor on his first case finds Emeline’s diary, and begins to trace a story of betrayal, love and bittersweet secrets that will send him on a journey to discover the truth… (From Goodreads.com)

Published 23rd March 2017 (Ebook)/ 15th June (paperback) by Transworld UK

Dual time narratives are one of my favourite plot devices going. I love the alternating chapters, skipping between one era to the other and tying both times together. So when I read the synopsis for Where The Wild Cherries Grow, I knew this was going to be a book for me.

In 1919 Emmeline faces an uncertain future, following the successive loss of her brothers to war and her Mother to heartbreak. Alone in the imposing family mansion, she’s vulnerable to her unscrupulous uncle and his vision for the ancestral home. When faced with an alarming and terrifying realisation, she makes a spontaneous bid for freedom across France. Fifty years later and solicitor, Bill Perch, embarks on his first case. Young and eager to please, his first case seems straightforward enough. But when he comes across a diary, written fifty years ago, he becomes more and more intrigued and connected, until he must confront a moral dilemma, leading him on a journey of his own.

What I loved about this book was how both Emmeline and Bill’s chapters captivated me and complimented each other. They both begin in situations of suffocating formality, baring the pressure of the expectations of others and being stifled. Emmeline is trapped by her position as a young lady in 1919 and society’s expectations which are imposed on her. Without any family left, she can’t support herself or make choices about the future of her family home. Bill may initially seem to have the world at his feet, but he’s also stifled by life and the expectations of his parents, his girlfriend and the monotony of his professional life in a claustrophobic city. As the chapters alternated, I could see the journey both character went on to individual freedom, and feel the development of both as they surged towards new beginnings. Usually, in this type of narrative, I favour one perspective or era more than the other. In Where The Wild Cherries Grow I found both voices equally as enjoyable, making this book flow beautifully, intertwining both Emmeline and Bill’s stories effortlessly.

Laura Madeleine has a beautiful descriptive prose, which transports the reader to the times and places of this book. The smells, the sounds, the sights…all brought alive in wonderful, multi-coloured vividness. And the food….oh the food! My mouth watered as I read about the sumptuous recipes. I could almost taste them. I wanted nothing more than to be in a beautiful coastal village in the Mediterranean, eating fresh and  delicious food once I’d finished reading. But Laura’s stunningly descriptive prose extends to the unsaid and unseen too. The love affair between Emmeline and Aaro was intense and breathtaking. Impressive as Aaro is deaf and has no speech, and so conveying his feelings relies on the author’s poetic turn of phrase and tender and intricate detailing of a look or a touch.

I adored this book, and was fully immersed in it as I read. Not only did the intrigue of Emmeline’s secrets keep me glued, but the feeling of truly being transported to another place had me transfixed and I felt almost to sad to have ended it. For quite a short book, there’s a lot packed in and I found myself turning the pages effortlessly and enjoying every single mouthwatering word. This is the first book I’ve read by Laura Madeleine, but it won’t be the last and I highly recommend this book for those times when you have a few hours to spare and just want to be carried away on a beautiful story.

(I read an advanced readers copy supplied by the publisher)

Book Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer–they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along (From Goodreads.com)
The Summer I turned Pretty was top of my Summer Reading/Review list. Described as the perfect summer book it had to be really, didn’t it? And it is indeed a good book to enjoy on a lazy summer afternoon, with it’s beach setting, where you can almost feel the sting of sand and smell of sea and short easy chapters that keep you turning pages effortlessly.
In a short authors note at the beginning of the book, Jenny Han says ‘I truley Believe in every girls life there is that one golden summer’ and I shouted yes! There is. I had it and remember it fully. Han perfectly captures that magical moment where you are no longer a child, where the summer stretches endlessly before you and anything is possible. The setting is wonderful, who wouldn’t want to spend every summer at a beach house…I know when I was a teen this book would have been my idea of heaven. Belly has been spending summer here her whole life, with her mother, elder brother Stephen and her Mums best friend Susannah and sons Jeremiah and Conrad. Lucky!
But there’s more to The Summer I Turned Pretty than I originally imagined and the story isn’t just about this one summer, but many summers where we learn just how deep and complex the relationship between the two families are. There’s quite a serious side to this book which I wasn’t at all expecting but was covered very well and enhanced the importance of this Summer perfectly. The relationships between the characters are drawn very well, from the bickering between Belly and her brother, the exclusion she feels from ‘the boys’ and the awe she feels for older and more serious Conrad.
Jenny Han’s writing is very atmospheric, evoking vivid images of the beautiful setting and is incredibly easy to read. However I did have a couple of issues with the book, mainly involving main character Belly. I didn’t love her that much, she’s stroppy and self-absorbed believing the whole world revolves round her. She has a ‘poor me’ attitude at times which isn’t warranted and fails to see what’s happening to those she purports to care about.  I thought a book, which had the potential to be outstandingly good, was ruined by her attitude. That’s not to say overall I thought the book was bad, it’s really not. However I was sad I couldn’t fully love it because of my feelings toward her.  The publisher’s blurb hints at a love triangle and there is, kind of, but not the one I was expecting. Again this didn’t do much for me, and left me wondering about the point of it at times.  

So would I recommend The Summer I Turned Pretty? Weighing everything up I still say this is worthy of making your summer reading list. I managed to read this in one very easy sitting, the chapters are just a few pages long meaning I kept thinking ‘one more’ and ended up finishing the book very quickly. And by the end, Belly had redeemed herself a little in my eyes … I just wish we’d seen more of this side of her and less of the rest. It also left me wanting to catch the second book in the series; It’s Not Summer Without You. I’d say this was a satisfactory read, not perfect but certainly not a terrible way to spend a few hours on the beach. 




Published in the UK by Puffin June 2010




Recommend Us Your Favourite Summer Reads!

The sun made a very welcome appearance this weekend, the flip flops were dug out, freezer filled with ice creams and a bit of dodgy fake tan applied….it was just like SUMMER! YAY! (and there I go cursing it now)

So in eager anticipation of the sunshine ahead we’re planning some serious Summer Reading and need your help. We’re looking for recommendations of your favourite summer books, preferably with a bit of romance! We don’t mind if it’s contemp, historical, paranormal … whatever as long as it’s Summery. 

We’re planning on celebrating our Summer Reads in July, more info soon, but for now…hit us with your recommendations in the comments below!

Thank you!