#T5W, Books

Top 5 Wednesday: Summer Reads

Top 5 Wednesday was created by Lainey and is hosted by Samantha.

All information can be found here.

The weather’s heating up, the days are getting longer. Even if it’s not sunny, even if it rains all the time (Thank you, Belgium), we still have our summer reads to get us in the summer-mood.

Here are five books I’d recommend.

Tigers in Red Weather – Liza Klaussmann (buy)

tigers in red weather Liza Klaussmann

Nick and her cousin, Helena, have grown up sharing sultry summer heat, sunbleached boat docks, and midnight gin parties on Martha’s Vineyard in a glorious old family estate known as Tiger House. In the days following the end of the Second World War, the world seems to offer itself up, and the two women are on the cusp of their ‘real lives’: Helena is off to Hollywood and a new marriage, while Nick is heading for a reunion with her own young husband, Hughes, about to return from the war.

Soon the gilt begins to crack. Helena’s husband is not the man he seemed to be, and Hughes has returned from the war distant, his inner light curtained over. On the brink of the 1960s, back at Tiger House, Nick and Helena—with their children, Daisy and Ed—try to recapture that sense of possibility. But when Daisy and Ed discover the victim of a brutal murder, the intrusion of violence causes everything to unravel. The members of the family spin out of their prescribed orbits, secrets come to light, and nothing about their lives will ever be the same.

This book is all about secrets. Everyone has details about their life they’d rather keep hidden. I loved the atmosphere in this book, it felt like I was there on that island. Don’t expect a super in dept murder mystery because that’s not what this is. It’s about a family that doesn’t really get along. About putting on masks to protect yourself. Intrigued? Go on, give it a go…

This is what happy looks like – Jennifer E. Smith (buy)

this is what happy looks life Jennifer E Smith

When a young movie star accidentally sends a small-town girl an email about his pet pig, the two teens strike up a witty correspondence during which they share their views on everything without revealing their actual identities, an episode that causes a relationship to develop which ultimately transforms when the actor chooses the girl’s hometown for the setting of his latest film.

This was cute and fluffy and the story takes place over the summer. I’m not a big contemporary reader but there’s just something about summer and contemporary fiction that makes them fit together perfectly.

Outlander – Diana Gabaldon (buy)

outlander diana gabaldon

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

I’m putting this on my list because I started reading it while on holiday in the Provence. I FLEW through it. I haven’t read any of the other books in this series since but I really enjoyed this one! If you want something you can immerse yourself in, this might be the one.

The Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd (buy)

The secret life of bees Sue Monk Kidd

Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily’s fierce-hearted black “stand-in mother,” Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina–a town that holds the secret to her mother’s past. Taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters, Lily is introduced to their mesmerizing world of bees and honey, and the Black Madonna. This is a remarkable novel about divine female power, a story women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come

This.is.such.a.great.book!!! I LOVED this book when I read it and I can still see myself sitting in the sun being completely overwhelmed by this story. If you haven’t read it yet, you’re missing out!

Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel (buy)

station eleven emily st john mandel

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time—from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as The Travelling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains—this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet. Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

If you would like something more thrilling to read on those hot summer days, this is one to put on your list. I know that a lot of people have already read this one but I couldn’t not include it. This is a beautiful dystopian story about the different ways someone can ‘survive’. It’s also the next book for Sanne‘s #EndOfTheWorldBookClub , you might want to check that one out 😉

Books, Review

Outlander – Diana Gabaldon ****

Outlander

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

I found this book in a little second-hand bookstore in Avignon (France) while we were on holiday and I immediately started reading it. I read and read and read, every chance I got. The 8 hours we spent driving home, I settled in on the back seat with a pillow and a blanket and I read some more. Eventually, I ended up halfway through the book by the time we got home. My copy was already starting to fall apart.

And then I made the mistake of starting to watch the tv series. I had been telling my husband about what I was reading and convinced him to watch the show with me. Looking back it was the worst thing I could have possibly done. The tv series is great, very very very entertaining and we flew through it. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to keep up the same pace with my reading and I soon fell behind. I hate reading a book when I already know what’s going to happen.

For some reason, we then stopped watching the show with only two episodes left to go. I finished the book but we never finished watching the series. How sad is that? 🙂

I thought the book was very interesting because since I’m from Belgium, we never really went into the history and the conflict of Scotland and England. Some years ago, we visited the Lake District and went to Carlisle and an abbey that was build with stones from Hadrian’s wall (I can’t find the name anymore, if you happen to know what it’s called let me know. It has a little church next to it.). While we were at the abbey, we started chatting with the woman selling the tickets (she was really nice!! we stayed there talking for over an hour.) and she told us a little about the history of the surrounding area. It really stayed with me. For me the book set the scene perfectly, it told me a lot of things that I didn’t know and there were a lot of little details which I loved. (For example, when Claire is treating someone she always tells you what she’s doing and why)

I really liked Claire, because she’s very outspoken (I mean, she just can’t help herself). She curses and speaks her mind and  the men just don’t know what to think of her. This leads to a lot of awkward situations. It showed the gap in time and all that had changed since perfectly. Claire is a strong woman, hardened by what she has seen during her time as a nurse in the war. I have to admit, the constant struggle of Frank or Jamie started to get on my nerves after a while.

So let’s talk about Jamie. The way this book is written means you can’t help but fall for him but I won’t pretend like he’s my dream man. He’s interesting (and tv show Jamie is handsome as hell) but he’s also arrogant and mean sometimes. There’s also the fact that he lives in another time where women are looked down upon and although he loves Claire, he has been raised in this way and the people around him expect him to act a certain way towards her. Those were the moments that made me cringe the most. A woman’s word didn’t count back then and Diana Gabaldon doesn’t make you forget that. It makes it an honest book.

So yes, I liked it a lot but I’m convinced I would have given it five stars if I hadn’t started watching the tv show.

Have you read the book?
Have you watched the tv series?
Can you compare them? Which one did you like best? (I liked the book more because it had more detail but I preferred the witch scene on tv. I thought it was better played out.)

Love

Ellen