Books to Read in the Summer

Time for another book list 🙂

The nights are starting to get shorter and it’s getting towards the last days of summer. One way to make that summer feeling last as long as possible for me is to read books set in hot countries or sunny weather.

I always try to read books that match the season where I am. I don’t like to read wintry books in summer, or autumn books in the spring. I find that I can’t lose myself in the atmosphere of the book as easily.  Does anyone else find that too?

And please share your recommendations! On here or Twitter or Facebook, I’m always looking for new books to read, and I found that my list of summery books isn’t actually that long.

Hunger Makes the Wolf by Alex Wells

Hunger Makes the Wolf is set on a desert planet, where a young woman is part of a mercenary biker gang. There is magic (space witches!), a rebellion of mistreated workers against the company that controls the planet, and a woman learning to be a leader. What more could you want!

Hunger Makes the Wolf on GoodReads

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

A post-apocalyptic story that starts on a beach that could be in the Caribbean it sounds so perfectly tropical. It’s actually set on America’s Gulf Coast, where teenager Nailer ekes out a living salvaging copper from the wrecks of the shipping industry.

Ship Breaker on GoodReads

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Half a Yellow Sun tells the story of Biafra, a State that existed for three years in the sixties during a civil war in Nigeria. Three different narrators show us the human side of war and the effects it has on ordinary people.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a gifted storyteller, the subject matter means it’s not an easy read, but it is very readable, very interesting, and always stays sensitive.

Half of a Yellow Sun on GoodReads

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Another post-apocalyptic story, and one of my favourites, this is set in a world that has heated up due to global warming. Snowman is the last human surviving with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake in a world where it is too hot to go out in the midday sun.

Oryx and Crake on GoodReads

Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell

A story about a family that has fallen apart. The disappearance of the father of the family slowly starts to bring the family back together. Set during the heat wave of 1976 this is a book full of interesting characters who all have secrets of their own.

Instructions for a Heatwave on GoodReads

Mara and Dann by Doris Lessing

Mara and Dann is set in Africa thousands of years in the future. Mara lives in the last country on Earth that has not been swallowed by ice. But the food is running out and society is breaking down. In search of a better place to live Mara has to travel north, a hard and long journey that will take her to her limits.

Mara and Dann on GoodReads

Broken Branches by M. Jonathan Lee

Broken Branches Blurb

“Family curses don’t exist. Sure, some families seem to suffer more pain than others, but a curse? An actual curse? I don’t think so.”

A family tragedy was the catalyst for Ian Perkins to return to the isolated cottage with his wife and young son. But now they are back, it seems yet more grief might befall the family.

There is still time to act, but that means Ian must face the uncomfortable truth about his past. And in doing so, he must uncover the truth behind the supposed family curse.

My Review of Broken Branches

Broken BranchesBroken Branches by M. Jonathan Lee
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Broken Branches has a real feeling of unease with a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere and a spooky tree overshadowing it, though this could have been played on a bit more. The atmosphere was there at the start of the book, and there were some odd bumps and noises in the house, but it didn’t really build up until near the end. From the description, I was hoping for something a bit creepier.

The story is interesting and the twist at the end is shocking. The pacing is just right and the build up to the end of the story is done brilliantly. I was hooked, and couldn’t put it down.

Some parts of the story are left almost unexplained though. I wanted a bit more info about the family history. Ian’s research didn’t seem to go anywhere. And why did his father and brother not want anything to do with him?

I liked the jumps into the past where we saw Ian grow up on the farm and the way his family fell apart, but I don’t fully understand why it happened.

Overall, I enjoyed it, it’s well written and easy to read. It’s quite short too and I became so engrossed in it that I finished it in about a day. I would read more by this author.

I also love the cover! It sets the tone for the story perfectly.

I received a free copy from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Broken Branches
M. Jonathan Lee
Fiction

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Half of a Yellow Sun

Half of a Yellow Sun Blurb

With effortless grace, celebrated author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie illuminates a seminal moment in modern African history: Biafra’s impassioned struggle to establish an independent republic in southeastern Nigeria during the late 1960s. We experience this tumultuous decade alongside five unforgettable characters: Ugwu, a thirteen-year-old houseboy who works for Odenigbo, a university professor full of revolutionary zeal; Olanna, the professor’s beautiful young mistress who has abandoned her life in Lagos for a dusty town and her lover’s charm; and Richard, a shy young Englishman infatuated with Olanna’s willful twin sister Kainene. Half of a Yellow Sun is a tremendously evocative novel of the promise, hope, and disappointment of the Biafran war.

My review of Half of a Yellow Sun

Half of a Yellow SunHalf of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Half a Yellow Sun tells the story of Biafra, a State that existed for three years in the sixties during a civil war in Nigeria.

Three different narrators show us the human side of war and the effects it has on ordinary people.

It took me a long time to warm up to the characters and to start to care what happened to them. They do things that aren’t nice, or kind a lot of the time. We see their weaknesses and their selfish behaviour is made very obvious. Basically, they are very human and very realistic, and it was hard for me to remember that they are made up characters and not actually real people.

In the Q&A in the back of the copy I have the author says that she does not like omniscient narrators, that she does not want to bore us with their every thought. What we get then is almost fragments out of the lives of the narrators, and they do things that they don’t seem to fully understand themselves. It reminds me of the way Doris Lessing writes, just with more of an actual story in there too.

This is not the sort of book I normally read, but I’m glad I gave it a go. I was worried it might be a bit dry, but it’s really not. The subject matter means it’s not an easy read, but it is very readable, very interesting, and always stays sensitive.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a gifted storyteller and I’ll be looking out for more of her work.

View all my reviews

Half of a Yellow Sun
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Fiction
January 1st 2007
448

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All by Jonas Jonasson

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of it All

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All Blurb

A madcap new novel from the one-of-a-kind author of The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden

A GANGSTER, A VICAR AND A RECEPTIONIST WALK INTO A BAR . . .

Hitman Anders is fresh out of prison and trying to keep his head down when he meets a female Protestant vicar (who happens to be an atheist), and a receptionist at a 1-star hotel (who happens to be currently homeless). Together they cook up an idea for a very unusual business that’s going to make them all a fortune – but then all of a sudden, and to everyone’s surprise, Anders finds Jesus . . .

Anders’ sudden interest in religion might be good for his soul but it’s not good for business, and the vicar and the receptionist have to find a new plan, quick.

My Review of Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It AllHitman Anders and the Meaning of It All by Jonas Jonasson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think people will either love or hate the farcical style of Jonas Jonasson’s stories. They are daft romps through life full of madcap characters who have crazy run-ins with police, politics and criminals.

The books are full of sharp and funny comments on life, and a lot of silliness, but for me, it’s the warm and likeable characters that make the stories stand out.

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All is nothing new from the previous books, but I didn’t find it as funny as the others. There were a lot of bits in it that had me smiling, but I didn’t have any laugh out loud moments.

I enjoyed it though, and I liked the characters. It’s still an entertaining and uplifting read, with some amusing bits!

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All
Jonas Jonasson
Fiction
April 21st 2016
400

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

stories for Punjabi widows

Description

Nikki is a modern young Punjabi woman, who has spent most of her twenty-odd years distancing herself from her community and living an independent (read: western) life. But after the death of her father leaves her family in financial straits, she takes a job as a creative writing teacher for a group of aging widows at her temple and discovers that the white dupatta of the widow hides more than just a few greying hairs.

These are women who have lived in the shadows of fathers, brothers and husbands their whole lives, being dutiful, raising children and going to temple. They may not have a great grasp of English but what they do have is a wealth of stories and fantasies that they are no longer afraid to share with the other women in the group.

As Nikki realises that she must keep the illicit nature of the class secret from the Brothers—a group of highly conservative young men who have started policing the morals of the temple and the wider community—she starts to help these women voice their desires, and also begins to uncover the truth about the sudden recent death of a young Sikh woman.

My Review

Erotic Stories for Punjabi WidowsErotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nikki doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life. She quit her law degree and is now working in a pub. Looking for a way to earn a bit of money she takes a job to teach a storytelling class for widows at a temple in Southall.

At first, Nikki is dismissive of her students, expecting them to be dull and timid. She thinks that she can get them to tell stories that she can then create a book from – it felt almost as though she set out to exploit them.

She soon finds out that most of the women in the class don’t know how to read and write, and her job is actually to teach them. Not only that, her students were pushed into signing up and resent being taught as though they were children. They quickly hijack Nikki’s class, and turn it into the storytelling class it was meant to be, but with a twist. They want to tell erotic stories!

I found it hard to get into at first. A lot of characters are introduced, conversations wander, everything feels vague and the students are hard to tell apart from each other. Nikki feels bland and her personality doesn’t come across very strongly. Her class is quickly taken away from her and she is pushed around by her students and her work mates.

It settled down after the first 40% or so, and I found myself engrossed in the story. The students’ personalities start to emerge and I could see that they were a group of lively, smart women all with their own views on life. Their conversations were so funny! I loved reading their life stories.

The erotic stories are wonderful little gems dotted throughout the book. The widows say they can get away with telling them because they are forgotten and ignored by their community. No one pays them attention, they are expected to fade into the background.

Still, they have to keep what they are doing secret. A group of young men known as The Brother’s patrol the community watching the women to make sure they are behaving properly.

That brings in a darker theme to the book. Nikki’s boss at the temple Kulwinder starts to become suspicious of what they are doing in the class and they are in danger of being found out. And something has happened to Kulwinder’s daughter Maya that everyone keeps hinting at but no one will explain to Nikki.

At the end the pacing felt off again, everything happens in a rush. It’s all resolved very neatly, everything is tied up and ends happily. It’s positive and uplifting, but I don’t feel like it would actually happen. There’s a dark side to the book but the reality behind this feels pushed to one side in favour of a happy ending.

But at the same time, I do like that it ends positively. This is a warm and kindhearted book, I feel like Balli Kaur Jaswal really loves her characters and this shines through in her writing. The happy ending feels right for the book, and it certainly left me feeling happier!

I received a free copy from the publisher in return for an honest review.

View all my reviews

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows
Balli Kaur Jaswal
Fiction