There’s something about the summer months that ignites my inner book worm. One year I read 22 books in 6 weeks. Yes, you may call that sad. But I would personally call it impressive.
While I could spend my time engaging in really intellectually demanding literature, I am a sucker for a good romance story. We all dream of the dark and brooding cowboy with a complicated backstory sweeping us off our feet. Or finally realising that you and the all American boy next door are destined to be together. No? Just me? Moving on.
I’ve made a list of some of the books that I have either read recently, or read over previous summers. Yes, they are predominantly romance. But a few of them also deal with some serious and interesting issues. I’m going to try and describe these books as spoiler free as possible- but I am the spoiler queen so prepare yourselves.
Perfect Chemistry Trilogy, Simone Elkeles (“Perfect Chemistry”, “Rules of Attraction”, “Chain Reaction”)
Technically this is already cheating, but these books need to be read as a set to fully appreciate them. I read these back in 2012 after finding the e-books for a ridiculously cheap price on Amazon.
Now, they’re no literary genius. I made my friend Ella read them after me and I can’t count the amount of typos that we managed to find in them, but the story is incredibly compelling (if not a little cliché).
The first book follows bad boy Alex Fuentes pursue cheerleader- type Brittany Ellis for a bet that he makes with his friends. All is going well, until he inevitably falls for her and discovers that her ‘perfect’ life isn’t as easy as it seems.
I can’t tell you much more than that without giving the plot away (sorry), but this book is worth reading for the sole purpose of Alex Fuentes. Granted, I was 15 when I read these so obviously I would be drawn in by an 18-year-old dreamboat of a character. But even now, I think I would still find Alex incredibly charming and endearing.
The thing I love most about these books, however, is the continuity throughout the trilogy. The second and third books follow Alex’s two brothers (who appear in the first), while still exploring the lives of the characters that you have grown to know and love in the previous books. To me, the most important thing about a book is the characters. So getting to know more about those you have already invested in, as well as their families, is certainly one way to ensure I keep reading on.
“All the Bright Places”, Jennifer Niven
I raved about this book last summer. Jennifer Niven has to be one of my favourite authors of all time (and she’s liked a few of my Instagram posts, so we’re basically best friends).
Theodore Finch and Violet Markey meet under unusual circumstances, but they connect. They learn from one another and grow together over the course of the book, though ultimately still follow different paths (but probably not in the way you expect).
This is a proper- ugly cry whilst sitting in bed at 2am when you eventually finish the book after not being able to put it down- kind of situation. Jennifer Niven manages to deal with some incredibly challenging issues in such an intelligent and thought provoking way. Her writing style is extremely engaging, and she constructs Theodore and Violet as real- and in some ways relatable- characters. It’s hard hitting (and maybe not so much for young-young adults), but I couldn’t recommend it enough.
“Everything Everything”, Nicola Yoon
You may have heard of this one as it has recently been made into a film (the trailer of which does give a lot of the plot away). I read this around the same time as “All the Bright Places”. While I did enjoy it, I didn’t find it as gripping as the aforementioned Jennifer Niven novel.
17-year-old Maddie is allergic to the world (literally). She has a rare disease that means she has to live her life from inside the safety of her home, away from the threats of the outside world. Along comes dashing young Olly, the new boy next door who Maddie is immediately drawn to. The two begin to connect, and Olly starts to show Maddie what it really means to live.
The story line is good, if not a little predictable. I’m pretty sure I had the ‘big twist’ at the end sussed a while back. While the main characters are sweet, they do lack the qualities that really make you want to root for them and their relationship.
It’s a good, easy summer read that offers something a little different in terms of the original premise. I read it in about 2 days, so if you’re looking for a romance to read while you’re lying on the beach- this is probably the book for you.
“Me Before You”, JoJo Moyes
If you haven’t heard of this book or the film, where have you been for the past 12 months?!
I feel like EVERYONE got on the hype of this one and its (less enticing) sequel last year, and deservedly so.
Quirky Louisa Clarke finds herself out of work, in a loveless relationship, and pretty fed up with life. When an opportunity arises to work as a carer for former ‘big- shot’ Will Traynor, now wheelchair bound after a horrific road accident, she’s more than a little reluctant. Though their relationship is initially rocky, it turns out that they are exactly what each other need- until a shocking revelation comes to light and threatens to turn Louisa’s world upside down.
This book had me shook. It is an ugly cry x10 situation. Louisa is incredibly endearing and real, while the portrayal of Will is- at times- harrowing. Their relationship is tumultuous, but ultimately beautiful. And while it may not have the ending that you want, it is an ending that does justice to the story and the characters.
The sequel, however, is a Grease 2 scenario. Just enjoy the first book while you can because the follow up, “After you”, is a little lacklustre (I can’t tell you why, spoilers). And the film is just as bad. Louisa was not at all as I imagined and they miss out half of the book plot.
“Where She Went”, Gayle Forman
This is the sequel to the book “If I Stay”, which I actually haven’t read. I watched the film, fell in love with the characters and desperately wanted to know what happened next.
If you’re not familiar with the first book or film: it’s very much a good girl Mia meets bad boy Adam, they fall in love, and then shit goes down. I’m not going to say what happens, but their relationship is put to the test in a really different and heart-breaking way.
“Where She Went” follows on 3 years later, where chance brings the two together again. I actually listened to this as an audio book, and loved Adam’s narrative voice.
I would definitely recommend either watching or reading the first film/ book to get an understanding of the back story of these characters. Their relationship and natural connection with one another is the driving force behind this story, and they’re a couple you can really root for.
If you have any good book recommendations, do let me know! Preferably romance, but any story with a dark and brooding male protagonist is guaranteed to have me hooked.
(Images from Goodreads)