I’ve been an avid reader ever since I was a little girl. One of my earliest memories was reading Fantastic Mr Fox in one sitting, right until the early hours of the morning under the covers, and getting in trouble for being exhausted the following day. There’s something incredible about devouring a book and entering someone else’s imagination, escaping away from our own reality and creating a completely different one – if only for a moment. In a world that’s so connected, and working in a job that sees me permanently attached to some form of technology, I absolutely embrace the ability to sit down with a good book. Although my escapism used to happen during my daily commute, since working from home that’s changed a little into blasts of opportunity around mini breaks and getaways. One of the simplest and most enjoyable things in life is laying on a beach with a great book and lazing the day away… So I’ve pulled together a list of five reads that are perfect for your summer holidays. Pina Colada not included.
1. The Queen Of The Tearling by Erika Johansen
Although you may start off thinking the heroine of the book is anything but, this slow burning story illustrates we’re all capable of being more than we’re necessarily destined to be. Kelsea Glynn is the sole heir to the throne of Tearling, but has been raised in secret after her mother was murdered for ruining her kingdom. For 18 years the Tearling has been ruled by Kelsea’s uncle, a puppet of the sorceress ‘Red Queen’, but on her 19th birthday the Queen’s guard arrive to escort her back. This first chapter in a trilogy sees Kelsea journey back to claim her throne, win over her people, rectify past mistakes and learn the true nature of her inheritance… Because, as always, all is not as it seems! I thorouhghly enjoyed this book, even if it was a slow burner, and can’t wait to get stuck into the next installment. Kelsea is a refreshing protagonist that proves the heroine doesn’t have to be perfect in every way to kick ass.
2. Daughter Of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
This utterly beautiful opening chapter in another great trilogy had my imagination captured in a way unrivaled by anything other than The Hunger Games. Although it starts slow and is incredibly confusing for the first few chapters (not helped by foreign names and monstrous creatures that require some intense imagination,) it’s worth sticking with. The main character, Karou, has managed to keep her two lives in balance (as a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague and an errand-girl to a monstrous creature) until now. As the two lives (and worlds) start to merge, she starts to question who she is and where she came from – as well as who those around her really are. Through a series of memories and flashbacks we get to understand what ‘Elsewhere’ really is and why Karou is so unique. I literally can’t give much more detail without ruining the story, but suffice to say there’s plenty of ‘fantasy’ stuff – including angels, monsters, alternate realities, magic and doors to new worlds.
3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Utterly stunning and entirely captivating from beginning to end, I devoured this almost in one sitting. This unique novel starts with a magician’s bet that soon evolves into a whole new magical world – and a circus that appears without warning, only at night. As the story builds you get to understand not only more about the night circus, but those entertainers that perform within it and their connection to this unique attraction. Following the main characters over a number of decades, this is romantic and fantastical as it is based in the normalities of our lives. The Victorian backdrop provides a element of romanticism and rawness, but this could equally be set in the present day. A must read.
4. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
Written under the pseudonym of J.K Rowling (yes, her of Harry Potter fame!) this crime thriller is constructed with as much foresight and plot weaving as the entire Potter series. Cormoran Strike, the protagonist, is an injured ex-soldier who’s set up shop as a private detective; having just broken up with his fiance and extremely short on work, he gets involved in the case of an apparent suicide of the hottest celeb of the moment. Driven to prove her death was the cause of something other than a need to escape, he’s involved independently from the police force in every twist and turn. If you love murder mysteries or crime thrillers, you’ll utterly adore this. I was so pleased to find out that Rowling aka Galbraith intends on adding to the Cormoran Strike world for as long as she enjoys it – so this could be the Hercule Poirot of our time.
5. Kept, Lost & Found by Elle Field
I’m not one for ‘chick lit’, but this trilogy is so much more than that as it proves real life isn’t all about that happy predictable ending. Everything hasn’t quite worked out how Arielle Lockley imagined it would, but at the start of ‘Kept’ her life turns upside down as she meets a man who could be her Prince Charming. The next three installments follow her journey as she realises money doesn’t buy you happiness, relationships need work, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and you can find friends in the most unlikely of places. Arielle is a little selfish, spoiled, whiny and annoying – but that makes her more realistic and a refreshingly modern character. Her journey is anything but predictable and the individual stories end on great cliffhangers, meaning it’s easy to devour the trilogy in the space of a few days.
Do you have any other great books you think I should read during my next beach trip?
Features PR samples unless otherwise stated. To read my full disclaimer, click here.