Top 5 Summer Reads

When I think of summer reading, I think of fun, light romances or fairytale like fantasies. Here are 5 summer book recommendations!

Top 5 Goodreads Group: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/118368-top-5-wednesday

The BOOKS:

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1. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

My Thoughts: Anne of Green Gables is such a BEAUTIFULLY written story! The descriptions of the surroundings are so intricate and detailed and Anne as a (very chatty) character was so well developed that I could almost believe she was a real person. I do not see why so many people consider this a children’s book though (given how complex the writing is) so I looked it up and discovered that it wasn’t originally intended to be a children’s story. Don’t get me wrong, the content itself is very child friendly, but the beautiful writing makes this a great story for adults to read too! It wasn’t the most thrilling story I’ve read, and I was annoyed by how often Matthew said “Well now”, but overall I’m happy I read this!

Synopsis: When Marilla Cuthbert’s brother, Matthew, returns home to Green Gables with a chatty redheaded orphan girl, Marilla exclaims, “But we asked for a boy. We have no use for a girl.” It’s not long, though, before the Cuthberts can’t imagine how they could ever do without young Anne of Green Gables–but not for the original reasons they sought an orphan. Somewhere between the time Anne “confesses” to losing Marilla’s amethyst pin (which she never took) in hopes of being allowed to go to a picnic, and when Anne accidentally dyes her hated carrot-red hair green, Marilla says to Matthew, “One thing’s for certain, no house that Anne’s in will ever be dull.” And no book that she’s in will be, either.

Star Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

2. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

My Thoughts: This story is even more bizarre, more complex and more full of non-sense than I imagined it would be. I’ve seen some of the Alice in Wonderland movie adaptations and recently finished reading Heartless by Marissa Meyers, and was curious to learn more about the origin of Alice in Wonderland. While much of this story was over my head (I typically don’t like poetry and riddles), I did find it very fascinating to read the foot notes and author’s history that was provided. They show that the story is much more complex than it appears on the surface. I’m very interested in learning even more about the Wonderland universe now!

Synopsis: Conceived by a shy British don on a golden afternoon to entertain ten-year-old Alice Liddell and her sisters, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass have delighted generations of readers in more than eighty languages. “The clue to the enduring fascination and greatness of the Alice books,” writes A. S. Byatt in her Introduction, “lies in language. It is play, and word-play, and its endless intriguing puzzles continue to reveal themselves long after we have ceased to be children.”

Star Rating: 4 of 5 stars

3. Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

My Thoughts: I came very close to giving this book 5 stars. It was such a magical story with a nice touch of whismical. This is the story of Jena and her 4 sisters, who travel to a world of magic every full moon. When the magical realm becomes threatened, Jena and her sisters must find a way to protect it. Juliet Marillier is a natural storyteller, and overall the book was very enjoyable. I loved the frog! He was a wonderful character, and though I saw one of his plot twists coming, his other plot twist caught me completely off guard. The reason I did not give the book a 5 was because A) I really detested the antagonist of the story, and while I know his storyline was very important to the progression of events in the book, he was just such a horrible person that reading about him wasn’t fun and B) Something about Tati’s health decline just didn’t feel authentic to me. It was hard for me to believe that self preservation wouldn’t take over at some point. Can’t wait to read book two!

Synopsis: High in the Transylvanian woods, at the castle Piscul Draculi, live five daughters and their doting father. It’s an idyllic life for Jena, the second eldest, who spends her time exploring the mysterious forest with her constant companion, a most unusual frog. But best by far is the castle’s hidden portal, known only to the sisters. Every Full Moon, they alone can pass through it into the enchanted world of the Other Kingdom. There they dance through the night with the fey creatures of this magical realm. But their peace is shattered when Father falls ill and must go to the southern parts to recover, for that is when cousin Cezar arrives. Though he’s there to help the girls survive the brutal winter, Jena suspects he has darker motives in store. Meanwhile, Jena’s sister has fallen in love with a dangerous creature of the Other Kingdom–an impossible union it’s up to Jena to stop. When Cezar’s grip of power begins to tighten, at stake is everything Jena loves: her home, her family, and the Other Kingdom she has come to cherish. To save her world, Jena will be tested in ways she can’t imagine–tests of trust, strength, and true love.

Star rating: 4 of 5 stars

4. The Big Tiny by Dee Williams

My Thoughts: Dee Rocks! My husband and I love watching documentaries, particularly documentaries about decreasing our environmental footprint. After watching a few documentaries about tiny houses, my husband picked up The Big Tiny. I decided to read it for two reasons; A) I’m trying to read at least one non-fiction book per month (because I read so many fictional books per month and think it’s good to get out of my box once in a while) and B) The concept of tiny living sounds so interesting! I really enjoyed reading the story of Dee’s journey – she’s such a cool gal! In a nutshell, this is the story of a woman who decides to sell her “normal” house and build a tiny house herself. Along the way she shares many great anecdotes about her past and about the process of building the house. She has lived such an adventurous life, and it’s very inspiring to read about! For the most part I thought this book was very well written, however, there were some never-ending-sentences that I found myself wanting to skip over…but to be fair the long descriptions gave me a great sense of Dee’s personality. And while this story wasn’t as exciting as the typical fantasies I read, it did move at a nice pace. While I don’t have any plans to build a tiny house any time soon, I still took away some great messages about simple living that I will take forward with me!

Synopsis: Dee William’s life changed in an instant, with a near-death experience in the aisle of her local grocery store. Diagnosed with a heart condition at age forty-one, she was all too suddenly reminded that life is short, time is precious, and she wanted to be spending hers with the people and things she truly loved. That included the beautiful sprawling house in the Pacific Northwest she had painstakingly restored—but, increasingly, it did not include the mortgage payments, constant repairs, and general time-suck of home ownership. A new sense of clarity began to take hold: Just what was all this stuff for? Multiple extra rooms, a kitchen stocked with rarely used appliances, were things that couldn’t compare with the financial freedom and the ultimate luxury—time—that would come with downsizing.
Deciding to build an eighty-four-square-foot house—on her own, from the ground up—was just the beginning of building a new life. Williams can now list everything she owns on one sheet of paper, her monthly housekeeping bills amount to about eight dollars, and it takes her approximately ten minutes to clean the entire house. It’s left her with more time to spend with family and friends, and given her freedom to head out for adventure at a moment’s notice, or watch the clouds and sunset while drinking a beer on her (yes, tiny) front porch.
The lessons Williams learned from her “aha” moment post-trauma apply to all of us, every day, regardless of whether or not we decide to discard all our worldly belongings. Part how-to, part personal memoir, The Big Tiny is an utterly seductive meditation on the benefits of slowing down, scaling back, and appreciating the truly important things in life.

Star rating: 4 of 5 stars

5. The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

My Thoughts: The best way that I can describe this story is that it was “ok”. By that I mean it was mostly enjoyable and I don’t regret reading it, but I also had plenty of issues with it. This was one of those teenage/ya stories that made me feel too old to be reading it. There was too much girl drama, too many high school parties, too many emojis and even the love story felt very juvenile. I have read teenage/ya stories before that didn’t have this feel at all, so I don’t think it’s necessarily the genre that I don’t like, just this particular story. I also found the plot to be extremely transparent. The one thing I did really like was Clark as a character. For one thing, he’s a fantasy author which is pretty cool, but he also seemed the most mature.

Synopsis: Andie had it all planned out. When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future. Important internship? Check. Amazing friends? Check. Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks). But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life. Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected. And where’s the fun in that?

Star rating: 3 of 5 stars


Cheers,

Jen @ Habitat for Happiness

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