T5W: Books for a Rainy Summer

To be honest, summer hasn’t really shown its face where I live; we had a truly beautiful Sunday, followed by a couple of days of gloomy rainclouds (and as I write, raindrops are attempting to batter their way through my windows). 🌧 Spring does seem to be finally-hopefully-maybe asserting its dominance over winter, but I’m not going to hold my breath for true summer weather for at least a couple more months… So, since this week’s theme – summer reads – is wholly inappropriate, I thought I’d tweak it a little bit, and instead I’ll be sharing with you some of my favourite books for a wet summer spent indoors! 😉

Sunny days always make me want to read light, fluffy contemporaries. Rainy days lend themselves to something a little bit heavier; sad or mysterious or thought-provoking or lonely, or maybe even a little spooky (but not too much!)… Though if you asked me why, I doubt I’d be able to answer. 😅

5) The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge

A story about a young girl called Maria Merryweather, who, upon moving to the country to live with her reclusive uncle, discovers that her family is cursed, and it’s up to her to find a way to break it. This is a really magical book, and one that I still love even though I’m considerably older than its target audience. Naturally, I’d especially recommend it for people who love horses. 😊

4) Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Not long after Vera falls out with her best friend – and secret crush – Charlie, he dies in damning circumstances, and Vera is left to decide how far she’s willing to go in order to clear his name… and if she even wants to. Dark, mysterious, heart-wrenching, and gripping from start to finish.

3) The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness

The eerie tale of a man who one evening saves the life of a crane that crash-lands in his garden, and shortly afterwards meets a young woman called Kumiko who seems to have some connection to the crane. And interwoven with this is a wonderful folk-tale-esque story about a crane and a volcano (which I may or may not have liked even more than the main storyline)… Beautifully written, and full of wonderful characters; Patrick Ness is an incredible author, and it’s just as evident in The Crane Wife as in some of his better-known works.

2) Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

A dark, slow-building story about a young man and his first love, who suffered deeply from depression. This book is much heavier than the others on this list (even Please Ignore Vera Dietz!), and is very emotionally draining, too, but it’s definitely worth the energy it takes to get through it. Incredibly thought-provoking, and brilliantly atmospheric.

1) The Kotenbu series by Honobu Yonezawa

Also known as the Classics Club series or the Hyouka series, these books tell the story of a high-schooler who’s forced by his sister to join his school’s dying Classics Club. It’s supposed to be a club where students meet in order to read and discuss classical literature, but instead the small club becomes all about solving mysterious happenings around the school and town, and willingly or not, Houtarou – our main character, who prefers to live his life in ‘energy-saving mode” – is dragged into the chaos. Each book offers up a different main case, and they vary in tone and complexity, but are always a great deal of fun. I really love these characters, too, which probably helps. 😆

These books have no official English translation at the moment, but if this series sounds like something you’d like, then fan-translations are available on Baka-Tsuki. Or you could check out the also-fantastic anime (which is called Hyouka). Or  do both! 😉

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Thematic Recs: Horses

Thematic Recs is back! It’s certainly been a while… 😳 I’m actually going pony trekking in Iceland tomorrow, which is super-exciting, but also means I’m not going to be able to reply to comments/etc. for a while (this, and the next couple of posts are all written in advance and scheduled). Anyway, since I’m getting back into horse-riding again, I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite horse-y books! 😀

K.M. Peyton//Flambards1) The Flambards series by K.M. Peyton. The story of a girl called Christina, who goes to live with her cousins in the countryside, because her uncle is hoping to use her inheritance to end their financial troubles. I read the first book, Flambards, as a set text in school, when I was 11, and I really loved it. The second book in the series (The Edge of the Cloud) isn’t really a horse book, but Christina does a lot of riding in the other three! (A lot of the people I’ve talked to aren’t too keen on this series, because it contains fox hunting, but I wouldn’t say that it’s a major theme – especially after the first book.)

Elizabeth Goudge//The Little White Horse2) The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. Another story about a young orphaned girl going to live in the country with her cousin – this time the protagonist is thirteen-year-old Maria Merryweather – but that’s really where the similarities to Flambards end… When she gets to her cousin’s house, she finds out that there’s a curse on her family, which has caused significant damage to their relationships with one another. Throughout the story, Maria catches glimpses of an apparition of the little white horse from the title, and it plays an important role in her uncovering the secrets of Moonacre Manor. This book was made into a film in 2008, with the title The Secret of Moonacre, and the adaptation is also worth watching, though it’s quite different from the book.

Tamora Pierce//Wild Magic3) The Immortals quartet by Tamora Pierce. A four-book series that follows a girl called Daine, who has wild magic (which lets her talk to, transform into, and heal animals, as well as some other things that I’m probably forgetting…). When we first meet Daine, she’s travelling alone, except for her pony Cloud, who she introduces as both her best friend and her only remaining family. In general, Tamora Pierce writes her animal characters really well (and the Protector of the Small quartet in particular has some great horse characters), but of all of them, I think The Immortals is the most “horse-hearted”~ 😉

C.S. Lewis//The Horse and His Boy4) The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis. The third Chronicles of Narnia book, though it’s actually more of a companion novel, as the series’ main protagonists only make brief appearances. Instead, this book follows Shasta, an orphan who teams up with the talking Narnian horse, Bree, in order to escape from the land of Calormen. It’s set during the time-skip at the end of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, while the Pevensie siblings are all ruling Narnia as grown ups, and before they find their way back through the wardrobe to England.