2016 Books ~ Chapter 2


One of the best things about the summer is being able to enjoy a good book in the sunshine. I find that these days I’m less bothered about watching my favourite TV shows and more interested in sitting outdoors with my favourite book. There’s also more travel during the warmer months with holidays, hen dos and weddings, jumping on trains and planes and whiling away the time with my latest read. I read some great books between April and June, even finishing one book within a few days (thanks to an 11 hour flight back to London.) Here they are!

The Secret Life of Bees

Lily has spent most of her life living on a peach farm with her stern father, believing that she accidentally killed her mother when she was four. As she turns 14 she longs for her mother’s love and forgiveness. She turns to Rosaleen, a black slave who hides a tender heart, for companionship. After Rosaleen gets caught up in an arrest common of 60s America, Lily seeks to save her and starts a journey towards a home of beekeepers and finding out what happened all those years ago.

It took me a couple of chapters to get into this book, but as the characters developed and I got used to the style of writing I really got into the story. I loved how the bee theme threads through the story from beginning to end. I can see why it was made into a film with some strong female characters, a young woman’s emotive story, set within the racial difficulties faced at the time. Overall, it’s a pretty easy read.

Me Before You

Lou Clark loses her job in The Buttered Bun and finds herself working for the wealthy Traynor’s looking after their son, Will. After a motorbike accident took away many things from Will that you and I would take for granted, Lou’s role in his life turns into something she hadn’t expected.

Thanks to Jessi and Natalie for recommending this book! I had no idea it was being turned into a film until I downloaded the book and saw some of the promo covers, so just in case you plan to watch the film or read the book I’m going to try not to give too much away. The first few chapters lead you to think that it’s a bit of a cheesy chic lit book with a predictable ending, but there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. I have a feeling the book is much better than the film as it explores quite an emotive topic and I’m not sure the Hollywood treatment of it will do it justice. Some of it brought back the challenges my mum faced with MND, other parts made me realise some of the difficulties someone faces when so much is taken away from them.

All the Light We Cannot See

Marie-Laure has been blind since she was six. She lives with her father in Paris who builds her a miniature replica of the city so that she can memorise it and make her way home. Werner is an orphan, whose talent for engineering finds him a place at a brutal military academy. Their paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

I’ve read a lot of books set in the world wars and (I feel bad for saying this but..) I wasn’t sure there could be another great book that I haven’t already read. So I was happily surprised to find that I loved this book. It’s beautifully written, it’s full of suspense and heart ache, the ending summarises the cruel reality of the war with a blow. If you like any of those great books set in World War II (I’m thinking The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, The Book Thief), then you’ll definitely like this.

The Muse

It’s 1967 and Odelle Bastian’s life in London takes an unexpected turn when she gets a job working for Marjorie Quick at the Skelton Gallery. A painting brought to the gallery sparks Odelle’s quest into drawing out more about Quick’s mysterious life and takes us back to rural Spain in 1936, where the painting was created.

I was excited to read Jessie Burton’s second book after the The Minaturist, which I loved. For a while I was a little disappointed that it didn’t have the same creepy magic that her first book held, but I started to enjoy the different eras it shared and that the mysterious aspect was done in a different way. It asks some interesting questions about female identity, explores the political tension in Spain at the time (which I had no idea about), and tests the strength of family relationships.  It’s always fun to read books set in London and seeing all those places us Londoners wander through week on week through the author’s eyes. Definitely try it if you liked her first book, I’d love to know what you think about the differences and similarities.

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What’s on your reading list this summer?

P.S. At the time of writing the Secret Life of Bees and All the Light We Cannot See are in the Kindle sale (99p and £1.99!)



  1. August 1, 2016 / 12:31 am

    I completely agree with your review about “Me Before You”, I realy thought it was going to be some fluffy chick lit but it turned out to be something so much more. I’ve actually read almost all the books you listed ! Except for the last one, I think I’ll add it to mg ever growing list!

    Nat – Dignifiable

    • ThisCityLifeLondon
      August 1, 2016 / 5:41 am

      The Muse only came out in July, I thought I’d get it straight away as I’m always behind on reading good books! (Proof right here it seems! 😉)

  2. August 7, 2016 / 10:12 am

    I really enjoyed The Secret Life of Bees , I read it quite a few years ago but it still seems to have stuck with me! I read A Little Life over this summer and although not an easy (or short!) read it completely sucked me in to the story.

    • ThisCityLifeLondon
      August 7, 2016 / 5:00 pm

      Oh I’ve just googled A Little Life. It definitely sounds like a good read! I’m not great at long books but I’m going to give it a go an have added to my Amazon wishlist. 😊