Arts

Summer Reads Scrapbook

With university in far off September, the lack of deadlines and exams makes summer the perfect opportunity to read for fun. Perhaps you remember those summer reading challenges at the local library and fancy reading again, or you’ve got space in your suitcase for a beach read. Whatever the occasion or mood, Impact’s summer reads scrapbook has something for every reader.

In search of a summery read to savour? Try Holly Ringland’s The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart:

Holly Ringland’s debut novel transports the reader to the landscapes of Australia and follows the life of Alice Hart. This bildungsroman intertwines the language of flowers with complex familial and romantic relationships.

The depth and honesty of Ringland’s characterisation creates a moving collection of character backstories within the main narrative. It’s also a story that doesn’t shy away from depicting the psychological and interpersonal impact of domestic violence within relationships.

The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart captivates the reader with its multifaceted characters- particularly Alice Hart’s development from childhood to a young woman and the trauma, heartbreak and journeys that she goes through.

“as much a love letter to the beauty of Australia’s nature and wildlife as it is testimony to the importance of friendship and self-actualisation”

But the novel is just as much a love letter to the beauty of Australia’s nature and wildlife as it is testimony to the importance of friendship and self-actualisation. Every character and location, from the Thornfield flower gardens to Kililpitjara National Park, are as evocative as the plants that are embedded into the narrative.

Each chapter is named after an Australian flower, giving an insight into Alice’s worldview and her language of flowers whilst offering a floral geography of Australia.

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UK PUBLICATION DAY! Though I arrived in Manchester in September 2009, I don’t have a photo of myself in England until May 2010, when we went to the Yorkshire village of Haworth, where three sisters with writing dreams lived and wrote together: Anne, Emily, and Charlotte Brontë. I walked, slack-jawed, through the awing Brontë family home, then we headed out, into the moors, to follow the Brontë sisters' footsteps. Knowing it was a 12k hike, I'd worn my broken-in boots from Australia, which had been my work boots for years in my desert life. When I laced them up that morning in Manchester before we set off, I remember puffs of red dirt coming out of the laces, still. 
Although I had restarted my life in the UK, had met Sam and new friends, and was trying my best to follow my writing dream, there was something deeply, darkly evocative about wearing my desert boots to walk the path from Emily’s home to the crumbling ruins of the Top Withens farmhouse on the moors for my first time; to heed the warnings of Cathy and Heathcliff’s ghosts; to remind myself why I'd left the wreckage of my own life behind; to walk each step meditating on how stories are medicine.
When we stopped at Brontë Falls where the sisters used to sit and dream, the hairs on my scalp stood on end. By the time we reached the top of the moors, I was so overcome I flopped underneath the two sycamores by the ruined farmhouse. The yearning to write, to unlock the stories inside of me that had been hidden away by trauma, was a palpable, choking thing. Eight years later… Two hours before I flew out of Australia last month, at the end of the epic Lost Flowers tour, I bought myself a new pair boots. This morning, I put them on and stood beside the UK manifestation of my seaside/desert/gum tree/moorland/sycamore tree dreams. Alice is here, in this country that has given me a second home, a second family, life, chance and the truest love I've ever known. What an incredible thing. Thank you for supporting me, my friends. Thank you Sam Humphreys, and everyone at Mantle Books, for believing in Alice Hart, her story, and me. Here's to never giving up. And, to recognising the power of new boots.

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Upon reading the book it becomes apparent how heartfelt and emotive Ringland’s writing is, with such a passion for the characters and story making it an engaging and engrossing read.

Within a couple days I’d finished the novel and couldn’t put it down!

Whether you’re at the beach or in your back garden, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart makes the perfect accompaniment to unwinding in the sun.

Lauren Winson

After something short and sweet (or scary?) to peruse? Give Stephen King’s short story collection Skeleton Crew a go:

Being an English student means one thing. Reading. Lots of reading.

But not the ‘curling up on a sofa on a rainy day’ kind of reading. No. This is the rapid-fire obliteration of texts at a frenetic pace. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining – but it’s been a while since I’ve been able to enjoy a real page-turner without the thought of deadlines prickling at the back of my mind.

I’d almost resigned myself to a summer of purely course-based reading when it happened. The big event. I walked into a National Trust bookshop and for £1.50 bought my salvation. Why hadn’t I thought about it before?

Stephen King’s Skeleton Crew. A proper lightbulb moment.

Skeleton Crew – at a little more than 500 pages – contains 22 short stories written by King himself. No longer will I have to start a book, only to have to bury it under a pile of work when life gets hectic. No more guilt at unfinished novels.

I could literally devour one short story at a time guilt-free. And I will. For me, the era of reading short-stories has begun. A perfect compromise for someone who has to read non-stop as a requirement of their course.

It also helps that Stephen King is one hell of a writer.

Summer, it seems, is looking up.

Ibrahim Lakhanpal

Enjoy Young Adult books? Try The Paper and Hearts Society:

The Paper and Hearts Society is the debut Young Adult novel of author and booktuber Lucy Powrie. We follow the story of Tabby, a teenage girl living with her Grandmother over the summer holidays as she grows in confidence and makes life-long friends.

When first moving in with her Nan, Tabby feels incredibly isolated, made worse by the online bullying she receives from her old “friend”, Jess.

When Tabby finds a slip of paper inside a library book inviting her to attend a book club session, she hesitates at first due to her self-consciousness; a product of the bullying that she is subjected to.

However, she overcomes the negative thoughts engrained into her daily life and decides to attend…

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Do excuse the rather awkward selfie, but I haven’t quite got over being able to stare at my book whenever I want and read it for myself as a book, just like I’ve read so many other books. It’s been a strange week: opening the box with my proofs in was pure elation and one of the best moments EVER, and yet everything else around me seems a little confusing and stressful right now. I don’t talk a lot about my personal life online because I’m a very private person, but I suppose what I’m trying to say is that even though I’m trying to carry on as normal and I seem super excited, this hasn’t been an easy journey for me and social media doesn’t – and can’t – tell a full story. This morning I sat down and read through my favourite scenes in my book. It might seem like a strange thing to do because, hey, I wrote it! But there are moments in The Paper & Hearts Society that mean so much to me and remind me of when I was first writing them, and that in turn reminds me of why I’m doing this in the first place: because I love this book and I hope you all love it too, but I wrote it first and foremost for myself. Because it’s exactly what I needed. Normal service will resume soon! I promise at some point I’ll shut up about this book for at least ten seconds!!!! • • • #paperandheartssociety #lucypowrie #authorsofinstagram #bookish #bookstagram #booktube #yalit #youngadultfiction #bookbloggers #bookphotography #bookworm #booklovers #shelfie #writersofinstagram #writerscommunity

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The Paper and Hearts Society is a heart-warming tale and a wonderful novel to read in summer. Although the novel is Young Adult in genre, it is a story that people of all ages can enjoy!

The main thing that I enjoyed about this book is the character development: Tabby slowly becomes more confident around other people, her book club friends in particular.

“Powrie has written a novel that is both non-cringeworthy and representative of the mechanics of real-life relationships.”

There is also LGBT+ representation in this novel, which is written in a successful and poignant way (something which other YA authors seem to struggle with!).

Lastly, I am not usually a fan of romance, but Powrie has written a novel that is both non-cringeworthy and representative of the mechanics of real-life relationships. I would thoroughly recommend this read- especially if you are new to the genre!

Hannah Pickard

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Featured image courtesy of hernanpba via Flickr.

Article image 1 courtesy of @hollygoeslightly via Instagram, article image 2 courtesy of MShades via Flickr, article image 3 courtesy of @lucythereader via Instagram.

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