The Book Corner: Recent Reads 2017, Part 1

 

Greeting one and all. Me again, with a little reading update. After sharing the books I read in 2016 I was debating over whether to continue to do this in 2017. I wondered whether anyone read these reading updates or in fact, if anyone liked them at all. But then I remembered that I blog because I want to blog. I write about what I want to write about, and whether anyone wants to read a reading update is actually irrelevant! So I’m going to continue. 

If I’m honest then I think that writing these reading update posts is my favourite thing to do. I enjoy thinking about what books I’ve read recently and putting my thoughts about them onto paper (or screen). So without further ado I’m going to continue along with my Recent Reads for 2017.

The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig 

I’ve been waiting for this book since last Christmas when I read the first story in the series, A Boy Called Christmas. The story and characters in both books are truly magical and completely enchanting. I love both Matt Haig’s writing and Chris Mould’s illustrations and I defy you not to love them too. This is a story of hope and magic that filled me with a childlike excitement for Christmas. I’m also really hoping there a third book coming out this December. 

 Another Little Christmas Murder by Lorna Nicholl Morgan

This one is a classic mystery set in the snow, rather than at Christmas. A number of people are stranded in a snowstorm and forced to stay at a house in the wilds of Yorkshire. When they wake up the next morning they discover that their host, who was ill when they arrived, has died in his sleep. Or was it murder? This was a good read for Christmas. There was interesting characters and great descriptions throughout the story and I like Dilys as a character and budding sleuth. However, while I do love a good old fashioned mystery this one seemed overly long before it was suddenly solved really, really quickly. Which was slightly disappointing, I’d still be tempted to read other books by this author though.

The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson

Matthew is 12 and suffers from OCD. He refuses to leave his bedroom and spends his time cleaning and watching his neighbours from his bedroom window. Then a toddler goes missing from the house next door and Matthew could be the key to solving the mystery, if he could only leave his safe place and investigate. I devoured this book in two days. It is full of interesting characters with complex personalities and there’s a good mystery that will keep you guessing until the end.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

This book was on my ‘To Be Read’ list as soon as I finished Six of Crows, so the fact that I managed to save reading it until now is a modern day miracle. Crooked Kingdom is the follow on, and finale, to Six of Crows, Bardugo’s heist story. That book is full of wonderful worlds, complex characters and an epic story, so it was a pure joy to revisit all of these in Crooked Kingdom. After finishing this one I spent the next week thinking about the story, the ending and the world that Bardugo created. I think I still have withdrawal symptoms for this series, and I don’t really know how my reading life is going to continue and recover. Send help! But seriously, it’s a must read.

Ensnared by Rita Stradling

Next up on my recent reads list is a book I received from Netgalley just before heading to Leeds for the weekend. So it became my train read for the trip. It’s a take on Beauty and the Beast, but set in the future in a world of artificial intelligence and robots. In order to save her father from prison the main character Alainn pretends to be a robot and goes to live in the tower of recluse Mr. Garbhan.

This was an interesting read and I enjoyed the new take on a classic fairytale. While there’s adventure and intrigue throughout, I have to admit that the futuristic and scientific elements of the plot went a little bit over my head, it was almost too much for me to understand. However, it was a quick read and had some interesting concepts, so maybe it’s my inability to understand parts of it that let me down. I’d be intrigued to hear what other readers thought.

See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

See You in the Cosmos is told through a series of podcasts recorded by 11 year old Alex. Alex plans to send his iPod, with the podcasts, into space using his handmade rocket that he is launching at SHARF. Also known as the Southwest High-Altitude Rocket Festival. The book follows Alex on his road trip to SHARF and then onto Las Vegas and LA, as he meets new friends and searches for answers to important questions.

The narration from Alex is wonderful and while it’s unusual for me to read a book narrated by an eleven year old boy this is so well done that I soon found myself reading in the voice of Alex. Or at least in the way that I thought Alex would sound. There really is something quite wonderful about looking at the world through Alex’s eyes. I’m so pleased that I picked up a copy of this book at work. It was a lovely, easy read that captured my imagination. 

Lion by Saroo Brierley

I totally and utterly fell in love with this story, so much so that I read this book in just a few hours. The book really has two different stories. Story one focuses on how five year old Saroo becomes lost far away from home and survives on the streets of Calcutta, before finding a home with an Australian family in Tasmania. The second part of the story focuses on Saroo, 25 years later, attempting to find his village in India using what little he remembers and Google Maps. Saroo’s story is astonishing and heartbreaking, but it’s also a story of triumph and perseverance and I defy you not to be in awe of it.

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

This is one of my favourite books of the year so far. I was totally and utterly engrossed in the story and I couldn’t put the book down. It’s a locked room mystery, when five students, the stereotypical brainiac, beauty, jock, criminal and outcast, all walk into detention together but only four leave alive. Each of the suspects have motives for murder, but the question is, which one did it.

The book is told from the perspective of each of the suspects, so we constantly flick between characters. This method works quite well and after a few chapters it’s easy to tell which character is narrating just by the tone of voice. The mystery is well woven throughout the book, with plenty of twists and turns coming from the story but also from each of the characters. All of who are well fleshed out and more than just the stereotypical versions that they seem at the start. All in all a fast paced, gripping mystery that I would highly recommend to others.

Damage by Eve Ainsworth

This is Eve Ainsworth’s third novel and they all tackle a tough subjects. Damage is no different. As it weaves the themes of alcoholism and self harm into the story of teenager Gabi and her relationships with her parents and grandfather. I really enjoyed this book. I think Eve Ainsworth has a wonderful way of writing about hard topics in a realistic way. Or at least it seems realistic to me as I don’t have first hand experience. This book also had me wishing that I could skateboard – but I think it’s a little too late for that! Seven Days is still my favourite Ainsworth book, but this one is close up there.

The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie

I’m trying to read more Agatha Christie books this year, as I’ve loved the ones I’ve read. The classic crime mysteries are so my thing that it’s almost ridiculous that I’ve not read more! The Body in the Library is my favourite Christie so far, which a friend of mine predicted – she knew I’d love it!

Miss Marple is pulled into this story when a body is discovered in the library of her friend’s house. She sets off with her friend Mrs Bantry to a nearby town to investigate the crime and help save her friend’s husband reputation. It seems that Agatha Christie books are too clever for me because I can never figure out the mystery. Although. in all honesty I love that fact. I think that sometimes you want to play detective and figure out all the answers. But then other times you are happy to read along and let the clues and mystery unfold for you. This was definitely a case of the later for me.

 
Here I Stand: Stories that Speak of Freedom

The final book on this reading update is a collection from Amnesty International which explores human rights issues affecting the world today. With stories, poems and illustrations from 25 different people, including Sarah Crossan, Matt Haig, Chris Riddell, Neil Gaiman and Sita Brahmachari this is a wonderful collection exploring our world today. Each piece is thought provoking and I will admit that a few of these stories had me in tears at the unfairness of the situation.

What a wonderful group of books I have read so far this year! And those eleven wonderful books mean I’ve completed a fifth of my reading challenge for the year. I honestly didn’t mean to read so many books this quickly. I think two weeks of jury service in February helped a lot, what with all the waiting around. If it had been a normal two weeks then I don’t think I’d have read quite as much!

I’m aiming to read 50 books this year and I’ll be tracking my progress over on my GoodReads account. You can follow along here. If you’re interested in what I read last year then take a look at my 2016 reading update posts; Part OnePart TwoPart ThreePart FourPart Five.

Laura xxx