Woops, I’ve got behind on my book reviews again so we’re just going to go for December today! However, many of these actually got reviewed in a couple of the posts I did around New Year with my favourite books from 2016 and my books to read in 2017, so I’ll copy over and add to those reviews where necessary.
What have you read recently? Any new faves?
Set across two different time periods, when Gil and Ingrid were young and desperately in love then when they’re much older, with 2 children, Ingrid has been gone for years and Gil is an aging and ailing father, Swimming Lessons was a brilliant read. The past is described to us via letters from Ingrid to Gil, hiding them within the pages of his collection of thousands of books, detailing how they met, he her university lecturer, her a student with big plans that are thrown to the wind when she becomes pregnant. In the present, their daughters return home when their father is in an accident and he believes that moments before he falls, he saw their mother again. The reader discovers the answers alongside the characters as secrets from the past come to the surface – a mystery that’s beautifully written.
As soon as I saw the author, Claire Fuller, I knew I would enjoy this after reading Our Endless Numbered Days earlier in the year. Swimming Lessons was just as enchanting and bewitching. This was one of my ones to watch in 2017!
Caraval by Stephanie Garber – 9/10
This was one of my favourite reads in 2016 and one I think is going to be awesome this year! I wrote a full review on it here.
THE LONELY LIFE OF BIDDY WEIR BY LESLEY ALLEN – 8/10
Following the life of a girl who’s been convinced throughout her whole life that she is a “Bloody Weirdo” and so believes she can’t possibly be anything else, it’s heartwrenching and really appeals to anyone who’s, as the tagline states, “a little bit weird”. The story starts from even before Biddy is born, detailing her unusual entrance into the world, how she realised her status as a “weirdo” and was so convinced of it, her growth from childhood into adulthood, and how she deals with it. This is a book that’s raw and honest about growing up and being bullied, some parts are hard to read, especially if it’s something you’ve experienced in your life, but it’s a brilliant story.
This was one of my favourite reads in 2016!
ROANOKE GIRLS BY AMY ENGEL – 8/10 (AVAILABLE 9TH MARCH 2017)
Aged 15, Lane Roanoke is sent to live with her grandparents on a remote farm in Kansas after her mother’s suicide, a place which she has dreamed about based on what her mother once told her, but is entirely different from everything she imagined. Now aged 26, though she has left the farm, never wanting to return, she is called back as her cousin Allegra, who she spent the summer living with as a sister when she was 15, is missing. With stories of every other “Roanoke Girl”, as they are known, either running from that family home and never returning, or turning up dead, Lane knows that something isn’t right so she returns, only for the mystery to deepen and more family secrets to be revealed.
This is one of those books that’s difficult to talk about without giving the game away, although it is revealed fairly early in the story. It was gripping, terrifying and, quite frankly, disturbing at points, but was a brilliant read. I’m pretty certain it’s going to be a popular read for 2017.
Ice Rift by Ben Hammott – 6/10
Plot: Now this was an unusual read! I chose it off NetGalley because of the promise of a desolate Antarctic landscape, stranded scientists and something ancient – sounds like an awesome combination of things I love. It started off well, the expedition heading out to Antarctica and checking out the ice rift that’s formed with “anomalies” that NASA can’t figure out. Then it goes, well, a little crazy! Based on other reviews, I don’t thinking I’ll be spoiling it (stop reading now if you don’t want it spoiled!) by telling you that what they discover is an alien spaceship, thousands of years old, entombed in the ice. What follows is a fight for survival as they explore, then get stuck in, the spaceship and are attacked by all manner of creatures.
My thoughts: I half loved it and was half laughing at the ridiculousness of it all! There were parts that were repetitive and parts that were very predictable, but you were rooting for certain characters to survive, certain ones to get their comeuppance and I wanted to find what happened at the end. It was full of typos though which was off putting for me so hopefully those have been sorted now it’s been released!
Another “Girl” book with promises of Gone Girl that I just couldn’t help but read!
The Girl Before is a book told in alternating chapters between Emma (in the past) and Jane (the present). Both are young women who have suffered a tragedy – one a burglary at knife point and possible sex attack, the other a recent stillbirth – and both are looking for somewhere new, secure and safe to live in London on a budget. Shown a smart home of the future designed by architect Edward Monkford that’s minimalist to the extreme and comes with a set of restricting rules longer than your arm (right from no pets to no pictures on the walls and no books), they jump at the chance but first need to pass the landlord’s test – a psycho-analysis style questionnaire to question their morality and a face to face interview.
From the very beginning, we know that “the girl before” died in the house, and Jane, the current tenant, sets out to find out just how it happened in case she suffers the same fate.
This was a really good read that kept you guessing – I thought I’d figured something out but turned out to be wrong, and I love when a book proves me wrong! The idea of the house itself was fascinating and I thought the characters were brilliant, plus the storyline on top of it was gripping too. With the Gone Girl parallels being drawn already, it’s bound to do well in 2017 but it deserves to stand on its on feet too. Plus they’ve already got movie rights for it, so keep an eye out!