I’ve been reading a lot recently and writing a lot about them too – you can still enter to win 3 of my favourite books from 2016 here! I love the Christmas holidays for that reason – I can spend those “lost” days in between with a book in the bath! And it means I’ve managed to get a bit ahead with my reading too. I’m really lucky in that I get lots of books to review from publishers via NetGalley which means that I’ve got lots of recommendations for the year ahead, and these are my 5 books that I think you MUST read in early 2017:
THE ONE MEMORY OF FLORA BANKS BY EMILY BARR (available 12th Jan 2017)
Flora Banks is a unique character – she has no permanent memory before the age of 10. She frequently loses touch with what’s happening in her present situation, leaving her confused and disorientated. Fortunately, she has worked out over time clever ways of dealing with this: notes on her hands, notes around the house, and notebooks full of notes to help her trace her way back. But that all changes when one day she kisses a boy and remembers it the next morning, so she sets off on a quest to find the boy that made her remember.
This book has already had over 200 ratings on Goodreads and has almost 4 full stars from those, plus an absolute glut of positive testimonials at the beginning, and it’s not even published yet – that has to be a good thing! Read my review here.
Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller (available 26th Jan 2017)
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.
I read this in December, so this is my review of it! 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. Definitely one to watch in 2017!
Caraval by Stephanie Garber (available 31st Jan 2017)
Scarlett and her sister, Tella, live on a tiny island ruled over by their father, a father who is abusive and cruel. Scarlett is engaged to a man, a Count, who she has never met through a marriage devised by her father, and is relying on her future marriage to save her and her sister from their small and scary world. Tella has other plans though – she knows of Scarlett’s fascination with Caraval, a giant, magical and unique “performance” in which the audience participate with a chance to win the grand prize. And this year, Scarlett has received 3 invitations with a chance at winning one wish. Tella and the sailor she has recently met whisk Scarlett away to Caraval, despite her protests, but even before Scarlett has set foot on the island, Tella is gone and has become the central part of this year’s Caraval plot – the winner will be the person who finds her first.
The world of Caraval is different to everything both we and Scarlett know and understand. Despite constant warnings that everything that happens in Caraval is just a game devised by the mysterious and illustrious Legend, Scarlett becomes immersed in it. Is it real or not? Is she and the only person she really loves in true danger, or is it all part of the game?
This is my number one read so far for 2017 – my review here says it all, but seriously, read it.
Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel (available 9th March 2017)
Another book I read in December so this is my review for it!
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.
The Girl Before by JP Delaney (available 24th Jan 2017)
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!
What books are you planning to read in 2017?