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One of my aims this year is to read 10 books a month. During 2016 there were months were I read 1.5 times that, and there were months where I didn't go near a book - so I'll be delighted if I reach anywhere near my target.
I'm also doing the Book Savings Jar challenge that I saw Aoife talk about - I'm putting €1 into a jar or money box for every book I finish so I can start a savings fund for something nice next Christmas - be it a bookish subscription box or just stocking up the Shelves or Kindle.
Before I talk about the books I read in January (aka the month that felt like it lasted a year), I need to direct your attention to the brand new book page for 2017 - on there you'll find information on book club picks as they're released (the Rick O'Shea Book Club and the Richard and Judy Book Club), plus as always there will be clickable covers that link to my full Goodreads reviews and links to Bookish Challenges and events like Booktubeathon, World Book Day celebrations, and any Tags or Readathons as they come along. There's a permanent tab on the top bar, plus a shiny new button on the sidebar that will take you directly to the page.
Books I Read in January - 11
The Rick O'Shea Book Club
I read both picks this month:
Beatlebone by Kevin Barry
I bought this one last year but hadn't gotten around to reading it, so I was happy that it was a January pick as it meant I'd finally got a push to read it. It's essentially a story about John Lennon on an island off the West of Ireland - probably one of the strangest books I've ever read, and I felt that a lot of it went over my head.
Lyrebird by Cecelia Ahern
Cecelia's books are really hit and miss for me, I tend to really love her ideas but not so much her execution. This was no different, unfortunately. I loved the story about a documentary crew discovering a reclusive woman living in a forest who had the power to mimic any sound she heard - but I didn't like the direction the story went in or the amount of filler in the book.
Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty
I decided to read this after I had seen the first episode of the BBC adaptation a couple of weeks ago. The TV version is staying fairly close to the book - a story about a professional woman in her fifties who embarks on a life-changing affair, only to have her life shattered by a (very graphic) event. It was a good read, but it was slow and I wasn't too gone on having the ending at the beginning of the book.
We Are Unprepared by Meg Little Reilly * Review Copy from NetGalley
This is a story about a couple who have escaped the Rat Race for a self-sufficient life in the woods. They're members of a small community who find themselves torn apart when the threat of a Super Storm looms - the town (and the couple) are split into opposing sides: one half Preppers, the other half trying to put practical solutions in place. I really enjoyed this, I think I read it in one sitting. I felt like it was all wrapped up a little too neatly but it was a good story.
When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen * Review Copy from NetGalley
Dubbed "Office Noir", this is about a small team in the UK who work in a recruitment office. When new manager Rachel arrives to shake things up, they all react in different ways: flattery, paranoia, sabotage - everyone wants to save their job. Meanwhile, in America, child psychologist Anne sees a horrific news story from the UK and recognises someone she dealt with years ago while investigating a House of Horrors. How are the two stories linked? And who is lying? This was an epic read, I've no problem in telling you that I walked around with the Kindle because I didn't want to put it down. It was fresh, the toxic environment in the office was a brilliant setting, and I loved Anne's story too. Highly recommended if you like a good tense thriller.
Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson
Who doesn't love Mara Wilson? She starred in most of my favourite childhood films, then disappeared for a while before turning up again and gracing the internet with a brilliant site (Mara Wilson Writes Stuff) and one of my favourite twitter accounts (@MaraWilson). She's intelligent, warm, and witty. So, where did she go during the "lost" years? In this book she explains how she became disillusioned with Hollywood, and what she's been doing since (hint: she's incredibly normal so don't expect any juicy gossip). There are two lovely tributes in here - one to Robin Williams, and one to Matilda. I enjoyed this a lot.
Breaking the Ice by Mandy Baggot
This is one of Mandy's earlier self-published titles, repackaged with a new cover. I'm a big fan of Mandy's writing style - she writes lighthearted romance stories but her main characters are always witty and sharp, with lots of pop culture references thrown in. This one wasn't my favourite of hers, I think her work has definitely improved since this was written, but it was still a nice easygoing story about a young shy woman who falls for a famous ice skater.
Holding by Graham Norton
I got this for Christmas, and couldn't wait to read it. It took me a little longer to finish than I had expected, but it was a good enough read. It's about a small village outside Cork, full of people with their own secrets and issues. When bones are discovered on a building site, nobody claims to know anything - so it's up to the local Sergeant to investigate around the village. I've never understood the term "cozy mystery" up until now, it's a pretty accurate description of this book. There was one part that focused on a female character that went back to years before and I really loved that part, I think he's really good at writing about the past (to the point where this book felt like it was set decades ago).
The Wangs vs. The World: A Novel by Jade Chang * Review Copy from NetGalley
Charles Wang came to America with a dream: to get rich. He did exactly that, having started a successful cosmetics firm. Unfortunately for Charles and his family, he has now lost everything - so he has no alternative but to try and get his hands on some land he thinks he's entitled to back in China. I didn't enjoy this book - the premise was interesting but Charles was horrible and the plot was drawn out.
The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon
This, on the other hand, was incredibly enjoyable. It has nothing to do with goats or sheep, instead it's about the disappearance of a local woman and the pair of ten year old girls who are determined to find her. Set in England during the infamous heatwave of 1976, it's a good story if a little long in parts.
Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist
I read a preview of this in one of the Buzz Books collections last year and was intrigued by the premise of a YA book where the main character was a) male, and b) blind. Will Porter has been blind since birth, he's 16 now and he's about to start attending a mainstream high school. When he meets Cecily, he feels an instant connection - but what would happen if Will could see, and if Cecily wasn't quite what he expected? I promise it's not as shallow as it sounds, it's a quick, sweet read.
So that's it - if you've read any of the above, I'd love to hear what you thought!