How is February over already?! January felt like an entire year, while February whizzed by. I managed to finish 10 books in total. I'm going through one of those weird reading phases where I'm midway through 4 books at the same time, so hopefully I'll have those finished this week and I can add them to the March total.
As with every month, you can go to my Books 2017 page to find a clickable cover for every book I read - that'll take you directly to my full Goodreads review.
The Rick O'Shea Book Club
One of my reading resolutions was to read (or try to read) every choice this year, because it pushes me out of my comfort zone and introduces me to books I'd never have considered. I've found some amazing books through it (The Thing About December, Station Eleven) so I'd really recommend it if you're looking for inspiration. This month, I read both choices.
Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
A psychological thriller about a woman named Louise, who meets a man at a bar. Unfortunately for Louise, the man turns out to be married - and her new boss. When his wife befriends Louise, she's caught between the two - but there's something really strange happening, and someone knows much more than they should...
I liked this, I really did. I thought it was sharp, clever, and it hooked me from the beginning. Much fuss has been made of the ending (even on the cover) - it has its own hashtag on twitter (#WTFthatending). I'd avoid the hashtag, and reviews, until you've read the book, then come back to me and tell me what you think. Personally - it didn't work for me - I HATED the ending, but I liked the rest of the book.
Moonglow by Michael Chabon
I had never read anything by Michael Chabon before. I enjoyed his writing, his use of language is gorgeous. This is a story about his Grandparents, formed from tales Michael's Grandfather told him in the final ten days of his life. It's not certain whether or not the story is fact or fiction - the author says he embellished or changed facts where necessary - but I'd love to think it's true. His Grandmother was a wonderfully interesting character, her story alone is worth reading the book for.
I've been going through a bit of a true crime phase, so four of my choices this month were non-fiction.
Madeleine: The Truth is Out There by Peter Scharrenberg
The truth may be out there, but it's not in this book. The facts are presented as we know them: Madeleine McCann went missing while on holiday in Portugal aged 3. After that, it's pretty much speculation. While this book may be of interest to people who are completely unfamilar with the case, there isn't much here for those who have been following from day one.
Shannon: Betrayed From Birth by Rose Martin
After the recent BBC documentary "The Moorside" (available on YouTube for those who missed it) I decided to read this book, one of the only ones available on the case. It's the story of Karen Matthews and her involvement in the kidnap of her daughter Shannon in 1998. The book reads like a Daily Mail article - there's a lot of stereotyping and "Shannon must have felt" or "Shannon would have assumed" - but if you look past that it's an interesting, if very sad, case.
Maddie: The Truth of the Lie by Gonçalo Amaral
This is the book that the McCanns went to court to have banned. The ruling has since been overturned, but the book is still fairly hard to find. It has been made available freely online - I read it here: http://frommybigdesk.blogspot.ie/2010/01/maddie-truth-of-lie.html. It's easy to see why the McCanns don't want people to read it - it doesn't make them look good - but at the same time, it's not speculation or hearsay, it's facts taken from evidence and statements. A really interesting and worthwhile read.
Who Killed Jonbenet Ramsey? by Dr. Cyril Wecht & Charles Bosworth, Jr.
Jonbenet Ramsey was a six year old pageant queen who was found dead in her home at Christmas over 20 years ago in Colorado. Nobody has ever been caught for her murder, and camps are fairly evenly split between "it was an intruder" and "it was someone inside the house". This is a good fact-led book that pretty much blows the intruder theory out of the water. For those who have been following this case for a long time, or those who have seen all the documentaries, there probably won't be anything new in here - but for those new to the case, this would be a good starting point.
Who Runs The World? by Virginia Bergin * ARC from Netgalley, Published June 1 2017
Having read both of Virginia Bergin's other YA books (The Rain and The Storm) and enjoyed them, I requested this via Netgalley. It's due for publication in June, and it's set in a world 60 years into the future where women rule the world and men are all but extinct due to a virus. When 14 year old River finds an injured boy in the woods, what will this mean for society? This was an interesting read, I did enjoy it, but I felt it needed work. Some of the subject matter seemed a little mature given the age of the main characters, but overall I think it could work well to help prompt discussions of a matriarchal vs patriarchal society, feminism and gender with teenagers.
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
I received this in my February Owlcrate (reviewed in full here), I picked it up to scan the first few lines and ended up reading it in two sittings. It's a fantasy novel about two sisters, Tella and Scarlett, who flee their small island in favour of Caraval, a world of performance, bravery, riddles, mystery, terror and lies. I really, really liked this a lot - I got sucked in and I'd definitely read more if this were turned into a series.
The Wrong Girl by Laura Wilson
I've had this on my Kindle for a long time, and it just jumped out at me one morning. It's a thriller about a little girl named Molly who believes she is actually Phoebe Piper, a girl who has been missing for years - is she right? Meanwhile, there's a historical mystery going on when the little girl's Uncle passes away and her Grandmother comes to stay. There's a bit too much going on here - one plot would have been sufficient, but there are a host of subplots happening and I found it confusing.
A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart
This is one of the Richard & Judy Book Club picks for Spring 2017. It's the story of a man in a strained marriage who is trying to build a relationship with his young son, who is on the autism spectrum. Through the game of Minecraft, they begin to understand each other. I did enjoy this to a degree, I found it very similar to Us by David Nicholls. Others have compared it to About a Boy by Nick Hornby and that's not an unfair comparison either. I think I'm too cynical for stuff like this - but it was sweet.
World Book Day Books 2017
Every year for World Book Day, 15 million book tokens are issued to give children a chance to own a book of their own. This is hugely important - books can be expensive, so the chance to give a child a free book is wonderful. The tokens are handed out in school, and can be used to get a free book from the ten specially released editions below. In Ireland we have an eleventh choice. Or, if none of those appeal, the token can be used to get €1.50 off a full price book. Most book sellers honour book tokens - just check with your local one before bringing your child to avoid embarrassment and to make sure the books are in stock (larger retailers like Eason are a fairly safe bet). The tokens are vaild until Sunday 26th March. You can also purchase most of the books on Amazon, some are even available for Kindle.
Here are the choices this year:
And the extra Irish one courtesy of Judi Curtin and The O'Brien Press:
It's a great way to encourage children to read and to get excited about books. I know people give out about costume day in school (myself included - 24 hours notice means you'll be wearing your mother's shirt as a Death Eater robe, my son) but anything that can get a child to want to read is amazing. Reading and a love of books is a gift you can give your children at any age - but if you give it when they're young, they'll benefit from it even more.
So - have you read any of my February Reads? Or what are you reading at the minute? Read anything lately you really loved? Or wanted to fling at the wall?