The Reading List | January 2016

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I know I know it is basically the end of February and I am ONLY just getting around to writing about the books I read in January. It's because I am an independent blogger who don't need no schedule (which I 100% do, I am just SUCH A PROCRASTINATOR). Bad blogger vibes aside I thought I would still share the books I read last month because I am planning on making this a monthly feature. As you can tell I don't have the time to sit and write a separate review for all the books I read so I thought I would put them all together in one handy reading list so you guys can see what I've been reading.

January was a good reading month for me. I read five books and each they were all completely different from one another. My Goodreads Reading Challenge is to read 50 books this year and I feel I've made a really good start!

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

In Life After Life Ursula Todd lived through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. In A God in Ruins, Atkinson turns her focus on Ursula’s beloved younger brother Teddy – would-be poet, RAF bomber pilot, husband and father – as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have. 
- synopsis from Goodreads

I must admit it took me a while to get used to the almost meandering style of A God in Ruins with future events being intermingled with the present story being told. It is a remarkable feat on Atkinson's part that those little tidbits and references to future events are so seamlessly mixed in. A God in Ruins made me feel as though I were listening to a story being told, with little anecdotes being interspersed with musings about the future.

Atkinson has this knack of creating characters that crawl into your heart, nestle there and then refuse to budge. In Life after Life, Teddy is the golden boy of the Todd family. Sylvie's favourite, the boy hero headed off to war. A God in Ruins takes Teddy and weaves him a tale of love, loyalty and stoicism. I can't think of many books that I have read with a middle aged/elderly man as the main character (if I have read any at all) but Atkinson does so well to portray the way in which Teddy holds on to his values and the way he thinks the world should be. 

I had high expectations for A God in Ruins after reading Life After Life and I am happy to say that it more than lived up to them. 
Rating: 4 stars

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

Aza Ray is drowning in thin air. Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live. So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn't think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.
Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia. 
Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?
synopsis from Goodreads

I picked this book up purely based on its cover. It is such a beautiful book that I could not resist buying it. I had no idea what the story was going to be about when I started reading but I can assure you that it wasn't the story I got. 

This book certainly wins the award for being one of the most bizarre books I have ever read. That being said, the plot didn't actually feel that far fetched. The story starts off feeling very much like contemporary teen novel. Aza is ill and the only person she feels really understands her is her best friend Jason. It all felt very John Green up until the point Aza started seeing ships sailing in the clouds and began to feel like birds were talking to her. 

What follows that is a rip-roaring, completely fantastical adventure in ship that sails above the clouds. Whilst some of the elements did feel a little bit too out there and some things could possible have done with little more explaining. Headley does a very good job in keeping the plot coherent. There's a lot of references to the state the world is being left in and it could pose questions about the environment in a new way that teenagers may access easier due to Magonia's fantasy setting. 

Rating: 3.5 stars

The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine

You are cordially invited to attend the Grand Opening of Sinclair’s department store!

Enter a world of bonbons, hats, perfumes and MYSTERIES around every corner. WONDER at the daring theft of the priceless CLOCKWORK SPARROW! TREMBLE as the most DASTARDLY criminals in London enact their wicked plans! GASP as our bold heroines, Miss Sophie Taylor and Miss Lilian Rose, CRACK CODES, DEVOUR ICED BUNS and vow to bring the villians to justice…
synopsis from Goodreads

Before picking this book up it had been a while since I had read what would be classed as a Middle Grade book. Working in a Secondary School library means that I mainly read YA titles. It was refreshing to pick up Clockwork Sparrow because it was such a fun read. 

Woodfine has captured the essence of what I imagine department stores were like during their heyday. Sinclair's is described so richly that I felt like I was there whilst reading. The elegance and the opulence of the many floors filled with products for the wealthy to fawn over cemented the book in it's era and almost added an extra character to the story. 

Sophie and Lil were brilliant written and it was great to read about strong, young women who were determined to do the right thing and set the record straight. Their friendship and the little group they formed with Billy and Joe has created the basis for a wonderful series that provides adventure and escape for children and adults alike. 

Rating: 4.5 stars

The Last Summer of Us by Maggie Harcourt

Limpet, Steffan and Jared. Three best friends crammed into a clapped-out rust bucket of a car on a whirlwind road trip to forget their troubles and see out the end of the summer. But no matter how far they drive, they can’t escape the hidden secrets and slow-burning romance that could upset the balance of their friendship – perhaps forever.
synopsis from Goodreads

The Last Summer of Us was on the nominations list for this years Carnegie Medal so, of course, I was interested to pick it up and see what it was all about. I will admit that even though I do read a lot of YA fiction, I don't tend to pick up contemporary titles. I am drawn more towards the fantasy/supernatural so it was a change for me to pick up a book about three normal teenagers. 

Harcourt did well to capture the dynamics in the trio. Having a trio made up of two boys and a girl was an interesting take and I think that their friendship was portrayed well and quite realistically. The shifting tensions between the three of them as they learn more about the situations they find themselves in created a great canvas on which Harcourt could explore the ways in which friendships can change, even in the smallest of time frames. 

I wasn't blown away by the story, it was a simple road trip story with some emotionally charged moments that stood out. I would recommend it to anyone who was looking for an easy contemporary YA. 
Rating: 3 stars

There Will be Lies by Nick Lake

In four hours, Shelby Jane Cooper will be struck by a car.
Shortly after, she and her mother will leave the hospital and set out on a winding journey toward the Grand Canyon.
All Shelby knows is that they’re running from dangers only her mother understands. And the further they travel, the more Shelby questions everything about her past—and her current reality. Forced to take advantage of the kindness of unsuspecting travelers, Shelby grapples with what’s real, what isn’t, and who she can trust . . . if anybody.

synopsis from Goodreads

The thriller parts of the story worked really well. At any point in the story you are not sure who to believe and whether or not Shelby is finally being told the truth. Lake builds up to the twists and turns brilliantly and even though I figured a few of them out, the way he weaved them into the story was clever. Shelby wasn't a particularly likable character, something about her jarred with me and I can't put my finger on why. Of course she had led a very sheltered life and that may have been why she was so bitter, but still there was something I didn't like about her. 

The problem I had was the way in which Lake used the Native American mythology to move the story along. Shelby's progression throughout the novel became dependent on her entering 'the dreaming' and working her way through some sort of quest she needed to complete. I'm still not entirely sure why Lake decided to use that narrative device and I'm not sure it worked. If the story had moved along with the mythology I think I would enjoyed it a lot more than I did. 
Rating: 3 stars


Have you read any of the books in my January reading list? Let me know in the comments, I love to talk about books!


Write comments
Anna - Alina
21 February 2016 at 20:31 delete

I didn't read any of them! Cute owl! Great blog, so if you want, we can to follow each other on bloglovin! Just follow me here and I'll follow you back! ♥