1. The Burning Air by Erin Kelly - 8/10 (full review). Kelly's third novel is a tense thriller packed with twists, featuring a cast of characters you will love to hate. More expertly plotted than her previous books and recommended to anyone who enjoyed Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl.
2. Monsieur by Emma Becker - 4/10 (full review). This is a detailed (in an erotic sort of way) account of the affair between a young student and a married plastic surgeon. After a promising beginning, I actually found it a bit boring, and the main character's selfishness and naivety was annoying.
3. Snake Ropes by Jess Richards - 8/10 (full review). A completely unique story - set within a female-dominated society on a fictional, magical island, it follows two teenage girls who are each imprisoned in very different ways. Fantastical but believable, and incredibly intriguing.
4. The Friday Gospels by Jenn Ashworth - 8/10. The story of a working-class Mormon family in Lancashire awaiting the return of their eldest son from Utah - it doesn't exactly sound unputdownable, but thanks to Ashworth's skill at creating very real characters and voices, it is so much more than the sum of its parts. Totally engrossing and possibly her best book yet.
5. The Year of the Gadfly by Jennifer Miller - 8/10. An incredibly enjoyable romp of a mystery set at an American private school in which a secret society, shrouded in mystery, reigns supreme. This reminded me of the kind of YA books I used to absolutely love when I was younger, and I relished it from start to finish, even the silly and predictable bits.
Start as you mean to go on? Not in 2013, apparently. I've had a bit of a lacklustre start to the year and I'm afraid that has been reflected in my reading, in terms of my reading rate at least. I am actually BEHIND on my Goodreads challenge (which, like last year, I have set at 75 books) - shock horror! Such is my ennui that I haven't even managed to get reviews written for two of the books I enjoyed the most, which I am annoyed with myself about. I am aiming to remedy that in February - and to get through more than five books...
However, the good thing is that I've really enjoyed almost everything I've read this month. This turned out to be a month of all-female authors - not deliberate, but a nice coincidence - comprising two third novels from writers whose work I've read before (Erin Kelly and Jenn Ashworth) and three debuts from new, young talents. The only one that really disappointed was Monsieur, which I felt was a bit of a missed opportunity. It's hard to pick a favourite from the other four, but if held at gunpoint or something, I would probably have to go for Snake Ropes purely for its strangeness and unique ideas. I really liked The Burning Air and The Friday Gospels, but was perhaps slightly less excited about them because I've already enjoyed the authors' previous books! The Year of the Gadfly was quite simply pure fun.
I (at least partly) blame my lack of progress this month on the fact that I've been trying, and largely failing, to slog through A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. I've got to a certain point with it (around 70% of the way through) and am finding it incredibly difficult to continue because I just hate the protagonists' relationship so much. I WILL finish it, though: I'm making myself do it before I'm allowed to buy anything else. Has anyone else read it, and what did you think?
I've actually watched twice as many films as I've read books this month - is this a good or a bad thing? Post on that to follow (probably. I've been trying to write a post about films for about seven months and that is not an exaggeration).