This month I bought six books, three hardbacks and three paperbacks. Below I’ll include the synopsis from the back and whether or not I’ve read them yet. Let me know if you’ve read any of the books you hauled this month. Happy reading!
1. Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin
“A young woman named Amanda lies dying in a rural hospital clinic. A boy named David sits beside her. She’s not his mother. He’s not her child. The two seem anxious and, at David’s ever more insistent prompting, Amanda recounts a series of events from the apparently recent past. As David pushes her to recall whatever trauma has landed her in her terminal state, he unwittingly opens a chest of horrors, and suddenly the terrifying nature of their reality is brought into shocking focus.”
I have read this one already and am currently in the process of writing a full review. It was short but intensely creepy, with an increasing sense of impending doom throughout. This one certainly packs a punch and I would recommend picking it up if you haven’t already, it definitely deserved its place on the shortlist for the Man Booker International Prize 2017.
2. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
“Alina Starkov is a soldier. When her regiment is attacked whilst crossing the Shadow Fold – a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters – Alina unleashes dormant magic not even she knew she possessed. Now Alina will enter a lavish world of royalty and intrigue as she trains with the Grisha – her country’s magical military elite – and falls under the spell of their notorious leader, the Darkling. He believes Alina can summon a force capable of destroying the Shadow Fold and reuniting their war-ravaged country, but only if she can master her untamed gift. But as Alina unlocks the secrets of her past, she will make a dangerous discovery that could threaten all she loves and the very future of the nation.”
I chose to buy this one because I’m intrigued by the Six of Crows duology but would prefer to start from the beginning so as to get a fuller picture of the world. Whilst I’m not normally a fan of young adult books that contain romance, which the blurb hints at, I’m willing to give it a try, and hope the world building is strong and intriguing. I’ll let you know what I think once I read it, although I am rather late on this train, so I imagine most of you have already read it.
3. I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
“As I’m Thinking of Things begins, Jake and his girlfriend are driving to meet his parents on their secluded farm, but things aren’t what they seem. For one thing, as the girlfriend’s narration begins, she announces that she’s ‘thinking of ending things’, leaving the reader to wonder why she is making the visit in the first place. The visit itself is unsettling, to say the least, and when Jake makes an unexpected detour, leaving his girlfriend stranded, what comes next is a twisted mix of palpable tension, psychological frailty, and sheer terror.”
I have read this one already, and it is certainly an interesting book that holds a great deal of tension within its pages. It was an unnerving, difficult book to read with awkward dialogue that, the more I think about it, the more I feel was a deliberate attempt to make the reader feel uneasy with the events that were taking place. In fact, my rating for this one has increased since I read it, proving that it is one that sufficiently gets under your skin.
4. The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner
“It’s 2003 and Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility, deep in California’s Central Valley. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: the San Francisco of her youth and her young son, Jackson. Inside is a new reality: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike; and the deadpan absurdities of institutional living.”
This one has been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize this year, and having already read it, I can confirm, for me, it deserves its place on there. This was an eye-opening fictional social commentary on the way prisons work in the USA, and how people from certain backgrounds are immediately at a disadvantage. Not only did it make me angry, but it also made me want to research further, which is the sign of a book that has done its job. I have a full review scheduled in the coming week.
5. The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
“It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside. Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers. But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?”
This has been likened to Girl on the Train, which is a book I haven’t read, so I feel like I have a fresher perspective on this novel, as it does appear to have a similar synopsis. The reason I chose this one is because I have suffered on and off with agoraphobia since I was a young teenager and I thought this would be a creepy read for that reason. I haven’t decided whether I will save this for the autumn or simply read it now, but I’ll upload a review once I’ve finished, whenever that may be.
6. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
“Opium runs through the heart of the Nikara Empire, a constant reminder of the war with the Federation of Mugen that brought it to the empire’s shores. A war that only ended thanks to three heroes – the Vipress, the Dragon Emperor and the Gatekeeper – known as the Trifecta. They were legendary figures, each bestowed with god-like powers, who united the warlords of the Empire against the Federation. Decades have passed. The Trifecta is shattered: the Dragon Emperor is dead, the Gatekeeper is missing, and the Vipress alone sits on the throne at Sinegard. Peace reigns, yet the poppy remains. War orphan Fang Runin grew up with it. Her adopted family smuggles it throughout Rooster province, making a living on the misfortune of those addicted to its smoke. But when Rin’s parents force her into an arranged marriage, Rin refuses to accept her fate and fights her way to the prestigious military academy at Sinegard. There she will learn of drug-fuelled shamanic powers thought to be myth, powers which might defeat the Federation during its third invasion. But the cost of some power is too great to pay, even if it means winning a war that threatens to destroy an entire nation.”
Despite having a synopsis that is much too long for my tastes, I was pulled towards The Poppy War by the great reviews it has been receiving. I love fantasy books, especially ones that include political intrigue, and I’m hoping this one will live up to the hype.
Let me know if you have read any of these, and what you think of them, I will write reviews of them when I’ve finished with them. Thank you for reading!