I have not read many books this year. As a result, I thought I’d catch up with myself a bit and review every book I’ve read this year in one post….all 4 of them. For some context, my reading time is pretty much limited to my hour lunch break at work, and the occasional time on the weekend. I should read more often, but currently that’s the amount I can manage and I feel like that’s okay.
1/4 | The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton
I started the year with this popular novel. A murder mystery set in a country manor, there are plenty of twists and turns – and that’s just the timeline. It took me a while to get into this book, but once I’d gotten a few chapters in I found that I really enjoyed it. I’m a big fan of escape the room browser games, and this book would make an amazing one. If you have the time to unravel it, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is an interesting story with a beautiful backdrop.
2/4 | Annabel vs the Internet – Annabel Port
This was such a light, lovely read. Annabel Port’s internet themed challenges added a little bit of silliness and adventure to my lunchtime reading that was desperately needed. From setting up camp in the Ritz dining room to infiltrating the Google HQ offices, the sheer amount Annabel got away with is a little bit shocking in the best way! This book really shows the good in people, and I would really recommend for a feel-good, chilled out read.
3/4 | The Woman in the Window – AJ Finn (Dan Mallory)
Where to start with this? I feel like it’s important to note that I read that article about the author before reading this book (I bought it before the article came out), and while I believe in separating author and text in many circumstances, I did struggle when it came to The Woman in the Window. I feel like I had more predispositions than I normally would when reading a new writer, and this did effect my reading – but my feelings on the book overall I feel aren’t too different to how I’d have felt without any prior knowledge of the writer.
I think it’s clear that this book was written with commercial success in mind, but that in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It draws a lot from other popular books such as The Girl on the Train, and in fact the first person, unreliable narratives are incredibly similar. I found the idea of an Agoraphobic narrator interesting, and indeed not one I’d seen much before – an entire novel written with the constraints of a ‘bottle episode’ is intriguing. Finn/Mallory doesn’t quite stick to these boundaries as much as I’d expected, however I can see why it would be difficult to do this with the events unfolding outside Anna’s window.
Unfortunately the big unraveling of the plot was spoiled for me before reading the book (I believe the New Yorker article mentions it, but they do tag their spoilers) so it wasn’t as effective to me as it might have been to someone with no prior knowledge of it. Despite that, I did enjoy trying to work out the mystery and figuring out how to get to the thing that was spoiled for me.
There’s no denying that the book was well-written. As much as I didn’t want to enjoy Finn’s work, I did get sucked in and largely enjoyed the story. I had a few qualms and some parts fell flat where they should’ve shocked for me, but overall it was a good story with an interesting setting.
4/4 | The ABC Murders – Agatha Christie
I have an ‘I’m a bad reader’ confession to make. I’d never read Agatha Christie – until now. I’d seen episodes of Poirot, I’d seen the recent film adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, and I own a copy of Death on the Nile – but I’d never read Agatha Christie before picking up The ABC Murders.
The ABC Murders jumped out at me for a few reasons;
1) it was on sale at Tesco
2) I’ve been listening to Shedunnit, a podcast about detective fiction, particularly by female writers.
3) I felt that an alphabetical structure was interesting motive-wise, and would also provide a good set up for someone who’s not experienced much of Christie’s world (me).
I was surprised by the first person narration by Arthur Hastings – I wasn’t expecting it, but it worked well. The only detective fiction I’ve read extensively is The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, so the ‘sidekick’ character narrating made sense to me. I also like that there were a few third person chapters that were set up as being recounted or reconstructed by Hastings as accurately as he could manage without having been there. It provided some variety in the narrative and allowed Christie to explore the story outside of Hastings’ confines.
I certainly wasn’t disappointed in my first Christie experience, and as I’ve now got a growing interest in detective fiction I’m sure there will be plenty more Poirot in my future. For now though I’m getting my detective fix from Jonathan Creek on Netflix!
BONUS – Currently Reading | Pure – Rose Cartwright
I’m currently reading Pure by Rose Cartwright. I started watching the Channel 4 series of the same name, not knowing it was based on a book, then had to read the book before I carried on with it. Pure is an autobiographical memoir about Cartwright’s experiences with Pure O; a form of OCD that manifests almost entirely in obsessive and intrusive thoughts. Since her teens, Cartwright has experienced intrusive thoughts about sex.
I won’t give a full review now, as I’m only about 60% of the way through the book, but so far I’ve found it informative, sad in parts, funny and courageously honest.
I hope you’ve had a good reading year so far, and would love to hear what you’ve been reading and enjoying! Comment your favourite read so far this year.
See you soon,