If you’re a writer, you’ll know that it’s NaNoWriMo – National November Writing Month. It’s one of those things I’ve always debated taking on – but this November for me has been somewhat busy.
I’ve been on the hunt for a job – which I can safely say I’ve now secured, and we’ve also moved half way down the country to Cambridge (it’s one of the best places on the planet, FYI).
So rather than write 50,000 words in November, I’ve actually set on my own little challenge and read four books in four weeks.
I thought I’d go through them all and do mini reviews to celebrate all things books! And I’ll also let you know what I’m heading on to next.
Week One: Lockwood & Co. The Screaming Staircase – Jonathan Stroud
Image from www.jonathanstroud.com
Anyone who has come across me will know that I am not a big horror fan. The only time I can handle something ghost related is in a book, because then I can just put it down and walk away, or stick an episode of the IT Crowd on to distract myself from the fact I’m actually a little freaked out – but I am mighty glad I picked up this book after a recommendation on Twitter.
Lockwood & Co is set in an alternate reality where ghosts are real and kids, who have the sight, are enlisted to destroy ghosts that have started to appear all over the world with no real reason as to why. It’s called ‘The Problem’ and with it comes the risk of being ‘Ghost Touched’ which results in the person dying.
Stroud does an excellent job of setting a super spooky atmosphere. Numerous times when reading it I’ve shot my head up at a weird bang or tapping noise, thinking to myself, What the hell was that? I’ve never dove into quite an atmospheric book as this one – and I plan to analyse heavily how exactly he managed to do this without any music or visual images. It’s excellent!
The book follows the story of Lucy, who is employed by Lockwood and his side-kick George. They become involved in a spooky case of a murdered socialite, and set out to solve the case. I recommend picking it up – it’s only £3.99 on Kindle.
Week Two: My Not So Perfect Life – Sophie Kinsella
Image sourced from www.sophiekinsella.co.uk
This is one of those books I’ve been planning to read for ages. Sophie Kinsella is my ultimate guilty pleasure. It’s chic lit at its finest, and Kinsella’s writing is also incredibly funny. This book follows the life of Katie who works in branding as a research exec in the heart of London. She winds up losing her job, returning home, and helping her dad and step mum set up a glamping site on their farm.
But then her old boss, Demeter, who sacked her, shows up. And Katie senses an opportunity to get revenge.
A super funny read that will leave you feeling all warm inside! Of course, there’s a love interest too. Really a delightful read.
Week Three: The Ocean At The End Of The Lane – Neil Gaiman
I’m a huge Gaiman fan. I first got into him due to my MA, when The Graveyard Book made our reading list. (Can I just add that my MA is the only time I have ever been given quite exciting books to study? I can’t help but feel that if kids were asked to study The Graveyard Book instead of Of Mice and Men (or even as well as), we might have more readers. But I digress).
The Ocean At The End Of The Lane really is an intriguing, somewhat mind blowing, book. It starts with man revisiting an old farm he used to go to as a kid when he is back in town for a funeral. Of course, he starts to relive his memories that he had forgotten about, and I’d love to tell you exactly what happens but it is so complicated and mesmerising that you sit there half of the time thinking WHAT? Yet still unable to put it down.
It’s quite unlike anything I’ve ever read, apart from Coraline. I saw some comparisons in the form of the evil adult that appears. I felt like the lodger that looks after the boy is quite like the ‘Other Mother’ from the latter. But, in a really simple way that doesn’t do it justice, the story goes like this: an opal miner kills himself which sets off a chain of events, leading to Lettie and the boy fighting side by side to send his evil nanny/lodger back home again who is ruining his life.
Oh and Lettie and her mum and nan never seem to age and are clearly supreme god-like beings. It’s complex, yet utterly enchanting. If you want something different to read on these cold winter nights, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything quite like this.
Week Four: Lockwood & Co. The Whispering Skull – Jonathan Stroud
Image sourced from http://www.jonathanstroud.com
It clearly wasn’t going to be long until I returned to the Lockwood & Co. world. It’s delightful and spooky in equal measure.
This story sees Lucy come into her full power (she has the rare ability to speak to ‘Type 3’ ghosts). Again the team set out to solve another paranormal mystery, this one surrounding a mystical mirror that someone created to try and see beyond into the afterlife.
It’s edge of the seat stuff, and although I didn’t find it as haunting as the first – this one felt more like a mystery to me rather than a ghost story – it ended on a huge cliffhanger and I’ve already downloaded book 3.
But before I return yet again to Lockwood and Lucy, I have chosen to delve back into one of Sarah J Maas’ worlds. I’ve just gotten up to date with the latest in her Throne of Glass series, Tower Of Dawn, before I started my four weeks of books, and it’s set up the series for a fantastic finale featuring an incredible lineup of characters.
But the next book isn’t here yet, so I have decided to venture into new territory in the form of A Court Of Thorn And Roses. I always thought this series followed on from a Throne Of Glass, but as Maas is still putting it together – I’m assuming it doesn’t!
November is the perfect month for reading. I hope you enjoy being curled up on the sofa with a cup of tea and endless boxes of Christmas chocolates (yes, I’ve already started!).
Until next time…