Antony's Library #14 - 2017 Reading Challenge So Far

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Last year, I did a series of blog posts reviewing books from my reading challenge. I concluded it at the start of this year saying that I wasn't going to do the posts any more.

Well, I couldn't resist writing a one-off "special". To update on my reading challenge so far in 2017.

I decided to keep the same aim as I had last year: 12 books in 12 months. I am currently on the 7th as we near the end of July.

This year, I have been a lot better at avoiding the bad books. I have also allowed myself to read the slightly shorter books (or books aimed for younger people) that last year I classed as "cheating". I have had a good mix, here they are with some brief thoughts about each one. They are in the order that I read them.

Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
This book is essentially about 4 siblings who are locked away in a room (and there is an accessible attic) for many years so that their mother can get back in her dying father's good books to gain his inheritance.

Whilst it starts off that she has the best of intentions, feelings of hope start to wane as the book goes on both in the characters and as the reader. It then gets particularly dark, but I won't spoil it for you.

Overall, I thought it was a great read that I highly recommend.

Ex-Heroes By Peter Clines
If I was to ever write a book, I imagine I would pick super heroes as my genre. But I found it hard to find good books in this area. Until now.

This is the first book in a series of novels set in a zombie apocalyptic world where super heroes look after the citizens who are now leaving in a fortress.

What I love is how whilst the story is unfolding in present day, we are giving pieces of the story in the past from the different points of views to give us the events that led to this zombie virus being created and spreading.

There is a great twist towards the end regarding the origin of the virus and it is also a more unique idea.

Overall I loved the plot, I loved the action and I will definitely revisit the sequels in the future. Superheroes and zombies, you can't go wrong with that.

Deception Point by Dan Brown
I have read Dan Brown's Robert Langdon series before (well, the first 3 of them) and have enjoyed each all of them. I decided to give one of his other books ago outside of the series. This one was actually the first book he published.

It is set in the middle of a presidential campaign. One of the candidates wants to sell off NASA as he thinks it is a waste of money (and is quietly receiving a lot of support from private space companies to pursue this). The current president wants to keep it going.

Conveniently, NASA make a massive discovery in the arctic circle. I won't spoil the plot as Dan Brown does his classic drip feeding of information.

If you are a fan of his books, you will love this. It is written in his classic style: short chapters that switch scenes and end on mini cliff-hangers that leave the reader wanting more.

I was worried that I wouldn't enjoy this when I read the blurb. But once again, Dan Brown doesn't fail to entertain.

New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson
As the title suggests, this book is set in New York in the year 2140. The polar ice caps have melted and New York has become like Venice, where canals now flow between the sky scrapers.

The book follows multiple different story lines from multiple points of view and I love books that do that. I also love it when the characters start to interact with each other as their path crosses later on.

The problem I had with this book (and the reason it was my least favorite this year), is that it was far too bloated. The plots were good but separated by swamps of nothingness. That made this a difficult read for me. It is a shame, because I really wanted to like it.

The Bear and the Nightingale Katherine Arden
A fantasy book this time. Set in medieval Russia, it tells the story of a noble family and their daughter. Initially, the inhabitants of the house and the village are like pagans who worship multiple gods.

Then a priest comes and converts everyone to Christianity.

Little does everyone know, the gods they worshiped were real creatures and the daughter can see them and talk to them. As the creatures grow weaker, a dark evil is coming and only the daughter is able to save them all.

I thought this book was very unique. An unusual setting medieval Russia. I did find the names a little confusing as they liked to call each other by different nick names. But other than that, a pleasant read.

The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman
A mystery set in the Victorian times, this is about a girl's quest to find out the truth behind her father's death. This is one of those young adult books that meant it was an easier read to what I am used to.

I love books that are set in the past. It was interesting reading things as they were at that time. Especially as it is set in London, it was great hearing familiar names. As the main character is a girl, we are reminded of the attitudes towards women at that time.

Overall I thought it was a good book. But I found the conclusion a bit sudden. Although there was a build up. The mystery is completely solved and everything resolved in just a few pages. Felt a little bit rushed given the length of time it took to get there.

Right now I am reading: The '86 Fix by Keith A. Pearson
So far so good. I believe this is a self-published debut novel but it has received high praise so far and from what I have read so far (about 30%), I would agree. I have had a mixture of emotions whilst reading so I am interested to see where it is going.

So far this year, I have not regretted a choice of book which is good. I hope it continues in this second half of the year. Perhaps I will do an update at the end.

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