I set myself to a big reading goal earlier this year. I had hoped to read 33 additional books before year’s end. I didn’t come even close to reaching that goal, but at least I read some! Here are the books that I read.
The Book of Tomorrow by Cecilia Ahern
The Book of Tomorrow is about a teenage girl who, due to a terrible event, has to go live with an aunt and uncle in the countryside, near the ruins of a once-grand castle. There’s not much to do there, so when the traveling library comes to the house, she’s thrilled, even though she doesn’t like to read. The book she chooses turns out to be a magical diary that every day rewrites itself to tell the story of what will happen to her tomorrow. This focuses her attention on the immediate future, but it’s to the past to which she should be looking.
The Book of Tomorrow was described on its cover as being “Gothic.” I don’t agree. Just because a book has a castle, a mystery, and a deadly fire, that doesn’t make it inherently worthy of being called “Gothic.” It wasn’t scary and the mystery wasn’t that mysterious. I also didn’t care for the main character. She was rude and self-absorbed. But the worst thing was that the story’s main feature (the magical diary after which it was named) was a real yawn.
On the plus side, the ruins of the castle always make for an interesting setting. There was humor at times (for example, one of the characters communicated primarily in “grunts, nods, and snot-snorts”). So I gave it a B grade, which means that I didn’t hate it, but I wouldn’t care to read it again.
The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry
Abandoned by their terrible parents, the Willoughby children have to make their own way in the world, and they do so in dark comedy fashion. I finished this book a while ago, so I don’t remember the details, but I really enjoyed the dark humor.
The Witches by Roald Dahl
I have enjoyed many Roald Dahl books, but I don’t consider him to be one of my favorite authors. His over-the-top style of storytelling is usually not quite my cup of tea. However, I was pleasantly surprised by The Witches. His description of witches is enjoyably terrifying. These awful creatures live among us, masquerading as human women, and their single, evil purpose is to get rid of every child in England. An orphaned boy discovers the witches’ plan and, with his grandmother’s help, tries to stop them. I really liked the ending, which I would have to call “bittersweet.” This is my favorite Dahl book to date.
Beyond the Deepwoods (The Edge Chronicles Book 1) by Paul Stewart
A nicely illustrated (by Chris Riddell) and enjoyable book about a boy named Twig who’s lost in the forest of a strange world teeming with all sorts of interesting and scary creatures. I liked this just enough that I’m interested to try one of its sequels.
Rowan Hood by Nancy Springer
This book is about a girl named Rowan who wants to join Robin Hood’s band of thieves because she thinks that he’s her father. I always seem to enjoy Nancy Springer’s writing. This particular story didn’t quite resonate with me, though, perhaps because I’m long past the age of its intended audience. I think its ideal reader would be a tween or early-teen girl.