"Between life and death is a library. And within that LIbrary, the Shelves go on for ever."
Title: The Midnight Library
Author: Matt Haig
Age group: 15+
Matt Haig, once more, whips up a truly magnificent story, full of genuine human stories with a magical twist. If you have ever wondered what opportunities slipped through your hands in life or who you could have been in another life, this book takes you on the right journey.
Meet Nora, a young woman whose life has turned for the worse and leaves her unfulfilled in her relationships, career and pretty much every aspect of her life. When her beloved cat dies, she decides enough is enough and wants to end her miserable life - yet there is a magical place between life and death where Nora finds her alternative lives crammed in a magnificent library, waiting for her to explore.
What would have happened if she'd pursued her ambitions as a swimmer or married her previous boyfriend? What would have happened if she hadn't let the cat out or become a glaciologist in Iceland? The infinite outcomes of her own life are the rims of possibility in this place and Nora has a chance to see what would have happened if she'd pursued her band and become a rock star - would she have been happier as a mum or a gold medallist? The answers lie in the tomes that concoct not only her present life but all the other-dimensional lives she has lived in another decision.
Once more Matt Haig takes a unique concept and spins a wonderful and warm story from it, like he does in many of his other books, for example A Boy Called Christmas. What makes this book even more of an unputdownable read is the pace of writing and the short chapters that wrap up the story in exactly as many words as it needs - not more or less. Having wondered about past regrets and possible outcomes uncountable times myself, I found this book very intriguing and a wonderful idea to put to paper. With humour, wit and heart, Haig delves into deeper human issues most of us are far too familiar with, but, as usual, manages to give the reader a feeling of understanding and positivity, rather than pessimism. Showing you can never quite escape yourself, he slowly introduces a new mindset for Nora that does not change the hard facts but how you can look at them - which assured me I can do so as well.
Haig's books brim with life positivity amidst the turmoil and chaos of everyday life and all its minor and major catastrophes and are always a good read to feel better (his non-fiction books are great reads to feel better, too). Although I enjoy most of the books I read from him, this was a particular favourite as the main character was so genuine, vulnerable and yet very strong. Skipping through her possible lives was a great time filled with all emotions from fun to sadness and anger. Especially in these challenging times where many of us find themselves isolated, it's the perfect book to curl up and let the outer world pass by for a moment to be engulfed by the Midnight Library and all its possibilities.
One word description: Manifold.
"She was murdered by a far more skilful killer than you ever were."
Title: Troubled Blood (Cormoran Strike 5 Novel)
Author: Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling)
I am usually not a sucker for crime novels, but the Strike books are so gripping and enthralling that I was glad to get my hands on this little tome (only a few pages short of a 1000 pages). Despite the controversial opinions of Rowling and a "cross-dressing serial killer" (I'll get to that later), the book sky-rocketed on the book market.
I feel that Galbraith (i.e. Rowling) manages to become better and better at setting up gruesome stories, and this little jewel is the most gruesome so far in my opinion. A brutal serial killer in the mix and a cold case, which somehow makes it all the more tragic. Amidst all the conundrum of who-dunnit-it are also the continuous tensions between our main detective Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott. Especially their personal stories seem to be even deeper in this book, as Strike struggles with an ailing aunt in Cornwall who requires his attention, as well as mixed feelings he has towards his attractive business partner.
Meanwhile Robin is still in the messy parts of disentangling her short-lived marriage while dealing with sexism, work overload and, of course, her share of confusing feelings towards her business partner (Rowling has a gift of setting up long-term teases - just think about Ron and Hermione).
But where is the crime in all this? Well, in this book Strike is approached by a desperate woman who wants to find out what happened to her mother forty years ago when she just disappeared when walking from her office to a pub, never to be seen again. Strike's first cold case leads him down a lane of serial killers, confusion, a deranged cop who handled the case back then, and many layers of old guilt, all not making it necessarily easier to find out the truth - or the woman who went missing.
The fact that a brutal serial killer was making his rounds at the time and refuses to relay all the victims he's tortured and killed in his basement makes Strike's and Robin's case probably the most delicate, difficult and gruesome yet.
As for the "transphobic" criticism, it is utterly ridiculous. There is only a known serial killer who sometimes dresses up as a woman to lure women in, and some people from forty years ago saying he was effeminate in some ways, that's it and surely not a reason to flip out - so don't let that non-existent issue deter you.
If you love fast-paced novels with a genuine background story for the detectives and don't mind some grisly details (I honestly couldn't read the book at night), this crime novel is a fantastic read for you and so far my favourite Strike novel.
One word description: Gruesome.
Here you find book reviews, and sometimes also things about films. Enjoy reading.