Although 2017 is still a relatively young year, I've still somehow managed to fall behind on my 2017 reading goal. I want to read 52 books this year - an average of one a week - and although it feels like I've been doing a large amount of reading, I'm just not hitting my targets. I've got a holiday planned in April though, the perfect opportunity to catch up!

Here's what I've managed so far...

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
This 18th century gothic romance novel follows the life of Emily St Aubert after she experiences some tragic and traumatic events.

I first read gothic romance classic The Mysteries of Udolpho many years ago. I'd read Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, in which Ann Radcliffe's novel is mentioned and I decided I wanted to read it. I'd remembered it being exciting and yet frustrating - some of the big reveals don't come right up until the end of the book! This time round, I admit, I found it boring and difficult to trudge through. I was reading this book for months and it's the main reason I'm so far behind with my reading challenge. It's a really great, dramatic story - but it could be told in half the time it takes.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
An alcoholic witnesses something during her daily commute that changes her life forever. 

I generally have a list of books I plan to read and The Girl on the Train was not on this list. However, I inadvertently found myself stuck in a situation where I had no books but I did have access to a small WHSmith. I'd heard good things about the film based on this book and decided to give it a read. This one is certainly a page turner and towards the end, I couldn't put it down. It's not the most advanced of books and it is a little predictable at times, but there were also things I totally didn't pick up on until the end and like I said - it was addictive! All I really want from my books is the desire to keep reading and this gave me that.

The Soldier's Secret by Heather Osborne
A young female disguises herself as a man and joins the Union Army during the American Civil War. 
This book was recommended to me by a colleague and because it was set in the American Civil War, I decided to give it a go. Half my degree is in American Studies so I love novels set in American history. Like The Girl on the Train, this wasn't the most advanced of books but the story was gripping. You do need to be able to suspend your disbelief for this one though - I did a lot of eye rolling at the unlikeliness of some events described.

The Lie Tree by Francis Hardinge
A young girl discovers her father's terrible secret and must go to extreme lengths to protect it. 

If you're interested in reading this book, I recommend NOT reading the blurb. I did, and it mentions an event that actually happens halfway through the book, so I spent the first half of the book knowing something was going to happen and it spoilt it somewhat. It's a really slow burner, it took me a long time to get into it and up until about three quarters of the way through, I only ever wanted to read one chapter at a time. However, for that last quarter, I set down and read it in one sitting because it suddenly gets really exciting. I think this is more a book for younger readers rather than anyone in their late teens or adults.

Garnet's Story by Amy Ewing
A novella in The Lone City series which takes place in a dystopian world where royal families cannot reproduce and so rely on surrogates, young women stolen from their families.

Without giving too much away, Garnet is one of my favourite characters in The Lone City novels. He is not at all what he initially appears to be. I loved this short novella because it gives such a great insight into his backstory that you just don't get in the novels and it makes his actions much clearer. I'm really glad I read this and it's what cemented his spot as one of my favourite characters.  

The Black Key by Amy Ewing
The final novel in The Lone City series. 

Overall, I'd rate this trilogy as being "alright." The subject matter is controversial and may be difficult to read for some, but I found the world these novels are set in to be underdeveloped - there didn't seem to be the history I usually like to see in this type of story. That being said, I really, really enjoyed this last novel. A page turner from the very beginning until the very end with some twists and turns I did not see coming.

Northern Lights by Philip Pullman  
The first novel in the His Dark Materials trilogy. A young girl named Lyra goes on an adventure to rescue her friend after he's the latest child to disappear in a series of children going missing. 

It's over a decade since I last read the His Dark Materials trilogy and considering that once upon a time they were my favourite books of all time, I decided it was about time I gave them a re-read. I didn't think it was possible, but they are even better as an adult. As a child, I just hadn't realised how provocative and daring the story line actually is and it's truly thrilling now I realise the gravity of it. Amazingly glad I decided to pick this book up again.  

The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman  
The second novel in the His Dark Materials trilogy, full of both existing characters and exciting new ones. 

My feelings about this novel are pretty much expressed above in my paragraph about Northern Lights. I love the new characters that are introduced in this second book and it's a genuinely exciting adventure story. I cannot recommend this trilogy enough.

What have you been reading recently?