Monday, 27 July 2020

Reading 7 Books in 7 Days | Middle Grade


One thing I'm really keen to do within my reading life is someday complete the reading challenge of reading 30 books in 30 days... However, that is rather intimidating, and not something you jump in to lightly, so to prepare for this I want to do some 7 in 7 challenges - so here is my first attempt at reading 7 books in 7 days.

DAY ONE - SUNDAY
I actually didn't start reading for this 7 in 7 challenge until the evening of today, so perhaps not the best start with 72 pages read in my first book of Agatha Oddly: The Secret Key by Lena Jones, but a start nonetheless. I think it is important to remember that yes, I didn't complete a book on the first day, but that doesn't mean all is lost - the challenge is to read 7 books in 7 days, not a book a day... I will catch up.

DAY TWO - MONDAY
This morning I got stuck in straight away and finished the remainder of The Secret Key. I thought it was was a fun introduction to the characters and overarching story in this mystery series. I liked Agatha and all her quirks (including her love of Agatha Christie, of course), as well the characters surrounding her. I also love that this book, and I believe whole series, is set in London - I definitely want to continue with the series and see where else is featured.

Having finished BOOK ONE of the challenge, I decided to try and get myself going in two new books today - making a good dent in each of them - intending to then finish them both up tomorrow... Meaning ending day 3 with 3 books complete. This plan may not pan out, but here it goes.

This afternoon I moved on to The Highland Falcon Thief by M.G. Leonard & Sam Sedgman... Yep, another mystery (I do love a middle grade mystery!). Also, coming off the back of my last book, with heavy Agatha Christie influence, I thought it coincidental that The Highland Falcon Thief opens up with a quote from Agatha Christie: 'As for trains - what can beat a train?... To travel by train is to see nature and human beings, towns and churches and rivers - in fact, to see life.' Love this quote, and quite agree. I read just under 100 pages within The Highland Falcon Thief, meaning I have roughly 120 left for tomorrow.

In the evening I picked up The Faraway Truth by Janae Marks, reading 70 pages, with 100 remaining. I'm enjoying this realistic MG so far; in particular, I really like the voice and overall personality depicted of the main character, Zoe Washington. 

DAY THREE - TUESDAY
Well, my plan worked! I finished the two books I was part way through yesterday, meaning I have now completed BOOK TWO & BOOK THREE also. 

I picked up where I left off yesterday evening, by spending an hour or so with Zoe Washington in The Faraway Truth, finishing the book. In this book we meet Zoe during summer break, just as she has turned twelve years old... She is experiencing all the usual complications & complexities of being twelve, including friendship issues and wanting to be seen as more than 'just a kid' by her elders, but also she has connected with her biological dad who she has never met, due to him being in prison for the last twelve years. The way in which the two connect feels authentic, with the building relationship between the two via letter being one of the things I adored about this book. Writer, Janae Marks, has written about systemic racism and other prevalent issues in a way that feels true to life, but also delicate and accessible for a younger reading audience. I loved this book and definitely recommend it to all.

Side note about The Faraway Truth, when logging it to Goodreads I came to find that it has a different title in the US: From the Desk of Zoe Washington... I know they change book titles for different audiences, and whilst both titles tie in with the book wonderfully, I do actually prefer the US title to the UK one. But a title is just a title, and the book is wonderful either way.

I dedicated the morning to The Faraway Truth, and the evening to finishing The Highland Falcon Thief.

I love books set on modes of transport - train, boat etc - middle grade, and otherwise, so I thought it was quite likely I'd come away loving The Highland Falcon Thief... And I was correct! This was a great start to middle grade series (Adventures on Trains), one that I am keen to continue with now. 

Harrison Beck (Hal) is on the trip of a lifetime with his travel writer uncle, Nat, journeying on The Highland Falcon's final journey... The Highland Falcon is no ordinary train, it is the royal train that is soon to retire. For the final journey, and last hurrah, a number of high profile characters are aboard the train... And so is a jewel thief. With the help of another onboard, Hal gets to work uncovering who the jewel thief is. This was a fun read, well paced, and I loved the illustrations sprinkled throughout. 


DAY FOUR - WEDNESDAY
Immersing myself in a slightly more fantastical setting today, picking up Ice Wolves by Amie Kaufman... Another first in the series. I don't tend to read a lot of series, unless I can devour them all in the one go, but this doesn't apply to middle grade as I do often read MG series. Having already found two new series I'd like to continue with (Agatha Oddly & Adventures on Trains), I wonder if this series (Elementals) will be added to that growing list also.

I read 100 pages today, which if I'm being honest, is much lower than I was aiming for as a page count, but it is what it is. Although this is a challenge, I do still want it to be fun & enjoyed; I don't want to burn myself out reading wise. 

Book wise, I'm liking the plot of Ice Wolves so far, with the world building being easy to follow and the characters & relationships being presented well. Fantastical fiction isn't always my thing, but I do tend to get on well with it within a middle grade setting. 

DAY FIVE - THURSDAY
I finished reading Ice Wolves today, which was a good reading experience all in all and a good set up for books to follow.

However, I would say I am behind on my book count now having finished BOOK FOUR on day five, meaning I have two days left to complete three books... To be honest, at this point, I'm wondering if this 7 in 7 will actually be successful.

After a some time (far too much time) worrying about failing this reading challenge, I got back to my TBR and started Bloom by Nicola Skinner, reading the first 40 pages - this is a book with magical realism themes, and I like where it's going so far.

DAY SIX - FRIDAY
I read a book in full today - BOOK FIVE complete! 

I devoured Some Places More Than Others by Renee Watson... This is a realistic fiction middle grade following Amara, a young girl who really wants to travel from Oregon to New York for her birthday in order to see her extended family, and the place where her dad grew up. Whilst Amara's parents can't agree on allowing her to visit New York, an opportunity presents itself in the form of a school assignment - 'The Suitcase Project' - and this lends to her being allowed to accompany her dad on a work trip there. Amara is a black female protagonist, and it is wonderful seeing her presented in MG fiction (much like in The Faraway Truth also). I really enjoyed the elements of Amara learning about her family history (the family dynamics were complex and felt true to life) as well as the black history & culture that featured throughout the book. I loved this story, and I also love how Renee Watson added a section at the back for readers to complete their own Suitcase Project.

As well as completing Some Places More Than Others in its entirety, I also read a further 62 pages in Bloom.

Ending today feeling a little more hopeful about the challenge... But also slightly uncertain about finishing a book and a half tomorrow. Eek!

DAY SEVEN - SATURDAY
I did indeed finish BOOK SIX & BOOK SEVEN today, meaning I officially completed my first 7 in 7 challenge - YAY!

Starting the day with The Boy Who Flew by Fleur Hitchcock, I finished this mid afternoon, having spent a few hour-ish chunks with it throughout the morning & early afternoon. I came away feeling a little conflicted regarding my thoughts on this book; whilst I did enjoy it as a book, it didn't entirely read as a MG book to me (although, it didn't read as a YA either)... It was quite dark in places, and whilst I've read dark middle grade books in the past, scenes of child abuse as depicted here just did not sit right with me in a middle grade book.

Ending the day on a slightly better note, I finished Bloom by Nicola Skinner, reading the remaining 100ish pages. I quite enjoyed this book, with themes of letting people be their own person and the importance of green spaces. Bloom is narrated by the main protagonist, Sorrel, and the story was told in such a way that includes the reader, with a little aside here & there - I thought that a nice touch. 
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7 BOOKS IN 7 DAYS: COMPLETE!
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Although stressful at times, I had a lot of fun with this challenge; it taught me some things about the pressures & deadlines of reading a specific amount of books within a certain number of days... And I definitely will be doing some more practise runs of 7 in 7 challenges, before moving on to a 30 in 30!
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7 comments

  1. I’ve also considered reading 30 books in 30 days, but they’d have to be picture books because I’m a very slow reader. Congrats on your 7 in 7.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    1. Ha! I think it will be a long while before I attempt a 30 in 30!

      Thank you :-)

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  2. This is a great idea. My reading has been down with the pandemic and I've been trying to find ways to jumpstart it- maybe a challenge like this is the way! Anyway great job on this and I love that train quote. :)

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    1. This was a fun challenge, for sure - I've personally found that having fun / interesting elements to my reading has really helped me during the pandemic, so I'd recommend that path as a jumpstart.

      The train quote from Agatha Christie is great!

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  3. Great job completing your challenge! I hope you'll have similar luck when you attempt the 30 in 30.

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    1. Thank you, Suzanne - whilst fun, this experience definitely showed me that it will be a good while before I even attempt a 30 in 30. Haha!

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  4. Well done!This is tempting. I could go on with the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz this way!! Have you read them? really just as good as his mysteries for adults

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