*The Diabolic by S.J Kincaid - ★★★★☆, 4/5 - available nowThis is one of my favourite books of the month and I already have a full review of this book on my blog so I will keep this short and sweet. I haven't read anything like this before, it has major sci-fi elements as well as politics, romance and adventure. It follows Sidonia and her diabolic Nemesis through a tumultuous time with lots of political upheaval and brutal rulers. I loved the adventure, the writing style and the cover - it's so quick and easy to get through even for an over 400 page book. I also loved the relationship between Nemesis and Tyrus. I cannot recommend this book enough; my only negatives were that it was a little predictable at times (but there are still lots of twists and turns) and I think it could have been a little shorter.
*His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet - ★★★☆☆, 3/5 - available nowThis book was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016 so I definitely wanted to give it a go; also I can't pass up a cover like that! The book uses books, manuscripts, medical reports, transcripts and newspapers to construct a story about the fictional case of Roderick Macrae from 1869. It follows Roderick's life, his family, the sheltered and rural community in which they live as well as his crimes, motivations and the trial.
The book is divided into the events before the crimes, how the crimes were committed/Roderick's manuscript and the trial/evidence. From the beginning of the book, I did find it a little dry and as it's written in a methodical and blunt way as it's from the murderers point of view, it's not as literary as I thought it would be; however the setting is so vivid as are all of the characters. From the beginning of the book, the reader knows that the main character, Roderick, has committed at least one murder but for the most part I felt nothing but sympathy for him as him and his family as they seem to be a victim of circumstance, social class and the nature of how they make their living but I realised towards the end of the book that I'm siding with a murderer and we only hear his view of how the crimes were committed and so he might not be truthful - I haven't read many books with unreliable narrators but this is a brilliant one!
I did enjoy the book, I was gripped even though it's a little dry and a bit repetitive, especially the trial and medical examinations but there is a overriding bleakness, sadness and air of futility about the characters and their lives in which there seems to be only depression, hard work and debt so definitely not a happy read by any stretch of the imagination, therefore it won't be for everyone. As a psychology graduate, I was particularly interested in the medical examination section as it seemed to draw heavily on the idea at the time of a criminal's physical appearance being linked to propensity to crime which was popularised by the Lombroso. I'm glad I read it as it was short, interesting and entertaining to an extent but I couldn't get over the despair and bleakness that hung over the whole book which is impressive to convey in only 288 pages but conversely it made me feel quite despairing and reflective.
*Nightmare Before Christmas Disney Manga - ★★☆☆☆, 2/5 - available nowI adore anything related to Tim Burton or The Nightmare Before Christmas so I had to request this from NetGalley. It was an adobe file, rather than for a Kindle and I hate those - they never seem to downloaded quickly or easily for me! Anyway, I almost immediately came across a problem, it seems to me that the comic book was back to front, if that makes sense - with the story in reverse and it was incredibly short too. I like the art style but that is the only positive about this comic book/manga. I don't recommend at all, stick to the movie! I would give a only one star but that seems really harsh.
*Animals of a Bygone Age - ★★★★★, 5/5 - available on the 4th April 2017This year I've read more picture and illustrated books, they are not only interesting and a refreshing reads but they are perfect when I'm in a reading slump or between longer books. This illustrated book is perfection! It's not only interesting, informative and quick to get through but it's also beautiful and well put together - I adore the illustrations! I knew of some of the extinct animals within the book but 90% were new to me. I cannot recommend this illustrated book enough! I think I'll definitely be buying a physical copy.
*The Beginning Woods by Malcolm McNeil - ★★★★☆, 4/5 - available nowI am a big fan folktales, fairytales and magical stories so this book was perfect for me! It follows Max, an abandoned and...slightly unique newborn through his early life in an orphanage until he is adopted by a lovely couple who bring him up as best they can. However, as Max grows up, he becomes more immersed in a make believe world he has dreamt about involving dragons, his forever parents and the woods. He finds solace and comfort in books until one day everything he knows and loves is turned upside down and it all seems to stem from the woods and the mysterious vanishings that are happening all over the world.
The book follows his adventure to find the woods, the mystery, his parents and where he came from. It's a lovely, enchanting and magical journey of hope and friendship but it also has an all encompassing sense of foreboding, sadness and melancholy, to me at least; although between the sadness and heartache, it has glorious moments of light...
I adored the story, it has a feel of Harry Potter to it in terms of the magical world and the 'normal/real' world intertwining as well as the more magical and special individuals within it. It also reminds me of Terry Pratchett's discworld as it too is very whimsical, magical and nothing is really what it seems. Additionally I adored the friendships and characters within the book especially Max, Forbes, the Dark Man and Marta. It's darkly humorous at times as well and it kept me interested throughout.
It has elements and tropes of classic fairytales such as knights in shining armour, an evil witch, wizards and dragon hunters but it remains it's own story. The writing style is easy to follow, quick and enticingly enchanting, like you're under a spell and I couldn't put it down as I wanted to know how it would all end. The ending to me was very bittersweet and I do wish it was different. If you are a fan of magical, whimsical stories that have fairytale/folktale elements then you need to pick this up now! The reason it lost one star was because the formatting at times was a little odd but that might be because I read a Kindle ARC copy and it was a little overly long/repetitive at times. Also as a children's book I think it definitely could have benefitted from more of the lovely but simplistic illustrations and to be honest I think it is quite dense for a children's book at over 400 pages and I don't think I would have fully understood it as a child (maybe it should be aimed at YA audiences) but my adult self loved it.
*The Mercy Of The Tide by Keith Rosson - ★★☆☆☆, 2.5/5 - available on the 21st Feb 2017Firstly, I love the cover! Secondly, I received this ARC copy via Netgalley. I haven't read any fiction about the cold war or that time period which is one of the reasons I wanted to request this e-book. I received and it couldn't wait to start it but I had so many other books to read so I've only just got round to it. The paperback of this book is only 280 pages so I thought I'd finish it in a day or two but it took me almost a week to finish this book, here's why:
The book is set in Oregon, USA in 1983 and it follows the families and the community as a whole during a anxiety filled time with the threat of cold war and the recent tragedy of two deaths which hit the affected families very hard. I loved the characters of Sam, Trina and Toad to an extent but the rest were really unlikable and just awful at times. I've never read a book that was so gloomy, melancholy and just futile in terms of the character's lives and the whole topic of the book which is why it took me longer to read as I didn't want to keep picking it up, just to be faced with the doom and gloom of the book as there's pretty much no upside or ray of hope in this book, despite the last page.
I did like the writing on the whole, although I think it was a little long even at only 280 or so pages and I found myself skipping paragraphs and the only time I didn't at all was the final few chapters as I wanted to find out how it would all end. It deals with a lot of difficult topics such as grief, drunk driving, guilt, affairs, war and the aftermath of horrible events. I don't think I could recommend it as it's so bleak and heart breaking but in a futile and hopeless way, hence my low rating.
*The Breedling & The City In The Garden - ★★☆☆☆, 2/5 - available nowThe cover and the premise of the story really intrigued me as it seemed like a mystery with folktale and mythology elements and to an extent it is but overall I have to say that I hated it. The story follows two orphans, Charlie and Jimmy until a tragic fire introduces Charlie to Bartholomew and the adventure of gangs, hades... and more ensue. Let's just start with the positives, the cover is gorgeous and the writing is quick and easy to read but that's about it. It's not categorised as YA or a childrens book as far as I know but it read like a children's book as it's so ridiculously simplistic and naive at times and the whole story was just ridiculously cheesy to me, especially the re-hash of samey mythology type characters and a teenager being a respected go between with two tough gangs...no. I also didn't like the religious references to Eden and I found myself skipping paragraphs. I feel awful for saying this but don't waste your time on it.
*A Grave Surprise by Charlaine Harris - ★★☆☆☆, 2/5 - available on the 27th DecI love the True Blood TV show and I really want to start reading the books so when I saw this graphic novel on Netgalley by the same author, I had to give it a go. I really like the art style/illustrations and it's easy to read but I found the story so cheesy and boring! I managed to get through half of the graphic novel on my iPad but I had to DNF it which I hate to do.
I'm currently reading A City Dreaming which was another e-book from Netgalley (Netgalley is the best thing I've done, reading wise, this year - definitely sign up!) and sadly I'm not loving it which seems to be a theme this month *cries*. However, I'm also reading a non-fiction e-book, The Women Who Made New York and I'm adoring it and I will be buying the physical version.
What have you been reading recently? Have you read any of these? What books have you loved this year?