October has been an amazing reading month for me (actually the past few months have been amazing!) as I've read 10 books this month although I did want to read a couple more but I didn't have time and I had a mini reading slump halfway through the month! I've read eight books and two cookbooks.
*Granny Yaga by Vitali Vitaliev - ★★★★☆, 4/5.I visited Russia a couple of years ago and since then I've been interested in Russian history and folktales so when this book arrived I was very excited to give it a go as it's inspired by the Russian folktale of Baba Yaga; I've heard of Baba Yaga but until now I hadn't read anything. The book follows Granny Yaga (Yadwiga) and her kind of adopted family the Sablins. It's very quick and easy to read, with some illustrations and it has an almost magical, mystical feel to it. I loved Yadwiga, Danya and Bulokov the cat especially as their travels through London and Yesterldayand. Yadwiga's character seems to me like a character Terry Pratchett would conjure up and I loved that - it's an entertaining and enjoyable story with interesting references to soviet culture/society, Russian folktales and classic literary fiction! It read like a modern childrens classic that any adult would also enjoy.
*The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey - ★★★★☆, 4/5
It was a quick, easy and entertaining read and I loved it much more than I thought I would. It's great to go into it blind, it kept me wanting to read on and on and it is perfect for this time of year. It is a little gory and gruesome at times, which I wasn't fully expecting, and it has strong apocalypse/dystopian themes so if that's not your thing then possibly skip this book but if you like action, adventure and dystopian books with some fighting, survival and more then definitely check it out! My only main problem is that although the ending was quite heart felt and emotional, it was also a little convenient for me and I still had a lot of questions when I finished reading.
I adore the book cover and design - it's so beautiful and I definitely need more! I have another copy from this range from Pan Macmillan, English Fairytales, which I can't wait to start around December. This edition is part of the stunning Macmillan Collector's Library range. I loved both of the stories in this edition, they are unique, interesting, very entertaining, familiar (although there are massive differences between the books and the adaptations) and intriguing. I think I do prefer A Study in Scarlet but they are both fantastic and almost fantastical at times. If you are familiar with the films and TV series and think you know the stories so you don't need to read the books - think again, the books are definitely worth reading!
*Heap House by Edward Carey - ★★★★☆, 4/5
I love the writing style, it's incredibly easy and quick to read and I also love the illustrations throughout the book even though some are a little creepy to say the least. You get so many points of view from the family members and servants, each one with an illustration, so it can be a little confusing just because there are SO many characters but it is an unusual, essenctric and easy read that has such a fantastic quirky and victorian atmosphere. There are a few twists and turns all of which are a little predictable and I wasn't massively happy with the ending but I would definitely recommend it - I think it would be an incredible film, if done correctly and if Tim Burton directed it as this is definitely Tim Burtonesque already! I definitely want to carry on with the trilogy!
*The Witches of New York by Ami McKay - ★★★☆☆, 3/5I read this e-book on the Kindle app on my iPad in October as anything to do with witches and the supernatural during this time of the year is a must; also I love YA paranormal or magical books so I was excited to give it a go and in some ways it was fantastic, at times it was very different to what I thought it would be and during other parts of the book I felt as if interesting storylines were glossed over or forgotten in favour of a more simplistic and more graphic/shock factor option.
The book follows Adelaide Thom, Eleanor St. Clair and Beatrice Dunn, all of which possess supernatural, unexplainable and magical abilities such as seeing ghosts, concocting 'potions' and reading fortunes. I love the relationship between the three and my favourite characters were definitely Eleanor and Beatrice; however all of the characters were vivid, believable and interesting. The storyline has have quite a lot of tangents to magical books, quotes and back stories, I felt that while it did add a lot of interesting information, it also bogged down the story and I would have preferred a little less of it.
There were some lovely characters, awful characters and downright evil characters, the setting was fantastic and I love the whole premise but I thought before I started reading that it would be different to how to turned out - for me it turned out to be a modern day witch trials book with a one man vendetta against witches. I hope there is a second book as there were so many storylines and so much progress still to make with the characters relationships that wasn't covered nearly enough in the book. Having said all of that I did find it to be enjoyable, quick and easy to read particularly during October but I did find it lacking and I was left with questions and wanting to know more. There's a lesbian relationship/characters in the book which seemed to be of little consequence to the story as a whole, it seems it was added in to make the book more rounded, in my opinion.
*Crane Pond by Richard Francis - ★★★★☆, 4/5I have been interested in American history and particularly about the Salem witch trials so I couldn't wait to read this, thanks to the lovely people at Europa Editions. The book isn't a non-fiction account of the trails but it is inspired by the witch trials and includes the names of a few of the individuals involved with it and some events from the trials.
The book follows Sewall and his family throughout this uncertain, suspicious and tumultuous time and we see the family and community before the start of the witch trials, during and after which is really interesting and surprisingly very gripping, at least to me! From the first chapter or two, I found it surprisingly quick and easy to read which I wasn't fully expecting (I thought it might be slow and a bit dry but it isn't). As I am kind of familiar with the events of the trials, I knew what to expect generally but I still found the book really enjoyable; however the way the community on the whole in the book (and at the time) believed the young girls against all sense, was quite frustrating to read about.
There were some more atmospheric sections, slower sections, odd sections (the man farming naked...) and some emotional and upsetting sections, especially towards the end of the book. By the end of the book I really felt for Sewall and his family, who have been through so much. Overall, I'm really glad I was able to read and review this book and it's so enjoyable to read, it kept me wanting to read on and it was a quick and easy read which is perfect for this time of the year; I cannot recommend it enough!
*The Canterville Ghost & Other Stories by Oscar Wilde - ★★★★☆, 4/5This year I have surpassed my 30 book reading goal by over double but one of my secondary reading goals was to read a few classics and some famous authors so I couldn't wait to read some of Oscar Wilde's short stories in this beautiful Alma edition. The book is only 113 pages, not including the notes/author information at the back, so I read it in one day.
I adore the cover design, it's amazing and perfect for this time of the year! There are four short stories in this edition including The Canterville Ghost, The Sphinx without a Secret, The Model Millionaire and Lord Arthur Savile's Crime. My favourite story is The Canterville Ghost as it's based in a haunted house, it's atmospheric but it's lighthearted and entertaining too. As it was first published in 1887, I thought it would be really formal and difficult to read but it is really quick and easy to read as well as being enjoyable and entertaining. It would be perfect for a atmospheric, crime filled short read for halloween but it isn't scary! My least favourite was Lord Arthur Savile's Crime which was a bit ridiculous but still entertaining on the whole. I definitely want to read more from Oscar Wilde now; also I can't recommend Alma classics enough!
*After Supper Ghost Stories by Jerome K Jerome - ★★☆☆☆, 2/5
I'll keep this review very short as I only have a couple of things to say about it - firstly, I love the cover as with all Alma covers I've gorgeous and unique. Secondly, the short stories are so boring, I only really liked the first; I skim read the others as they just weren't at all interesting to me.
*The Book of Greens by Jenn Louis - ★★★☆☆, 3/5I love green vegetables, I eat them with so many meals in different variations but I'm always looking for new ways to enjoy green veggies and this book is great! It's kind of an encyclopaedia of information about how to cook veggies, what to pair with certain foods, seasonal vegetables, how to construct a filling salad and more. I found some of the information useful and practical but some of it is common sense and quite basic. I love the food photography and some of the recipes are fantastic; also I love the information about specific greens which I have never even heard of before!
*Mighty Salads by Food52 - ★★★☆☆, 3/5Since I started incorporating vegan meals into my vegetarian diet I've found out how versatile sales can be (thanks mainly to Isa Chandra Moskowitz and her amazing vegan cookbooks). This book is a great addition to my kindle library of cookbooks! I adore the photography and the salad recipes sound amazing and I've already made some although I think the recipe steps are a little long winded and could be shorter considering most aren't complication or difficult. As it's an American cookbook, some of the terms are familiar to me and I end up googling some but overall it's a great cookbook to have.
*Food Anatomy by Julia Rothman - ★★★★☆, 4/5I was drawn to this e-book because of the cover - the cover is so unique and gorgeous! I read the e-book via Adobe Digital Editions which is the worst book reading platform ever, it takes SO long to download one book and then the app will usually crash just as the book finishes downloading so you have to start again (it's beyond frustrating!). Anyway, rant over, the book beautifully illustrates food history, cultural differences regarding food and cooking, ingredients and methods of cooking. I loved the illustrations throughout although the handwritten font was a little difficult to read at times especially on a iphone/ipad screen.
I found the food history really interesting as well as the ways different cultures will cook/bake and the variety of dishes that are created around the world. I also like the little recipes in the book although some are a little patronising such as how to cut an avocado...I think this book would make a perfect christmas gift for book lovers and foodies - it would be a great coffee table book and I'm definitely tempted to buy the paperback.
*1,342 QI Facts To Leave You Flabbergasted by John Lloyd - ★★★★☆, 4/5
Have you read any of these books? What have you been reading recently?