Monday, 6 March 2017

The Method - Shannon Kirk // Blog Tour

The premise of this novel had me hooked as soon as I read it - a pregnant teenage girl is abducted, but they made a mistake in abducting her. The novel's narrator is a bit of a shrunk down Sherlock Holmes, crossed with a slightly more emotive Amy Dunne; coldly brilliant and in control, tactical and measured and ready to do what it takes to save her life - and more importantly, the life of her unborn son. Thus we find her as the novel begins, telling the story of her abduction and her method for escaping.

I don't want to give away any of the plot aside from what would be evident from the beginning pages of the novel. As such, it's not spoiling anything to say that our narrator (at least most of the time, but I'll get to that) has to survive her kidnapping, because she's telling her story a number of years later, when she's in her thirties. However, everything else about what happened after her abduction unfurls more slowly, at least to begin with. She is just as methodical in telling her story as she was in living it; focusing on the keys days of her captivity, highlighting her "assets", the tools she might use in her escape plan. Small glimpses into her own life, her past and relationships - with her family, the father of the baby, her pregnancy before her abduction, her childhood - all developing the character.

Friday, 3 March 2017

The Trouble With Goats and Sheep - Joanna Cannon // Book Review

I didn't really know much about this book when I requested it on netgalley - if anything, it was the title and the cover art that caught my interest, and in this case first impressions paid off. I only regret not reading this sooner (it's been waiting on my Kindle app for ages), because this was a fantastic read.

It didn't turn out exactly as it seemed like it would - in many ways I was expecting this to be a thriller, an Agatha Christie style mystery. While the mystery still played its part, and was still exciting and engaging, this was more an exploration of a community - of mob mentality, of society and humanity and relationships, all packaged up in a sweltering 1970s summer and a 1960s winter.

It's difficult to go into the finer details of the plot without giving away too much of the story, but the characterisation here was definitely the finest point of the book. Although none of the characters stood out to me as particularly likeable or favourable, this was more because everyone had their own flaws. It wasn't so much that I didn't like the characters but that they felt like real, complicated people with hidden lives, dark secrets and regrets. Even the children, Grace (our frequent narrator) and her best friend Tilly, aren't without imperfections. Grace isn't as good a friend as she could, or should be - Tilly is timid, doesn't stand up for herself as much as she should. Yet it never felt frustrating to follow the characters, to see their complexities.

Another point, which again I won't say too much about as it would spoil the plot, is the ending. The resolution to the historic mystery of that 1960s winter was surprising, but it definitely worked - it was the kind of ending that makes you want to go back and read it again to look for the clues, to pay more attention. I do always worry that even by saying something like that, I give things away, but it's always so fantastic when a writer manages to surprise you and still give you clues at the same time.

Cannon is also a wonderful writer - the prose in this novel was excellent, and the balance of the narration between the youth and naivety of a child and its beauty and intelligence worked well.

All in all, I'd recommend this book and would definitely pick up future books by Cannon!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

February Wrap Up

The Encyclopaedia of Early Earth - Isabel Greenberg
The first of Greenberg's works that I read, The One Hundred Nights of Hero, definitely takes the top spot for me; Encyclopedia, which I read at the start of the month, is definitely a close second! I love Greenberg's stories and her art style, and would love to see/read more of her work.

Saga Vol 3 - Brian K Vaughn
Another graphic novel, continuing on with the Saga series! I've realised this month that there's not a huge amount more of these for me to read, and the series isn't finished yet either - I should probably slow down, but I don't know how well that's going to work out as I've already reserved Vol 4 at the library!

The Book of Memory - Petina Gappah
Another library book - I picked this up on a bit of a whim, although I had spotted it a few times while I was in the library before. I had heard about this book and been somewhat interested in it, so I'm glad I read it. I'm writing a more detailed review of this, which will be posted at some time in March if all goes to plan!

The Butcher's Hook - Janet Ellis
It took me a long time to actually finish this book - I started it in early January, and only finished it right at the end of February... whoops! It wasn't that it wasn't a good book, so much as I just wasn't really in the right mood or mindset for it most of the time. I think I might write a more detailed review of this, but in the meantime I did write a quick review for it on Goodreads. I'm also really interested to go read/watch other people's reviews and thoughts on this book now that I've read it, as I feel like it's been getting a lot of praise and I'm almost hoping I can be persuaded to be more impressed by it!

As for March, I don't have a particular set TBR. I've gone through a bit of a reading slump lately, and although I think I'm coming out of it more, I know I'm not quite there yet with my drive to read so I don't want to set myself goals I might not keep, or pick books without a strong leaning towards any right now.

I am, however, currently reading The Method by Shannon Kirk for review, as well as Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology and I'm quite happy with my choices now the heaviest of my slump is over. I always find crime/thriller novels a great way to get back into the habit of reading, and as mythology is something I'm really interested in I thought that would be another good read to get into!