Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Ransom Riggs

Jake is a misfit teen in Florida. He grew up loving his Grandfather Abe's fantastic tales from his childhood, stories filled with invisible boys, girls that can float or generate fire. When he finds his grandfather murdered, seemingly by a monster, it causes him so much trauma that he ends up going to a psychologist. In order to deal with his grandad's death he's advised to travel the Welsh island where Abe grew up to try and come to terms with things. Once there he discovers that the fantastic tales are all true and that he's found himself not in an impossible new world of peculiar children and time travel but he is also in terrible danger from the monsters that killed Abe.
I've been meaning to read this for ages and when I caught the film on TV recently all it's annoying flaws drove me to pick up the book to see if made more sense than the film. It certainly explains certain things better and there's a lot of things that the film makers changed for no real reason that fit better tonally. I'm still not sure it actually completely makes sense. I liked it enough that I've picked up the second book in the series and I'll give that go too.

Rating: B+



Only You Can Save Mankind

Terry Pratchett

Only You Can Save MankindThis is the first of the Johnny Maxwell young adult series and the first of Terry Pratchett's books I've been able to read since his death.
I stayed over at my parents on Christmas Eve and I woke up early on Christmas morning before dawn. As I sat, slightly cold, watching the sun rise over the Forth I borrowed this ebook from Edinburgh Overdrive.
I first read it a long time ago before this blog existed and never again since I started keeping a record of my reading.
This short book retains all of Pratchett's humour, insight, and empathy while squarely viewing the world from a the perspective of a twelve year old boy.
I don't want to spend a lot of time on the plot of this one - I just want to recommend it.
Everyone should read Terry Pratchett. If the fantasy trappings of Discworld are putting you off this is as good a place to start as any.

Rating: A-



The Kept Woman

Susan Donovan

the kept woman

Rating: C+



Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore

Robin Sloan

mr penumbra's 24 hour bookstoreClay Jannon is an unemployed graphic designer and web developer who finds a job on the evening shift at a weird little 24 hour bookstore.
Pure boredom and intellectual curiousity combine so that he accidentally unlocks a secret about the bookstore draws him into adventure.
For some reason I kept expecting this story to go in different directions than it actually did. Something about the setup made me think of grand conspiracies and fantastic revelations and instead it kept on being charming and grounded in steady reality.
It's certainly an enjoyable read and it has worthwhile things to say about the value of communities, the importance of archives and the need for open access to knowledge.
This one is recommended for those like their mainstream fiction on the quirky side.

Rating: B+



The Cormorant

Chuck Wendig

the cormorantThe third Miriam Black book (after Blackbirds and Mockingbird) finds our favourite foul-mouthed and (ever so) slightly unhinged psychic pulled into a seemingly inescapable trap in the weirdest parts of Florida.
I found this book hugely enjoyable. It started off slowly but as the plot unfolds it reveals itself to be the strongest entry in the series yet.
One way it does this by giving Miriam some resolution about parts of her past. It also helps that when Wendig gets to the sharp end of events he makes it deeply personal for our nomally detached and cynical protagonist.
This is also the most overtly fantastical Miriam Black book to date but it's applied in a way that adds depth to Miriam's world without losing the noir feel.
The Cormorant is highly recommended but you will need to read the earlier books to get full value (luckily they're also great reads).

Rating: A-



All My Friends Are Superheroes

Andrew Kaufman

all my friends are superheroesThis novella is mildly funny look at love and relationships.
On Tom's wedding day his new superhero wife The Perfectionist is rendered unable to see her new husband by her arch-enemy Hypno.
Tom spends the rest of the story attempting to become visible to her again.
Every one of the superheroes powers is an amplified personal quirk which the author seems to think is funny and clever but it came across as a bit heavy handed to me.
It's a very quick read and worth checking out of the library like I did.

Rating: B+




Rainbow Rowell

attachmentsI read this because I really enjoyed Fangirl which is one of the best YA books I've read in ages.
This in contrast is a pretty mainstream romance novel.
It's set in 1999 and it's partly told through email exchanges. The conceit being that the protagonist works in the IT department of a newspaper with a strict email filter that he monitors for violations of policy.
Reading the emails between an editor and the film critic he falls for one of the two friends.
There's something very creepy about the premise and it makes it hard to really believe the pretty straightforward way that things resolve.
Otherwise this is a very charming read. It's nowhere near as good as Fangirl but certainly worth reading if you like a fluffy romance.

Rating: B+



The Sacred Art of Stealing

Christopher Brookmyre

sacred art of stealingThe second book featuring Officer de Xavia and the first with her as the lead character.
In bad political odour after saving the day at Dubh Ardrain in A Big Boy Did It and Ran Away and hitting her thirtieth birthday she finds herself involved with an unusual bank robbery and with an even more unusual bank robber.
I reviewed this book on the blog before in 2003 and in 2005 but to be honest I think I enjoyed it more this time round.
I recommend Brookmyre's work without reservation.

Rating: B+




Veronica Roth

InsurgentThe sequel to Divergent is a similarly entertaining slice of YA dystopian sci-fi.
It definitely feels like a middle volume of a series with a lot of talking and a lot of having the protagonist stuck in dangerous situations that they escape by the skin of her teeth.
Still, a fun read, and definitely recommended if you enjoyed the first book.

Rating: B+



Let's Pretend This Never Happened

Jenny Lawson

Lets Pretend This NeverHappenedLawson's autobiography is incredibly funny, occasionally moving and nearly always faintly disturbing.
I really don't want to spoil anything for you. I wholeheartedly recommend this book unless you have no taste for dark humour or you're incredibly squeamish.

Rating: A