His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet

His Bloody ProjectShortlisted for the Manbooker Prize 2016, His Bloody Project takes place in 1800’s Scotland, primarily in the small village of Culduie where the accused murderer Roderick Macrae has spent his entire life.

I ended up buying the book simply because it was on the Manbooker Prize shortlist and after picking up The Luminaries entirely based on it’s 2013 win and loving it, I’ve wanted to explore more from that particular award. I’m so glad I did!

This book is fascinating, if only for it’s glimpse into historical rural Scottish life, which is well researched and frankly a little depressing. The book itself follows a mock autobiography that Roderick is writing from his prison cell after the murder of his neighbor and his family while his attorney attempts to piece together proof that Roderick is insane. There’s also portions of the attorney’s interviews with neighbors and specialists, which further deepen the book. Burnet did an amazing job of making Roderick a real person rather than someone who is purely good or purely evil, despite the acts he describes in his autobiography.

I really liked this book. The style is pleasing yet hauntingly realistic: it’s like a real memoir.

★★★★☆

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Review: Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

56373It’s no Fingersmith. I have to admit, had this been the first book I picked up by Sarah Waters, I would have never returned. Which is important to note because for a long time I was reluctant to pick up Fingersmith, thinking I should read Tipping the Velvet first. I thought I would enjoy it more because of the theatre aspect.

Boy was I so, so wrong.

The story sounds interesting enough: young Nancy, an poor oyster girl, falls in love with a girl on the stage, Kitty Butler, who dresses like a gentleman and ends up following her to London as her dresser. As the two live and work together they slowly become lovers in every sense of the word. Nancy begins to work on the stage alongside Kitty and has a quick rise to stardom, then a rapid descent to to rock bottom where she makes supremely bad decisions, all the way up to the end.

Having read Fingersmith first I was expected a more detailed, complex plot and this disappoints in that aspect. This one was just not as tightly woven–Fingersmith featured plots within plots within plots (and it was glorious). Though I do love the detail of the ending being wrapped up a brief one time introduction earlier in the book. The writing style is still beautifully crafted, this after all, is Sarah Waters. But her amazing prose isn’t enough to give this more than three stars.

Oh yeah, and it’s definitely erotic.

I have The Paying Guests to read next by her, but honestly after this dud I’m a little reluctant for some more Sarah Waters so soon.

★★★☆☆

Review: Beauvallet by Georgette Heyer

311156Now this is a swashbuckler to make your heart race! Notorious pirate Nicholas Beauvallet is haunting the waters of Spain, plundering and sinking any ships that come across his path. It’s this way that he meets Dona Dominica and her ailing father. He leaves the two in Spain, but not before giving Dominica a promise–a promise to infiltrate Spain and bring her back to England, regardless of the fact if caught he would certainly be put to death.

I love this book so much and I can’t believe that I waited this long to read this Heyer book! I have mostly read her Georgian and Regency era books (though I’m nearing the end of my read through of her historical works…) and I guess I was a little wary to branch out. Worried that it wouldn’t seem like a Heyer novel, or be as good. I was wrong on all accounts and I’m so glad I was. I can’t express enough love for this book, and I can’t wait to include it in my regular rotation of Heyer re-reads.

What I have left to read of Heyer: An Infamous Army, The Spanish Bride, The Great Roxhythe, Simon the Coldheart, The Conqueror, Royal Escape and My Lord John.

★★★★★

Review: Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Anderson

5151gQtpqgL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_I love this book because it came at such a great time in my life. 2016 is newly here and I’m entering a time in my life where I am an adult, both in age and in responsibility but there’s always the doubts and the feeling that I’m just not adult emotionally or in personality.

In Sarah Anderon’s Adulthood is a Myth she illustrates various scenes of incredible social awkwardness, anxiety, misanthropy and depression that I can relate to, some of which I can even say “I’ve done the exact same thing.”

It really is empowering for me at this time in particular  to be able to read a book that I not only can relate to, reminds me that other people have the same problems and the same doubts that I have myself. This funny little book was the pick-me-up I needed to start off the year on a more positive note.

Also, I’m pretty sure once this is released I’m going to buy a copy for my best friend.

★★★★☆

Review: Madeleine is Sleeping by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum

madeleineissleepingI liked this book a lot. Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum has absolutely amazing prose and it’s hauntingly vivid. This book tells the story of a girl named Madeleine whom falls into a deep sleep following her mother dunking her hands into lye when she is discovered committing sexual acts with them. Unable to use her hands even in her dreams, since the lye has turned her hands into little paddles, she runs away to join a circus. At home, her mother and sisters take care of her in bed, her mother experiences success and failure which she blames on Madeleine equally. As the book progresses, Madeleine’s dream world and the real world begin to merge until it’s impossible to tell what’s real and what’s not.

I am a huge fan of books with surrealism, however I feel as though nothing was ever resolved in this book, that there was no logical ending. Nothing seems to come to a close. What happens to… any of the characters, really? Unfortunately this sense of things being completely unresolved makes the book as a whole feel pointless. Very pretty and interesting, but pointless nonetheless and that’s kind of a bummer.

★★★★☆

Review: Cracked by Eliza Crewe

crackedYes.

That.

Give me some more of that kind of young adult. Meda has a completely unique voice and its consistent throughout. She’s just got the best inner dialogue and it hooked on it from page one with a deliciously dark opening scene that just promised this was going to be a good one.

Oh. And it was.

The supporting characters are likable too, I didn’t find myself overly annoyed with anyone (though I did brace myself, I thought initially when Jo was introduced it was going to be another love triangle with the book constantly bashing the “other girl”. But no such thing occurred and I am grateful.) Actually, the fact that there is no element of romance for the main character made me like it more (though if there was a sequel, I would not mind some Meda/Armand, for suuuuure. Sign me up).

It is a bit predictable though, once things get going. Because… you know what she’s going to choose. What else would she choose? You just know. So I would not call this book surprising, but come on, it’s enjoyable, well written, and its not following the same trampled path of every YA author out there.

Give it a go!

please note this review was originally posted on my Booklikes.

Review: Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

fingersmithFingersmith made me realize that I really should not have put off reading Sarah Waters for so long. Fingersmith has been sitting on my shelf for a couple of years now. Since I’m officially trying to work my way through the women writers on my shelf however, Sarah Waters was an obvious choice. I’ve been hearing fantastic things about her work for years and all of it was completely right!

This is a fantastic novel with several twists and turns that I did not see coming. The story is about two orphaned girls, Maud and Sue. The only reason that Sue ever meets Maud is because she’s going to tip her the double. Both girls don’t know is there is something else guiding all the events, and the two girls are caught up in a plot that neither of them expected. Separated, both girls struggle with the longing that they feel for each other.

Needless to say, I love this book! It’s got it all: a tender and forbidden romance, a murder, a sane person trapped in an asylum, conspiracies, double agents, betrayals (after betrayals!), twists, turns, perverts, mysteries and suspense.

★★★★★