My final reading roundup for 2016 covers two months, mostly because I only read two books in November and I’d already reviewed them so there didn’t seem much point in doing a standalone post.
After a fairly mediocre 12 months of reading, I finished the year with a bit of a whimper, getting through two books in November and three in December.
First up was A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, which is about to land in cinemas. It is a brilliantly moving story about a young boy struggling with his mother’s cancer and the affect it has on his life. While technically a children’s book, the emotions are so well captured that this also has a lot of meaning for adults when it comes to dealing with grief.
Next was An Honest Deceit by Guy Mankowski, a thriller that explores corporate whistle-blowing.
When his daughter dies in an accident during a school trip, teacher Ben is determined to find out what really happened, even though the school seems determined to cover up the truth. With his job and his marriage on the line, Ben refuses to stop until he has justice for his child.
A mix of thriller and family drama, this is a unique bit of storytelling with an emotional core.
In December, I picked up the latest book in James Oswald’s DI Tony McLean series, The Damage Done. The series is set in Edinburgh and follows McLean as he investigates unpleasant cases of murder and suicide, which often turn out to have a darker, supernatural aspect.
Now reassigned to the Vice squad, McLean is caught up in the fallout from a botched raid, after what looked like a brothel turns out to be a private home hosting high-class sex parties. But his investigation leads him to several strange deaths and a figure from his past who stirs up a cold case that was buried long ago.
Oswald’s novels are always an intriguing mix of crime and horror, but after reading half a dozen, I’m keen to see if he has a bigger plan for McLean. It seems increasingly unlikely that these mysterious cases aren’t connected, and with the detective’s dark past as the fiancé of a murder victim, there must be more a dramatic culmination planned at some point. The Damage Done was one of the weaker books in the series, but it might make more sense set in a larger narrative.
Also in December I read Ctrl Alt Delete by Emma Gannon, which I won in a blog giveaway. A memoir of growing up online, the book explores Gannon’s adolescent experiences with social media and meeting boys online, graduating through to her career in PR and subsequent life as a blogger and online influencer.
I’ve been reading her blog for a while now and was looking forward to more of the same from the memoir, which I’ve seen numerous bloggers raving about for months. But I was a bit disappointed with the book if I’m honest, I didn’t find it as engaging as Emma’s blog posts, perhaps because I didn’t relate to a lot of her anecdotes. For me, the best chapter detailed her early days working in PR and the bizarre requests she had to fulfil, which reminded me a bit of my first marketing job.
But if you’re a twenty-something who had MSN Messenger and a MySpace page and you spend your free time on social media or blogging, then you’ll probably enjoy this.
My final book of the year was The Hanging Tree, by Ben Aaronovitch. The latest novel in the Rivers of London series, this one was on my Christmas present list. I’ve previously described this series as being like Harry Potter for grown-ups, as it follows a young detective with the Metropolitan police who is also apprentice with the Folly, the Met’s secret magical division.
After the death of a young party-goer in an exclusive apartment complex, Peter Grant is called in to make sure there are no mysterious ‘Falcon’ circumstances involved. But the trail soon leads back to the Faceless Man, a powerful and malicious wizard who specialises in twisted punishments for those who cross him. Could Peter finally be about to unmask his nemesis?
This is a really fun series of novels full of dark humour and magical action, and has been one of my favourite reads of 2016. The latest book doesn’t disappoint, as it sees Peter and his boss Nightingale facing off against all kinds of magical villains. I’m just gutted I’ll have to wait for the next book to be released…
- The Damage Done, by James Oswald
- Ctrl, Alt; Delete: How I Grew Up Online, by Emma Gannon
- The Hanging Tree, by Ben Aaronovitch
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N.B. I received a copy of An Honest Deceit from the author for review, but all opinions are my own.