MINI REVIEWS: July 2014


The Girl With All the Gifts
Zombie novels are not dead, yet this is the preconception that, sometime across the past few years, I managed to come to. By the age of 12, I'd read all the zombie novels out there – each almost identical in its plot, the characters practically interchangeable. My interest in zombies was over: been there, done that. So, naturally, I was hesitant to begin The Girl With All the Gifts; yet, once again, I was proven wrong: M.R. Carey's latest release is a killer.


Author: M.R. Carey | Publisher: Orbit | Pages: 460 | Source: Bought | Publication date: 06.06.14 |

Not every gift is a blessing.

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.

When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite. But they don't laugh.

Melanie is a very special girl.

MY THOUGHTS: The Girl With All the Gifts is the opposite of Pandora's box; opening the covers of this novel does not unleash all evil, but every aspect of a good book. The characters (for instance, Melanie, the Pandora, if you will) were all distinctly written and riddled with complexity, the pacing was spot-on and this twist on your average zombie novel was pulled off with remarkable flare. M. R. Carey touches upon so many different themes, notably morality and education, within his exploration of a post-apocalyptic, zombie-infested Britain – it's certainly a book that leaves you with something to mull over.

The book, although perhaps too dense at parts, builds up to a brilliant ending – it's all you could ask for. And, whether The Girl With All the Gifts leaves you feeling hopeful or at loss, you'll certainly be dying to read more.

My favourite quotation: "Growing up and growing old. Playing. Exploring. Like Pooh and Piglet. And then like the Famous Five. And then like Heidi and Anne of Green Gables. And then like Pandora, opening the great big box of the world and not being afraid, not even caring whether what's inside is good or bad. Because it's both. Everything is both."


Reasons She Goes to the Woods is a dark exploration into the mind of a sadistic young girl, entwined with Angela Carter-esque prose. In short: I loved it! Perhaps the ending was too clichéd for my liking (surely this is an all-too-common trend by a now?) but the experimental style made Deborah Kay Davies' latest release an interesting one.


Author: Deborah Kay Davies | Publisher: Oneworld | Pages: 256 | Source: Sent for review | Publication date: 06.02.14 |

Pearl can be very, very good. More often she is very, very bad. But she’s just a child, a mystery to all who know her. A little girl who has her own secret reasons for escaping to the nearby woods. What might those reasons be? And how can she feel so at home in the dark, sinister, sensual woods, a wonder of secrets and mystery?

Told in vignettes across Pearl’s childhood years, Reasons She Goes To The Woods is a nervy but lyrical novel about a normal girl growing up, doing the normal things little girls do.

MY THOUGHTS: Perhaps the most fascinating element of Reasons She Goes to the Woods is the portrayal of Pearl: a young girl, twisted in her morals, written with unflinching brutality. Across the pages, Pearl manifests into an extraordinary creation – one to both be marvelled at, but also terrified by. However, Pearl couldn't be brought to life in this way without Deborah Kay Davies' keen eye for magnificent prose; Davies is a storyteller who knows exactly where each word belongs, paying attention to each dash and dot: her writing is a pleasure to read.

Reasons She Goes to the Woods does not go without fault though. Perhaps I'm alone with this thought, but the ending of Davies' novel didn't have the same subtle originality as the rest of the book; in fact, to me, the revelation at the end seemed something of a cliché. This said, do not let that factor put you off reading Davies' latest release. Whilst Reasons She Goes to the Woods is a book to be devoured in one sitting, the aftertaste lingers, ensuring you do not forget this tale of one very, very bad young girl.

My favourite quotation: "As the lovely water laps her ears and throat, moves inside her shorts, slips across her fragile ribs, Pearl grins, thinking she hears laughter, and raises her arms to the just-glimpsed sky. These are some of the reasons she comes to the woods."


The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains
The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains was not quite the tale I expected, but I still found myself gripped by both Neil Gaiman's enticing plot and Eddie Campbell's intriguing illustrations. For any Neil Gaiman fans out there who have yet to read this, you won't be disappointed. That said, is this my favourite Gaiman tale? Definitely not.



Author: Neil Gaiman, Eddie Campbell | Publisher: Headline | Pages: 74 | Source: Sent for review | Publication date: 17.06.14 |

You ask me if I can forgive myself?
I can forgive myself…


And so begins The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains, a haunting story of family, the otherworld, and a search for hidden treasure. This gorgeous full-color illustrated book version was born of a unique collaboration between New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman and renowned artist Eddie Campbell, who brought to vivid life the characters and landscape of Gaiman's award-winning story. In this volume, the talents and vision of two great creative geniuses come together in a glorious explosion of color and shadow, memory and regret, vengeance and, ultimately, love.

… for many things. For where I left him.
For what I did.

MY THOUGHTS: For me, the illustrations felt incomplete at times – or perhaps this is just the illustrator's style. That said, for the majority of the book I did enjoy how the illustrations enhanced the tale, especially with the colours bringing out different moods and the detailed depictions of landscapes helping to set the tone.

The tale itself was a beautiful one, different to what I expected, but beautiful nonetheless. Neil Gaiman has the ability to make any tale endearing, his writing style so fitting and comfortable. This book isn't one I'll be rereading anytime in the future, but I'm sure I'll remember odd quotations and stray images. All in all, I would recommend The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains, despite Campbell's illustrations not necessarily being 'my thing'.

My favourite quotation: "You are wrong. The truth is a cave in the black mountains. There is one way there, and one way only, and that way is treacherous and hard. And if you choose the wrong path you will die alone, in the mountainside."


Thank you to Oneworld Publications for my review copy of Reasons She Goes to the Woods and thank you to Headline/Bookbridgr for my review copy of The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains. 

27 comments:

  1. Wow The Girl With All the Gifts sounds like a really rad zombie read. I really want to read it now :D

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  2. The Girl With All the Gifts sounds amazing & I'm glad it has good characters because I've never read a zombie novel with complex characters. Reasons She Goes to the Woods is also one I'll be looking out for!

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    1. Yes! It's also the only female-led zombie book I've read which was brilliant. :) And definitely look out for RSGttW at your local library! :)

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  3. I absolutely LOVED the girl with all the gifts. I was proud on the other Melanie, haha.

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    1. It was so good, wasn't it? And I looove the name Mel/Melanie & it's pretty rare in fiction too. :D

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  4. Loved these reviews! Mike Carey's novel looks so great. My dad says he wants to read it before me, so I'm really impatient, waiting for him to get around to it... I saw Mike Carey give a talk about the book a few months ago, and the reading of the first chapter he did was so chilling.
    Neil Gaiman's graphic novels looks really great too, I just bought a copy. (: When I flicked through, I noticed that a) the art was really coo, but b) that some pages looked a bit mismatched compared to others... So I'm not sure how I'll find the art while I read it, but as you put in your review - Neil Gaiman's writing style is really great. So I'm sure I'll love the story at least!(:

    Gee:D

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    1. Lucky! I'd love to hear him do a reading of this book – the opening chapter is indeed brilliant. :)

      100% agree with you about the art… it's just very unfinished at points (or, at least, that's what it seems like).

      Thanks for stopping by Georgia!

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  5. I've been really looking forward to reading these, great reviews!

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    1. Thank you! I hope you enjoy them if you pick any of them up! :)

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  6. The main character from Reason She Goes in the Woods (Pearl) reminds me of Pearl from Scarlet Letter :)

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    1. I haven't read The Scarlet Letter but maybe that's what the author intended? :) ^.^

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  7. These books sounds amazing!! But The Girl With All The Gifts really stands-out! Maybe i should pick it up?? Great Review, Ruby! :D

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    1. Yes! It stood out so much at the bookshop and I just KNEW I had to buy it!

      Thank you! :)

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  8. Dear Ruby, I really value your book reviews and I refer to your blog for most of my reading. However, I have a small request for you. Based on your review, I had decided to read American Gods by Neil Gaiman but due to SOME of the content, I could not find myself able to complete reading. Could you maybe add an indicator to your book reviews to let us know if the book contains explicit language/content or not? It would be super helpful because I really love reading and when stuff like this happens, I feel like I am cheated out of a book xD thanks in advance <3

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    1. Hi Catalina, this is something I've been considering doing. I'm thinking of doing it based upon maturity levels rather than age if that would be okay? I'll get working on it soon. Thanks for telling me! :)

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  9. Great reviews - beautifully worded, as always. ;D

    None of these really jump out of me as my type of book but they are all certainly intriguing. They just sound so complex and meaningful. Like they put across messages to the reader. I've never actually read any zombie novels before but I do think I should read at least one in my life time. And maybe The Girl With All The Gifts could be it. ;P

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    1. Thank you!

      The Girl With All the Gifts is different to all other zombie novels I've read but it's BRILLIANT! :)

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  10. YOU WRITE SUCH AMAZING REVIEWS GIVE ME YOUR TALENTS PLEASE.
    i agree with you on everything you said about Reasons She Goes to the Woods and YOU HAVE MADE ME WANT TO READ THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS SO MUUUUUUCH. :D

    Why. I have no money. My library doesn't have it.

    WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS.

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    1. THANK YOU BUT CAN WE DO A SWAP SO I GET YOURS? ;D And umm…



      Sorry.

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  11. Nice books. The one by Neil Gaiman looks pretty short. If you like twisted morals I reccomend Dear Killer by Katherine Eewell.

    Amelia @ YA Bookologists

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    1. Ooh I'll look it up on Goodreads! Thank you!

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  12. The girl with all the gifts sounds pretty cool (:
    maybe I'll give it a turn in the future :D

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    1. You should definitely give it a shot. :)

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  13. wow nice post
    like :)

    www.lingkartulis.com

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