Following on from two nights ago, here is the second part of my Choice Awards reviews. The results will be posted on 2nd December and I'll post a run-down of the winners (along with my own personal choices) the day after.
Nightmares by Jason Segel & Kirsten Miller (Middle Grade Nominee)
A clever fantasy novel set in the world of - what else - nightmares, Segel's first novel ( he is more well known as Marshall in How I Met Your Mother) is an accomplished one, striking just the right balance of fear and humour. 4 stars.
The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert (Non Fiction Nominee)
A sweeping study of extinction in the past and present, The Sixth Extinction was let down by a dry writing style that failed to catch my attention. While a lot of the information was interesting, it was definitely not hard to put down. 3 stars.
The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare & Holly Black (Middle Grade Nominee)
Whille clearly influenced by Harry Potter, right down to the surprising link between the hero and villain, The Iron Trial moves beyond its source thanks to the excellent writing of its two authors. Clare and Black work well together and they have pulled together an exciting, well-thought out Middle Grade fantasy here. 4 stars.
Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood (Fiction Nominee)
A fantastic collection of short stories here from Atwood, ranging from a murder mystery to the exploration of the effect three people had on one another's lives. I thoroughly enjoyed the first three, connected stories, but all of them had something to bring to the table. 4 stars.
All Joy and No Fun by Jennifer Senior (Non Fiction Nominee)
An interesting and well-written exploration of the effect children have on their parents (as opposed to the usual what effect do parents have on children), All Joy and No Fun illuminates the way that we look at parenting and how that has changed over the years. Full of real-world experiences, humour and genuine warmth, the book really opened my eyes as to the pressures we as parents put on ourselves and how we can learn to draw both more joy and more fun from the experience. 4 stars.
The Young Elites by Marie Lu (Young Adult Science Fiction & Fantasy Nominee)
A thrilling mixture of Mistborn and the X-Men, The Young Elites is an excellent fantasy opening, exploring a world where the survivors of a blood fever have gained magical powers, powers which lead to them being persecuted. The characters shine here, especially Adelina who by the end is shaping up to be a Magneto-type antihero. I really enjoyed this and will be looking out for the sequel sometime next year. 4 stars.
How Google Works by Eric Schmidt (Business Nominee)
While interesting, How Google Works was the least accessible of the Business category books I read this year - clearly aimed at a very specific audience (entrepreneurs), there was very little of the behind-the-scenes info I had been hoping for. Still, some of the anecdotes were interesting enough and Schmidt's voice is warm and at times funny. 3 stars.
Show Your Work by Austin Kleon (Business Nominee)
A very short work dealing with the importance of generosity in any artistic endeavour - sharing your work in progress, showing the rough drafts that lead up to a finished oeuvre and embracing the community that can grow up around any creative work. Kleon deals with these various points in short, simple chapters, which could have done with some more real life examples to emphasise the points. 4 stars.
People I Want To Punch in the Throat by Jen Mann (Humour Nominee)
Based on a well-known blog, People I Want to Punch in the Throat is a very humorous exploration of suburbia, told through the trenchant, sarcastic voice of Jen Mann. While probably not the easiest person to live with based on this (then again who is?), Mann does a great job of exploring the insanity and foibles of the people around her, from the cut-throat politics of PTOs to the dangers of garage sales. 4 stars.
Finding Me by Michelle Knight (Memoir and Autobiography Nominee)
Probably the most difficult book to read in this whole Goodreads nomination process, Finding Me is the story of Michelle Knight and the two other women who were kidnapped and held by Ariel Castro for more than a decade. Hard-hitting, heart-breaking and uncomfortable to read, Finding Me reveals a woman for whom suffering was the norm even before her abduction and yet who has managed to emerge from the experience with a strength I doubt many people would be able to emulate. Not for the weak-hearted, with its depictions of child abuse, rape and torture, Finding Me is nevertheless a powerful book. 4 stars.
The voting for the Awards is now over.
See you all on December 2 for the announcement of the Winners!