BOOKS: Best Reads of 2016 – List by Ross Jeffery

stack of books on the dark wood background. toning. selective focus on the middle book

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The Trees by ALI SHAW

Ali Shaw blew me out of the water with this book. The quote on the cover says ‘Does for Trees what Hitchcock did for Birds’ and it’s his visionary mind that brings this world to life. One could easily imagine that this fictional world had been created by the great master of mythology, JRR Tolkien. This is a testament to how well Shaw pulls off the mythical and fantastical, and in doing so, creates an epic landscape of imaginary creatures, beasts, whisperers, and some damn right dodgy characters. Perfect for the apocalyptic gardener in all of us! You’ll notice that this review is shorter than the rest and that’s because I don’t want to give anything away; you need to read this to fully understand how brilliantly this book shifts the apocalyptic genre into new territory!

Read my book review here and STORGY’s interview with Ali Shaw here.

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The Girl With All The Gifts by MR CAREY

This was another highlight of my year. I’d discovered this book as with many on this list during my time signed off from work having spinal surgery. Let’s say I had a lot of time to read. Michael Carey delivers a thriller of a book from the opening chapter. Set in a apocalyptic future where ‘Zombies’ or should I say ‘Hungries’ have bled the world dry a small group of children are being held in a highly fortified prison facility. But are they Prisoners? Think along the lines of what 28 days did for the Zombie genre; Carey has just given it the next evolutionary step a master-class from a brilliant mind and a superb writer – and STORGY can’t wait to see what he comes up with next!

Read Anthony Self’s review of the film here and STORGY’s interview with Michael Carey here.

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The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by CLAIRE NORTH

Undisputedly the best book I read all year; I found the book in a charity shop – so sorry Claire North no royalties from me I’m afraid. The book follows the life of Harry August who has the ability of once dying being born again. The same life, where different choices lead to a different life; like a more brilliant groundhog day. Is there such a thing I hear you ask? Yes, and it’s this book; it’s written by a writer who demonstrates arrestingly brilliant prose – I cant think of a book I’ve read so fast; Claire North has blown my mind apart with her mastery of this science fiction beast and written the book I wish I were able to write. Truly wonderful.

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The Island by PETER BENCHLEY

I am a huge fan of Peter Benchley; and my good friend didn’t let me down with this wonderfully crafted tale about boats, islands, pirates and all kinds of adventure; some of which described masterfully I couldn’t help but picture it on the big screen (unfortunately it was made into a film with Michael Cane – Not one to remember). The book is a wonderful story of discovery and the determination of a fathers fight for his son – it was a slow burner to start with but by midway through it had me gripped by the balls and I couldn’t stop reading it.

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Dog, Run, Moon by CALLAN WIINK

One of the first short story anthologies to make my top ten and this is from the American debut writer Callun Wink. Not heard of him? Neither had I until I was recommended this book by non-other than Tomek Dzido; STORGY’s Managing director – It’s a fabulous collection that I would highly recommend fans of the short story genre to go out and purchase. Every story in it is written with such a subtle and engaging temperament that I couldn’t help but loose myself in the delicate structured worlds Fink had delightfully spun. It’s a book you’ll treasure reading and having on your bookshelf – it warms the heart and mind!

Keep your eyes peeled for our interview with Callun Wink – coming in 2017.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by RANSOM RIGGS

It’s a book that is aimed and marketed at the Young Adult market but it’s so much more! I myself enjoyed the escapism and visionary master-class offered by this dynamic writer and a beautifully constructed book (hat off to the people at Quirk Books). The book itself is scattered throughout with eerie or on this occasion peculiar photographs – it’s like X-men for the next generation, a reimaging of a tired burnt out genre. I loved it and I’m looking forward to tucking into the next couple over the Christmas holiday and early new year!

Read my book review here and keep an eye out in 2017 for a STORGY exclusive with Ransom Riggs.

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Hostages by OISIN FAGAN

The second short story anthologY to make the list written by the crazed mind of Oisin Fagan. Philip K Dick could have written this book at his height of hallucinogenic wonderment and LSD meddling, it’s a masterstroke by a debuting anthologist. Fagan delivers a compelling collection of short stories within which, in my opinion, there is not a single story that doesn’t deserve to be included. Utter brilliance!

Read my book review of Hostages here and STORGY’s interview with Oisin here.

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Sweet Home by CARYS BRAY

This is one of the best short story anthologies I’ve ever read by a British writer, and another recommended to me by Tomek Dzido. This anthology has everything that makes a book a bestseller and if we were in America and with their love for short stories we would probably be looking at one right here! Carys’ blend of stories are deftly executed; the stories encompass so many human emotions that when you’re finished it is a book that makes your soul glad to have read it!

Read my book review of Sweet Home here and STORGY’s interview with Carys Bray here.

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Wild Quiet by ROISIN O’DONNELL

If Carys Bray is the best short story anthology by a British writer then the best short story anthology by an Irish writer must go to Roisin O’Donnell with her collection ‘Wild Quiet’. It’s a book I stumbled over, having been sent it by New Island Books, when I was requesting books for us to review; what with them knowing our passion for short stories included this in the pack. Now don’t get me wrong, there have been some wonderful anthologies coming out of Ireland recently and New Island Books is at the heart of that (The Glass Shore, The Long Gaze Back, Hostages) but also an honorary mention to ‘Looking at the Stars’ – but Roisin talks about an Ireland I fear most Irish writers are afraid or don’t want to talk about, her stories are layered with delicate, culturally current and uncomfortable truths. But each story is delivered tenderly, in a way that shows although all of this is might not matter, it is the Ireland that Roisin loves and she wants to share it with us. It’s a bit cosmopolitan. It’s a bit culturally aware. But one with is for sure it’s breathtaking.

Keep an eye out for our interview with Roisin O’Donnell – available from 8th January 2017!

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Dodge and Burn by SERAPHINA MADSEN

If Hunter S Thompson had a love child with Philip K Dick it would be this novel. Dodge and Burn crosses many genres and is reminiscent of the crazy heights of the late great Hunter S Thompson’s ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’, mixed with the strong female sass of a Sigourney Weaver from ‘Aliens’ and the dark fairy tale storytelling found in the great Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’. Seraphina Madsen exquisitely floats between the lines of surrealism and truth whilst whisking us away on a psychedelic road trip to Eugenie’s deepest fears & anxieties. A must for any Hunter S Thompson fan.

Read my review of Dodge and Burn here and STORGY’s interview with Seraphina here.

Click on the following  links for more BOOK REVIEWS and AUTHOR INTERVIEWS

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