1. Fourteen year-old Johanna is living in a Wolverhampon council house and has just humiliated herself on local TV when she decides to rebuild herself as cool music journalist Dolly. The novel follows her triumphs, and failures, as she reinvents herself. How To Build A Girl was October's book group pick, and although the novel retreads familiar territory to anyone who's read Moran's other work, it was still a riotously funny and enjoyable tale. Worth it for the 'how to have sex with a massive penis' chapter alone, which had me crying with laughter.
2. Bad Feminist is a collection of essays by novelist and creative writing professor Roxane Gay, on subjects as diverse as reproductive rights, male violence, and pop culture - from 12 Years A Slave to the Fifty Shades Of Gray phenomenon. Perfect to dip in and out of, the essays made me laugh, made me angry, made me sad, but were never dull or badly written. Highlights for me include the essay on Gay's love for The Hunger Games and her horrifying and heartbreaking, but necessary, examination of rape culture.
3. A Lovely Way To Burn is to be the first in a trilogy by Louise Welsh. I loved the idea of a murder mystery set against the backdrop of a mysterious virus that has Londoners dropping dead (and reading it this month, with Ebola panic in the media, felt particularly relevant). Protagonist Stevie is believably flawed and the idea of society succumbing to feverish chaos is chillingly done. I particularly noted and appreciated the racial diversity of her characters: here is a London I recognised rather than a whitewashed city of the rich.
4. I read The Paying Guests to take part in the Two View Review over at What Hannah Read and thoroughly enjoyed it: head over to Hannah's blog to find out our full verdict.
5. The Rosie Effect was one of the biggest literary disappointments of the year. I loved The Rosie Project, and gave it a glowing review back in February, so was hugely keen to read the follow-up, which finds genetics professor Don Tillman now married to Rosie and living in New York. One of the joys of the first book was how much I liked the characters. However, in The Rosie Effect the character of Rosie is almost entirely absent; she appears on the page frequently but at no point did I have any understanding of her motivations nor why on earth she professes to love Don, who comes across as entirely charmless. There are one or two nice set pieces, but with little of the brilliant humour of the first novel it becomes much harder to care about what happens to anyone contained herein.
6. I ordered Dare Me from the library after enjoying The Fever, by the same author, over the summer. When Addy's cheer squad gets a new coach, frenemy Beth is soon plotting her downfall. Abbott excels at writing quite horrifyingly realistic teenage girls in all their barbaric, bitchy glory and Dare Me had me compulsively turning the pages, hungry to find out how it would all end.
7. In The Woods had a promising premise: a young girl's body is found on the site where, years earlier, murder detective Rob Ryan's two best friends went missing. French's writing is beautiful, raising this several notches above your average crime thriller. However, I was irritated that one of the two central mysteries was never solved: true to life, perhaps, where twenty-year-old disappearances don't suddenly become resolved, but a kick in the teeth to a reader who's committed to read a - needlessly and overly - long novel in the hope that questions will be answered.
8. The cottage that we stayed at in Norfolk was well-stocked with light holiday reading, and I picked up Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend and devoured it in an afternoon. I've always liked Jenny Colgan's writing; it's light, fluffy but genuinely funny and, if I did find the plot of this a tad predictable, it was nevertheless an enjoyable and relaxing read.
9. The Quarry was Iain Banks' last book prior to his death from cancer earlier this year and its plot - about a barely middle-aged man with terminal cancer gathering his old university friends around him - was obviously influenced by this fact. Elements of the book were enjoyable but at times narrative was sacrificed for political polemic and state-of-the-nation ranting. I quite understand how Banks might want to lay his cards on the table in his last months, but unfortunately it didn't make for one of his best books.
10. I have a fondness for any book set in Iceland, and even more so since I visited the country in 2011. I'd already read a couple of other novels by Arnaldur Indridason and not been overly impressed, so I'm not sure why I decided Jar City might be different. His novels are fairly predictable police procedurals with an Icelandic flavour; personally I find the prose a little dry and the dialogue stilted, but I can't be sure whether that's down to the translation or the original.
11. The Night Bookmobile is a short and rather sinister graphic novel about reading and obsession. Beautifully detailed illustrations make this a perfect quick read for anyone who loves books and libraries (although hopefully your love won't take you to such extremes as the narrator of the novel).