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June 2020 Reading Round Up

The rabbits are almost there. We had to go through what I can only describe as emotional flashbacks but there have been no more fights, only two minor arguments (both decide to hog the litter tray at various times). Taking a blogging break was a good idea, though I’m happy to be back.

I read a good amount in June; I only finished three books but I had a couple on the go, so that July currently stands at two. Here’s what I read and finished.

All books are works of fiction.

The Books

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Abubakar Adam Ibrahim: Season Of Crimson Blossoms – When Reza breaks in to Binta’s house the woman finds a desire for him under her terror and when he returns in peace they begin an affair. This was a re-read; a very good book about a relationship between a young gang leader and an elder of the community that looks at society as well as the self.

Abubakar Adam Ibrahim: The Whispering Trees – A collection of short stories full of folklore and magical realism. This has to be one of the best collections I’ve ever read; I reviewed Susmita Bhattacharya’s Table Manners earlier this year and the quality of it; Ibrahim’s collection is of similar calibre though very different in content, and the shocks and surprises get bigger and bigger as the stories continue.

Roselle Lim: Natalie Tan’s Book Of Luck And Fortune – After her mother dies, a woman travels back to her childhood home in San Francisco’s Chinatown where the locals are being pressured to move out; Natalie’s grandmother was a highly-regarded cook and restaurant owner and as Natalie gets used to being home she starts to consider the choices she made, her relationship with her mother, and the role she can play in breathing life back into the area. A great story that looks at a variety of cultural, personal, and economic discussions with a strong helping of magical realism.

I enjoyed this month’s reading a lot, and I think that enjoyment is what I’m going to remember over any specific story. I read some of each outside in the good weather, which was lovely (the temperature’s since dropped) and really helped the continuing bit of frustration I have over the pandemic.

In July I’m going to be doing more re-reading and have a couple of review copies to get to, which is quite novel at this time. I’ve Roselle Lim’s and Orlando Ortega-Medina’s August releases and very much looking forward to.

How are you getting on in this ongoing new normal, and what have you been reading?

 
May 2020 Reading Round Up

It has indeed been a breakthrough: I read seven books this month. I have been out in the sunshine but more than anything else, and this will come as no surprise, quality and variety helps. And that quality and variety including old favourites helps even more. Here’s what I read in May as I planned podcasts, supervised a couple of bunny arguments (who would have thought that stealing your sibling’s food from their mouth repeatedly would make them upset), and looked to emulate literary pleasure from those times when we all used to go outside and visit each other.

The Books
Non-Fiction

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Nicholas Royle: Mother: A Memoir – Royle looks at his childhood, brought up by his mother, and her impact on the family. A fantastic book that’s very different to a regular memoir, full of word play and literary aspects.

Fiction

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Chibundu Onuzo: Welcome To Lagos – A group of individuals from very different backgrounds end up living and working together in their quest to find a better life; this leads also to the introduction of an ex-government minister and a journalist (this is simplifying it – there’s a lot going on that would need more sentences to explain). A very good book that uses its group of varied people to do what it says on the cover.

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Isla Morley: Come Sunday – The young daughter of Abbe, a woman who is struggling with her general situation, dies in an accident and Abbe has to wade through the repercussions of this whilst learning to live with her grief. An exceptional look at extreme grief and bad circumstances and the process towards acceptance and hope.

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Isla Morley: The Last Blue – 1937: a photographer and journalist travel to find out the news on the ground but instead discover a situation they could never have expected; outcast away from the town centre is a family with two young adult children whose skin is somehow permanently blue. An excellent book that fictionises a real medical event to brilliant social commentary effect.

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Shannon Stacey: Yours To Keep – Emma told her grandmother that she was engaged so that her grandmother wouldn’t worry about her when she moved to Florida, but Emma chose as her pretend fiancé a very real person who has just returned and with her grandmother on her way back for a trip home, Emma needs Sean’s help in keeping up the pretense.

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Terri Fleming: Perception – Continuing the stories of Pride And Prejudice’s Mary and Kitty Bennet, Mary, who does not expect to marry meets a young gentleman who asks her to help him catalog his father’s library; Kitty who is expected to marry, finds a prospective suitor amongst the family’s acquaintance but he’s not well thought of. A fab sequel, firmly in the vein of Austen.

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Zoë Duncan: The Shifting Pools – A woman who has pushed aside trauma from her childhood (her family were killed in war) finds the pain catching up with her; whilst this happens, a distant land called Enanti awaits the coming of a woman prophsised to aid them. A wonderful story of affects that looks at (possible) allegory in order to tell its tale.

Four new books and three older favourites. Of the new books, I think Come Sunday just about pips the others to the post – they were all pretty excellent.

I said last week that I wasn’t sure what book I’d pick up next – this morning I started Christina Courtney’s Echoes Of The Runes.

What genres are you reading at the moment?

 
April 2020 Reading Round Up

As discussed last week, I have a number of books on the go, so it’s not surprising that I finished very little this month; beyond a small reading slump that has coincided with the onset of rain (I’d been reading mostly outside) reading a number at once means I’m in right about in the middle of a few.

In unrelated news, I watched My Fair Lady on bluray yesterday and it was like I’d never seen it before. If it’s a film you enjoy, I very much recommend the bluray – it makes the theatrical aspect far more obvious and somehow brings more clarity to the slightly ambiguous (wholly ambiguous?) ending. It was like it was released yesterday.

The Books
Non-Fiction

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Dan Richards: Outpost – The author travels to various buildings and locations around the globe that are isolated, seeking to discover why they draw us, and what their various roles in creativity are. Good stuff; some of it is unexpected but that does round it off well.

Fiction

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Caroline Lea: The Glass Woman – A young woman in 1600s Iceland agrees to marry the leader of another settlement so that her mother will always have money, but the man seems to hide a secret, and they say he killed his wife. This one creeps up on you – the story goes along fairly steadily for a long time, with some Brontë/Du Maurier aspects before turning into something rather spectacular; it’s a well-written, haunting, last several chapters.

No thoughts of favourites; I’m looking at reading in terms of enjoyment – did I enjoy my reading, as an interest? Yes. The variety definitely helped and my laid back attitude to it all did, too. Looking forward, I’m going to continue as I have been [pauses typing as a massive booming firework goes off and after a shock I realise it’s 8pm on a Thursday in UK lockdown], just perhaps not add any more books to it until at least one is finished…

Due to our present situation, I’d like to note that Nicola Cornick’s The Forgotten Sister (link goes to my review) was released yesterday. On 14th May, Nicholas Royle’s memoir, Mother, will be released (he wrote An English Guide To Birdwatching – awesome literary fiction with a lot of meta content). Finally in late May, Isla Morley’s The Last Blue will be published.

What kind(s) of stories are you drawn to at the moment?

 
March 2020 Reading Round Up

March has been a month, hasn’t it! We’re just into our second week of lockdown here and my house has been in self-isolation for almost three. I like being indoors during winter as I’m not a cold weather person at all, but I do miss being able to go out and about as spring arrives. We had one day without the internet working and that was difficult; being able to be online really helps. The initial poor response by our government led, the day after they essentially announced they weren’t going to do anything, to a massive number of people deciding they would stay home, so the lockdown, when it came, was more relief than anything. And now here we are.

I haven’t read all that much; I’ve been reading for podcasts but I’ve still some to finish – anyone else finding it difficult to concentrate? My guess is it’ll be easier as lockdown becomes more and more normal. Given the number of good things that have happened during this awful time – wages paid by the government; lots of kindness; a more socialist idea of society; the environment! – I do wonder if it would be difficult, especially the more this whole thing continues, to go back to normal life without that ‘old’ normal being changed somehow.

All books are works of fiction.

The Books

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Caroline Lea: When The Sky Fell Apart – A group of residents live through the Nazi occupation of Jersey. A great, if harrowing, book.

Laura Pearson: I Wanted You To Know – A young mother is diagnosed with cancer and as she struggles through the changes to her world and future she writes letters to her daughter for the girl to read after she is gone, making preparations and healing relationships beforehand. An incredibly emotional read; difficult but important.

Weike Wang: Chemistry – The unnamed narrator has been proposed to by her boyfriend twice and can’t find it within herself to say yes; there’s a lot of confusion – she’s struggling with her PhD and is unconsciously still suffering from the neglect of her parents. A search for identity where the reader is more privy than the character, this is an excellent book full of vignettes, humour, and boasts an interesting writing style.

I haven’t a favourite this month; I appreciated all of them. I’m currently reading Dan Richards’ Outpost, where the author travels the globe to explore isolated stopovers for those walking in the wilderness (accidentally perfect timing), Oliver Goldsmith’s The Vicar Of Wakefield which is very funny, and Caroline Lea’s second novel The Glass Woman which is set in 1600s Iceland and currently seems to have a woman in the attic thing going on – very intriguing.

What are you reading, how are you, and how are you keeping busy where you are?

 
February 2020 Reading Round Up

Reading in February was mostly in view of podcasts. I have a couple of carry-overs too. The fourth of March marked 10 years of this blog being online. I will celebrate it at a later date with stats and so on.

All books are works of fiction.

The Books

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Fran Cooper: The Two Houses – A couple buy a holiday home that is in fact two houses, one house with the middle missing, and when they go to put them back together they start to unravel the mysteries therein. Fab.

Fran Cooper: These Dividing Walls – The various lives of those in an apartment building in Paris, set against the current day sociopolitical background. Excellent.

Laura Pearson: I Wanted You To Know – At 21, new mother Jess finds a lump in her breast and as she continues her hospital appointments she writes a series of letters to be given to her daughter. A heartbreaking book, very difficult to read, but important.

Laura Pearson: Missing Pieces – When Phoebe dies, aged three, the resulting grief has a massive impact on her four surviving family members. A very good book that looks at different modes of grieving and the way communication and support is paramount (and a re-read).

Laura Pearson: Nobody’s Wife – Emily and Michael are newly married and Jo has just met Jack, but Emily isn’t sure about Michael and the newly-introduced Jack is very much like the men she always fell for. An easier read compared to Pearson’s other books and very different in content, but also very good.

No favourite this month; all are great books.

I’m currently reading more for podcasts, though I’ve also got a 1700s classic on the go. No further plans than that at the moment.

What are you reading?

 

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