March Reading

I’m on the jury for this year’s SFF translation awards, so some of my non-column reading time has been taken up by the things I’m  reading for that. Which means (since I’ll not be talking about the books I’m reading for the award publicly) that my monthly reading lists are probably going to look a bit shorter for a while.

Leaving out the books for the award, it seems I read one book by a man this month. My twitter followers will be heartened by this clear evidence of #misandry.


Ankaret Wells, Firebrand: I’d been hearing good things about Wells’ books for a while, and then this one showed up on the Tiptree list. I really enjoyed it, and wrote more about it here.

Samhita Arni, The Missing Queen: Arni is now a friend, which means I’m not going to review her books anymore. But I enjoyed this, a noir-ish thriller in which a naive young journalist goes off in search of The Truth in a city where this is all rather inconvenient.

Noel Streatfeild, The Painted Garden: A reread for the column, which is here.

Tamora Pierce, Trickster’s Choice/ Trickster’s Queen: A friend asked why I found these books so awful (I like a lot of Pierce’s other books) and I didn’t have a strong recollection of them beyond “white girl fixes colonialism”, so I decided to do a reread. At some point I should write about them; for now, yep. They’re awful, un-nuanced, racist, and rereading them was very unpleasant.

Amruta Patil, Adi Parva: I should have a review of this out soon, and will link to it when I do. It’s not perfect, but it is very beautiful.

Karen Russell, Vampires in the Lemon Grove: Reviewed in the column, here.

Keshni Kashyap and Mari Araki, Tina’s Mouth: This was also reviewed for the left of cool column, here.

Andrey Kurkov, Death and the Penguin: I wrote a column, and will post it on the blog in a few days. I loved this.

Elsie J. Oxenham, Finding Her Family: I’ve written in the past about Enid Blyton’s suddenly-terrible parents and guardian figures; I think with Finding Her Family Oxenham may have outdone her. This book is about a girl who discovers in her teens that the person she thought was her mother was actually her aunt; her mother died when she was a baby, her aunt didn’t have a child but wanted one, and “naturally” her father couldn’t take care of such a small child. The aunt is dead, the uncle (who has never seemed to love her that much) wants to go abroad for a job and hits on the clever idea of sending her back to her biological family. Which consists of her two older siblings (both too young to remember her existence), her father (who is abroad and uncontactable) and his second wife and their children.

Things are going well-Hazel and her “new” sister Audrey are close friends and Hazel also becomes close to Audrey’s best friend Brenda. Hazel looks nothing like the rest of her family-she resembles Brenda’s mother. Who died, when Brenda was very young, along with her baby. In the same house as Audrey and Hazel’s mother died, and around the same time. What a coincidence!

Obviously, it turns out that the babies were switched- there was no hope that Brenda’s mother would survive, and Audrey’s father thought that his wife might have a chance of living if she thought her own child was alive. Fair enough, I suppose, but what I’m more interested in is how the father who has been reliably loving and honourable (at least as far as his daughter is concerned) up to this point is suddenly revealed to be a coward who transfers the whole family (barring Hazel, obviously) to another continent rather than face up to what he has done. Once again adults in children’s literature world are proven to be horrible people.



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