Archive for August 3rd, 2014

August 3, 2014

July Reading


Elinor M. Brent-Dyer, Jean of Storms: Which I read in June, but failed to include in my monthly reading round-up for that month. So it is here, and it is weird, and here is a column that is sort of about it.

Robin Stevens, Murder Most Unladylike: I loved this. It loves its genres, and it gets what it means to sit uncomfortably within them and it’s funny and its characters are real and it felt like a hug. Column here.

Kate Zambreno, Green Girl: I should probably write about this at some point. But as I read it I kept having to go back and read Suba so really she should be the one writing about it and the internet should nag her about this forthwith.

Garth Nix, Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen: Still deeply satisfying. I spent the first couple of books finding the emphasis on bloodlines a bit too bad-fantasy-cliche, and then Sam becomes a Wallmaker (spoiler? whoops?) and I was a lot less annoyed. Why isn’t this a movie/tv series?

Saba Imtiaz, Karachi, You’re Killing Me!: This was a lot of fun. I wrote about it here.

Gladys Mitchell, Laurels Are Poison: I was surprised recently to find that Mitchell was writing well into the 1980s. This one was published in 1942, Tom Brown’s Body (the only other one of hers I’ve read) in 1949, and those years feel late for both of them. All the class and racial politics you’d expect (woo), but also a relationship to the genre itself that feels a lot older.

Rokeya Sekhawat Hosein and Durga Bai, Sultana’s Dream: Also read in June and not included in that month’s reading round up. I’ve read the story before, several times (and here is a thing where I talk about it) which is why I was in a position to notice what a difference Durga Bai’s illustrations made to how I read it. This is the reissued Tara Books edition, and it is beautiful.

Courtney Milan, The Suffragette Scandal: All you really need to know about The Suffragette Scandal is that one of its protagonists spends most of the book telling the woman he’s falling in love with everything that’s wrong with him–to warn her off, or to prepare her– to know that I was going to drown myself in it. I think I have a long piece of writing about this book in me somewhere; how it feels like the series has come full circle since The Duchess War, how personal its relationships felt to me, how it achieves that thing where it can be accurate about depressing historical realities and also be like fuck you these characters are starting their own egalitarian commune. And that’s before the feminism bits, and the women writing stuff bits and the queer relationship that is a side-plot, and the queer relationship that isn’t a side-plot because everyone just takes for granted that it exists so it doesn’t need to be a plot at all, and real and adopted families and the central metaphor that is taken from Shakesville and I was drained by the end of it but in the best possible way.

Frances Hardinge, A Face Like Glass: For at least a couple of years now people have been demanding that I read Frances Hardinge and I have been collecting her books (Cuckoo Song and Gullstruck Island are the only ones I don’t have) and failing to sit down and read them. I have finally made a start, and A Face Like Glass is a bit Mervyn Peake and a bit Diana Wynne Jones and a bit Joan Aiken and I thought it was really good. Many of the people recommending her work to me aren’t huge children’s lit readers and I did wonder if Hardinge could really be as good as they claimed or if the hype was in part the result of a lack of familiarity with other good writing in the genre. Turns out she’s great, if not (maybe) uniquely so.

Linda Grant, I Murdered My Library: Should write a longer thing on this soon, but I really enjoyed it.

Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison, Have His Carcase, Gaudy Night, Busman’s Honeymoon: Yes, okay, I read my way through all the Peter-and-Harriet books last August. But I was at a secondhand book market and there was a copy of Strong Poison and what else was I going to do, realistically?

Jane Green, Jemima J.: As a romance-loving fat girl I feel I should have more intelligent things to say about this than that I didn’t like it very much. I didn’t.

Nikesh Shukla, Meatspace: Underwhelming, and yet. I have a lot of questions about it, that may end up being a column soon.

Stephanie Laurens, The Curious Case of Lady Latimer’s Shoes: Insufficient murder. This sub-series of books has done the romance thing, and brought its various protagonists together, and they all seem to be managing their personal lives quite well, and these later books’ attempts to connect said personal lives to the plot just feel forced. Surely at this point we can move on to fun, historical murder mysteries?

C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian: For the next few months I get to read about Narnia and call it work. This is a thing with which I am entirely okay.