October Reading

October 2014 really could have been better. But it did involve some quite good books, which are the only thing in its favour.


Rick Riordan, The Blood of Olympus: At this point I have trouble keeping the plots of these books straight in my head, but they are generally enjoyable and satisfying and nice in ways that not enough things are.

Susan Scarlett, Pirouette: I have a couple of thoughts on this, probably best left for a future column. It is not among the better Streatfeild/Scarlett books I’ve read.

Courtney Milan, The Duchess War: A friend and I exchanged a couple of casual text messages about Courtney Milan and the next thing I knew I was involved in a large twitter book club reading (in my case and that of some others rereading) the first book in this series. I stand by my belief that Milan has grown into a better writer as the series has progressed; but I’m willing to test this by reading all the books again, obviously.

Meena Kandasamy, The Gypsy Goddess: Review to come.

Monica Byrne, The Girl in the Road: For various reasons that don’t belong in a reading round-up I’m hesitant to write much about this book. But I am genuinely impressed by it, I’d love to see more of Byrne, and I’ll be disappointed if this doesn’t show up on the Clarke shortlist next year.

Deirdre Sullivan, Improper Order: Sequel to Prim Improper, which I wrote briefly about a couple of months ago, and which made me very happy. This series is managing to be very funny and sweet and also to deal with bereavement in ways that give it its full due; it’s a difficult balancing act and yet it is clearly working.

Garth Nix, Clariel: I’m not sure Clariel is good; from a genre perspective it’s fascinating. I have about half a review’s worth of scribbled notes that should probably be turned into something more substantial.

Angela Thirkell, Pomfret Towers: The last book by Thirkell that I read was charming but made me uncomfortable on many levels–and not in good ways. This is far more to my taste; Thirkell’s still ruthless with her characters’ flaws, but the book as a whole is far kinder, far less snobbish, and less obsessed with people’s antecedents (High Rising’s treatment of its Jewish and Irish characters was a huge part of my discomfort with it) than the earlier one. Plus the shy, awkward main character is the sort-of heroine and doesn’t end up with the handsome heir to the title.

Kuzhali Manickavel, Things We Found During the Autopsy: I’d read many of these before in the various venues in which they appeared, but a new collection is a lovesome thing. Manickavel is still weird, and still funny, but it’s the overwhelming sense of anger transmuted into bitter laughter that has made them so powerful to me this time.

Jenny Boully, Not Merely Because of the Unknown that was Coming Towards Them: A short piece on this soon, which I’ll be expanding from the column. I’ve been wanting to read this for three years now, and it is gorgeous.

Patricia McKillip, Ombria in Shadow: Read in order to follow the discussion at the Strange Horizons book club. I’ve loved the few things by McKillip I’ve read in the past and I loved this. More thoughts at that link, and for those who’d like to follow future book discussions, next month’s book is Nick Harkaway’s Tigerman.

Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre: A reread, for work-related reasons. I don’t think I’d read it properly since my first year at university, ten years ago, and it was fascinating to see how much I’d changed as a reader in that time. Still great.

Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Also a reread, also for work. I don’t think I’m ever really going to be a fan.



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