April Reading

April involved quite a bit of thesis work and I fear most of my reading is very obviously an escape from that. I also read the whole of one children’s book shortlist and started on another.


E.M. Channon, Expelled from St. Madern’s: This is the weirdest school story. There’s a central mystery, a dark, seemingly omnipotent bully, and the whole thing turns into a story of obsessive love that is treated quite matter of factly by the people in the book’s universe. I’m not sure what to make of it, and yet I like it very much. (It shows up in this column, but gets less space than it deserves.)

Eloisa James, Three Weeks With Lady X, Four Nights with The Duke: Enjoyable, not particularly memorable. The second does rather set up the necessity of a sequel (which I will read) because it leaves an attractive supporting character unattached and that’s how these things work.

Sarah Crossan, Apple and Rain: Read as part of my Carnegie shadowing project. It made for a pleasant few hours’ reading, but is rather lightweight and felt so familiar (I’ll be blogging about this eventually) that I’m really not convinced it’s award-worthy.

Kei Miller, The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion: I’m trying to read recent collections of poetry at least semi-regularly, though I’m terrible at expressing how I think about them. Miller’s book didn’t exactly disappoint me (and I think disappointment would be an unfair reaction to have towards it in any case), but it looked like something I would love and I bounced off it a little instead. I might need to return to this in another season.

Sarah Hall, The Wolf Border: Yes, Good. I’m still processing my own thoughts on what this book makes of landscape and family and motherhood and presumably at some point I’ll have something more coherent–I’ve got some notes for a short piece linking what Adam Roberts has called the strange pastoral, and this book, and the most recent Ishiguro, and climate change and national identity, and perhaps that will be written soon. For now, Good.

Geeta Dharamarajan and Wen Hsu, How to Weigh an Elephant: Still very cute, and part of this column on elephants and feminist children’s books.

Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers, The Day the Crayons Quit: Terribly misleading. Column forthcoming.

Anne Booth, Girl With a White Dog: Read as part of a Little Rebels prize shadowing project. More here.

Bernard Ashley, Nadine Dreams of Home: Also part of the Little Rebels shadowing.

Mel Elliott, Pearl Power: See above.

Chris Haughton, Shh, We Have a Plan: See above.

Craig Pomranz and Margaret Chamberlain, Made by Raffi: See above.

Jessica Shepherd, Grandma: See above.

Joan Lingard, Trouble on Cable Street: See above.

Gill Lewis, Scarlet Ibis: See above.

Anne Gracie, The Perfect Rake/Waltz/Stranger/Kiss series: I blame Keguro for my need for historical romance this month. Inoffensive regencies for the most part–The Perfect Waltz does the annoying thing where there’s an attempt to comment on things like the prevalence of child labour at the time, and therefore the book has to rely on our willingness to think its hero, also an employer of children, is palatable because he’s less exploitative than others. The Perfect Kiss has its protagonists have sex for the first time in a forest pond, which sounds very unhygienic.

Carla Kelly, Miss Grimsley’s Oxford Career: Contains Shakespeare geeks, a protagonist who crossdresses so she can go to the library and do research (see, these are the adventure stories I want), women who are genuinely furious about sexism and how it renders them and their choices irrelevant–presumably these are why the friend who recommended it to me did so in the first place. But it undoes some of that work later on, and I’m not sure why this isn’t a straight up romantic comedy (think Heyer or one of the better Julia Quinn books) because surely that form would suit it better.

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