Archive for ‘Books read in 2013’

January 4, 2014

2013 (in reading and in bulletpoints)

(That up there is a zeugma)

 

Things I did in 2013:

  • Moved to another continent and started a PhD.
  • Became a parent. [Okay, not really. Ollie the puppy a) is technically my grandparents' dog and has my grandfather's surname b) is no longer a puppy. But I did the important staying-awake and saying "no!" a lot bits, and at some point I started saying things like "mummy's hair is not for chewing!" so I guess that's me. Mummy.]
  • Was forced to autograph a book.
  • Helped judge an award.
  • Won a prize for knowing about pigs.*
  • Started writing about movies in bulletpoint form but I don’t know why.
  • May have done some other things also.
  • Read 186 books. I’m not counting academic books because that would just get complicated.
  • I’m also not counting short stories, for the same reason.
  • Read 114 books by women (as a subset of the 186 above, I mean).
  • Read 57 books by non-white writers.
  • (The above stats are a bit off –I can’t always be sure what race or gender particular authors identify themselves as, and in things like multi-author anthologies I just go with the editor. But still, it’s nice to have a broad idea)
  • Was in a book.

 

Things I did not do in 2013.

  • Too many and too disappointing to name.

 

This time last year I was looking at reading stats that suggested a mere 10% of the writing I read was not by white British and American authors. I’ve graduated to almost a third, but that’s still something that I should be doing better at. Luckily there’s some fascinating stuff coming out this year, and … we’ll see?

*Here is a picture of a small piglet. It played a major role in getting me through 2013; I hope everyone’s 2014 is peaceful and pig-filled.

January 2, 2014

December Reading

I’ll do a proper round-up of my reading in 2013 (with numbers and everything!) in a day or two, but for now, this is what I read in December.

 

Nicola Griffith, Hild: Was excellent.

Ioanna Bourazopoulou, What Lot’s Wife Saw: Was excellent.

Elizabeth Gilbert, The Signature of All Things: Was excellent in some ways, and less so in others.

Manjula Padmanabhan, Three Virgins: This needs a longer post–Three Virgins collects some of Padmanabhan’s recent short fiction along with a few older pieces and the results are a bit odd, but also frequently really good.

Jared Shurin (ed), The Book of the Dead, Unearthed: I’ll have a review of these (mostly of the first) in Strange Horizons at some point in the near future.

Loretta Chase, Lord of Scoundrels, The Last Hellion: Fluff, happy fluff. Everything is quotable and delightful, though as I’ve said before, regency protagonists who attempt social work tend to be a bad idea.

Nicholas Blake, Minute For Murder: Someone murders someone and it’s all very clever and (spoiler!) it turns out to all be the fault of a frigid intellectual woman (who is not the murderer) because bitch, I guess? Yeah. Bitch. At least the murderer had a warm and loving heart!

Georgette Heyer, Powder and Patch: I will always love this for the way it treats the heterosexuality as an elaborate game (I recommended it to an ex-boyfriend a few years ago; he did not appreciate this aspect of it) and its condemnation of Phillip’s unthinking dismissal of this; whereas I’m made really uncomfortable by the later parts of the book, in which Cleone is caught in an impossible situation and the general reaction of those around her is that she asked for it and must be brought low.

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit: Still great.

Elinor M. Brent-Dyer, Kennelmaid Nan: Wholesome, healthy girl who is no good at exams learns to be kennelmaid, has rival in bad girl who spends too much on beauty products. Bad girl turns out to be in love with a criminal … who is bribed to marry her in the end because being saddled forever with someone who steals, cheats and doesn’t love you is presumably better than being dumped by such a man.

Garth Nix, Newt’s Emerald: Magical regency romance with crossdressing. Not a big fan of the ugly, sinister maid actually being evil, but the rest of it was nice.

T. H. White, The Once and Future King: Perfect.

Dylan Thomas, A Child’s Christmas in Wales: Perfect.

 

December 8, 2013

November Reading

It’s December, and the only way I’m going to get through a fraction of the reading I wanted to have done by the end of the year is if I read a book a day (I’m not counting things I read for academic purposes, which are supposed to take up most of my day anyway). I am not impressed with myself this year. But here are the few things I managed to read in November.

 

Nicholas Blake, Malice in Wonderland: Still not great at women-who-aren’t-Georgia, still pretty good at everything else. Far from the best of the Strangeways books, but I enjoyed it anyway.

Anita Desai, The Artist of Disappearance: I wrote about this here, though I think it could use some more writing-about.

Ali Smith, The Accidental: This talk was a good excuse for a reread. I don’t think it’s my favourite thing by Smith (who is lovely, and who recognised “the girls who have the blog” and who now, to my horror, knows that this blog exists) but I was glad to reread it as an adult.

Terry Pratchett, Raising Steam: Weak in ways that really upset me. I don’t think I’ll be reviewing, or even generally talking about this one.

Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl, Attachments: So Rowell’s written teenagers in the 80s (Eleanor & Park, which I wrote about last month), new adults in the 2000s and people-my-age in the 90s. Fangirl  did nothing for me; it’s very familiar (I too went to college at the height of Harry Potter’s popularity, I had friends who wrote fic that mattered to a lot of people, I read a lot of fanfic both then and now), but that wasn’t enough for me to feel particularly affected by it. Attachments did a better job of its characters but I think it wrote itself into a bit of a corner–having based its entire premise on a pretty awful violation of privacy, and an acknowledgement of how awful said violation is (I’ve read books that would skip over this and hope we wouldn’t notice) it jumps to a happily ever after that feels hurried and unearned–the heroine’s (rightful) anger is mentioned, but never worked through and I can’t imagine it not coming back to sabotage this relationship.

Tove Jansson, Fair Play: Perfect.

Shimon Adaf, Sunburnt Faces: This is a difficult book to talk about–as Adam Roberts says in this review, it’s really not like anything else. But its people are difficult, they have real, ordinary lives, and occasionally things happen that are … bigger than ordinary life. I’m doing a terrible job of this, and I think I’ll have to go back to the book before I can say anything worthwhile about it, but it’s rough and powerful and kind of amazing.

Susan Elizabeth Philips, Call Me Irresistable, Match Me If You Can, The Great Escape: Read a bunch of SEP romance novels, don’t remember much about them except that The Great Escape (all of whose adult characters are white) is Really Concerned with the correct ways to talk about race.

Bennett Madison, September Girls: I’ve been wanting to read this for months and I’m glad I finally did. It does clever, clever things with The Little Mermaid (Hans Christian Anderson and Disney), and with constructed gender, and beauty, and masculinity, and turns male virginity into a plot point, and it just really pleased me. What I’d like now is for someone to read it alongside Margo Lanagan’s Sea Hearts; I think something wonderful might come of this.

Patrick Ness, More Than This: Mixed feelings about this one. I think it starts out with a good premise, and Ness is great on teenage feelings (though I’d have been happier if the bisexual who has sex with multiple people and breaks their hearts was at least a pov character). And I think there’s a lot to be said about how the book deals with narrative, both in the ways its structure allows for a dipping in and out of plot, and in its very narrative-aware protagonist. But the science fiction plot (which is one of a couple of explanations the book offers of itself) felt really week, and its alternative felt underdeveloped. Mixed feelings, as I said.

Jean Yves-Ferri and Didier Conrad, Asterix and the Picts: It feels more Asterix-y than Asterix and the Falling Sky? But I didn’t think this was great.

David Sedaris, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: Resounding meh.

Julia Quinn, The Sum of All Kisses: Has a heroine who is holding a grudge that feels more annoying than sympathy-arousing, and a maths-genius hero whose genius we really don’t see enough of. But it’s Julia Quinn, so it’s generally likeable and warm and full of big loving families (not counting the hero’s dad, who is obviously vile and a big part of why this book doesn’t really work that well) and safe in ways escapist fiction is allowed to be.

November 3, 2013

October Reading

I don’t know if at some point I’ll be putting my academic reading in these lists as well–it might be nice to have a record, but so much of it is in the form of essays and chapters and parts of books that I have no idea how to list them. Meanwhile, my regular reading lists grow shorter and fluffier.

 

Shannon Hale, Austenland: This was (mostly) a comfortable evening’s read–and I got a column out of it. But I doubt I’ll be reading more by Hale.

Rainbow Rowell, Eleanor and Park: Apparently a lot of people are very upset about the “obscenity” in this book. If they mean the swearing, I didn’t notice it. If they meant the terrified child who needs someone to stand guard when she’s having a bath in her own house, it was necessary and also viscerally awful. I’m over love stories in which people fall for each other over a shared love of music/literature; despite this I stayed up all night with this, and cried all over it.

Edmund Crispin, Frequent Hearses, Fen Country, Holy Disorders: A sudden need (sudden? a constant need) for smart, cosy crime. I still think Holy Disorders is the weakest of the Gervase Fen mysteries I’ve read. The others were both new to me, and neither struck me as particularly brilliant, but I enjoyed all three books anyway.

Susannah Clapp, A Card From Angela Carter: Inspired a column (here) and an evening of flipping through a collection of Carter’s non-fiction and fangirling quietly.

Frances Hodgson Burnett, Little Lord Fauntleroy: I have a deep love for The Secret Garden, and would probably dislike A Little Princess if it wasn’t such an interesting text with which to think about things like empire and class. Little Lord Fauntleroy is just uninteresting to me, however many awful portraits of children it may have inspired.

Caroline Stevermer, A College of Magics: I liked a lot of things about this-the school setting of the early chapters, the frequent snark, the sense that characters genuinely enjoy language. But plotwise it felt rather unfinished, like none of these elements added up to a unified whole.

Nicholas Blake, Head of a Traveller: A reread, though all I really remembered of the book was that a sculpture of a head had a lot to do with it. What I’d forgotten was how awkward I found the book’s depiction of rape the first time I read it. On a second read I still think it’s badly done, in ways that probably merit a separate blog post with a lot of quotes. But then, besides Georgia Cavendish, this series of books doesn’t have the most spectacular of track records with its women characters.

Colm Toibin, The Testament of Mary: Such a joy just to see a thing done well. Column here.

Rick Riordan, The House of Hades: Hmm. I have a very hazy understanding of the larger plot of this series at this point and the tone can get deeply annoying (as when a character imagines the Fates watching him and going “LOL, NOOB”), but it’s still quite entertaining in a Civilisation-equals-Greek-and-Roman-Gods-and-America sort of way. The element of this particular book that has received most attention seems to be that Riordan has revealed that a particular character is gay and has done an okay job of it. What I really liked (and again, this may need a separate post with quotes) is how it deals with crushes in general and (therefore) with this character’s in particular.

Tina Connolly, Ironskin: I both enjoyed and was annoyed by this urban fantasy-ish, steampunk-ish retelling of Jane Eyre. Column to come soon.

 

 

 

October 2, 2013

September Reading

In last month’s reading update post I said I’d been having a rather hectic few weeks, and those continued. Since I wrote that post I have moved to another country and begun (sort of- I haven’t done any actual work for it yet) a PhD. There hasn’t been much reading, as a result.

 

Vikram Seth, Beastly Tales: A classic, obviously, and one I’m very fond of–I think most Indian schoolchildren of my generation can still recite most of “The Frog and the Nightingale”. I reread the collection this time soon after a conversation about the gender of animals in children’s books, and so ended up noticing for the first time how often the active parties in these stories are gendered female. I suspect even here parity is nowhere close to achieved, but it’s nice for “he/him/his” not to be the default all the time.

Jack Vance, Dream Castles: I reread this while I was writing a review for Strange Horizons, which appeared here. It’s a bit all over the place but the longer stories in particular are very Vance-y, which is all I really needed to enjoy it.

Shira Lipkin and Michael Damian Thomas, Flying Higher: An Anthology of Superhero Poetry: Not a collection I’m going to treasure in particular, but often very funny (and free!). I reviewed it for the column.

Maria Semple, Where’d You Go, Bernadette?: Read this on the plane, wrote about it for the column here.

Terry Pratchett, Thud! and The Fifth Elephant: Comfort reading. The Fifth Elephant is still excellent, Thud! is a definite drop in quality, but against all reason I will still forgive a Vimes book most things.

Diana Wynne Jones, Dark Lord of Derkholm: Reread. If you like DWJ for the clever self-reflexive genre thing that she does with The Tough Guide To Fantasyland, this is excellent. Since that’s not what I most like about her, it’s … still pretty good, I suppose.

Nicholas Blake, The Whisper in the Gloom, The Widow’s Cruise, End of Chapter: Last year I read the last Blake book and it put me off him horribly. I seem to have calmed down enough that I’m still capable of appreciating the books themselves. I’d read End of Chapter before but had completely forgotten who the murderer was; the other two, which I hadn’t read, were far easier to solve. Not that that is the point, of course; these particular Blake books felt far less literary than some of the others have, but I enjoyed them rather a lot anyway.

Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being: It’s cool that this book managed to sneak some SF (and Hello Kitty?) onto the Booker shortlist, and it’s unfortunate that it could use a lot more editing, but I enjoyed myself too much to care about either of those things.

Jonathan Grimwood, The Last Banquet: I’m hoping to write more about this soon, but it is very good.

Sophie Kinsella, Can You Keep a Secret?: Hm. I find Kinsella’s fluffiness very comforting and so enjoyed this one, but the power imbalance that the whole thing is based on made me really uncomfortable. He’s her boss and he knows all her secrets and he won’t tell her any of his and he’s attracted to her and he humiliates her publicly in front of her colleagues? Run away. Screaming.

Balaji Venkataraman, Flat-Track Bullies: Middle-grade (I think) novel about children trying to have exciting holidays in Chennai while their lives are curtailed by about fifteen different sorts of coaching classes. I can only hope for their sakes that the society these characters live in is heavily exaggerated.

 

(Edited to add Ozeki’s book to the list; I’m not sure how I managed to leave it off.)

September 3, 2013

August Reading

Great changes in my personal life are afoot, time is shorter than it has any right to be, and so this month I will not be talking about books I have read. Here’s a simple list instead, for my records.

 

Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison, Have His Carcase, Busman’s Honeymoon

Samantha Shannon, The Bone Season

Rumer Godden, The River

Patrice Kindl, Keeping the Castle

Loretta Chase, Viscount Vagabond and The Devil’s Delilah

Various, Baker’s Dozen: The Elle Tranquebar Book of Short Stories

George Saunders, Fox 8

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland

Rokeya Shekawat Hossein, Sultana’s Dream and Padmarag

Herge, Tintin in America, The Blue LotusTintin in Tibet

Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being

 

I will be writing about some of these in the future, I hope. The Ozeki in particular deserves more space, it’s wonderful.

 

August 3, 2013

July Reading

This was a good month.

 

Marie Brennan, A Natural History of Dragons: I loved this. Clever, self-reflexive, and full of references to one of my favourite periods in historical fiction. I wrote half a column about it here.

Matt Kaplan, The Science of Monsters: This received the other half of the column I mention above. It was fun to read, but I wasn’t entirely impressed by its scholarship or its insights.

Bama, Harum-Scarum Saar and Other Stories: Short stories, often angry, often funny. I wrote about them here.

Georgette Heyer, Friday’s Child: A book that would be vastly improved if its hero and heroine were eliminated altogether, and we focused on the wonderful supporting characters instead.

Rumer Godden, Black Narcissus, The Peacock Spring: I mentioned a month or two ago that I was reading through Godden’s India books for a piece. I discovered Godden this year and I have very mixed feelings about her work. Gorgeously written, incredibly incisive on the subject of character, and yet so comically orientalist! I’m also fascinated by the apparent publishing trend of getting white women to write the introductions to these books– I’d love to see what an Indian woman (other than myself, obviously) had to say.

Stephanie Burgis, Kat, Incorrigible, Renegade Magic, Stolen Magic: A trilogy that I suppose would be categorised as middle-grade? Very silly, very fluffy, very why won’t these people talk to each other so they all know what the problem is? I read all three over two nights, and they were great fun.

Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling, The Cuckoo’s Calling: Reviewed here, ranted about cover here.

Ajay Navaria, Unclaimed Terrain: Wonderful collection of short stories about caste in India. I should be doing a review for Himal soon.

Pradeep Sebastian and Chandra Siddan (ed), 50 Writers, 50 Books: Reviewed for Time Out, so presumably it will appear in the magazine soon. An odd mix of essays, from the very dry to the very personal, but on the whole I really enjoyed it.

Karen Lord, The Best of All Possible Worlds: Long, long rant.

Stephanie Laurens, The Taming of Ryder Cavanaugh: It’s a Laurens book, it’s like just about every other Laurens book. There’s attempted murder, there’s people not talking about their feelings, love happens.

Courtney Milan, The Heiress Effect: I have complex feelings about this book. At one level, it’s everything I want my fluffy romances to be. Our heroine is fat, though this is something that is mentioned once at the beginning of the book and not shown to intrude upon her life in any way. She’s also completely gauche. There’s a character with epilepsy, one with (I think) agoraphobia, there’s political discussion and people have interests and priorities beyond marriage. And then there’s Anjan Bhattacharya, and it’s clear that the author has done actual research here and hasn’t LibbaBrayed it. And it’s also clear that she means well. She means so well. And I’m still trying to wrap my head around what about the sheer, well-meaning whiteness of this book threw me out of it so completely, and I’m second-guessing myself because if I don’t want writers to make an effort and put some thought into Indian characters when they write them, what do I want and how can white western authors ever win, and isn’t this terrible unfair?

Mary Balogh, First Comes Marriage, At Last Comes Love, A Secret Affair: Amusing.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah: I wrote about this here.

Junuka Deshpande, Night: Wrote about this for a forthcoming column. It’s a children’s book in English and Hindi, has some lovely art, and I liked it very much.

Dorothy L. Sayers, Gaudy Night: I have so many feelings that a separate post may be needed to hold them all. This is one of the best books in the world, that is all.

Patrice Kindl, Keeping the Castle: Slight, but very entertaining.

July 5, 2013

June Reading

What I read in June.

Lucy Boston, The Children Of Green Knowe: Wrote about this for the column, here. It is all golden perfection.

Adi, Tantra: This is not golden perfection, but it was so entertaining that I will be reading the sequel anyway.

Barbara Pym, No Fond Return of Love, A Glass of Blessings: Wrote about the first of these here. I’m going to be reading more Pym over the next few months, so expect frequent reminders that she is great.

Grace Burrowes, Lady Eve’s Indiscretion: I think I’ve gone off Burrowes. I really liked her earlier books, but the last few have oscillated between boring and unreadable for me. So I skimmed this, but I think the “indiscretion” in the title is that the title character got raped? Well okay then.

John Freeman (ed), Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists 4: Hmm. On the whole I approve very much of most of the writers on the most recent Granta list. And I wrote about the collection here.

Gita Wolf, Andrea Anastasio, Bhajju Shyam, Alone in the Forest: Lovely thing from Tara books- will review soon, but I liked it a lot.

Gita Wolf and Sunita, Gobble You Up!: See above.

Michael Rosen and Quentin Blake, Michael Rosen’s Sad Book: I cried.

René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo, Astérix le Gaulois, Asterix Legionnaire: I’m trying to work my way through the Asterix books in the original French, just to see if in doing so I can bring my scrappy French back. So far it’s been slower than I expected but mostly successful; I have to look up some words, but I’m getting the gist of the stories and (I think) most of the puns. The last time I studied French was 2002, so this isn’t that bad.

Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves: I’m planning to reread this and write a much longer piece on it, but it is astonishingly good and if you can possibly get a hold of it you should.

Il Sung Na, A Book of Sleep: I think it was Felix Gilman (whose books are excellent and you should read them) who recommended this to me; a lovely, quiet board book involving giraffes and penguins and owls and some beautiful art.

Agatha Christie, Destination Unknown, A Pocket Full of Rye, Third Girl: I thought it would be fun, partly as context to my real research, to read specifically those Christie mysteries that were published in the years around the end of the British empire. These are some of them.

Eloisa James, Once Upon a Tower: This was a romance novel I genuinely liked. Because it’s an Eloisa James book there was a lot of Shakespeare-referencing; there were also people making a mess of relationships and hurting one another for believable reasons, and people utterly failing at sex for believable reasons and it’s all just very refreshing.

Francine Pascal, The Sweet Life: I continue to be fascinated by the Sweet Valley reboots and the ways in which they engage with the original books– see my review of Sweet Valley Confidential here. The Sweet Life has as its primary plot a false accusation of sexual assault, which angered and depressed me (particularly since I read this on the same day as I’d watched a movie about a false accusation of sexual assault), but it also, for example, clearly reminds us that the man accused attempted date rape in an earlier book. I’m used to having a twisted, combative relationship with a series– I’m not used to the supposed author of the series having a similar relationship. (Note: the writing’s still awful)

Jack Vance and Humayoun Ibrahim, The Moon Moth: This surprised me by dispensing of most of the Vance-prose in a Vance story and still being very good.

Jane Austen, Persuasion: Reread so that when I read Antonia Forest’s The Ready-Made Family it would be fresh in my head. It is still wonderful.

Erin Dionne, The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet: Entertaining, but I think the sheer horror of any parents calling their daughter Hamlet took me out of the story from the beginning.

Lavanya Sankaran, The Hope Factory: Reviewed for The Hindustan Times, and I’ll post when it’s published. For now, I was unimpressed.

Matt Fraction, David Aja, Matt Hollingsworth, Chris Eliopoulos, Hawkeye 11: Right, so I normally read comics in bulk (if I read them at all) and talk about them then (if I talk about them at all), but this? Amazing. The day it came out I spent the evening screaming about my FEELS at friends on the internet who were, in turn, screaming back. There’s so much to play with here, critically, but I haven’t fangirled in so long and I HAVE SO MANY FEELS.

June 6, 2013

May Reading

It’s been a slow reading month. Then again, it’s been 42-47 degrees in Delhi this month, so I count my mere survival as a resounding success.

 

Antonia Forest, The Thuggery Affair: Wrote about this at length, and with pictures of wildlife, here.

Sheela Chari, Vanished: A proper post on this soon–it’s a children’s book about a missing veena, set in America and India, and I quite enjoyed it.

Sofia Samatar, A Stranger in Olondria: I think I have an essay about this book (and why it doesn’t work and why, somehow, that means it does) brewing. I say that all the time and somehow these essays never get written, so I’m hoping someone will hold me to this one.

Rumer Godden, Kingfishers Catch Fire and Breakfast with the Nikolides: I’m working on a longer piece about some of Godden’s India novels, of which these are two. There’s much that’s objectionable about their politics; even as a relatively pro-India and pro-Indians (for her time) white British woman, Godden has some very fixed notions about the temperament of the Indian (a biological species, much like the slow loris). And yet the characters, the descriptive prose, the sheer life in the text blew me away. The introduction to these lovely new Vintage reissues says of one of the books that it “thrums with sex”; I snorted when I read this, but it’s all true.

Carl Wilson, Lets Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste: Written about in the column, here.

Uday Prakash, The Walls of Delhi: Written about in the column, here.

Frederic Tuten, Tintin in the New World: Written about in the column, here.

Jaishree Mishra (ed), Of Mothers and Others: Written about in the column, here.

Matt Fraction, David Aja, Javier Pulido, etc, Hawkeye 1-10: I very rarely read comics. I know a bit about comics (by the standards of someone who barely reads them), but this is because I’m surrounded by people who are real, informed fans. I know enough to pass, mostly. I think I may be a Fake Geek Girl.

But everyone I know has been gushing about Hawkeye for a few months now, and now that I’m finally reading it I see why. I share this concern about the disconnect between its Hawkeye-as-everyman (empathetic, understanding what people’s lives mean to them) and Hawkeye-spreading-destruction (because things have to go boom and ordinary people end up being collateral damage) narratives, and I’d like to see future issues do more to address that. But on the whole it’s gorgeous– it’s stylish and funny, I love the art, the people look and act like people. And there’s Kate Bishop, whom the series has so far managed to resist slotting into potential girlfriend or smitten protegee roles, to the extent that the friend who nagged me into reading the series insists that she is its hero.

(I can live with this)

Plus there’s naked (Clint Barton) Hawkeye. And a really cute dog.

 

 

May 2, 2013

April Reading

James Joyce, The Cats of Copenhagen: That’s the second time in a few months I’ve written about a children’s book that was a gift from my best friend. Column here.

Anushka Ravishankar, I Like Cats: I reread this while writing the column above. Anushka is a friend and former colleague so I am clearly biased, but my fondness for her work, particularly this book, predates the few months when we worked in the same office. Lovely, silly poem; gorgeous illustrations by artists from across the country in a range of different styles.

Jennifer Crusie, Bet Me: I need to read more Crusie, because this was often really funny. Unfortunately, I ended up reading it as a horror novel.

Rae Earl, My Mad, Fat, Teenage Diary: I usually have clever ways of getting access to British TV, but was unable to watch the series based on this book. I read it in a day and have been failing to write about it ever since, but I think I liked it? I think it was charming?

Indira Goswami, The Bronze Sword of Thengphakhri Tehsildar (trans. Aruni Kashyap): Written about for the column, here.

Sowmya Rajendran and Niveditha Subramaniam, The Pleasant Rakshasa: I adored this and have half a blog post written to explain why.

Zen Cho, The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo: Written about for the column, and the most fun I’ve had reading anything in ages.

Adam Foulds, The Broken Word: For the column, but I think it may spark another post soon as well.

Himanjali Sankar, The Stupendous Timetelling Superdog: Himanjali is also a former colleague and a friend (and I have met the dog, the two daughters and the husband in Germany who obviously bear no resemblance whatsoever to the dog, two daughters and husband in Germany in the book), so this is clearly not an official review. But I thought this was adorable. It’s full of silly puns, snark at institutions and the media, and absolutely nothing is resolved in the end.

Ruby Hembrom and Boski Jain, We Come from the Geese: A picture book based on a Santhal origin myth. It’s told well; it has a rhythm to it that feels like myth. But what really drew me to it were the illustrations–really bold black and white, intricate, repeated patterns, strong lines. Unexpected and lovely.

Rachel Hartman, Seraphina: I was a little underwhelmed by this, possibly a natural reaction to a number of very enthusiastic reviews. It’s a good idea, and on the whole it’s well done. And yet. It’s not enough, somehow. The dragons aren’t quite alien enough to justify the text’s positioning of them, the romance is just a shade too predictable. The prose, though, is exactly what it needs to be.

Caitlin R. Kiernan, The Drowning Girl: I’m glad I read this just in time to vote for it in the Locus poll, and sorry I didn’t read it earlier so I could gush about it more. I’d read some positive reviews and seen it win the Tiptree award, but nothing quite prepared me for just how solidly good and disturbing and intense Kiernan’s book would turn out to be. Best book of 2012, probably.

Jerry Pinto and Garima Gupta, When Crows Are White: I’ve been a fan of Garima Gupta’s art for a few years now–she has been one of the best illustrators in the country for quite some time. Pinto wrote what was probably last year’s most critically acclaimed Indian novel. And the art here is gorgeous, and the prose is nimble and the voice is knowing and wryly funny. And then it just stops. It feels like it is suspended between fable and story of revolution, but it doesn’t complete either of the stories it promises and I don’t understand why anyone would have left it that way.

Stephanie Laurens, And Then She Fell: Is a Laurens book. I still read them. Then I rant about them. At least nowadays I skip past the very samey sex scenes.