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April Summary and Plans for May

I apologise for the unplanned blogging break – I’ve been ill for the last few weeks. Yesterday I was finally able to read, but I haven’t been able to do so for two weeks. This means I haven’t got any books to review, so my posts may be sporadic until I’m back to full health.  

Despite these problems I still managed to read a nice range of books. My favourite was A Sting in the Tale by Dave Goulson. It is an important book that warns of the crisis facing bumblebees in the world today. I urge everyone to read it and hope that it inspires people to look after these wonderful creatures.

Book of the Month

A Sting in the Tale

Books Reviewed in April:

A Sting in the Tale by Dave Goulson 

The Giraffe’s Neck by Judith Schalansky 

From the Fatherland, With Love by Ryu Murakami 

When Rain Clouds Gather by Bessie Head 

Dept of Speculation by Jenny Offill 

Feeding the Ghosts by Fred D’Aguiar 

The Sound of One Hand Clapping by Richard Flanagan 

Idiopathy by Sam Byers 

The Tell-Tale Heart by Jill Dawson 

Plans for April

I’m going to finish the last few books on the Desmond Elliott Longlist and then read a few books for Kim’s Australian and New Zealand Literature Month. There probably won’t be time for much else, but I may need to squeeze in a few lighter reads before I’m back up to the full health required to concentrate on anything too complex.

I hope you have a wonderful May!



4 replies on “April Summary and Plans for May”

I’m sorry to hear you’ve been unwell, Jackie – hope it’s nothing too serious and that you’re back to full health soon.

Good luck with the Desmond Elliott longlist – I’ve only read three of them, having just finished ‘The Dynamite Room’ a couple of days ago (an enjoyable book which I sped through, but somewhat spoiled by Hewitt’s annoying tendency to reveal things far too soon when he could have let a nicely menacing atmosphere build, and I don’t think the breakneck pace always served it well).

April was a great reading month for me, with an unprecedented three bona fide 5 star reads:

Richard Llewellyn’s 1939 novel ‘How Green Was My Valley’ was an absolute joy: a paean to a bygone world that was poetic and evocative with descriptive writing about the simple things in life (a well-crafted piece of furniture; a blackberry pie) to rival Dickens talking about the christmas pudding or the greengrocer’s display in ‘A Christmas Carol’.

‘Highways to a War’ won the Miles Franklin award in 1996, and is the third of Christopher Koch’s novels I’ve read. A superb novel about the wars in Indochina in the 60s and 70s seen through the eyes of a war photographer, it asks how far a person will go for a cause or a belief.

‘Redeployment’ by Phil Klay is not only an incredible collection of short stories, but feels like an important book about the war in Iraq. Even more so than ‘Billy Linn’, ‘Eleven Days’, ‘Fobbit’ etc, this is the (fiction) book I can imagine people reading 20 or 30 years from now if they want to learn about those events, in the same way they read ‘The Things They Carried’ about Vietnam.

I also read some great 4-star books: ‘Arctic Summer’ by Damon Galgut is pretty much faultless though as ever with Galgut I can never quite bring myself to love his work (I was glad I’ve read ‘A Passage to India’ as it was also fun picking up on the references to and echoes of that book); Ashley Hay’s ‘The Railwayman’s Wife’ is umpteen times better than the awful cover implies; Richard Wagamese’s ‘Medicine Walk’ perhaps lacks the anger and passion of his previous novel (‘Indian Horse’) but is a subtle and powerful novel about identity and belonging; and Paul Harding’s ‘Tinkers’ was my Pulitzer book for the month – I liked it a lot and found much of it actually quite profound, but goodness I wish he’d curbed some of his flowery-ness and tendency towards tedious page-long sentences! And having had it sat on my shelves for years I finally got around to reading Carol Shields’ first collection of stories, ‘Various Miracles’ (1985) and was reminded of how good she is and that I really must read more by her.

Only one novel didn’t quite make the grade for me in April, and that was Adam Foulds’ ‘In the Wolf’s Mouth’. I’ve seldom read a more uneven piece of work – he has a British character (Will) who is really layered and well-developed, and places him in a fascinating situation (Mafia filling the power vacuum left by the fascists as they flee from Sicily) which provides an angle on WWII that I hadn’t read about before, but then couples all that with the story of an American soldier (Ray) who is a walking cliche, and 100 pages of unconvincing battle scenes in a North Africa that is so poorly realised it could be anywhere from Siberia to Bournemouth.

Oh, and I also read Lorrie Moore’s new collection, ‘Bark’. I quite liked her novel ‘A Gate at the Stairs’ though I thought it went off the rails a bit in the second half, but ‘Bark’ was just bad: predictable plots, unengaging and same-ish characters and jokes! so many bad bad jokes.

Hope you have a good May, and a healthier one!

I think I liked Dept. of Speculation more than you:) It was one of those books that I hadn’t expected to enjoy. Congrats on your Great month –need to try your favorite pick of the month.

I was wondering why nothnig had been happening on the blog. Get well soon. It must be dreadful to feel so ill that you can’t even read!

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