Sadly I did not hit the eight-book target this month – only a poor seven. I blame the bloody flu.
FYI, if you’re looking for a good read, The Lie Tree is your book.
- Coastlines: The Story of Our Shore by Patrick Barkham – 8/10
There was much more art and literature than expected (I thought it would be more of a geographically-logical travelogue) but nevertheless, I felt satisfyingly sated on facts and experiences after reading this. You’ll go on a journey from Norfolk to the east coast of Ireland, and you’ll learn about all sorts of things from the secretive government goings-on at Orford Ness to the light and granite of Cornwall to the smugglers of the Isle of Wight.
Barkham is one of the darlings of the nature-writing movement at the moment, and is one of the authors I’ll be seeing on 10th June at Balham Literary Festival!
- Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith A.K.A. J.K. Rowling – 6.5/10
The third instalment of Rowling’s private detective series. I enjoyed it, but not quite as much as the previous one, The Silkworm.
- The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown: the second Baby Ganesh investigation (Baby Ganesh Agency) by Vaseem Khan – 6.5/10
The second instalment of the hit Baby Ganesh Agency series, about a retired-and-now-private-detective policeman and his baby elephant sidekick in Mumbai. Perfect for fans of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Again, it didn’t make as much of an impression on me as the last one did (the British characters are caricatured beyond belief!) but it was a nice way to pass time on the tube.
- Zero K by Don DeLillo – 1/10
THIS IS WHY I DON’T TRUST THE LITERATI
(If you must know more, read my review here)
- The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge – 10/10
I cannot recommend this book – winner of the 2015 Costa Book Prize – enough. It’s meant to be children’s/YA, but the only reason for that as far as I can see is that the author generally writes children’s/YA and the main character is a teenager. Not that you should read it because it’s an adult book pretending to be children’s/YA. You should read it because:
- Takes the very bold step of having a main character driven by vengeance; a main character who embraces her darkness
- Fantastic prose
- Non-preachy but proudly feminist
- Great twists
- Fantastic prose
- Perfect ending
“She did not feel hot or helpless any more. She felt the way snakes looked when they moved.”
- The Songs of a Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke – 7/10
My first Arthur C. Clarke book, one of the figureheads of sci-fi. Quite by chance I picked it up a few weeks ago when I was putting together my reading list for my next novel (YA sci-fi again, but in space this time). The story is gentle and rather benign, though it became more emotional towards the end, and the last line made my eyes water. Which books very rarely manage when it comes to me.
- On a Wing and a Prayer by Sarah Woods – 9/10
PRODUCT WARNING: this book will infect you with an insatiable urge to travel to Central/South America.
The prose isn’t as soaring as a lot of the nature writing pouring into bookshops at the moment, but Woods’ accounts of various different trips into the rainforest, to see wildlife and occasionally live with indigenous tribes, are detailed and immersive. Birders will especially love the profusion of birdlife, and for the non-birders like myself, the names of the many species are a delight – jacaranda, mountaingem, quetzal…
The way that Woods narrates allows the reader to fall into her footsteps and see through her eyes. You’ll enter tombs filled with carved walls; climb a giant tree; ford rivers; clamber up hills and through mud; and your mind will fill with the deafening colour of the rainforest.
I can’t recommend this enough for anyone who enjoys going abroad in search of wildlife and wild places.