Monday, 29 April 2013

April reads

Wow, I read a lot this month!  Still not quite as much as I would like, but a huge improvement on previous months.


1. I can't recommend Girls To The Front enough.  It's a heartfelt, passionate and beautifully written account of the genesis of Riot Grrrl, focusing on the Olympia and Washington DC scenes but encompassing the stories of girls and women from all over the USA.  If you are at all interested in the 90s, in feminism, or in music history, then this is a great read.

2. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal, Jeaneatte Winterson's autobiography, was this month's book group pick and I'm looking forward to discussing it in the pub tomorrow evening.  I loved this beautifully written, poetic account of Winterson's childhood and her adult struggles with her past and her adoption.  As much a paean to the power of literature to change lives as an autobiography, I especially enjoyed her musings on working class identity, the changing face of the North, and feminism. 


3. Jennifer Weiner's novels are a cut above the usual 'chick lit' (urgh, what a horrible term that is) and deserve better than this horrible, fluffy cover.  Fly Away Home is the story of three women - senator's wife Sylvie and her daughters Lizzie and Diana - and how they cope when their lives all take courses they couldn't have predicted.

4. Another month, another Sookie Stackhouse novel.  I'd already read Deadlocked, and even though it's not the best in the series, these books are always good for a quick read.

5. The one novel that I read this month which could be considered 'worthy' literature, Life After Life has been praised to the rafters in the reviews pages and nominated for the Women's Prize (formerly the Orange Prize).  The conceit - of a baby who is reborn again and again, getting chance after chance at life - was an interesting one, and there were some wonderful touches of humour to be derived from Ursula's situation (I loved the chapters in which she kept on trying to avoid catching - and dying from - the Spanish flu in 1918).  I did feel my attention waver somewhat towards the end, but it's nevertheless a brilliant read which made me think about the effect that seemingly tiny actions can have on our lives.

6. Dying Fall is Griffiths' fifth novel featuring forensic archeologist Ruth Galloway.  I think it suffered somewhat for moving the action from her usual Norfolk to Lancashire, but it was a good page-turner with a typically far-fetched solution.

7. Dead Water wasn't one of Cleeves best; I found myself reading more out of duty to finish than any compulsion to find out whodunnit.

8. I didn't enjoy White Bones, a murder mystery set in Ireland, at all (and considering some of the trash I consider a good read, that's really saying something!).  Overly gory, ludicrously plotted; the only saving grace was the convincing characterisation.


  1. Janet

    Thanks for the great roundup. I also loved the Jeanette Winerson book and have Life After Life on my to read shelf on goodreads, so thanks for the review.

    1. Cheers :) I think you should enjoy Life After Life, it's very readable.