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BOOK LIST: Books Read in May 2013

Sunday, June 09, 2013

I spent most of May 2013 on the road, touring to promote THE WILD GIRL. With an event most days and most nights, I didn't have much time (or energy) for reading. 

So I only read eight books, and some of these were very short. That brings my reading for the year to over 50 books, though, so I don't need to feel too ashamed. 

Enchanted April – Elizabeth von Arnim 
This beautiful book is an old classic - first published in 1922 - that I have had so many people recommend to me that I finally ordered it in. I'm so glad I did - I loved it! It tells the story of four women - strangers to each other - who rent a castle in Italy for the month of April. All four are hiding bruised souls, and all four will be healed during that magical month in San Salvatore. The style is old-fashioned and rather quaint, but suits the story, and the book brims over with the promise of being able to recover and restore our lives. It made me want to hire a castle in Italy very, very badly! I watched the video too, and I think I loved that even more. A radiant story of friendship and redemption. 

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making – Catherynne M. Valente

How to describe this wonderful children's fantasy? Its fresh, whimsical, and a little strange; it shows remarkable daring and playfulness on the part of the author, which delights me. It reminds me of authors like James Thurbur and Mervyn Peake, with less of the darkness and more of the imaginative exuberance. I'm happy to say I'll be running a longer review and an interview with Cat in upcoming weeks - keep your eyes peeled!

The Thief – Megan Whalen Turner 

I wasn't sure about this book at first. It seemed a little slow. And, although I loved the voice of the main character - an opinionated and arrogant thief named Gen - I found the world of quasi-Ancient Rome a little like other books I'd read. I voiced my opinion on twitter, and go a flood of people saying 'read on! read on!' I'm glad that I did. The world and the characters got more interesting, and then - at the very end - there is a clever twist that I honestly did not see coming. (This rarely happens to me). Now all those tweeps are  saying to me read on! read on! Book 2 & 3 are even better ... and you know what? i think I shall read on. 

The Shadow Year – Hannah Richell
I loved this book! One of the best reads of the year so far. I've interviewed Hannah for the next issue of Good Reading Magazine so I urge you to hunt down the mag and read more about it there - I will just say that this is a perfectly structured and beautifully written novel which uses parallel narratives to stunning effect. A compelling and suspenseful novel about family, love, and loss.

The Sword of the Rightful King – Jane Yolen
As one might guess from the title, this is a retelling of the Arthurian myth. I overdosed on these quite a few years ago and have been avoiding them ever since. However, this is Jane Yolen, a writer who I LOVE. So I bought and read it, and enjoyed it hugely. Jane's writing is as easy and supple as ever, the characters are vivid and alive, and the story turned inside out and made new. I can really recommend it. 

Fearless – Daniel Morden
Dark Tales from the Woods – Daniel Morden
Tree of Leaf and Flame - Daniel Morden

Daniel Morden is a wonderful Welsh storyteller - I heard him speak at the Sydney Writers Festival and loved his subtle, clever and humorous style. He has retold a number of old tales in book form, including Fearless, better known as the Grimm tale The 'Boy Who Went Forth to Learn what fear is'. Dark Tales of the Woods is a collection of retold tales from Abram Wood, called King of the Gypsies (I actually reference him in 'The Herb of Grace', Book 3 of the Chain of Charms - he is said to have introduced the fiddle into Wales) while Tree of Leaf and Flame draws upon the Mabinogi, the famous Welsh myth cycle. The tales themselves are simple but elegantly told. Some are funny, some are frightening, all are wonderful. 

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