Remember when I wrote last month that I would no longer post a monthly roundup? I changed my mind. Feedback suggested that some of you found these posts useful so, instead of abandoning them altogether, I will be trying to find a way to make them more interesting.
My month started with a short holiday during which I read two books but posted no reviews. This hiatus resulted in me being already behind on my Goodreads challenge.
Another challenge I set myself this year was to get out more and enjoy the countryside where I live. I vowed to dispense with the self-inflicted pressure of reading to a schedule that last year led to days spent indoors trying to catch up. I aim to enjoy running this blog which may now result in fewer reviews but a happier writer.
Thus I posted reviews for only 9 books in January of which 7 were fiction (1 translated) and 2 non fiction (1 translated). I reviewed no poetry. Can publishers please send me some poetry to review?
Let’s look at the books.
I struggle to find crime fiction and thrillers that I truly enjoy reading as so many of them merge in my memory and are predictably formulaic. Sarah Hilary provides the exception. Yes, her Marnie Rome series are all written to the same structure but her use of language and exploration of issues provide literary fodder. I took this early proof on holiday (it isn’t out until May) and devoured it.
Never Be Broken by Sarah Hilary, published by Headline
Another early proof I took on holiday was a debut by Tramp Press publisher, Sarah Davis-Goff. I read her dystopian thriller in anticipation of meeting the author at the one event I attended this month – the Headline New Voices Roadshow in Bath.
Last Ones Left Alive by Sarah Davis-Goff, published by Headline
I was keen to attend the gig having enjoyed watching what the debut authors I met at the previous year’s event went on to attain – in the case of Guy Gunaratne this included a Booker longlisting amongst other accolades. I will be interested to see what lies in store for this year’s cohort.
Back last May, when I attended the Greenwich Book Festival, I met Louise Candlish and had since been eager to read her latest book. My local library has copies but they were always lent out when I visited. Then I spotted on Twitter that Louise and her publisher were marking the publication of the paperback by leaving signed copies in coffee shops around Hammersmith, near where my daughter lives. I sent daughter on a mission to track one down and she was successful – Yay!
Our House by Louise Candlish, published by Simon & Schuster
Another thriller that I am happy to recommend, a dystopia set in a future England, is published today by a small press I discovered last year.
Wolf Country by Tünde Farrand, published by Lightning Books
I was also pleased to review new titles to be published by two of my long time favourite small presses – both of these are fabulous reads.
I have reviewed several titles for Bookmunch of which one has been up on that site long enough for me to pull it across to my own blog. This work of translated fiction was excellent – one I am happy to recommend.
Katalin Street by Magda Szabó (translated by Len Rix), published by MacLehose Press
My non fiction reading included a translated memoir focusing on a Jewish survivor of Nazi Germany
No Place to Lay One’s Head by Françoise Frenkel (translated by Stephanie Smee), published by Pushkin Press
Another non fiction title reviewed was by an anthropologist, about his ethnographic field trip to Indonesia. This one didn’t really rock my boat.
Not a Hazardous Sport by Nigel Barley, published by Eland
The month also brought the announcement of the longlist for my favourite literary prize, which I was privileged to help judge last year.
Looking forward, I plan to read more titles from this list as I have only come across three of them to date. Next month I will be posting a few guest posts and Q&As from the presses that made the cut.
Finally, I was a guest myself when Mrs Bloggs invited me to join her for afternoon tea over on her book blog.
As ever I wish to thank the publishers who send me their titles to review – the arrival of a book parcel makes my day.
My thanks also to those who share my words across their social media platforms. I don’t say it enough but your support is always appreciated.