Books mentioned and mini-reviews:
Toffee by Sarah Crossan
This is a beautiful verse novel about a runaway girl who finds a strange new home with a woman convinced that she is someone called Toffee. It explores tough topics slowly and carefully and I really enjoyed it.
Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology 11
This was the most recent Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology when I bought a copy last year for research into short story competitions and I really liked it. My favourite story was actually the last story – If, Say by Julianne Woodside – but I enjoyed all the others. Reading this inspired me to set myself a challenge to read one short story every day in February, which I’ve continued in subsequent months, so expect to see a lot more reviews of short story collections and anthologies this year.
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
I adored this. I cannot overstate how much of a delight this was to listen to! It begins in the interwar period and follows a young woman, who after being kicked out of university, gets sent to live with her aunt who owns a theatre in New York. Her life quickly becomes decadently irresponsible as she makes friends, takes lovers and tries to figure out what kind of person she will be. It just ticked so many of my boxes! Theatres, people messing up their lives, female friendship, the process of working out you are and want to become – it was an addictive, sparkling dream of a book and I’m really hoping it stands up to a second listen.
Eric by Terry Pratchett
Eric is a demonology hacker but not a very good one – he accidentally summons Rincewind instead of a demon! This is a very short novel in the Discworld series and ultimately quite forgettable, though I enjoyed it.
Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet by Shyama Perera
Another historical coming-of-age novel (this was a strong month for these!) this time beginning in London in the 1960s with the story of four girls as they go to secondary school, grow up, and get their first jobs and lovers. This one also ticked a few of my boxes, in this case for ‘recent historical London’ and ‘deals with issues of race and class’, and I really liked it. I’m really curious to find out what else this author has written.
Buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray
There’s not a lot I can say about this because it is the third in The Diviners series, but I’m still in love with the way these books are written and the ending – OMG!
The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night by Jen Campbell
I was given this at a Lush book club event which was really exciting because I’ve been a big fan of Jen’s YouTube channel for years and have read some of her stories in other publications. I was not disappointed in the least. It’s a gorgeous book full of thoughtful high concept stories and I will definitely read it again and again.
The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow (review copy from NetGalley)
This is a book which asks us to reconsider Mary Bennet, the most neglected of Austen’s Bennet sisters, exploring her character in much more detail than she gets in Pride and Prejudice. She’s awkward, has no natural charm, and is often criticised by her mother and ignored by her sisters. Yet her determination to figure out the world and what it expects from her makes her a very compelling protagonist and I couldn’t put this book down until the last seventy or so pages. At that point I still enjoyed it but it didn’t flow as lightly as the earlier chapters did.