Who wants book reviews? I’ve got twenty*
*not really but it would have fit so well. Instead there’s just twelve.
Books mentioned and mini-reviews:
Steampunk! an Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant
This book does pretty much exactly what it says on the tin! I really enjoyed the selection of stories found within its pages and having the opportunity to discover new authors as well as tales from writers whose work I’ve read before.
We Who Are About To… by Joanna Russ
This is a very high concept story narrated by a woman who is one of a group of people who crash-land on a planet. The others decide that they should start a new human colony but she is not convinced or convinceable and she struggles to hold onto her bodily autonomy. I thought this was brilliant up until the end when it got bogged down in philosophy
26a by Diana Evans
I fell in love with all the sisters at 26 Waifer Avenue but especially the twins, whose loft bedroom, ’26a’, is their refuge and land of imagination. This beautiful and heartbreaking coming-of-age story follows the girls as they grow up and struggle to adjust to a much more separate adulthood. I really liked how this novel combines realism with a sort of family mythologising to show how they make sense of trauma and grief.
The Dragonfly Pool by Eva Ibbotson
This is one of the most perfect children’s books I’ve ever read! It follows a doctor’s daughter who joins a boarding school shortly before the start of the Second World War and gets herself and her classmates involved in attempting to rescue a prince of a country threatened by the Nazis. It’s an utter delight from start to finish.
Kamikaze Girls by Novala Takemoto
I was really looking forward to reading this story of an unlikely friendship between two girls in opposing subcultures – a ‘Lolita’ and a ‘Yanki’ – I love the film. But I didn’t feel like the book added anything to the story I’d already seen, so this is a rare case where I prefer the film.
Buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
Little Black Dress edited by Susie Maguire
When I bought this I thought it was a non-fiction book and I was disappointed to realise it was a short story anthology. But I did ultimately end up enjoying it despite this! It was really interesting to read a selection of stories themed around an object and to see how differently each author used the idea of the little black dress.
Buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
Losing It edited by Keith Gray
Another themed anthology – this one about first times. It’s quite a short book. The most memorable and my favourite is a story called Different for Boys by Patrick Ness.
A Change is Gonna Come
This anthology is themed around change, featuring exclusively black, Asian and minority ethnic authors and a mix of stories and poetry. The stories are really interesting and it’s great to see such a range of perspectives and ideas. My favourite story in the book is Hackney Moon by Tanya Bryne.
The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
I thought this book was absolutely fabulous – a thoughtful, careful, joyful, and sparkling verse novel about Michael, a queer, mixed race boy figuring out himself and the world. His journey is not just about self-discovery but also about finding the right friends and having the bravery to stand up to them when need be.
Get in Trouble by Kelly Link
This is a short story collection by an author that I’ve read bits and pieces by before – it was well worth reading. But my favourite story, The Summer People was also in the Steampunk! anthology – a brilliant tale soaked in mystery about a girl who’s inheritance is a job she cannot escape, serving the troublesome and curious residents of a mansion near her home.
The PLAIN Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg
I am so excited that this is finally in print that I haven’t got over it even though I’ve already read it! This is a collection of three graphic novels about a group of girls who start a secret art group, People Loving Art In Neighbourhoods – to bring creativity and criticism to their small suburban town. The first two came out over a decade ago so I was really pleased to discover I still love them and to get to read the last in the series.
A Dragon-Lover’s Treasury of the Fantastic edited by Margaret Weis
This first came out in 1994 so to be honest I wasn’t expecting much and it was a pleasant surprise how much I enjoyed this book of fantasy and science fiction stories featuring dragons. I really liked getting to explore all the different possibilities that dragons have to offer from magical hoards to rides through the sky and seeing the range of settings from the far future to the distant past and even more recent time periods and faraway planets.