Books mentioned and mini-reviews:
Dolor’s Legs by Frances Hardinge
I actually didn’t read this in July, I read it in May, but I have repeatedly forgotten to mention it in these wrap-ups! It’s a short story from the world of the Myriad, the islands that Deeplight is set in. I absolutely loved Deeplight so it was really nice to go on this little mini adventure back in that world that focuses on another of the god-creatures.
Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron edited by Jonathan Strahan
This is an anthology of stories about witches and I absolutely loved it. There were several authors in this book whose work I’ve never read before, including Garth Nix, whose story I loved so much I’ve been making up my own fanfic in my head for other things that could happen in its world! There were also several stories I enjoyed by authors I’ve read before, like Ellen Kushner, Charles de Lint and Tanith Lee. I am going to be keeping this one on my shelf so I can dip back into it and reread those favourite stories again.
Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
I read this for my work book club. It explores the lives of two girls who have the same father but different mothers. Their father is a bigamist, married to both women, but only one of them knows about it. It starts from the point of view of the “secret” daughter, and then switches to the “official” daughter when they meet, exploring the effects that this has on the two girls. Dana, the secret daughter, has known since she was small that her father won’t acknowledge her in public and won’t tell his other family about her. She only gets to see him once a week, and isn’t allowed to do anything that might mean she comes in contact with Chaurisse, her sister. Inevitably, as she gets older she resents this more and more. Meanwhile, Chaurisse has to deal with confusion and betrayal when Dana finally comes into her life. Set in the 1980s, it also deals with issues around race in the US. I thought it was really interesting and couldn’t put it down.
The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
I adored this and want to read all this author’s other books now! Set in at time it was published, the 1920s, it follows two bored, lonely, middle-class married women, both dissatisfied with their husbands, who see an advert in the paper for a castle in Italian Riviera, available to rent in April. They are both so taken by the idea and desperate for a break from their lives (though they won’t admit it to themselves), that they decide to respond to the advert and rent it for the month. To save money, they find two other women to come along with them. One of them is an unmarried aristocrat who’s been pampered and adored her whole life and she is absolutely sick of it and desperate to be left alone. The other one is a grumpy widow, obsessed with the poets she met when she was young. She also doesn’t want to have anything to do with the others, in fact she wants to be left alone so much she tries to reserve parts of the castle for her exclusive use. It’s far from being action-packed, but I found it funny, delightful and charming – like a holiday in a book!
Buy: Hive (affiliate link)
Who Framed Klaris Cliff? by Nikki Sheehan (review copy)
Set in a world where imaginary friends are real, this YA novel tells the story of Joseph, who didn’t have an imaginary friend when he was a child but has started to be able to sense his neighbour’s imaginary friend, Klaris. This “migration” is considered a warning sign of an imaginary friend going bad, and as some bad things have happened in his neighbours’ house their father decides that they should undergo a procedure to have the imaginary friend part of their brain removed. This will mean they lose all their imagination and the main character is horrified by this because he relies on his imagination to remember his mother, who he hasn’t seen in years, and so he sets out on a quest to prove that the imaginary friend is not guilty of the crime. I really enjoyed this – it’s got a great, claustrophobic, close atmosphere, and you root for Joseph to work out what’s going on, something that makes the twist even more devastating.
Craft of Use by Kate Fletcher
I have long had an interest in memoirs and other stories about people’s relationship to clothes – how they wear them, choose them, customize them etc. I’ve never really had the correct terminology to describe that succinctly and then Craft of Use came along – it turns out all those things I love are “craft of use”, the activities that happen after a garment is sold to a person, after what we conventionally think of as the fashion industry, manufacture and sales, is out of the picture. It was absolutely fascinating and I want to read more books about this subject.