Linnea Hartsuyker's epic debut perfectly captures Viking Norway in a way that is exciting, uncompromising and elegantly written. This is a book of heroes and whilst it draws on the Icelandic Sagas retelling of the making of kings, it's refreshing to find a historical narrative that focuses as much on the female experience as the male without reducing the woman to the role of voiceless lover or pawn.
Every three months or so I find myself overtaken by an almost uncontrollable sense of claustrophobia and clutter rage. I'm naturally quite a messy person and whilst I definitely find creativity in the organised chaos of my house, there is a tipping point where suddenly all I can think about is pulling out all of my books, reorganising my shelves and cupboards and having a good old throw out.
The King of the historical fiction genre has returned with a stand-alone novel re-telling the first staging of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and I practically ran to the bookstore to buy it. How could I resist? I'm a massive Cornwell fan, he's one of the few authors where I will actively go out and buy the hardback rather than wait for the paperback and this looked like it ticked all my boxes - Cornwell's usual eye for detail with setting and description, theatre and adventure all rolled up together.
Right off the bat - I've got a nine month old daughter. This is reason enough to steer clear of the GoodReads Challenge 2018, but like a weary glutton for punishment I stumble onto the website on January 3rd in a fog of wine, chocolate orange and stuffing and before I know what's happening.... 100 [...]
"Notes On My Family" is a wonderful, funny, heart breaking YA novel published at the end of last year by the very talented Emily Critchley. Portraying an autistic narrator has a very specific set of challenges for an author, not only do you need to tread the line between being candid and being sensitive, but you also need to avoid the massive pot hole of 'basically Curious Incident'.
I'm struggling to remember the last time I read a book that didn't have magic in it.... This hasn't been an intentional decision - maybe it's just the autumnal weather kicking in, but it has had the beneficial side effect of immersing me in literary depictions of otherworldliness and getting me to think about what I do, and definitely do not, like about how the extraordinary is dealt with by authors.
It's great to be finally back in the swing of things (sort of) post baby and I actually managed to read enough books to justify a Month In Books post! I realise that most of these are fairly dark in nature, often with a bit of death and paranormal goings on thrown in for luck, which means that this list is probably more appropriate to an October pickings, but ho hum... And whilst they might not be summer beach reads, most of these books are good for being curled up under a blanket with whilst it's gloomy outside - perfect if you're looking for something for the next couple of months yourself.
What can I say - one of the best novels of the year so far. "Sing, Unburied, Sing" is part Southern Gothic, part American road novel, part Steinbeck-esque story of people and place. It explores not only the family dynamic of Jojo, his grandparents and his drug addicted mother, but also their ties through the ages - to the dead and the living.