I’m spending 2018 reading mostly women. Only mostly, because I don’t want to be too restrictive about these things. If I read a book by someone who is not a woman I won’t have “failed”. I’m also trying to read books that are recommended to me, books by people I follow on Twitter, that kind of thing.
In June I read:
The second and third books that follow on from A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness – I read the first book because it’s going to be on TV (with Alex Kingston, who I hope gets a bigger role in the show than her character does in the book) and then it ended on a time-travel cliffhanger. I love time travel so had to continue, then once I’d read two of (what I thought was) a trilogy, there was nothing for it but to read the third.
Promising Young Women by Caroline O’Donoghue – I love Caroline’s work in The Pool and on the School For Dumb Women. This story about a young woman working, living, and dating in London got darker than I was expecting, and that’s a good thing.
No Man of Woman Born by Ana Mardoll – This is a collection of reworkings of fairy tales. Remember in Return of the King when the Witch-King says “no man can kill me” and Eowyn takes off her helmet and says “I am no man” (also a hobbit helps, and Hobbits are not Men)? It’s a lot like that. Ana’s pronouns are xie/xer (prounounced “zee”), and a number of the characters also use pronouns you may be unfamiliar with, but if you have ever read any fantasy this won’t be too difficult for you, it just takes a little practise. This also means that this book falls under the “mostly” part of #readingmostlywomen.
Go Ask Malice by Robert Jospeh Levy – I was sent this by a fellow fan of the podcast Buffering The Vampire Slayer and didn’t check who the author was before asking for it, so this is another “mostly”. This book basically isn’t available anywhere, so I had to read it and send it on to another fan. If you’ve ever wanted to read about Faith’s backstory, this is the book for you. One thing that was interesting is that it seemed to have been published in 2006, after all of Buffy had aired. Was there still a market for tie-in books at that point? Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to get hold of.
A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers – The sequel to The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet, which is one of my favourites so far. It’s a loosely-linked sequel with few common characters, this time we’re exploring what it is to be a person rather than a thing (and having a fun time learning about other species’ foods and music). It is, unsurprisingly, lovely.
London Belongs To Us by Sarra Manning – A fun night rushing through London with a 17 yr old who really needs to get home to clean up the remains of a meaty BBQ before her vegetarian mum gets home, but is a bit distracted by French patisserie chefs on mopeds and posh girls who say they are her boyfriend’s girlfriend and dancing the cha-cha in a disco in a corner shop. South London is described as “bloody hard to get to” (unfair). The trains and buses and tubes all do go where they should go.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng – A birthday present from a friend, who didn’t know that I already follow the author on Twitter. This starts out feeling like it could go a number of ways. Is it about a teenager feeling that maybe she doesn’t like her mum’s choices about how they live their life, and would prefer the comfy suburban existence of her classmates? Is it about how creepy the very-organised overly-regulated suburban communities are? (there was definitely an X-files episode set in this kind of community) Well, yes, but it’s also about the ethics of reuniting a baby with the mother who abandoned it, taking it away from its adopted parents.
The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara – I had preordered this and forgotten about it, so it was a nice treat to have it arrive on my kindle. Mary has been dressing as a boy and calling herself “Mark” since she was 4, at first to trick a rich relative, later for safety. She has found herself onboard a pirate ship and is trying to track down her childhood friend (who she may be in love with) – he has only ever known her as Mark, never as Mary. We switch back and forth between her time on the pirate ship and the story that got us to this point. Mary also meets a girl who is living the pirate life while openly “being a girl”, something that both attracts her and scares her.