Books of the Month – April 2013

It seems I got serious about my reading in April, completing 17 books which is the same total I read for the previous two months combined. Most of what I read was really good which is particularly pleasing as I tried a swag of new authors (12) during the month and two of these have tied for my pick of the month. Paradoxically the month also contained the worst book I can remember finishing (ever) but such, as the say, is life.

TheEarthHumsInBFlatStrachanTHE EARTH HUMS IN F FLAT by Mari Strachan was the first reader-submitted book featured on Petrona Remembered, the website a group of us have established in memory of Maxine Clarke which aims to tell the world about great crime fiction. Laura Root’s passionate review of a book I’d never heard of was exactly the kind of thing I hoped the site would attract and so I hunted down a copy of the book in my local library. It is everything Laura promised and then some, an absolute treat of a story about a 12 year old girl in 1950’s Wales whose simplistic take on the disappearance of a local man is compelling.

TheHealerTuomainenAntti18476_fAntti Tuomainen’s THE HEALER could not, in some ways be more different. It’s set in the near future in Finland and the ravages of climate change have altered the environment and the people. Johanna Lehtinen is a journalist on the trail of the person responsible for a number of brutal killings when she disappears. Her husband Tapani, unable to get the resource-strapped authorities interested in investigating Johanna’s disappearance, takes on the job of finding her. In signs I may be getting soft in my old age I liked this book so very much because, to me anyway, it’s not really a crime story but rather one about a man who loves his wife and isn’t prepared to give up on her. Even though the environment is a grim one THE HEALER is definitely not the kind of dark and depressing novel people think of when they think Scandinavian crime.

Happily most of the rest of my reading for the month was almost as good as this and included (in reading order, with Aussie authors in green)

  • John M Green‘s THE TRUSTED – an audacious, fast-paced environmental thriller
  • Sean Doolittle’s LAKE COUNTRY – blackly comic noir fiction with a genuine sensitivity for life’s outsiders
  • Sue WilliamsMURDER WITH THE LOT – a zany, cosy kind of mystery set in small-town Australia
  • Paul Dorion’s THE POACHER’S SON – exploring a difficult father/son relationship in the woods of Maine – very atmospheric
  • Felicity Young‘s ANTIDOTE TO MURDER – a female doctor must clear her name when she is accused of performing an illegal abortion leading to a woman’s death in Edwardian England
  • Parker Bilal’s DOGSTAR RISING – a Sudanese refugee works as a PI in Cairo during a time of religious tension and social unrest
  • Bateman’s THE DAY OF THE JACK RUSSElL – crime satire bordering on the absurd but hugely funny if you like that kind of thing
  • Leif G.W. Persson’s ANOTHER TIME, ANOTHER LIFE – a perfectly named and surprisingly compelling tale about a crime with origins and a resolution 25 years apart
  • Maggie Groff’s GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS – an investigative journalist looks into the case of a man who was reported dead 25 years ago but has been seen recently
  • Lyndsay Faye’s THE GODS OF GOTHAM – a highly atmospheric, if somewhat confronting tale that starts with a child’s death in New York in 1845
  • Gianrico Carofiglio’s TEMPORARY PERFECTIONS – an Italian lawyer turns PI in an uneven but sometimes insightful novel (review to come).

Because life doesn’t (and shouldn’t) consist of only good things I read another three forgettable books on top of the worst book ever. But let’s say no more about them eh?

Progress towards my book-ish goals

  • I’m pleased that 6 of the books I read for the month were by Australian authors (including the worst book ever) but only 2 of them were by women. I’m relying more on the library this year and books don’t always arrive in a statistically neat order but I’m sure things will round themselves out on this front by the end of the year.
  • My goal regarding book acquisition  is to buy less but buy local (audio books excluded) and is going quite well. Audiobooks aside I have only bought 1 book in April this year (though I did receive a few freebies in the form of books for the judging panel I am on).

Snippets

I posted another roundup of the crime category for the Australian Women Writers Challenge, where a début novel called FRACTURED by Dawn Barker received two positive reviews..

I had a grizzle about not being able to find a good replacement for Google Reader and other first world problems.

Was April a good reading month for you? Do you sometimes feel like you’re on a ‘reading roll’ like I did during April? Did you have a favourite book or three for the month? 

2013-04

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15 Responses to Books of the Month – April 2013

  1. Bernadette – Such a great group of books you read (well, excepting that one, but still). I like the variety of books you have here too. I’m happy for you that it’s been such a good month overall. Oh, and I’ve got The Earth Hums… and The Healer on my ‘must read. soon.’ list.

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  2. Col says:

    17???? Well done! Persson’s on my TBR, Bateman and Doolittle would be the other obvious picks for me. Maybe Carofiglio, but I will wait to clear some of his others off the pile first!
    May’s a longer month, so I’m expecting 18 from you!

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    • No pressure then Col – 18 books might be a bit of a stretch as work looks to be getting very busy but I do seem to have gotten really quite into my reading lately so I may surprise myself 🙂

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  3. Sarah says:

    17 books? My goodness. I’m listening to ‘The Earth Hums in B Flat’ on audio at the moment. I liked ‘The Healer’. You seem to going great guns at the moment. Good for you!

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  4. Wow, you had a great month, and so lovely to have so many winners in the lot! I’m still in the middle of ANOTHER TIME, ANOTHER LIFE, keeping in mind what you said about the middle being somewhat slow. I’m definitely hooked, because I want to know how everything ties together.

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    • It’s definitely one of those that becomes satisfying at the end Belle – when you start to realise why all the boring bits were included (and that they weren’t so boring after all)

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  5. Rebecca says:

    I like your recommendations, and I love the review of the worst book ever even more. So what does a rave review of a book of “transgressive fiction” look like?

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    • LOL Rebecca…I dread to think what a rave review of ‘transgressive fiction’ looks like. I’m not sure I want to meet the person who would rave about that kind of thing

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  6. Kathy D. says:

    Wow! Great list of recommended books here. Wish I could get some of the Aussie books here but will try later on this year. I’ve written down many on my TBR wish list.
    My favorite books from April reading are the latest Donna Leon, “The Golden Egg,” and Mari Strachan’s “The Earth Hums in B-Flat.”
    Another good read was Cath Staincliffe’s “Split Second,” different but very compelling.
    Am now in the midst of three books, the first Amelia Peabody, which series is new to me, but I need pure escapism right now; Fred Vargas’ latest “The Ghost Riders of Ordebec,” and a U.S. legal mystery, “Dead Peasants,” by Larry Thompson.

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    • We’ll have to agree to disagree about Vargas Kathy but I hope you find you enjoy Amelia Peabody. I’ve read most of the early ones but lost touch with the series (I think I thought the author stopped but she’s still going strong). I like Amelia and her gang – unrealistic but great fun.

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  7. KerrieS says:

    You really have got your mojo back

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  8. Kathy D. says:

    Well, what’s pulled me in right now is Peter Temple’s Bad Debts. Quite a good book, and the humor is just wicked — and reason enough to recommend it. And it’s sending me to Google search to look up Australian geography, including the Great Australian Bight — and to learn a bit about Perth.
    Yes. I do like Fred Vargas very much and her brilliant creativity. A friend is now hooked on Inspector Adamsberg and his cronies.
    However, as I’ve learned about personal taste — it’s true of movies, art, music, decor, clothing, etc. — as well as choices in mysteries. There’s often no explaining it. It’s just the way people feel, although family background and preferences probably influence us.
    My sister and I both like legal mysteries, but we watched Perry Mason find the perpetrators for many years on TV and our household saw others on TV, too. We like locked-room mysteries and puzzles, which our father and uncle preferred, rather than psychological suspense.

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  9. TracyK says:

    I am late reading your list. A lot of these are new to me. I hope to read THE POACHER’S SON this year, and I hope to read more Australian fiction in the future. I recently purchased Katherine Howell’s first book based on your reviews of her recent books.

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