Books of the month: April 2016

Pick of the month

TheLifeWeBuryAllenEsken26905_fPart of me wants to award Hideo Yokoyama’s SIX FOUR book of the month status as it felt like such an achievement to finish it and the last 100 or so pages were very satisfying. But I won’t ever be calling it a favourite and really was bored by a lot of what preceded the resolution. Allen Eskens’ THE LIFE WE BURY on the other hand was a joy to read from first word to last. It is a book that has all the things I look for – great characters and story that provide a framework for the author to explore an interesting idea – and it is just about perfectly executed.

The rest, in reading order 

Having spent nearly 3 weeks wading through SIX FOUR on my iPad I was especially grateful that I am able to enjoy audio books this month – otherwise it would have been a lean reading month indeed. In the end though it was an above average month in terms of quality

  • *Ellery Adams – A FATAL APPRAISAL (no review is more a sign of my business than the book’s quality, a thoroughly entertaining cosy that doesn’t talk down to readers)
  •  *Hideo Yokoyama – SIX FOUR
  • *Arthur Upfield – DEATH OF A SWAGMAN (My Crimes of the Century pick for 1945)
  • *Ruth Rendell – ROAD RAGE (my favourite Wexford novel and the subject of a Book vs Adaptation comparison)
  • Aoife Clifford – ALL THESE PERFECT STRANGERS (first of two novels by new to me Aussie authors, frankly a bit disappointing for me though I suspect I’m not the target audience)
  • *Karin Fossum – THE DROWNED BOY (another strong novel from this unassuming author, teasing out the truth of a very sad death)
  • *Amanda Ortlepp – RUNNING AGAINST THE TIDE (the second of the novels by Aussie women and a much stronger one in my opinion with an evocative setting and a good exploration of the theme of people not being what they seem)

anything with an asterisk is worth a read

Progress Towards 2016’s Bookish Goals

Challenge Goal Progress
Australian Women Writers Challenge Read 25 eligible books, review at least 20 of them  Read and reviewed 7 books
Reading US Fiction Challenge Read 6 books by new to me authors set in different states of the US  2/6 achieved
Personal – Reduce TBR Have a TBR of 100 or less by the end of 2016 (starting point 145)  TBR = 146 at end of month
Personal – Buy Australian Buy no physical or eBooks from non-Australian stores  So far so good, but not for long*
Personal – Read older books too Participate in at least 6 of the monthly Crimes of the Century challenges hosted at Past Offences  4/6 achieved

The only challenge I feel confident of meeting at this point is the last one on the list as I only have 2 more books to read for it and have already picked out May’s entrant (Margaret Millar’s AN AIR THAT KILLS for 1957). As for the rest I feel that I’m falling behind with most or have almost no hope in the case of my TBR reduction challenge (though there is scope for more Marie Kondo inspired culling of the TBR mountain I guess). I just don’t have as much reading time as I once did. But they are personal challenges only and the world won’t come to an end if I don’t meet them. I’m more content with the fact that I am enjoying my reading (mostly) and the quality of books on offer is one of life’s real treats.

*I haven’t received them yet but I did order 2 physical books from overseas. They’re from the publisher directly rather than a bookstore but still…when they arrive it will mean I’ve broken my streak of not buying from overseas. I lay the blame squarely at the feet of Moira from Clothes in Books who alerted me to the existence of the small press which publishes Well-Mannered Books by Ladies Long Gone. I was powerless to resist.

Looking ahead

Aside from my 1957 book I’ve got a couple more books by Aussie women home from the library and the next in CJ Sansom’s Shardlake series which I only just discovered this year so have lots of catching up to do. It was my choice to pick the book for my face-to-face book club this month and I chose something a bit odd – a crime novel written by a former politician. I’ve no idea whether it will be any good or not but at least it’s less than half the length of last month’s selection. I’ve got a couple of weeks left to read the fifth book on the Petrona Award shortlist before the award is announced later this month. After an internal debate and a lively discussion here on the blog I’ve decided not to read the sixth eligible book which is the continuation of Stieg Larsson’s millennium trilogy by another author. I’ve gone 48 and a half years believing that a writer’s characters and their worlds should die with them and I am not persuaded that this belief is wrong.

What about you? Did you have a great read during April? Anything good coming up for May? Do the seasons affect your reading? We’re heading into winter down under which always seems to offer more reading time for me. 

This entry was posted in Aiofe Clifford (Aus), Allen Eskens, Amanda Ortlepp (Aus), Arthur Upfield, books of the month, Ellery Adams, Hideo Yokoyama, Karin Fossum, Ruth Rendell. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Books of the month: April 2016

  1. You chose two books (the Upfield and the Rendell) that I really enjoyed, Bernadette, so I’m glad to see them among the ones you liked. And after reading your review of the Eskens, I’m thinking more and more about looking it up, ‘though I have to be in the right frame of mind for a book with that kind of bleakness in it. Still, it does sound compelling. And I think I’ll wait on the Yokoyama….

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  2. tracybham says:

    I have already ordered a copy of THE LIFE WE BURY after seeing your review here. I hope I get to it this year. My two favorite books in April were TRUE GRIT by Charles Portis and THE BIG CLOCK by Kenneth Fearing.

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    • I read TRUE GRIT many years ago now Tracy but do remember it being quite powerful, have not read your other one. Doesn’t matter how many books we read there are still so many left eh 🙂

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  3. kathy d. says:

    Well, I put the Eskens book on library reserve and I should get it soon. And I am eager to read Running against the Tide, and will keep checking Book Depository to see if it’s available yet.
    In April, I loved Donna Leons’ The Waters of Eternal Youth, one of the best in the Brunetti series. I read the last Nina Borg book by Kaaberbol and Friis of Denmark; it was OK.
    I was on a clean house, paint and straighten up jag for four days, then relatives. So no
    reading was done. I hope to dig in this week.
    Am quite sad to read about the situation for migrants in Australia.

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    • I’ve got that Donna Leon book on my library reserve list Kathy so will read it when my name rises to the top of the list…you never can tell when that’s going to happen so it could be next week or next year 🙂 Hope you like the Eskens book

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  4. I should apologize for telling you about the splendid Greyladies Press, but I can’t. There’s a couple more of their books I’ve got my eye on…

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  5. kathy d. says:

    By the way, the lively discussion on the blog about David Lagercrantz’s alleged sequel to Stieg Larsson’s trilogy was quite interesting. It got me to think about the writing from another point of view. And, after all, lively discussions show that we’re all alive and kicking, a good thing.

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