I’m sure no one will need to ask why if I say it’s been an unsettled month. Halfway through I suddenly found that the speed at which I was doing everything had been cut by half and so a lot of the reading that I projected at the beginning of the month came to nothing. In addition, given the freedom to go out more than once a day, I’ve been walking five or six miles just because I can and also because it’s something I don’t normally have the opportunity to do. It does cut into the reading time however, and so I’ve only managed to get through seven books – almost unheard of for me. Five of these were Arcs and thus the reviews will not appear for some time, however, I can recommend, once they’re available, the latest novels by Olivia Kiernan (If Looks Could Kill), Caz Frear (Shed No Tears) and Claire Askew (Cover Your Tracks) who each have the most recent instalment in their respective crime series forthcoming in the next few weeks. In children’s fiction I read Tracy Darnton‘s current offering, due at the beginning of next month, The Rules. This was quite scary, given that the main character is the daughter of a Prepper, who has been planning for ages how he is going to survive the very type of situation we now find ourselves in. Perhaps someone should give the author a crystal ball and she if she can foresee how we’re going to find our way out of our current position. However, by far and away the best of the arcs that I read this month was Emma Straub’s new novel, All Adults Here, due out in the UK in the middle of July. I only picked this one up because it had been recommended by Elizabeth Strout; if I just read the blurb I would have assumed it was the sort of book that would never appeal to me. It’s typical Strout territory, set in a small town in the Hudson Valley and focusing on the relationships between parents and their children and I have to say that I loved every word of it. I read it as slowly as I possibly could because I simply didn’t want to leave the world that Straub had created and given the opportunity I’d go straight back there just to find out what happened to her characters as their lives progressed. If you like Strout you must put this on your tbr list. I would say it’s my book of the year so far.
The other two books I read were both published long before even I was born: Arthur Ransome’s Pigeon Post and Margery Allingham’s Police at the Funeral. As you will know if you’ve read the reviews I wasn’t particularly impressed by the Allingham, but revisiting the lives of the Walker, Blackett and Callum families as they scoured the Lake District hills for gold was a great pleasure and seem to bring back happy memories for many other bloggers too. This prompted a desire to return and explore some of the other children’s books that I had enjoyed so much when I was working in the field and so you won’t be surprised to find that there are a couple of tried and tested volumes in my growing pile for June. I have to say though, that I’m reluctant to make too many predictions about what’s going to happen over the next thirty days given the almighty mess I made of it last month. So please take what follows as a list of possible as opposed to a list of probable, reads.
I’m pretty much up-to-date with my arcs for July, but I notice I’ve got six that are due for publication in August so I’m going to have to read at least a couple of those. For once there aren’t any crime novels amongst them so it looks as though I’m going to be fairly short on my favourite genre. However, there are three new police procedurals due out in June that I haven’t been able to pick up for review which means that I will therefore have to speak nicely to Jolyon Bear and see if I can sweet talk him into letting me buy copies. Our finances are not as tight as they were at the beginning of the lockdown, so I think that means we will definitely be seeing M W Craven’s The Curator, Roz Watkin’s Cut to the Bone and Jo Spain’s After the Fire, joining the pile. However, three in a month is very much shortcomings for me where crime fiction is concerned so that probably means that I will be digging into the fifth episode in Albert Campion’s career, Sweet Danger, which sees our intrepid hero off to a small Baltic country in order to restore its rightful rulers to the throne. I just hope that Lugg is around this time to leaven the dough. I haven’t had much success with the other Golden Age crime writers that I’ve tried, leaving aside the obvious Christie, Tey and Marsh, but I’m not averse to giving someone else’s work’s a spin. Does anyone have any suggestions as to authors from that period that I might look into?
In the case of children’s books one of the arcs I do have is by an author called Catherine Fisher, whom I’ve always felt is not as well known as she ought to be. With that in mind I’m currently reading the earliest of her books which I remember encountering, The Snow-Walker’s Son. It’s the first of what was originally a trilogy and then was added to with a fourth novel later on, and is probably aimed at 10 and 11-year-olds. Certainly, I would have read it with my Year 6 classes. I’m very much enjoying it and will definitely go on to read the others. I’ve also got two further old favourites sitting on the shelf, Lucy M Boston’s The Children of Green Knowe and Australian author, Alison Croggon’s The Gift. Again, both of these are the first novels in a sequence and if they live up to my memory then I will almost certainly read the later instalments as well.
Other than that, I have to say I’m a bit at a loss, especially as books that were due out in June have been pushed back by the publishers. David Mitchell’s new novel, Utopia Avenue, was expected towards the end of the month but is now advertised for July and the same is true for Ali Smith’s final volume in her seasons quartet, Summer, rescheduled for August. I said I would hang on and read all four books when the final volume was available, but given the complexity of her work I’m not sure I have the little grey cells to handle that at the moment. A question of wait and see, I think. Still, I’m quite sure that the book fairy won’t let me go short of reading material. I just hope that I managed to get through more this coming month than I’ve managed in the last.