In February I read six books, all of them fiction:
The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon (Borough Press) – A wonderful debut novel and one of my favourites of the year so far. Ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly turn detective to find out the whereabouts of Mrs Creasy, a resident of The Avenue who has gone missing. It is a gripping, charming, and humorous story that looks at the secrets hidden behind every door. Through the numerous residents on the cul-de-sac it explores how we perceive one and other, and whether or not we blend in with the flock.
The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes (Jonathan Cape) – The latest novel from Man Booker Prize winning author Julian Barnes is a fictionalised retelling of the life of composer Dmitri Shostakovich. Told over the course of three sections covering three key points in Shostakovich’s life, the reader learns of the struggles that he faces living his life under the threat of Stalinist Russia. Covering themes such as bravery and cowardice, art and love this is an interesting, informative book about what happens when art and power collide.
The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis (Two Roads) – A dark compelling debut set in Georgian London. As her parents arrange for her marriage to a suitable, older gentleman, nineteen year old Anna has her heart set elsewhere. She becomes captivated by Fub, the butchers apprentice and sets out to win his heart. However, events take a sinister turn and Anna’s feelings for Fub spiral into an obsession – just how far will Anna go to get what she wants? It is a dark, atmospheric tale with plenty of surprises and an unforgettable protagonist.
Wilful Disregard by Lena Andersson (Picador) – A recipient of Sweden’s prestigious August Prize, Wilful Disregard is a sharp, witty novel dealing with love and desire. In it the reader meets poet Ester Nilsson, a woman who has a steady job and a steadier relationship. However, following her first meeting with artist Hugo Rask, Ester’s world starts to change, and she falls in love. What follows is the raw emotions of one woman dealing with her infatuation. A gripping, observant read.
The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge (Pan MacMillan) – Frances Hardinge’s prize winning children’s book is a wonderful story of history and fantasy. Teenager Faith Sunderly is determined to get to the bottom of what happened to her father who had died in mysterious circumstances. In her quest for the truth she discovers The Lie Tree, a tree that feeds off lies and reveals hidden secrets. Soon Faith’s lies spiral out of control and she learns that the residents on the island of Vane may not be what they seem. Blending fantasy and mystery this is an excellent story of a young girl and her journey of discovery.
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (Hodder and Stoughton) – A science fiction debut from Becky Chambers where the story is character driven. Rosemary Harper leaves her home planet of Mars to join the crew of The Wayfarer, a spaceship travelling the length and breadth of the galaxy. Rosemary brings with her a secret but she is not the only one – the crew is made up of a variety of species all with their own lives, loves and stories. An enjoyable book which explores what happens when the lives of an extraordinary group of characters combine in the confines of the spaceship.
You can read full reviews of all of my February reads by clicking the links above and they can also be found in my February archive. Thanks for reading!