April Reads 2015

April was a pretty good reading month overall, with a couple of contenders for my best of 2015 list.

HARRYS LAST STAND-B-HB.inddHarry’s Last Stand by Harry Leslie Smith (non-fiction)

I read this as I was going to hear him speak at my local university, but was unfortunately too ill to go, and I expect he would have been better to hear than to read. He is an engaging writer, but, even though the book was very short, it could have done with more editing down due to some unnecessary repetition and sections that didn’t flow very well.

h is for hawkH is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald (non-fiction)

This book is about Macdonald’s grief for her father, taming a hawk (Mabel), nature, and the author T.H. White (who wrote the Sword in the Stone, as well as a book on his own attempt at taming a hawk – The Goshawk). It is incredibly well-written and very visual with beautiful imagery and description. The different parts of the book blend together seamlessly – Macdonald compares her process of taming a hawk with White’s rather inept attempt, but it’s clear throughout that both she and White are working through personal pain and difficulty through falconry, albeit of different kinds. There’s also so much about nature and our relationship to it in the rawest sense, and how grief blurred the lines between the hawk’s taming and her own untaming. Really highly recommended if you like memoir or nature writing.

the art of the imperfectThe Art of the Imperfect by Kate Evans (novel)

It took me a while to get into this, but once I did it was a nice easy-read sort of book. I loved the chapters about Aurora and her post-natal depression as they were very vividly and interestingly written, and I liked Hannah’s interactions with the other students on the psychotherapy course, but the rest was kind of average to me. For a self-published book, the production on this was good quality in that the cover had a nice texture and it didn’t have that difficult-to-read ink/page contrast that other self-published books I’ve read have had (though there were quite a few proofreading errors).

Henrietta lacksThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (non-fiction)

I really enjoyed this. There’s so much in it – from Henrietta and her family’s life, to medical ethics, race, and scientific advances (and their cost) – and at the same time it’s very readable. Another one that I highly recommend. Full review here.

Bitchplanet_04Bitch Planet #4 by Kelly Sue Deconnick & Valentine de Landro (comics – fiction)

Back to the main story for this issue – things move forward and we also get a lovely misogynistic & patronising explanation of the Megaton from two annoying holograms (in a good way). This issue has been delayed and it was really interesting to read in the back about why. The comic visually plays on exploitation tropes, so when it came to a sex scene in a shower, it apparently took three goes to work out how to deliver a non-male-gaze visual within a male-gaze trope. I think de Landro just about pulled it off. The essay in the back this month is by Mikki Kendall and about how mainstream white feminism needs to do more to be inclusive towards black women and girls, focusing on how black girls face harsher discipline at school and a greater risk of police involvement, even where the offence is exactly the same as white female peers’.

I don’t think I’ve talked about the back page of these issues before, even though they are always awesome. It always has a bunch of really misogynistic fake ads (that are just more overt and direct versions of real ones). This month’s favourite – a vagina douche because “your vagina is disgusting”, “also available in spicy cinnamon taco, for the girl adventurer.” Perfection.

saga vol 3Saga vol 3 by Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples (comics – fiction)

I liked the first volume but I wasn’t sure why Saga is hyped as much as it is, but this volume really delivered. A lot of plot and action happens, but there’s still lots of humour and development of the characters and their relationships. The artwork is gorgeous with great colouring, and I like that there’s the occasional full page panel. Looking forward to the next one.

Currently reading: The Beach Hut by Cassandra Parkin

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