So, here's a run-down of the books I've finished so far this year.
We Do Not Kill Children - Penelope Wallace
It's a typical fantasy pseudo-medieval adventure - the hero (tall, dark, silent, scarred, scarily good at being a warrior) is falsely accused of murder (murdering children, indeed!) and then - oh, no spoilers.
I enjoyed it as a fast-paced, young adult fiction. It is unusual, as Christianity is sort of included in the culture of the society. But it is a Christianity that while being strongly moral as regards theft, murder, justice, the rule of law, also happily accepts same sex relationships. The main issue I had is there are numerous noble families, with numerous noble family members, in numerous territories and countries. There is a complete list at the beginning of the book, but I was reading it on my kindle, which makes it harder to flip back to the dramatis personae. So I gave up on keeping track and just enjoyed the plot.
The Crowfield Demon, The Crowfield Curse - Pat Walsh
More medieval fantasy, but this time set in a "real" historical medieval landscape - a monastery, with monks. But with a hob, and angels, and a fairy king (think evil and teeth and nasty, not pink and rainbow and nice). I keep getting Crowfield Abbey mixed up with Crowland Abbey in my mind - I wonder if that is where the author was thinking of too?
It's another young adult book, probably for the same age group as Narnia and the Hobbit. Which suits me as I like both of those books too. There are a number of shorter spin-off stories, about the characters in the book which I haven't read. And there is to be a sequel - Crowfield Rising - which I am keeping a watch for.
Margot and Me - Juno Dawson
I cried buckets. Except when I was laughing. It has a sad ending, but everything ends well in spite of the sadness. The "Me" is a teenager called Fliss, who is not at all happy at being moved, with her mother, from her smart private school at a smart London address, to stay with her stern Grandmother in her rough and ready Welsh farmhouse in a small nondescript village with a run down comprehensive school. Fliss' opinions of her new life at the farmhouse, her grandmother, the school, did make me laugh. The reason why they had to come to Wales - her mother's cancer - and the few insights on how Fliss had to take care of her mother, are very poignant. I don't want to give away the ending.... so I shall stop there.
Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
Aha - you see! I do read "adult books" from time to time! (Although I was reading it from my kindle, not from this copy which is for sale on Amazon at £3,750.)
This was the first Jane Austen that I ever read "by myself". We "did" Northanger Abbey at school when I was about thirteen - completely wasted on us. Then, in the sixth form, I found one of those small "Everyman" editions of "Sense and Sensibility" in the library and I was hooked. I started re-reading it because I watched the last two episodes of the television series one Sunday afternoon, and wanted to refresh my mind how it began. I've always enjoyed the bit at the beginning when the son and heir talks himself down and down regarding how much money he should settle on his widowed mother and his sisters, who are left considerably impoverished. Anyway, the rotter gets his just deserts, the faithful suitor wins his suit, and everything works out in the end for the heroine.
Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Another "grown-up" book. I sort of struggled to finish this one, but every time I got a bit bored another view would out. The book has opened my eyes to a whole different way of living, of society, that I am completely ignorant of. It was just not like that in my world Home Counties England, private education, easy circumstances. I'll probably read it again some time.
Dead-Eye - Sam Lewellyn
A pan-European thriller taking in industrial waste, macho sailors and runners, murder, love interest - you name it, it gets included somewhere. I've read a couple of Sam Llewellyn's, as much for the descriptions of sailing and scenery as for the actual thriller and plot. One for the charity bag, now I've finished re-reading it. I reckon twice will be enough. I'll remember it too well next time.
Sun Horse, Moon Horse - Blood Feud - Rosemary Sutcliff
I've been a fan of Rosemary Sutcliff's historical since forever. The "Eagle of the Ninth" series, set in Roman Britain, is well known, but there are plenty more. I used to trawl the library shelves for all her books, and those of Henry Treece and Geoffrey Trease. I bought cheap paperbacks of these from Oxfam. Blood Feud is a saga about the Vikings, travelling as far as Dublin and Constantinople. Sun Horse, Moon Horse, concerns the Uffington White Horse.
I'm currently reading "Ink" - it was a recommendation from somewhere but I'm not sure how much I like it. I'll give it a little longer. It's another fantasy. Someone once pointed out that all fantasy stories depend on a medieval-style setting with horses (or dragons - Anne McCaffrey) and nobles and serfs and class systems. I rather think he has nailed it.