I read quite a lot in March. Here are some thoughts on how that went, but no cat picture because he’s out. April will follow pretty imminently as it was considerably slower going…

Reading Life

I read 8 books in March. 8! That’s loads. Although these were predominantly skimmed on my phone in the middle of the night and I don’t think I’d necessarily be able to write a very in depth review of any of them.

This was not an incredibly diverse selection.

All 8 were fiction written by able bodied white women, and I think all of them are straight and cis. The bulk of characters reflect this, though 5 of the books (by Genevieve Cogman) feature Chinese characters and a couple of disabled supporting characters. 7 out of 8 were straight up fantasy fiction, because that’s kind of what my addled new mum brain can handle right now – but I will try to do better in terms of broadening my horizons.

Books I listened to on Audible

Normal People – Sally Rooney

I’d seen quite a lot of positive reviews about this on Twitter, but truthfully the thing that made me download it was actually Will Self slagging it off in the same interview where he was hawking his own line of macaroons. I don’t have much patience for literary snobbery. Normal People is an engrossing portrait of two unhappy teenagers from the west of Ireland. It follows them into young adulthood as they make various good and bad decisions, and though both Connell and Marianne are pretty flawed individuals it is one of those where you find yourself rooting for them. It’s quite tense and emotional, and is a really good evocation of a period in life where you get the option to continue as you were in school or reinvent yourself entirely. I think Rooney is a great writer, and the narration by Aoife MacMahon is spot on. I particularly liked Connell’s observations around literary events in chapter 16.

Books I read with my eyes

A Pinch of Magic – Michelle Harrison

I downloaded this after seeing some good reviews on Twitter, and it also sounded like my bag. “Three sisters trapped by an ancient curse. Three magical objects with the power to change their fate. Will they be enough to break the curse? This is a charming book and I enjoyed it a lot, there’s magic and wonderful world building and the Widdershins sisters are fab.

The Invisible Library – Genevieve Cogman

This one was recommended to me by the Amazon algorithm* a few years ago and I eventually downloaded it when it was in the Daily Deal, but it’s been sitting unread for quite a while. However I am in the market for ripping reads right now and this is perfect – a story about an invisible library looked after by dimension hopping librarians? With alternative worlds inhabited by spies, fae and dragons? This has ‘sleep deprived parent’ written all over it frankly. I really enjoyed this and immediately worked through the rest of the series.

*I do know Amazon are evil but the Kindle app is the only way I’ve managed to read since having the baby. I can read it in the dark when soothing him to sleep, or behind his back when breastfeeding, using one hand. I recommend you go buy the full series from your local independent book shop/borrow them from your nearest library.

The Masked City – Genevieve Cogman

Librarian spy Irene Winters goes to an alternative version of Venice to rescue her assistant Kai after he’s kidnapped by the fae. Intrigue ensues. Lots of fun.

The Burning Page – Genevieve Cogman

When Irene’s escape route home from a mission goes up in flames she’s thrown into another adventure involving her arch nemesis Alberich, who wants to destroy The Library once and for all. What a cad! Adventure abounds in alternate St Petersburg.

The Lost Plot – Genevieve Cogman

Adventure in Prohibition era Chicago involving dragons and more than a little skullduggery.

The Mortal Word – Genevieve Cogman

More dragons, more fae, and more cats for your money! Honestly this is just a very fun series.

The House With Chicken Legs – Sophie Anderson

12 year old Marinka lives with her grandmother in a house with chicken legs that travels all over the world helping the dead find their way into the afterlife. A totally typical tween experience, I’m sure you’ll agree… this is a gorgeous wee book about friendship, magic and finding your own path. Lovely stuff.

Writing Life

I mostly wrote shopping lists and some phone notes about the weirdness of being a parent this month. I’ve not been much good at carving out any serious writing time of late because of the 24/7 on call nature of keeping my tiny parasite alive and reasonably cheerful. Honestly can’t get a word of sense out of the kid so it’s all a bit speculative. Still, some recognisable patterns are beginning to emerge and I’m cautiously optimistic that good habits will be achievable again soon. I think I probably just need to make a concerted effort to write on my phone rather than reading on it – which is uncomfortable and may result in RSI but bringing a laptop with me to settle the sprog (my current reading time) would be pretty darned obtrusive.

Writer Life

In March I made a concerted effort to get out and about a bit with the wean, largely because my sister (who is a huge support to me in all things, from writing to new parenthood) was away on tour for work (in Wales, Egypt and China) and my parents (also a huge support to me) were in Belgium until near the end of the month. So I saw several friends for several lunches, went on many walks, and also tried attending parent and baby cinema to see Captain Marvel. That film has the soundtrack you didn’t know you needed. I think it’s probably a bit better if you have a slightly smaller baby (more likely to sleep, mine did not) but it was still fun! And plenty exercise as I spent the second act walking up and down the back row with the baby in a sling.

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