What to Look Out for in April

April will be a busy month on the blog what with four Wellcome Book Prize shortlist reviews plus posts on our shadow panel decision and the awards ceremony, three blog tours within a week, and various other review books jostling for my attention.

To be reviewed at any time.

April 5th seems to be a huge day for new releases. I own four print books that are all coming out on that day; alas, the only one I’ve been able to start is Elizabeth J. Church’s All the Beautiful Girls, for an upcoming Shiny New Books review. I’m approaching the one-quarter point. The others may well have to wait for a quieter time.

April 5th releases.

I started another April 5th release on my Kindle a couple of weeks ago, Things Bright and Beautiful by Anbara Salam. It’s about a missionary couple whose lives are disrupted by the return of an older missionary. I was thinking of abandoning it until I got to the last line of the prologue, which threw in a pretty great twist. So maybe I’ll go back to it.

For now, I can recommend the one April 5th release I actually managed to finish:

 

Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce

If you loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I have just the book for you: another feel-good World War II-set novel with characters you’ll cheer for. December 1940, London: Twenty-two-year-old Emmeline Lake dreams of being a Lady War Correspondent, but for now she’ll start by typing up the letters submitted to Henrietta Bird’s advice column in Woman’s Friend. All too quickly, though, the job feels too small for Emmy. Mrs. Bird refuses to print letters on Unpleasant subjects, which could include anything from an inappropriate crush to anxiety. She thinks cowardly readers bring their troubles on themselves and need to buck up instead of looking to others for help. But Emmy can’t bear to throw hurting people’s missives away. Perhaps she could send some advice of her own?

Emmy shares a flat with her best friend Bunty, and they each have a fiancé who is part of the war effort. As a volunteer for the Fire Brigade, Emmy sees the effects of Luftwaffe bombings up close. But it’s only after heartache hits home for both of these young women that they really understand how much is at stake in the war. The novel got a little melodramatic for me in its last quarter, but it’s overall a charming “Keep Calm and Carry On” and Stick It to Hitler-style story that never strays far from jollity for too long.

Other readalikes: My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff and The Night Watch by Sarah Waters

Some favorite lines:

“I told myself we could all get blown up by tomorrow so we might just as well enjoy ourselves.”

“Granny didn’t spend half her life chaining herself to railings for today’s woman to moon around waiting for some chap to look after her.”

My rating:

 


On Monday we’re off to Wigtown, Scotland’s Book Town, for five days. Though we’ve been to Hay-on-Wye, Wales six times, we’ve never been to Wigtown despite meaning to for years. When I read Shaun Bythell’s Wigtown bookselling memoir last autumn, it felt like a sign that it was time. Did you see his The Diary of a Bookseller has been described in French as le quotidien d’un libraire misanthrope écossais (literally, “the daily life of a misanthropic Scottish bookseller”)?

That’s too good! If only it were the official French title. I will of course be visiting his shop, and asking for a signature on my proof copy if I can pluck up the nerve. We’ll strive to be model customers lest we become the subject of a grumpy Tweet or Facebook post.

Coals to Newcastle and all that, but here’s the pile I’ve packed for Wigtown.

This is mostly for the six-hour car rides there and back. During the days we’ll be busy with outings to the surrounding countryside plus book shopping and café visits, but I daresay there will be some time for reading at the B&B in the afternoons and evenings.

For once I haven’t scoured my shelves for place-appropriate books; I don’t think I own any particularly Scottish reads, unless Michel Faber’s Under the Skin counts (ah wait, I also have an Ali Smith novel on the shelf).

Anyway, this time I’ve really just put together a pile of books I’ve been wanting to read for ages. The only ‘work’-related one is Between Stone and Sky, for a TLS review; otherwise I’m giving myself from Easter through the 6th off. I’m not even sure I’ll take my Kindle, except as a backup – that kind of thing could get you (or, rather, your Kindle) shot in this town. If I do, I’ll be sure to leave it behind in the B&B room or the glove box when we go into town for the day!

 

What are you up to in April?

16 thoughts on “What to Look Out for in April

  1. Very much enjoyed Brother, one of several heart wrenching novels I’ve read recently, and delighted to see a Canadian title published here in the UK. Looking forward to what you think of All the Beautiful Girls and I hope you love Tender as much as I did.

    Have fun in Wigtown. I bet you consume more petrol on the way home than on the way there, weighed down by your enromous book haul!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like you have a lovely trip planned. A B&B, bookstores and cafes is my ideal! I need to write up a review of a book I just finished for the blog, but I’m delaying posting anything new because–exciting news!–my most recent post will be featured on WordPress Discover on Saturday! It’ll be a nice early Easter gift. April I must devote to revising my WIP, my historical novel manuscript set just before WWII. Maybe I should read _Dear Mrs. Bird_ for inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m looking forward to Dear Mrs Bird, which is next up on the Kindle from NetGalley.

    First new read for April will be Iris Murdoch’s “An Unofficial Rose” which is traditionally one of my less favoured ones but let’s see what happens this time as I seem to have been getting a lot out of the readalong so far!

    NetGalley wise I also have Running, My Therapy by Scott Douglas, Gone Viking by Helen Russell (novel by the Year of Living Danishly author) and The Lido by Libby Page, which I think might be a bit like The Library at the Edge of the World. I’ve just read and am about to review A Grand Old Time by Judy Leigh, which was an old lady escapes from her care home genre read that was quite good but not amazing – yet another NetGalley win.

    Have an amazing time in Wigtown!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Mrs Bird will be right up your street, I predict! I’d worried it would be too twee for me, but I enjoyed it. I also have The Lido from NetGalley, but it’s drowning in a sea of other review books and is unlikely to become a priority.

      I read An Unofficial Rose somewhere between 5 and 10 years ago (since I know I read it during my London commuting days) and can remember zero about it. Isn’t that awful!? It wasn’t a stand-out for me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I really liked Dear Mrs Bird but The Lido fell on the wrong side of twee for me. April’s looking pretty busy for me with NetGalley reviews as well. I’ve got Sight and The Trick To Time from the Women’s Prize longlist to read, along with Samantha Harvey’s The Western Wind.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. To be honest, I’m not the keenest ever on Unofficial Rose, though I’m hoping I’ll change my opinion this time. I get some of the characters mixed up with those in Nuns and Soldiers, and although it is stuffed full of Murdochian themes, I seem to feel meh about it. Hopefully that will change this time round, but no, I don’t blame you! The Lido looks like some light fun for me perhaps for the week after my marathon …

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Good to know about The Lido. It’s not a priority, that’s for sure.

        I’m keen to read Sight and The Trick to Time. I have the latter on my Kindle but haven’t been able to find the former.

        Like

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