It’s been over a month since we finished our World Kit Lit Challenge and my thoughts have turned to other projects. On my quest to find new texts for translation and more generally for enjoyment, I’ve read a fair few books over the last few weeks and I thought I’d write a round-up of some of those I’ve particularly enjoyed.
Still leben by Antonia Baum
In this non-fiction text, Baum discusses the difficulties of being a mother in today’s society. But this isn’t some sob story about the hardships of motherhood; Baum tackles some of the big topics – gender equality, the taboo of breastfeeding or rather not breastfeeding, the decision to have a baby in the first place, guilt and mental load. This book really spoke to me as a mother and there have been several conversations with friends where I’ve found myself discussing issues that Baum raises.
Las Princesas Dragón, El misterio del huevo dorado by Pedro Mañas
The mystery of the Golden Egg is the first in the Dragon Princesses series. Usually I’m really very anti-princess so I was intrigued by the strapline for the series: ¿Es que no te has enterado? ¡El cuento ha cambiado! (Haven’t you noticed? The story has changed!). No more princesses waiting to be saved, no more prince dashing in on his horse to save the day. Oh no, these princesses are taking the lead. Adventurous, brave and daring, this is the sort of book I’d encourage my daughter to have on her shelf.
Do you speak chocolate by Caz Lester
This is an English-language mid-grade novel that introduces year 7 pupil Jaz to a new classmate, Nadima, who has recently arrived with her family from Syria. Over the course of the story, Jaz makes several attempts to “help” her new friend, most of which blow up in her face. Lester cleverly weaves into her story acts that we might be tempted to do to “help”, for example, raising money for a particular family because they are “poor”. She explains through her narrative that Nadima’s family don’t want charity, they are proud people who want a chance to be respected in their new home. Aimed at early secondary-school children, I thought this was a really insightful story to help youngsters understand how they can help their new peers.
Apfelblüten und Jasmin by Carolin Phillips
Another title on a similar theme to Do you speak chocolate, but this time in German and aimed at a slightly older age-group. In the opening pages of the book, we encounter Talitha, a 16-year-old Syrian refugee who, it transpires, is at risk of being deported. In order to stay, she has to tell her story. Apfelblüten und Jasmin goes on to tell her story. Written in the first-person, it is a moving account of her journey and how she has become separated from the rest of her family – the jasmine flower representing her past and the apple blossom her future.
The Hypnotist – Lars Keplar translated from Swedish by Ann Long
Something completely different now. My friend and mentor Ellen Worrell recommended this book to me. From the beginning I was hooked. This fast-moving thriller was cleverly written with the middle section flashing back to a previous period before the current action. I didn’t expect the twist at the end which I always enjoy. At times it was bloody and gory though – if you are of a delicate constitution, this one’s probably not for you!
The Taxidermist’s Daughter by Kate Mosse
Set in 1912, this is another dark thriller. Connie Gifford lives with her alcoholic father in a decaying house at the edge of a village. As a child, Connie suffered an accident leaving her with no memory of her childhood. Following her father one evening, she witnesses a gathering of the villagers in the local churchyard. Shortly after that, the body of a young woman appears. It appears that a chain of events has been started and it begins to reawaken Connie’s memory. Another grisly ending to this one, I’m afraid, but the pages turned quickly to find out who the culprit was and why they did it. I particularly enjoyed the descriptive language in this book – the pouring rain and the wind have stayed with me in my mind.
I’ve got some more books sitting next my bed waiting for me, so watch out next month to see which titles make it into my review.