April Reading

Here we have a good chunk of my April reading, except the CC Spin title which will be out in a few days, and the long-term, slow books I'm reading, like Red Famine and Les Miserables.  So I do have some more serious titles, but also I get so sleepy these days when I'm reading!  I know we all have this problem...

 Carrie's War, by Nina Bawlden: I'd heard this middle-grade novel described with high praise, and a copy had been sitting on my tablet for a while.  And yep, it's really good!  12-year-old Carrie and her brother Nick are evacuated from London and sent to rural Wales (which means there's very little of the outside war in the story; it's all about Carrie figuring out her life).  They live with Mr. Evans, the village shopkeeper, and his sister.  Mr. Evans is fanatically frugal and bullies everyone around him, though he seems to be totally unaware of the effects; he's surprised when people don't like him.  "Auntie Lou" is kind but flattened out.  Pretty soon Carrie and Nick must visit the house at Druid's Bottom (ha), inhabited by the siblings' estranged and ill sister, Hepzibah the housekeeper, Mr. Johnny, and another evacuee.  There is where their real life happens, in weekly visits, but the comfort and happiness found at Druid's Bottom is threatened.

The story is told in a frame, with an adult Carrie visiting the spot with her children.  She's been afraid to go back ever since, and what will she find?

Map Drawn by a Spy, by Guillermo Cabrera Infante: This is an autobiographical novel by Infante, who never names himself but goes ahead and names everybody else -- there's even a list at the back.  Infante has been serving at the Cuban embassy in Belgium, and upon his mother's death, he goes home for a visit.  He's leaving for Belgium with his two daughters when -- at the last second -- he is prevented, and it becomes clear that his career in revolutionary Cuba has been blocked.  Infante wanders around Havana for months, observing its crumbling state, having affairs at random (ahem, his wife is still in Brussels), and losing direction.  Eventually he needs to get out of the country.  The summary sounded a lot more interesting than the novel actually was; this was a meh.

You Must Remember This,
by Kat Rosenfield
: Look, I read a book published in this calendar year!   Delphine has run away from her attempt at New York City life and is living with her mom at the old family home in Bar Harbor.  Mom has been caring for her mother, Mimi, who is slowly succumbing to dementia and is now living at a nursing home.  Delphine visits her daily, drinking in Mimi's stories of her great love and reckless life.  Everyone -- including Mimi -- gathers at the family home for Christmas, and tensions are rising.  This is a well-plotted suspense/thriller story, and I enjoyed it a lot.

The Drift, by C. J. Tudor: I liked The Burning Girls well enough to pick this one up, and it's very different.  Set in a plague-apocalypse future, we have three sets of people caught in a winter storm on a mountain.  Hannah is trapped on a crashed bus with only a few survivors.    Meg is caught on a cable car that has stopped moving, and one of the passengers has been stabbed to death.  Carter works at the Retreat that Meg and Hannah are both supposed to be headed for -- a large facility with, again, only a few survivors. 

There are not a lot of survivors in the world, since the viral plague hit; it kills you if you're lucky, and if you're not, leaves you a contagious wreck.  It's pretty dang close to being a zombie apocalypse story, really.  Tudor had the idea in the fall of 2019, so events kind of caught up with her while she was working on it.  This is a fairly gruesome tale; I had forgotten Tudor's style was like that.   It was gripping and well-told, but not exactly a cheery tale.


  1. I remember reading Carrie's War long ago. You should fix the author's name -- she's Nina Bawden.


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