Annabel by Kathleen Winter
This is a seriously under-rated book about the experience of a hermaphrodite raised as a boy in rural Canada during the 1960s. Despite the topic, there's no sensationalism and instead it's a thoughtful, quiet book that still packs an emotional punch. I loved Wayne's father, Treadway, who in his own way was the most understanding despite his rough exterior. Annabel is a great literary fiction novel that deserves more love.
Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch
Jaffy Brown is a street urchin in Victorian London who gets a job working for Jamrach, the owner of some exotic animals. Tasked with being part of a crew setting sail on a whaling boat to capture the infamous Komodo dragon, Jaffy is in for some adventures, not all of them good. I loved Jamrach's Menagerie because it's a good old-fashioned adventure story that isn't afraid to show blood and guts too. If you thought The Lifeboat was a harrowing account of a shipwreck, you should try this one!
Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
I love gothic classics and I love vampire stories, so it was only a matter of time before I read Carmilla, about a family that shelter a seemingly harmless young woman only to suffer the consequences. I loved this book for the atmosphere, I felt as though I was in the creaking Austrian forest looking at the ruins of an abandoned castle. Readers who enjoy classics will love this one, especially fans of Dracula.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
April found me working my way steadily through the Orange Prize long-list and my favourite was the eventual winner, Song of Achilles. I kept putting off reading this book as I'm not a fan of stories set in Ancient Greece and the mythology isn't something I'm generally interested in, but this book had me hooked. It's a beautiful love story about two people caught up in the sweep of history. Trust me on this one, it's amazing.
Honorable Mentions: April was an awesome reading month, I also loved Esi Edugyan's Half Blood Blues, The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman and of course Gillespie and I by Jane Harris.
The Cranes Dance by Meg Howrey
The Cranes Dance by Meg Howrey
Bit of an unexpected one. I don't read much contemporary and I'm not into ballet but this story of sibling rivalry between two sisters really got under my skin. Like the main character, Kate, I'm a perfectionist prone to extremes of emotion and I couldn't look away during her descent into mental illness. This book got to me, and I'm glad that I read it.
Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
June was the month in which I discovered the third Bronte, Anne, and I'm glad to report that I liked her as much as her two sisters. I know Agnes Grey isn't the most acclaimed book but I really related to the story of a put-upon governess as I work as a teacher. Reading it made me think that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The writing was of course wonderful and I can't wait to read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall in 2013.
Have you read any of my favourites?
If so, what did you think of them?