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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Hodgson

April reflections

Updated: May 28


I’ve ended up having something of a quieter April than I’d originally planned, for a variety of personal reasons. I started the month with a magical day up in London when I finally visited Aqua Shard to try their Peter Pan afternoon tea (I’ve done a feature on both my Instagram and TikTok if you’d like to check it out). We also caught the Globe’s wonderful recent production of Othello before it ended. It never ceases to amaze me how Shakespeare can be so creatively reinterpreted and restaged for a modern audience. Students sometimes grumble to me about having to study Shakespeare in the classroom, but the hearts at the centre of each of the plays are genuinely timeless. 


I’ve heard a fair few grumbles about the weather this month, but, in reality, the temperatures have been about right for April. It always has been a transitional month. I’ve been reflecting on how the very changeable nature of April is similar to our own processes when going through change as there are quite a few of those happening around me right now. It’s not instantaneous, and some days you can feel like you’ve taken a step backwards into the previous season. Slowly and steadily, we move into our next phase though, and there’s value in recognising that small steps make for steady progress instead of trying to rush it. Just like April, we’re going to have some days that feel downright miserable alongside the days that things feel a little lighter, brighter and like we’re finally getting somewhere. 


What I’ve been reading 

The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch

I’ve been slowly making my way through the Rivers of London series and am really enjoying them. Police procedural meets magical underworld; it’s such an engaging series. I enjoy the balance between the cases of each individual book and the wider story arc with the Faceless Man. This wider story really heats up in this instalment and I think it’s really hitting its stride the further we get into the series. 


Eliza Mace by Sarah Burton and Jem Poster

This is the first in a new cosy Victorian mystery series set in the 1870s Welsh borders. Eliza is a headstrong young woman who teams up with the new village PC Dafydd Pritchard to help solve her father’s disappearance. It’s an easy, if slightly predictable, read but enjoyable all the same. Although it didn’t set my world on fire, I’d probably read the next one as well to see how the characters develop. 

 


Now She is Witch by Kirsty Logan

This historical, dark fairytale-esque story was a book club pick and I was captivated by the atmospheric descriptions and lyrical storytelling. There are a couple of quite chunky sections which are written in a stream of consciousness style which may not be for everyone, but I loved the very urgent sense it brought to the story. 




The Last Devil to Die by Richard Osman 

The latest from our favourite OAP crime fighters sees a friend of the gang murdered in a country lane. The Thursday Murder Club jump straight on the case in what is quite a twisty and turny plot. The wider cast of characters has grown since the first novel and, dare I say, it feels a little overcrowded at times. It is, however, quite poignant in places, and continues the series in strong fashion.


Whale by Cheon Myeong-Kwan

This novel was actually written about 20 years ago, but was only published in an English translation last year and walked straight onto the International Booker Prize shortlist. It is a multigenerational tale of Korean women, commenting on the rapid period of modernisation Korea experienced in the late twentieth century. With elements of magical realism and absurdism, it is a deep yet humorous read and I found it immensely enjoyable.

 

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

Beth O’Leary is the queen of taking unlikely scenarios and running with them. In this, a twentysomething living in London and her grandmother living in Yorkshire switch houses and lives for a couple of months. Against the odds, it does actually kind of work, but I do think the romance element came in second to the resolution of other issues in the characters lives. 


Plot Twist by Breea Keenan

This friends-to-lovers romance sees Becca heading off to spend the summer with her female writer friend Riley in Ireland. The only issue is, it turns out Riley is actually a man. This was another quick and easy read this month, but I would say the real driving force was the character development in difficult circumstances rather than the romance itself which actually felt like a relatively minor plot point in the end. 


Heartless, Powerless, Reckless and Hopeless by Elsie Silver  

Well,  I binge read the rest of the Chestnut Springs this month! Fun, flirty and easy reads, they’ve been just what I needed. Yes they are quite formulaic, but I have enjoyed the world Silver creates. I think my favourites of the whole series have been  Flawless and Heartless, mainly as they’re the most cowboy-centric. Hopeless didn’t quite hit the same for me as I just didn’t find the premise as engaging, and the pairing didn’t ring true for me. Overall though, they’ve been fun and I’ll definitely try some of the author’s other series. 


What I’ve been listening to

The middle of the month saw the release of The Tortured Poets Department and I’ve been listening to that almost religiously ever since. Every few days I seem to have a new track I fixate on, but that’s usually how I get to know an album. I am finding that the more I listen the more I see the nuance in this release. It’s an impressive album, maybe a little over-produced in places, but the beating heart of it is simultaneously vulnerable and spectacular. I’m not sure it’s toppling Evermore off its perch as my favourite album, but it’s coming very close to it. 


What I’ve been watching

As you may have gathered from these posts, I am very much someone who enjoys rewatching a comfort show. We’ve picked up Brooklyn 99 again which has been a bittersweet experience with the recent untimely passing of Andre Braugher. It’s a show that never fails to make me smile though. 


We’ve also been carving out some time on a Sunday for a film or two for the past few weeks. So far we’ve watched the new Jumanji films, the Kingsman films, and, this weekend just gone, we’ve watched The Martian which I’ve had a hankering to do since reading Project Hail Mary. I’m sure a reread of the book will also be imminent. 

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