Book Reviews

Spell the Month in Books: April 2023 

I’d forgotten about the Spell the Month in Books linkup until I spotted Lisa’s post for April. The idea is to spell the current month with the first letter of book titles, excluding articles such as ‘the’ and ‘a’ as needed.  Reviews From the Stacks hosts the link up on the first Saturday of each month, so I’m a little behind. Never mind, we are still in April.

This month the theme is “Anything Goes” so I’m choosing to feature novels by Welsh authors that I’ve read in the last few years. I suspect most of these authors will be new names for many of you.

All links will take you to my reviews.


Advent by Jane Fraser

Set in rural Wales in 1904, Advent shows the conflict between a woman’s desire for an independent life and her sense of duty and loyalty to her family.


Pigeon by Alys Conran

Winner of the Wales Book of the Year Award in 2017, Pigeon is a tale of friendship between two children from broken homes, a bond that is fractured when one of their pranks goes horribly wrong. Alys Contran was shortlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize for her debut novel.


The Redemption of Galen Pike by Carys Davies

This is one of the very rare occasions when I enjoyed a collection of short stories. In the 17 stories that make up The Redemption of Galen Pike, Carys Davies takes readers from the wilds of Siberia to a remote farm in the Australian outback and a to a prison in a small Oklahoma community. They show individuals who yearn to connect with other people, whether they are prisoners or neighbours. I’ve since gone on to read two further books by Carys Davies, both of which were excellent: West and The Mission House.


In Two Minds by Alis Hawkins

In Two Minds is the second title in the Teifi Valley Coroner series — a historical crime series set in the rural communities of the Teifi Valley in West Wales. The principal character is Harry Lloyd Probert, the squire’s son, who active involvement in crime investigation defies convention — he’s meant to be learning how to manage the family estate, not tramping around the country asking questions.

The joy of this novel, and the first book None So Blind, is their historical context. The traditions and attitudes of life in nineteenth century West Wales really come alive in the narratives.


The Long Dry by Cynan Jones

The title of Cynan Jones’ superb novella has a dual meaning. On one level it refers to the long, hot and arid summer day which form the background to the story. But it is also a commentary on the state of the relationship between the two main characters: the farmer and his wife. Their marriage is crumbling, their encounters marked now by suppressed anger and frustration. They love each other but can’t find a way out of the silences that have become habitual. My review can be found here.


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

17 thoughts on “Spell the Month in Books: April 2023 

  • Great way to highlight some Welsh writers for the rest of us! Advent in particular sounds appealing to me with my love of historical fiction.

    • I have discovered so many Australian authors through you and Lisa and Kim so it’s nice to hear that my ramblings about Welsh authors are of interest

      • Definitely! With my name and ancestry, I’m keen to find Welsh authors and stories too.

  • I love the Carys Davies for the R, and what a great way to showcase Welsh authors. Thank you, as I don’t know many. I’m going to read the Pigeon review, as the premise you describe here intrigues me.

    • Hope you enjoy Pigeon. it contains some dialogue in the Welsh language which the author hasn’t translated for non Welsh speakers. A brave decision.

  • A rather, erm, novel way to interpret this meme, Karen (or should that be ‘newydd’?!). I really ought to try the Alis Hawkins series having lived near the Teifi valley…

    I can spell the month in book titles read just this year only if I marginally cheat by including Tolkien (because I haven’t quite finished the appendices) and the Lindgren (which I’ve already used for spelling MARCH)…

    Argonauts of the Air, The (Wells)
    Planet of Exile (Le Guin)
    Ronia the Robber’s Daughter (Lindgren)
    Ivanhoe (Scott)
    Lord of the Rings, The (Tolkien)

  • I keep forgetting about this meme, but I’m doing this next week. Better late than never, right?

    • Absolutely. Do it whenever you feel like it is my motto.

      By the way, I am still having problems commenting on your blog if I use my iPad. No issues though when I use my laptop

  • I second your enthusiasm for Carys Davis. I’ve just recently read The Mission House and thought it was terrific.
    Pigeon by Alys Conran interests me, I’ll keep an eye out for it at the library.

    • Great to find another Carys Davies fan club member.
      If you can’t find Pigeon, Alys wrote another novel called Dignity. Not as good as Pigeon though

      • Alas, it’s not at the library, which means a hunt in the secondhand shops. But hey, that’s half the fun!

        • Who can resist a good rummage around in a second hand book shop! Sadly I don’t have many options near me

        • That is a shame. But all the better when you find one!

    • always happy to do my bit as an unofficial ambassador for fiction from Wales


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