December Redux: end of a decade

A pair of burgundy boots rest on a bookshelf of fantasy novels

Until Dave mentioned it on Twitter (thanks Dave), I hadn’t really thought about it being the end of a decade. Yes, this month my head has been stuck under a work rock, then full of head cold, then full of Christmas. I’ll try to get my head around epochs at some point, but for now let’s look back at December…

Reading Round-up

December has been an odd mix of targeted reading (those dance cards don’t complete themselves), mood reading and no time to read at all (thanks Christmas). There was little chance I was going to ‘catch up’ on my Goodreads target, but I’m more dismayed to miss my Game of Books goal by such a tantalisingly small amount. Still, I did get two out of three dance cards filled and they did – as hoped – push me into reading books I might have otherwise delayed for another decade.

  • The True Queen – Zen Cho  ★★★
  • The Lights Go Out In Lychford – Paul Cornell  ★★★★
  • The Bone Ships – RJ Barker  ★★★★★
  • The Blazing World – Margaret Cavendish  ★★
  • Head On – John Scalzi  ★★★★
  • Circe – Madeline Miller  ★★★★
  • Daggerspell – Katharine Kerr  ★★★★★

Additional Reviews

I got none of December’s reads reviewed (yet), but I’ve been chipping away at November’s backlog. Steel Frame continues to sit with me, earning an extra half star on longer reflection for successful emotional devastation. Hunger Makes The Wolf is just a joy – I’m looking forward to picking up Blood Binds The Pack very soon.

Stacking the shelves

O HAI WAS IT CHRISTMAS? My people know me well: I got some awesome book gifts this year, including a stunningly illustrated Folio Society edition of lifelong favourite The Silmarillion (yes, I love depressed Elves making bad decisions, shush). I’d like another week off to read some of these please…

Reading statistics

My goal – always – is to read diversely and to love every book. This year, I was determined to read more books I already owned, which… didn’t really happen (and when it did, it tended to be a reread). The bookdragon’s curse! It wasn’t the only target I missed this year.

Books read: 69 / 75 | Game of Books: 393 / 400

  • 8 / 22 off the shelf (i.e. not bought in 2019)
  • 23 ARCs / Hugo packet
  • 18 bite-size (excl. short stories)

Authors: 21 male (30%) / 43 female (62%) / 4 trans, non-binary or genderfluid (6%) and 1 collaboration

  • Authors of colour: 12 (17%)
  • LGBTQIA authors: 16 (23%)
  • Non-US / UK based authors: 7 (10%)

Dancing with Fantasy and SciFi

My I managed to fill two of my dance cards this year: I am a Fire-breathing Alien Dragon (which seems entirely appropriate) and if I shameless wrangled a couple of the categories to fit books on my shelf, I also read books I would have otherwise delayed. The dancing has been very satisfying – a million thanks to Annemieke for creating the dance cards!

20/20 Fantasy prompts: Classic Fantasy (Daggerspell) | Magic School (The True Queen) | Necromancers (Children of Blood and Bone) | PTSD (Someone Like Me) | Dragons (The Poison Song) | Fairytale Retelling (Foxfire, Wolfskin and other Stories of Shapeshifting Women) | Grimdark (Darksoul) | Ghosts (Brightfall) | Uncommon fantasy creatures (The Kingdom of Copper) | Shapeshifters (Vengeful)| Gods (Empire of Sand) | Animal companion (Maud the pig in Once Upon A River) | Matriarchy (Turning Darkness Into Light) | Set In Our World (The Loosening Skin) | Witches (The Near Witch) | Magical Law Enforcement (Lies Sleeping) | Thief (The Ascent to Godhood) | Pirates (The Bone Ships) | Portal fantasy (Beneath The Sugar Sky) | Warrior (Trail of Lightning)

Yes, I know, The Bone Ships isn’t technically about pirates. But it’s a bunch of condemned criminals on a boat and historically cultures who raid one another’s settlements to steal children get called pirates. Frankly that’s a good enough match for me. Besides, it’s one of the best books I’ve read all year.

20/20 SF prompts: On a Different Planet (The City in the Middle of the Night) | Spaceship (Shadow Captain) | A.I. Point of View (I Still Dream) | Utopia (Semiosis) | Virtual Reality (The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle) | Hive (Childhood’s End) | Steampunk (The Haunting of Tram Car 015) | Alien (Tiamat’s Wrath) | Super powers (Static Ruin) | Science (The Calculating Stars) | Proto Sci-Fi (The Blazing World) | Replicate (The Survival of Molly Southbourne) | Space Colonization (The Freeze-Frame Revolution) | Time Travel (This Is How You Lose The Time War) | Mecha (Steel Frame) | Space Creatures / Beasts (Space Opera) | Teleportation (Head On) | Space Western (Hunger Makes the Wolf) | The Moon (Adrift on the Sea of Rains) | Invasion (A Memory Called Empire)

If Scalzi can discuss why downloading from one threep to another is sort of like teleporting in the text of the novel itself, then it’s a novel about teleporting. I’d already decided there was no difference, and when the author seems to agree… job done.

What’s coming up this year?

2020 will definitely see the return of the Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards, Wyrd and Wonder and SciFiMonth – but other than that, it is a blank page. I’m conscious of how little I’ve reviewed in 2019, so  I may play a little with my formats (what regular posts I write and how I approach reviews) to see if I can rebalance this a little and ensure reviews don’t disappear when I’m under pressure.

In indistinct reading goals, I’d like to read more backlist SFF, but focus exclusively on works by women and marginalised authors. I’m going to join Runalong Womble for some read-alongs that dovetail neatly here, but will also be reading more widely. I also want to refocus on last year’s goal of reading books I already own – maybe this time…

I’ll be mulling my goals this week, so watch this space for a new set of challenges to help guide my reading through interesting waters in 2020.

Have you had a good year?