May Redux: adventures all round

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

May has been a month of Wyrd and Wonder. Outside of that glorious celebration of all things fantasy, I’ve been frustratingly absorbed by work, which is busy and more effort than usual because <gestures wildly> my concentration still isn’t what it usually is. Thankfully, May contained two long weekends when I could decompress with books and baking.

Reading Round-up

After April’s terrible relationship with reading, early May saw my appetite for books start twitching. The first half of the month was defined by Subjective Chaos reads that left me split between subjective and objective ratings. As I’m unlikely to review these in full, I’ll mini-review here for once (I say for once. I may make this a habit).

  • Kingdom of Souls – Rena Barron  ★★★(★)
  • Bite-size Books: Walking to Aldebaran – Adrian Tchaikovsky  (???)
  • Realm of Ash – Tasha Suri  ★★★★★
  • The Goblin Emperor – Katherine Addison  ★★★★★
  • The Green Man’s Heir – Juliet McKenna  ★★★

Rena Barron’s Kingdom of Souls is – objectively – a solid 4-star fantasy and I don’t understand why I haven’t seen more people advocating for it. It has a heroine who has issues for all the right reasons, complicated family relationships, and a charming friendship-to-lover romance. The West African-inspired world-building is magical in every sense and the often pitch-black plot is suitably twisty (I commented in discussion that it has ‘many rugs, well pulled’). That said, those (like me) who don’t really enjoy teen protagonists (however well drawn) may wish to steer clear. Still, I vastly preferred it to – inevitable comparison ahoy – Children of Blood and Bone.

Walking to Aldebaran gains my first ever “no rating” because I can’t form an objective opinion on it. It’s simultaneously very clever – an unexpected choice for a retelling, least of all as a slow-creeping space horror with an unreliable first person narrator. Subjectively, it’s the least engaging book I’ve read all year. I finished it only because it’s very short. Objectively, I can’t actually tell how good it is. Others will rightly love this nasty little tale, but Tchaikovsky continues his run of smart, well-written stories that leave me absolutely cold (yes, I got more out of the damn spiders).

…so thank all the stars for Tasha Suri and Katherine Addison, who not only gave me all the feels but two back-to-back restorative 5 star reads.

Additional Reviews

What little reviewing mojo I had went on catch up reviews. My deficit is once again creeping up, dammit.

  • Throwback Thursday: Dawnspell – Katharine Kerr  ★★★☆
  • Bite-size BooksThe Deep  ★★★★

Stacking the shelves

Wyrd and Wonder was always going to make it’s mark, but I have mostly managed to keep it to my wishlist rather than my shelf. Mostly. Oh, who am I kidding.


Reading statistics

My goal – always – is to read diversely and to love every book. This year, I’m also planning to read more backlist. I have joined some challenges, but this year they’re more about fun and helping me pick my next read than pushing me to read specific things.

Books read: 30 / 70 | Game of Books: 255 / 600

  • 7 off the shelf (i.e. not bought in 2020)
  • 10 ARCs
  • 9 bite-size (excl. short stories)

Authors: 10 male (33%) / 17 female (57%) / 3 trans, non-binary or genderfluid (10%)

  • Authors of colour: 5 (17%)
  • LGBTQIA authors: 9 (30%)
  • Non-US / UK based authors: 3 (10%) 


Challenges remain largely on hold at the moment, with the exception of the LitsyAtoZ challenge hosted by BookishMarginalia. Here, I continue to make haphazard progress through the alphabet, and my reading remains oddly focused on specific letters (another 3 reads this month started with the letter G)! My score stands as follows:

Letters completed: 14 | B, C, D, E, F, G, H, K, L, O, R, S, T, W

I’m now over halfway through the alphabet in less than half the year, so I guess I’m doing well if I can wean myself off reading books beginning with D, G, T and W 😉 I’ve even got plans for when I’ll tackle some of the others (Z won’t be until October – I have a perfect backlist title for Spooktastic Reads).

What’s coming up?

I think June might see me take a bit of a breather after such a busy May. I’ve got a lot of ARCs on my conscience and I need a reality check on where I stand with Subjective Chaos. So I have no specific plans for the time being beyond reading and reviewing – and baking.

How was your May?