July Redux: summer doldrums

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

July has been a quiet month in books: the first half flew by with barely any reading thanks to real-world work-related meltdowns – although when I did find some books I could settle in with they were exactly what I needed. The trick was finding the right book to read.

Reading Round-up

  • Of Dragons, Feasts and Murder – Aliette de Bodard  ★★★★
  • The Green Man’s Foe – Juliet McKenna ★★★☆
  • The Animals at Lockwood Manor – Jane Healey  ★★★☆
  • The Poppy War – R F Kuang  ★★★★☆

I tried hard to read The Sin in the Steel by Ryan van Loan, but sadly it ended up a DNF. The pitch is my jam, but the reading experience and characters set my teeth on edge. I’ve also paused on David Mogo, Godhunter, which I’m enjoying far more, but is still suffering from a focus on action over characters (although at least I like these characters, and I’m enjoying the concepts). The format of interlinked novellas made it terribly easy to put down – I will finish it, but without urgency.

Additional Reviews

I’ve slowly, slowly inched out from under the shadow of my review backlog: partly catching up, partly forgiving bad debts, but I’m down to just my July reads outstanding. I’m hoping this will help my brain find equilibrium in 2020 (because it can still take me 4 hours to overthink write a review, and I’d really like to get it back down to 1).

Stacking the shelves

Look, this was me resisting acquiring books this month, okay? I’m just not very good at it. Goldsboro Books have a lot to answer for (hooray for the SF & Fantasy Fellowship). Don’t ask me about the other Goldsboro edition I pre-ordered this month; I’m not stacking it until it arrives in September. Of course, Rebellion Publishing also made quite a dent this month. I have only gratitude, no regrets.

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: 40 / 70 | Game of Books: 333 / 600

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

Authors: 10 male (25%) / 27 female (67.5%) / 3 trans, non-binary or genderfluid (7.5%)

  • Authors of colour: 13 (32.5%)
  • LGBTQIA authors: 14 (35%)
  • Non-US / UK based authors: 8 (20%) 


First up, the LitsyAtoZ challenge hosted by BookishMarginalia. July started and ending with books beginning with letters I’d already marked off, but I made a concerted effort in the middle of the month to conquer an additional letter to keep things moving along. Consequently, I now stand at:

Letters completed: 16 | A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, K, L, M, O, R, S, T, W

Why, yes, when I say “I made a concerted effort” I mean “deliberately found a book beginning with A to tidy up the beginning of the alphabet”. Shh.

My 20 15 Books of Summer score stands at 7 – so I guess I’ll be lucky to hit 10 this year. Oops? Look, it’s 2020, I’m not going to be too hard on myself.

What’s coming up?

August is traditionally a reading slump for me, but I’m hoping I got that out of the way in July. Given what 2020 has been like, who knows what to expect? My core focus will be our Subjective Chaos finalists, although ultimately I shall potter through whatever strikes my fancy and holds my interest if the alternative is not reading at all. And The Dragon Republic is calling…

How was your July?