May Redux: a fantastic journey

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

May is always a joy because it’s Wyrd and Wonder. I started out with big ambitions, but had to dial back posts and social media activity due to a lingering migraine that bit whenever I spent too much time staring at a screen (dammit). I persevered with tree editions (paper doesn’t glare) for some quiet reading in dim rooms, until my brain shut me down with a reading slump. Tch, I can take a hint brain. Well, sometimes.

Reading Round-up

Maybe it was the sore head, but I had reservations about almost every book I finished this month: they were good, but. I loved the folkloric horror of Empire of Wild, but was nonplussed by its obsession with sex and felt it sidelined its best characters. I can’t resist the otherworldly atmosphere Oliver Langmead evokes in his writing, but it was awfully tempting to be flippant about Birds of Paradise (First Man has manpain). Queen of the Conquered shatters conventions around fantasy rebellions, but it’s a harsh read with no patience for your soft reader feelings. The Bone Shard Daughter is a brilliant fantasy inversion of a traditionally SFnal concept, but I found most of its characters underdrawn – and its simplistic take on rebellion suffered badly in direct comparison to Queen of the Conquered.

So in the end, there were a lot of reads I appreciated rather than flat-out enjoyed, and that’s this month’s extremely subjective definition of 3.5 stars.

  • Queen of the Conquered – Kacen Callender ★★★☆
  • Empire of Wild – Cherie Dimaline ★★★☆
  • Birds of Paradise – Oliver K Langmead ★★★☆
  • The Bone Shard Daughter – Andrea Stewart ★★★☆
  • Bite-size Books:
    • Tales from the Folly – Ben Aaronovitch ★★★
    • Orfeia – Joanne Harris ★★★★

Why yes, I did prioritise reading Orfeia so that I could claim a cheeky last minute Wyrd and Wonder book bingo, only to realise I was still a prompt short any which way I wriggled. And that sums up how not on top of anything I was in the second half of Wyrd and Wonder…

Additional Reviews

I started Wyrd and Wonder with a stack of half-written reviews, and have only managed to finish a handful of them (oops).

Stacking the shelves

I expected Wyrd And Wonder to result in me needing some extra shelves, but ironically most of my acquisitions this month have been scifi (although perhaps less surprising that I’m looking forward to a change of pace having pretty much binged fantasy all year). However, I am SO EXCITED to have got my scaly digits on a review copy of The Splinter King, so there’s still some fantasy in my immediate future!

Reading statistics

My goal – always – is to read diversely and to love every book. I decided not to set any particular targets for my reading this year – no Goodreads Challenge or even Game of Books – although I continue to monitor my reading mix.

Books completed: 34 | DNFs: 2

  • 5 off the shelf (i.e. not bought in 2021)
  • 16 ARCs
  • 11 bite-size (excl. short stories)
  • 6 audio reads

Authors: 10 male (28%) / 19 female (53%) / 2 trans, enby or genderqueer (63%) + 5 collaborations (14%)

  • Authors of colour: 12 (33%)
  • LGBTQIA authors: 9 (25%)
  • Non-US / UK based authors: 4 (11%)

BookSpin: 2 read | 2 WIP | 1 DNF

What’s coming up?

Now Wyrd And Wonder is done and dusted except for the epilogue, I am planning to chill out for the summer. I have some reading to do for the Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards, but I’m largely on track there so the pressure is definitely off. I think I get to spend the next 3 months reading to whim (she says, looking at the stack of overdue and pending ARCs). Well, maybe.

How was your May?