May saw me travel halfway around the world to see family for the first time in 3 years. Stir in Wyrd & Wonder, the worst jetlag of my life and ongoing family health worries and it was a good month, but a lot. It also meant I was less present for Wyrd & Wonder than I would have liked, so don’t be surprised if you get very delayed comments from me as I still mean to blog hop!
A lot of this month’s reading was done on aeroplanes, my favourite place to power through reads I’m not looking forward to. I didn’t get through quite as many books as I hoped, and it was about as enjoyable as I expected – which is to say May was mostly another mediocre reading month about which I will say very little (although watch out for a review of The Knave of Secrets, a decent debut that didn’t quite ring my bells).
Fantasy book of the month goes to audio serial The Dark Tome, a portal fantasy horror in which a troubled teen is drawn into parallel worlds through a grimoire in her local second hand bookstore. Excellent atmospheric full cast production – think radio play rather than audio book (available on Realm.FM or via Soundcloud at The Dark Tome). Review (hopefully) to follow – I look forward to getting back to season two.
However, my star read wasn’t fantasy (oops) – Firebreak by Nicole Kornher-Stace is an excellent dystopian tech thriller of water scarcity, corporate warfare, massive multiplayer online gaming and amoral branding exercises (yessss, give me those Marketing villains). I loved Mal, the ace spec, socially awkward gamer who is braver than she thinks she is; and enjoyed the themes of friendship and resistance in the face of overwhelming odds. Highly recommended – somebody give it a UK release!
- The Knave of Secrets – Alex Livingston ★★★
- Alyx: an AI’s Guide to Love and Murder – Brent A Harris ★★
- Noughts and Crosses – Marjorie Blackman ★★★
- The Summer Tree – Guy Gavriel Kay ★★★★
- Where Oblivion Lives – T Frohock ★★★
- Firebreak – Nicole Kornher-Stace ★★★★☆
- Bite-size Books:
- Audio Read: The Dark Tome – created by Fred Greenhalgh & Bill Dufris ★★★★
One DNF this month – I find Valente’s style overwhelming, so The Past is Red was abandoned at the halfway mark. Valente fires so many ideas at me at such a rate (and wrapped in such overworked prose) that I generally disengage with a headache; this was no exception, and I found it irritatingly quirky and perky to boot. I suspect it will suit fans of Space Opera better.
I expected to squeeze a few more reviews in this month, but here we are (although to be fair, most of my backlog is SFnal at this point, so was never going to suit Wyrd & Wonder). Everything I read this month made me retrospectively appreciate The Collarbound even more – I’m suspect it will bump up to 4 stars on a reread.
Stacking the shelves
May being hard in many ways, I put up no resistance to temptation. I intended to, then thought ‘eh, why’ and surrendered and I have no regrets. I have a month off coming up before I start a new job and I think I might just read all the things. ALL OF THEM.
My primary goal – always – is to read diversely and to love every book. This year, I plan to focus on reading what I already own and flip the percentages of reading recent acquisitions vs off the shelf (so I am making very careful decisions about what books to buy and ARCs to request).
Books completed: 36 | DNFs: 4*
- 7 off the shelf (i.e. not acquired in 2022)
- 16 ARCs
- 13 bite-size (excl. short stories)
- 5 audio reads
* I only track DNFs where I made significant in-roads into the book – rapid bounces don’t count. Percentages are calculated across both completed reads and declared DNFs.
I track my author mix to keep me honest and I share it for those who are curious. This year, I’m also tracking publishers to see how many books are from small presses / independents (I may try to distinguish between the two, as Bloomsbury operate on a very different scale to, say, Rebellion – let alone Louise Walters Books! As my reading will be dominated by what’s on my shelf, this will set a handy benchmark for what may become a target in 2023…
Authors: 13 male (32%) / 21 female (52%) / 3 trans, enby or genderqueer (8%) + 3 collaborations (8%)
- Authors of colour: 11 (28%)
- LGBTQIA authors: 9 (23%)
- Non-US / UK based authors: 4 (10%)
- Small press / independent: 17 (43%)
Challenges remained in the back seat this month (and will likely stay dormant until July as I continue to focus on Subjective Chaos shortlists)
This month was a random pick from our TBR, which I’m very much looking forward to at some point. Sadly none of this month’s reading qualified!
This month’s prompt was starlight, which is begging for interesting interpretation. I’ll get back to it!
There’s Always Room For One More Backlist Challenge | Join in on Storygraph
Prompts completed: Move Over Mister: Planetfall | Written in the 80s: Native Tongue
The Great Series Read Project | No progress | Goal: 1 / 3 completed
Again, I could probably make progress here, but I’ll revisit and update at the end of June.
Prompts completed: The occult: Piranesi | Death: How High We Go In The Dark | Rocket: Far From The Light Of Heaven | Ex libris: The God of Lost Words | The house: What Abigail Did Last Summer | Watch: This Is Our Undoing | Witch: Witchmark
What’s coming up?
I planned to spend June mopping up my Subjective Chaos shortlists and getting some downtime – the past 3 months have been very intense with family and travels, and this bookwyrm needs to recharge!
…or so I thought. Then The Fantasy Hive announced a read-along of She Who Became The Sun for Women in SF month; and The Summer Tree read-along demanded to continue to The Wandering Fire and well read-alongs for rereads aren’t exactly demanding so now I have More Plans.
How was your May?