June disappeared like morning mist as I made an unplanned trip up to the Highlands for a couple of weeks (working weeks, so not as much exploring as I’d like, but I got to work with beautiful views). The tail end of the month has been nose to the grindstone finishing off contracts, and dreaming I was back up north…
After May feeling mediocre, June was largely brilliant as I joined the Fantasy Hive read-along to reread She Who Became The Sun, and devoured Adrian Tchaikovsky’s top notch space opera Shards of Earth. I followed these up with the latest slice of Fallen Angel and dragon prince sleuthing and bickering – Of Charms, Ghosts and Grievances by Aliette de Bodard – which was every bit as delightful as expected (expect a review this weekend – all my posts are running late after a hellish week). I’ve nearly completed my reread of The Expanse too (nothing like a long drive to tear through an audiobook); this final act continues to impress with its focus on consequences and character development.
- Shards of Earth – Adrian Tchaikovsky ★★★★☆
- She Who Became The Sun – Shelley Parker-Chan ★★★★★
- Bite-size Books: Of Charms, Ghosts & Grievances – Aliette de Bodard ★★★★
- Audio Read:
A highly-subjective DNF rounds out the month’s reading. Like 84K, I found reading Claire North’s Notes From The Burning Age to be like hearing nails on a chalkboard, amplifying aspects of the real world I am most anxious and angry about. While North is an excellent writer, I am in no state to enjoy her work right now. That said, I also found Notes felt oddly flat for what is nominally a high-tension high-stakes espionage plot; but perhaps that was partly me subconciously refusing to engage with the Brotherhood at any level.
I ended Wyrd & Wonder with a bit of a backlog, and have made less progress through June than I hoped. Still, I’ve been chipping away ever since, prioritising ARCs and Subjective Chaos nominees (a lot like my reading, really!)
- The Knave of Secrets – Alex Livingston ★★★
- Firebreak – Nicole Kornher-Stace ★★★★☆
- Bitesize Books:
Stacking the shelves
Having got into the habit of submitting to temptation in May, I started June in much the same way. I think I need some cosy fantasy in my life, so there was no arguing with Travis Baldree’s Legends & Lattes after all the positive buzz; and I was never going to put up a fight with Six Crimson Cranes, Elizabeth Lim’s culture-flipped retelling of my favourite Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, or When Women Were Dragons (come on, the title alone!).
And then I walked into a small independent bookshop in a small Highland town and found Deep Wheel Orcadia, a verse novel of identity and belonging and desire and space stations in – yes – Orcadian dialect (don’t worry, there’s an English translation included).
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: 42 | DNFs: 5*
- 7 off the shelf (i.e. not acquired in 2022)
- 17 ARCs
- 14 bite-size (excl. short stories)
- 7 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: 17 male (36%) / 23 female (49%) / 4 trans, enby or genderqueer (9%) + 3 collaborations (6%)
- Authors of colour: 13 (28%)
- LGBTQIA authors: 11 (23%)
- Non-US / UK based authors: 6 (13%)
- Small press / independent: 17 (36%)
Challenges are dormant until July as I continue to focus on Subjective Chaos shortlists.
What’s coming up?
I have July off – a much-needed break before I start a new job in August (and go back to work full time for the first time in 18 months, welp) – so I am making no plans but predicting much reading and walking and cooking and blogging. Here on the blog, I hope to be able to announce our Subjective Chaos finalists mid-month and I’ll be returning to Fionavar for the second part of our read-along: expect weekly posts on The Wandering Fire through July as the first of all worlds gears up for war.
How was your June?