June Redux: catching up

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

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…

Reading Round-up

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.

Additional Reviews

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!)

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).

Reading statistics

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%)

Reading Challenges

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?