In the month of June I read.
And I read the following
In Midnight’s Silence by T Frohock – Foundered on expectations as I thought I was getting more than standard Urban Fantasy; also didn’t really bite the hook or the take on mythology. Well written and fun other than that.
The Last Guardian by David Gemmell – The part where Jon Shannow rode around the not-wild west being damaged goods was meh to okay for me. The part where Jon Shannow rode around helllands with Atlanteans and mad shit was entertaining.
Heroes Shed No Tears by Gu Long – Pithy, quick, and full of twists. Not enough depth to be more, but fun.
Brightly Burning by Mercedes Lackey – A nice straightforwards tragedy about a young man thrust into a hard situation too soon. Very readable and filled with a mix of bad times and good
The Shimmering Prayer of Sûkiurâq by S.L. Dove Cooper – Love the phrasing. Wish it had been longer. Quite a twist from the warm friendships of the first half to the danger of the second which took me a little by surprise, but I’m more than okay with it.
Paladin’s Grace by T Kingfisher – This features wonderfully flowing prose and intriguing characters mixed with a very repetitive set of scenes in an underfleshed plot and world complete with the single most thrown from the saddle tone shift I’ve come across. Went from my book of the year to just another pleasant-ish book in the time it took from Stephen to go from intriguing brooding man in a world of myth to constantly yearning borderline adolescent. Still quite frustrated at the switch.
Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold – A delight. They’re witty and intriguing and full of great lines & scenes, and some of the most interesting characters to make it out of a novella, and just a lovely world view.
Into the Wyrmwoods by Bryan Wigmore – A beta read, so I can’t say too much. But there’s some really enjoyable scenes and mythic twists in this – I guess I’d call it Rural Fantasy?
Dark Prince by David Gemmell – A lot to unpack in this one; a lot of ideas, a lot of years covered. I think it suffers for not following the character with the most at stake. Solid amount of madness, but not of the good sort.
Cold Iron by Miles Cameron – I liked the old school feeling. I like a good coming of age of an unprobably talented person, but Aranthur felt too talented. I liked all the female characters, but were there really no average looking women near him. Liked the technicality of the fight scenes, wondered where the emotion was. Liked the willingness to let the story meander and build until I didn’t. Frustratingly close to just right but a big miss where it wasn’t made even worse by the frustration.
Also, I think short chapters in slow moving books should be against the law.
Knife Edge by Kerry Buchanan – For a novel about an investigation into a knife wielding kidnapping creep, it’s really cozy. Lot of emphasis on the friendly dynamics in an investigation full of brave, competent women; survivor centered too. Looking forwards to the next one.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carre – Watching it as background noise for writing led to a reread. I still think it’s truly remarkable how the story succeeds, with its tiny jumps forward and painstaking detail and oppressive atmosphere. Masterful.
The Silver Pigs by Lindsay Davies – A reread that brings a guaranteed smile to my face. Falco and Helena are just a perfect match, and Falco’s narration was kinda formative to me. The plot isn’t super fantastic but it holds things well enough together.
Lucifer Book One by Mike Carey – Hmm. This one has been itching at the book of my mind for a re-read. I remember it being so great. Not sure now. It’s stylish, and ambitious, but I’m not sure I get a sense of substance or (crucially) character.
Lucifer Book Two by Mike Carey – More I get into it, more I feel there’s a big flaw; Lucifer’s not just the strongest player on the table in his own universe, but the sharpest. He’ll win. But the weight of the plot isn’t on what to do, it’s whether he’ll win. Which he will.
Non-Fiction (tenuously so in some cases)
Understanding Chinese Fantasy Genres by Jeremy Bai – To the point, friendly and informative. Some of it I knew; more of it, particularly on cultural nuance, I didn’t. More focused on xianxia than wuxia and xuanhuan but still useful on all fronts.
The Fairbairn Manual of Knife Fighting by William L. Cassidy – 11 pages. Not sure it adds a huge amount to the world knowledge. Would have been better as an appendix to…
Get Tough! by William Fairbairn – First off, what a title. Second, love the WW2 illustrations. Third, love how often he recommends a knee to the balls. Ends the damn book with it. Anyway, don’t plan to go kneeing chaps in the balls, but solid research material.
Tubelo’s Green Fire by Shani Oates – Witchcraft research!
Sevillian Steel by James Loriega – Yes, I have been researching a lot of knife fighting. So far the most interesting one of the lost, not least for the glimpses into Andalucian culture.
New Worlds Year One by Marie Brennan – The book that sparked smouldering thoughts on worldbuilding’s purpose. Even as a book on information on how to build worlds, I’m not sure it offers that much more than doing a bunch of wiki dives, interesting as Brennan’s writing is
Genesis of the Grail Kings by Laurence Gardner – I enjoy a good ramble through wild leaps of speculation about our past, but this one was both too wild and not wild enough.
10/10 for starting every sentence of particularly shaky guesses with “clearly” though.
Lucifer Princeps by Peter Grey – More witchcraft research. I need a reference book on Middle Eastern myth that’s not particularly trying to prove anything for comparison’s sake
Still. Interesting dissection of the various rebellious/adversarial spirits of the Old Testament that ended up as one thing.
Things That Happened to Peat That Don’t Involve Books
Well, for one thing, I can now run without pain. Mostly. Even sprint (for me…) and turn direction and everything. Hugely exciting for me.
Food and drink wise, I became obsessed with the Three Cup Chicken recipe I found on Serious Eats and made some the other day. I was right to be obsessed. I subbed the sugar for sweet soy sauce on the advice of other recipes and that was a great idea. That, and a stir fry using Tandoori Chicken and a bastardised Manchurian sauce for the noodles were some of the best things I ate last month. Certainly the best things I cooked. The best things that I brought that I ate were both at Borough Market, where The Ginger Pig sausage rolls continued to be a supreme source of happiness and the pork sandwich with Italian salsa verde I found somewhere was just delightful.
The best beer I drank was probably a tie between Hidden Springs’ The Tower – a French Toast Imperial Stout; Hidden Springs’ After Dinner Decadence – A Smores Imperial Stout with cherry that really lifted it; and Hidden Springs’ Humble Pie – A breakfast muffin Berliner Weisse. I was not fucking around when I told my London friends to get to Craft Beer Junction.
Music wise, I’ve been on a bit of a Fields of the Nephilim bender, giving both The Nephilim and Mourning Son full listens. I’ve also discovered I really like metal band Mare Cognitum, and am getting into Felled, and I really love the discovery of Voice of Drenai – David Gemmell inspired black metal? Sure, why the fuck not. And I have definitely enjoyed the weirdness of super slowed down Dead Can Dance remixes, like follows