July 2021 Round Up

Well this is a fine time for a round up isn’t it! Any later and I might as well leave it for next month.

In my defence, it has been busy. I got my second covid jab and felt like I was in danger walking for the next few days. I went to Rye – the place in East Sussex, not on the Isle of Wight – which was pleasant enough. There’s been other things. I got my first form rejection from an agent, which is a step on the journey of a real grown up would be trad pub author. I also had a bit of burnout. That big David Gemmell post took a lot of work (no, I won’t shut up about it).

So – adding these altogether – I think I’ll be taking it a little easy in August, at least on the post publication front. Behind the scenes, I’ll be trying to get a week’s or so cushion in place so when I next feel unmotivated, I can keep the steady flow of rubbish you’re used to going. There will still be posts, but they’re likely to be of the quick and self-indulgent nature rather than reviews.

That out of the way, let’s talk July!


Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold – Amazing. Thoughtful and captivating and warm and witty and all the things I love writing to be, with an added bonus of some good power and magic dynamics/moments/mysteries that I so love about fantasy.

Well of Shiuan by CJ Cherryh – Lost me in places. Vanye’s angst was a little heavy. The ending moved fast. A lot of it was deeply atmospheric and intriguing though. Not as good as Gate of Ivrel, but still good.

The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie – Tbh, the more I think about this book, the more irked I am by its choices as I love the idea and I loved some of the lines but there’s just not an entertaining story or collection of scenes and I think it could have if Leckie had put more emphasis on that, and less on the ideas. Would have worked better as a short story or (admittedly quite wordy) comic imo.

Bloodstone by David Gemmell – A trilogy end that made good on everything. Gripping story, very powerful themes and thoughts, and mad as a stoat in several places.

Take A Thief by Mercedes Lackey – Just very homely and enjoyable, which is impressive considering the pains it takes to show a non-glossy view of poverty.

Fire Logic by Laurie Marks – Restrained and subtle; took me a while to figure out what I really liked about it. But it’s got some really exciting personal journeys and a good balance of light and dark, and I read this one real quick.

Thud by Sir Terry Pratchett – I think it’s part of his career where he became a little less subtle but still a remarkably good book. Obviously.

Swords of Night and Day by David Gemmell – A very fitting farewell to the Drenai; wish I hadn’t put off reading it for so long now.

The Book of Atrix Wolfe by Patricia McKillip – My first McKillip, and what a book! Tons of great imagery and lyricism. I’m not sure I understood everything, but I don’t care. Enchanting read.

Troy: Lord of the Silver Bow by David Gemmell – Think I’m still a little lukewarm on this series. It’s slick and gripping, but doesn’t have the usual substance for me, or an interesting point of difference from other Gemmells for me.

Troy: Shield of Thunder by David Gemmell – I, uh, am not sure what to say. Lot of great moments. I think I liked it? The epilogue was probably the weakest moment which might be throwing me. The ending is powerful but doesn’t cover all I wanted covered. Processing time needed.

Troy: Fall of Kings by David Gemmell – And so my personal odyssey was done. Bittersweet moment. Didn’t love it, but liked it very well.


Pratchett’s Women by Tansy Rayner Roberts – Essays on Pratchett’s female characters; much like Pratchett, they’re fun to read and very incisive. Increased my enjoyment of the books, by and large, and I think will improve my own writing.

Eleanor of Aquitaine: By The Wrath of God, Queen of England by Alison Weir – What a very remarkable woman. I wish this biography had been less about her world and more about her, but that’s what the sources give us.

Non-Books Related

My slow meandering drive to return to something that might be mistaken for fitness in poor lighting continues. I’ve been walking more. I paid more attention to my nutrition for two weeks and lost some weight, stopping paying attention and regained a bit of it. I played a couple of games of softball for my wife’s team, which has showed me just how unfit I am. Like, running four bases pulled every damn muscle in my legs. But I did get my first run, which is cool.

Food and drink… well, I’m going to do a separate post of my day on Rye, where I did rather well for myself. I did have an incredibly sad piece of fish at a pub that reminded me more of Tesco’s finest than actual fish and chips, which I have to vent about. I can’t remember the pub though, which is for the best. I do however remember The Southampton Arms, which advertises “Ale Meat Cider” outside and delivers. Their roast pork sandwich was really good. I also tried making some faux fermented Thai sausage, which was great and a good treat to have in the fridge. Best drink was an Angry Chair collab chocolate stout that I forgot to put in Uptappd and can no longer remember the name of. Oops. I also have a lot of very high end mead from Schramm’s for a special occasion.

Music wise, I’ve nothing exciting and new save a determination to listen to the new At The Gates album at some time, which admittedly I’d forgotten about until now. I guess if there’s one song I’ve really fallen in love with, it’s this one, so I’ll post it up and be off on my way

6 thoughts on “July 2021 Round Up

  1. Hahaha the ‘sad fish’ was my favourite part of this whole post. Is this why you’ve been reading Jay Rayner being angry about food? I like to think it’s projection 😆

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hah! Maybe it is. I’d completely forgotten about that fish until I came to write this but thinking of it does generate a heavy sigh.

      The actual reason is I was talking to a friend and saying that sometimes I idly wished I didn’t have ambitions to have a career in the industry and could instead be absolutely lacerating in book reviews when I felt the urge (which I’d probably never carry through on anyway). Then I said that actually, maybe a few particularly savage grandstanding critics would be good for the fantasy genre’s publicity as it generates clicks…

      … and then I thought of Jay Rayner’s twenty finest pieces of vitriol and decided to read.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s interesting about Raven Tower. It’s been on my TBR for a while, because I liked Leckie’s Ancillary Justice. But it’s true I’ve been hesitant about the premise, because I think the blurb just doesn’t give enough info (except maybe to hint at some revenge business). Some days, you really just want a comic for the plot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s a very prominent Hamlet retelling in there if it helps. But I don’t think the premise is particularly fulfilled, as much as being a jumping off platform for other things.


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