Hullo faithful friends. It is once again time for the mid-point round up.
I am up to 79 books read this year, a respectable number even with all the novellas and comics included. It’s been a pleasingly all over the shop arrangement of fantasy, crime, comics, history, rereads, new reads, and so on. The only real change is the large number of cookbooks read. That number doesn’t include a decent number of the started and not yet/never will be finished too. And yes, I did copy/paste that chunk from last year. Some things don’t change.
My top X of new to me this year so far reads
1/2 – A Song for Arbonne and All The Seas In The World by Guy Gavriel Kay
3 – The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
4 – Kundo Wakes Up by Saad Z. Hossain
5 – The Sword of Rhiannon by Leigh Brackett
6 – Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
Which, yes, is the same as my recent top 5, if you want to see further rationale.
You’ll notice the list doesn’t reach 10. If I had to 10 now, I’d probably include Hossain’s Cyber Mage, Russ’ The Adventures of Alyx, Dunsany’s The King of Elfland’s Daughter and MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin… but I’m not feeling them as potential end of year top 10 material. Honestly, nothing other than the Kay would be a wrench to leave out at the end of year. Maybe some stuff grows in my estimation, but right now I’m all about the second half of the year.
The Darkest Part of the Forest. I feel a bit absurd constantly talking about it as a surprise, but people always talked about Holly Black as romance-heavy, all about the feels, love that trauma stuff which isn’t me all that much. Great part of the blend, bad main flavour. I don’t know whether The Darkest Part of the Forest is off-brand for her, or whether that chat wasn’t all of the story, but there’s definitely stuff there that really appeals to me.
I have had very few DNFs so far for me, but I came super close with Tales of Neveryon by Samuel R. Delany, which started promisingly but became dull and slow. I really wanted to love it and could do absolutely nothing of the sort come the end. Leigh Bardugo’s Rule of Wolves is also getting a mention as I loved King of Scars but found its sequel too unwieldy and lacking in closure. It’s quite readable, but also quite disappointing.
Any standout characters who really charmed me? People you’ll see mentioned in the Peaties?
The double act of Gideon and Harrow really carry that book and while they’re not the whole reason I’m planning to continue the series, they’re a huge part of it. And as ever, Hossain gave us some great characters, with the gangster Hafez and the mum next door Fara from Kundo Wakes Up being particularly memorable. I’m not entirely sure where the latest batch of GGK characters sit in the mind, but they are good fun too.
Oh, and Hazel from The Darkest Part of the Forest. She’s a top girl.
Still, there’s nobody I feel like I have to rant and rave about.
I made a lot of plans for myself at the beginning of the year but they aren’t going great which means they should be getting some time later this year, maybe…
Let’s look at the series to continue list – I have finished a grand total of one, from the Fahfrd and Grey Mouser series. I’ve DNFed Vance’s Cugel The Clever, as Cugel is quite dislikeable, and the next of Caruso’s Swords and Fire books as the fire mage whose name I can’t remember is also quite dislikeable. I started Deas’ House of Gulls and Lee’s Death’s Master, but got sidetracked from both. I will probably return. Maybe. As for the rest of the list… nothing calls that loud.
What about the retry list? I DNFed an Iggulden, realised I was trying Tad Williams at a bad time and aborted, and am slowly working my way through Sarah J. Maas and Clark Ashton Smith. They should get finished. Nothing anyone’s said about Abraham’s Age of Ash appeals so it’s all about whether I fancy returning to Long Price. Which I might. That and Thompson’s Molly Southbourne feel the most likely to happen. Oh! That and I did start Gene Wolfe’s Wizard Knight before getting sidetracked.
That leaves the brand new authors to try list. I did finish the Delany, and read Laurence Yep too. I DNFed Friedman very quickly due to a wonky piece of maths in the prologue, and got a decent way into Michelle West’s The Hidden City before feeling meh. But I should return. The winner so far on this list is Davinia Evans’ Notorious Sorcerer. As for the rest of the list… yeah, lots of thing I’m interested in, but I think I need to clear the deck before starting new things. How crowded are the decks you ask? Well…
Currently Reading and Should Probably Finish
Davinia Evans’ Notorious Sorcerer – aka Notorious S.C.R., Inglorious Lawfancier, Arboreal Sawuser, Gregarious Torturer, etc.etc. Not only do I wish to have a Humpledinck Cucumber-esque constant renaming of this book, I want to tell people it’s a lot of fun. Dashing escapades and alchemy are my cup of tea.
Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass has an intriguing enough set up and is told in a prose style I like, so so far so good. I’ve been warned repeatedly the set up’s promise will not be fulfilled, but wait and see there.
Miles Cameron’s Against All Gods was very kindly provided to me by Gollancz and I should get a hurry up on it. It’s an odd position for me where I quite like a lot of what Cameron is doing and despair at the rest.
Christopher Bean’s The Pegge and the Pendrel is a beta read for a friend that’s taken a long time as I don’t like Victoriana but it’s too good to completely ignore. Vexing. I need less talented friends.
James Barclay’s The Queen’s Assassin is my other Gollancz arc. I’ve only just started, but it is on the list. Nothing to report so far other than my dislike for big battle openings remains intact.
Clark Ashton Smith’s Hyperborea has been good deranged fun so far, the sort of dreamy horrified supernatural barbarism that fantasy does so well and that I demand more of.
Kerstin Hall’s The Border Keeper is one of the books I found when I went looking for more of it, and while it’s a bit too thick and heavy on the prose for me to love, it’s keeping my interest just about.
Lois McMaster Bujold’s The Spirit Ring hasn’t wowed me so far, but does feature Bujold’s writing and one of hisotory’s greatest nutcases, so I retain high hopes.
That’s not it, but it’s all I can remember right now.
Need to Read for Projects
We’re fairly light right now other than my Discworld essays. I do have solo rereads going for Asterix, Redwall, The Wheel of Time, Falco, and Sharpe, so you’ll never know when they’ll pop up, but other than that…
Ah! Also The Fionavar Tapestry reread continues! So The Wandering Fire definitely continues.
Outstanding Netgalley ARCs I took and haven’t already mentioned
Second Spear by Kerstin Hall
Other Books I’d Like To Read
Look, there’s a bunch of books I know I want to read. But right now, having thought about it all day, I just can’t think of them. Is that just everything else distracting me from books taking precedence, or me having a very full list, or a mild disenchantment with fantasy? Probably some combination?
Well, in any case, I’m sure something will occur to me. Just not right now.
And that’s my halfway point – et me know how your year is going.