Reading Update 07/04/2021

Good afternoon bookwyrms, hope you’re all doing well. It’s been a canny while since I’ve done one of these reading updates! Usually I write them up often enough to catch every book I read so I’m sad that little run has come to an end, but I’ve read too many in the intervening period to put them all in this post, so I’m just gonna pick up from where I am now. I feel like all I’ve been talking about for months is my Wyrd & Wonder grimdark reading project, and feeling like a broken record is one more reason I’ll never promise to write a review every single day of a month long reading event. I’m determined to do it this time cos I’m in too deep, but my god never again. Predictably then, today’s update is laden with grimdark, but before I get to it I have a bone to pick with the publishing industry. So I want to read Silvia-Moreno Garcia’s Certain Dark Things for Wyrd & Wonder (spare me on its ‘grimdark’ credentials, at this point I don’t really care) and, as some of you may know, after originally being published a few years back, it’s scheduled for a re-release in September this year with a gorgeous new cover. As happy as I am about that, it does mean that retailers seem to have taken it off the shelves! Seems a bit daft, seeing as it’s already published and I’d quite like to pay money for it and read it now. I’m sure there’s reasons and all that but god dammit it’s annoying. But with that little gripe off my chest, let’s get to what I’ve been reading!



Recently Finished: WE MEN OF ASH AND SHADOW by H. L. Tinsley
Oh dear readers, you catch me in the middle of a blogging crisis about this book because I ended up really not liking it. Ordinarily I wouldn’t care, there are very few books I pick up that I actively don’t enjoy reading, and the few that I have are big name books that everyone else seems to love, so my lone voice wouldn’t make any difference and I’m comfortable enough putting my opinion out there to swim against the tide. This is a self-published book though, and a debut to boot, so I feel a bit uncomfortable about putting my voice out there. As a small book with not that many reviews, one critical voice could have much more impact than if I were to post into the ether and blast Robert Jackson Bennett for how shit I thought Foundryside was. At the same time though, should we treat self-published authors differently from traditionally published authors? Would they want to be treated differently? It has an air of condescension about it, that self-pubbed authors can’t stand on their own two feet, and that makes me uncomfortable too. Just to add another layer of awks to the mix, the author and I follow each other on Twitter… We’re not besties or anything, just exchanged a few casual comments and I doubt she’d know me from Adam if anyone asked but still, if I post it there’s a reasonable chance it’ll be seen and that makes me feel all kinds of anxious. Urgh, don’t know what to do, any and all advice would be greatfully received.

Currently Reading: A STORM OF SWORDS by George R. R. Martin
Awkwardness aside, I’m loving my re-read of the A Song of Ice and Fire series. This is number three and while it’s def doesn’t reach the same heights as A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings, I think that just speaks to the sheer brilliance of those first two books. And it does include the infamous wedding scene which, even though I knew was coming, still had me sitting with mouth hanging open as I read. It doesn’t need to be as long as it is I don’t think; at 1200 odd pages it’s the longest in the series so far and there’s a few moments where the plot is dangerously close to dragging without ever quite getting there. It’s rescued by the colourful and always-intriguing cast of characters who I could watch discuss the price of bread and, now I think about it, I quite possibly did at some point haha. Tyrion talking about the unrest in King’s Landing when the events unfold with Stannis and his pals outside the city? I feel like that’s a conversation that happened.

Next Read: THE FORTRESS OF THE PEARL by Michael Moorcock
This is subject to change, and I say that not for the normal reason a mood reader changes their next read. This is more to do with the fact I’m not sure if this is actually the next book in the series. Moorcock wrote the Elric books weird man; the publication order absolutely isn’t the chronological order of events, and I’m not sure if I’m supposed to read them by publication order or chronological order. I’d like to figure it out cos this series has been touted as sort of ‘proto-grimdark’, to coin a very wanky phrase and I’m keen to talk about them as precursors to some of the more obviously grimdark stuff that’s around today. I sort of got that sense out of the first book, but feel like I need to see how things develop to firm up my thoughts about that. I did have a great conversation on Twitter about this with Peat, from Peat Long’s Blog and, in a rare display of a debate on the internet actually changing someone’s mind, I did actually change my mind from being quite dismissive about the grimdarkness of Elric of Melniboné, to being very open to the notion. Still, more reading is needed in this series. And plus, I need to get through some of the shorter books on my Wyrd & Wonder list to actually feel like I’m making some progress – reading 1200 page tomes isn’t giving me the sense of forward momentum I need this close to May.


Anyway, that’s today’s update folks. Let me know in the comments what you’re reading at the mo. And if you enjoyed this update why not follow the blog for more reviews and bookish chat.

12 thoughts on “Reading Update 07/04/2021

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    1. I’m trying to remember what the first one was? Do you mean Phoenix Extravagant? If so I wouldn’t say I disliked that one, it was just a bit average and probs not to my taste. But also! I love talking book disagreements. So long as neither party is a dick about it then I’ve found they’re some of the most interesting chats I’ve had.

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      1. Fair! What did you not enjoy about WMoAaS? I really liked the main two characters and didn’t think his moral dilemma felt tropey.

        Also re self-pub books, I know what you mean- I’ve been delaying a review for a few weeks now for the same reason. I think self-pub authors want to be treated the same, but the difference is that reviews are their main form of marketing, vs. trad pub books which are backed by marketing campaigns. You’re less likely to consider reading a book if it’s a self-pub title you’ve only ever heard about through a few reviews, some of them negative. But if you see a book everywhere, you’re more likely to consider reading it despite a few neg reviews. So I’d be more inclined to withhold a negative review for a self-pub title because it’s going to have far more impact (and I’m thinking more about books that weren’t for me. Books with blatantly poor writing/editing I’d feel more justified in warning people off). My opinion anyway!

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        1. The two major stumbling blocks were the POV shifts and what I saw as a fair bit of narrative inconsistency. I’ve seen the POV shift thing mentioned in a few reviews but I think it bothered me more than most. I also felt I kept being told stuff that didn’t appear to be true from what I saw actually playing out on the page. There was some other stuff too but that’s mainly what kept me from becoming invested in the story itself, which I actually found quite interesting.

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  1. Moorcock wrote this after more than 15 years absence from the series. It has a different style, it shows that he’s some 50 years old when writing it. Chronologically, it is the second book in the series, but when I read it in an omnibus it was as seventh or eighth if I remember correctly. It is one of the better volumes in a great series.

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    1. Yeah a couple people have mentioned to me on the old bird app as well that there’s a noticeable shift in style if you read them chronologically. I’ve read the first one but I really don’t know how to approach it from here, it’s such a confusing series!

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      1. I don’t know. I always thought of it more like the Conan stories; you can write a Master of Art about the correct reading order. Or, well, just read it.
        True, Elric has a clear start and a well defined end (Stormbringer). Mix into that all the published stories. Readers before 1989 had to accept the appearance of Fortress/Revenge/Return out of order, and enjoyed it nonetheless.
        Or you could only read the first six novels and be happy with it.

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        1. I’m leaning towards reading in publication order and experiencing it as everyone else did as they were being released. As you say, it didn’t stop people enjoying them back then 🙂

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          1. Btw have you read KE Wagner’s Kane novels? They are also early grimdark. And then there is Glen Cook‘s Black Company (which is 1980s stuff).

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            1. I’ve actually not heard of the Kane novels, but I’ll definitely look them up. As for The Black Company, I’ve been meaning to read them for years and I’m finally going to read a few of them this month. From what I can gather they’re considered one of the earliest grimdark books, even if they weren’t called that at the time. I’m very excited to read them finally 😃

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              1. That’s true. „Grimdark“ is a rather new term. Some people believe that it’s been invented just recently. But you’re going for some of the earlier samples, when there wasn’t a hype for it.

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  2. I hadn’t realized Certain Dark Things was a rerelease! That cover is gorgeous, I almost caved and requested it on NetGalley when I saw it, but September is a really packed month already. I know what you mean about negative self-pubbed reviews, it’s always a little harder because you don’t have that “barrier” (imaginary or not) of the publisher standing between you and the author. I’m just as respectful as I can be in my critiques and of course don’t tag the author. And yes, a negative review can have more weight because of the smaller pool of reviews, but at the end of the day, you’re trying to give them the same due as a published author.

    This is what I tell myself over and over as I struggle with the same thoughts as you! Good luck!

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