Evening bookwyrms, hope you’re all well. I realised I’d inadvertently stopped doing my reading updates a little while ago. No idea why, but I’m excited to get back to them. I’m also reviving the Hey! Watcha Readin’ series tagline from way back when. I started out using it when I first started blogging, but dropped it when I got worried no one understood the reference. Now I realise I don’t care if no one understands the reference, cos I like it and I reserve the right for my blog to be as esoteric as I please. For anyone interested, it’s a riff off the character Nessa from the British comedy show Gavin & Stacey, whose catchphrase is “Oh! What’s occurin'”, said in a delightfully Welsh accent, and that’s how I hear it in my head every time I type “Hey! Watcha readin'”. Whatevs, no one cares, but I enjoy it, and at least if you’re reading this post you can claim to be one of the few people who understand my daft little nod to Nessa.
All that aside, I realise you’re probably here for the books! I’ve been reading a bit slowly lately, mainly due to spending most of my time recently binging The Walking Dead and watching old wrestling re-runs on WWE Network, but it’s been so long since I did one of these that I’ve built up quite the backlog. I’ll not talk about all of them (or even most of them), cos I’ll be here all night, but I’ll pick a couple of notable recent reads and currently reading, before deciding on a few options of what to read next.
Recently Finished: HORUS RISING by Dan Abnett & THINGS HAVE GOTTEN WORSE SINCE WE LAST SPOKE by Eric LaRocca
I’ve been wanting to get into the Warhammer 40k lore for a good long while now, but have never quite known where to start. After some good advice from some pals, I decided on The Horus Heresy books as a good enough place as any, but even then I was a bit slow to get started. There’s just so much lore, so many factions, so much info in WH40k it can be quite intimidating; The Horus Heresy series alone has fifty-six (YES, 56!!!) books and counting. But then I just thought fuck it and decided to dive in. Honestly I was expecting a bit of a trashy, not-very-well-written but still engrossing military SFF, but I was very pleasantly surprised that Horus Rising was a legit great book. I’m gonna write a full review so won’t go into too much detail, suffice to say I’m fully invested in this series now.
As for Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke, I’m highlighting this one again because I’m keen to signal boost some great small press fiction, my review has proven to be very popular and the book itself is doing incredibly well. It’s a weird little horror novella about two women who meet in an internet forum in the early days of the world wide web, and documents their relationship as it degenerates into the darkest corners of depravity. It’s so fucked up and so, so good. A tale about loneliness and power and how acceptance (or the lack of it) can affect a person’s psyche. I loved it and will be shouting about it for a long time.
Currently Reading: THE PASSAGE by Justin Cronin & MASTER AND COMMANDER by Patrick O’Brian
So I did one of them there tweets where I said I was reading The Passage and didn’t really understand why it was so critically acclaimed. It went something along the lines of “It’s fine, I suppose, but overrated as shit and the guy needs an editor to tell him to STFU”. Reminds me of one Mr Stephen King. Anyway, a bunch of people replied and almost all points on the Utter Trash to Genius Masterwork scale were represented. If you’re unfamiliar with the book, it’s a kind of contemporary science fiction/horror/genre-mashing epic about an apocalyptic military-grade virus that fucks everything up and unleashes what are essentially bio-engineered vampires into the world. I love a good post-apocalypse story, but I’ve stalled with The Passage. I’ll absolutely return to it soon but it’s too much like The Stand for me to say it’s enjoyable. Newcomers to the blog, I despise, with every fibre of my being, The Stand, and I feel like Cronin is actively trying to mimic King’s exact storytelling style in this book, making it both cringe and shit.
I’m having a few issues with Master and Commander too. For some background, my grandad died last year and I basically got the pick of his very extensive book collection. It was a very grandad-esque collection, featuring lots of military fiction and Cold War thrillers, which actually suits me pretty darn well. I’ve been wanting to read Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe books for a long time and he had all the Aubrey and Maturin historical fiction novels about the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. Probs not the kind of thing most readers of this blog would be into, but I love that stuff. Master and Commander is the first book in the series and introduces us to Jack Aubrey as he takes command of his first ship at the turn of the 19th century. I’m enjoying it a fair bit, O’Brian clearly knew a hell of a lot about ships and the period he was writing about. I’m particularly enjoying the bits about the United Irishmen, as some of the men aboard the ship are members and it takes place not long after the failed rebellion of 1798. My one issue is that he knows a lot about ships, and boy does he need you to know it. There’s a ton of naval jargon and descriptions and names of the various sails and how they’re rigged up and what they’re used for etc, which I would find interesting if I could picture it or knew what any of the terms he was using meant. So I’ve had to drag myself through those sections, but now the story seems to be starting proper and Jack has just set sail to escort a host of merchant vessels through the Western Mediterranean, which I’m sure is going to go swimmingly…
Next Read: THE WORM AND HIS KINGS by Hailey Piper or PRIME MERIDIAN by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
This section is always purely speculative, as my mood between now and then is likely to change drastically, but right now I’m thinking some short small press fiction. I heard about The Worm and His Kings on one of Tammy’s ever-excellent Future Fiction posts over at Books, Bones and Buffy and it tickled my itch to read more cosmic horror. It’s from small press Off Limits Press and offers up a missing person case, subterranean monsters and sinister cults in what sounds like a dark and disturbing cosmic horror tale. Prime Meridian is the second option, also from a small press (Innsmouth Free Press), though with the name recognition Moreno-Garcia enjoys to go along with it. This is up there cos I realised I’ve barely reviewed any science fiction books on the blog this year, but also because it has Busted Synapses vibes in that it’s near future sci-fi that follows an ordinary, every-day, seemingly-mundane working class protagonist, which I really want more of. It’s not really cyberpunk, but I kind of think of this book as cyberpunk Daria in my head haha.
Bit of a bumper edition reading update this week folks, but I feel like I unleashed the blogging floodgates a bit there. Whether it’ll be enough to get me writing up full reviews again we’ll have to see, but this was a ton of fun. Leave a comment and let me know if you’ve read any of these and what you’re reading at the mo. I always enjoy a good bookish chin wag 🙂