Wyrd & Wonder May Wrap Up

Updates

Well that was an absolute blast! My first Wyrd & Wonder is over and I read some great books and met some even better people 🙂 I did have a tentative TBR I aimed to get to, which included nine books. That was kind of ambitious to begin with to be honest, as nine books in a month is actually kind of a lot for me and I only ended up reading two off the list (technically two and a half because I set Foundryside to one side for a while because I absolutely hated it with the fiery passion of seven hells, don’t @ me).



I kicked off the month with a re-read of Melissa Caruso’s THE TETHERED MAGE, book one of her Renaissance Venetian-inspired flintlock fantasy series Swords and Fire. I re-read this because A) it’s awesome, but B) because I never got round to reading book three of the series so it gave me a nice excuse to refresh my memory and write a review, which you can have a glance at if intrigue, fire warlocks and court drama sounds like your cup of tea. I moved on to A DEAD DJINN IN CAIRO after that and I feel like I might have a new auto-buy author in P. Djèlí Clark if his other stuff is this good! A detective solving a murder in an alternative turn of the century Egypt, where djinn have crossed the borders between worlds after the fabric of space was torn asunder. With shades of steampunk and weird cosmic horror shit thrown into the blender. *Chef’s kiss*. THE GRAND TOUR was a collection of short horror stories that I got an advance copy of from the good folks at Apex. It was the first E. Catherine Tobler stuff I’d read and I’m really glad I discovered her, because some of these stories are simply phenomenal. I believe I described it as ‘horror with a heart’.



AMBERLOUGH was my favourite read this month. I was blown away by this glitzy spy thriller featuring some incredible character writing. Having just recently finished Jade City and Jade War by the master of character Fonda Lee, I feel like my bar for good character writing is pretty high right now, so the fact that Lara Elena Donnelly still managed to be this impressive should tell you just how great this book is. OF DRAGONS, FEASTS AND MURDERS was an ARC of Aliette de Bodard’s upcoming stabby court drama murder mystery and it will come as no surprise to anyone that I loved it! Aliette de Bodard is a firm fave of mine and I’m almost guaranteed to enjoy anything she writes. My final Wyrd & Wonder read was KINGS OF THE WYLD by Nicholas Eames, proud holder of the Fastest Book To Make Me Cry Award. This was just great fun and also really touching. An unapologetic fantasy romp featuring all the Dungeons & Dragons tropes and party shenanigans, from absent-minded wizards and enchanted weapons to terrifying wyverns and villainous characters that are villains for the sake of being villains (but not quite).


Before I head off I just want to say a massive thank you to Imyril, Jory and Lisa for organising Wyrd & Wonder. It’s been such great fun and I’m so happy to have discovered a bunch of new blogs and met some cool fellow bookwyrms to nerd out over all things fantasy with. Counting down to next time already 🙂


Reviews:

A DEAD DJINN IN CAIRO by P. Djèlí Clark
THE TETHERED MAGE by Melissa Caruso
STORM FRONT by Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files #1)
JADE WAR by Fonda Lee
THE GRAND TOUR by E. Catherine Tobler
AMBERLOUGH by Lara Elena Donnelly

Other posts and updates:

My Wyrd & Wonder TBR 2020
Humble Beginnings: My First Fantasy Book
The Best Things Come In Three: The Books of D&D
Books I Can’t Wait To Read
Get To Know The Fantasy Reader tag


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April Wrap Up

Updates

Even though Wyrd and Wonder is in full swing the regular show must go on. Except for when I didn’t do a Wrap Up for March cos I was in a slump. No one ever said I was consistent. I read two books in March, one being a short story magazine and the other Karl Marx’s account of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. While Herr Marx is always a delightful read, I didn’t think he quite fits with the Science Fiction & Fantasy theme of the blog (queue the right wing jokes). Thankfully, my reading slump is over and I read a bunch in April, so here it is, the long-awaited April Wrap Up.



These books are displayed in the order I read them but I wanna start with JADE WAR by Fonda Lee, cos this series is ***THE BEST*** fiction I’ve ever read. It’s the second book in The Green Bone Saga and the sequel to JADE CITY (check out my review of that here). Full review is lined up for next week. I haven’t made a post about this yet, but SALEM’S LOT was the first step on me embarking on a project to read Stephen King’s entire back catalogue in order. I’d already read CARRIE and PET SEMATARY (the latter not being in publication order, but whatevs). SALEM’S LOT was good, quite creepy and an enjoyable read, though nothing in my first three King books has blown me away. ROSEMARY’S BABY was fine. Whatever. Old horror book. Not worth talking about in detail.



The Dresden Files! So many people love this series and yet I didn’t even know what it was about. Suffice to say, when I found out it was crime noir about a freelance wizard investigator I literally bought STORM FRONT the same day and devoured it. Super fun. Having been successfully introduced to the urban fantasy genre I then moved on to UNDER ORDSHAW by Phil Williams. I read this as part of the Storytellers on Tour blog tour and you can read my review here. SHADOW STAINED was actually a paranormal romance, a genre I really do not read ordinarily, but this was pretty cool and even though I wouldn’t say I’m about to start devouring paranormal romance books, there’s certainly a lot to enjoy in this book for fans of the genre. Check out my review.



Ahh Sapkowksi, my old frenemy. I have such a love/hate relationship with The Witcher books. None of them have been very good so far, but there have been glimpses in some of them of potential I really wish he’s meet consistently. BAPTISM OF FIRE was a damp squib for me. Definite step backwards after TIME OF CONTEMPT. My next Stephen King read however, really gave me something to enjoy (and also shit my pants over). THE SHINING is fucking awesome. This is the first and only book I can say has ever actually scared me. Almost glad I don’t have a physical copy otherwise that thing would be going in the freezer!


There you have it bookwyrms, my April Wrap Up. I mentioned I’m taking part in Wyrd and Wonder in this, the month of May, so keep your eyes peeled for some cool posts coming your way. I’m considering an attempt at daily posts this month, but I’ll just see whether that actually materialises. In the meantime Happy Reading nerds.


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February Wrap Up

Updates

“A day may come when JonBob posts a monthly wrap up post on time, when he forsakes his friends and breaks all bonds of fellowship to write that damn post when it’s due – but it is not this day!”

To be fair this makes it sound like I’m some kind of social butterfly with too many parties and social commitments to have time to blog, whereas in reality I’ve just been sat watching four-hour YouTube episodes of Dungeons & Dragons games in my pyjamas. That being said, I did read a whole bunch of cool books in February, so let’s just get to ’em!



JADE CITY by Fonda Lee is one of the best books I’ve ever read. There, I said it. Anyone who’s had this conversation with me in the past knows how miserly I am with the old five star reviews (I basically don’t give them haha). Even some of my favourite reads that I’m constantly banging on about have been four stars; I reserve the coveted fivers for those truly special books that are borderline genius writing. Jade City is definitely that. Read my full review here, but the tl;dr is Asian-inspired secondary world with feuding mafia families sliding ever closer to all-out gang war. Stunning world-building and morally grey (heck, really even downright baaad) protagonists who you root for anyway. I have the sequel, JADE WAR, lined up to read in March and I’m pretty much quivering with excitement.

THE EMPRESS OF SALT AND FORTUNE by Nghi Vo was my very first ARC! I finally told that imposter syndrome to go do one and got myself on Netgalley to request this book. Lo’ and behold, I was actually approved, so big shoutout to Tor for sending this over to me. And I’m so glad they did, because this book is just all kinds of wonderful. A short novella about memory, the anger of women, solidarity, about revenge and a big old ‘Fuck You’ to the patriarchy. It’s written with such rich, vibrant prose and I just couldn’t get enough of it. My full review will be out in a couple of weeks and I can’t wait to share it.

NEON LEVIATHAN by T.R. Napper was the first sci-fi book of February and is a collection of short cyberpunk stories that all take place in a future where Australia and Vietnam are locked in a seemingly perpetual war against China. There are stories about hustlers selling their memories to corporations, soldiers running a fine line between reality and illusion on active service and military veterans forced to undergo memory reassignment surgery due to PTSD from the war. I’ll have a full review of this going up next week too, but for now I’ll just say that this was a decent book with some interesting concepts and ideas that I thought didn’t quite land as well as it could have. Enjoyable, but not altogether satisfying, as it left me feeling like everything was just a bit too underdeveloped.



KINGSBLADE by Robert F. Nugent and THE PENITENT DAMNED were two short fantasy books that I zipped through very quickly. Kingsblade is a short tale about old has-been knight Markard Greystone, who gets drawn back into the world of kingdom politics and intrigue by his old squire, now a knight himself. Things get dicey when the two of them are chosen to attend a diplomatic mission to a neighbouring kingdom and murder most foul is afoot. While Kingsblade is probably just about long enough to be a novella, The Penitent Damned is actually a short story, which I didn’t realise going in, so just a lil heads up for anyone going into this expecting a longer work. It’s a very short introduction to Django Wexler’s SHADOW CAMPAIGNS series, a flintlock fantasy with magic and shady factions vying for power. They were both pretty good. I wasn’t blown away by either of them, but they’re enjoyable stories and a perfectly pleasant way to spend an afternoon curled up on the couch with several cups of tea.

Gareth Powell’s LIGHT OF IMPOSSIBLE STARS was my most anticipated read so far this year and it did not disappoint. The EMBERS OF WAR books are some of my fave space operas and anyone who follows me on Twitter knows I can’t shut up about them. This book is the last in the series and follows Captain Sal Constanz and her shrewd and snarky sentient spaceship Trouble Dog as they head towards an area of space known as The Intrusion, a place where the known laws of physics break the fuck down and things get weeeird. Gareth writes such amazing pulpy space adventures, but for a modern audience and with really quite deep characters; there’s a lot of emotional moments, high stakes and tension and I seriously can’t recommend these books enough if you’re even remotely into science fiction. Go check out the full review and then immediately buy and devour this entire series.


And that’s my February Wrap Up. I’d say that next month I might post the month in review on time, but I’d only be lying to myself and “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else”, as the old saying goes. Have you read any of the books I got to last month? Let me know what you thought of them and what you’ve been reading lately but for now, happy reading bookwyrms.


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January Wrap Up and February TBR

Updates

I wasn’t planning on doing a January wrap up ’cause I only read 2.5 books in the whole month (stressful and tiring time at the day job blah blah blah, you know how life gets), but my brain craves order and if I’m gonna be doing it for the rest of the year then my mind can’t deal with having a big ol’ gap for January. Plus, the two books I did read were awesome and deserve to be squeed about. So here it is bookwyrms, my January Wrap Up and February TBR.


January Wrap Up


COIL by Ren Warom was the first book I read in 2020 and it was a bloody great start to the year! A stylish and gritty noir murder mystery set in a future where biotech implants have become ubiquitous and mortician Bone Adams is one of the very few people without bits of technology grafted to or implanted in his body. Bone is drafted into a murder investigation by City Officer Stark and we get to follow these two great characters as they navigate the seedy underbelly of The Spires, unravelling the clues they hope will lead them to the perpetrator of a series of grizzly murders. This was a really great read that takes some of the most beloved noir tropes and does some really interesting things with them. Read the full review here.

IN THE VANISHERS’ PALACE by Aliette de Bodard is a short book that had been on my TBR for quite a while after reading another of her novellas, THE TEA MASTER AND THE DETECTIVE, which I loved. IN THE VANISHER’S PALACE is an adult f/f retelling of Beauty and the Beast, except our ‘Belle’ character is a failing village scholar and ‘The Beast’ is a shapeshifting dragon! Aliette has such a graceful and evocative writing style and this story pulled me in so completely in a very short space of time. I’d recommend this one to anyone who loves fairytale retellings, evocative prose and just really great writing generally. Read the full review here.

Technically I didn’t finish JADE CITY by Fonda Lee in January, but I did start it and the formatting of pictures just works better in groups of three, so there you go. In any case, this book is fucking excellent. Seriously some of the best character work and world building I’ve read in recent times. Janloon is a city I’m convinced I could hop on a plane and fly to after reading this book. Not that I’d necessarily want to mind you; it’s a city controlled by mafia-style crime families, of corrupt politicians and gang warfare. I’ll be writing up a full review soon and I cannot wait to share my thoughts about this fantastic book.


February TBR

EMPRESS OF SALT AND FORTUNE is the very first ARC I requested since starting the blog and to my great surprise it actually got approved! It’s a short read, another novella coming in at just over a hundred pages, and I’ve already devoured it in a single sitting. It chronicles the rise to power of a young royal, sent south to enter into a political marriage, before being sent into exile once she ‘does her duty’ of producing a male heir. I’ll be writing a full review shortly, but suffice to say I enjoyed Empress a lot and definitely recommend pre-ordering it for the March 24th release.

THE PENITENT DAMNED by Django Wexler is a story I discovered almost by accident. Scrolling through Twitter one day I saw this tweet pop up in my feed from an author who ‘wrote this whole series about fantasy Napoleon with demons, and it’s also very gay and there’s a revolution and a financial crisis and a lot of muskets‘. And folks, I don’t mind telling you I almost dropped my phone in my utter scramble to find out what this series is. Turns out it’s called THE SHADOW CAMPAIGNS and this is a short prequel story to the main series and I am beyond excited to read it.

PIMP MY AIRSHIP by Maurice Broaddus has been hovering near the top of my TBR for a few months now and I’ve decided February is the month I need to make space for it. It’s another book published by Apex, a small press who put out some very interesting and unconventional fiction. COIL, mentioned above, is also an Apex publication, as is SNOW OVER UTOPIA by Rudolfo A. Serna (which I wrote quite a well-received review for, check that out here). So I’m looking forward to PIMP MY AIRSHIP, which sounds like a less-quirky-more-gritty brand of steampunk, where a drug-addled poet named Sleepy becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue and airships with a professional protester and a young heiress whose father was recently murdered.

That’s the fantasy I have planned, now on to the science fiction. NEON LEVIATHAN by T. R. Napper is another ARC I’ve received, kindly given to me by Alex from Spells and Spaceships. This is a collection of cyberpunk short stories about the outsiders – the criminals, the soldiers, the addicts, the gamblers, the cage fighters, the refugees and the rebels. I don’t know a great deal about what to expect from this collection but honestly, I don’t have to, ’cause cyberpunk is my fucking jam. I love it. Adore it. I can’t get enough of it. Neuromancer is probably my favourite book of all time and I think, despite some contemporary cyberpunk stories losing the hard-edged radicalism of the breakout novels of the 1980s, there is so much potential for modern cyberpunk going into 2020 and I’m very excited for where T. R. Napper intends to take it.

VELOCITY WEAPON by Megan E. O’Keefe is another book that I’ve decided I finally need to bump to the top of the TBR. It was spurred on by the release of the nominations for the Philip K. Dick Award and my intention to read all the nominees. Velocity Weapon is the first book in THE PROTECTORATE series and sounds exactly like my brand of space opera, with dazzling space battles, intergalactic politics and rogue AI. Looking forward to this one a lot.

And finally, if you’ve been following me for even a remotely long period of time, you’ll know already how much I bang on about Gareth L. Powell’s EMBERS OF WAR SERIES, and LIGHT OF IMPOSSIBLE STARS is the final instalment of the trilogy, set for release on February 18th. I’ve had this book pre-ordered for months now and cannot wait to get my grubby little mitts on it; the wait is almost over! I seriously can’t recommend these books highly enough and if you haven’t read the first two yet, have a gander at my reviews of EMBERS OF WAR here and FLEET OF KNIVES here, then go pre-order LIGHT OF IMPOSSIBLE STARS and thank me later.


So there you have it folks, my January wrap up and reading plans for the rest of February. Have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned? Let me know what you thought or if you plan to read any of these after looking through this post; it’s always lovely to hear when folks are inspired to read something I’ve loved after checking out my ‘lil blog. That’s all for now, happy reading bookwyrms.

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October Wrap Up and November TBR

Updates

Happy weekend booklings! Spooky Season is over already but I got to read some great books in October. I devoured every book in Tade Thompson’s ground-breaking WORMWOOD TRILOGY; I made progress in The Witcherverse with the second short story collection, SWORD OF DESTINY; finally read FAHRENHEIT 451 and delved into some classic horror with Stephen King’s PET SEMATARY.

Lots of folks are getting hyped about Sci-Fi month for November but I kinda did things backwards and read a lot of science fiction in the months leading up to it; this month I’ll actually be reading fantasy exclusively – and all of them old books at that (I feel like I’m developing a reputation here haha).

My November TBR is largely composed of books I want to read ahead of some awesome-looking TV adaptations. That means I’ll be starting on a re-read of the HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy and embarking on the first Witcher novel, BLOOD OF ELVES. I mean, just look at the trailers for these series and tell me they don’t give you chills.

His Dark Materials

I used to think it was The Hobbit that was my gateway to fantasy, but actually I read Philip Pullman’s NORTHERN LIGHTS a few years before that. When I realised that fantasy wasn’t limited to elves, goblins and dragons it dawned on me that Northern Lights was actually my first love and I’m so excited to read this series again. The Witcher books have been fine so far and the short story format has hinted at some interesting tidbits that I hope we get to sink our teeth into in the novel-length books. Finally I’ll be reading DRAGONS OF AUTUMN TWILIGHT as part of a readalong hosted by Jason from Off The TBR. I read this book as a young teenager but can’t remember much about it so looking forward to the re-read. Get in touch with Jason if you want to take part.

Check out my October Reviews
FLEET OF KNIVES by Gareth L. Powell
AMERICAN GODS by Neil Gaiman
ROSEWATER by Tade Thompson
THE ROSEWATER INSURRECTION by Tade Thompson
LORD FOUL’S BANE by Stephen R. Donaldson
THE ROSEWATER REDEMPTION by Tade Thompson
PET SEMATARY by Stephen King

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September wrap up and the first month of Parsecs & Parchment! (Kinda)

Updates

Ok so it’s technically only been eleven days since the blog went live but I like the idea of a monthly wrap up and it’s nice to take stock of how it went.

One of the reasons I started Parsecs & Parchment was to get me to read more. I used to read around a book a week, probably fewer. And this month I read 6 books, so an early improvement!

Of those, I’ve already posted reviews of Gareth Powell’s EMBERS OF WAR (as well as a very enjoyable interview with Gareth), Jeannette Ng’s UNDER THE PENDULUM SUN and THE LAST WISH by Andrzej Sapkowski, the first book in The Witcher series.

I binged FLEET OF KNIVES immediately after I finished Embers of War and that review will be up this week. I also got started on Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy with THE BLADE ITSELF and I want to give a shout out to Hiu over at The Fantasy Inn and Petrik from Novel Notions for being the ones to finally get me to read it because HOLY SHIT is that a good book! The next two instalments are on my list for this month and I’m planning on posting reviews of all three back to back once I’m done, so watch this space.

I also read THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy and honestly I need to take some time to stare at a wall and parse just how devastating this book was. A rare five star rating from me, I’m still trying to put into words how exactly I felt about it. Even some of my best reads of the past few years get four star ratings because I reserve the full five stars for works I consider to be borderline genius. THE ROAD is borderline genius.

I’m currently re-reading Tade Thompson’s ROSEWATER while I eagerly await ROSEWATER REDEMPTION, the final book in his Wormwood trilogy. I actually haven’t got round to the second instalment yet, so ROSEWATER INSURRECTION is next on my list, so I’m all up to date by the time Redemption comes out on October 15th.

I plan on doing some more re-reads this month, notably of the first two books in Myke Cole’s Sacred Throne series. I read THE ARMORED SAINT and THE QUEEN OF CROWS at the start of this year but definitely want to review them for the blog and just refresh my memory ahead of the release of THE KILLING LIGHT in November and I definitely think that warrants a re-read.

There’s a ton more stuff I’ve got planned, books to read and series to complete, but I want to keep this update fairly short.

Thank you to everyone who has read and shared the reviews, followed the blog and generally made me feel welcome in the book community, I’m genuinely looking forward to sharing more reviews and chatting with you all in the future 🙂

Check out this month’s reviews, interviews and posts.


Review: EMBERS OF WAR by Gareth L. Powell


Interview: Gareth L. Powell


Review: UNDER THE PENDULUM SUN by Jeannette Ng


Hey! Watcha Readin’: 25/09/19


Review: THE LAST WISH by Andrzej Sapkowski

Hey! Watcha Readin’: 25/09/19

Updates

So I just read Caitlin’s Weekly Reading Check-In over at Realms of My Mind and I love the idea of a weekly reading update as a way to boost some beloved book talk!

There’s this great thing called WWW Wednesday hosted by Taking on a World of Words that I urge you to check out.

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading: THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy
I picked this up cos I was having a bad day and was actually looking through my TBR for something lighthearted and uplifting (haha I know right?). Anyway, looking through that list made me realise I barely read any lighthearted and uplifting fiction. My book world is full of cynical, jaded characters sometimes trying to do good things in bleak, grim as fuck settings. So I thought “Whatever, I may as well lean into it and hey, my day could be worse – I could be one of these guys!” I’m not very far into The Road, but can confirm this is about as bleak as it gets. Good book so far, more thoughts to follow no doubt.

Recently Finished: THE LAST WISH by Andrzej Sapkowski
This is the first instalment in The Witcher series. I’m hoping to read as many of the books before the Netflix series hits our screens (which I am BEYOND excited about by the way). If you’re not familiar with The Witcher franchise, the stories follow the exploits of a monster hunter called Geralt of Rivia as he travels the lands seeking out the beasts and fiends that plague the realm. The Last Wish is a series of short stories that introduce us to the key people and places of Geralt’s world, offering tantalising bits of worldbuilding that have me hooked even if this isn’t one of the best books I’ve ever read. I’ll have a full review up later this week, but I’m excited to read the next instalment.

Next Read: ROSEWATER by Tade Thompson
This will be a re-read for me in the wake of the final book in Tade’s Wormwood trilogy set for release in October. If you haven’t read Rosewater yet then OMG what on earth are you doing reading my inane ramblings? Just go buy it now and come back to thank me later. One of my favourite reads of 2018, Rosewater is on the cutting edge of science fiction and tells the story of Kaaro, a Nigerian government agent with a criminal past living in a town grown up around the edges of a mysterious alien biodome. It’s honestly sublime and I’m even more excited to read it a second time.

What are you folks reading?
Have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned?
Get involved with WWW Wednesday either on your own blog or in the comments!