Wyrd and Wonder – Our Favourite Reads
This month we’ve been following the Wyrd and Wonder feature (brilliantly) run by Imyril, Jorie, and Lisa.
Unfortunately, it’s nearly at an end, but we have had a great time – bringing back Tough Travelling, looking at some of our favourite wyrms and worms, and of course the daily photo challenge (which we’ll come back to tomorrow in more detail!)
At the start of the month, we shared with you what our May TBRs were – you can check that post out here for a refresher. Now, we’re looking back over the month at what our favourite reads were – let’s see how closely we stuck to our TBRs!
I finished these so early in the month I’d almost forgotten about them – but that’s no reflection on their quality!
Fortune’s Fool by Angela Boord (as glowingly reviewed on this site)
I was hooked from the moment I downloaded the sample, and while it was perhaps a touch overlong in the end, I still really enjoyed this absorbing and well-written story.
Artificial Condition (Murderbot Diaries #2) by Martha Wells
Another wonderful entry into this novella series, but so short I hardly noticed it – must read the next one!
There has been a lot of fantasy adjacent stuff, but not a lot of actual fantasy in my reading this month. I’ve been struggling to keep my head in anything substantial, and fantasy usually is… substantial.
Phantasm Japan edited by Masumi Washington/Nick Mamatas
This was an excellent short story collection themed around Japan, with writers from Japan and further afield contributing. Yusaku Kitano’s “Scissors or Claws, and Holes” was the highlight for me, giving all the best flavours of Japan’s new-weird scifi, while “Her Last Appearance” was a puzzle of a story that I relished piecing together. I gave out before finishing the final novella “Sisyphean,” only because of the sheer density of it, but I can highly recommend everything before that.
The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky. This was my first contemporary sci-fi and my first novel by Tchaikovsky, and I loved it. With themes of evolution, bugs, creepy atmosphere, realistic characters, and a race to save the multiverse, this was a mind blowing experience.
Two titles for me!
The Lost War by Justin Lee Anderson.
I liked the characters and the magic and the mystery! It was an easy read that fit perfectly into the SPFBO break.
The other one – I’m still reading it! – is the new Hunger Games book The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins. I love to see how Snow went from naive and good teen to the evil president we’ve seen in the main trilogy.
May reads I loved:
Son of a Liche, by J. Zachary Pike.
This was the sequel to the SPFBO-winning “Orconomics,” and I’m a huge fan. I know humor can be hit-or-miss in fantasy, but these books were aimed right between my eyes: RPG-trope satire, memorable characters, and surprising pathos stirred in with the humor.
Sword of Kaigen, by M.L. Wang.
I swear I didn’t plan a Spiffbo-winner two-fer!–my TBR just worked out that way. This book earned its hype and accolades, with some beautiful character studies mixed in with Last Airbender-esque magical combats.
I’ve read a lot this month, two books I wasn’t planning on reading but did and loved were:
The Best Of R. A. Lafferty
Gollancz brings back into print a selection of R. A. Lafferty’s singular short stories. I am now obsessed and Lafferty is my favourite. [Read Jonathan’s excellent review here]
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
The winner of this year’s Otherwise Award, I had it ordered and it only arrived recently so just diving in. It’s great, and not particularly like anything I’ve ever read before. Highly recommended.
Paternus: War of Gods (Paternus #3) by Dyrk Ashton
Gods and monsters from all eras and across all continents finally unite to stand shoulder to shoulder — and go toe-to-toe with their terrifying counterparts in the fiercest and most epic battle since Ragnarok. If you liked the first two books in the trilogy, you will love this finale with every square inch of your heart. This is honestly one of the most epic, heartbreaking and satisfying conclusions to a fantasy series I’ve ever had the joy of experiencing.
I managed to read three books this month which, compared to my track record for the rest of this year (ok, and last year…) is amazing. I loved God of Gnomes by Demi Harper and Year of the Knife by G. D. Penman, but:
The Wounded Ones by G. D. Penman
I just finished this… yesterday? The day before yesterday? What is time anymore? Anyway, it made me cry at the end so it can have favourite-status. All three books were out of my usual comfort zone and challenged me in different ways. God of Gnomes was my first LitRPG and was a great intro into the genre, I felt eased into it. G. D. Penman’s Witch of Empire are Urban Fantasy, which I don’t normally get on with. But that’s because there’s been an emphasis on cool guns and Bantz in a lot of the Urban Fantasy I’ve disliked, and these books didn’t have that. They have elements of film noir mysteries, alternative empirical history, with magic being a key focal-point. Can’t recommend th thiem highly enough!
Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver:
Right, this is a piece of disaster fiction which is at best sci-fi adjacent — and even that much is a stretch — but I enjoyed this one too much not to at least mention it in passing. Flight Behaviour shows the internal world of a young woman in rural USA expand in a way that is stunning and beautiful. Dellarobia is twenty-eight, trapped in a joyless marriage, living a life that leaves her unfulfilled, about to do something she can’t take back — when she comes across a sea of fluttering flames that awakens something inside her.
Beautiful novel. Loads of butterflies.
The Lessons Never Learned by Rob J. Hayes:
The sequel to the excellent Along the Razor’s Edge is…a lot. I’m really enjoying it — though a few elements I found endearing in the first book are starting to wear on me the second time around. That said, action, dialogue, magical system — these are where Rob Hayes excels at. My full review of this, you’ll be able to read sometime next week!