August 2022 book blog

Cover image of Ransomed Hearts by Jeanette Greaves. A young man playing an electric guitar on a small stage.

A big month for me, I self published my second novel, ‘Ransomed Hearts’ and did a read through of book 3, to see just how much work it needs to shape it into a proper book. I’ve also given book 3 a name, ‘Hearts’ Home’, which I haven’t really publicised at all.

August was a great month to be a writer, but also to be a reader. August arrived with me half way through Becky Chambers’ ‘The Galaxy and the Ground Within.’ It’s the final book in the Wayfarer’s series and just as an aside, doesn’t Chambers have a wonderful knack for titles? This book filled my life from the moment I picked it up. A very disparate group of travellers have stopped to rest and refuel at an intergalactic service station / guest house when a planetary crisis confines them to quarters for several days with no means of communication with anyone outside the guest house dome. Each of them has good reason to be anxious about the delay and the lack of communication. Their host and her child do their best to make them comfortable and entertain them, and over the course of their delay, they get to know and respect each other. This is a beautiful book, and in the world we live in today it reads like escapist literature at its best.

From deep space and time, to alternate history. I literally stumbled into Harry Turtledove’s ‘In at the Death, Settling Accounts 4’. It was in a pile of second hand books on a charity stall at my local supermarket, and I lost my balance trying to read the titles without my specs on. I know of the author, of course, although it’s probably decades since I read anything by him, so I decided to put things right.  It’s the final volume of a multi book series set in an alternate universe where the confederate states won the American civil war. This part of the series is set in the early 1940s. The world is at war, but the alliances have changed and the United States are once more at war with the Confederate States, which have built and used death camps to murder their black population. The frequent use of the n word was a shocker, but given the context its use is understandable.
The cast of characters is enormous, and looking at Wiki fandom explanations of some of the back story, it seems like it might be nice to start at the beginning of the series and find out more about the characters and their ancestors.
Don’t be fooled by my two day read of this book, it was an amazingly hot weekend when I picked the book up and I didn’t have the energy to do anything but read. 

The next book was one from the TBR pile. I’ve been making eye contact with ‘The Bishop of Hell and Other Stories’ for a while and it was definitely time to pick it up. Thank you to everyone at Valancourt Books for re-publishing this collection of horror stories from one of the best selling writers (Marjorie Bowen) that I’ve never heard of.
The gothic is strong in this one, and amongst the wrong women, ruined buildings and desperately degenerate aristocrats are some real gems.

I finished my last book of August on the last day of August, which made me happy. I confess that I know one of the authors in this gorgeous little collection, and that she was kind enough to send me a copy. Skulls and spells is a beautifully presented collection of flash fiction, short stories, art, comics and poems. It’s basically a festival in a book. The work embraces queer and non-binary horror. It’s published as a colour illustrated hardback by the micro-press Artemesia’s Axe.
There’s a heavy focus on body horror, the illustrations inevitably draw heavily on the red part of the spectrum.
In a mixed media, multi author / artist collection, everyone is going to have their favourites. For me, they were two of the short stories.
Sanni de Soto’s ‘Darned’ has enough worldbuilding in one short story to sustain a TV series, and I really hope that someone with influence reads this story and moves it forward. I loved it.
Karen D’arcy Kernan’s ‘Amygdalin’ mingles chemistry and food within an abusive relationship, it’s a satisfyingly gory body horror with such a strong food theme that I would strongly advise you not to read it before dinner.

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