June 2023 book blog

After months of fairly concentrated reading (Tchaikovsky and indies) my June reading list turned out to be a really mixed bag.
If you know my likes, you know that I like a themed anthology. I started to read ‘Tesseracts Nine: New Canadian Speculative Fiction’ in April or May, dipping in an out of the book when I fancied a treat. This is one of a series of speculative fiction anthologies by Canadian writers, and I read it for the first time shortly after publication in the mid 2010s. This was a farewell re-read, as my house refuses to stretch. It has an introduction by Geoff Ryman and an afterword by Nalo Hopkinson, who are the collection’s editors, and twenty three varied stories and poems packed in between. I will comment on the ones that made the biggest impact.
‘Lemmings, in the Third Year’ by Jerome Stueart, is a nicely pitched commentary on animal research that I remembered from the first read. The name Candas Jane Dorsey on a story always raises expectations, and ‘Mom and Mother Teresa’ doesn’t disappoint. It’s funny, sharp and very pointed, I loved it. ‘See Kathryn Run’ by Elizabeth Vonarburg is presented as a joint translation from the original by the author and Howard Scott. It is my favourite story in the book, and follows one woman’s adventures in other dimensions as she seeks to direct her own fate. Sarah Totton’s ‘Jimmy Away To Me’ is a tale of love and displacement that echoed with me for days after I’d read it. ‘Mayfly’ by Peter Watts and Darryl Murphy is still, barely, speculative fiction, but it doesn’t seem that far from reality these days. Pat Forde’s ‘Omphalos’ was a little hard to get into at first, but persistence paid off and I loved this story about tech, politics and futurology.
Fast forward a couple of decades, and we get ‘A Desolation Called Peace’ by Arkady Martine. This was one of my December books. For new readers, ‘December Books’ are books that arrived on the shelves as birthday or Christmas gifts, or books bought with vouchers that arrived as birthday or Christmas gifts. Anyway, I’m an absolute sucker for weird aliens and sf writers who make them believable, and the ‘enemy’ threat in Book 2 of the Teixcalaan series / duology / ? is as weird as they get without going all Adrian Tchaikovsky all over the page. This book takes us away from the Teixcalaan capital and sends its heroines flying around the universe in a desperate attempt to understand a) each other b) the politics of the military system and c) the alien enemy. It’s a hugely enjoyable story with plenty of politics, humour, action and romance centred on four of the main characters from the first book. Loved it.
My third June read was Stephen King’s ‘IT’. Most of my re-reads these days are goodbyes, but I really hope that this one isn’t. There’s a waxed paper boat riding a torrent of storm water. It’s forever the scene that means that there is horror to come. This doesn’t feel like re-reading a book, it feels like going to visit old friends and talking about the bad old days. I was in my very early twenties the first time I read this book. I’m nearly sixty now and I still love it. It feels like the blueprint King book, kids, the power of imagination, love and friendship, and the use of human proxies by an ancient evil.
My fourth and last June book was actually finished in July, but I’ll include it here, as I spent the last week of June reading it. I was already reading ‘Babel when I started to read this book. I’d picked up ‘Werewolves of London’ from the charity bookstall in a local supermarket. This copy is falling to bits, is very, very foxed, and has quite a lot of tears and creases, leading me to realise just how long ago 1990 was for a cheap paperback book, and also to decide that this read is its last one, it’s going to the great Pulper in the Sky (or in the paper recycling plant, one or the other). I decided to take a break from ‘Babel’ because I was taking a charity stall to a local craft fair and didn’t want to take a hardback book to read. ‘The Werewolves of London’ was on the top of my tbr pile.
It’s a slow paced novel that meanders around the question of Creationism, but not in the Christian sense; dipping into the nature of humanity, reality and individuality. The eponymous Werewolves of London take something of a back seat in the book, with the main characters being somewhat unsympathetic. I admit, I struggled to finish this book, but I was interested enough in the plot to battle through to the end. Another couple of co-incidences leapt out from this book. Firstly, the last book that I finished was King’s ‘IT’, which featured a werewolf and a monstrous spider, as did this one. Secondly, the dedication mentioned the film ‘Clash of the Titans’ which I just watched all the way through for the first time ever.
So, apart from the Arkady Martine book, this was pretty much an eighties / nineties revival month, with two re-reads and two new re-reads. July beckons now, I’ll tell you soon about more summer reads.

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May 2023 book blog

It’s nearly the end of June, and I’ve only just got round to this. I blame a rather nasty bout of food poisoning and some stupidly hot weather for me being so out of it recently. So. What did I read in May?

Although I’d finished Adrian Tchaikovsky’s ten book Shadows of the Apt Saga, I still had a couple of the anthologies to read.
‘For Love of Distant Shores’ is the third book in the Tales of the Apt series of short story anthologies set in the Shadows of the Apt universe. There are four novellas, or longish short stories, in this collection, and the timeline pretty much covers the extent of the ten book series. Each story is an account of a mis / adventure that has befallen Fosse, a delightfully unimpressed Fly woman, and her employer, Dr Phinagler, a Beetle and professional traveller from the city of Collegium. You really need to have read the ten book ‘Shadows of the Apt’ series to get the most out of this anthology, but I would definitely recommend it to anyone who has read the series and is wondering if the anthologies are worth it. Incidentally, Fosse is one of Tchaikovsky’s greatest creations, I love her.

The final Tales of the Apt anthology is ‘The Scent of Tears’. In which Tchaikovsky throws the world of the Kinden open to other writers, with various degrees of success. I’ve read a few shared world / multiple writer anthologies, but never one that was so firmly associated with a single writer. It can’t be easy walking into someone else’s world and telling your own story there, but some of these stories do it very well. There is a limitation on these authors, in that they’re asked to write a concise and close ended tale within a longer story that many of the readers will already be familiar with, where there is an established canon. Other than the first and last stories, which are by Tchaikovsky himself, my favourite tale was The Mantis Way. Tchaikovsky himself has said that the best characters go against type, and our protagonist in this story definitely does that, until she doesn’t …

My next two reads were by Al Ramsay. Alan is an indie writer and a member of my writing group, so I’d give five stars whatever … us indies need all the help we can get.
Having just started reading Al’s 2023 book, Free Lunch, it’s become clear that The Decoy is the second book in the Felix Haythornthwaite Files, and I should have read The Free Lunch first. It doesn’t matter much, the plot of The Decoy wasn’t dependent on the plot of The Free Lunch. However, you should buy both, and read The Decoy second, it’s just easier. The Decoy is set in Lancashire, in a fictitious coastal town, somewhat down at heel and peopled by families like Felix’s, who are just trying to get by but somehow get wound up in all kinds of shenanigans that get more and more complex. This is an amusing and fast paced story with engaging characters. I enjoyed it.

From ‘The Decoy’ I moved on ‘The Free Lunch’ I read the entirety of this book under the influence of food poisoning, which gave it a hallucinatory quality which may not be experienced by other readers. The protagonist of the book is Felix Haythornthwaite, a teenager, aspiring journalist, and middle child, resident in Frecklesall-on-Sea, an imaginary Lancashire coastal town with the usual coastal town issues. The town has a lido, currently derelict, but the townspeople hope that it will be restored, and it has an old lady (Felix’s great aunt) who runs a string of donkeys, the last tourist attraction in town.
Felix finds himself in trouble when an article written for the school magazine is somehow released without approval, putting his editorial role, and indeed his place at school, in jeopardy. As he investigates the case, there is a huge announcement – the Tour de France is coming to Frecklesall!
I enjoyed this story, it was fast paced, funny, and had a full cast of engaging characters.

I rarely read autobiographies, but when you meet someone who has written one, it’s only polite to buy a copy. I met the author a few months ago at a meeting of the Lancashire Authors Association, and more recently at meetings of Chorley Writers Circle, where I bought a copy of his book, ‘PC Mebs, Finding Myself’ by Mahmood Ahmed.

I rarely read non-fiction, and biography / autobiography is a field that I hardly ever touch, but Mebs’ story intrigued me and I finished the book within a couple of days. It was a remarkably easy and enjoyable read, apart from a chapter or two near the end which were quite technical and dry. The book covers his life from his early childhood in Pakistan, his move to England with his mum to join his father, his schooldays in Oxford, Bradford and Blackburn, and his working life. The story takes a themed view, rather than a purely chronological one, covering family life, romance, career and football whilst moving back and forwards through the timeline. As someone utterly unversed in the art of biography, I suspect that this isn’t an unusual way of telling the complex story of a single life. The book was honest and frank, discussing the positive effects of his decisions on himself, whilst unflinchingly addressing their negative effects on his wife and young sons. After an unpromising early career, during which he nevertheless developed some very important skills, Mebs joined Lancashire Police in his early thirties, and although he never rose above the rank of PC, he became a respected representative of the BAME community within the police force, and from the police force to the local BAME communities. This book would make an excellent read for anyone interested in the stories of immigrant children, the Asian community in Britain, community football, and how Lancashire Constabulary came to be seen as the leading force in addressing racism within the police force nationally.
Something that really struck me about his story was that despite his late start, he always had people who believed in him, and that was reflected in the faith that he had that other people could change their own ideas and behaviour for the better.

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April 2023 book blog

April was all about Adrian Tchaikovsky and Shadows of the Apt, I began the month with three novels and three anthologies still to read, and ended it with just two anthologies to go. ‘The Air War’ does exactly what it says on the tin. The arms race continues with the development of new aircraft, weapons and defence systems, focussing on the Wasp Empire seemingly unstoppable advance on the city of Collegium. Seda’s fear of Che’s power takes a backseat in this book as Sten totters on the brink of becoming exactly what he’s always hated. Battles are fought on several fronts as we follow the stories of two fly kinden women on opposite sides of the air war. Oh, and as everything comes to a head on all fronts, I stay up until silly o’clock because I can’t get to sleep until I know how it ends. Loads of fun, especially for students of early 20th century history.

It felt appropriate to take a short break from the novel saga and take some small sips of short story from ‘A Time for Grief’, being the second set of short stories from the ‘Shadows of the Apt’ universe. These stories are side journeys from the main story told in volumes 1 – 10 of Shadows of the Apt, and the last one is a spoiler for anyone who hasn’t read books 9 and 10. I raced through the entire book within 24 hours, because each story was so good I just wanted to get my teeth into the next one. The potential of Tchaikovsky’s worldbuilding is clear as he delves into the backstories of places and people to play with different literary forms. Tisamon plays The Man With No Name, a Collegiate am dram company conjours the ghost of Pathis past, a land of gentle Grasshopper kinden goes locust loco when the moon rises, in a zombie / werewolf tale featuring our favourite brigand, Dal Arche and his Merry Men. My favourite was the title story, taking us on a visit to Salme Dien’s Butterfly lover, Grief. Princep Salma, the city of equality and idealism, founded in Salma’s memory, comes under attack from organised crime / government who see it as a fast route to riches and glory … and who can stop them?

And then, back to the fray, with the end in sight, I fell into the ninth novel, ‘War Master’s Gate’. More arms racing, more magic, more testing of power, and oh my DOESN’T Thalric get one of the best scenes in the book, in a Buffyesque takedown of book 9’s Big Bad. Seda does as Seda does, in a temper tantrum that changes the world, a student invents a superweapon and barely anyone notices, and here we are, all set up for book 10. Genius. Thank you!

The final book in the series is ‘Seal of the Worm’ and in a series that focuses so strongly on war and weaponry, it manages to deliver one of the most truly horrific images of the entire saga as the war draws to an end. I will miss the world building, the arms race, the conflicts and the compassion and humour behind all the death and destruction. Everything has been brought to an end. All loose ends have been tidied up. No spoilers, but I’m happy with how it all turned out. There have been some sleepless nights when I just didn’t go to bed because I couldn’t sleep without knowing how a story ended. The housework has not been done. I’ve neglected my own writing. It’s all been worth it.

There are just a couple of anthologies still unread, I know I’ll enjoy them.

There was a nice moment as I was reading Book 10. I was doing some voluntary work, running a stall at a craft fair. When things were quiet, I was reading. My book was on a chair next to me as I was serving some customers, and one of them got very chatty about SF and fantasy in general, and Tchaikovsky in particular, it’s been a while since I met anyone who was so passionate about books, and I hope that he takes my advice and reads Shadows of the Apt very soon.

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Monday 4th

Pilates am, dentist pm.

Tuesday 5th

Phone GP, lunch with Alys

Wednesday 6th

Dr Green @ 10.05 am, photography club AGM pm

Thursday 7th

Meetup with Julia and Mum

Friday 8th

Pilates am, St David’s hospital Dr Reese, 3 pm

Saturday 9th

Pack for Greece. Airport 3 pm

Sunday 10th

Athens St David’s, MRI scan

Monday 11th


Tuesday 12th

Athens St David’s, Dr Reese’s surgery, 9:15 am

Wednesday 13th

Mykenos Cancel Japan in September, ring Alys

Thursday 14th

Mykenos Ring Dogs Trust re Harry.

Friday 15th

Athens Gregson’s Solicitors, re will.

Saturday 16th

Fly home

Sun 17th

Meetup with Julia and Mum. Tell them.

Monday 18th

Pilates am Back at work pm. Speak to boss re working from home.

Copyright Jeanette Greaves, May 2023

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It’s not hoarding if it’s heirlooms, and it’s not Jessica’s fault that people trusted her with their button boxes. It was entirely reasonable that her great grandmother, two grandmothers, two aunts and a neighbour would pass their collections to the family craftswoman. It was, perhaps, unusual that Jessica spent so much time with the buttons. The old Roses and Quality Street tins of similar vintage both held buttons dating from the 1920s to the 1980s, but of vastly different quality. Silver, mother of pearl and exotic woods contrasted with fabric coated plastic and tarnished brass. Jessica’s grandmothers had never really got on. Her great grandmother’s legacy was a drawstring silk bag that held a collection of tiny shirt buttons and huge coat buttons that still smelled, after many decades, of snuff and gardenias. A Danish butter biscuits tin from the 1990s held the memory of biscuits and an assortment of plastic buttons, many of them still attached to the card. If Jessica closed her eyes, she could match them to the Aran knit cardigans that her aunt had worn so often. The other aunt had kept up with the times, her collection was sorted by colour into plastic bags, all packed solidly into a pretty Cath Kidston tin. As for the neighbour’s legacy, a deluge of lightly worn novelty buttons in an Asda bag spoke of a passion for yarn crafts and a bewildering supply of grandchildren.

Jessica knitted and crocheted, she made bookmarks and greeting cards, she moulded clay and strung jewellery, but never used the heirloom buttons. She visited them, talked to them, and remembered.

The day came when she remembered no more, she was bundled away, to be cared for. Her daughter found the buttons, and tipped them all into a bucket. £10, on Marketplace, collection only.

Copyright Jeanette Greaves, May 2023

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March 2023 book blog

I only read two books this month, but they were whoppers. I started off with a break from ‘Shadows of the Apt’ in the shape of a re-read of the classic anthology ‘By Blood We Live’, edited by John Joseph Adams. I do love a themed anthology, and this one has a pretty basic theme (vampires) which has drawn contributions from the great and the good of the genre. This collection has been sitting patiently on my shelves since I first read it a decade or so ago, so I’ve given it a farewell read before I send it out into the world to entertain someone else. The stories vary from full on gothic to modern imaginings of the genre. I’m only going to mention the stories that absolutely stood out for me, but with contributors such as Neil Gaiman, Anne Rice, Harry Turtledove, Tad Williams, Michael Marshall Smith, Jane Yolen, Tanith Lee, Joe Hill, Brian Stableford, Kelly Armstrong, Ken MacLeod, Robert L Sawyer, Stephen King and Catherynne M Valente, I think I’m on fairly solid ground when I say that if you’re a horror / sf / fantasy fan, you’ll probably find something to love in this book.
The book kicks off with a lush retelling of Snow White by Neil Gaiman. ‘Snow, Glass, Apples’ points out that there was always something a bit dodgy about that so called dead body in the glass coffin. ‘Under St Peter’s’ by Harry Turtledove is a story that once read, will forever colour your perception of Easter. Michael Marshall Smith shows off his writing skills with ‘This is Now’, a masterful telling of a simple tale. He winds the story in and out of the timeline without a single misstep, to amazing effect. Jane Yolen’s ‘Mama Gone’ has a determined heroine, a homesick hungry vampire, and several ineffective blokes, I truly enjoyed this story. Joe Hill’s ‘Abraham’s Boys’ takes a more critical look than usual at Van Helsing – was he really a slayer? John Langan’s ‘The Wide Carnivorous Sky’ is a science fictional stab at the vampire mythos, the story takes four traumatised US army vets and pits them against something hellish that tore from the sky one hot day in Fallujah. The collection is very neatly tied up at the end with a reprint of Stephen King’s return to Salem’s Lot. ‘One for the Road’ is always a pleasure to read.

And from there, I returned to the characters that feel like old friends by now. Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Heirs of the Blade is the seventh novel in the ‘Shadows of the Apt’ series. It’s worth mentioning that some of the short stories from ‘Spoils of War’, the linked anthology, feed into this novel, and whilst it’s not necessary to read them to enjoy the book, it’s nice to have the back story to some of the new and returning minor characters.
Things are really kicking off now, as our heroine Che sets off to find her sister Tynisa, hoping to save her from a vengeful killer ghost. Che’s old enemy has become her closest friend, whilst the young Empress of the Wasps travels to an ancient city to claim untold powers from the Masters.
With the exception of a short visit to Kanophes, this book is mostly set in the Commonweal, where Dragonfly and Grasshopper kinden inhabit a world where chivalric tradition has been knocked over and mugged by the Wasp invasion and the massacre of a generation of Commonweal youth. Tynisa has fled there, hoping to find some trace of her dead friend Salma, and Che is following fast in her footsteps, desperate to save her sister from madness and corruption.
I loved this book, and I especially loved the use of Tynisa’s and Che’s point of view to illustrate both Tynisa’s madness, and her belief in the nobility of Salma’s family and cause.

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February 2023 book blog

‘The Witch in the Well’ by Camilla Bruce was my Jan / Feb crossover book. I’ve reviewed it separately with its own post.

From there, I didn’t move very far away from the Shadow’s of the Apt series by Adrian Tchaikovsky. I kicked off the month’s ‘new books’ with ‘Spoils of War’. This is a mixed bag of tales, set in the universe of the ten novel series ‘Shadows of the Apt’ Most of the stories are back stories for major characters or locations in the Apt series, and some of them really do shine out as great stories. I’ll definitely be reading the rest of the short story collections in this universe.

‘Spoils of War’ was an excellent springboard back to the series proper, and I dived straight into ‘The Scarab Path’ The first four books of ‘Shadows of the Apt’ were essentially a quadrilogy within the series. The Scarab Path, whilst definitely a sequel to that story, is a self contained story in its own right, focusing on Che, Totho and Thalric, and their experiences in the ancient city of Kanophus. With fewer battles – but still plenty of fight scenes – the story gives the ideas and characters the chance to breathe. I particularly loved how the Che / Totho story played out.

Book 6 of ‘Shadows of the Apt’ is another thick volume, which introduces new people and settings. What a whopper! I would definitely have read this book faster if I’d had stronger arms. Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Stenwold’s adventures under the sea. It was eerily reminiscent at times of China Mieville’s ‘The Scar’ which I read last year. What are the odds of me reading two undersea fantasy stories in the space of a few months? The Sea Watch is a lively and entertaining book, with some genuine moments of horror mixed with the military and political scenes. I loved the octopus / squid people, and the ancient octopus was a great character in its own right.

Incidentally, I got to meet the author at Lancaster Litfest in March. He was charming, amusing, and passionate about writing. It was a pleasure.

I’m taking another short break from Tchaikovsky’s ten book series with a re-read of an anthology about vampires. I’ll tell you more about that in a couple of weeks time.

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The Witch in the Well – a review by Jeanette Greaves

Thank you to Transworld for the review copy of this book.

Getting a review copy of a book usually leads to an interesting experience, because they’re usually by an author I’ve not yet read. This was definitely an interesting experience. A copy editing error and a confusing turn of phrase early on in the book put me in a negative mood early on, but I persevered out of curiosity. The author has created three intensely unsympathetic female characters and divided the story between their voices, using flashbacks and present day narratives.

The Witch in the Well is Ilsbeth, the long dead young wife of a local landowner, who was murdered by the townsfolk in the nineteenth century, accused of killing several local children. Her life story is wreaking havoc between two former childhood friends.
Cathy is a local, she grew up near the well, and has an affinity with Ilsbeth’s tale. As an awkward, unsocial woman who sees herself as an outsider, she is sure that Ilsbeth was wrongly accused. Cathy has settled down in a basement with the town archives to write a biography of Ilsbeth and hopefully clear her name.

Elena is successful writer and influencer, with links to the area. She used to spend her summers with her uncle in his big house near the well. During those summers, she developed a friendship with Cathy that didn’t survive their childhood. When Elena returns to the town, she brings with her the need to produce that difficult second book, and is inspired to write about Ilsbeth. Inevitably, the shared goals lead to trouble, and none of the three women come out of it looking good.

I’m left with the utmost admiration for a writer who has created such self absorbed, unlikeable characters, and drawn me into their story to the extent that I returned to it every chance I got. I liked the different narrative origins – Ilsbeth has left a handwritten journal to be found by Cathy, Elena has hand written a journal and hidden it in a tree, where is it found by Cathy, and Cathy has written her side of the story as a public Facebook blog, which in itself forms a strand of the story.

If you don’t need a heroine or a sympathetic character to enjoy a book, then this may be for you. At times it reads like a black comedy, as Cathy persists in blogging every detail of her life, despite the pleadings of her lawyer, her ex husband, and her son. I’m glad I read it, it will haunt me for a while.

‘The Witch in the Well’ is available now in hardback from Bantam Press, and will be released as a paperback on 23rd February 2023.

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January 2023 book blog

That thing, where you binge a series of fantasy books, it feels so naughty doesn’t it? Like sitting with a box of chocolates and barely stopping until you hit the next layer. I did that last month with the first four volumes of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s ‘Shadows of the Apt’ series.

We start with book 1, Empire in Black and Gold. My first impulse was to four star this novel, the first in a series of ten, but I thought about it and realised that I was comparing it against The Tiger and The Wolf, a book published eight years later by a vastly more experienced storyteller. It didn’t seem fair to withhold that one star when I’d enjoyed the story so much and was ready to pick up book 2 straight away. So, five it is.
Empire follows the typical fantasy path of assembling a mismatched group from different parts of the story’s world, adding some conflict and a hint of romance, and sending them off on a quest. The hook in these novels is that their home cities and the people within are physically defined by an affinity to a type of insect. So, whilst all the characters are fully human, they have some characteristics of, e.g. spiders, moths or beetles, sometimes to a degree that appears to be supernatural or monstrous to others outside their group. The quest that the young people have been set is to gather evidence that the Wasps are mounting an invasion of the Lowlands, the home of several cities and cultures. On the way there are many battles, a bit of romance, a parent / child reunion that could end very badly, and lots of intrigue. Book 1 of any series has a lot of ground to cover, and although my personal taste would be for fewer fight scenes and more intrigue, this is a book about war, after all.

Book 2, Dragonfly Falling, continues the story as a typical fantasy book 2 – Engrossing storyline, lots of battles and fight scenes. Great character development for the group of youngsters that we first met in book 1.

Book 3, Blood of the Mantis is less bloody, with more world building and character development. We get some time to get to know the characters a bit more, allowing us to get invested in some of them against our better judgement …

Book 4, Salute the Dark – It’s all battles and fights and plots isn’t it? This has the feel of a final book in a series, as Tchaikovsky draws together his various characters. The Empire of the Wasps may have over-reached itself, as revolution, rebellion and resistance flare up at city and individual levels. Prepare to be heartbroken.

At this point I took a break to read and review Camilla Bruce’s ‘The Witch in the Well’ and to enjoy the tasty morsel that is ‘The Photographer’ by Maxim Jakubowski, a dark and literary short story brought to us by Nicholas Royle’s Nightjar Press series of chapbooks. My review of The Witch in the Well is posted separately.

Next, for February, more from Shadows of the Apt.

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December 2022 book blog

Another month when I read a lot less than usual. I blame Netflix and a free Prime month. I spent most of the Christmas holidays bingeing two seasons of Fear The Walking Dead, which has well and truly jumped the rotting corpse of the zombie shark, but is still a fun watch and something entertaining to follow whilst I’m ironing or knitting. Knit and Splatter?
Anyway, long overdue catchups of fave zombie programmes aside, this is supposed to be a book blog, so here we go.
I first ‘met’ Alix Harrow in a short story anthology, and loved her story so much that I bought ‘Ten Thousand Doors of January’ as soon as possible. Then, I promptly lost it. I’m getting good at this buying and losing books lark. I was reluctant to buy it again, because it had to be somewhere, didn’t it? Anyway, a while later ‘The Once and Future Witches’ came out and it wasn’t a sequel, but it was Harrow, so I bought it, read it and loved it. I loved it so much that I ordered the paperback of ‘Ten Thousand Doors of January’ and put it in a safe place once it had arrived.
I caught up with it in December and read it in two days. Don’t believe my Goodreads account, that blog site is useless these days. I forgot to tell it that I wasn’t a robot when I logged the read, so it’s been pretending that I took five weeks to read the book. So, it’s a fantasy, and there’s magic, and a quest, and romance and a villain AND a villainous conspiracy. It’s great, it’s everything that I thought it would be. It’s a hugely fun read with sympathetic characters and unless you hate fun fantasy reads, you’ll probably enjoy it.
My next, and final, read of the month, which I finished on Jan 1st 2023, was Marc Burrows ‘Manic Street Preachers. Album by Album’. There are a lot of books about the Manics, and whilst I’ve not read them all, I’ve read a fair few. Simon Price’s ‘Everything’ remains the gold standard, but it’s very out of date now. Burrows’ book is clearly written by fans, which is not a bad thing as Manics fans tend to be pretty thoughtful people. The book consists of a strictly chronological history of the band, divided into album eras. The lists of events are split up by essays about each album, from Generation Terrorists to Resistance is Futile. The essays are fan written, and each one addresses a different album. This book did take nearly a month to read, I was dipping into it and reading a section at a time. I’m a Manics fan (FMF) myself and the book took me on a startlingly clear (ultra vivid?) trip down memory lane. This is a must read for Manics fans, and an interesting window into the world of the Manics, their music and their fans for the uninitiated.

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