This is a new monthly feature I am going to try, where I look back at what I read (or tried to read) during the past month. I also plan on highlighting my experiences in any book club reads I did during the month as well. I will always start with any books I would label as a surprise find/underread books so if anyone missed my reviews for them, and don’t make it to the end of this post, they’ll be easy to find.
Surprise Find/Underrated/Underread Book
Irenicon by Aidan Harte – I have heard very little about this book. It was released in the UK a couple of years ago and in the US this year. Somehow it only has 18 reviews on Goodreads, and only 3 on Amazon! The book is not perfect, but it is really good and way better than many books that get a lot of attention. I am hoping with the US release that more readers will discover it.
Book Club Reviews
My entire online presence (such as it is) started solely to join an online book club. From there I have had quite an evolution in regards to my involvement. Last year I averaged at least two book club reads a month. I have calmed down some, but still do at least one. I do my best to try and get interest and involvement for the Fantasy Faction book club, and have also found myself as a mod for Reddit’s r/Fantasy Goodreads group which also hosts a Book of the Month.
Fantasy Faction Book Club
We read Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough (review). I opted for the audiobook version of this, which may have been a mistake. It’s hard to say as I feel like the book likely would not have worked for me in any format. It was a rather ‘meh’ month for book club, I don’t think anyone loved this book. There was at least solace to be found in that misery loves company. Well, the book was not bad enough to really say ‘misery’, I guess more disinterest and disappointment love company in this case. Next month, we have King Rat lined up. I’ve yet to read Mieville and am quite excited to read this one.
Reddit /r/Fantasy Goodreads Discussion Group
The book selection for Reddit was Hollow World by Michael J. Sullivan. I really enjoyed all of his other books and in fact funded his Kickstarter for this one. I had planned on reading/reviewing it prior to release, but it had the misfortune of being slated to be read during a time when real life put the breaks on pretty much all of my reading/reviewing. To be honest, I had started it a couple of times, but it is quite different from my usual books so I really need to be in the mood for it. I was looking forward to reading it with a group and discussing my impressions of it, but once the discussions were open, I decided to hold off and opt out. Why? Well, I hope this does not come across as rude, but mainly because the author showed up in the discussion threads. Now, I LOVE when we have areas dedicated to Author Q&As, I love when authors take the time to talk with the readers, and I would never for a moment want to discourage that. But for me, I believe for discussions to be useful, they need to be open and readers need to feel like they can voice their honest opinions and reactions to the book. This may sometimes be negative. I know anything posted online is open for authors to look at, and hopefully people are usually respectful when something does not work for them. But when the author is responding to comments in the discussion, it takes it from feeling like a discussion amongst readers to a “rah, rah, we love your book” type of format. To go into a discussion where the author is responding and say “this just didn’t work for me, I didn’t connect with the character” or whatever else you have to say feels more rude than useful. There are plenty of books that have features I don’t care for and I will openly discuss them in a book club, but are they things I want to say directly to the author? Did I dislike it to the point that I feel the need to confront them with my opinions? Absolutely not. It’s one thing to talk amongst “friends”, where sometimes a negative comment can spur further discussion and sharing of insights/theories that you might not have thought of otherwise, and its another to approach the author with your negative thoughts. I am also not at all a fan for “Author Free” zones beside the discussions because to me, this seems to be set up solely for negative comments, which is definitely not at all what I want either. I want a place where positive and negative comments can come together for discussion. So…. in light of this, I just decided to sit out. I guess its the difference of feeling like the comments are being said “to the author” rather than “to the readers (where the author can happen to see them)”. Maybe I will eventually get to Hollow World, but if I do, I won’t be commenting in the discussion threads.
Reading Highlights (non-bookclub reads)
Highlights in the way of non-book club reads? The last week was a great week for horror books! I’ve not been reading as much horror as I used to and I found myself with two going at one (one audio, and one text).
I just finished The Three by Sarah Lotz. This book is absolutely fantastic. I love the structure of it. I also was a bit concerned because I was warned (rightfully) that the format might not lend itself well to audio. I can understand the concern and I think it is something that could have gone terribly wrong. However, they did a phenomenal job with it, to the point where I almost feel like I might have missed out on something if I had read it.
Also finished The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey – Another amazing horror book – review will be posted soon.
This was also a big month for sequels. I had Mirror Sight and Crimson Campaign lined up and read right away. Both were great installments in the series. I still need to read Sworn in Steel and am hoping I can get to it soon!
Most Laughably Awkward Sex Scene Award
This one goes to *drumroll* – The Shadow Master by Craig Cormick. A steam punk Romeo & Juliet book that honestly, just didn’t quite work for me.