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I have never considered myself a picky reader, exactly. As a kid I certainly wasn’t…

I have never considered myself a picky reader, exactly. As a kid I certainly wasn’t – growing up on a boat in parts of the world where both libraries and secondhand bookshops were pretty thin on the ground, I read anything and everything I could get my hands on. Which may have resulted in a few books that I really wasn’t ready for (I’m looking at you, The Mammoth Hunters. My very young (and evidently unsupervised) self took it from the shelves thinking there were going to be a lot more mammoths in it…). But it also meant that I found out for myself the sort of books that I really did love and read them to pieces.

I also, to my parents’ occasional despair, read all the time. I clearly remember my mum, exasperated, telling me to put the book down and actually look around as we sailed through some gorgeous passage … somewhere. I don’t remember. I do remember that I really wanted to go back to my book, because Bilbo was in the process of tricking the trolls. What’s a beautiful day sailing through the tropics compared to that?

Rather embarrassingly, I was reminded of this because my dad pulled some old photos out the other day. Among them were some beautiful shots of us sailing out of Tonga, bound for Fiji, when I was around eleven or so. All you can see is the top of my head and my knees as I huddled over my book and completely ignored everything else. Evidently I was already well set in my life path by that point.

reading, currently reading, stranger times, ck mcdonnell, lindsay buroker, star kingdom, artemis, andy weir

All of this is to say that, back then, I read everywhere, all the time, and pretty much anything. These days, though … well, for a start, both my shelves at home and my e-reader are stuffed with books I will read one day, books I might read one day, books I think I should read one day, books I’ve tried to read and may go back to, and books that I think I’ll re-read and am hanging on to just in case. I will never, ever catch up with all this reading, and every time it comes to choosing the next book my problem is more having too much choice than not enough. So I have ended up getting picky. If a story isn’t working for me, I put it down. There are others that will suit me better.

Of course, this does at times lead to an irritatingly large amount of Did Not Finishes (which often end up in the Will Try Again pile, as I’m also a mood reader, so I figure I might like them on a different day), and also to me dithering a lot when I don’t know what I want to read. And half the time I can’t even say what I like or don’t like, because there are so many exceptions to the rules that they’re less rules and more ‘this is how I felt on Thursday of last week’. The upside, though, is that I’m ridiculously happy when I get a run of good books.

Which I have, recently. And I will natter about them below.

Watch on, lovely people – and my cuppa ratings are under the vid.

The Stranger Times, C.K. McDonnell. This is so much fun. SO MUCH. I loved every moment of this book. It does take time to get moving, but the lead-up, in which our ex-rich-wife, currently-jobless hero Hannah takes on the position of assistant editor at the titular Times, is so entertaining that it doesn’t matter. The paper reports on stories such as haunted toilets that dispense shortbread recipes, and has a monthly open house where anyone in Manchester with a strange tale to tell can come and tell it, much to Hannah’s despair (as she has to listen to them). However, it turns out that at least some of these weirder stories are true, and the paper’s strange team are soon caught up in actual investigative journalism with a hefty end-of-world paranormal twist. It’s a funny, entertaining romp, and I loved it. A large pot of very good tea and numerous chocolate Hobnobs, even if they are, according to one character, downright solicitous.

“Publication seeks desperate human being with capability to form sentences using the English language. No imbeciles, optimists or Simons need apply.”

– The Stranger Times, C.K. McDonnell

The Star Kingdom Boxset (Shockwave, Ship of Ruin, and Hero Code), Lindsay Buroker. I’m immensely picky when it comes to sci-fi. Too much techy detail and I get bored (and confused). Too much world-building detail on alien species and galactic history – well, see previous sentence. Plus things often get a bit hero-y. This, however … lots of humour, snarky dialogue, fantastic, believable friendships between the very human characters, and a fun, fast-paced plot. I’ve loved every book, and will be buying the rest of the series. A decent planet-side coffee and a very large cake.

“Asger eyed him. “Should I be concerned about you, or do drugs always make you weird?”

“I’m afraid it’s not the drugs that make me weird.”

– The Star Kingdom Boxset, Lindsay Buroker

Artemis, Andy Weir. Another fun sci-fi romp. Our hero, Jazz, has spent most of her life in the moon habitat, and she’s not entirely a law-abiding citizen. Or a criminal, exactly. It’s a grey area. Which becomes less grey when she agrees to one massive heist that will set her up for life. Obviously, complications ensue. I found this an engaging read with enough science-y detail to be interesting but not enough to overwhelm. Jazz isn’t the most well-developed character, but she is fun, so overall it’s a decent cuppa for me (but made at Earth’s boiling temperature, not Moon’s).

“By the way, we also hate it when people . . . call Artemis “the city in space.” We’re not in space; we’re on the moon. I’m mean, technically, we’re in space, but so is London.”

– Artemis, Andy Weir

Mrs Morris Meets Death, Tammie Painter. This is actually a short story, not a book, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I mean, it features a formidable woman of a certain age and a book-distracted Death. That’s basically Kim-catnip right there. It was a most fun read, and I’m looking forward to reading more of Tammie’s books.

“Mrs Morris was too busy to die.”

– Mrs Morris Meets Death, Tammie Painter

Now, over to you, lovely people – are you a picky reader, or do you read whatever takes your fancy at the time? DNF, or in it to the end? And what have you been reading this month? Any wonderful finds you’d like to add to my trembling TBR? Let me know below!

Read on, lovely people.

andy weir, artemis, book chat, book reviews, c.k. mcdonnell, Lindsay Buroker, reading, star kingdom

  1. Tammie Painter says:

    I don’t know which I’m more excited about… A) that one of my new favorite authors mentioned (and feels very Kim-catnippy about) my story, or B) that I’m hanging out in the same post as Lindsay Buroker and Andy Weir. Bah, too tough to decide, I’ll just run around the the house squee-ing over both. : ) Thanks, Kim!!

    1. Kim Watt says:

      It was SUCH a fun story! It definitely left me with a “and what happens next?” feel. I’m really looking forward to reading your others ❤️

  2. Mike Harvey says:

    If you mean Jean Auel’s ‘The Mammoth Hunters’ I don’t see the problem. OK, maybe there weren’t that many mammoths in it but I don’t recall it being NSFC. Indeed, I think it was an excellent series. As for your recent reads, I’ve got ‘The Star Kingdom Box Set’ on my TBR list and am glad to know it meets with your approval. I’d have started it already but after finishing the first of the Justicar Jhee books I decided I needed something shorter and, hopefully, lighter so I’ve started reading a cheery little item called: ‘The Haunting of Nelson Street’ by Amy Cross.

    1. Kim Watt says:

      It may not have been The Mammoth Hunters, but it was definitely that series. I just remember that there was quite a lot of descriptive sex, and nowhere near enough mammoths to my eight-year-old(ish) mind… I never tried reading any of them again!

      And I hope you enjoy Star Kingdom – I’m still loving them, and need to buy the next one for this week, as I have no desire to move onto anything else just yet. This is most unusual for me, as I’m usually lucky to finish a boxset without being distracted by something else! The Haunting of Nelson Street sounds good, too – I do love a good haunted house story, so will be interested to hear what you think 🙂

      1. Mike Harvey says:

        You could be right, I tend to skip over sex scenes on the grounds that they’re generally pretty boring to read.

        The Haunting of Nelson Street turned out to be a very good book. The ending certainly wasn’t what I was expecting.

        1. Kim Watt says:

          I think at the age I came across that book, it raised MANY questions. My mum must’ve regretted encouraging me to read quite so widely…

          1. Mike says:

            It’s better to know these things before the information is required.

          2. Kim Watt says:

            It really is! I think my parents had not quite appreciated just how voracious my reading was…

  3. Jingizu says:

    I finished the Star Kingdom series around March this year, and loved it. Some of the best space opera I’ve read!

    You might want give Peter F Hamilton’s Void trilogy a go as well. Excellent space opera / fantasy cross over.

    LOL at the Mammoth Hunters! I think 8 years was maybe a bit young to read that…

    Well, as to what I am reading now, actually rereading the Gobbelino books…

    Started rereading Tad Williams’ excellent Memory, Sorrow & Thorn fantasy trilogy, in anticipation for the release of the sequel trilogy’s last book late this year. Stopped though because the release was pushed back to next year. Bummer.

    You can also try Darcy Coates’ The Carrow Haunt for a fun and quite short ghost story.

    1. Kim Watt says:

      Ooh, thank you for the recommendations! I haven’t read any Peter F Hamilton, so I’ll take a look at those. I used to read a lot more sci-fi, but I kept ending up with titles that were too military/techy/dramatic, and I gave up for a bit. The same with ghost stories/horror (eh, I mean not too military/techy, of course… But too dramatic and gory instead of decent suspense), so it’s lovely to have some ideas of others to try!

      And yes on the Mammoth Hunters. I was NOT ready for that 😂

      Also, I’m SO happy you’re re-reading Gobbelino! That’s the best compliment ever! Thank you ❤️

      1. Jingizu says:

        You may have read it or heard about it, but I recently read A Cat’s Guide to Bonding with Dragons: A Humorous Fantasy Adventure (Dragoncat Book 1) by Chris Behrsin. Was a fun read! Thought that those who love cats and dragons may enjoy it.

        1. Kim M Watt says:

          I did try that one – I loved the name and the concept! I didn’t get too far with it for some reason, though. Something wasn’t quite working for me in it. It’s still on my kindle, though, so I may revisit at some point in case it was just where my head was at at the time. After all, cats and dragons. What more can you ask for? 😉

          1. Jingizu says:

            Yah, I loved the premise and the world building was pretty good, however the flow of the writing could have been better, and I must admit that Benji the cat complained way too much! lol

          2. Kim Watt says:

            Yep, something about it just didn’t work for me! I got as far as him meeting the dragon, then stopped. Maybe later…

  4. Like I didn’t have a big enough TBR pile?! I started with Stranger Times, then I had to get his other books, and I’m looking over the other recommended authors. I’m already a reader exactly like you, Kim, my parents thought I was the only one (“It’s Kings Canyon, these trees are thousands of years old!” “Uh, huh, so are the aliens in this book, wanna read it when I’m done?”). Oh, well, at least I’m never bored. Thanks, I think.

    1. Kim Watt says:

      Oh no – from one overloaded TBR pile to another, apologies! I’ve been sharing my love for the Star Kingdom series over on Facebook, and have somehow ended up with two (possibly three) other looong series to check out. I should learn, but …

      And I’m glad I’m not the only wee small person who was far more interested in alternate worlds than the one right in front of me! I feel slightly better about that now. And I do try to pay more attention now. Mostly.

      1. Jingizu says:

        LOL! I was much the same as a child, would rather read than play outside. Still the same really, would mostly prefer to read than to go out and/or socialise. As a child though, I luckily had a staunch supporter in my equally bibliophile mom, so the backup was good ;D As for the TBR pile, I made a peace with it that I’ll never get around to reading all the books I want to, will need several lifetimes for that at least.

        1. Y’know, being isolated at home was unnoticed by me. My husband took over everything, every single thing, outside the house, he was so worried about me. I loved it. Hours and hours to read, no nitwits to deal with, and both cats snuggled up. Since I stayed safe and healthy, I was making a dent in the TBR pile. Now I’m vaccinated, and little by little I’m taking back the household errands and shopping. I want to go back to isolation.

          1. Kim Watt says:

            One of my friends and I did joke that we were having a rather pleasant lockdown. It suited our reclusive natures!

        2. Kim Watt says:

          I feel the TBR is all about potential, anyway. I’d much rather know I’ll never read them all that worry about running out!

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