How’s 2022 shaping up for you on the reading front, lovely people? Are you off to a strong start? Not quite settled into a reading routine yet? Attacking it with a plan? Not at all sure what I’m talking about, because it’s reading, dammit, one just gets on with it?
After ending the year having found some gems lurking in my poor, overloaded, Kindle, and having said (with a straight face, no less) that I was absolutely going to continue with my book buying ban and trying to at least attempt to read the 400+ untouched books still patiently waiting their turn, I fell at the first hurdle.
In my defence, it was a book about dragons. Or a dragon, but one who worked in a travelling circus, loved omelettes, and had a horny, chain-smoking unicorn for a best friend. And it was an advance copy, so I had to read it, because duties.
And I don’t know what happened after that. I need to take the one-click buy setting off my Amazon account, I think. That should at least slow me down.
In other words, all my reads so far this year have been new purchases, even if, as usual, none of them are new books. Other than the aforementioned dragonish romp, obviously.
And now I shall get out of my own way and leave you with a video covering all my favourite reads of the year so far (DNFs and meh books not included). Cake and cuppa ratings are below!
Hoard It All Before, Tammie Painter. You may remember that I discovered Tammie’s The Undead Mr Tenpenny last year, and loved it. It was a fun, delightfully bizarre read that definitely hit my weird sense of humour in all the right places, and I promptly author-stalked her. Or she may have author-stalked me. There may have been mutual author-stalking, but so far as I know no restraining orders have been taken out, so we’re all good. Anyway. This was how I discovered she was writing a cosy mystery series involving not just a dragon, but a whole cast of magical creatures, all revolving around a 1930s-style travelling circus, and, honestly, sometimes stalking really does pay off* … Two omelettes with truffles and wild herbs, and a large vat of tea.
*This is a joke. Stalking is bad. Unless it’s author-stalking of the sort where you heap praise on them and generally tell them they’re wonderful in the hope of wheedling more books out of them. This is the only acceptable stalking behaviour.
“Dragon handling was a prestigious position in the circus world, and it earned that renown for being dangerous. After all, we’re talking about managing a giant reptile who could turn you into a piece of bar-be-que if you crossed him. It certainly wasn’t working with something cute and fluffy and mostly harmless like the chimera kittens in the petting zoo.”
Time Binge, Martina Fetzer. I was fairly tempted by the description when I stumbled across this book on sale. After all, it started with paranormal detectives and promised moon-dwelling hipsters, a Puritan, and disastrous time travel. But what really sold me was the asterisk next to ‘award-winning author’, which clarified that the award had been for perfect attendance at school, and is exactly the sort of slightly weird detail that gets me hitting the buy button (although, to be fair, we all know I have a low threshold for that anyway). Anyhow – this was a fun adventure, the characters are engaging, and I’d pick up another in the series without feeling the need to rush out and grab them right now. A couple of doughnuts and a cup of very strong coffee.
“Upon learning about the prophecy of Klakon and the inevitable rise of the Goblin King that would plunge the world into darkness, suspicion turned to David Bowie. Agents Brooks and Smith were the ones who determined that it was Steve Buscemi all along. They appropriately ended his reign of terror by shoving him into a woodchopper. The actor who purports to be Steve Buscemi to this day is a changeling who owed the two men a favour.”
DCI Jack Logan Collection (Books 1-3), JD Kirk. I actually read the first of these, which I bought as a standalone, last year, and while I liked it, I didn’t love it. I was just a bit, eh, police procedural, nice that it’s Scottish, but eh. And then my cousin started reading them, and kept sending me little snippets, mostly with a note saying, ‘ask your dad what this Scottish word means,’ and ‘what the hell’s Irn Bru and why’s everyone drinking it?’ I could help with the first, although I still think Dad makes up the meanings half the time, but the second still mystifies me, to be honest. Anyhow, she was enjoying them so much that when I spotted the boxset on sale I bought it, and promptly read book two and three in the space of a few days, and am now really, really struggling with my re-imposed book buying ban … Smart, fast-paced police procedurals with good characters and good dialogue, and while I picked the murderer pretty early on in all of them, the ride to the end’s more than worth it. A large bacon butty for the meat-eaters and an Irn Bru, obviously.
The butcher laughed. “It’s our own recipe. Pork and Irn Bru sausages. The customers love them!”
Did they though, Logan wondered? Beyond the novelty value, did they actually love them, or did they get them home, fry them up, and spit the bastarding things out after one bite?
“We were going to try beef and Tizer, but … no. Decided against it.”
“Aye. Because that would’ve been mental, I suppose,” Logan reasoned.
And because I can resist an internet rabbit hole about as well as I can resist a Kindle daily deal, I have discovered that Irn Bru (formerly Iron Brew, but as it’s not actually brewed they weren’t allowed to keep calling it that) was the sole drinks supplier at Cop26, and one of the delegates gave this absolutely amazing quote about it:
“My head told me: just get another one. You get used to it,” he said. “I knew it was typically Scottish because I watched the film The Angels’ Share [a Ken Loach movie set in Glasgow]. So I had to try it. It was not the nicest experience I’ve ever had. The first sip was rather shocking. But then it fits quite well together with the fish and chips. So I just got got another one.”
Because if you don’t like it, just get another one. Obviously.
Have you tried it, lovely people? What are your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments!
And for some rather more reading-specific questions – do you have a reading plan or reading goals for the year? What have your best reads been so far? Let me know in the comments!
Until next time – may your books be plentiful and your snacks never stale. And your Irn Bru … delightful. Or something.