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Werewolves, Weddings, Court Politics, & Other Eldritch Horrors

A March reading chat and the delights of dedicated reading time. (Plus the tūī are still hiding …)

I have been reading. Not a lot, at least not in terms of young Kim, when I inhaled books at such a pace that my Dad would sometimes read them after me and ask me questions, as he didn’t think I could possibly be reading at such a pace and taking anything in (I was, and could). But a lot in terms of current Kim, who will most days manage half an hour of reading in bed before dropping the kindle on her face.

I’ve been trying to give myself an afternoon every weekend (it doesn’t always work, but I usually find an hour if I can’t get more) that’s just for reading, when I can curl up in a comfy spot and just do proper, abandoned, lost-in-the-book reading, and not think about anything else, or be distracted by my phone or the laptop or any of the many, many things on my to-do list. I’ve also been making it a point to get to bed in time for more than half an hour of pre-sleep reading, although this is an iffy business. Some days it works, other days I end up messaging people instead (having friends in different time zones is tricky), and last Friday I finished reading at two a.m. on Saturday. Which, to be fair, was more caused by an inability to sleep than by the book, but I might’ve slept a little earlier if the book had been less interesting, so I think it needs to share blame.

But, sleeplessness aside, it has been delightful.

Old, yet accurate …

For a start, I haven’t had to check back to see what happened earlier in the book because it’s taking me so long to read it that I’ve forgotten. And my usual day off must do something useful thing has changed to when do I get to sit down with my book? So that’s nice. Plus, sitting down with a book allows better snack time than Doing All The Things, so I approve doubly.

And what’s even nicer is the fact that reading more makes me want to read more. I almost thought that ability to just fall into books had become lost along the way, grown out of like a taste for weird cheesy puffs and bubblegum flavoured ice cream.

But it turns out that some loves last forever – you just need to take the time to reconnect with them again. Not that I’m going to try that with the cheese puffs or the bubblegum ice cream, because, gah. I think current Kim might get indigestion on that stuff.

All of which means that I have a nice selection of titles for this month, which you can hear all about in the vid below, and find my cake and a cuppa ratings underneath. Watch away, then let me know in the comments, lovely people – what childhood loves would you like to rediscover? Do you think you might try?

Happy reading!

Lovecraft Country, Matt Ruff. A well-written, subversive take on Lovecraftian horror, made harrowing more by the human monsters than the eldritch ones. It takes the form of almost novellas strung along the storyline, the POV switching in each, and they were all great reads (Hippolyta’s was my favourite) that led to a cohesive whole. Five large cups of coffee and a slice of pie, but actually don’t eat anything.

“… the real reason he’d keep running into monsters was because he was black, and when you’re black in America, there’s always a monster. Sometimes it’s Lovecraftian Elder Gods; sometimes it’s the police, or the Klan, or the Registrar of Voters.”

― Matt Ruff, Lovecraft Country

Fool, Christopher Moore. A (very) loose re-telling of King Lear, (among other Shakespeare) from the POV of the Fool. Which was fun, but not as fun as it could’ve been. There were some moments of real drama and connection, but a lot was just really crude jokes. Which I don’t mind, but there were a lot, and not that many of them were funny, which made the book not as enjoyable for me as a lot of his other work. A small jar of mead and some biscuits.

“The dull always seek to be clever at the fool’s expense, to somehow repay him for his cutting wit, but never are they clever, and often they are cruel.”

― Christopher Moore, Fool

Welcome to Nowhere, Caimh McDonnell. This was one of those books where, more than once, I just looked around the room blankly and said, “what just happened?” It was fast-paced, funny, and completely bonkers in the best possible way. Smithy, who was humiliated in a leprechaun-hunting job (I know), decides to take revenge on the man who hired him, but in the process of doing so interrupts a ninja maybe-assasin (I know) and ends up fighting for his life in a Mad-Max-esque desert outpost (I KNOW). I’m still not sure what I actually read, but I liked it. Several tacos and a large bottle of vodka for those so inclined.

“This was how the world ends, thought Smithy, with an insane man who wants to watch it burn, and an organised woman who was prepared to do the admin.”

– Caimh McDonnell, Welcome to Nowhere

A Heart In The Right Place, Heide Goody & Iain Grant. While this wasn’t one of my favourites of theirs, it was an entertaining read. It started off very gross and super-violent (and this is from someone who adored James Herbert’s Rats trilogy as a teen), enough so that I almost put it down. But it turned into a fun father-son road-trip gone wrong tale. Very wrong, to be fair. With a werewolf. And a team of assassins, a pack of boar, and a very good dog. Well, mostly good, anyway. Also lots more grossness, so be warned. I’m not sure I fancy any cake after that, but I’ll take some tea. That should be safe. (Yes, I realise my rating system has broken down irretrievably, but it’s my system, so … yeah. Okay. It’s broken.)

“One dead body might be explained away, two looked extremely careless.”

― Heide Goody, A Heart in the Right Place

The Edible Woman, Margaret Atwood. This was a delightfully odd read. It was funny, sly, subversive, dislocating, and claustrophobic. Not a lot happens, but at the same time an awful lot does, without the MC having any real influence over her life or how it turns out. But why would she – she knows how it will turn out. She will be married, stop work, have children, and raise them. There are no other options. Except her subconscious – and her body – have other ideas. All the cake, and probably a large cocktail to wash it down with.

“Into the plastic basket went my selections, and off I set, step by step, sideways down the stairs, like Little Red Riding Hood on her way to Granny’s house via the underworld. Except that I myself am Granny, and I contain my own bad wolf. Gnawing away, gnawing away.”

― Margaret Atwood, The Edible Woman

Marrying Off Mother & Other Stories, Gerald Durrell. Reading Gerald Durrell is always like cuddling up under a favourite blanket with a soft toy for me. I loved My Family & Other Animals so much as a wee small thing that when I re-read it recently I could remember some passages almost verbatim. The humour, and the gentle affection shared out equally to people of all species is just comforting and beautiful to me, and I always love re-visiting them. I hadn’t read these stories before, and while it’s not the best of his work, it was still a good read. Some of the stories were sad, others bittersweet, but all of them had the same lovely tone to them (although there’s also a bit of darkness in there, and some of the language is distinctly dated). I will always treasure the gambling nun in the red velvet dress. A full afternoon tea, including scones and jam.

“I wrote assiduously for a while, then I read the paragraph I had written. It leered evilly at me in the way first paragraphs do, when all the words have got together and are telling you that no matter what you do they are going to make sure you don’t like them; nor are you going to be any more successful with the next paragraph.”

– Gerald Durrell, Marrying Off Mother & Other Stories

gerald durrell, margaret atwood, caimh mcdonnell, book chat, book reviews
I have to admit that Larry’s writing issues in The Durrells were possibly my favourite part of the series …

Now over to you, lovely people. What have you been reading this month? And what character’s trials and tribulations have you related to horribly strongly? Let me know below!

book chat, bookworm, Caimh mcDonnell, cook reviews, Gerald Durrell, Heide Goody, Margaret Atwood, reading, werewolves

  1. Mike Harvey says:

    “This was how the world ends, thought Smithy, with an insane man who wants to watch it burn, and an organised woman who was prepared to do the admin.”

    There’s always a need for someone to do the admin. Unfortunately, these days it doesn’t seem to be me they need to do it.

    1. Kim says:

      Well, if I ever decide to end the world, I’ll be in touch. I’m not a fan of admin, and it seems to be that ending a world probably requires quite a lot of it.

      1. Mike says:

        Oh it does, believe me. It’s almost as complex a project as creating a world to start with.

        1. Kim says:

          It’s just become far too legislated these days. Used to be, you could start a world on Monday and end it on Wednesday, and no one blinked an eye. Now it’s all, “have you filled in form 38-26-79554JN-B?” or “have you received the planning approval in triplicate from Central Worlds?” The fun’s just gone right out of it.

          1. Mike says:


  2. Carolyn says:

    Oh, I haven’t spotted the Gerald Durrell before so I shall now have to investigate. (gods help the TBR) Currently on The ewel Diviner which I haven’t quite warmed to yet as the main characters (apart from the vampiri) seem to nice and bland

    1. Kim says:

      It’s not his best collection of stories, but the one set in Corfu is as delightful as ever, and the others are fun as well. It mostly made me want to go back and re-read all his other stuff!

      And I ended up abandoning The Jewel Diviner a bit over a third in. I just couldn’t care for the characters enough, and there still hadn’t been anything really exciting happen that might’ve made up for that. A shame, because it’s well-written, but I couldn’t get into it.

      1. Carolyn says:

        I’ve been struggling on but it really doesn’t light a spark and seems far too romantic swoony for my liking

        1. Kim says:

          I ended up putting it down – I found I wasn’t looking forward to picking it up again at night, which is always a dealbreaker for me! I’m now on a vampire/dystopian thing that I really thought I wouldn’t like, but which is at least entertaining and fast-paced. Still a bit meh on the super-sexy vampire thing, though.

          1. Carolyn says:

            It was the revealing of the vampiri to the brother with too much pink flesh mentioned really got me down. What is the kindle equivalent of hurling a book across the room?

          2. Kim says:

            I usually find a soft surface and cast it down in disgust. That, or try to remember how to delete from device, but I usually get bored before I get to it …

          3. Carolyn says:

            I did it – deleted. Now I can get on with my reading life

          4. Kim says:

            I settled for marking it as read, so I don’t keep seeing it in my TBR. Most disappointing! But happy reading on the next one 🙂

  3. Susan York says:

    Your anecdote about your dad not believing how much you were reading brought to mind an incident when I was 8 or 9 years old and my class was visiting our school library. We were to choose a book, sit down, and begin reading quietly. I happened to sit at a table with several classmates, including one who, for reasons still unknown to me, actively disliked me.

    She watched me read for awhile, apparently taking note of how often I was turning pages, then announced to the table, “She’s faking it. No one can read that fast!” She paused, and then said seriously, “Only God.”

    I have always treasured that memory. Someone once thought I could read as fast as God! If only!

    1. Carolyn says:

      Who knew God could waste time turning the pages?

    2. Kim says:

      That is both bizarre and hilarious! I like that she really gave it some thought before delivering what she obviously felt to be quite a devastating blow, and unassailable proof that you were faking. I’m still trying to figure out the logic, though …

  4. Joanne says:

    I need to read “Welcome to Nowhere” after you great endorsement.

    1. Kim says:

      I really enjoyed it! It’s pretty violent in parts, but it all felt like quite cartoon-ish violence to me, which I’m fine with. Definitely a fun read.


    I’ve been caught up in Megan Spooner and Amy Kaufman’s (These Broken Stars) and Megan Spooner and Jay Kristoff’s (Aurora cycle) (or nerding out over as the case may be) lately. They’re space opera/action and YA. Good but the MC’s are SO young! And the drama! Still enjoyable for shutting the terrible rest of the world out. Reading treats? Mostly Hippeas white cheddar or nacho (vegan snacks) and the occasional sourdough loaf🙂

    1. Kim says:

      I absolutely love middle-grade novels – YA tends to be too angsty for me, but I adore the pure adventure in MG. And yes, the characters are so young I sometimes find myself thinking they really need a bit of adult supervision … 😂 But anything that lets us shut out the world for a bit is entirely perfect. And good sourdough does help with that …

      1. MARIE CORDALIS says:

        I know, right? The angst on the series I’ve been reading is over the top. And I confess I read all age levels and I’ve been known to buy picture books just for the art (especially if they’re about cats) 😉

        1. Kim says:

          I have some lovely picture books! I see no reason why kids should get all the pretty books 😉

        2. I love the art in some picture books, and I buy them for that reason alone. (One, when I finally got around to reading it, I found out it was about the Black Death! Who knew?

          1. Kim says:

            Picture books are so beautiful – I owned a couple that were around the subject of death. They seemed to handle it particularly well!

          2. MARIE CORDALIS says:

            I know, right? Sometimes the art doesn’t tell the story you expect. I’m always drawn to picture books with and about cats and I also collect fantasy cat art 🙂

          3. I used to work in a book store, and got to see a lot of children’s books, including books by an English author named Oakley. He, however, didn’t write, really, about cats, but a series about a Church Mouse. There is a cat, a male tiger (orange) who has listened to so many sermons he no longer chases mice. They have a lot of adventures together, especially since the church mouse has persuaded all the mice in town to move into the church! They clean the rectory and the church in return for cheese. Great books, and every once in a while I reread them. Great art, too, with little side jokes as you investigate crowds of mice, and see what’s happening on the fringes! Graham Oakley is the author, and the first book is called The Church Mouse. I wish I was still working, I miss seeing the new kids books….

          4. Kim says:

            They sound like beautiful books!

          5. Kim says:

            I bought a beautiful, slightly odd painting to remind me of the Little Furry Muse – it’s very simply drawn with almost underwater-like foliage, and a black cat stalking through it. It’s nothing like her, yet when I saw it I also knew it *was* her. Lovely!

          6. MARIE CORDALIS says:

            Oh, I’m so glad you found it! I do that all the time and I have a bathroom with art completely devoted to cats many of whom feel like some that have been “mine” at some point in time.

          7. Carolyn says:

            I do appreciate finding different pieces of art – I may be slightly ashamed that I have pictures of camels as well as cats

          8. MARIE CORDALIS says:

            Camels are lovely too! Those eyelashes 🙂

  6. Jodie (aka GeraniumCat) says:

    I recommend retirement for getting reading time! The only downside being that the number of books left to you is restricted, as it were, so patience with the ones that turn out no-so-good is limited.
    I do agree about Fool – great idea, but the gross jokes rather spoilt it for me. I don’t have an intrinsic problem with grossness, but do have a tipping-point… I liked some of Moore’s earlier books better (and have an enduring image about playing bowls with frozen turkeys in a food warehouse from one of them, which always makes me laugh).
    I’ve fallen in love this past month with A.J. Lancaster’s The Lord of Stariel and its sequels, so much that I am putting off the 4th because I don’t want it to finish. And I’m eagerly awaiting the next book from Katherine Addison because I adored The Goblin Emperor and The Witness for the Dead. All of which has helped fill in time while waiting for (amongst other things, I admit) more from Gobbelino London and Beaufort Scales.

    PS Also “reading” (audiobooks) Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor series, which is brilliant. I think some of the best writing around is for kids – not so much angst as YA, and authors can let their imaginations run unrestrained.

    1. Kim says:

      I thoroughly support not being overly patient with books that aren’t working for you at any point! I used to grimly slog through books I wasn’t enjoying, as if actually putting it down was admitting defeat of some sort. But these days I know there are plenty of book out there that do work for me, so I don’t persevere with the ones that don’t. Usually, if I’m not intrigued and/or enjoying the characters by the first few chapters, I move on.

      And Moor has some great books! I love his Pine Cove ones, but the turkey bowling was just brilliant. I find it really funny that you can find who’s read his books just by mentioning that!

      It sounds like you have some great reads on the go there – and I’m so happy to know that you’re waiting for the next Gobbelino and Beauforts! They are on their way, promise.

      Now I’m off to look up Nevermoor, as I love middle grade novels. YA is almost always too angsty and lovelorn for me, but middle grade are fantastic. As you say, they’re often wildly imaginative, adventurous, and (my favourite) heavy on friendship over romance.

      Happy reading!

  7. Diana says:

    I’m embarrassed to write that I am unfamiliar with these authors and their works. I have read classics ( to me) ranging from Shakespeare to Lovecraft to Christie and back. I obsessed over vampires after reading Bram Stokers Dracula and reread once a year for 20 years. While recovering from a prolonged illness I was introduced to Kim Watts books and devoured each one of them. A true lover of cats in all sizes and lover of mystical creatures, great and small, I found that strange world I always believed existed (or WISHED it did). I’m going to look into some of the authors mentioned and further broaden my reader vocabulary. Tea or coffee (bold) and little almond cakes standing by is my idea of luxury.

    1. Kim says:

      It sounds like you’ve read very widely indeed! I have to admit that my own tastes are not particularly highbrow – I love a good story and a good adventure, and preferably with a large helping of weird thrown in. I have always loved classic ghost tales and some Gothic literature, though. I hope you find some interesting new authors in here!

      I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been unwell for so long – I hope things are improving as much as they can for you. And I’m so happy to think that my books might’ve provided a bit of entertainment and escape! That’s about the best compliment I could ask for.

      Thanks so much for commenting – I raise my tea to you! (And covet those almond cakes – yum!)

  8. Louise Hill says:

    I’ve been reading the Adventures on Trains series by M G Leonard and Sam Sedgman. These are also middle grade novels about a young boy called Hal who goes on trains with his Uncle Nat and there are always mysteries and murders to solve. As you say YA too angsty for me and waiting extremely impatiently for the next Beaufort book I decided to give these a try and I’m loving them.

    1. Kim says:

      Oh, they sound like fun reads! I’ll have to look out for those. And I promise there will be more Beaufort later this year. It’s always encouraging to know people are looking forward to them, so thank you! ❤️

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