Haven’t been online much lately. Sorry. Imagine some plausible excuses here. Moving on…


Here’s the latest batch of books I’ve read. There’s a lot of fantasy – mostly because I’m trying to get on top of my to-read pile, but also simply because I like it (and I need to read more of the urban variety). These aren’t proper reviews, but just a few random thoughts about each book I read.

The First Law series by Joe Abercrombie
I had a bit of a gap between reading book one and then books two and three, but fortunately I was able to keep track of all the storylines and I’m glad I followed it through to the end. This was an action-packed epic fantasy series. Very solid and consistent. Great characterisation. I loved anti-hero Glokta, even if I couldn’t quite stomach everything he did. I might’ve preferred a tidier, happier end (not that it was unhappy, as such), but I respect what the author did.

The Vorkosigan saga by Lois McMaster Bujold

I’ve owned the first few of these (Shards of Honor, Barrayar and The Warrior’s Apprentice) for years, but for some reason had never got around to reading them – until a couple of weeks ago. I found them an entertaining, somewhat light SF read. I get a bit bored with battle scenes but like the intrigue and Miles defying the odds.

The Perfect Scent by Chandler Burr
I became interested in perfume after being introduced to some BPAL hand-blended perfume oils a few years ago. I even wrote a fantasy book about perfumery (don’t ask, it’s firmly tucked away in a drawer now). My studies led me to reading The Emperor of Scent, also by Burr, which follows scientist Luca Turin as he develops a new theory of smell. It was pretty fun to read in an interesting-popular-science-book kinda way. It meant I was looking forward to Burr’s next smelly book – The Perfect Scent.

In this he goes behind the scenes as two new commercial perfumes are made – Hermes’ Jardin sur le Nil, by Jean-Claude Ellena, and Coty’s Lovely, by Sarah Jessica Parker. They’re two very different perfumes made at two very different houses, and I found Burr’s exploration of the perfume-making process quite fascinating. It was also interesting to see that Parker, unlike most celebrities who feel the need to make their own perfume, was genuinely involved in coming up with Lovely. Incidentally, I own and like both perfumes now.

Storm Front by Jim Butcher
Harry Dresden, wizard and paranormal investigator, is a intriguing character from the very first pages of Storm Front. I’ve been hearing about the Dresden Files for years – I don’t know what took me so long to start turning the pages. It reminded me a little of Mike Carey’s Felix Castor books, which I’m also a fan of. One’s a wizard and one sees ghosts. One lives in the US and one lives in London. All the same, there’s a blokey tone to their urban fantasy that links them, rightly or wrongly, in my mind. Maybe it’s just the fact both leads are men, in which case I’m an idiot.

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
I watch True Blood, the HBO show based on this series of books, so it felt a little odd delving into a world and story that I was already somewhat familiar with. It would have been easy to picture each of the characters with their True Blood faces, yet it soon becomes apparent that there are differences between the book and the tv versions. Anyway, I enjoyed this and will keep on reading the series – will be interesting to see how the tv show compares once I get ahead in the books instead of the other way around.