Reading project, week ending 11 Aug 2019

What have I read this week?

Everless by Sara Holland

This is a fantasy novel about a young woman called Jules who lives in a kingdom where people can sell or buy time by giving or taking blood. I quite enjoyed this, although it was fairly obvious that Jules was trusting all the wrong people and jumping to all the wrong conclusions quite early on. I do want to read the next one, though.

Small World by Matt Beaumont

This is a novel following many different people who are all connected in some way. I didn’t like it and didn’t finish it. I found all the characters pretty unpleasant and didn’t really care about them.

Junkyard (a Fractured Stars novella) by Lindsay Buroker

This is a science fiction novella about a woman named McCall who is a ship’s captain and skip tracer. I enjoyed this: the characters are interesting and the story was good. I’d definitely read more in this series.

Run by Kody Keplinger

This is a YA novel about Bo and Agnes, two teenage girls who become friends. I enjoyed this: I liked the characters, and the fact that the story is about friendship rather than romance.

© bardofupton 2019

Inkwarriors, part 5 (Fiction)

Meril moped around her home for a few days, mourning the loss of her wizard, but then had a sudden, inspiring thought. What if they were interested? After all, they hadn’t said no; they’d just pointed out the difficulty of a relationship between the two of them. Maybe she did stand a chance – if she could find a way to contact them again.

She began to keep a lookout for them, once again. She wondered if they were thinking about her. She hoped so, because she couldn’t stop thinking about them.


In the wizard district, behind its high walls, a certain young wizard was thinking about Meril, but not in the way she hoped. They had thought, after their encounter and Meril’s confession of love, that she would forget them. And she had, briefly.

One of a wizard’s powers was to know when someone was thinking of them. Because a wizard’s true name was a secret even from themself, this feeling was usually a vague background mutter wherein someone was just thinking of wizards in general, but sometimes there would be a spike, usually when another wizard was thinking of them. Meril’s obsession had been annoying before she’d met them, causing large surges of attention. This had only intensified since.

The wizard was unsure what to do. The obvious solution would be to change their route, but the path they took through the city was part of the spell they were in the process of casting, and to change it would destroy the work of many months. Also, thought the irritated wizard, why should they have to change their habits for an inkwarrior, of all things?

The origin of the animosity between wizard and inkwarrior was lost in history, but the essential point was that their aims and methods were opposed. Everyone knew that wizards and inkwarriors did not mix, and indeed could be thought of as two opposing forces.

Both wizards and inkwarriors learned the same catechism as children:

What is an inkwarrior?

An inkwarrior writes the real to keep it safe from chaos.

What is a wizard?

A wizard uses words to bend the real to their will.

This chant was the only known point of commonality between the two groups. There were a few who claimed that this spoke to a shared ancestry, but that was fiercely denied by the elders of both groups.

The wizard decided to take the Meril problem to the wisest person they knew, their mentor. Perhaps they would be able to unravel this tangle. Even if they couldn’t, it would be a relief to talk to someone about it.


Meril knew she should be studying, or practicing her glyphs, or doing anything but obsessing over her wizard. She was fully aware of this, but nevertheless she had not opened any of the books stacked in front of her, nor had she picked up her chalk. She had already taken, and almost certainly failed, nearly all of her exams. There was only the most important one left, the final test of an inkwarrior’s skill: mending the real.

She knew she’d fail it. Probably everyone in the house, down to the youngest child, knew she’d fail, but she had to take it nonetheless. After all, she couldn’t make the glyphs, and if you can’t write the symbols you can’t mend the real.

“I wish I could just quit,” Meril said to herself. But she knew it was impossible. There was nowhere she could go, and in any case she had no other skills. She would be an inkwarrior til she died, and she would never get to be with her wizard.

She buried her face in her hands and cried softly. She might as well resign herself to being the unwanted failure living in her family’s house.

© bardofupton 2019

Reading project, week ending 4 Aug 2019

What have I read this week?

Lincoln’s Dreams/Passage by Connie Willis

This is a two-novel collection consisting of Lincoln’s Dreams and Passage. Lincoln’s Dreams is about a man called Jeff who is a researcher for an author who writes books set during the American Civil War. I found it pretty slow, and didn’t really enjoy it.

Passage is about a woman named Dr Joanna Lander who is researching near-death experiences. I found it interesting; I really liked the characters although not much really happens considering the length of the book.

A Map of Days by Ransom Riggs

This is a fantasy novel, the fourth in the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series. It follows Jacob Portman, a peculiar as he reunites with his friends and tries to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps. I quite enjoyed this, apart from the ending, which I found a little annoying. I’ll probably read the next one, however.

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

This is a whodunnit in a book within a book format. It follows a woman named Susan Ryeland who is the editor for an author of detective novels. I found this a little irritating, to be honest – it felt like it was trying too hard to be clever. I’ve enjoyed some of Horowitz’s other books, but I wouldn’t recommend this one.

© bardofupton 2019

Writing project, July 2019

This month’s word is grinding, meaning “to perform the operation of reducing to fine particles” or “to rub harshly; grate”.

I’m not especially happy with this one, because I wrote myself into a corner and couldn’t really resolve it in the time I had, but then the point is quick work rather than polished.


I can hear it all the time: the terrible, deep grinding of the earth. It rattles my bones, vibrates through my teeth. I feel it too, a slow motion back and forth, a constant queasiness inside.

Nobody believes me, of course.

It’s simply not possible! is the kindest response I’ve received when I’ve told someone.

Usually they resort to impugning my sanity, maligning my intelligence, or questioning my honesty. But I know it’s real. I know something terrible is going to happen. I just don’t know what. Or when, exactly. But the sound is getting louder, or closer. And I feel an awful urgency, as though I need to stop the coming catastrophe.

And I would, if I knew what it was, or how to prevent it.

I’ve been hearing this noise for a long time. Years. So I do understand why people dismiss me. After all, I’ve been going on about this for a while. It would help if I had any idea what was going to happen. I guess it’s probably an earthquake but I really have no idea.

I dream about giants grinding their teeth and wake up sweating, convinced I’m about to be devoured. I’ve lost all my friends, my family think I’m crazy, and I haven’t been able to leave the house for months now. The feeling’s even worse outdoors.

I just want it to stop. I want to sleep without dreams, to walk outside without fear. To live. I just don’t know how to get there, to the place where that’s possible.

So I’ll continue to dream, to hide, to hate my life, until whatever is going to happen, happens. Then they’ll know I was right.

Assuming there’s anyone left to know.

© bardofupton 2019

Reading project, week ending 21 Jul 2019

What have I read this week? Sorry about the late posting!

Grey Sister (Book Two of Books of the Ancestor) by Mark Lawrence

This is a fantasy novel about a girl called Nona who is training to be a martial nun. It is the sequel to Red Sister. I enjoyed this. It flagged a little for me at the beginning, but then picked up the pace. I am looking forward to reading the next in the series.

Road Brothers: Tales from the Broken Empire by Mark Lawrence

This is a collection of short stories set in the world of the Broken Empire. I enjoyed this. It was good to find out more about some of the characters from the series. I would definitely read more of these.

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

This novel is a cross between the Famous Five, Scooby Doo and HP Lovecraft. I enjoyed it – the humour didn’t work for me all the time, but it was a lot of fun.

The Fowl Proposal Bonus Scenes (Dragon Blood) by Lindsay Buroker

This is four scenes relating to the proposal of Ridge to Sardelle. You definitely need to have read some of the books in the Dragon Blood series for it to make sense, but they’re enjoyable if you have.

© bardofupton 2019

Reading project, week ending 14 Jul 2019

What have I read this week?

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

This is a fantasy novel about three young women: a moneylender’s daughter, a peasant and the daughter of a duke. It’s a retelling of the miller’s daughter fairy tale (spinning straw into gold) and I think a couple of other fairy tales mixed in. I really enjoyed this.

Relative Fortunes (A Julia Kydd Novel Book 1) by Marlowe Benn

This is a novel set in the 1920s about a woman named Julia Kydd who is trying to find the truth behind the death of her friend’s sister. I quite enjoyed this and would probably read more in this series.

What You Did by Claire McGowan

This is a thriller about a woman called Ali whose best friend accuses her husband of rape. I didn’t really like it, because I didn’t particularly care about the characters.

The Black Unicorn by Audre Lorde

This is a book of poetry. This is the first book of hers I’ve read, and I liked it a lot. It really spoke to me.

Favourite poems:

The Black Unicorn; From the House of Yemanjá; Portrait; A Song for Many Movements; Brother Alvin; School Note; Therapy; Parting; Fog Report; Ghost; Artisan.

Favourite lines:

I have died too many deaths
that were not mine.

So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive.
(A Litany for Survival)

secret and patient
as the amused and ponderous elephants
catering to Hannibal’s ambition
as they swayed on their own way

Our labor has become
more important
than our silence.
(A Song for Many Movements)

I am bent
wiping up blood
that should be
(A Woman/Dirge for Wasted Children)

And out of the ashes
and her range of vision
the executioners advance.
(Death Dance for a Poet)

I do not know how many years I spent
trying to forget you
but I am afraid to think
how many years I will spend
trying to remember.

Running Blind by M. J. Arlidge

This is a novella about new WPC Helen Grace, who gets involved in her first big case regarding the death of a young man. I didn’t particularly like this; it just didn’t work for me.

© bardofupton 2019