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

Being demisexual and aromantic

It took me a long long time to work out that these words, demisexual and aromantic, described me – far longer than my bisexuality/queerness, longer even than my non-binary gender. But when I finally did, so many things about my sexual and romantic history made so much more sense.

Why I’m not all that into sex as an activity, why I just don’t get this whole “love at first sight” thing, why I generally find romantic fiction boring, it all suddenly clicked.

I think it was a certain type of lack of imagination that caused it to take so long: that, and a lack of role models. I mean, everywhere you look there is romance and sex. No wonder I, like so many of us, assumed that that’s what I should be doing. I thought it was something weird about me, and I suppose it is, but now I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. And that there’s nothing wrong with feeling like this.

For a long time, I thought I had crushes on people, but now I realise they were squishes, which I mentally framed as crushes because I didn’t have any other terminology or way of relating to those feelings. Looking back, when I’ve had what I thought of as a crush, it’s never been about sex; it’s always been about intimacy, about getting to know that person and spending time with them.

And I’ve never been that into sex. I mean, it can feel really good, but I don’t miss it if I’m not having it. And it’s generally always been more about giving my partner pleasure than anything else.

Mostly (as with all my other non-normative identities) I feel a deep sense of relief: I am not, in fact, emotionless or frigid; I’m just different.

And I’m used to that. I mean, if I had to use just one word to describe myself, it would probably be”different”. Or maybe weird. But in either case, I’m just happy to have identified a bit more of myself.

© bardofupton 2019

Reading project, week ending 7 Jul 2019

What have I read this week?

A Highly Unlikely Scenario, or a Neetsa Pizza Employee’s Guide to Saving the World by Rachel Cantor

This is a science fiction novel about Leonard, an employee of Neetsa Pizza in a future version of Earth. I thought this was okay. It was interesting, but I kept feeling like it was meant to be funny, but I didn’t find it amusing.

Steampunk! an Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant

This is an anthology of steampunk stories. I liked this a lot. There was a good variety in the different stories.

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

This is a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel about a girl called Lynn who lives with her mother next to a pond which they need to defend against all comers. I thought this was okay; it didn’t quite work for me, but I did finish it.

Before the Broken Star (The Evermore Chronicles Book 1) by Emily R. King

This is a fantasy novel about a young woman called Everley who has a clockwork heart and is seeking revenge for her family’s murder. I quite enjoyed this, and might read the next one.

© bardofupton 2019

Reading project, week ending 30 Jun 2019

What have I read this week?

The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love by bell hooks

This is a feminist nonfiction book about masculinity and how men need to learn to love themselves and others in order to become fully realised humans and counteract patriarchal expectations and structures. I found this very interesting, and I definitely want to read more of hooks’ work.

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

This is a nonfiction book about race and feminism in Britain. I found it really interesting and it definitely resonated with me. It’s also a little depressing, because it shows how much work needs to be done in regards to combating racism here in the UK.

© bardofupton 2019

Writing project, June 2019

This month’s word is energy, meaning “the capacity for vigorous activity; available power”. It’s going to be a short one.


I’m fast-moving, high-octane; I never slow down. I barely sleep, just pace my room, mind racing, ready to spring into action at any moment.

Or that’s how I’d like to see myself. That’s how I imagine myself.

In actual fact, I’m slothful, lethargic. My imagination is active, but I am not. I drape myself over an armchair, and dream of action.

I desire heroism, and feats of derring-do; I crave the one perfect moment when I’ve saved the day, rescued the princess, and defeated the villain. I yearn to stand on a mountaintop, sword in hand, clutching a beautiful person to my chest.

But I will only ever have that in my dreams.

Because I am too damn lazy to put in the effort to get it. Just the thought of all the work required, the exercise and training and practice needed to become that hero, wearies me.

So I dram big dreams, and live a small life. It’s easier that way.

And easy is my middle name.

© bardofupton 2019

Reading project, week ending 23 Jun 2019

What have I read this week?

Apologies for putting this up late; I’ve been ill.

Aftershocks (The Palladium Wars Book 1) by Marko Kloos

This is a science fiction novel set after the end of an interplanetary war. It follows several characters from both sides of the war. I enjoyed this. I liked the characters and the world. I’d probably read more in this series.

The Book of the New Sun Vol. 2: Sword & Citadel by Gene Wolfe

This is two science fiction novels set in the far future, The Sword of the Lictor and The Citadel of the Autarch. They follow the further adventures of Severian. I still didn’t really enjoy these; I was mainly reading them for completeness having read volume 1.

Pale Guardian by Barbara Hambly

This is a vampire novel set during WWI. It follows James and Lydia Asher, a married couple. Lydia is working as as a radiographer at the front and James is back in England recovering from an illness. It didn’t really grab me; I’m not sure why. I think I liked the idea of it more than the reality, and I didn’t finish it.

© bardofupton 2019

Reading project, week ending 16 Jun 2019

What have I read this week?

The Heart of What Was Lost: A Novel of Osten Ard by Tad Williams

This is a fantasy novel set in the same world as the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series and occuring after the events of those books. It follows three characters: the Norn Viyeki, the human Duke Isgrimnur and the human soldier Porto. I quite enjoyed this, although I think it might have helped to have reread the original series.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

This is a fantasy novel set in the African kingdom of Orïsha. It follows the three characters Zélie, Inan and Amari. I liked this a lot. The world is really interesting, and the characters are good.

© bardofupton 2019