Site housekeeping

I switched site themes, to something that I think will work better with the way I’ll be using the website for the next while. Still purple, though, because that’s the best colour.

I’ve also updated other works with links to several new short stories I’ve published on Amazon.

You may have noticed I haven’t posted a lot of reviews here lately – and that’s the way it shall stay until I’ve finished with this year’s classes, at the very least.

Midweek reading 9 March 2017

What I just finished reading

Publishing 101 by Jane Friedman – A pretty good introductory book about the book publishing world for writers today. A lot of this is about platform-building and promoting yourself, but almost everything people say about book publishing today is about platform-building and promoting yourself. A good straightforward guide with a lot of useful information.

What I’m reading now

Micro-Entrepreneurship for Dummies which reads exactly the way you’d expect.

What I’m reading next

I’ve ended my book buying drought and picked up Lagoon, Ninefox Gambit and Abaddon’s Gate.

Midweek reading 2 March 2017

What I just finished reading

How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn – Does what it says on the tin. Very much weighted towards self-publishing authors, but with a decent section about public speaking.

What I’m reading now

A book of essays about romance fiction, and half a dozen romance novels.

What I’m reading next

Honestly, haven’t the foggiest.

Wednesday Reading 22 February 2017

I’m back!

What I just finished reading

The Return of Print: Contemporary Australian Publishing edited by Aaron Mannion and Emmett Stinson – Released late last year and therefore much more up to date than the academic work on the Australian publishing industry I read last year. It has a much more comprehensive look at the romance field, too, in spite of being a slimmer volume. Unfortunately, the pace at which digital publishing changes means some information was already out of date by the time I bought it. Nonetheless, a worthy addition to your bookshelf if this sort of thing is what you’re into (and you already know if academic works examining the Australian publishing industry is what you’re into or not).

Creating the Personal Essay: A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative Nonfiction by Dinty W Moore (library book) – Honestly, one of the best Writer’s Digest books I’ve ever read. This explained and examined the personal essay as a form much more clearly than any of my uni readings ever did. A good introductory volume, which examines how specific examples of the personal essay work, explains why you might want to write one, and looks at the history of the personal essay. I think this is a pretty good jumping off point to start further investigation into the form. Recommended.

What I’m reading now

A lot of articles, mostly.

What I’m reading next

Now that I’m truly back from holiday it’s time to get stuck into my book backlog. Or will I just read Pride and Prejudice again? Who can tell?

Wednesday reading 7 December 2016

What I just finished reading

Visit Sunny Chernobyl by Andrew Blackwell – A travel memoir about a man trying to visit the most polluted places on earth. It started off pretty neat with his visit to Chernobyl but as the book went on, it seemed to lose its way, especially after the author went through a break up part way through. The chapter in India was especially meandering. Blackwell nearly brought things full circle at the end when he mentioned the Fukushima nuclear accident happening as he was wandering around India, and how it reminded him of Chernobyl, but in the end that didn’t really go anywhere and he drew no real conclusions. The book was fine and I liked it well enough, but I expected more.

What I’m reading now

Nil. Too busy shoving Ace Attorney into my eyelids.

What I’m reading next

I got four writing guides out from the library to sceptically read, so I suppose I should read those before it’s time to take them back.

November 2016 recap and links

I reviewed:

Making Books: Contemporary Australian Publishing on the 2nd;
Caliban’s War and Bird by Bird on the 10th;
The Hanging Tree on the 14th;
The Weekend Book Proposal on the 16th;
My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs on the 19th;
The Dark Wife on the 23rd; and
Weird Dinosaurs on the 30th.

That’s a lot more reading done last month than I realised.

Some interesting links:

How a Publisher Markets Your Book by Jessica Faust.

A profile about Leonard Cohen in The New Yorker, looking at his new album, from before he passed on. RIP Cohen, a musical great.

Elena Ferrante, Charlotte Brontë and how anonymity protects against female writing stereotypes by Erin Nyborg at The Conversation.

20 Typography Mistakes Every Beginner Makes – And How You Can Avoid Them by Janie Kliever at Canva Design School.

Remembering Sheri S. Tepper, Eco-Feminist Sci-Fi Firebrand by Genevieve Valentine at npr books. Tepper is a complicated figure to look back on, because she was an outspoken feminist but also in favour of eugenics, and it can be difficult to reconcile those two things.

The prospect before us by Patrick Nielsen Hayden at Making Light about writing SF/F in a world with US Pres-elect Trump.

Why Fiction Matters by Nancy Jane Moore at Book View Cafe.

Death of the hatchet job: Book reviewing used to be a blood sport. How has it become so benign and polite? by D J Taylor at New Statesman. Interesting read. There’s still plenty of amateur reviewers willing to say you’ve written the worst book in the history of humanity on goodreads but I have noticed in certain sectors pro  and semi-pro reviewing is somewhat timid. Also even amateur reviewers of romance novels seem more likely to say ‘I didn’t enjoy but it was okay, 4 stars’, which is fascinating. This article OTOH locates trends of reviewing within the history of reviewing.

The Gone Girl With The Dragon Tattoo On The Train – Why are there so many books with “girl” in the title? by Emily St. John Mandel at FiveThirtyEight. I’ve definitely linked other articles of people noticing this phenomenon before.

Who is the Genius Behind Merriam-Webster’s Social Media? In Conversation with a Dictionary by Emily Temple at LitHub.

Wednesday reading 30 November 2016

What I just finished reading

Weird Dinosaurs by John Pickrell – I was supposed to be on a book buying diet but I had time to kill before a movie and didn’t want to use up my phone data downloading something, so I headed to Robinson’s Bookshop and picked up the first book that looked pretty interesting. There’s some really neat stuff in here if you like learning about prehistoric animals and how to find them. Yes, I did read two dinosaur books in a row. I don’t think it’ll be a trend.

What I’m reading now

Visit Sunny Chernobyl by Andrew Blackwell – A travel memoir about extremely polluted places. Seriously.

What I’m reading next

I broke the book buying diet more than once this week. I acquired The Water Book by Alok Jha at my local book store so that’s being added to the to-read pile.

Wednesday reading 23 November 2016

What I just finished reading

My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs by Brian Switek; and

The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer – YA lesbian retelling of the Hades and Persephone myth. Good scene-setting. I wanted to like it more than I did but it was fine, if not particularly exciting to me.

What I’m reading now

I’m midway through the first draft of an assignment that’s due Friday, about the time I get home from work, so all I’m reading is my notes right now. Sorry! Can’t wait until term is over. (I’m going to watch a million movies, clean my house, read some of my book backlog and replay the Ace Attorney games when the term is done.)

What I’m reading next

I’ve managed to buy no new books for three weeks straight. I feel pretty pleased with myself.

Review: My Beloved Brontosaurus

My Beloved Brontosaurus: on the road with old bones, new science, and our favorite dinosaurs by Brian Switek
Acquired how: bought paperback

I picked up this one in a sale because it promised to investigate how scientific discovery, arguments and reporting over time had changed our views of the dinosaurs, which seemed interesting. The clue is right there in the title with the Brontosaurus – a prehistoric dinosaur that may or may not be a real separate species, or may just a sub-type of Apatosaurus. (Hilariously, my browser spelling dictionary wants me to change Apatosaurus to Brontosaurus.) This book was published in 2013 and word as of 2015 is that there is some evidence Brontosaurus may really have existed as a separate species – but debate rages on.

I haven’t really looked into dinosaurs much since 1993, so there was a lot that was new to me in this volume, in terms of theories of what they looked like and how they lived. What was most interesting to me was the way that Switek follows the history of discoveries in palaeontology and the changing beliefs and arguments in the scientific community about what dinosaurs were like, how we delineate one species from the next, how they lived and what killed them. I could stand to read more about that. This book is a relatively basic pop science book and not a deep look into the subject, but as this is not my area of knowledge, I got what I wanted from it.

In terms of the design of the physical book: what a gorgeous, charming illustrated cover, and I’m strangely charmed by the simple interior typesetting and the illo of a fossil reconstruction that stretches across the double page spread of the second title page.