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.

Wednesday reading 16 November 2016

What I just finished reading

The Weekend Book Proposal by Ryan G Van Cleave (library book) – Actually a really good writer’s guide with genuinely helpful information. I’m strongly considering buying this one.

What I’m reading now

I’m two thirds of the way through My Beloved Brontosaurus by Brian Switek, that I’ve been reading on the way to work. It’s a really interesting look at the way science has evolved what we know of dinosaurs over time.

What I’m reading next

I have acquired no new books in the last fortnight. Book buying diet proceeds apace.

Review: The Hanging Tree

The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch
Acquired how: bought paperback

 

Okay, first of all: as far as I’m concerned, The Hanging Tree was totally worth the wait. It is awesome.

It felt so good to get back in touch with Peter, Beverley and Nightingale. This many books into the series, it’s a bit like catching up with old friends. I’m so thoroughly invested in them and their world that Aaronovitch would have to write a pretty crap book for me to not enjoy it. Luckily, this is one of the more enjoyable entries in the series. However, a lot of why I enjoyed it so much was due to build up and pay off of things introduced earlier in the series. And while there is a bit of exposition to get regular readers to remember everything that’s gone on, I don’t think a new reader could pick up this book and feel up to speed, without reading the previous five books.

I strongly suspect that this post is going to immediately into spoiler territory, so if you’re reading this by cross post, please be careful to avoid the

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Midweek reading 10 November 2016

I apologise for being a day late with this, but it was my birthday yesterday, and also America decided to set itself on fire.

What I just finished reading

Caliban’s War by James S A Corey – So much better than the first one. The problems I had with the first one didn’t appear in this one at all. And Avrasala was delightful. Granted, a lot of what I liked about this one was building on what the first one set up, so I wouldn’t advise people starting with this one.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott – It feels like everyone recommends this one. Meh. As a writing guide, no. As a memoir about life as a writer, sure.

The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch – I feel like I waited forever for this. It was awesome. Review to come.

What I’m reading now

Half a dozen space operas (I’m really feeling space operas right now), a thus far underwhelming urban fantasy, and a book about book proposals I have out from the library.

What I’m reading next

I’m putting myself on a book buying diet. I’m not allowed to acquire any new books until I make a serious dent in the backlog.

Wednesday reading 2 November 2016

What I just finished reading

Making Books: Contemporary Australian Publishing edited by David Carter and Anne Gilligan – for Uni. Published in 2007, so even though plenty of it is interesting, it is, necessarily, dated.

What I’m reading now

I’ve got myself half-way through Caliban’s War by James S. A. Corey, which is a lot better than the previous so far.

What I’m reading next

I’ve bought six books in the last week, most of them space opera. I may have a book buying problem. (I can stop any time!!!)

October 2016 recap and links

I reviewed:

Authorpreneurship, The Perfumer’s Secret, Leviathan Wakes and The Countess Conspiracy on the 5th; and
The Road to Somewhere: A Creative Writing Companion, The Arvon Book of Crime and Thriller Writing and The Game Plan on the 20th.

Some interesting links:

Why I review everything I read by Teresa Preston at Book Riot.

SEXtember: What reading romance taught me about sex by Natalie Ng at meld magazine.

An interesting interview with Jill Shalvis at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. It’s fascinating to see how many writers assume it’s only them that write messy drafts while other writers must be writing such clean drafts.

Pro-”Gay For You” Arguments In The Romance Genre (And Why They’re All Still Bi/Pan Erasure) by Jenny Trout.

5 Years a Novelist: A Retrospective on the Writing Life by Kameron Hurley.

An AMA with Wesley Chu.

An awesome article in The New Yorker about Ursula Le Guin.

An interview at The Design Files with Penguin book designer Allison Colpoys.

Working with Time I Actually Have, Not the Time I’d Like To Have by Peter M. Ball.

On the horror genre: Guest Post: “New Voices” by Mark Morris at Civilian Reader; The Hidden Horrors of Craig Davidson by Tobias Carroll at Electric Lit; and Interview with Victor LaValle by Maurice Broaddus at Nightmare Magazine.

Margaret Atwood: ‘All dystopias are telling you is to make sure you’ve got a lot of canned goods and a gun’ by Charlotte Higgins at The Guardian.

On editing: An intimate relationship: editors and writers at the Radio National archives of The Book Show (it’s from 2008 but it’s still interesting) and What is structural editing (from 2007); Teaching Stuff: Vast and Cool and Unsympathetic by Richard Chwedyk at the SFWA blog.

Why I Don’t Want to Be a Queer Book Detective Anymore by Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian.