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









unless you really want them.

Continue reading

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.

Wednesday reading 26 October 2016

What I just finished reading

Nothing. Unless you count the November 2015 issues of Real Living and Home Beautiful that I read at work.

What I’m reading now

Making Books: Contemporary Australian Publishing edited by David Carter and Anne Gilligan – for Uni; Celebrity & the Media by Sean Redmond – Riddled with spelling errors and a bit pretentious, honestly. I’ve also read an entire chapter of Cam Girl – good stuff.

What I’m reading next

I’ve got Caliban’s War on my bedside table. Might give that a crack if I think I can finish it before Nano starts.

Midweek reading 20 October 2015

What I just finished reading

The Road to Somewhere: A Creative writing companion edited by Robert Graham, Heather Leach & Helen Newall (library book) – Like with all writing guides, I argued with a lot of it, though I appreciate that they several times mention what a great book Dorothea Brande’s Becoming a Writer is.

The Arvon Book of Crime and Thriller Writing by Michelle Spring and Laurie R King (library book) – Pretty decent overview.

The Game Plan by Kristen Callihan – Okay, actually a DNF. The male love interest claims to be a virgin, but the author has a vastly different definition of virginity than I do, and it’s not the first book in the series so I felt a little lost at all the characters popping up all over the place. Other than that it was fine but after being unable to finish two of her books, I have to admit Callihan’s work is just not for me.

What I’m reading now

Still with the uni books.

What I’m reading next

Right now I’m so tired I don’t want to read. I just want to nap.

Reading Wednesday 5 October 2016

What I just finished reading

Authorpreneurship by Hazel Edwards (library book) – Read for uni. Nothing new to me, very little about treating your writing as a business, and read more like barely expanded notes than a decent non-fiction reference. Also, a lot of repetition of Edwards’ thoughts on speaking engagements.

The Perfumer’s Secret by Fiona McIntosh – It’s very rare I read a book of mainstream fiction and think ‘this would be better with more incest’. I wanted this book to be something different than it was and only finished it out of a feeling of obligation. It did make me think about what kind of infodumping I will accept in different genres and how much it annoys me when authors create suspense by having characters withhold information from each other for no valid reason.

Leviathan Wakes by James S A Corey – At the beginning I was really enjoying this (and I’m not sure how much of that was because I was reading the above books at the same time and it was improved by comparison), then in the middle it draaaagged, and then the end redeemed the book. I may or may not get the next book. Miller falling in love with the idea of a woman he’d never met was a bit of a tired, sexist cliché, even if it ended up being plot-relevant. After a while, Holden seemed frustratingly naive. Nonetheless, I like the idea of space opera that bridges the time period between people beginning to leave Earth and far out space adventures (which is probably why I’ve watched Gundam Wing so many times). I also like ridiculous space politics, looks into everyday life on space stations and really imaginative fantasy monsters. And the end was really cool.

The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan (library book) – I wasn’t enjoying what I’d read of Milan’s regencies all that much because I’m not into regencies, but I read the previous two in this series so I figured I’d give this one a go. IT WAS AWESOME. Violet and Sebastian were delightful. Obviously, this is a bit of a fantasy version of the regency (but aren’t all regency romances a bit fantastical?), but Violet is like the awesome fantasy regency version of many nerdy women I know. Some strange pacing at the start, that didn’t dampen my enthusiasm. I enjoyed this very much.

What I’m reading now

More writing guides for uni and the current issue of Elle Australia at work. And the partially read pile of books next to my bed is embarrassingly large.

What I’m reading next

I’ve been planning to get on to reading Cam Girl so I could talk to a friend about it for ages, so I should probably get on that.

September 2016 Recap and Links

I reviewed:

Wannabe a Writer? on the 7th;
Will Write For Shoes, The Writer’s Reader and It’s so Easy and Other Lies on the 21st; and
Writing 21st Century Fiction on the 28th.

Not a great or interesting month for me and books, I have to admit.

I released:

The People Want Dance Pop on Amazon. It’s the second in my series about a bunch of musician bros, but if you’re just interested in the romance, you can skip this one as it’s coming of age angst + binge drinking.

Some interesting links:

On writing

The kinds of questions we ask ourselves by owlectomy – Riffing off an older post about the kishoutenketsu structure in traditional Chinese and Japanese narratives, and the differences between ‘Western’ and ‘Eastern’ storytelling.

Simplicity or style: what makes a sentence a masterpiece? by Jenny Davidson at aeon.

5 Writing Rules Destroyed by the Dictionary at Merriam Webster.

Identity & Narrative: A Response to Lionel Shriver by Foz Meadows. (A quick web search of Shriver + Brisbane Writers Festival can bring up the mess that Meadows is responding to. As Shriver is a privileged out of touch white person beloved by the literary establishment, some of the responses towards her speech may be fawning. Tread carefully.)

Writing Strong Women by M R Carey at Civilian Reader.

At Smart Bitches, Trashy Books: 211. Writing Emotional and Erotic Tension: An Interview With Molly O’Keefe.

The Best Female Characters Come From Books by Meg Miller at The Atlantic. Largely about film.

Let’s Talk Numbers: How Long Should Your Series Be by Travis Bach at Pretentious Title (Rachel Aaron’s blog).

Let’s Talk About Stets by K J Charles. I learned all these editing notation marks at secretarial college, which at least means (despite how hilarious people find that) it was worthwhile.

By Cyriaque Lamar at io9, a post from a few year’s ago I was just reminded of: The 22 rules of storytelling according to Pixar.

Tips for Writing Romance from A Passionate Defender of the Genre by linkeepsitreal @ Tumblr.

On the Invisibility of Middle Aged Women by Dorthe Nors at Lithub. Don’t read the comments.

On romance novels

For the ‘Oscars of Romance’, Representation Matters by by Sonali Dev at NPR Books.

Two different perspectives on gender and Mills and Boon at The Guardian – Mills & Boon romances are actually feminist texts, academic says by Mark Brown, and Mills & Boon: zero shades of feminism by Julie Bindel.

A primer on the romance genre at Tumblr. I’ve linked a reblog because it seems the original poster has deleted.

Romance Novels Brought Me Closer To My Mom, Even After She Was Gone by Adam Minter at Bustle.

On research fails in a ballerina romance by Sonya Heaney.

On writing as a career

Writing Dreams and Harsh Realities by Tim Waggoner.

On Being a Pro Writer (Hint: It ain’t all tour buses…) by Delilah S. Dawson, storifyed at whimsydark.

Does having an ethnic name affect book sales by Dilvin Yasa at SBS.

When to quit your day job by Kameron Hurley at Locus Online.


On Not Reading by Amy Hungerford at Chronicle.

Grading: The Method to Our Madness at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, explaining how the reviewers came up with grades in each book review.

Why It’s Difficult For Your Library to Lend Books by Adam Vaccaro at

Nick Offerman on middle-aged sex and what people get wrong about Ron Swanson by Marah Eakin at A V Club. It’s AV Club so you probably should read the comments, no matter how irrelevant they are to the article.

The 24 most fashion-forward characters of the ‘90s, from Alex Mack to Shelby Woo by Victoria McNally at Revelist. I dressed most like Clarissa and Sabrina in the 90s. I probably dress most like Elaine Benes and Prue Halliwell now.