Books Read in May

Didn’t read as much as I’d like due to editing deadlines, but I still went through a couple.

1. Only Ever Yours – Louise O’Niell. A dystopian future similar to The Handmaid’s Tale. I can see why it’s gotten so much attention, but it didn’t quite work for me. I’d try another book of hers, though.

2. The Mirrored World – Debra Dean. Historical fiction set in Russia around Catherine the Great’s time. I enjoyed it but certain aspects felt glossed over.

3. The Shining Girls – Lauren Beukes. Been meaning to read this for ages after really enjoying Broken Monsters. It was a creepy, enjoyable thriller starring a time travelling serial killer.

4. Fool’s Assassin – Robin Hobb. Re-read in anticipation of Fool’s Quest being out this summer. I want to read the sequel so badly it pains me.

burialrites5. Burial Rites – Hannah Kent. A story of a woman sentenced to death for murder in Victorian Iceland. Well-researched and written, and unsurprisingly, a sad read.

6. The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution – Walter Isaacson. Partly book research, partly general interest. A good overview.

Total books so far in 2015: 31.

Books Read in March

I actually read more this month that I thought I had, since it’s been such an emotional roller coaster.

BOOK Book Reviews 115148190421. The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins. A fast-paced thriller I read in a day, about a woman who sees something on a train and has to unpick the mystery. I do love me some unreliable narrators.

2. No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State – Glenn Greenwald. Book research.

3. Inheritance (Adaption #2) – Malinda Lo. Been meaning to read the 2nd half of this dulogy for awhile and it did not disappoint. Loved learning more about the Imria and getting to the bottom of the mystery. Plus: polyamory in YA!

4. In Case of Emergency – Courtney Milano. Reading for the Bisexual Book Award. I enjoyed this one a lot.

5. Solaris Rising 3 – edited by Ian Whates. I finally got around to reading this anthology, which has my story “They Swim Through Sunset Seas” in it. A good collection–I really enjoyed Gareth Powell’s story in particular.

6. A Darker Shade of Magic – V.E. Schwab. Loved this book. It was the perfect escape during a particularly difficult week.

7. Greenvoe – George Mackay Brown. Read for uni.

Technically I also read Masquerade this month, but I’m never sure if I should count my own books in the totals. It does take me 2x as long to read them as I’m going over them more carefully. I also read some other articles and stories and such for uni.

Total this year: 18 books

Goal: 75 books

Books Read in February

frog-music1. What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast (audiobook) – Laura Vanderkam. I’m not much for self-help books, but thought it would be interesting. It was, but I’m still not getting up any earlier than 9 am. Whoops.

2. Frog Music – Emma Donoghue. This was for the Bisexual Book Award, which I’m judging, so I won’t say too much. The setting of Victorian San Francisco was really interesting.

3. Waverley – Walter Scott. Read for university. I’m glad to have read it as it was so popular back in its day.

4. The Winner’s Crime – Marie Rutkoski. I was lucky enough to get this sequel to The Winner’s Curse via Netgalley. Just as engaging as interesting as the first, with another cruel cliffhanger.

5. Yes Please – Amy Poehler (audiobook). Listened and chuckled as I was walking along the street etc. It also caused me to start watching Parks and Rec. I do not regret this decision.

6. Edgelands by Paul Farley and Michael Simmons Roberts. Read for university and I wrote a 1k response essay to it. It’s about the in between spaces between city and countryscape, so things like industrial estates, etc, which are often ignored/overlooked.

the-paying-guests7. The Paying Guests – Sarah Waters. Another Bisexual Book Award judging book. I’m not saying much about it again, but Sarah Waters is always a joy to read.

I also read probably about a book’s worth of essays, short stories/poems, and articles for university. Some were on the Bannatyne Club in Edinburgh, of which Walter Scott was a member. He and a bunch of other rich white men re-released older, forgotten literature. A lot of people thought their plan was stupid and called them “literary scavengers.” Reading the shade they threw back and forth was pretty amusing.

I’m currently in the middle of: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald.

Total this year: 11 books.

Goal: 75 books.

Books Read in December

I made a Goodreads challenge to read 80 books, but in October or so I lowered it to 75. And I won! Just barely.

Here’s the books I read last month:

lies-we-tell1. Lies we Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley. Loved this book and read it in about a day. Set in the 1950s about doubly forbidden love between a white and a black girl. So recommended.

2. Pantomime by…me. I re-read it in preparation for editing Masquerade. It’s a very strange feeling to read your own work again after a 2 year break. Lots of little things I’d change about this book, now that my writing (and, specifically, my plotting) has improved. But I still like it.

3. Best Bi Short Stories, edited by Sheela Lambert. Read as I’m a judge for the Bisexual Book Award this year (and thus no comment).

4. Shadowplay by…me. Also read for Masquerade. This one held up, as it was my second book and more recent. But the typos that slipped through. :'(

5. Broker, Trader, Lawyer, Spy: The Secret World of Corporate Espionage by Eamon Javers. Research for Brainfreeze Book!

6. The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig. Francesca and I share an agent (and I got to meet her at the Christmas party and she’s ace). I got a twinned proof of this (and my twin was none other than the lovely Amy Alward–she’s the alpha and I’m the omega). I read this so quickly–such an engaging world and interesting characters. I want the sequel now!

7. Give it To Me by Ana Castillo – Another book for the Bisexual Book Award.

8. She of the Mountains by Vivek Shraya and illustrated by Raymond Biesinger – Another book for the Bisexual Book Award.

bone-clocks9. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. Ending my year on a high note: this was one of my favourites. It’s my first Mitchell book, so 2015 will probably be all about going to read his backlist.

And here’s all the books I read in 2014!

I’m going to aim for 75 again in 2015 but I’m hoping to smash that, as I’m hopefully having more free time this year. I think this year I had a good mix of fun books just for me, reading books by my friends, books for university, and nonfiction. Hoping for a similar mashup next year.

Any particular books you think I MUST read in 2015? Let me know in the comments and feel free to add me on Goodreads. I use it as a reader more than an author.

A 2014 Roundup, or: Well, That was Quite a Year

Well, 2014. That was a year. Here’s a brief roundup.

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Reading from Shadowplay at Borderlands Books in San Francisco

January 2014: This month had a good start. Shadowplay (Micah Grey #2) was released. I was lucky enough to be able to fly back to San Francisco for this, where I did a few events: a book launch at Borderlands Books, a talk at my alma mater, California State University East Bay, a visit to one of my professor’s classes, and another visit at my old high school, Hayward High. I was also able to do some research trips around San Francisco for the book I’d just finished drafting. I found out Pantomime had been listed a Top Ten Title for the American Library Association Rainbow List. The end of January was less pleasant, for I found out there’d be no contract for Masquerade, Micah Grey #3. I was, frankly, beyond devastated.

Favourite book read in January:  either City of Dragons by Robin Hobb or In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters.

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Waterstones Aberdeen Launch. Photo credit: Laura Benvie.

February 2014: Licked my wounds, battled depression and anxiety, and kept promoting Pantomime & Shadowplay. I went down to Newcastle for the North East Teen Book Awards, which ended up being very, very timely. I’d been tempted to take a writing hiatus (because I knew I could never quit completely), and here were teens saying my books were some of their favourites of all time, wanting to take photos and have my sign things, and just in general being so sweet and so enthusiastic about books and reading. I came back and threw myself into the new project I’d been editing. I’d finished the first draft at the end of November 2013, and after some great beta reader comments, I was working on turning it into a workable draft. I called it Bonkers Book on social media. I also announced the Vestigial Tales, or my plan to self-publish some short stories/novellas set in the same world as the Micah Grey series. I also had an Aberdeen launch at Waterstones for Shadowplay, and was really touched by how many people came out for it. I seemed pretty on top of things. Behind the scenes, I was still a mess, though I was getting myself together.

Favourite book read in February:  Unteachable by Leah Raeder.

Mowgli assisting with the Robin Hobb scavenger hunt.
Mowgli assisting with the Robin Hobb scavenger hunt.

March 2014: I’d been approached to write a short story for an anthology and in March I was able to announce it as Fablecroft Press did a funding drive for the Cranky Ladies of History, which blasted through its goals. I also got to participate in Robin Hobb’s worldwide scavenger hunt (post with pictures illustrating the clues), and am now friends with the girl who found my present, Louise, and we meet for coffee occasionally. I found out Pantomime had been nominated for the Bisexual Book Award—yay! I went to my friend Rhona McKinnon’s wedding and danced at my first-ever ceilidh.

Favourite book read in March: The House of Small Shadows by Adam Nevill.

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Laya’s first piece of fan art for the Micah Grey series

April 2014: There were some good events for #LGBTApril I participated in. I went to my first convention of the year—Eastercon, in Glasgow. As the conventions are usually in England, it was nice to only have to travel 2 hours to get to one, for once! I was on my first panel. I had fun but it was also a difficult convention, as my mental health was still patchy.  There was more ceilidh dancing. I finished editing Bonkers Book and was working on the Vestigial Tales. Laya drew her first (of what proved to since be many) fan art pieces, and I also received some fan mail. I was so touched I wrote an emotional thank you to readers. I finished editing Bonkers Book & sent it to my agent and worked on the Vestigial Tales.

Favourite book read in April: This was a good reading month so I had three: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth, and Cress by Marissa Meyer.

race

May 2014: Pantomime was listed as a Scottish Book Trust Teen Book of the Month! I shared the first Vestigial Tale cover and blurb, for “The Snake Charm.” I went to my friend Elizabeth May’s wedding in Gretna Green and ran my first race, a 10k. By this point my mental health was a lot better. I’d been accepted into a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Aberdeen.

Favourite book read in May: Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb. THIS BOOK. THIS. BOOK. I love it so much.

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June 2014: Pantomime WON the Bisexual Book award! I posted my acceptance speech. I released “The Snake Charm,” and it had a great first month! I shared the cover and blurb for “The Fisherman’s Net.” My short story “They Swim Through Sunset Seas,” was accepted in the Solaris Rising 3 anthology. I was nominated for Best Newcomer for the British Fantasy Awards and wrote musings on being a baby writer at the beginning of my career. Strange Chemistry, the publisher of Pantomime & Shadowplay, announced that it was closing down very suddenly. I participated in a rowing competition for work dressed as Princess Leia. Behind the scenes, I’d received and implemented edits from my agent on Bonkers Book and it was getting ready to go out on wide submission.

Favourite book read in June: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

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July 2014 aka THE MONTH MY LIFE CHANGED:  Vestigial Tales: I posted a roundup of “The Snake Charm” and its first month sales, launched “The Fisherman’s Net,” shared “The Tarot Reader’s” blurb and cover, and went on the local radio. Tor/Macmillan offered pre-emptively on Bonkers Book aka False Hearts, changing my life. It was right before a big work audit and I was trying to concentrate on spreadsheets while internally screaming with glee. The press release went live on July 25th. I told work I wanted to stop working full-time. My friend Erica came out to visit from California.

Favourite book read in July: Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier and Natural Causes by James Oswald.

Best selfie ever: Ewa, Kim, Mahvesh, Me, Anne, Jared. Photocred: Mahvesh Murad
Loncon3. Photo credit: Mahvesh Murad

August 2014 aka THE MONTH OF ALL THE CONS: Vestigial Tales: I posted my month 2 roundup of being a hybrid author, launched “The Tarot Reader,” and unveiled the cover and blurb for “The Card Sharp.” Erica and I took a day trip to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival. I went to Nine Worlds in London and had a great time—definitely my favourite con of the year. I went to some other London events such as the Broken Monsters launch for Lauren Beukes and the Fantasy in the Court event at Goldsboro Books, where I got to meet some people from my new publisher, like my editor Julie Crisp, for the first time. Then it was time for another convention, Loncon3. I went back to Aberdeen, exhausted.

Favourite book read in August: Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters.

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Reading from False Hearts at Fantasycon

 

September 2014: Vestigial Tales: another monthly roundup and launching the last of the Tales (for now), “The Card Sharp.” The cons weren’t over! I journeyed down to York for Fantasycon. My husband and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary/10 years of being together. I did some events for #WriteCity in Aberdeen, doing both public events and school visits throughout the city. I started my Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Aberdeen and began reducing my hours slightly at work. I was able to announce that False Hearts will be published in the US through Tor/Forge and in Italy through Fanucci Editore. Peter F. Hamilton blurbed the book (!), calling it: “A smart debut from someone who’s clearly got what it takes.” I went down to Winchester for Amy Alward’s beautiful wedding. I became a British citizen!

Favourite book read in September: Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes.

More Laya art! Aenea on the trapeze.
More Laya art! Aenea on the trapeze.

October 2014, or THE MONTH OF NO FREE TIME: I did my full-time masters. I did more school visits. I worked around 30 hours a week at the day job. I tried to write, but that didn’t really happen. Pantomime was listed as Gay YA’s October Book of the Month and they did lots of great promotion. I managed to post another Vestigial Tale monthly roundup. I really missed sleep and free time, but by the end of the month, my replacement had started and been trained and I dropped down to around 12 hours a week for work. I finished the first draft of Masquerade, finally.

Favourite book read in October: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (for uni).

Traffic cone or wizard hat? Glasgow.
Traffic cone or wizard hat? Glasgow.

November 2014: I did my full-time masters. I worked part-time. I stupidly decided I’d do NaNoWriMo because who needs free time, right, though I had to adjust my goals to include blogging and university work. My nephew, Theo, was born on November 5th. Shadowplay was Gay YA’s November Book of the Month and False Hearts sold in Germany to Heyne Verlag. Shadowplay was nominated for the ALA Rainbow List! I posted another hybrid author roundup. I took a weekend trip to Glasgow. I “won” NaNoWriMo by the skin of my teeth and swore I’ll never do it again, but it does mean I wrote a good chunk of Brainfreeze Book, my option book for Tor. Things happened behind the scenes regarding *stuff.*

Favourite book read in November:  Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins, with an honourable mention to the Complete Atopia Chronicles by Matthew Mather.

The double rainbow in Arran.
The double rainbow in Arran.

December 2014: I finished up the first semester of my Masters degree. I went to London for my agent’s Christmas party. I went to the Isle of Arran on my first-ever writing retreat with Elizabeth May and Emma Trevayne, editing Masquerade for beta readers. I waited to hear about *stuff* and tried to be patient (and failed). I was called back into the day job almost full-time for a little bit. Stress. Stress. Stress. Aaaaand relax. Got ready for Christmas. Ate all the food. Now: reading, watching a lot of TV and slowly editing what I wrote of Brainfreeze Book and sorting through Masquerade beta comments.

Favourite book read in December: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell.

And that was my year. Let’s see what 2015 brings!

Books Read in November

1. The Comforters – Muriel Spark. For university. Very meta, but I didn’t particularly enjoy it, I’m afraid.

2. Shark – Will Self. Also for uni. I actively despised this book. A 500 page book of one paragraph, post-post modernist prose with no q
uotation marks. So the opposite of my cup of tea.

isla3. Isla and the Happily Ever After – Stephanie Perkins. After reading Shark, I needed a palette cleanser of something easy to read and fun. I loved Perkins’s previous work and this helped me recharge.

4. Complete Atopia Chronicles – Matthew Mather. Book research. Mather is an IT security expert who self-published some short novellas, which were then put into one collection. I really liked how the novellas overlapped between the various characters, and found the ideas fascinating.

5. Austerlitz – W.E. Sebold. Another book without paragraphs. Though I still found it hard to get into, I enjoyed it more than Shark. I’ll enjoy every book I read this year more than Shark.

Total for this year: 67 books in 2014.

“Being Human” and Book Week Scotland

Book Week Scotland

Last week the University of Aberdeen had a festival called “Being Human.” Unfortunately, I was only able to go to one event, a lecture on time, time machines, and the Victorians by one of my professors. It was good research for a book idea I’ve had for years that hasn’t quite gelled yet. The festival also had and interview with Will Self, a talk on Viking funeralscapes, an informal “Skeptics at the Pub” event, and more. I really wanted to go to a talk on the history of disability, and another on terrors, gods, and magic in the north, but between part-time day job, existing studies, and the fact that I was away in Glasgow Thursday and Friday meant that I couldn’t go.

This week is Book Week Scotland. I’m a Patron of Reading for the Aberdeen City Library, so a letter to the library I wrote will be on display within at least one branch, I think. There are some great events on both through the public library and at the University of Aberdeen library, though again, due to the semester nearing an end and the day job needing me for extra hours this week, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to attend any. I’d like to go to the historical crime event on Saturday, and I’m going to at least look at the miniature books on display before my lecture tomorrow at the University library! Tonight there was a bookbinding workshop I wish I could have gone to rather than toiling on my essay. One day, I’ll have free time…! But if you’re free in Aberdeen, you should definitely pop along to some of the upcoming events if you can to celebrate books an libraries.