February books

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

Becky Chambers

Genre: Space opera

This book was such a lighthearted welcome relief to all of the heavy stuff I’d been reading. It felt like watching a progressive sitcom set in space, and while I can see on Goodreads there are some (mostly male) reviewers who totally didn’t appreciate it, for me it ticked some very fun boxes. I thought the alien species were particularly well done and imaginative, and the story was enjoyable without ever getting really down.


Karin Tidbeck

Genre: Weird dystopia

Amatka is quite unusual. I read it in a day when home sick, and at the end I desperately wanted someone to talk to about it. Alas! I’m a fan of Tidbeck’s short stories, and I enjoyed Amatka while also puzzling over it. There are some criticisms that the characters are distanced and I think that is the point, but I agree it would have been better to see why the relationship was developing between Vanja and Nina as it didn’t really feel natural. The ending, for me, turned all of what had been building on its head. I think a lot of readers struggle to make sense of the ending, but for me I was left questioning my own sympathies; who was actually the “bad side” and who the good?

Friends With Boys

Faith Erin Hicks

Genre: YA graphic novel – high school drama ish

I really loved the illustration style of Friends With Boys and enjoyed Maggie’s story and the unfolding of her attempts to find her place in the school. It felt a little aimless though, with one major plot point going unresolved. Fun light read.

This One Summer

Mariko Tamaki

Genre: YA graphic novel – growing up

I’m a bit ambivalent about this one. Again, gorgeous illustrations, and some really interesting themes explored but I found Rose to be quite difficult to empathise with. Windy was super fun and while younger than Rose, seemed less self-absorbed. I have some concerns with the way one of the plot points was presented—I’m not denying it would play out that way IRL, but I would have hoped Rose was given more critical perspective of her own damaging internalised misogyny. Ultimately I’d want teenage girls to read this and learn why Rose’s perspective was sexist, not just see it play out almost unchallenged. Anyway. It is what it is.

In Real Life

Cory Doctorow

Genre: YA graphic novel gaming

I appreciate Doctorow’s intentions with this novel. Anything that prods the privileged child to think about right and wrong and how disadvantage shapes our opportunities and choices is a good thing, IMO. I do think the resolution was a little too simplistic and white saviour-esque, will kids pick up on that, probably not.

The Hate U Give

Angie Thomas

Genre: YA Race and racism

I loved this book. It was so good, and I wish every teenager would read it. It dives headfirst into the issue of Black deaths at the hands of trigger happy cops. The protagonist is the sole witness to the killing of a Black teenager at the hands of a white cop. So very good and gave me a lot more insight into that issue. My fave from this month.

The Prey of Gods

Nicky Drayden

Genre: Science fiction

SUCH an ambitious novel! It’s set in South Africa, the characters are wildly diverse and imaginative and interesting, and the world-building is fascinating (the dik-diks made me cackle with glee). I didn’t have much of an emotional connection to the characters for the first half of the book, they kept doing kinda awful things but I started to connect with them after that. I think Stoker was my favourite character, but I really enjoyed Nomvula’s journey too. There was so much going on that I think it did unravel a little bit at times but it was still super cool and I’m impressed at the chances Drayden took. Much better to take risks and give it your all rather than writing something safe and bland. Looking forward to reading more of her work. One of my faves this month.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Cheryl Strayed

Genre: Memoir / hiking

Strayed seems to have copped a lot of flak in Goodreads comments and it struck me as I was reading them how some people really have no sense of empathy. I mostly enjoyed Wild, and the problems I had with it stemmed from some moments where the author displays a lack of self-awareness. A lot of the comments are slut-shaming and someone thought Strayed hadn’t had enough of a bad time to warrant writing a memoir. Le sigh. While reading it I discovered that one of the things I love about reading books is getting to know people: whether they be real people or imagined characters. So I empathised with Strayed in the early chapters and laughed at her naive stupidity regarding her lack of preparation. To the naysayers, she was prepared enough to be carrying iodine, eh? I probably got a bit turned off at “Queen of the PCT”—IDK, by that point I was looking for a little humility and self-reflection. So I guess my reaction to the book overall is mixed. I’d love to read a memoir by a WOC who’s done some extreme adventuring, any recs?

Love Minus Eighty

Will McIntosh

Genre: Science fiction (a bit Black Mirror without the depressing awfulness)

This was a slow burn for me but I grew to really enjoy it. At first I struggled because of the world (remember that Black Mirror episode where you can block someone and actually not see them in the streets? Yeah a bit like that). I HATE the thought of living in a world like that. And at first the characters annoyed me. BUT. Veronika and Rob (and strangely, Lycan) made it all worthwhile. The bridesicle premise is pretty cool but don’t think about it too hard. One of my faves from this month.


January books


Sarah Waters

Genre: Historical fiction ghost story?

Awww. This book. I didn’t like this one as much as I liked Fingersmith. It’s not that it was bad, it just… well, I actually can’t say anything because spoilers.

Y: The Last Man

Brian K Vaughan, Pia Guerra, Jose Marzan Jr

Genre: Science fiction graphic novel

I read the 5 deluxe editions, not back to back but 2-5 almost back to back. 1 was ok, but Yorick annoyed me in that book. I enjoyed the next books more, though, as Yorick became less cocky and we got more Allison Mann (who is my fave character). I admit there was a point in book 4 or 5 where I really felt smothered by the author’s maleness–I guess I thought his vision of a post-male future was a little limited by his own gender experience. It’s a great story though, minus some flaws.

Days of Blood and Starlight

Laini Taylor

Genre: Dark Fantasy

The sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone was not what I expected. It’s like the Empire Strikes Back of the original Star Wars trilogy, a dark night of the soul. I loved it and over 2 days went on a crazy emotional rollercoaster reading it. I had to put it down in some points, because I was too invested and just couldn’t deal. I enjoyed the way the stakes were risen, the character development, everything. I reckon stronger than the first book.

Dreams of Gods and Monsters

Laini Taylor

Genre: Dark Fantasy

The final book in the trilogy… I was a little irritated by too much authorial telling. I’d get to the end of a section and the author’s voice would intrude and tell us everything was about to go to shit. I like surprises, rather than suspense being raised artificially, so it became a huge point of annoyance. Thankfully it did stop and I enjoyed the resolution. It did feel like maybe she packed far too much into this third book but I was also glad to get some answers to some subplots introduced later into the whole trilogy.


Josephine Wilson

Genre: “Literary”

I am not a huge reader of “literary” books unless they are flavoured in some way. I did see a recommendation in a book group so I decided to give it a try. I quite liked it, as an exploration of the impact of toxic masculinity on relationships (friendships, child-parent, romantic etc) and how the main character tries to undo all the damage he’s done before it’s too late. The strength in this book is the characterisation and the um, interiority (ok I feel like a dick using that word). Like a lot of “literary” books there is no real ending, leaving you to guess at what happens beyond the final page. Excellent writing too, hooray!

Sensitive Creatures

Mandy Ord

Genre: Slice of life graphic novel

Ord has created a bunch of vignettes about situations in life from the perspective of someone who is a bit sensitive, anxious, overthinky etc. I adored her depiction of a mosh pit as it’s the most accurate portrayal of my own one experience in a mosh pit (never again). Very quick read and very entertaining.

Alone on the Wall

Alex Honnold & David Roberts

Genre: Memoir (climbing)

I’ve wanted to read this ever since I found out it existed. It’s written by both Alex and David. Alex mostly recounts his climbs and some aspects of his life, while David seeks out commentary from significant people in Alex’s life and does research around events. It’s a great balance between Alex’s subjective perspective and what those around him feel and think about what he’s doing. The allure of Alex Honnold is difficult to explain: he’s a rock climber who, at times, climbs without any aid at all (other than his climbing shoes and chalk bag). I’m not talking bouldering, I’m talking proper mountain faces. The stakes are obvious and he’s garnered quite a bit of fame. It’s his take on risk that I find interesting, as it aligns pretty well with my own. I could never do what he does, but that’s because I’m nowhere near as prepared as he is, and never will be. Anyway, I love climbing so I had to read this and I consumed it in a day. Lots of look up now!

The Paper House

Anna Spargo-Ryan

Genre: Literary?

Oh wow do I have feels after reading this. In short, it’s about a woman descending into grief after her baby’s in-utero death and subsequent stillbirth. It’s interspersed with childhood flashbacks to her mother, who suffered an undefined mental illness (but most importantly is deeply depressed). The writing is beautiful and intriguing, with the use of a lot of metaphors to serve to both filter our perspective and warp reality. Halfway through I posted on twitter that I felt I was looking at the world standing on my head, but it’s more than that.

As Heather’s break with reality becomes more pronounced I got angrier and angrier with how shitty her family were to her. Both as a child (the oblivious cruelty of her father is very distressing) and now as an adult. It made me dwell on the awful way we (as a society) treat women who are suffering (and Heather’s suffering is perfectly reasonable and explainable, she is GRIEVING). It made me think of how we’re expected to nurture others but can’t expect anyone to nurture us. Even this exchange between Heather and her dad:

‘I always had to be there for her. And I did it because I loved her and she was my wife, all those reasons. But when you’re the partner, no one looks at you.’

‘Right. Poor Dave.’

‘Don’t be like that. You’re not listening. Being the “sick one”‘ — he made air quotes — ‘gets attention. Caring for the sick one is exhausting. Seriously, you have no idea.’

I clenched my jaw. ‘I have some idea.’

Bear in mind that her dad was a FIFO worker and the child Heather took on a lot of the burden of emotionally caring for her mother… and then bear in mind that she’s just lost a baby and is being told to consider her partner’s feelings (which in and of itself isn’t unreasonable but HE’S TELLING THE WRONG PERSON). There is another exchange between Dave and her dad closer to the end that I won’t quote, but holy shit.

I’m unsure what the author’s intentions were regarding the reading of family dynamics, and I’m aware we all bring our own experiences into reading stories (I’ve been a depressed mother, though never of the flavour of the typical literary depressed mother), but all I could see was how unsupported Heather was in her grief. That other people around her saw her as a ticking time bomb because of her mother’s illness, and that in turn made them unable to see her and what she needed from them. There is definitely a lot to be said for the exhaustion of caring for someone with a mental illness, but it seemed to me Heather and her mother weren’t cared for as much as they were endured (I like to think Dave breaks this cycle, eventually, though). I’m still processing this story, but I feel pretty fierce about it.

2017 — the year of not writing

I was so unbelievably tempted to not write a recap of my year. But they are good to look back on so here I am.

I sold no stories. I published no stories. I barely wrote. I barely created anything other than assignments for university. Ouch.

I moved house. I did fieldwork. I finished a job contract and got another (short) and then another (short) and got job interviews and rejections and stressed out and then I finally got a job. I now work full time in an academic library. And, importantly, I graduated!

Me in graduation regalia

In a familiar theme from previous years, I struggled to find time to climb and run and hike and do all those lovely fun things. I did do True Grit though, and I climbed a bit. I did my first (and last) trail race. Also did several hikes. The highlight was climbing Mt Beerwah—it was terrifying and amazing!

Me at the Lake Manchester trail race

I read a lot! 2017 was probably the year of reading, really.

For Christmas I received a music set up to allow me to compose and record my own music/poems. So expect to hear some audio poems soon as I grapple with learning the technology/hardware.

Music studio set up

Creatively, 2017 is best described as a long inhale. Who knows if I’ll manage to exhale anything of worth next year? I’d like to. It’s time to scrabble back some semblance of my creative self.

For memories, I’m going to share my favourite family photos from the year:

Teenager with blue hair

The teenager now has blue hair

10 year old with creation

Birthday morning: “It’s not learning, it’s fun!”

6 year old smiling over presents

Engaging with people before presents

Chaotic family portrait

Sums us up pretty well really.

Of note: my youngest is starting prep next year. It’s a huge thing and something that may cause some angst, so there may be some reflecting about that at the end of next year!

As is my tradition, I looked through my photos to find my favourite photo of me from this year. I can’t go past this one of me scrambling down Mt Beerwah.

Me scrambling down Mt Beerwah

2017 was exhausting, in every way imaginable. It was a giant rollercoaster of happenings and my resilience was put to the test. Here’s to exploring the unknowns of 2018, without the stress of study and job hunting!

Reflections on a year of reading (Popsugar Challenge 2017)

Doing the Popsugar reading challenge was an interesting exercise that has allowed me to ponder my reading habits and figure out what I value as a reader. I read 41 books as part of the challenge (I did read more books than that this year but some didn’t fit into any categories). I’ve read some amazing books I never would have picked up otherwise—I’ve also churned through some quite mediocre books just to tick off a category. The former is a wonderful thing, but life is too short and time is too precious for the latter.

What I value

These are the things I value as a reader:

  • A diversity of experiences and viewpoints
    • My default is to read within my preferred genres and I don’t often step outside those genres. But to encounter a range of experiences, you have to read widely.
    • It’s very very easy to only read books written by white people. I have trained myself to look for women, but I’m also now seeking out the voices of people of colour.
  • Good writing
    • I am a writer. I appreciate a well-written book. I can forgive a book with amateurish writing if the story is good, but I’ve been pretty cranky with the standard of writing in a high percentage of the books I’ve read this year. I’m cool with different styles—by good, I don’t necessarily mean sophisticated. Simple writing can be just as effective as lyrical writing.
  • Satisfying endings
    • Some good books have satisfactory endings. Great books have satisfying endings. It’s HARD to end a story well. I find it the most difficult part of writing, and I get a huge kick out of an ending that delivers on the promise of a great book. Massive props to authors that can do this.
  • Freedom
    • One of the things I struggled with during this challenge was that there were books I wanted to read that didn’t fit into the categories. I have limited time to read so, being the personality type I am, I prioritised reading for the challenge. This is deeply problematic because reading should be for pleasure, not checkmarks.


I also wanted to do a diversity comparison, to see whose voices I am reading. I have to write a bunch of caveats here:

  1. I wanted to do a detailed break down of differences, but some diverse identities are invisible. How many of my authors are LGBTIQ+ identifying? I have no idea. How many have disabilities, including hidden disabilities? The difficulties of determining this information has meant I’ve limited my count to gender and cultural background.
  2. Gender is unfortunately a binary count as I am not sure any of these authors identify in any other way.
  3. Some authors I’ve guessed at cultural background.
  4. There are more authors than books that I’ve read as some were collaborative books, and I’ve counted the same author more than once if I read multiple books by them.

Those out of the way. The majority of books I read this year were by women.

Pie chart showing percentage of female authors (65%) to male authors (35%)


However, white voices dominated.

Pie chart showing percentage of white authors (71%) to authors of colour (29%)


A more detailed breakdown:

Bar chart showing counts for white women (21), white men (13), women of colour (10) and men of colour (4)


This is obviously problematic! While it is getting easier to find authors of colour, it’s still difficult to do so *when reading to a challenge*. There were books I wanted to read this year by people of colour that I didn’t read because they didn’t fit into a category. It’s a pretty crap tally and I was consciously seeking out diversity… imagine if I hadn’t been?

My top books for the year

(In no particular order)

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Liar by Justine Larbalestier

Kindred by Octavia Butler

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Year of the Orphan by Daniel Findlay

These books are all very different, varying in genre and style. They were well-written (with the caveat that good writing means something slightly different depending on your perspective–see also my review of Year of the Orphan for my issues with its style). Each provided me with an experience beyond my expectations, and every one dealt with challenging subject matter (except Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which I included because it’s been a long time since I was so thoroughly entertained by a fantasy novel). Taste is completely subjective though, so take this with a grain of salt!

A note on bad reviews

I won’t name the books I least enjoyed, but there were several that received a lot of hype that I found disappointing. Generally, these suffered from a combination of poor craft and story/plot issues. As a writer, though, I understand it’s a lot harder to write a story than it is to criticise one. And I don’t want to tear other writers down, because it’s shit when it happens to you (yes it’s happened to me). I do appreciate the function bad reviews perform, and interestingly sometimes I’ve chosen to read books based on specific comments in bad reviews (unlikeable female characters FTW!) Other times I’ve avoided books because reviews have highlighted problematic elements that I knew would likely make the book difficult for me to enjoy. Usually I don’t review books I didn’t enjoy on some level, but I made a commitment to myself to review all of the books I finished for the challenge. I’ve been as honest as I’ve felt comfortable being.

Reading in 2018

Takeaways: I won’t do the full Popsugar challenge next year, however I will have a look at it and choose some categories to stretch me out of my comfort zone. I will continue to seek out diverse voices and I give myself permission to abandon books I’m not enjoying. I have a bit of a list of books I want to read and I want to refocus on reading for pleasure.

Reading challenge part 8 (36-41).

Rosita y Conchita

Eric Gonzalez and Erich Haeger

Category: A book set around a holiday other than Christmas

This is a bilingual picture book set around Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead). It’s a lovely story that explains the meaning of the Day of the Dead in a really accessible way for kids.

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k

Sarah Knight

Category: A book about career advice

Dear gods, I love this book. Look, I’m already pretty good at not giving a f**k. Deep existential crises are effective ways of getting you to assess the things you actually value in life. But I do get stuck on the tricky things. Now, don’t be misled by the category. I do very much give a f**k about my career (and my job, in case my boss is reading. Hi!!) There are definitely things about working and career things and stuff I need to evaluate and prioritise though, and this book is a refreshing slap in the face. Also it may help me manage awkward moments with extended family. I hope. 4.5 stars because I had so much fun reading it.

Letters to Poseidon

Cees Nooteboom

Category: A book of letters

I picked this up for $5 at one of those remainder stores. The title intrigued me because I too have a weird thing for Poseidon. It’d an odd literary mish-mash of letters that actually address Poseidon, to little vignettes of human life, to slightly surreal word paintings. Some of the letters are super effective and some are a bit ho hum. I do quite love the surreal ones in particular. I got a bit cranky with the author’s seeming inability to empathise with women when he addresses the god and speaks about certain myths… it drives me nuts when educated men can philosophise and be articulate and not f*cking get that women are people with thoughts and feelings too. But I digress. Most of the book isn’t like that, just a few letters. I don’t really know how to rate this… it felt a bit like an assignment. Some letters would rate a 5, others 2, so let’s just average it out at 3.5 stars.

Year of the Orphan

Daniel Findlay

Category: A book with a month or day of the week in the title

Look at me not giving a f**k! Ok, so the lowdown here is that I wanted to read this because I listened to Dan give some talks at GenreCon and this book sounded cool, and I really couldn’t be bothered reading a book just because it had a month or day of the week in the title. “Year” is close enough. Onwards! First up, this book is written in a “dialect” and it almost made me cry, because it’s been a while since I read a book with good writing, and I could tell this was a book by a good writer except that the writing was in this dialect and that made it hard to read. The story itself is really good, the characters are great, everything about this book is great but the dialect frustrated me SO MUCH. I know there is meaning I missed but I am not sure I can re-read it (I may seek out an audiobook though as I reckon that would solve the dialect problem perfectly). I am a pretty fast visual reader so I had to really work to understand the meaning of the sentences in this book (to be honest I am appreciative of the way it made me think about my own reading and how I must glean meaning from words, and how it must be for people who struggle to read normally). Writing aside, I did love it. Knocking off half a star because I would have preferred it be written without the dialect. 4.5 stars.

The Talisman

Stephen King and Peter Straub

Category: A book set in a hotel

This is/was one of my favourite books ever. It’s the story of a 12 year old boy’s quest to save his mother’s life. It has an alternate world called the Territories, which is an idealised, nostalgic, magical Earth. Jack travels in both our world and the Territories, and is being hunted by his late father’s business partner. It starts and ends in a hotel so that’s good enough for this category. I still love this story but it is disturbing re-reading it now and realising how male the world is. How women are portrayed is pretty shit and we never get a fleeting glimpse into their perspective of Jack except from the outside (we get a lot of glimpses into male perspectives of Jack). One could almost be forgiven for thinking women aren’t people at all. Sigh. Feminist rant over. The Wolf section is definitely the section I loved the most and Wolf is still a fabulous character. 4/4.5 stars.

Daughter of Smoke and Bones

Laini Taylor

Category: A novel set during wartime

Thanks to Maddy for the idea of this one! I went to a talk by Laini Taylor at BWF one year and this series sounded really intriguing but I never quite decided to read it. Mainly because I’ve really gone off fantasy (after binging as a teenager and into my early twenties)… well that’s not entirely true. But so many fantasy series are bloated, predictable and full of tropes and cliches. And yk, there were some moments where I did wince a little, because I really can’t take romance seriously any more, and I like my characters slightly more flawed, BUT… it was well written, interesting, and hugely entertaining. The cover thing compares it to Pan’s Labyrinth it’s a fair comparison, really… it’d be awesome and pretty grim as a movie, even with all the romance stuff. I devoured it over 2 days and must read the next one. 4.75 stars.

Reading challenge part 7 (31-35).

Who Fears Death

Nnedi Okorafor

Category: A book where the main character is a different ethnicity to you

Onyesonwu is a mixed-race Ewu girl in what is described as post-apocalyptic Sudan. Her mother is an Okeke woman raped by a Nuru sorcerer. This is Okorafor’s first adult novel (I read her second novel, Lagoon, at the end of 2015). Who Fears Death was certainly easier to get into than Lagoon, but it wasn’t nearly as satisfying.

For all I’ve managed to love a bunch of unlikeable female characters, I really didn’t like Onyesonwu. The only characters I really liked were her mother, father (stepfather), Luyu, and the Red People. Luyu has the most interesting character arc of all of the characters. I would have loved this tale to have been told by her, and not by Onyesonwu. 3.5 stars

Zoo City

Lauren Beukes

Category: A book by an author from a country you’ve never visited

Another Lauren Beukes book! I’m working my way through her back catalogue. Zoo City is her second novel, set in an alternate Johannesburg. I loved the premise of the story: people who commit crimes or are responsible for some wrongdoing are “animalled”, that is, they find themselves with an animal familiar that grants them some mysterious power and also helps to keep the “Undertow” at bay (a nasty black cloud that tears you apart, what fun!) Of course, it’s difficult to hide most animal familiars so the animalled, or zoos, find themselves the target of a lot of prejudice. The main character, Zinzi, is animalled with a sloth and is trying to find a missing person.

The story is really good, for some reason I found it pretty hard to get into but there was a certain tipping point where I just wanted to keep reading. Beukes is a solid writer and a good storyteller. 4.5 stars.

Terra Nullius

Claire G. Coleman

Category: A book you bought on a trip

Ok well, here’s the deal, I haven’t actually been on a trip where book buying is an option this year. Holiday? What’s that? The only trips I’ve done have involved a lot of walking or climbing in remote areas with no shops. So yanno, I figured I’d buy something at GenreCon and count that as a “trip”. Terra Nullius was recommended and I read the first page and it seemed intriguing so I bought it. I admit I struggled through it, though. I think it would have been a stronger book without the subterfuge at the start—I found it much more interesting from the middle of the book on, but YMMV. 3 stars.

The Metamorphosis

Franz Kafka

Category: A book from a non-human perspective

This category is a tricky one. I feel like a lot of stories written as from a non-human perspective are merely allegory. Anthropomorphism is rife in novels, because it’s difficult for us to really sink into a non-human perspective. I wanted to challenge myself but in the end gave up. The Metamorphosis is a classic and wow is it depressing. Gregor retains some of his humanity throughout his ordeal but becomes increasingly insect-like in his desires. It’s a tough read (not hard to read but a bit unbearable). I’m not going to give it a star rating, because it was written for a different time and a different sensibility.

Pig the Star

Aaron Blabey

Category: A book you’ve read before that never fails to make you smile

Yeah well I was really struggling. I don’t generally re-read books that are light-hearted. I re-read for depth of emotion and books that stand the test of time for me tend to be darker. I tried to read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy but have clearly outgrown it. But then I thought, there is no rule that says these books need to be adult books! I read the Pig books to my son almost nightly, and they make me smile or laugh in part because of the way my son gets involved in reading them with me. They are so much fun to read with kids, I’m a huge fan! 4 stars.

Reading challenge part 6 (26-30).

The Hate Race

Maxine Beneba Clarke

Category: A book by a person of colour

I bought Maxine’s poetry collection Nothing Here Needs Fixing several years ago at the Brisbane Writers Festival. I went to the Qld Poetry Festival this year pretty much just to see her, and while there I bought The Hate Race. It’s described as a memoir but it’s a specific memoir, and one I think is really important for white Australians to read. In particular, I recognised the Australia Maxine grew up in. We’re the same age, give or take a year, so her description of Australian schooling was vivid and transported me back to my own childhood. I, however, have no experience whatsoever of the racism Maxine experienced. What I guess is confronting to me is that it probably was happening in front of me, but I have no memory of it because it didn’t affect me. There’s a lot more that I want to say but mainly, just read it. 5 stars.


Octavia Butler

Category: A book set in two different time periods

I read this in one day. From the very first page I was immersed, compelled, didn’t want to put it down (though I made myself clean the house and unpack boxes and take a break when my eyes were tired). I also gave it to my 13yr old to read. It’s just bloody amazing. 5 stars.


Mira Grant

Category: A book by an author who uses a pseudonym

Mira Grant is the pseudonym of Seanan McGuire, and I have wanted to read these books for a while. Hooray opportunity! Parasite tells the story of Sally Mitchell and also the story of SymboGen, the corporation that develops a genetically engineered tapeworm to cure humanity of the ills it created by sterilising its environment. I loved the premise of the story, and the characters were likeable (though according to Goodreads Sal is whiny and annoying, whatevs). I did feel that a certain key reveal was dragged on wayyy too long, as it was extremely obvious from very early on. There were also some points where I was pulled out of the world because it was just too unbelievable. I think part of my problem is I invariably compare stories like these with The Girl With All the Gifts, and that book is so complex and sophisticated and fantastic that it’s difficult to compete. That said, I really did enjoy it and will be seeking out the other books. 4 stars.

A Long Way Home

Saroo Brierley

Category: A book that is becoming a movie in 2017

Autobiographical account of a man who was lost as a 5 year old in India, adopted by Australian parents and managed to find his Indian home 25 years later using Google Earth and Facebook. I wanted to see the movie but was pretty sure I’d end up bawling my eyes out, so figured I should read it instead. Saroo Brierley’s tale is told in a straightforward manner but astounding in its detail. I inhaled this book, having started it in the afternoon and finishing it that same night. 4.5 stars.

The Princess Diarist

Carrie Fisher

Category: A book that is a story within a story

Oh my heart. All the complicated feels. This book is a bit erratic and stream-of-consciousness but completely real. Carrie’s voice is so recognisable and honest. The letters themselves need the context she provides, because they are every girl’s romantic heartbreak on a page. I had to laugh at some of them as I’m sure I’ve written similar in my youth. This book almost made me cry several times, and I feel again that deep sense of loss that she’s gone. I can’t rate this anything other than 5 stars.