January 2

Books I read in 2017

  1. Double Dissolution by Lee Zachariah
  2. The Bricks that Built the Houses by Kate Tempest
  3. Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood
  4. Ruins by Rajith Savanadasa
  5. The Llama Parlour by Kathy Lette
  6. The Wife Drought by Annabel Crabb
  7. Relativity by Antonia Hayes
  8. Chinaman by Shehan Karunatilaka
  9. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
  10. The Hot Guy by Mel Campbell and Anthony Morris
  11. Vango: Between Earth and Sky by Timothée de Frombelle
  12. Vango: Prince without a Kingdom by Timothée de Frombelle
  13. The Apothecary by Maile Meloy
  14. Frogkisser! by Garth Nix
  15. Difficult Women by Roxane Gay
  16. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
  17. Chasing Odysseus by SD Gentill
  18. Trying War by SD Gentill
  19. The Blood of Wolves by SD Gentill
  20. Choke by Chuck Palahniuk
  21. Year of the Orphan by Daniel Findlay
  22. Theophilus Grey and the Traitor’s Mask by Catherine Jinks
  23. Down the Hume by Peter Polites
  24. Singing my Sister Down by Margo Lanagan
  25. Stories of Your Life by Ted Chiang
  26. From the Wreck by Jane Rawson
  27. Psynode by Marlee Jane Ward
  28. The Last Thread by Michael Sala
  29. All this Could End by Steph Bowe
  30. The Intern by Gabrielle Tozer
  31. Faking It by Gabrielle Tozer
  32. Night Swimming by Steph Bowe
  33. The Restorer by Michael Sala
  34. Girl Saves Boy by Steph Bowe
  35. Remind Me how this Ends by Gabrielle Tozer
  36. Tea: Addiction, Exploitation and Empire by Roy Moxham
  37. Notes on a Small Island by Bill Bryson
  38. Tea with a Twist by Alice Parsons
  39. No way! Okay, Fine by Brodie Lancaster
  40. Speaking Out by Tara Moss
  41. Something to Say (Frankie Press)
  42. Rose by Victoria Tyler Bassett-Wilton
  43. Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett

So last year I thought it’d be nice to read through Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels in order but I never got around to starting. I also failed to touch any of the Hugo-nominated works despite jetting off to Worldcon in Helsinki.

Instead, I read quite a bit for work (National Young Writers’ Festival: Findlay, Sala, Tozer and Bowe) and quite a bit of short stuff, ie short story collections, essay collections and novellas, which comprised more than a fifth of my reading. That’s likely to remain high despite a pledge to read longer form work because I’ve committed to read the Sydney Story Factory’s student novella collection as well as JY Yang’s The Black Tides of Heaven and The Red Threads of Fortune novella duo.

Not as many series this year as last, just Gentill’s trilogy and a few pairs/second books (de Frombelle, Tozer, Ward, Jinks) but quite a number of debut authors (about a quarter of the list). No rereads, which surprised me. Then again, I have a to-be-read list that’s bigger than my shelf space, thanks to my tendency to purchase on Kindle as soon as a book takes my fancy. I bought Philip Pullman’s The Book of Dust, so I’m likely to reread the His Dark Materials trilogy when I turn my mind to the new work.

I’ve started about three collections so they’re going to be swift additions to my next list once I sit down and finish them like a proper reader. There’s also a growing to-be-read pile of tea books that I often dip into for reference but haven’t read all the way through. Most of them are meant to be read like that, but I’d like to do some solid reading.

Interestingly, reading Ruins and Chinaman, both set in Sri Lanka, has catapulted Sri Lanka to the top of my travel list so we’ll see how that pans out as a destination in the coming year. Add to that tea! glorious tea! and it sounds like my kind of trip, eh?

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January 1

Books I read in 2016

  1. Tea with the Black Dragon by RA Asher
  2. Kaleidoscope (short story collection) edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios
  3. These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
  4. This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
  5. Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
  6. Tea: The drink that changed the world by Laura C Martin
  7. Mind Games by Teri Terry
  8. All the Tea in China by Wang Jian
  9. The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Amberlin Kwaymullina
  10. Captive Prince by CS PacatCaptive Prince by CS Pacat
  11. Prince’s Gambit by CS Pacat
  12. Kings Rising by CS Pacat
  13. Captive Prince by CS Pacat (reread)
  14. Prince’s Gambit by CS Pacat (reread)
  15. Kings Rising by CS Pacat (reread)
  16. A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty (reread)
  17. Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty (reread)
  18. A Tangle of Gold by Jaclyn Moriarty
  19. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
  20. Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
  21. Welcome to Orphancorp by Marlee Jane Ward
  22. Enamoured by Shannon Curtis
  23. Framed and Hung by Alexis Fleming
  24. The Paper House by Anna Spargo-Ryan
  25. Secret Reflection by Jennifer Brassel
  26. White Tiger by Kylie Chan
  27. Red Phoenix by Kylie Chan
  28. Blue Dragon by Kylie Chan
  29. Earth to Hell by Kylie Chan
  30. Hell to Heaven by Kylie Chan
  31. Heaven to Wudang by Kylie Chan
  32. Dark Serpent by Kylie Chan
  33. Demon Child by Kylie Chan
  34. Black Jade by Kylie Chan
  35. The Beach by Alex Garland (reread)
  36. Formaldehyde by Jane Rawson
  37. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
  38. A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists by Jane Rawson
  39. The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp
  40. Freedom Swimmer by Wai Chim
  41. The Feel-Good Hit of the Year by Liam Pieper
  42. The Toymaker by Liam Pieper
  43. The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke
  44. Sabriel by Garth Nix (reread)
  45. Lirael by Garth Nix (reread)
  46. Abhorsen by Garth Nix (reread)
  47. Goldenhand by Garth Nix
  48. The Island will Sink by Briohny Doyle
  49. Portable Curiosities (short story collection) by Julie Koh
  50. The Last Unicorn + Two Hearts by Peter S Beagle
  51. Smalls Acts of Disappearance by Fiona Wright
  52. Dress, Memory by Lorelei Vashti
  53. The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery
  54. Delta of Venus by Anais Nin

Once again series dominated my reading, particularly fantasy, and my non-fiction reading was largely confined to memoir and tea books. I noticed a lot more sexy reading than previous years (though a conscious effort to read outside my usual genres did result in finishing three not-great romance novellas) but also an increase in offbeat fiction by Jane Rawson, Marlee Jane Ward, Julie Koh and Briohny Doyle.

A surprise hit for me was CS Pacat’s Captive Prince trilogy, which was not just a page-turning queer action/adventure/romance series but written with precision and panache, an artfully constructed plot without sacrificing character development. Yes, you read my list correctly: I read it twice in a row.

This year I have a mixed genre pile I aim to get through in the next few months (comprising authors from Kate Tempest and Cory Doctorow to Matthew Reilly and Annabel Crabb) before starting a rereading project of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. I’m heading to Finland for the World Science Fiction Convention in Helsinki this August too, so no doubt there’ll be a Hugo list to tackle in the weeks leading up to the ballot.

If you want my take on any of the above, hit me up in the comments or on Twitter (@witmol).

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January 16

Things and stuff

Those who know me will remember that I rarely blog regularly despite the fact I’m always online, always writing and always full of ideas for things to write about. It’s late-ish as I type this (1.11am) but enough people have expressed curiosity, so here goes. What have I been doing since I last posted?

Well…

I went to Middle Earth

Hobbiton
Shire! Baggins! Hobbiton || Photo: Adeline Teoh

Boff and I flew into Auckland, hired a car and made our way to Wellington via some caves, several volcanoes, Hobbiton, an oolong tea plantation (who do you think put that on the itinerary?) and a gannet nesting colony, which we reached via tractor. And who knew Napier was an Art Deco city?

We were in Wellie for a few days chiefly to see my uni friend Danielle get married to her Kiwi love (both currently live and work in London) but also managed to squeeze in lunch with my writing group buddy Alison and her bub Eli.

Alison’s partner Keith works as a compositor at Weta so she pointed out a whole bunch of Weta landmarks including the place where Sir Ian McKellen stays when they film the Hobbit movies, Peter Jackson’s house and a giant green screen tucked behind a nearby supermarket. If you find yourself in Wellie, definitely take the Weta Cave studio tour, best NZ$20 we spent, lots of cool things to look at and great behind-the-scenes stories.

There was also an incident that saw Boff and I plunge into Wellington Harbour but I don’t like to talk about it.

I bought out my publisher and resigned from my part-time job

Maybe this bit should’ve been higher but there’s really nothing quite like Hobbiton to liven up a blog entry.

In December I bought ProjectManager.com.au from Loyalty Media and am currently looking at restructuring my business to accommodate it. Unfortunately this means doing my tax from 2011/12 and 2012/13 and refinancing my mortgage, which I guess I should have done ages ago but you know, things and stuff happened.

I leave CoursesNow in February to go full freelance and I really can’t wait to go. Not a bad job and quite well paid, but boring. Besides which, I was turning away freelance work I would’ve preferred to do. As of today, I’ve racked up more in freelance invoices in January than my monthly salary and I’m only halfway through the month.

I played 544 games of Classic Words

It’s a games app with the same rules and play as Scrabble. On Extremely Hard level (except for that one time I played Very Easy French, which I won), I have a win rate of 69.5% (that’s 378 games), an average word score of 23.25 and a top score of 493. I’ve gone all out 170 times and my best word was CIRCLETS for 158 points (if I remember correctly, it fell over two Triple Word Scores). This is despite the fact that the app cheats if I get too far ahead by giving me all vowels. My least favourite letters are C, V and I.

I read 4 books

Ender’s Game after seeing the movie. Both were excellent.

Raising Steam, because Terry Pratchett + trains = can’t lose.

The Sky So Heavy because I saw Claire Zorn at NYWF last year and she was cool.

The Book Thief (again), because Markus Zusak tweeted about the film all throughout last year so I think it might be good.

I’m currently about a quarter of the way through The Luminaries for an online book club I recently joined. It was slow to start but now I have the rhythm I understand the writing choices in it.

I was almost killed by a collapsing bed

Twice! Well, the first one produced just bruises and warranted the purchase of the second. The new one we bought (a king lift bed) we assembled today. Boff got the bolts mixed up so we had to do some unscrewing.

“Am I going to have a bed fall on my head?” I asked as the nuts came loose.

“I don’t think so, no,” said Boff, seconds before, you guessed it, the bed collapsed on my head. It even had the mattress on it. Without presence of mind and evasive action there could’ve been a serious neck injury. Let me tell you it is not fun being trapped under a bed when you’ve just had a near-death experience.

But I don’t want to leave you on a bad note so here’s something context-less to end this post: “Put it in the second hole,” she said, while screwing in the bed.