Category Archives: books

Books To Read: February 2018

Seems it’s been almost a year since I posted an update on my to read shelf! So: here’s the unread books I have right now.

Actually a fairly modest selection, for the time of year – I didn’t get that many books for Christmas, though I did buy five more afterwards with my Christmas book token. So, here’s what I’ve got sitting around unread right now:

The Odyssey translated by Emily Wilson: I’ve read the Odyssey before (several times) but when I heard about this new translation I had to have it asap! I was also very surprised and a little upset to learn that this is officially the first published translation of the Odyssey by a woman. Should be a good read, anyway.

The Last Unicorn by Peter S Beagle: this one’s been on my to-read list since I was in school, when a friend recommended it to me in very warm terms. I’ve since heard glowing things about the animated film… but never did get to watching it. It’s better to read the book first, anyway!

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers: another one recommended warmly by a friend. I was originally down to review it for Shoreline of Infinity but unfortuantely they couldn’t get a review copy in time. Very much looking forward to this one.

Cadavre Exquis from Medusa’s Laugh Press: an anthology of fiction and poetry that well… well to be honest it looks like a fairly normal anthology it’s just that it consists of loose leafs ‘bound’ with a ‘burial shroud’. Quite hard to take apart and put back together again. Hopefully will be interesting.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys: another one that’s been on my list for a very long time. (Let’s make 2018 the year of cleaning out the to-read list!)

We Have Always Lived In the Castle by Shirley Jackson: I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about this one going in but picked it up on impulse in Waterstones. I’ve been curious about Shirley Jackson since reading some analysis of The Haunting of Hill House but ultimately too much of a scaredy cat to read it so I figured I’d go for something else!

A Story Waiting to Pierce You by Peter Kingsley: a (slightly late) Christmas gift. I’ve heard some odd things about it, reading reviews, but am keeping an open mind for now.

The Doll’s House by Rumer Godden: I’ve had this one on the stack for a while – because I’ve already read it, and love it very much. I picked up this new, very fancy edition last year and haven’t got around to re-reading it yet.

I’m reading Alias Grace at present, and after that I’ll be reading Scourge by Gail Z Martin for Shoreline of Infinity… so it may be a while before I get to the above books. But I’ll get around to them.

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My Week in Writing (18/02/18)

houseI’ve had a pretty busy week! I finished my edit on The Summer Masque and outside of a readthrough of the opening chapters to put a sample together, I have declared it ‘adequate’ and begun writing a query letter. In theory it should not be hard, having written an novel, to write a letter about said novel. In practice… oh dear.

I received (belatedly) my contributor copies of Microtext 3, a very nice (and very tiny) anthology from Medusa’s Laugh Press. I read it more or less in one sitting yesterday and thoroughly recommend it – not just because my writing’s in it! It’s a bit fiddly to read but there’s some really good stuff in there.

I also got, as an apology for the late dispatch of my copies of Microtext, a free book called Cadavre Exquis, which is certainly the most unique book I’ve owned to date. I haven’t read it yet but it came wrapped in a ‘burial shroud’. Very puzzling to receive with no explanation.

I went to see the Wikipedia Slam at the Scottish Poetry Library: slam poets presenting excerpts from Wikipedia articles in the style of their poetry. Very strange, somewhat educational, won by someone who read the article on the subject of rooms.

Today I made peanut butter cookies and went out for lunch at the National Gallery, which is always a good time.

The Green and the Gathering Tide is now over 200k and still climbing. I’m coming up on a good bit so looking forward to working on that later today!

And I submitted a story (at the last minute) to Pulp Literature’s Bumblebee Flash Fiction Contest. Last year I made the shortlist – we’ll see how it goes this time around…

Next week, I’m off to see The Shape of the Water and hopefully also Black Panther so quite excited for that. I’m also getting two fillings which is less exciting. Ah well.

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My Week In Writing (28/01/18)

I’ve not had the most eventful week! Worked three days, attempted to make arrangements to take time off work to see Hamilton in mid February with limited success. I went to the Edinburgh Creative Salon at Summerhall, which this month was very puppetry-focused so not my thing but interesting.

I finished reading It Devours! which I enjoyed very much and started reading Alias Grace which so far I’m struggling a little to get into but we’ll see how it goes. I also listened to (most of) Planet of the Rani from Big Finish.

I’m coming up on the halfway point of this (hopefully final) edit of The Summer Masque. Only six chapters to go – hopefully smooth sailing from here.

The Green and the Gathering Tide is now just shy of 192k and now over the halfway point. I’m on an arc I’ve been looking forward to for a long time concerning a shapeshifting detective.

I’ve also now officially made contact with my agency to tell them I want to move on. No response as yet, I intend to follow up by phone call asap.

Next week, I’m going to the Literary Salon at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, and I plan to approach 200k on this seemingly neverending novel I’m writing.

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My Week In Writing (21/01/18)

20180117_221615.jpgI was in London with my family yesterday for the ballet – specifically, Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella at Sadler’s Wells. It’s the third Matthew Bourne production I’ve seen (saw The Nutcracker in 2016 and The Red Shoes in 2017) and I think Cinderella was my favourite to date – love the setting and the period, loved the abstract, dreamlike story and choreography.

Next year’s Christmas ballet is a revival of Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake so naturally we’re all excited already!

I finished reading Pulp Literature’s Summer 2017 issue, which I mostly enjoyed but given my tendency to read issues out of order, I’m starting to struggle due to the frequency of novel extracts and serials. But I suppose that’s on me for not starting at the beginning!

I started reading It Devours! the second Welcome to Night Vale novel, which so far I’m really enjoying, possibly more so than its precursor.

The Green and the Gathering Tide is now up to 186k and somehow still only halfway done. I have another two arcs before I hit the halfway point!

And I’m working on getting The Summer Masque into a fit shape to start querying agents – I’m reading 20-ish pages a day but it’s slow going because I keep finding stuff I want to cut or move. Editing is a neverending task. I’m going to have to call it quits sooner or later.

I’m at my parents’ house in Northamptonshire now. The snow seems to have followed me from Edinburgh – it was snowing when I woke up and didn’t let up until the afternoon. It’s raining now, so I expect it’ll be gone as quickly as it arrived. I’m off back to the city tomorrow.

Next week, I’m off to the Creative Salon at Summerhall for the first time since last year (ha). Looking forward to catching up with some people and getting to go to a mixer when I haven’t been at work all day, for a change.

I may also be going to contact my agency about switching to a new contract – watch this space, I suppose.

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My Week In Writing (14/01/18)

20180113_155702-1.jpgSame old same old – I didn’t have the best week at work but probably shouldn’t talk about that.

I’ve been trying to get back on track with my various projects and to that end I’ve been doing a final-final readthrough of The Summer Masque, with mixed success – I’m very much sick of reading it at this point and I find the first few chapters in particular quite tiresome. Also, I’m putting off beginning work on a query letter as I’m still stuck for ideas on that front.

The Green and the Gathering Tide hit 181k this week (almost 182k), which is somewhat terrifying as it’s still maybe halfway done at most. At present I’m working on an arc about very Catholic wizards having an uncomfortable family Christmas.

Officially I’m ahead on my Goodreads challenge, having read two books, but one of them was a miniature collection of Emily Dickinson poems so I’m not sure if that counts! In theory I’m currently reading Pulp Literature’s Summer 2017 issue but I’ve been struggling to find the time.

I’ve been bookshopping, with a book token I was given as a late Christmas present: The Last Unicorn, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Wide Sargasso Sea and A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. Three books which have been on my to-read list for a while – exception being We Have Always Lived in the Castle, which was an impulse purchase.

I went to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art yesterday, largely to meet some relatives for lunch (and acquire my book token) but it turned out they have an exhibition on about children’s book illustrations which was good timing as there were two small children in the party.

We also had a look around the general collection and saw some works by Ed Ruscha, who I’d not come across before and will probably be looking into further. Good time had.

I listened to the first half of Planet of the Rani and played a lot of Submachine – I just bought the entire series in HD so expect a post about that in the near (ish) future.

Next week, I’m headed off to London to go to the ballet.

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My Week (Month?) In Writing (08/01/18)

20171224_171454.jpgWell, Christmas happened – and then New Year happened – and then going back to work happened – and all in all, life got in the way of blogging.

So, here’s what I’ve been doing this the first week of December:

1. I read Stonewall, a non-fiction (unusually for me!) book by David Carter. I also read and thoroughly enjoyed The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman.

2. For Christmas, I got: The Book of Dust; It Devours, the second Welcome to Nightvale novel by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor; Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood; and Emily Wilson’s translation of The Odyssey.

3. I’ve started a new Goodreads challenge and this year set my target back up to 50, since I managed 52 last year for a target of 45. We’ll see how that goes!

4. I went down to the Welsh Marches for what turned out to be a fairly quiet Christmas and baked a very handsome Yule Log.

5. I came down with a nasty cold around Boxing Day and stayed in for New Year’s as a result. Watched the Big Fat Quiz with my flatmate and had a good time!

6. I went out for sushi for the first time. It was a pretty mixed experience, overall.

7. And I added several thousand words to The Green and the Gathering Tide, while neglecting all other projects, naturally.

This week I’m hoping to go to Inky Fingers at Lighthouse Books, if I can find the time, and I fully intend to start working on my ‘serious’ novel properly since I’m very behind on my goal right now. Otherwise, we’ll see!

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My Week In Writing (13/12/17)

20171213_225307.jpgIs this post several days late, or early for next week? Who knows!

I’ve not been super well since NaNoWriMo finished – I missed some time off work and would have liked to have missed a little more, if I’m going to be honest. It doesn’t help that we’ve just moved to a new office so I’m feeling a bit unsettled.

I am, however, still very much working on The Green and the Gathering Tide, which is coming up on 170,000 words (including the pre-NaNo 2017 material, naturally). I’m also still working, somewhat piecemeal, on Annique but seem to have written myself into something of a corner. Boo.

I went along to Event Horizon, now at Frankensteins and in an underground venue that has the ethos of a mead hall. I wasn’t shortlisted for the flash fiction contest so it was a pretty relaxed evening for me and I was curious to hear the winning story – you can read more about the winners here.

I finished reading The Time Hoppers by Robert Silverberg and posted a quick review on Goodreads. I also read Come Close, Penguin’s 80th anniversary edition of Sappho’s poems, and re-read The Little Prince in a very shiny hard copy (previously read it on Kindle) that I bought a while back on Transreal fiction.

And I read Shoreline of Infinity 9, finally, and had a great time. I’m now working my way throught the issues of Pulp Literature I got as part of my subscription (which I got for entering their flash fiction contest).

I also re-read Settlement 359, my own sci-fi novel. I’m still pretty pleased with it! Needs some quick edits for continuity but once that’s done I might be able to send it to some people to read! I’m dreading editing it properly though.

And I did most of my Christmas shopping. So, that’s a pretty big achievement, hopefully.

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