Tag Archives: reading

Perfections, by Kirstyn McDermott

9781922057174-500x763So far this year I’ve been pretty slack on the AWW front, and indeed in the reading books front at all. I blame it on Ford Madox Ford, who sucked me in with the possibility of Benedict Cumberbatch and made me read four books under the guise of being just one book that was so enormous that almost a month fell into it. And that was my experience reading Parade’s End.

Possibly it’s unfair to blame Ford Madox Ford for Benedict Cumberbatch, but then again we have to blame somebody, right?

In any case, I have officially just finished by first book by an Australian woman writer: Perfections, by Kirstyn McDermott. I’m pretty sure Kirstyn describes this one as a gothic fairytale, or something along those lines. I think I’d go for more of an ‘urban suspense’ line, though if it was in actual bookshops I would hope to see it with more of a Fay Weldon cover than anything with overt genre markers.

Oh, did I mention Fay Weldon? That’s probably because she came to mind while I was reading this novel – something about the realist, cynical tone and themes to do with women’s careers and quiet household despair mixed with sneaky supernatural, magic and horror bits. The tone also reminded me a great deal of Donna Tartt. I really hope Kirstyn reaches the wide audience she deserves with this one.
Continue reading →

Tales from the Library: Parade’s End Won’t

I want to write more about what I’m reading this year. Not book reviews as such, because I burnt myself out on formal book reviews a few years back, but I’d like to do more of the written equivalent of what we do on Galactic Suburbia – chatting about current reading.

Which is how I end up here, talking about a book I haven’t finished yet! But oh, READING Parade’s End by Ford Madox Ford has taken up so much of my thoughts and reading energy over the last couple of weeks, I am not sure I will have the strength to write about it at all when I finally make it over the finish line.

I ordered Parade’s End from the local library because there’s an adaptation with Benedict Cumberbatch which I plan on seeing at some point. I thought for once, how about I read the book first? But whoa, what a whopper! At over 800 pages, it turns out that it’s actually four books in one.

Continue reading →

2012: A Year in Reading

Trying something a bit different for my reading round up this year – I found this Annual End Of Year Book survey and decided to try out the questions for myself. Note I’ve already done a Pleasures of Reading etc. post over at Ambling Along the Aqueduct, and covered my experience with the AWW reading challenge. I talk about books a lot, all right?

At 175 titles, including graphic novels, audio books, ebooks etc, I’ve come the closest to my pre-motherhood reading levels than ever before! If nothing else, my ‘don’t buy without shifting books from To Read Shelf’ system seems to be guilting me into finding more reading time, which I am happy about.

Best In Books 2012

1. Best Book You Read In 2012? (You can break it down by genre if you want)

Best Fantasy Novel: Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth
Best Science Fiction Novel: Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold
Best Collection: Cracklescape by Margo Lanagan
Best Anthology: Under My Hat, edited by Jonathan Strahan
Best Young Adult Novel: Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein, only just edging out The Diviners by Libba Bray and Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan.
Best General Fiction: Last Chance Cafe by Liz Byrski
Best Comic: Hawkeye & Captain Marvel
Best Graphic Novels: Astonishing X-Men #1-5 by Joss Whedon & John Cassaday
Best Doctor Who Book: Chicks Unravel Time! Yes, I’m in it. I still love it BEST!

Continue reading →

My AWW Reading Challenge in 2012

Will you be doing the Australian Women Writers Challenge in 2013? I certainly will! I’ve enjoyed the community aspect of the challenge, and the focus on Australian women writers – while I tend to read a majority of women writers anyway, I do have a tendency to stay within certain genre comfort zones, and often to neglect Australian writers over international ones, unless they are very close friends. And while my list for this year’s reading definitely involved a bunch of books by my friends (did I mention how many talented friends I have? A WHOLE BUNCH) I also tried to challenge myself by trying new authors, reading some books that have languished on my To Read Shelf for too long, and in the case of Kate Forsyth’s Bitter Greens, NOT neglect a certain title that I know is going to be wonderful just because it’s the size of three regular books.

I met my own challenge parameters back in June (the Franklin – 10 books, review at least 6) but have continued to add to the list and was delighted today to count up and realise that I hit 25. Sounds impressive, though considering I read 175 books this year (including graphic novels & audio books), it’s still only a small proportion.

DEFINITELY coming back for more next year, at the same level. We have some great female writers in Australia and they really do miss out on the recognition that is due to them, in general book media.

“Four times as many living Australian male writers than female writers appear on First Tuesday Book Club’s list of Top 50 Aussie reads.”

On a personal note, I really think that the AWW has helped me as a writer, too – I noticed far more reviews going around of the Creature Court trilogy and Love and Romanpunk in 2012 than in previous years, and I think the Challenge has a lot to do with that.

What will you be reading next year? How will you be reading next year? What great books by Australian women can we look forward to next year?

Continue reading →

Our Christmas in Books

I got a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas! I can’t stop grinning at it, especially as my honey managed to make me think it was an impossible dream – they’re only letting them into Australia two at a time or so. But it is MINE and so pretty. Have already been stocking up on books from Wizards Tower, Project Gutenberg and even (gasp) the Amazon store. And I’ve already read a whole novel on it (peeking at the ‘how many minutes to the end of this book’ feature the whole time) – the extraordinary, raw and compelling ‘WWII heroines’ novel Code Name: Verity by Elizabeth Wein which had me sobbing buckets over the leftover roast potatoes this morning.

In other news, the Very Grown Up Raeli received an iPod Touch and some snazzy yellow headphones which means she can play Angry Birds AND listen to Ood Cast music without begging for my phone, and also that little Jem can mainline her way through her Christmas DVDs without fighting with her sister for control of the remote.

But this was a Christmas of books, from extended family as well as each other (and of course, Santa). Let’s take a look at a sample of the dead tree hoard:

Continue reading →

A Year in TansyRR.com

The response to my Tor.com post on “Historically Authentic Sexism in Fantasy” has been pretty overwhelming. Not only have there been many, many readers over there (the comments thread is still going strong, though it has turned overnight into a discussion about gender in children’s fiction which… is not a bad thing to be talking about?) but over 2500 people have tuned in to this blog to check the post out here, since Thursday. That’s… a lot, by my standards.

So if you’re here for the first time, hi, I’m Tansy! I write books, and talk a lot.

Here are some other Gender & Pop Culture posts from this year that I’m quite proud of:

Sexing Up the Classics
Mothers & Daughters, Battle-Embroidery & Bears
Babies & Bicycles: Watching Call the Midwife
Hack, Slash, Squish: Gender and Sex In Season One of Game of Thrones
What Geek Girls Wear (is none of your business)

Continue reading →

Agathon #9: The Mystery of the Blue Train [1928]

Kathryn and I started out with a challenge to read every book written by Agatha Christie, in order of publication – we’re blogging as we go along. We spoil all the things!


So my favorite part of reading ‘The Blue Train’ this time round, was the first sentence of the afterward, which accompanied my copy:

‘In an interview published in 1966, Agatha Christie declared that ‘The Mystery of the Blue Train’ was certainly the worst book she had ever written’. She further described it as ‘commonplace, full of cliches, with an uninteresting plot’.

Like ‘The Big Four’, which preceded it, ‘The Mystery of the Blue Train’ falls in that period of Chiristie’s life when she disappeared and ultimately divorced her husband. While the circumstances in which Christie wrote the book probably colour her opinion, it’s not great, and certainly the cliche part is very true. On many occasions, particularly in the first opening chapters, Christie uses the nationality of a character as shorthand for their personality. Even the heroine of the piece, Miss Katherine Grey is characterised as cool and very English.

Continue reading →

Book Week: Tuppeny, Feefo and The Blue Umbrella

What kind of childhood half-remembered book is it all but impossible to recapture despite the wide and marvellous tool that is Google?

a) the one with the name you are remembering incorrectly
b) the one with the name so common that it appears on many, many different book listings

One of the first things I tried to use the internet to help me reclaim was a beloved Enid Blyton book about three goblins who basically came up with the concept of The Goodies 20 years earlier – any job, anywhere, anytime. Of course they get into dreadful trouble, but all is well at the end.

I craved this book, and searched and searched for it, but this was before Google came along (I know, right? Dark days of the internet) and the fact that I had misremembered the order of the goblins names, and thus was searching for Feefo, Tuppeny and Jinks (which I maintain is the better title).

Then the book fell into my lap one day, courtesy of a second hand bookshop (ohh, second hand bookshops, remember them?) and I realised to my horror and surprise that TUPPENY’s name went first.

Continue reading →

Book Week: Modern School Days, or do you remember TV tie-in novelisations?

For the most part I think I’ve managed to use this blog to expose pretty much every obsession I’ve been through in my past and present, but there are always a few which slip through the cracks. For instance, I’m pretty sure I’ve never touched on my deep and detailed history of obsessing about Grange Hill.

It’s pretty easy to be a geek about Doctor Who, or superheroes, or fantasy novels, or even history. But the more mainstream/genre-free a piece of culture is, the harder it is to, for instance, collect merchandise and be madly, publicly geeky about it.

I first became aware of Grange Hill through my childhood in the 80’s. It was a British TV series set in a London comprehensive school, which started in the year I was born an ran for 30 years. It was harder to obsessively follow TV in those days, but I did my best! I seem to recall that sometimes at least a whole season would run on the ABC through the school holidays.

The first year I am certain that I watched was Season 8, which introduced first year characters Gonch, Calley, Ronnie and Hollo (my generation of students!) but still featured older characters who had been around for a while like Stewpot, Claire and Zammo. Some time around then, the series “Tucker’s Luck” also screened, a sequel which followed up the very first students who were the protagonists back in 1978, particularly Tucker (Todd Carty). I remember watching this with my Mum.

But what has this to do with books, you ask? EVERYTHING.

Continue reading →

Book Week: Google Buns and Midnight Feasts

So, Enid Blyton. I don’t even know where to start with talking about Enid Blyton books, and the influence they had on my reading as a child. I know that I was reading chapter books early enough that I don’t recall starting, and that when I was 4-5 my Dad moved away for a year and sent me a book a week – Blyton paperbacks, for the most part. I remember walking to the Post Office to collect my regular parcel!

I know that I read and loved the mystery and adventure books – The Famous Five, the Secret Seven, The Adventure Of and The Mystery Of – and those characters and stories are deeply entangled in my heart. I also loved the random children books, and the various Toy stories, especially Amelia Jane (I think I was always a bit old for Noddy). But thanks to some world travelling in my mid-childhood years, I sold almost all of my collection, and the ones I cared about enough as an adult to re-acquire were not those ones at all.

Instead, the Blyton books I was most desperate to own again, and to reread, were the school stories and the magical classics: Malory Towers, St Clares, Naughtiest Girl, Faraway Tree and the Wishing Chair.

Continue reading →