Reading List – December 2018

Another year done and dusted. This one was a big reading year, although I didn’t add many titles to the list in December itself – too busy with everything else. I’m not complaining! Lots of work, sunny days, and holiday celebrations took up my time instead.

The yearly total came to 368. Most of those were eBooks borrowed from Auckland Libraries and read on my iPad. A slight majority were fiction, and the vast majority were first-time reads.

The list for December:

Death Message by Kate London
Resolution by Denise Mina
The Spirit Almanac by Emma Loewe
Brightly Burning by Alex Donne
Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop
Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop
Hexes for the Modern Age by Val Brains
After Z-Hour by Elizabeth Knox
Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold
The Witch’s Altar by Jason Mankey and Laura Tempest Zakroff
The Witch’s Book of Shadows by Jason Mankey
Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza
The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst
The Thickety: A Path Begins by J.A. White
The King of the Witches by June Johns
Queen of Darkness by Anne Bishop
Blood of a Thousand Stars by Rhoda Belleza
Faith, Issue 1 by Jody Houser
The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
Going Postal by Terry Pratchett

20 in total.

Reading List – November 2018

I managed to squeeze in some extra reading time this month by lugging my iPad everywhere with me. Honestly, Auckland Libraries OverDrive is one of my favourite uses of the internet. It’s free to use once you sign up/in with your library card, and the selection is actually pretty damn good. I make sure to recommend books for them to purchase regularly too.

I received some books on my birthday so this month I have actually read some analogue novels too, but it’s hard to beat the convenience of digital. That being said, I’m not sure it’s done my eyesight any favours.

Lots of crime/suspense/thriller/mystery stuff this month, including some by my all time faves: Tana French & Stuart MacBride (yep, I like my murder mysteries to be really messed up). I’ve also been smashing out a lot of Anne Bishop fantasy, but I’m still undecided on whether I like her or not… The more I read her works, the more I see disturbing gender-essentialist “woman in jeopardy” themes coming through and it’s just not my cup of tea. Even when everything else is good, that kinda thing leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

Anyway, on to the list:

The Spirit Ring by Lois McMaster Bujold
The Unsound Issue 1 by Cullen Bunn
Exile by Denise Mina
The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham
Insidious Intent by Val McDermid
The Wych Elm by Tana French
Post Mortem by Kate London
Things We Have in Common by Tasha Kavanagh
Pig Island by Mo Hayder
Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines
The Phantom Tolbooth by Norton Juster
Daggerspell by Katharine Kerr
Tarot by Kim Arnold
Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
Holistic Tarot by Benebell Wen
Black Jack by Mari Carr
Junk by Melvin Burgess
The Hoarder by Jess Kidd
21 Ways to a Happier Depression by Seth Swirsky
Weycombe by G.M. Malliet
Death of a Cozy Writer by G.M. Malliet
Death and the Lit Chick by G.M. Malliet
Death at the Alma Mater by G.M. Malliet
Sugar Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke
Candy Cane Murder by Joanne Fluke
Plum Pudding Murder by Joanne Fluke
Gingerbread Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke
A Haunting is Brewing by Juliet Blackwell
Written in Red by Anne Bishop
Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop
Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop
Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop
Heir to the Shadows by Anne Bishop
Lake Silence by Anne Bishop
Thicker Than Blood by Erin Kelly
Betwixt and Between by Storm Faerywolf
Brazen Virtue by Nora Roberts
The Rising Sign by Jeanne Avery
Dying Light by Stuart MacBride
Flesh House by Stuart MacBride
Broken Skin by Stuart MacBride
Blind Eye by Stuart MacBride
Dark Blood by Stuart MacBride
Shatter the Bones by Stuart MacBride
Close to the Bone by Stuart MacBride
22 Dead Little Bodies and Other Stories by Stuart MacBride
The Missing and the Dead by Stuart MacBride
Partners in Crime by Stuart MacBride
Now We Are Dead by Stuart MacBride
In the Cold Dark Ground by Stuart MacBride
The Blood Road by Stuart MacBride
Birthdays for the Dead by Stuart MacBride
A Song for the Dying by Stuart MacBride
The Halfmen of O by Maurice Gee
The New Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer
The Wrong Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer
He Said / She Said by Erin Kelly

57 in total.

Reading List – October 2018

October is always a busy month for me – and with low mood issues, it’s also been a difficult one. But I still managed to squeeze in 18 books, which I feel good about. It’s quite a collection too. Spec fic (I think I love Jo Walton), romance, crime thriller, fantasy, and the odd non-fic for research purposes.

Short month, so short recap. Here’s the list:

The Just City by Jo Walton
The Bourbon Thief by Tiffany Reisz
The King’s Name by Jo Walton
Blood of the Earth by Faith Hunter
Curse on the Land by Faith Hunter
Flame in the Dark by Faith Hunter
The Celtic Goddess by Trevor Greenfield
The Philosopher Kings by Jo Walton
Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton
The Twelve Faces of the Goddess by Danielle Blackwood
Rivers of London: Black Mould 1 by Ben Aaronovitch
Rivers of London: Black Mould 2 by Ben Aaronovitch
The Dead Fathers Club by Matt Haig
The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness
The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney
Garnethill by Denise Mina

18 in total.

Reading List – September 2018

September was Comic Book month at Auckland Libraries, so I tried a bunch of graphic novels, and found some amazing stories. I liked comics as a kid (particularly X-men and Catwoman) but always kinda wished the stories were longer so I became a fan of collected editions and graphic novels. My first G.N. was “Dragonflight” by Anne McCaffrey – I’d read and loved the series beforehand, so the graphic novel was a wonderful find (at Rotorua Library back in the ’90s). As an adult, I became obsessed with Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” overture, and I’ll admit there are lots of online comics that I regularly ready. So finding “The Wicked + the Divine” and “Locke & Key” had me feeling really lucky this month.

I also started making my way through Naomi Novik’s alt-hist/fantasy “Temeraire” series – dragons in the Napoleonic Wars, what’s not to like. I read the first novel shortly after it was released and really liked it, but for some reason I never picked up the rest. Mistake! They are great, just wholesome fantasy with terrific language.

I also finished a few other series (Rendell, Blizz Chronicles), and started a bunch of new ones by Jo Walton – I’d read “My Real Children” a few years ago when I found it in a pile at Mum’s place, and it was weird in the best way. This month, I got “Among Others” and it was so perfectly attuned to my interests that I didn’t want it to end. After a brief mourning period, I moved on to her alt-history “Farthing” and her Arthurian-esque “King’s Peace” – both trilogies, so yay!

Resilient by Rick Hanson
The Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz
Craft by Gabriela Herstik
Witch Child by Celia Rees
Sorceress by Celia Rees
the witch doesn’t burn in this one by Amanda Lovelace
World of Warcraft Chronicle Volume 3 by Blizzard Entertainment
First, We Make the Beast Beautiful by Sarah Wilson
Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes by Cory O’Brien
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Temeraire by Naomi Novik
Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik
Black Powder War by Naomi Novik
Tongues of Serpents by Naomi Novik
Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novik
Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik
The Pillars of the World by Anne Bishop
The Gods of HP Lovecraft by Martha Wells
Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popovic
Beyond the Woods by Paula Guran
Conversations with Spirits by E.O. Higgins
Shadows and Light by Anne Bishop
The House of Gaian by Anne Bishop
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
The Monster in the Box by Ruth Rendell
The Vault by Ruth Rendell
Don’t Know Jack by Diane Capri
Inherit the bones by Emily Littlejohn
Wytches Volume 1 by Scott Snyder
The Wicked + the Divine Volume 1 by Kieron Gillen
A Study in Emerald by Neil Gaiman
Locke & Key Volume 1 by Joe Hill
Among Others by Jo Walton
Farthing by Jo Walton
The King’s Peace by Jo Walton
My Real Children by Jo Walton
What Makes This Book So Great by Jo Walton
No Man’s Nightingale by Ruth Rendell
The Magic of the Spring Equinox by Danu Forest
Gwyn ap Nudd by Danu Forest
The Wicked + the Divine Volume 2 by Kieron Gillen
The Wicked + the Divine Volume 3 by Kieron Gillen
The Wicked + the Divine Volume 4 by Kieron Gillen
Locke & Key Volume 2 by Joe Hill
Locke & Key Volume 3 by Joe Hill
Locke & Key Volume 4 by Joe Hill
Locke & Key Volume 5 by Joe Hill
Locke & Key Volume 6 by Joe Hill
Ostara by Kerri Connor

49 in total.

Reading List 2018 – August

Well, Jesus fuck me gently with a chainsaw: this month I finished 53 books. FIFTY THREE!

It still counts if much of that was volumes of poetry, right? Actually, I feel like I should get bonus credit for reading poetry. I enjoy it occasionally, when I’m in the mood, but since August 24th was National Poetry Day, I pushed hard to try works from a wide variety of poets (and squeezed in a few of my faves too – I’m looking at you Rupi Kaur and Selina Tusitala Marsh, with heart eyes!), with a focus on including Kiwis, women and people of colour.

The rest was a fairly typical mix of crime thrillers & spiritual stuff, with the odd Spec Fic novel thrown in.

The NZ Book Council released survey reports stating that  86% of adult respondents read/started at least one book in the past year, and gave an estimated average of 35 books read per reader. Honestly, that seems high to me and I suspect it’s because of book nerds like me fuckin’ with the bell curve. Danyl Mclauchlan of The Spinoff floats the idea that people are prone to fibbing in these kinds of surveys, which makes a weird kind of sense too. He says that Wellington Library reported the average number of books borrowed by members in 2017 was about 11 per person, but there’s no mention of how many registered members they have. If I look at my immediate circle of family, not many use the library: me obv., and I know my brother borrows ebooks, and my mum may rarely go (she usually just buys her own books though, or borrows from friends), and after 18 years with my spouse, he did actually get a library card last year – to borrow a grand total of three books.

Anyway, for those who are curious, here’s the big list!

Wheels of Life by Anodea Judith
Cold Granite by Stuart McBride
Before the Storm by Christie Golden
The Witch’s Athame by Jason Mankey
Essential Oils in Spiritual Practice by Candice Covington
Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter
What’s a Witch to Do? by Jennifer Harlow
Wicca for Life by Raymond Buckland
Bloody January by Alan Parks
How to Stop Time by Matt Haig
If You Go Down to the Woods by Seth C. Adams
Little Wolves by Thomas Maltman
Magicians Impossible by Brad Abraham
The Murder Book by Jane A. Adams
The Merry Spinster by Mallory Ortberg
Wrede on Writing by Patricia C. Wrede
Writing With Intent by Margaret Atwood
Sometimes the Magic Works by Terry Brooks
Wicca for One by Raymond Buckland
A Little Book on Form by Robert Hass
In Perfect Love by Taliesin Govannon
The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur
Poisoned Apples by Christine Hepperman
Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong
The Dream of a Common Language by Adrienne Rich
When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities by Chen Chen
Rumi: Bridge to the Soul by Coleman Banks
100 Best-Loved Poems by Philip Smith
The Poetry of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson
The Black Unicorn by Audre Lorde
Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke by Rilke
The Best of Best New Zealand Poems ed. by Bill Manhire
Winter Trees by Sylvia Plath
Auckland ed. by Witi Ihimaera
Allen Curnow: Collected Poems ed. by Terry Sturm
Tightrope by Selina Tusitala Marsh
Selected Poems by James K. Baxter
Collected Poems 1951-2006 by C.K. Stead
Mauri Ola ed. by Albert Wendt
Poems 1960-2000 by Fleur Adcock
Al Que Quiere! by William Carlos Williams
A Miscellany by e.e. cummings
yesterday i was the moon by Noor Unnahar
The Silver Child by Cliff McNish
Omega by Stewart Farrar
Sign of the Labrys by Margaret St. Clair
Witchcraft from the Inside by Raymond Buckland
A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin
Failure of Moonlight by Rosemary Edghill
Murder by Magic ed. by Rosemary Edghill
Modern Wicca by Michael Howard
Witches of America by Alex Mar
Merry Meet Again by Deborah Lipp

53 (!) in total.

Reading List 2018 – July

July was a bad month for my mood, so my read list mostly consists of the comfort of fantasy and spirituality, although I did manage to pound out a few Ruth Rendell’s too.

Props for Robert Dinsdale’s “The Toymakers”, which is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read. Loved it.

I Am Rebecca by Fleur Beale
How to Start a Red Tent by Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost
Simisola by Ruth Rendell
Road Rage by Ruth Rendell
Faerie Tale by Raymond E. Feist
Strange Devices of the Sun and Moon by Lisa Goldstein
Aromatherapy for Women by Maggie Tisserand
Not her real name by Emily Perkins
The Greek Myths by Robert Graves
Tithe by Holly Black
Ironside by Holly Black
Valiant by Holly Black
Harm Done by Ruth Rendell
The Babes in the Wood by Ruth Rendell
The Everything Tarot Book by Skye Alexander
Tarot Court Cards for Beginners by Leeza Robertson
Traditional Wicca by Thorn Mooney
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale
Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones
The Amulet by Michael McDowell
Sweep: Book of Shadows by Cate Tiernan
End In Tears by Ruth Rendell
Not in the Flesh by Ruth Rendell
Witchcraft: A Very Short Introduction by Malcolm Gaskill

25 in total.

Reading List 2018 – June

Still making my way through Ruth Rendell’s Wexford novels. It’s fascinating to watch as both Rendell and her main characters adapt to the changes of time: the first Wexford novel was published in 1964, and the one I just finished, “Kissing the Gunner’s Daughter“, came out in 1992. A lot happened in real time over those ~30 years, but Wexford only ages about a decade (maybe? she’s left it pretty vague) so it would’ve been a challenge to update her characters for more modern audiences without totally changing their personalities. It’s indicative of Rendell’s skill as a writer that she accomplished this so smoothly.

Speaking of writers, I spent June organising a local writers group, which necessitated reading some books aimed at writers as part of my prep. I spent quite a bit of time with Diana Wynne Jones’ writing memoir – “Reflections” – and then had to re-read some of her books so that I could give context to her musings. I will forever be in awe at her mind. It’s always been obvious to me that she was a terrific writer, but then when you read about her story-building process (especially for “Fire and Hemlock” – my God!), you realise she was a wildly creative genius who left the world a better place for having had her in it.

The other observation that reading “Reflections” left me with was when I’m struggling with low mood, reading anthologies is a wise choice – being able to pick up and put down a book at regular intervals seems to improve my concentration and focus at such times. In that vein, I recommend “Te Kōrero Ahi Kā“: a delicious collection of scifi, fantasy and horror submissions from members of SpecFicNZ

Honourable mention goes to Vanessa Cuccia’s “Crystal Healing and Sacred Pleasure“. The founder of Chakrubs has done an excellent job of writing about sexuality, healing and the use of crystals in this book. It was a beautiful and edifying read.

Murder Being Once Done by Ruth Rendell
Plus+ by Bethany Rutter
Angel Fire by Lisa Unger
The Perfect Cookie ed. by America’s Test Kitchen
Some Lie and Some Die by Ruth Rendell
Shake Hands For Ever by Ruth Rendell
Witch, Please by Misty Bell Stiers
The Workshop Handbook for Writers by Jackie Wills
Medea by Kerry Greenwood
Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones
Daily Writing Resilience by Bryan E. Robinson
Pep Talks for Writers by Grant Faulkner
Reflections on the Magic of Writing by Diana Wynne Jones
A Sleeping Life by Ruth Rendell
The Game by Diana Wynne Jones
The Power of Three by Diana Wynne Jones
Eight Days of Luke by Diana Wynne Jones
Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones
Put On By Cunning by Ruth Rendell
The Witchmaster’s Key by Franklin W. Dixon
Bless This House by Donna Henes
The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones
Crystal Healing and Sacred Pleasure by Vanessa Cuccia
The Speaker of Mandarin by Ruth Rendell
An Unkindness of Ravens by Ruth Rendell
In the Shadow of the Trees by Elenor Gill
The Writing Group Book ed. by Lisa Rosenthal
Te Kōrero Ahi Kā: To Speak of the Home Fires Burning ed. by Grace Bridges, Lee Murray, Aaron Compton
The Veiled One by Ruth Rendell
Kissing the Gunner’s Daughter by Ruth Rendell

30 in total.

Reading List 2018 – May

I’ve decided to give up on the Romance genre. It’s just not for me. I like a drop of romance as a flavour to the rest of the story, but reading solely about people trying to come to terms with their feelings for each other just makes me tired. I spend too much time yelling, “JUST FUCKING TALK TO EACH OTHER LIKE ADULTS!” and it drops me out of the story. Also, frankly, I’m not often wowed by capital-R Romance writers’ actual writing style, and life is too short for bad books.

This month, my new thing was nonfic interior design & decor books. I felt dangerously inspired. In other news, the layout of my lounge has changed for the better, and I’m starting to actually make this rental feel like home.

I also tried an eBook, kind of. “8 Hour Sleep Affirmations” starts with a guided visualisation that helps you relax your muscles enough to fall asleep, and then uses soft, calming music to help you drift off. Half way through, the narrator’s voice slowly ramps up again to utter positive affirmations, before subsiding into music. It’s ridiculously relaxing, and seems to be working to improve my mood, so I’ve introduced it as a nightly ritual. My spouse is very open minded, and he has come to quite enjoy the soothing sounds.

Under My Hat by Jonathon Strahan
World of Warcraft: Chronicle Vol. 2 by Chris Metzen and Matt Burns
I Am Not Esther by Fleur Beale
The Best Man to Die by Ruth Rendell
A Guilty Thing Surprised by Ruth Rendell
A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie
8 Hour Sleep Affirmations: Anxiety & Depression Self Help by Joel Thielke
Goldenhand by Garth Nix
The Journals of Sylvia Plath by Sylvia Plath & Ted Hughes
Collected Poems by Adrienne Rich
No More Dying Then by Ruth Rendell
The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney
The New Bohemians by Justina Blakeney
The Kinfolk Home by Nathan Williams
The Great Interior Design Challenge Sourcebook by Tom Dyckhoff
The Slaughter Man by Tony Parsons
Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett
Dangerously Bad by Eden Bradley

18 in total. Thanks to Amanda for the Fleur Beale rec – it’s very good!

Reading List 2018 – April

I struggled a lot with low mood this month, and so I went looking for comfort reads (Diana Wynne Jones – one of my fave childhood authors – and Agatha Christie), and dug into some depression-focused non-fic. Also had a chance to pick up another of the new Mahy reprints, which made me very pleased!

I also want to take a minute to talk about Grace Bridges’ teen novel Rotovegas, the first in her “Earthcore” series. A young female protagonist discovers the geothermal waters of Rotorua imbue her with supernatural powers, so she seeks out and teams up with other enhanced people to battle against a land developer who wants to destroy the source of the spring waters. Solid plot, diverse characters, and a deft hand with Māori mythology makes this book great for youth aged about 12-16 who have an interest in magical realism. Also, it’s SUPER cheap on Kindle so maybe go give it a try?

Cart and Cwidder by Diana Wynne Jones
Spells for Coming Out by Ian Wedde
Depression & Other Magic Tricks by Sabrina Benaim
Rotovegas: Earthcore Book One by Grace Bridges
Just This Once by Rosalind James
Drowned Ammet by Diana Wynne Jones
World of Warcraft: Chronicle Vol. 1 by Chris Metzen and Matt Burns
The Spellcoats by Diana Wynn Jones
Overcoming Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts by Sally M. Winston
Exploring Depression And Beating the Blues by Tony Attwood
We’re All Mad Here by Claire Eastham
The Crown of Dalemark by Diana Wynne Jones
The Catalogue of the Universe by Margaret Mahy
The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie
The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie
The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie
From Doon With Death by Ruth Rendell
A New Lease of Death by Ruth Rendell
Lamp of the Goddess by Rae Beth
Wolf to the Slaughter by Ruth Rendell
The Murder Bag by Tony Parsons
The Fallen by David Baldacci
The Depression Cure by Stephen S. Ilardi

23 in total.

P.S. You can read an Earthcore short story by Grace Bridges at her website.

Reading List 2018 – March

March was a pretty productive month, in terms of finishing my TBR list. I wrapped up the last of the Kinsey Millhone alphabet series by Sue Grafton, finally had a chance to get to the latest Reacher novel, and picked up a couple of books I’ve been waiting a long time for: Catherynne Valente’s first Fairyland novel, which I’ve been wanting to read since Palimpsest came out in 2009, as well as Tammy Pierce’s latest Tortall book.

I also read the debut novel from Krysten Ritter (a.k.a. Jessica Jones!), and enjoyed it. Certainly, for a debut, it’s very polished. My only real criticism would be that the plot points are nothing very new – I dunno how many “protag returns to hometown and has to deal with unfinished business” thrillers exist, but I bet it’s a lot. But the familiarity made for easy reading, and I can see Ritter’s potential. She’s a solid writer.

The Fix by David Baldacci
Q is for Quarry by Sue Grafton
Bonfire by Krysten Ritter
R is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton
S is for Silence by Sue Grafton
T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton
Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh
U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton
V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton
W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton
Moon Journal by Sandy Sitron
X by Sue Grafton
You Know How the Story Goes by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton
The Midnight Line by Lee Child
A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters
The Book of Tarot by Danielle Noel
I, Claudius by Robert Graves
The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland for a Little While by Catherynne M. Valente
Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai
The White Goddess by Robert Graves
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce
Mythos by Stephen Fry

24 in total.

Final note: R.I.P. Sue Grafton, who died on 28 December 2017 before finishing her alphabet. Z is for Zero new Kinsey stories. 🙁