QLTR* April 2020

*Quite Like to Read

I had a fairly average reading month in March, and I’m not sure exactly how I’ll feel in April, so instead of bringing in anything new, I’ve shopped my bookshelves (and my Kindle) and picked out some books I’ve been meaning to get to for a while (plus one new ARC that I think will be fun). I’m also giving myself full permission to read anything else in my possession that I’m in the mood for, including rereads of old favourites. It’s a time to be kind to ourselves, I think. Here’s what I’ve chosen for now:

I bought this over a year ago, and was very keen to read it at the time, but then just somehow never got around to it. Perhaps April is the month I’ll finally crack it open. It’s Science Fiction, about pioneer colonists trying to survive the ecosystem of an alien planet, totally my sort of thing. I’m hoping to get vibes of Orson Scott Card’s Speaker for the Dead from this one.

A friend passed me her used copy of this with a positive recommendation. It’s not at all the kind of thing I usually read, but I am curious, and coincidentally my daughter is working as a psychologist with some Exclusive Brethren schools at the moment, so it’s timely.

I’ve enjoyed most of the Neil Gaiman novels I’ve read, so I know I like his writing style. And I think I may be in the mood for some mythology. This actually belongs to my husband, but he’s finished reading it now, so it’s fair game. And look at that cover!

I was disappointed with my writing book in March (Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird) so I want to give another one a try. I know the basic ‘beats’ of the Save the Cat method of planning a story, but I’d like to dig into it in more detail.

Two-for-one with these next stories by P.A. Mason about Gretchen, a young witch who gets into all kinds of trouble when her spells don’t go quite as planned. I have both of them on the Kindle, the first as a free gift for signing up for her newsletter, and the other as an ARC for review. I’m expecting them to be short, light and funny.

This was supposed to be a buddy read with a group on GoodReads in March, but not everyone was able to access a copy of the book in time, so it was postponed. It looks like we may be able to start it some time in April. If so, it’s the only one on this list I’ve actually committed myself to reading, although we probably won’t finish it this month. I am keen to start it though, because I loved Ship of Magic, the first book in the series.

What are your reading plans for April? Are you being kind to yourself? I hope so.

QLTR* March 2020

*Quite Like To Read: full explanation here, if you’re interested.

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I’m hoping to read six books in March: five fiction and one non-fiction. Two are digital ARCs from Netgalley, two are books I bought for myself, and the other two are from the library. The genres cover: fiction writing, historical crime fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and romance. It feels like a nicely balanced, varied group, and I’m looking forward to all of them.

Here are the blurbs:

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By Anne Lamott
Genre: Non-fiction/Writing

A step-by-step guide on how to write and on how to manage the writer’s life. From “Getting Started,’ with “Short Assignments,” through “Shitty First Drafts,” “Character,” “Plot,” “Dialogue.” all the way from “False Starts” to “How Do You Know When You’re Done?” Lamott encourages, instructs, and inspires. She discusses “Writers Block,” “Writing Groups,” and “Publication.” Bracingly honest, she is also one of the funniest people alive.
If you have ever wondered what it takes to be a writer, what it means to be a writer, what the contents of your school lunches said about what your parents were really like, this book is for you. From faith, love, and grace to pain, jealousy, and fear, Lamott insists that you keep your eyes open, and then shows you how to survive. And always, from the life of the artist she turns to the art of life.

This is a classic writing craft book that I’ve been wanting to read for years. I bought myself a copy and can’t wait to get into it.

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By Sarah Hawkswood
Genre: Historical Crime Fiction

January 1144. Hugh Bradecote does not want his betrothed heading off on pilgrimage to the shrine of St Edgyth at Polesworth, but the Archbishop of Canterbury’s envoy and his entourage of monks seem Heaven sent as escorts, right up until they are captured by a renegade who wants his forger out of the lord sheriff’s cells; a renegade who loathes the Benedictines, and kills for pleasure.
Against a backdrop of a hard winter and even a frozen River Severn, Bradecote and Catchpoll are struggling to rescue the clerics, and Christina, before a psychopath does his worst, the lord sheriff loses patience, and Bradecote cracks under the pressure.

I absolutely love reading stories set in Britain in this time period, and the blurb reminds me irresistibly of Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael mysteries. Should be thoroughly enjoyable.

By James S.A. Corey
Genre: Science Fiction

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, the Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for – and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to the Scopuli and rebel sympathizer Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations – and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe. 

I have been holding off watching The Expanse on Netflix until I’ve read this series, and am determined to at least start this in March (it’s LONG).

By Robin Hobb
Genre: Fantasy

The Farseer trilogy continues the dramatic tale of piracy, serpents, love and magic. The Vestrit family’s liveship, Vivacia, has been taken by the pirate king, Kennit. Held captive on board, Wintrow Vestrit finds himself competing with Kennit for Vivacia’s love as the ship slowly acquires her own bloodlust. Leagues away, Althea Vestrit has found a new home aboard the liveship Ophelia, but she lives only to reclaim the Vivacia and with her friend, Brashen, she plans a dangerous rescue. Meanwhile in Bingtown, the fading fortunes of the Vestrit family lead Malta deeper into the magical secrets of the Rain Wild Traders. And just outside Bingtown, Amber dreams of relaunching Paragon, the mad liveship …

I buddy-read the first book in this series, Ship of Magic, back in January with a group on Goodreads and loved both the novel and the experience of discussing it chapter by chapter online. And now I’m ready to do it all over again with the second book. Can’t wait to see what happens to all my favourite characters.

By Sandy Barker
Genre: Romance

Note to self: don’t sleep with your flatmate after a curry and three bottles of wine… especially if he’s secretly in love with you and wants you to meet his mum.
Cat Parsons is on the run. She doesn’t do relationships. After ten years of singlehood even the hint of the ‘L’ word is enough to get Cat packing her bags and booking herself onto a two-week holiday.
A European bus tour feels like a stroke of genius to dodge awkward conversations at home. But little does Cat realise that the first stop will be Paris, the city of love itself.
Joined by new friends, Cat has got two weeks, eight countries and a hell of a lot of wine ahead of her. As they discover hidden treasures and the camaraderie of life on the road, will Cat find a new way of looking at love?

I read One Summer in Santorini, which was a fun, light romance with terrific travel vibes. So I requested this second book from Netgalley and was so pleased to be accepted to receive an ARC. I’m expecting more travel, more romance and no doubt more enticing descriptions of delicious food.

By Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
Genre: Science Fiction/Romance

Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading.
Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future.
Except the discovery of their bond would mean death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war. That’s how war works. Right?
Cowritten by two beloved and award-winning sci-fi writers, This Is How You Lose the Time War is an epic love story spanning time and space. 

This sounds so unique and intriguing. I’m a sucker for time travel stories and time travel agents? Even better. Plus, it’s nice and short, an important factor this month with two huge tomes in the list.

So that’s what I’m thinking I might Quite Like To Read in March. How about you?

QLTR* February 2020

*Quite Like To Read: full explanation here, if you’re interested.

I’ve chosen a background of rain clouds, because that’s what I’m hoping to see a lot of this month in my drought-stricken Australian regional city. I’m also hoping to read seven books: four fiction and four non-fiction. As I’ve already started three of them, this doesn’t seem like too many, even in a month when I’m trying to prioritise my own writing and publishing.


QLTR August 2019

Once again, as I do at the end of every month, I’ve taken a big breath, dived deep into my stack of books and come up with some volumes I’d Quite Like To Read over the next several weeks. This time, I broke the surface clutching six books. August is the last month of winter here in Australia and I wanted some reading material that I was already pretty sure I’d enjoy, to see out the last of the winter, especially as I’ll be heading back to chilly Bathurst after two weeks at the coast. Here are my picks and the reasons I chose each one.


QLTR July 2019

Well, here’s a turn-up for the books, so to speak: only four of them? Is that really all I’d Quite Like To Read next month? What’s going on, I hear you ask. It’s simple. I have declared July 2019 to be Writing Month. And if I’m writing more, I’ll need to be reading less.

When I’m writing a first draft, I average about 12 000 words a month. But not this month. No, in July I intend to be a Super Drafter. I’m aiming for 30,000 words, which should bring my work in progress up to around 85,000 words in total. The end will be in sight!

I’m excited and apprehensive. Can I do it? Even if I can, will I? Or will I wimp out and capitulate to the desire to read other people’s words while consuming too much chocolate? Who can say? Only time will tell. And other cliches. Can you tell I’m nervous about this? Anyway, this isn’t meant to be about me and my neuroses. On to the books. The very, very few books.


QLTR June 2019

Here are the books I’d Quite Like to Read in June. QLTR is my version of TBR (To Be Read). If you’d like to know more, see my fuller (and rather rambling) explanation here.

So, on to the books, in order from top left to bottom right:

1 RED SISTER by Mark Lawrence.

Yes, well spotted, this was also on my QLTR for May. And in my defence, I did start it in May. But I was loving it so much that I didn’t want to rush through it, meaning I didn’t finish it, so here it is again. This is the first in Lawrence’s Book Of the Ancestor trilogy. Fantasy? Check. Magic school? Check. Warrior nuns? Yes please. And I can now add, it’s beautifully written.


QLTR May 2019

QLTR? What the heck is a QLTR?

It’s simple, really, and yet diabolically clever at the same time. This is my monthly list of books I’d Quite Like to Read. And why only Quite Like to Read? Isn’t that a bit wishy-washy?

Well, to be honest, it started out as TBR (To Be Read), but a curious thing happened. I would carefully compile the list, all shiny and new at the beginning of each month. And then I’d immediately want to rebel and read something entirely different. This caused feelings of guilt, failure and despair at the end of the month when I hadn’t read anything at all from my list.

What to do? Exercise more self-control? No. Don’t be silly. Change the name! So the list became WTR (you guessed it: Want to Read). But it turned out I didn’t, really. Want to read them, that is. Cue the guilt, failure, etc.

Again,what to do? Abandon the list idea entirely? Come on. It’s a list. Lists are good. So I came up with this genius idea. I don’t have to read these books. I may not even want to read them once the month begins. But I’d quite like to read them. Maybe. See how it goes. No pressure. And you know what? It worked. Last month, I read almost all the books on my list. Sometimes my mind is a frighteningly irrational place to live in.

So what would I Quite Like to Read in May? I have a list of 10 books. They’re in the image at the beginning of this post. Interestingly, they look sort of autumnal, don’t they? This wasn’t deliberate, just a sort of serendipity, because it’s autumn here, though maybe not where you are. Eight of them are from the library (I love my library), I own one, and the other is an audio book on my phone (although I have cleverly cheated and added its image into the photograph through the magic of photo editing software). So here they are:

Continue reading “QLTR May 2019”