Thursday, 24 January 2013

Wednesday Reading Meme

So it's Thursday, so I've completely missed Top Ten Tuesday for this week.  So, instead, the Wednesday Reading Meme, which seems to have taken over certain other parts of the webs in which I spend my time.

What I'm reading
- "Take this Bread" by Sara Miles.  This month's book for our church book club, I need to have it read by Tuesday, while also working on two assignments, one of which is due by midnight Monday.  I'm through the first 100 pages, and finding it fascinating, challenging, difficult and wonderful.

I've just finished reading
Somehow I've ended up back in a Stephanie Laurens mood.  In the last week I've read Scandal's Bride and In Pursuit of Eliza Cynster, and to be perfectly honest this morning I basically skimmed through A Rogue's Proposal. Not that it counts as "reading".  Anyway.  I'm in a Laurens mood and as much as these books are shelved in my Goodreads account as "trashy trashy romance" I still love them.  To the point that  I was really REALLY annoyed to find that although a bunch of Laurens books are currently on sale in e-form, all the titles on sale are those I've read.

What I'm reading next
Next cab off the rank is definitely Tony Kevin's Walking the Camino: A modern pilgrimage to Santiago.  Kevin isn't religious, and I think it's going to be an interesting read.  I'm hoping to follow it up with seeing Emilio Estevez' film The Way.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Review: Skating School (Series) by Linda Chapman

White Skate Wishes (Skating School)White Skate Wishes by Linda Chapman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Sometimes you come across a book and as silly as it seems, you just need to read it. And a magical skating fairy boarding school book? Is totally that sort of book for me.

Emily loves to ice skate, but her parents are not well off, and if she's lucky, she can skate once during each school holidays. During the current school holidays, there simply won't be either the time or the money. But while out in the yard, pretending to skate, Emily is carried off to the Magic Land of Ice and Winter, and Madame Letsworth's Magic Ice-Skating Academy. No time will pass in the real world while Emily and a number of other human girls are at the Academy, and no one will miss them. But they will have time to practice their skating, learn how to cross-country ski, and take on various challenges, the winner of each challenge being given a beautiful new pair of skates.

I love ice skating, but most of my chances to try it were when I was in the US over winter, which was not entirely as much as I would have liked. And so I found so very much to enjoy in these books. (Also, it's a boarding school story. With elves and fairies and ice dragons.)

I came across these books by mistake, when they were returned my my library instead of the one to which they belong. Now I'm determined to read the rest of the series, just to find out what happens to Emily and her friends - and of course, to discover who is named the Ice Princess at the end of their six-week stay in the Magic Land, and what the special task is that the Ice Princess will be required to carry out.

These are series books, aimed squarely at girls, but there's nothing objectionable here. Girls are encouraged to be active, to be intelligent and to love the out of doors. (And I love the description of just how "difficult" cross-country skiing is - as someone who loves x-c skiing and used to compete in it.

It's not White Boots, but then, nothing is. It's not even The Ice Mountain (another favourite). But it's a gorgeous series about skating, and I'm looking forward to reading more.

Scarlet Skate Magic (Skating School) Scarlet Skate Magic

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - 15 January 2013

This week's "official" topic is "Top Ten Debuts I'm looking forward to".  I don't pay nearly the amount of attention to new books that having such a top ten would require, and so I'm going to pick up an earlier topic:

Top Ten Books I Read in 2012
(In alphabetical order by author)

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Top Ten Tuesdays - 7 Jan 2013

Sandra at Fresh Ink Books began following me on Twitter, so I started reading her blog.  And from her, I was linked to Top Ten Tuesdays at The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2013

1.  Get *my* book published.  This involves a lot of work on my part.  I absolutely acknowledge that I have been driving my editor mad with my lack of work.
2.  Goodreads Challenge 2013
3.  Australian Women Writers 2013
4.  Global Women of Colour challenge
5.  Rainbow Reads
6.  The rest of the books on my To Read in 2013 shelf
7.  Clear down my On Hiatus shelf
8.  Blog regularly here at Heidi Reads (hoping that Top Ten Tuesdays will help me.)
9.  Maintaining diversity in my reading
10.  Complete reading the Bible (without deutero-canonicals) from beginning to end.

Reading Diversity - Divers thoughts

Back in 2008, the particular corner of the interwebs that I inhabited exploded.  It exploded over issues of diversity in television and fandom, and that was when 50books_poc started.  And ever since then, I've been far more aware of what I'm reading, and the authorship of what I'm reading.  And as horrible as 50books_poc eventually became, it's been incredibly important to the way that I read.


Here I sit at the end of 2012, noticing how UN-diverse my reading has actually been.  Despite my supposed attempts at diverse reading, when I finally get around to posting my relevant statistics, you'll see that I didn't really succeed.

In 2013 I want things to be different.  I want to make sure that my reading is diverse, isn't just meant to be so.  I never have much of an issue making sure I read female authors over male: as far back as I can remember I've read more women than men.  But reading even close to equal numbers of non/other-than-white authors to white authors, and something around 20% queer authors to straight is something I'd like to be able to say I'd done at the end of this year.  I don't know that I'll manage it (although between my Rainbow Reads challenge, plus intentionally choosing at least a couple of queer authors for the other challenges, I should be okay for 20% for the year if not more) but I want to try.

Monday, 7 January 2013

2013 Rainbow Reads

The third (fourth if you count the overall Goodreads challenge) and final challenge I'm "signing up" for is one of my own devising.  As I will be noting in an as yet unfinished post that is part of the chain of unready posts, I want my focus in 2013 to be on diversity in my reading.  Within my AWW reading in 2012, although I thought I was aiming for diversity, I ended up defaulting to a predominantly straight, white selection of writers.  Between this challenge and the Global Women of Colo(u)r Challenge I'll be keeping a focus on non-white writers - plus my AWW reads this year are also predominantly non-white.

2013 Rainbow Reads

"Rainbow" can refer to a lot of things.  Diversity, queerness, a mix of colours, the promise by God to Noah after the great flood.  My Rainbow Reads are ten books by LGBTQQI writers "of colour".  In other words, not white, not Anglo-European authors who identify in some way as "not straight".  Admittedly, my non-straight authors mostly identify as either lesbian or gay.  I don't know of any trans authors at the moment, and the bi authors who are on my to-read list are white.  Plus, in order to make the challenge do-able, I need to be able to source all the books I chose, so I needed to keep to books I either own or have library access to.  (I'm taking a gamble on the Ihimaera, but my library is about to join a large consortium, which will make sourcing books by non-white, non-straight authors easier than it is now.  In fact, that's the only one on this list that isn't already in my collection, and I almost bought it when we were in Sydney a couple months ago.)  This list is equally balanced in terms of gender identification, and I might add that I found it more difficult to find titles by men than women for this challenge.

My Rainbow Reads (in alphabetical order by author) are:

1.  Her Sister's Eye, by Vivienne Cleven - Indigenous Australian
2.  Nights in the Garden of Spain, by Witi Ihimaera - Maori
3.  Gaysia, by Benjamin Law - Chinese Australian
4.  Huntress, by Malinda Lo - Chinese American
5.  Talking Black: Lesbians of African and Asian Descent Speak Out, edited by Valerie Mason-John - Black British women
6.  The God Box, by Alex Sanchez - Latino American
7.  Little Black Bastard: A Story of Survival, by Noel Tovey - Indigenous Australian
8.  The Same River Twice, by Alice Walker - African American
9.  Miracle's Boys, by Jacqueline Woodson - African American
10.  Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Human Rights, by Kenji Yoshino - Japanese American

Posts in waiting...

I'm in one of those situations where I have a half-finished post that relies for context on a post I haven't even started yet.  Except that there's a whole chain of them, starting with my AWW wrap up/stats, then my 2012 wrap up/stats post, then my subsequent post on my goals for reading in 2013, and then a summary post about my reading challenges (although that last one is the one most likely to get dropped).

Part of the problem is putting together the stats.  The other problem is wanting to finish just three more reviews (so that I can link to them from the wrap up posts) before I do my AWW post.

All of which, of course, I could be doing instead of writing this post to explain why all the other posts haven't yet turned up.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Review: Love You Two

Love You Two
Love You Two by Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It would be 3 1/2 stars if Goodreads had half stars. Just saying.

Although I knew of this book from the collection at the High School where I used to work, but it wasn't until two American friends began talking about it as a book that dealt with polyamory and queer relationships that I got more interested. (I'd thought it also went into trans, but was wrong about that.)

Pina is a teenage girl growing up in Adelaide. Her Italian-Australian family is familiar to me from Melina Marchetta's first book (by which I don't mean it's the same family, but the structure and the overwhelmingness of community that I've never had in real life is recognisable between the two books.) There are firm ideas about what is right and what is wrong. But on the day the book starts, Pina discovers that her mother has been doing something "wrong" for many many years.

I found Pina difficult to deal with as a narrator and as a character: she was judgmental in a way that put me off. I was a pretty sheltered teenager, but I don't remember being as... straight-laced as she seems to be. I don't know: I suppose my point is, this book gets into some pretty deep stuff, but a lot of the treatment of said deepness was just a bit - shallow.

I wanted to love this book but it all began to feel a little too much show-your-research for me. As the various characters and situations were revealed, it just felt a little contrived. (Also throwing me out of the story was someone from Shepparton describing himself as Murri. I know you accept people's own identifications, but Shep is in the heart of "Koori" country - Murri is way further north.)

Again, I think my problem was I wanted to love this book more than I did love it.

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Another 2013 challenge - Global Women of Colo(u)r

M D Brady is running a Global Women of Colo(u)r challenge for 2013, and I'm in the process of signing up.  I've signed up for the "Structured" challenge, which involves:

reading (and reviewing) ten books by Global Women of Color, six of them from six different continents or regions.
Although eight out of my ten planned reads for the Australian Women Writers Challenge would also count for the GWC challenge, I'd like to avoid overlap if I can.  So far my one difficulty in covering regions is finding an author from continental South American (as distinct from the Carribean, which is counted as part of South America for the purposes of the challenge).

In any event, this is my tentative list (alphabetically by author):

1.  Where the Streets had a Name, by Abdel-Fattah - Palestinian/Australian (Middle East/Australia)
2.  That Thing Around Your Neck, by Adiche - Nigeria (Africa)
3.  The Pirate's Daughter, by Cezair-Thompson - Jamaica (South America)
4.  The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse, by Erdrich - Ojibwe (North America)
5.  Lovers in the Age of Indifference, by Guo - China (Asia)
6.  The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf, by Kwaymullina - Palyku (Australia)
7.  Small Island, by Levy - Jamaica/Black British (UK)
8.  Dead Aid, by Moyo - Zambia (Africa)
9.  Her Father's Daughter, by Pung - Cambodian/Australian (Asia/Australia)
10.  The World Unseen, by Sarif - South Africa/India (Africa/Asia/Global)

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Review: Team Human

Team Human
Team Human by Justine Larbalestier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Somehow I've deleted two initial versions of this review without meaning to. Anyway:

Loved it. Loved, loved, loved.

Mel is an awesome character (Kit is even more awesome). I love that Larbalestier and Rees Brennan have made sure that there is non-preachy, incidental inclusion of queer and non-white characters. I don't love the universe quite as much as I love the Blue Bloods-verse, but it's a fascinating concept, and the book plays with so VERY many of the tropes of Vampire fiction it's wonderful.

I would love there to be another book set in New Whitby, to see other aspects of the Shade, and to find out how things are going with Kit and Mel. And Cathy and Anna and even with Francis, I suppose.

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