Well, it has been about 100 years since I’ve posted anything on my blog, and even longer since I shared what I’ve been reading!
Things have been NUTS this year (in a good way, for the most part). The majority of my time has been consumed by Underdog, the short story anthology that I am publishing/editing/contributing to. It has grown so much from my initial idea, and it is now far bigger and more wonderful than I ever could have imagined. The anthology is due for release in March 2019 from all good bookstores, so keep an eye out for preorder details and launch events!
But for now, let’s get to my recent reads. I’m pretty sure the full list of books I’ve read since my last post dates back to November 2017, so it’s a VERY long one. In the spirit of brevity, I’ve omitted a bunch of books from the list, mainly the ones I didn’t enjoy. I feel like there’s no point telling you I hated a book, because then you won’t read it, but it might be something you’d really love! So these are some of the highlights. The list is primarily YA, as usual, but there are some curveballs in there this time. I hope you find something that you’d love to read!
Almost Midnight | Rainbow Rowell
This is a SUPER cute short story collection from one of my fave authors, Rainbow Rowell (Fan Girl, Carry On, Eleanor and Park). I hadn’t read anything of hers for ages, so this little gem was a real treat. It’s ‘holiday’ themed, so it’ll make a great Christmas prezzie for this year! My favourite story was ‘Kindred Spirits’, which is a delightfully quirky tale about a girl waiting in line with a bunch of total strangers for the new Star Wars movie. All the stories are cute, quick, easy reads. Best served with a nice hot cup of tea (or glass of wine).
Call Me By Your Name | André Aciman
My fiancé, Daniel, bought me this book for Christmas last year. Firstly, I’m SO glad I read it before I saw the film. The film was stunning, but the book was heart-wrenchingly beautiful. If you somehow didn’t hear about it when the film came out (living under a rock much?) the book tells the tale of Elio, a seventeen-year-old American boy who falls in love with Oliver, a doctoral student interning with Elio’s father over the summer in Italy. The prose is exquisite, the settings are to die for (especially if you’ve been to Italy and fallen in love with the place like I have), and the romance is both beautiful and devastating. If you like queer fiction, or romance in general, you will LOVE this book. It’s like Love, Simon for grown-ups.
Ready Player One | Ernest Cline
This book is a ton of fun. If you’re a gamer, nerd, or an 80s fanatic, RUN to your local bookstore and grab a copy now. (And if you saw the film, disregard 80% of that. The book is WAYYYYYYY better.) Set in the future, in a disconcertingly realistic dystopian world, Ready Player One is chock full of pop culture references. The whole premise of the story relies on a fair bit of knowledge about gaming history, so if you didn’t spend your childhood in front of the Super Nintendo and the family PC like I did, this may not appeal to you quite so much. We follow Wade Watts, AKA Parzival, who is on a quest to find an ‘Easter egg’ hidden in an all-consuming virtual reality world called the ‘OASIS’. There is plenty of action, lots of gags, and some killer plot twists. I would highly recommend this book to all my fellow nerds out there!
Divergent | Veronica Roth
Veronica Roth is an absolute powerhouse in the world of YA publishing, and this was her first series. The basic premise of the book is a little difficult to get on board with at first (a dystopian world where people are divided into four ‘Factions’ based on their personalities, including one group, ‘Dauntless’, who literally jump onto trains in everyday life because they are just that brave). But once you get over how unrealistic it is, the book is actually incredibly gripping. Great characters, great twists, super fast-paced. In short: It’s famous for a reason.
OBSIDIO | Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Hands-down, my single most awaited release of 2018. OBSIDIO is the third and final instalment in the ILLUMINAE series. It’s YA sci-fi at its absolute best, presented not as straight prose, but as a dossier of files. It sounds weird, but it’s so great to have a new format to wrap your head around, and the illustrations and schematics add so much to the story. This book was everything I wanted it to be: action, romance, comedy, and mind-blowing sci-fi twists and turns. That is, until the very end, which didn’t go the way I wanted it to. I don’t want to give anything away, because I really want you all to read this series, so I can’t really elaborate. All I can say is... actually, I can’t say anything. Just message me when you’ve read it and we’ll debrief haha. (Also, the cover is SHINY...)
Big Magic | Elizabeth Gilbert
This was a reread, at a time when I desperately needed it. I first read this book in 2016 and I was obsessed. Second time through, even more obsessed. It’s about living a creative life, and the inherent joys and challenges of doing so. Gilbert, who brought us Eat, Pray, Love, has a writing style so conversational that it feels like she’s sitting in the room right next to you, just having a chat. If you’re a writer, performer, musician or any other type of creative person, please please PLEASE read this book. It honestly changed my life, and it has helped several of my friends in the same way. It’s inspiring, witty, heart-warming, and truly empowering.
Neverland | Margot McGovern
An awesome Aussie debut! I’ve followed Margot on Instagram for ages, so I was super keen to read this book. It is the story of a seventeen-year-old girl, Kit Learmonth, who goes to live in a boarding school run by her uncle on the island where she grew up, known as Neverland. Kit, who watched her parents die in a sailing accident (yes, the book has some pretty heavy themes), has suppressed the memory of her childhood, and over the course of the book, we see her dealing with her traumatic past. It’s dark and gritty and at times a little confronting, but beautifully written and incredibly compelling. I’d definitely recommend it for YA fans, but not for the little ones!
Faggots | Larry Kramer
A far cry from all the YA I’ve been reading, this seminal piece of queer satire was certainly something. It is an in-depth look into the lives and sexual escapades of the New York City gay community in the 1980s. There are about a million different characters (some of whom have several aliases, which isn’t confusing at all...) and the writing is DENNNNNNNSSSSSE. Once you get used to the style, and somewhat wrap your head around the cast of characters, it’s actually a hugely entertaining, touching, and thought-provoking read. It’s definitely a must-read for any queer culture aficionados, but I wouldn’t recommend it if gay sex isn’t something you want to read about, because that makes up at least 80% of the book (and some of it is VERY graphic). Having said that, it has some very poignant moments too. All in all, it’s satire at its best.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone | Laini Taylor
I LOVED this. I’ve been dying to read Laini Taylor’s books for aaaages (I’m currently reading Strange the Dreamer) and this book did not disappoint. Her writing style would have to be one of my favourites in the fantasy genre. DoSaB centres around Karou, an art student in Prague who was raised by ‘chimaera’, for whom she fetches teeth, for reasons unknown to her. It’s epic fantasy at its sprawling best. Evocative, enthralling, confusing, and altogether wonderful. A kick-ass heroine, angels, other worlds, mysterious adventures; what more could you ask for?
Godsgrave | Jay Kristoff
My second-most anticipated release of 2018, Godsgrave is the sequel to one of my faves from last year, Nevernight. The series follows Mia, a trained assassin out to avenge her dead father. The book went in a COMPLETELY different direction to what I had imagined, but it was sooooo good. In the same fashion as Nevernight, the whole book was awesome, but the final few chapters were EPICALLY GOOD. And I’m talking twists on top of twists inside of twists. And I love a good twist. But this was twisty as fuck. SO. DAMN. GOOD.
The DIY Book PR Guide |Emma Noble
This is a cute little ebook by an Aussie gal, covering the ins and outs of publishing PR. As I’m sure most of you know, I’m editing/publishing a short story anthology called Underdog, which is due for release in March 2019. As someone who didn’t study publishing at uni, I spent the past year learning as much as I could about the industry, including marketing (see the book below) and publicity. I found this guide SUPER useful, especially because all of the examples are related to Australian media in particular (which is rare for books of this kind; they are all by American authors). It covers all the avenues for publicity in the traditional media (newspaper, radio, TV, etc) and is a must-read for any author out there, regardless of whether you are hoping to self-publish your manuscript or have it traditionally published by a big publisher.
How to Market a Book | Joanna Penn
More research! This book is aimed more at authors wishing to self-publish, and delves DEEPLY into getting your book out there into the wide world (and even making money!). It covers everything from selling through online retailers, creating your author platform for career longevity, to the pros and cons of the various types of advertising (and a LOT more). Again, every author should read this, even if you’re hoping to be traditionally published. The more educated you are about the publishing industry, the better!
The Barefoot Investor | Scott Pape
I haven’t read all of this yet, but so far I am LOVING it. I figured it was about time I started acting like a grown up (some of the time, at least) and I’ve never been very financially-minded, so I figured this book would be a great start. I don’t think I’ll ever care about money the way most people do, but I do realise that I don’t live in a fantasy world where money isn’t necessary for just about everything. And looking to the future, I want to be able to support a family, so I guess I need to accept that money is always going to be a part of my life. And this book makes it all so simple. It’s the kind of thing I wished I had read when I first finished uni. So, to all those fresh-faced, wide-eyed drama school grads, GO AND BUY THIS BOOK. I’m hoping there is a sequel written specifically for actors because, honestly, this lifestyle ain’t easy on the hip pocket...
So there you go! That’s some of what I’ve been reading over the last 10 months. I wish I’d been able to read more, but when you’re trying to get a novel published, edit and publish a short story anthology, choreograph endless dance routines, plan a wedding, and actually make some money to survive, there isn’t a lot of spare time! Thank god for my 20min bus ride to and from work every day!
Let me know if you give any of these books a go, I’d love to hear from you! There are some real winners in there. And if none of these piques your interest, check out my other Recent Reads posts.
Stay tuned for more exciting things to come! Make sure you follow @tobias_madden on Instagram for more cute pics of books (and me haha)!
As always, happy reading! x