Tag Archives: reading

Tehani’s top books of 2013


Image courtesy of Flikr user Starzyia, licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

With the disclaimer that I can’t include any of the Australian YA or children’s books I have read as part of the CBCA Book of the Year Awards judging in this list (which means several hundred books are NOT considered, and also that I didn’t read nearly as many OTHER books as I usually would!), AND that I’ve not included FableCroft publications here, which of COURSE are five star (!), here are my favourite books of 2013! (in basically reverse reading order, thanks to Goodreads).

Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor

Thankless in Death by JD Robb

Once Upon a Time: new fairytales edited by Paula Guran

The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

How green this land, how blue this sea by Mira Grant

Cracklescape by Margo Lanagan

Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield

Chicks Dig Comics edited by Lynne M Thomas & Sigrid Ellis

Parasite by Mira Grant

We are all completely beside ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

Perfections by Kirstyn McDermott

Caution: contains small parts by Kirstyn McDermott

Asymmetry by Thoraiya Dyer

Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

When We Wake by Karen Healey

Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

Archie: Married Life (1, 2 & 3) by Paul Kupperberg et al

Hawkeye vol. 1, My life as a weapon by Matt Fraction et al

Blood of Dragons by Robin Hobb

Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson & Lauren Myracle

A Trifle Dead by Livia Day

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Written in Red by Anne Bishop

Fables vol. 18, Cubs in Toyland by Bill Willingham et al

Batwoman vol. 2, To drown the world by JH Williams III et al

She Hulk, vol. 1, Single Green Female by Dan Slott et al

Captain Marvel, vol. 1, In pursuit of flight by Kelly Sue DeConnick et al

Girl Genius 1-11 by Phil & Kaja Foglio

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

Batgirl vol. 1, The darkest reflection by Gail Simone et al

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Soulless the manga vol. 2 by Gail Carriger et al

The Voyage of the Unquiet Ice by Andrew McGahan

Saga vol. 1 by Brian K Vaughan et al

A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty

Beauty’s Sister by Bradley James

Wow. Imagine if I hadn’t been CBCA reading! There are so many brilliant books! And if you really want to know EVERYTHING I’ve read (if not what I think of them), you can see my 2013 Year of Reading (368, apparently…) here!


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CBCA Book Week blog challenge

I’m late to the party (first chance I’ve had to blog this week!) but what kind of CBCA judge would I be if I didn’t take part in this Book Week challenge, laid down by my friend and fabulous author Tansy Rayner Roberts?! Tansy challenged us to blog about our childhood reading experiences. While I could probably ramble on for a dozen posts about this, as I’ve pretty much always been a voracious reader, I just know I won’t get a chance to do more than one, so here it is!

Good grief, Black Beauty has a lot of covers!

While I know I was reading earlier than this, my first major reading memory is that of my grandma reading Black Beauty (by Anna Sewell – unabridged) to us two and a half times while we drove across Australia moving from WA to North Queensland. I was six (just), and I adored that book to pieces (and my grandma too!). It kind of set the scene for me for reading for a long time, with horse books dominating my reading choices for many years. In the early 80s, most of the books I got were English pony club books, and I devoured them. I loved reading about kids getting horses, struggling to keep horses, having feuds with others who had horses, not being able to afford horses, and of course, all the descriptions of pony clubs, gymkhanas and other riding events. They were still my genre of choice up until I was about thirteen I reckon, when my friend Rachael and I discovered boxes of old Mills and Boon novels in their shed and we moved on to romance!

Other books that I remember loving before I hit my teens were the Sadler Wells series by Lorna Hill, and two particular books that were loaned to me by a family friend which I must have reread dozens of times each: The Swish of the Curtain by Pamela Brown (I recently tracked down the sequels to this series but haven’t yet been brave enough to try the one I got!) and Tessa and Some Ponies by Lady Kitty Ritson (again, haven’t yet garnered the courage to revisit the sequels I have found, but couldn’t resist getting them). The world of the theatre, ballet, and again, that of horses and eventing, were strong lures!

As a teen I moved onto romance, particularly falling in love with historical romance – I spent a lot of time haunting the second-hand bookshops of Toowoomba filling out my Harlequin Historical sequence, delighting in finding books I didn’t have, particularly when they were by favourite authors and even more so when they carried on a series, as the HHs often did. And my favourite historical was Fire and Ice by Catherine Hart – I actually wore out my first copy and had to find a second! I still have dozens of those books in boxes in the shed (oh for a library!). At about 15 I moved on to Virginia Andrews, followed soon after by Dean Koontz and the next logical step, Stephen King. Interestingly, I recall few fantasy novels in my childhood (although I’m sure many books had fantastic elements). I did read and adore the Tamora Pierce Song of the Lioness quartet but I didn’t actually get hooked on fantasy as my genre drug of choice (as opposed to broader spec fic, which Koontz and King definitely fall into!) until I was nearly 20.

I don’t remember many picture books or early chapter books from my early reading years. There’s a Monster at the End of this Book (a Sesame Street book) was one that stands out, and I bought a copy for my own kids a couple of years ago (still have my old one somewhere too, but it’s a bit tatty!) – you can even buy this as an APP now! Flat Stanley is a fond memory, and I was so pleased when my son enjoyed the series a couple of years ago. I moved upwards in reading pretty quickly though; Babysitter’s Club, Sweet Valley High and the Sweet Dreams books loomed large for me in middle primary school, alongside the horse books. And I went through a BIG Trixie Belden stage!  Oh wait! Of course, I went through the Enid Blyton books before this! I loved the Folk of the Faraway Tree books, but didn’t progress through many of the Famous Five or Secret Seven. I also read a lot of comics as a kid – I inherited a box of Archie comics, loved Garfield, Footrot Flats, Asterix, Tintin and Joliffe, and later found a stash of Batman and the Outsiders, Teen Titans and other DC (and a few Marvel) titles in a house we moved into, which I worked my way through.

So I guess this post shows that I have a somewhat eclectic reading background! I remember when reading books wasn’t just about the discovery of the story, but also had surrounding it that mystery of who the author was, had they published other books, and could I get my hands on them? I lived in very small country towns, and relied heavily on my school and tiny public libraries, plus Book Club and sporadic second-hand bookstore forays when I was older. There was none of this looking up an author to find out what else they had, and point and click purchasing in online bookstores! The accessibility of books now is a marvellous thing (and my Kindle makes it even EASIER to feed the addiction), but at the same time, there’s a sense of nostalgia about the mystery, the not knowing, and the joy of unearthing something by a favourite author in the used book shop, or the delight of a new book in a beloved series appearing on the shelf in the bookshop (or newsagency!).

Thanks Tansy, for prompting this trip down reading memory lane – now I need to go find some of my favourite childhood books and foist them onto my children!

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What is YA?

My photo of Garth Nix giving the “unicorn salute” (Zombies vs Unicorns) at the Aurealis Awards in 2011.

A discussion on Twitter yesterday saw a bunch of cool people weighing on on what defines YA (in the face of a new designation, New Adult, which I think is a bit blech, but anyway…!). Whenever I see this discussion take place, I’m reminded of my favourite definition of YA (Young Adult) fiction, which was penned by Aussie author Garth Nix as a comment on a blog post by editor Jonathan Strahan. Every time I want to reference the quote, I have to FIND it, and I worry that one day it won’t be there, so I’m noting it here, hoping Garth won’t mind!

To my mind, YA is a subset of adult fiction, not of children’s fiction, and should be considered as having an entry reading age rather than an age *range*. The entry level is probably 13 or 14, but there is no upper level because the books are also for adults. Saying YA is 13-21, or 13-18 or whatever misses the point, because it suggests that the books are not for older adults, whereas I would say that in fact the core audience of people reading YA (and YA SFF in particular) are in fact 16-35. But this is only the core and the readership extends more broadly upward in age and down as well.

Garth Nix, originally posted here (and he adds more to it as well, so worth checking out!)


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A little something from Neil Gaiman

I don’t do Tumblr, so am reposting instead 🙂 The last line is my favourite bit…

A statement I stand beside, and an image I think sums up so many of our childhoods and lives.

“[D]on’t ever apologize to an author for buying something in paperback, or taking it out from a library (that’s what they’re there for. Use your library). Don’t apologize to this author for buying books second hand, or getting them from bookcrossing or borrowing a friend’s copy. What’s important to me is that people read the books and enjoy them, and that, at some point in there, the book was bought by someone. And that people who like things, tell other people. The most important thing is that people read… ” ― Neil Gaiman

A statement I stand beside, and an image I think sums up so many of our childhoods and lives.


“[D]on’t ever apologize to an author for buying something in paperback, or taking it out from a library (that’s what they’re there for. Use your library). Don’t apologize to this author for buying books second hand, or getting them from bookcrossing or borrowing a friend’s copy. What’s important to me is that people read the books and enjoy them, and that, at some point in there, the book was bought by someone. And that people who like things, tell other people. The most important thing is that people read…” 
― Neil Gaiman

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My favourite books of 2011

The books listed here were not necessarily released in 2011, but read in 2011. You can read reviews of many of the books I’ve read over at ASif! or sometimes on Goodreads, which is where I keep track these days. I read over 400 books during the year – many of them for children or young adults, but if it weren’t for Goodreads, I don’t know how I’d remember them all!

So, which did I like best?

Marvel Runaways (graphic novels) – read on Tansy’s recommendation, and really great stuff.

The Vorkosigan Saga (reread and blogged with Alex)

Love and Romanpunk by Tansy Rayner Roberts (a Twelve Planets collection)

Eona: the last Dragoneye by Alison Goodman

The Shattered City by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Teeth: vampire tales edited by Ellen Datlow

Happy as Larry by Scot Gardner

Treachery in Death and New York to Dallas by JD Robb

The Fitzosbornes in Exile by Michelle Cooper

Deadline by Mira Grant

Toppling by Sally Murphy

Henry Hoey Hobson by Christine Bongers

Chicks Dig Timelords edited by Lynne M Thomas and Tara O’Shea

Songs of Love and Death edited by George RR Martin

Debris by Jo Anderton

Bad Power by Deborah Biancotti (a Twelve Planets collection)

Steampunk! An anthology of fantastically rich and strange stories edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J Grant

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

This is a pretty long list, derived almost entirely from cross-checking those books I gave five stars to on Goodreads in 2011. However, if you check out my Goodreads, you’ll note that there are hundreds of unstarred books – these are CBCA judging books and I have not included my favourites from those here, because it’s an ongoing judging process. There are some VERY excellent books in the mix though, and I look forward to starring them later this year!

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