May 2020 Reading Wrap Up – Part Two [Books]

May 2020 2

JanuaryFebruary / March Part 1 / March Part 2/ April Part 1 / April Part 2 / May Part 1

Black Dogs, Black Tales – Edited by Tabitha Wood & Cassie Hart

black dogs

Review Coming Soon on Dead Head Reviews

This is an anthology you should definitely pick up. 17 authors to represent the 17% of people in New Zealand with mental health problems, and with profits going towards a New Zealand Mental Health Charity. Even without that awesomeness, the stories here are brilliant, powerful, moving, and creepy. And best of all, the dogs all survive.

American Gods – Neil Gaiman

american gods

My Review

I read this book years ago, but revisited it via Audible. The version I listened to was full cast, and was really good. Turns out there were some parts I remembered really cleary, and others I didn’t, but it was still great to slip back into this world.

From Twisted Roots – S.H. Cooper

from twisted roots

Review coming soon on Dead Head Reviews

I will never stop talking about good Cooper is. Her work is fantastic. Her short stories are really unique in their style and range, with a lot falling into that strange sub-genre of wholesome horror. From Twisted Roots takes a lot at families, at relationships, some with supernatural horror elements, and some where the horror comes from the humans themselves. Definitely worth checking out.

Devolution – Max Brooks

devolution

My Review

Although I didn’t like this as much as World War Z, I still really enjoyed it. It’s a fantastic book, using that ‘found text’ style, and where WWZ read like a history textbook (in a good, OMG this feels like it happened kind of way), Devolution takes a more singular, personal approach, and presenting it as a journal works really well.

Spider-Man/Deadpool Volume 1: Isn’t It Bromantic

spiderman deadpool

My Review

I love a good graphic novel and this one did not disappoint. Teaming up the wise-cracking Spider-Man with the Merc with the Mouth results in some funny, some heartwarming, and some damn scary moments. The way they riff off each other just feels natural and I’m keeping hope we eventually get to see these two in a film together.

Breakfast at Bronzefield – Sophie Campbell

breakfast at bronzefields

My Review

A woman’s experiences in two British women’s prisons, this is a book I would strongly urge others to pick up. Campbell explains the treatment she received in prison, as well as providing facts and statistics where they are related. It’s eye-opening, and makes the argument for reform really well.

Zombieville – C.V. Hunt

zombieville

Review Coming Soon on Dead Head Reviews

This was one where I listened to the Audiobook version. It’s an intriguing story with two interesting point of view characters – Chris, who is a zombie, and Raven, a young woman who has just moved to town, and has no idea what she’s really getting into. The only let down in this was the narrator really, but I go into that more in the actual review.

Writing the Other – Nisi Shawl & Cynthia Ward

writing the other

My Review

Another book I honestly think everyone should read. Everyone with an interest in writing, anyway. This book doesn’t talk down to the reader, explains that yes, when writing outside your experience you will make mistakes, but if you do what you can to mitigate that, it’s better than not trying. I really would urge writers to pick this one up – it’s one of the strongest craft books I’ve read recently.

So there we have it. The second half of my May wrap up. I read 16 books in May, and my current total on Goodreads (at time of writing on 12/06) is 66/75 books read for 2020. I originally set my goal at 50 with the plan being to revisit it this month, but I upped it previously as I’d exceeded 50. If I managed to hit 75 this month, I’ll be amending my goal to 100. Let’s see how that goes.

How did your May go? Did you read everything you wanted to? Anything unexpected you really enjoyed?

Writing the Other – Nisi Shawl & Cynthia Ward [Books]

writing the otherThere have long been discussions surrounding representation in books, and those discussions have increased recently. Fact: We need more diverse people in publishing, in various roles, including as agents, editors, in marketing, in buying, in selling. We need people who aren’t going to tell Black men and women they didn’t connect to the ‘voice’ of their character. (What does that even mean?) I wrote a post recently (which you can read here) touching on why we need to actively search out books by diverse authors.

If you’re a writer, as well as a reader, you might now be wondering about your own writing. Is your cast of characters diverse? Do they reflect the world we live in, or are the characters carbon copies of the person writing them? (I’m talking specifically to white, cis authors here, by the way)

There are some stories that are not ours to tell. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t include characters who are different than us in our own stories. Writing the Other gives a brilliant idea of how you can start with this.

In this book, Shawl & Ward do not shy away from hard topics. They outline to us, the reader, why diversity is important, as well as touching upon the fact that not trying is almost worse than getting it wrong. They also briefly discuss the fact that yes, we will get it wrong, we are human, but it’s important to acknowledge that if and when we do and to strive to do better.

My personal opinion is, if you are writing outside your experience, use sensitivity readers. (And pay them) This book is, however, a fantastic starting point, giving direction and guidance on where to start, on what to take into consideration, and there are great exercises included if you like doing that sort of thing.

This book will help you look at your writing (and perhaps the writing of others) in a different light, and help you create a more diverse cast of characters in your fiction. I strongly suggest making this the next writing book you pick up.