Book reviews, new books, publishing news, book giveaways, and author interviews

Bookish News and Publishing Tidbits 9 July 2012

book news Bookish News and Publishing Tidbits 9 July 2012

RIASS stuff:

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Giveaway: Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper'(open to all)

I'm over at the Walker Books Walk-a-Book blog talking about dreaming big with children's fiction.

Book Review: The Line Between Here and Gone by Andrea Kane'(Rating: star Bookish News and Publishing Tidbits 9 July 2012star Bookish News and Publishing Tidbits 9 July 2012star Bookish News and Publishing Tidbits 9 July 2012blankstar Bookish News and Publishing Tidbits 9 July 2012blankstar Bookish News and Publishing Tidbits 9 July 2012)

I'm always looking to feature guest posts/interviews with writers and bookish people. If you'd like to be featured on RIASS, just drop me a line at readinasinglesitting AT

Other bookish stuff:

How crime fiction has developed over the last few decades:'Society has changed, so that people like telephone operators, household staff, and workers at secretarial bureaus don't play the roles that they once did. We don't see them much in real life and we don't in crime fiction either. And now of course there are occupations that there never were before. But that's what's interesting about the genre ' it changes with the times.

My take: to me, one of the more notable changes to the crime genre is the increased violence, and particularly violence towards women. Where old-fashioned crime/mystery novels would be content with leaving us with a simple body, many crime novels now go into significant detail about how the individual in question has been tortured and harmed. Perhaps its a way of evoking sympathy for the victim or hatred towards the perpetrator, but I simply cant abide the use of torture as a shorthand for empathy. One wonders whether theres some sort of murky link between the shift of women away from these simple menial roles and the increase in violence towards them

Do book bloggers owe it to self-published authors to review their work?'That you would close your hard-earned doors to people who have the same entrepreneurial spirit as you is at best disappointing. At worst, it's duplicitous and condescending. You chose to go the non-traditional route. So why do you only review the same books the traditional reviewers are looking at?

My take:'The last time I checked, the content on my website was available for freeand I dont expect any monetary payment from it. What revenue I do receive from ads and affiliate programs goes back into the upkeep of the site. Id say that this is quite a significant distinction between the self-published book reviewer and the self-published author. Moreover, I have no expectation that anyone should read my work, nor would I suggest that they have any obligation to do so. If my reviews do touch my readers, then thats wonderful, but I dont feel that anyone should have to read my reviewslet alone pay for them.

Like many book bloggers, Im a passionate and avid reader. I read and review in my spare time, and believe me when I say that this site requires an enormous time commitment. This site is run on my time and my dollar, and I dont feel obligated in the least to read and review certain books at all, particularly at the behest of someone I have no knowledge of and whose work has not been validated by the traditional channels. I have neither the time nor inclination to act as a gatekeeper for self-published works, and will leave that up to others who are willing to do so.

And a final word: rather than complaining about the system, perhaps a more proactive approach would be to offer a reason why a particular self-published book is worthy of being read for any reason other than by virtue of its being self-published.

When reviewers get it wrong. I realised that Janet Maslin, who is not only one of the most accomplished critics in the world, but who is also the person who lifted my first novel,'The Cradle,'out of obscurity with a rave review three years before, had made a simple reading error within the first five pages of my novel.'Shed mixed up two characters.'It was really important to not mix up those characters.'And she never realised it.'And by the end of the book, there was no ambiguity.

My take: Oops, this is rather a gaffe. And Im sure that certain misreadings are quite commonId imagine that there are a number of authors out there whose books Ive reviewed who are silently seething at my utter misinterpretations of their books.

However, as much as an author wants it to be, a books text is never final. A book is a two-way conversation, and theres always a difference between what the writer writes and what the reader infers. Some of this is due to the personality, experience and so on that a reader brings to the reading conversation, but some of this is also due to a communication issue on the authors behalf. And where a renowned critic utterly misreads a book, well, theres an indication that the message being relayed by the book is not necessarily that which the author intended.

Why All That I Am should not have won the Miles Franklin Award'It should not have won the Miles Franklin Award. Yes, one of the characters in the novel is telling her side of the story from Sydney. Yes, a phase of Australian life is migration particularly from Europe after the Second World War but'All That I Am'is not a novel about migration or life in Australia.

My take:'Ooh, a controversy. Ill admit straight up that I havent yet read'All That I Am, so I cant comment on the content of the novel, but there are a few interesting issues here. First, obviously, is the interpretation of the nature of the Miles Franklin Prize, which is meant to be awarded for the Novel for the year which is of the highest literary merit and which must present Australian Life in any of its phases ''.

The argument here is one of scope and interpretation, and its apparently the descriptors Australian Life and any of its phases that are in question. It seems to me that the migrant experience is certainly part of Australian Life, so it would depend on the degree to which this experience is touched upon or influences the narrative being told in the novel whether the book should be eligible for inclusion.

Another issue raised by the article is the creation of various literary awards to fill perceived gaps. For example, The Stella Prize to reward writing by Australian women, who have been systematically overlooked in the awards scene for years. The creation of new awards, in my mind, can be beneficial and problematic. First, creating a new award doesnt necessarily deal with the problem that created the need for the new award, though it may draw attention to it. The Stella Prize, for example, is admirable, but though it may draw attention to women writers, will it have any impact on the male-centric Miles Franklin list, or will it simply remove the pressure on the judges to look at fiction by women by very virtue of the fact that an additional literary space for women has been created?

A feature with independent press Kohl publishing.

Will the standard e-book royalty paid by big publishing houses go up this year?

GrantaMags Best of Young Brazilian Novelists

Cool, Cozy Reading Nooks: Creating an Escape at Home


  1. Interesting that it has taken this long for the Australianess of All That I Am to be questioned!

    • Stephanie /

      Good point, Marg! Perhaps some distance was needed for people to be able to argue these points without it seeming like simple argumentativeness for the sake of it?

  2. I, too, regret the tendency to include violence and torture so prominently in contemporary crime fiction. Much of the crime novels I read would be much improved if the authors were not trying to out-do each other with bizarre and violent crimes described in graphic detail. Is it a response to public demand?

    • Stephanie /

      Thanks for visiting, Jenclair. I find it really disturbing that so often the victims are not only horribly tortured, but that they often appear in the book *only* to be tortured and killed. How often do we see a character who plays no other role than that of the prologue or an interlude to show how violent and debased a killer can be?

      I often wonder whether its some sort of perverse response to womens increasing equality in the world, and a way of subjugating us by showing that were still powerless innocents. But, then, perhaps the opposite is true, and the idea is to show men through a lens of baseless cruelty?

  3. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out /

    Stephanie, the change in violence in novels was discussed on a Jennifer Byrne Presents segment which was interesting you can see it here

    • Stephanie /

      Oh, thanks so much for that Shelleyrae! Im having a look now.

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