January 24, 2015

Join us on Thursday, February 12 as readers and authors engage in a spirited debate around the most important question of all — Is the HEA necessary for a good story?

Author Shannon Curtis, Shallow reader and academic Vassiliki Veros and I will be fighting for the HEA, while author Kate Forsyth, academic and blogger Jodi McAlister and comedienne Madeleine Culp will be trying to doom fairies to die.

Just saying.

Anyway, we’d love for you to join us at the Woollahra Council Chambers in Double Bay. The event is free but ticketed (register here or call 9391 7931). You can find more information at the Woollahra Council website, and I have included the event poster below.

Hope to see you there!

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January 20, 2015

Contract Baby by Lynne GrahamShe has no idea he is the father of the baby, because he insisted on complete anonymity, and so doesn’t twig that he is creepily control-freak stalking her, and inconveniently falls in love with him. Awks.

Queen of librarians, fellow romance scholar, and shallow reader Vassiliki Veros told me about this book. The exact words she used were ‘OMG!!!!!! VIRGIN BIRTH!!!!!!!’ so as BookThingo’s resident Virgin Hornypants Specialist, I knew I had to read it at once.

It did not disappoint.

Warning: this review is a) very long and b) full of spoilers. I had a lot of FEELINGS I needed to get out, which necessitated giving away plot points.

Here are the basics. Our heroine is Polly Johnson, a pregnant 21-year old virgin who is down on her luck. Trying to raise money so that her mother can have life-saving surgery, she agrees to be the surrogate mother for the baby of the hero, Venezuelan billionaire Raul Zaforteza. As soon as his cheque for babybearing duties clears, she pays for her mother’s surgery, only for her mother to inconsiderately die immediately.

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January 17, 2015

Just to be clear: These are blog-related. Let’s leave jogging and housekeeping out of it.

Last year, we ended the year quietly. Partly, that was because I was exhausted from the stuff that led to the Blogger Blackout, and partly because, well, life became busy. This year, instead of trying to meet what will most likely be an unrealistic blogging schedule, I’d like to commit to 5 goals that will make blogging fun rather than something that feels more like a duty.

Here we go.

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Posted by Kat in Lucky dip (5 comments)
December 18, 2014

Only The Animals by Ceridwen DoveyThis is, essentially, a bunch of stories told by dead animals.

When I try to explain this to people, they look at me funny. So I will try my best to elaborate further.

This book contains ten stories of animals that perished in human conflict over the last few centuries. There is the bear who died in Sarajevo, the elephants in Mozambique, a camel in colonial Australia. There are even some famous ones, like the tortoise who belonged to Tolstoy and got sent into space.

Right about now I can feel you looking at me a bit funny. It says a lot about the author’s talent that I was moved to read this book (after sneaking in a chapter at the bookstore) and that I kept on with it, largely because each voice for each animal is uniquely different, and tells a story that is interesting and says so much about the time, and the place, and ironically, more of the nature of human beings than of the animals themselves. (I guess that was the point).

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December 3, 2014

Love Life by Rob LoweFunny, insightful and touching — a celebrity memoir that ordinary people can relate to.

Like many other readers, I first became acquainted with Rob Lowe in the eighties, thanks to a movie called St. Elmo’s Fire, which resulted in all my older girl cousins totally falling in love with him (the guys were all in love with Phoebe Cates and I was, like, five or six years old at this time). He sort of faded away a bit from the A-list while I grew up and fell in love with Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall, but came back with a vengeance in the The West Wing. I thought he was a good actor, but didn’t think much more of it until I came across a piece he wrote on sending his eldest son to college on Slate.

My first thought was, Man this guy can write. It encouraged me to give his biography — essentially a collection of stories of different parts of his life — a go.

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November 14, 2014

Amazon and Hachette are have reached an agreement (ostensibly on pricing). In local news, The Book Depository is trying to sign deals with publishers in a way that, well, seems a bit dodgy. YMMV.

Amazon/Hachette deal

If you follow book people on Twitter, expect today’s feed to explode with news about Amazon and Hachette reaching an agreement. They’ve been at an impasse since May, with both sides issuing public statements, and supporters on both sides passionately campaigning for, well, many things, depending on which side they support.

Details are scant regarding the deal, but here are a few sources: Gigaom, NPRThe New York Times, The Bookseller

The Gigaom article quotes the press release:

When the new ebook terms take place in early 2015, “Hachette will have responsibility for setting consumer prices of its ebooks, and will also benefit from better terms when it delivers lower prices for readers. Amazon and Hachette will immediately resume normal trading, and Hachette books will be prominently featured in promotions.”

Just in time for Christmas.

The Book Depository

A couple of days ago, Books+Publishing (subscription) reported that TBD is in talks with some Australian publishers about listing local titles on TBD and having the publishers fulfil orders to local customers directly. Before we get too excited, B+P points out that no deals have yet been confirmed. However, this post by former ABA president and bookseller of Pages and Pages Jon Page suggests that at least some publishers are thinking of getting on board.

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November 4, 2014

The race is on for books! UPDATE: Extended to 2.30pm.

This is a bit of a last minute effort, but…it’s on again! We’re running our annual readers’ sweep for Melbourne Cup and you’re invited to join! Here’s how it works:

1. The first 22 people to comment here are in (subject to #2 below). If you’re commenter #23, that’s okay — we’ll keep the comments open, and if we get another 22 people, we’ll run a second sweep.

2. Entries close at 2.15pm 2.30pm (AEDT) today to give me time to allocate your horses. If a horse is scratched before I do the allocation, I’ll take the first x entries, where x is the number of horses still in the race.

3. Only participants who can supply an Australian address are eligible, but overseas readers can wear fancy hats and join in spirit.

Privacy is a big issue in book blogging at the moment, so if you prefer me to collect your winnings before posting them out to you, just let me know. This means that the winner will have to give me their postal address, I ask everyone to send books to me, then I post the lot to you.

Alternatively, you can register for a Parcel Collect account with Australia Post. It’s free, and you can have your books delivered to a participating post office for you to collect. You can find more details here.

4. I’ll use this sweep generator to match participants to horses. You can find a list or horses here. I’ll update this post with the horse allocations by 2.45pm AEDT. The race starts at 3pm AEDT (it’s race 7 on the race things), so check back here to find your horse.

5. Each participant promises to send a book to the winner. The book can be a used book as long as it’s in good condition, and it has to be a book you’d actually recommend to someone — not from your DNF pile, please.

7. If, for some reason, the winning number wasn’t allocated to anyone, then whoever has the highest placing horse will be declared the winner.

I’ll announce the winner after the race (usually just after 3pm AEDT). If you win, you’ll have to provide a mailing address to everyone who promised to send you a book OR to me, so I can forward the books to you. I’ll email you to get your details and confirm how you’d like to have the books sent.

Consolation prizes: If your horse comes second, third or last, of it’s scratched at the last minute, I’ll send you a book. I’ll email you to check your preferred genre and if you prefer print or ebook.

October 24, 2014
Blogger Blackout

A list of bloggers participating in the blackout. Last updated 30/10.

Yesterday, we announced that Book Thingo is participating in a review blackout. This is a list of bloggers who are similarly outraged at the support received by author Kathleen Hale for stalking a blogger, even though her claims of provocation remain unsubstantiated — and which are contradicted by at least two first-hand accounts of what happened.

That her supporters, and those who insist that both she and the blogger are at fault, are happy to demonise and automatically assume the worst of someone who is essentially a reader — a lover of books — first and foremost deeply troubles the blogging communities that I’m part of.

The blackout ends October 27 unless otherwise stated by the blogger.

A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet

Babbling About Books — Total blackout from 26/10 to 1/11

Badass Romance

Bibiliodaze – Blackout until 1/11

Book Binge

The Book Pushers


Dear Author — No reviews of new books, but will host ‘reader discussions to revive our love of books’

Dor In The Wall

Fangs for the Fantasy

Happiness is a Book

Her Hands, My Hands — No reviews until 1/11

Immersed in Books

Inside the mind of a Bibliophile

Kaetrin’s Musings — Total blackout (and thanks to Kaetrin for the blackout graphic)

Literary Escapism

Love in the Margins — Blackout extended as explained here

Manga Maniac Cafe

Mean Fat Old Bat Reads Romances, Mysteries, and Nonfiction.

The Misadventures of Super Librarian — Retro reviews only

Miss Bates Reads Romance — Total blackout

Romance Around the Corner

Shallowreader’s Blog — I must quote this part: ‘A big fuck you to those who try to control reading and try to dictate to people how they should read.’

Sonomalass’s Blog

Suz’s Space

Tez Says

Vacuous Minx — Sunita is implementing a more extensive and permanent set of changes, and I suggest reading her post in full, because she raises some important issues around publicity

Wicked Little Pixie

Write Here

Writing through Rose Tinted Glasses — No new reviews until 28/11, extended to 1/11

Posted by Kat in Lucky dip (31 comments)
Keywords: kathleen hale
October 23, 2014

Book Thingo is participating in a review blackout, effective now until Monday, Oct 27. For the duration of the blackout, we will not review or promote new releases. We will also reject all review and promo requests we receive during the blackout.

We are doing this in response to the support that Kathleen Hale has received for stalking a book blogger and then visiting her home address unannounced and calling her at work.

I believe that no evidence has been provided to support Hale’s claims of blogger bullying, and that her stalking and violation of a blogger’s privacy was unethical, as was The Guardian’s willingness to publish Hale’s article without fully presenting the facts.

Some in the media have said that what Hale did was journalism, either investigative (in which she unmasked a bully) or literary (in which she emotively writes about events that occurred). It’s my opinion that The Guardian did not fact-check her work to a standard that would meet the code of ethics for journalism. Included below are links to evidence uncovered by book bloggers that put into question the claims that Hale made against her stalking target. Hale’s piece is neither accurate, nor honest in its methods, and her actions deliberately put another person’s safety at risk.

If you’re a book blogger similarly outraged at the support a stalker has received at the expense of a book blogger, please consider participating.

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October 19, 2014

tl;dr: Author violates blogger’s privacy, stalks her, visits her at home, calls her at work, and wonders why the blogger doesn’t use her real name online. I can’t even make this up.

Updated 20/10/2014 to add links to Dear Author and SBTB’s round-up of the article and reactions.

Updated 27/10/2014 to add links to YA Reads and Alex Hurt’s blog, which include firsthand accounts of events that contradict Hale’s interpretation.

I rarely talk about author/blogger-reviewer stoushes here because, well, the minefield is endless and better bloggers than I will usually cover all the pertinent details more articulately.

But today, The Guardian published a piece that, as a I read it, literally made me feel like I might vomit.

If you’re even tangentially interested in books, or online reviewing of any kind, you need to read it. Basically, a debut author (linked but not named so egosurfing gets no hits from me) receives a tweet from a blogger, realises that the blogger hated her book, joins the STGRB support group, visits the blogger at home and later calls her at work, and feels vaguely satisfied to have proven that said blogger was not using her real name and personal details online.

As many on Twitter have pointed out, the ethics of publishing this piece is questionable. Yes, the first person account is intriguing in a train wreck sort of way, but this isn’t fiction. And it might not be over. Which means a reader was stalked — and in all likelihood is still feeling unsafe — because she talked about why she hated a book. Because I’m fairly sure this would never have escalated had that review been 5-stars and effusive in praise.

And yet something strange — and fairly hideous — happened on social media. You can read the comments to the article yourself, and I have a curated Storify thread here with some tweets, but it’s by no means extensive. Though most authors and readers were quick to express shock, horror and dismay at the stalker’s actions, some authors tweeted support, calling the stalker ‘bold’, and one even asked for a follow-up, possibly a ‘thriller’.

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Posted by Kat in *Opinions (13 comments)