reading roundup: May

A quick round-up of some of my reads this month, in no particular order. These have mostly gone up on Instagram over the course of the month… you can find me there as CogentHippo.

Under the Radar by Lillian Francis

A slow burn love affair between submariners in WW2. Fantastic historical detail that helps give the the characters depth and breadth. Funny, touching and heart-wrenching with spy-stuff tension, set against the backdrop of life in a cramped submarine. I loved it.


Ashore by Isabelle Adler (Staying Afloat #2)

Poor Matt is so oblivious to his own feelings and those of his lover, Ryce. And there’s no time to discuss anything because Val has been kidnapped and the baddies are threatening to cut off bits of him to motivate everyone else. This is a well-paced space-romp with a background love story that is tender and believable. I’m looking forward to book three.


Finders by Melissa Scott

I love the normative queerness of all Melissa Scott’s writing and this is no exception. It features a three-way poly relationship between salvage operators scrounging the ruins of an inexplicable civilization for the bits and bobs that will keep their remnant tech working. The crew find that there is more going on than they know about and the suspense is set against the low-key renegotiating of their relationship. I really enjoyed it.


Ribbons Among the Rajahs by Patrick Wheeler

This one was a disappointment. I’m researching pre-Raj British women in India and the surrounds for my work in progress and I had high hopes that this would give me some decent background. However, although there’s lots of good detail and well researched, accurate history in there, it’s a) often from the point of view of the men that the women ‘belonged to’ and b) bloody hell, there’s some racist and sexist crap in there. Cosmic fail, have not finished.


She-Merchants, Buccaneers & Gentlewomen by Katie Hickman

Again, research for my WIP about British women in pre-Raj India. This one is much better written. Hickman’s usual meticulous research and women-centered narrative made this a much easier read for me. I also loved her Daughters of Britannia.


Deadline by Stephanie Ahn

Loved this. Lesbian, masochistic witch in New York, trying to sort her life out after a minor misjudgment (cough) that ruined her career and nearly killed her. Also with cute alligator-moles, demons and a sadistic succubus.


More to come next month!

research rabbit-holes

One of the things I find most difficult about writing in a period or place I don’t know all that well is research. Not because I find research hard… although it can be. My issue is that I find I get sucked down rabbit-holes and dead ends in to fascinating articles on subjects I have no need to know about in depth.

Image by ardilladecolores from Pixabay

Today for example… Himalayan mountain sheep, Argali, which led me in to an article about Himalayan grass populations. Then eighteenth century shoes, which morphed in to three articles on seventeenth century Civil War uniforms. And I am still digesting this fascinating article about the eighteenth century garden flower seed trade.

My work in progress is a whole new era and location for me – the Himalayas in the 1780s – and it’s taking me ages to get to grips with the setting of the story. I was going to spend April doing Camp Nano and get the first draft sorted by the end of the month. That is not happening – life, children, chickens, all that good stuff has pretty much overwhelmed me. But I’m plodding along now, back in my thousand-word-a-day groove, or close to it and it’s just a matter of time.

I’m also working on my serialized sequel to The Gate, the continuing adventures of Matty and Rob, that will be released to newsletter subscribers as I go. (Please do sign up if you’d like to be included in this!). This doesn’t require quite so much research because I am already comfortable writing in that era after two full-length books and the short story, so fingers crossed I can keep it going.