Doddy’s Top 5 (ish)s of 2017


I read a lot of amazing books in 2017. Here are some of my Top 5s by genre/category. Some of them I’m not going to be able to whittle down to 5 – hence the “ish”. #Soznotsoz.


  1. Reckoning by Magda Szubanski – heart shattering tale of one of Australia’s favourite comedians, her relationship with her parents and their parts in the WW2 resistance in Poland, her own struggle with her sexuality and coming out.
  2. Spectacles by Sue Perkins – I had no real idea who Sue Perkins was when I read this, but I have never laughed out loud so hard at a book before.
  3. Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan – This book is terrifying. Cahalan contracted a rare autoimmune disease which affected her brain. She was diagnosed as schizophrenic and put into a facility. Without the insistence of her parents and the assistance of the doctor who finally diagnosed her, she would probably still be there.
  4. In The Darkroom by Susan Faludi – after many years of estrangement, Faludi’s father, who she remembers from her childhood as being violent and awful, contacts her to let her know that he has had a gender reassignment. This is Faludi’s attempt to uncover the person that her father is now.
  5. Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood – Lockwood’s father is a catholic priest. As he started out as a Lutheran priest he was allowed to convert and take his family with him, as long as none of them were psychopaths. I would recommend this one on audio (it’s read by Lockwood). It was nothing what I expected and I really enjoyed it.
  6. The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke – another memoir by a poet, Clarke recounts what it was like growing up black in very white suburban Sydney in the 80s and 90s.
  7. The Bitter Life of Bozena Nemcova by Kelcey Parker Ervick – I read this one to satisfy the Micropress requirement for the 2017 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge, and I’m so glad I did. It’s not your usual biography, and is instead written more like poetry, using excerpts from letters to and from Nemcova and from her works. (Nemcova is on the Czech currency, and is renowned for her fairy tales). Beautifully written.

Literary Fiction

  1. The Sellout by Paul Beatty – This book was amazing – funny, though-provoking, absolutely scathing and so very relevant.
  2. The Thirteenth Tale by Dianne Setterfield – This is an older book, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s a wonderfully told tale of books, siblings and family secrets.
  3. Mullumbimby by Melissa Lucashenko – Set in and around the town of the same name, this is a gorgeous story about Jo, who has left her life as an academic to buy a property on her country. Her teenage daughter is less than impressed. Things become more complicated wqhen a handsome stranger comes to town. This is a lovely exploration of the relationship between Aboriginal people and county, and it opened my eyes to the difficulties of claiming Native Title.
  4. If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio – I loved the crap out of this book. It made my inner Shakespeare nerd very happy. I loved the style used to tell the story and the liberal scattering of quotes throughout.
  5. Black British by Hebe de Souza – de Souza recounts the life of Indians so anglicised by English rule that they are completely estranged from the local culture, and don’t even speak the language. When the English leave the country, they also have no real choice but to leave as they are essentially strangers in their own country. Based on de Souza’s own life, this was a fascinating read.


  1. Breathing Underwater by Sophie Hardcastle – This book was a punch to the feels. Grace and Ben are twins, and Grace has always felt second to Ben’s natural ability in everything – she is the moon to his sun. When Ben dies suddenly and tragically, Grace goes off the rails. This book is beautifully written, realistic and incredibly powerful. Have tissues on hand.
  2. Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde – This Book gave me loads of happy feels! A really sweet tale about three friends who make their dream trip to a convention in the US (one of the three is a Youtuber who has a fan base). The diverse characters are wonderful.
  3. Dreadnought/Sovereign by April Daniels – Okay, I’m cheating a little with this one. Dreadnought and Sovereign make up the Nemesis duology. Dreadnought starts with Danny who is transgender, but not yet out of the closet, sitting behind a chemist painting his nails with polish he has just bought. Out of the sky falls the hero Dreadnought who is dying, and passes his powers on to Danny. Along with a bunch of superpowers, Danny also receives his ideal body. But that only creates more problems for her.
  4. The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis – The swimmer, the rebel and the nerd, all orbited around Isaac. But now Isaac is gone, who are they now? This is a wonderful exploration of both grief and identity.
  5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – I can’t imagine a YA top anything without this book on it. Starr and her friend Khalifa are pulled over by a policeman and Starr witnesses his fatal shooting. This book is raw, powerful and angry. For someone like me who lives outside the US, it gives a really eye opening account as to what happens in these communities where violence occurs and the impact of the trauma. Heartbreaking.

Science Fiction

  1. An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon – I’ve heard this book described as “The Antebellum South on a space ship” and that seems pretty apt. Aster lives in the slums and is not really understood by those around her – and has no desire to be. She is happy to go about her business. She works in the fields like the others, but she is also a gifted healer. She is trying to unravel the meaning behind her mother’s old journals discovering much more than she was expecting. This book is pretty brutal at times, but it’s just so good.
  2. Ninefox Gambit/ The Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee – A disgraced general is given a last chance to redeem herself, but this involves using the undead Shuos Jedao, who has never lost a battle, but who is also a bit insane. I have all the flailing Muppet arms for this series. There’s gender-bending, there’s incredible brutality and graphic violence, but there’s also a sense of hope. I have no more words – queue the Muppet arms again.
  3. The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden – Sorry folks, more Muppet arms for this one. There’s so much to this story. A little girl finds a new friend who shows her that she’s a powerful demigoddess. There is another demigoddess who isn’t doing so great. – she works in a nail salon at the moment, but she has plans. There are two friends who try the new hallucinogen doing the rounds – they end up transforming into sea creatures and having fabulous sex. Throw in a robot uprising and we have a wild ride!
  4. John Scalzi (Collapsing Empire, Redshirts) More cheating and I’m not even sorry. I don’t know why it took me so long to read Scalzi, but I’m so happy I did. Redshirts is a tonne of fun (if you’re a Star Trek fan then you should get an idea of the story just from the title) and Collapsing Empire is a great series starter. The new Empress is having a rough time – not only has her father just died, but her new office is full of really valuable antique shit and but someone keeps trying to blow her up. This book has some great strong female characters and is laugh out loud funny. Get on it!
  5. Synners by Pat Cadigan – This book was written back in the 90s, and I wish I had read it then as it would have blown my tiny mind. Foreshadowing computer networking and viruses by many years, Cadigan a dark world where humanity and technology are becoming more and more entwined, which is fine until something goes badly wrong in interface between humans and the technology. A) Never get the implants, you know it’s going to end badly; b) it makes me really mad that you never hear Cadigan’s name when people are talking about cyber punk. (One of my all time favourite books is her Fools, also from the 90s. Find this book, read it, and remember that it’s nearly 30 years old.

Enough rambling from me. What were your favourite reads from 2017? What are you looking forward to in 2018?

Read on!

I Have a Thing for Science Fiction


Hey folks! Sorry I’ve been MIA – the flu in Australia has been horrible this year, and I’m finally getting back on my feet after being unwell for an unreasonably long time. Note to my US friends – make sure you get your flu shot this year! Apparently it’s heading your way!

I though I’d tell you about some of the amazing science fiction I’ve read over the last couple of months. I’ve always been a sci-fi fan – I remember loving the genre even when I was a kid. Spaceships and robots were way more interesting to me than girls mooching around in gardens and so forth. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy was the first adult book I read that really shaped my thinking. Let’s begin:

I know I mentioned this one in passing but want to come back to it. Kameron Hurley’s mind is amazing, and this book is a gigantic mind fuck. There are no male characters in this book. Societies live on big fleshy planetoids which are also ships and their worlds are devolving, so there is constanc battles between the groups. This story follows the main character’s journey as she tries to infiltrate a different ship/planet in order to kill the leader, and the different people and cultures she meets along the way. It is not an easy read, but is completely worth it.

This is another mind fuck of a book. The Kels are being sent into a battle which isn’t looking good for them. So Kel command revives General Jedao. He is known for slaughtering millions of people and for being completely mad, but Kel command revives him every now and then to assist with strategy. The bad news for Captain Kel Cheris is that she has to share her body with him while all this is going on. The world building in this book is amazing, and it throws you into combat with the Kel troops. Another difficult read, but worth it in the end.

This book is so freaking good. I am also completely in love with the cover. The book is set in South Africa in the distant future when everyone has their own robot helper. Our characters are Muzi, who starts the book totally stressed as he’s about to endure a centuries old tradition to become a man (including circumcision). He’s also got a thing for his best friend, who convinces him to try some of the lastest drug which has some interesting effects. Then there’s Nomvula, who has been looking after her traumatised mother for years. Then a new guy turns up in the village and offers to teach her amazing things – he doesn’t disappoint. There is also is Sydney – she’s working a dead end job in a nail salon and she’s a bit bummed because it seems that one of her co-workers has figured out she’s a Demi-goddess, which means she needs to move along. But she can have some fun before she goes, right? What are humans if not play things? Lastly we have Clever 4-1. He’s a service droid who has become sentient. He may also have accidentally set off an android uprising.

This book gave me a cracker of a book hangover so buyer beware.

This is a great piece of Chinese sci fi translated by Kevin Liu, who can do no wrong at the moment. The thing I love about reading sci-fi from different cultures is that you cannot have any expectations of the narrative. The Three Body Problem starts off in the People’s Revolution in 1962, and jumps back and forward between then and nowish.There’s a bit of police noir thrown in for good measure (I think that guy was my favourite character) plus a mind blowing computer game, which seems like more than a computer game. The story takes a little bit to get going and it’s going to demand some concentration, but definitely put this on your TBR.

Murderbot (to humans it’s a SecBot, but it refers to itself as Murderbot) has hacked its governor module, which means its basically free to do what it wants. It’s on contract with some humans, most of whom it quite likes. But it likes watching TV more. It is mostly worried that the humans will figure out that it doesn’t have a governor module and report it. It knows it has slipped up – one of the crew has tried to talk to it about it’s FEELINGS. This story of an introverted robot who just wants to be left alone to watch bad TV (which it definitely has feelings about!) is so endearing. I’m looking forward to the next in the series which is due out in 2018. Also, more amazing cover art amirite?

I’m very new to Scalzi and I’m just loving his stuff.

The Collapsing Empire is the first part of a new series. In this book the action moves back and forth between a planet imaginatively called “the End” – because it’s at the arse end of the Empire – and the middle of the change of Emperor. Cardenia is having a bad time. Her father has just died and she has to take the mantle to be the new Emperor. It should have been her half brother, but he inconveniently got himself killed. Even more inconveniently, someone keeps trying to kill her. Kiva is also having a bad time – she has arrived at End with a load of cargo to find that the planet is having a civil action and she not only has no market, but the government has banned her goods due to the last batch being ‘contaminated’. Kiva knows she has been set up, and sets about figuring out how she can turn a profit on the situation.

Collapsing Empire is fast moving and laugh out loud funny.Plus it is full of kick ass female characters.

Do you do sci fi? What’s your favourite recent read?