February 2019 Roundup

February has kept me busy with lots of very seasonally inappropriate sunshine that the dogs have enjoyed. I took a Writing the Other course on worldbuilding which ate into most of my spare time. It was worth it, between the lectures and the exercises it gave me some great ideas for editing Codename True Blue.

While I’m talking about editing, I watched this incredible video about Star Wars and why Marcia Lucas deserved an Oscar. I always knew about her fixes, but to see them laid out so well was a real treat in filmmaking.

Also, this is the period drama I need – can the BBC cast more like this please.


I’ve been digging into my YA novel edits and completed some significant edits to the opening chapters. It’s still an earlier draft but I’m excited with these changes.

As mentioned above, I’m also editing Codename True Blue to include some of the great worldbuilding techniques I’ve learned.


I started February reading A Blade so Black where Alice is a fun Buffy-like ass kicking cosplaying hero. It’s kind of tangentially about Alice in Wonderland, some names and places are familiar, but it’s not a retelling of any kind. It has a great realism to it – what parent lets their kid run riot to go hero – while being full of fantastical goings-on.

My favourite book of the month had to be Peasprout Chen: Battle of Champions by my Clarion West 2012 colleague Henry Lien. The first book was so good I went into this with super high expectations and yet Henry still smashed it out of the park. It’s so exceptionally bright and witty and charming you’ll love every second of being pulled along with the characters at a frenetic pace. Peasprout, Cricket, Doi, and Hisashi have all new troubles to keep them occupied, skating, battling and using their wits to survive.

Peasprout is still the bossy and opinionated but kind-hearted girl of book one, but her ongoing growth is beautiful. Doi is still a genius and we finally meet the real Hisashi who isn’t quite the same as he was before. Cricket is still the best of them. I’m eagerly awaiting book three!

Peasprout Chen: Battle of Champions
Peasprout Chen: Battle of Champions

And finally, I read An Ember in the Ashes. This was a fast, fun read with a great world and setting. I really liked some of the characters, like Helene, but the reason this wasn’t my favourite was the need for two love triangles. 


I finally saw If Beale Street Could Talk before the Oscars and damn, I wish I’d caught it at the cinema. Barry Jenkins has made another masterpiece. There is so much love and joy, intimate pain and tender affection in this story of a couple wanting to build a life together while the injustice of the world holds them back. As beautiful in red and gold as Moonlight was in blues and purples, this is a visual and emotional triumph.

I also caught Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – another film I was sad to miss at the cinema. It’s hard to say just how much I adored this film. From opening with the ‘Approved by the Comics Code Authority’ stamp to mocking that strut walk from Spiderman 3, this film opened hard and kept the pace up. The animation was exceptional, the story strong and I’m so damn happy to see Miles played by Shameik Moore. Watching his leap of faith turn into him rising to the challenge proved why it deserved the Oscar.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

We also watched Big Eden, a really nice light-hearted story of a man heading back to his hometown Montana community and finding love. The film subverts expectations nicely with the whole town firmly not homophobic or racist and supportive of the burgeoning love story.

Big Eden
Big Eden


Brooklyn Nine Nine is back from cancellation woes with some very strong episodes, especially the one with guest star Karan Soni. I don’t think I’ve seen sexual tension as deep as the date in the barrel museum.

Brooklyn Nine Nine
Brooklyn Nine Nine

Karan Soni (who people probably know best as Dopinder from Deadpool), is also in Miracle Workers. I’ve only seen two episodes so far, but with Geraldine Viswanathan as a lead I’ll give the whole season a shot.

We also watched Titans – the new DC show. While it’s definitely still early days, I love Anna Diop as Starfire and Ryan Potter as Gar Logan. Plus the hints of Doom Patrol are *chef’s kiss*.


I played some Astroneer with Evo & Nige – mining other planets and building rockets (and suffocating Evo). It was a good waste of a few hours.

Sunless Skies finally left early access! I love Failbetter games, having played their original game Fallen London since the beginning (back in the Echo Bazaar days). This is their second standalone game and the writing is as lush as ever. It’s slightly less harsh than Sunless Seas, but death still stalks your every move.

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