Category Archives: 2012 Reading Challenge

Batgirl #23 by Gail Simone (Comics Review)

So, I just finished reading the new issue of Batgirl by Gail Simone. For the fourth time. I’ve never done that before, ever. There hasn’t been a comic yet that has gotten to me like this one has. Through all the ups and down this title has seen since launch, I’ve stuck with it. Well, technically, I only started reading sometime in August last year, or thereabouts, so I haven’t been reading long, but I’ve stuck with each issue. Gail Simone is one of my favourite writers in the industry right now and a big reason for that is this book.

As someone who was never interested in the character before, much like with Aquaman, Gail got me invested in the character. She got me to vividly experience all the ups and down that Barbara Gordon, formerly Oracle and wheelchair-bound, experienced in the New 52. And with this issue, she’s hit everything home in the worst way possible. And I mean that in a good way.

Note: spoilers for the previous story arcs now follow, so best be aware of that.

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Publishing and Marketing 04: Women in SFF Part 2

About a week or so ago, I posted a list of some of my favourite female authors in SFF, past and present (that is, some of the women on the list are now sadly deceased). For the follow-up, I wanted to focus on some of my favorite female characters in SFF, irrespective of genre. Until March last year, I didn’t really have such a list in my mind. Even though I had read a few books by then that had female protagonists or supporting characters, I’d never really considered if any of them were my “favourites”. But that changed around quickly when I read Nathan Long’s Jane Carver of Waar, and all of a sudden, I realised that there were so many female characters I’d read of over the years that I would put on a list of favourites.

It was a really interesting revelation, and it led to me paying much more attention to such characters in the books I was reading, or had read, or would read. One thing that I noticed while compiling this list was that for the most part my favourite female characters fall into the role of the “warrior”, which is another subconscious thing I never really paid attention to.

Really weird how these things work out.

Once again, as caveat for this list, this is by no means comprehensive, just a small selection of a much wider range. And in this list, I’m not limiting myself to just novels and the like, I’m extending it to comics and movies as well, given that I am much more familiar with these media in terms of the content, rather than with the creators. Feel free to check out my reviews (books and comics) of the various novels I’ve read in the last two years for a bigger interest list.

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Publishing and Marketing 03: Women in SFF Part 1

One question that is being asked by many in the wake of the recent SFWA controversy, and all the commentary it has spawned in various places about misogyny and sexism within the publishing industry is: “If I want to read more books by female authors, where do I start?”

Often times, I think it is rather disheartening to hear such a question. Women have been writing books for a long, long time. And for people to not even be aware of that, or for that matter, be able to perform a basic google search about who are the big names right now? Doesn’t speak so well for us as a community. Speaking of the industry in the broadest sense, we are all very close-ranked, and to break out of the apparent restrictions is not easy. Sure its “easy” to get published as a woman, but to receive recognition? That’s an uphill battle.

It all comes down to respect. And when it comes to respect within the publishing industry (or even just in general in daily life), never ever use the word “political correctness”. That’s a dirty word to use, and it betrays a lack of ability to engage, and wilful dismissal of a very serious and ongoing issue that affects us all. Just look at the entire entertainment industry as a whole, whether its novels or comics or movies or even news.

In such a state, it is absolutely essential that we willingly look to broaden our horizons. We should take chances and read outside of our comfort zones, because otherwise we don’t challenge ourselves and we just propagate the “like begets like” scenario and we cannot grow as an individual.

Which is what this editorial, the third in my Publishing and Marketing series, is about: stepping out of your comfort zone. If you’ve never read a book by a female author before, then my suggestions herein are an excellent place to start.

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2013 – What Now? Some Resolutions Maybe?

So the New Year has come and gone. The end of the second week is almost upon us. And so far, it’s been a somewhat lazy, yet productive month. Also one that has been spectacular in a few ways. It’s also time to make some new resolutions and challenges. So let’s get to it.

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2012 – A Bloody Fantastic Year Ends

So, the year 2012 ended a few days ago, and it’s been an absolute blast, to say the least.

Anyways, to do a small recap of my goals for the year,

  1. Write ~420,000 words of both fiction (various submissions and novel projects) and non-fiction (reviews and blogposts).
  2. Read 400 novels, comics, novellas, stand-alone short stories (still not sure if these SHOULD be included) and listen to some audio dramas and audiobooks.

At the end of October, I was very close to both of those goals, having crossed the ~472,000-word mark, and was still ahead on the reading goals, as I was at 352/400 on September 30th. You can find the November report here.

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Best of the Best Part 2

I last did something like this in July for the six months from January 1st all the way to June 30th. This list is for July 1st and all the way through to December 30th (the last day doesn’t count!). As I mentioned at the end of that list, this isn’t going to be regurgitation of my “Reading Awards” page, but something more varied. The list takes into account everything I’ve read in the last six months.

Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!

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Advent Reviews Day 24: Not Really A Review, Something Different

As the title says, I was conflicted about what to post for today’s Advent Reviews. I didn’t want to do any negative reviews, for an obvious reason: today is Christmas Eve after all and it’s time for good cheer, not for me to rain down on someone’s parade! Doing negative reviews before was fine, kind of. I didn’t want to do a positive review either, since I do so damn many of them anyway. I often take a lot of flak for being that positive, especially when it comes to Black Library publications, so I wasn’t really on the mind for any of that either. Just thinking of any possible backlash rains down on my parade, you know? In short, I didn’t want to do a review period. What follows is a stream-of-consciousness post. Apologies for any incoherency.

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Advent Reviews Day 23: Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey

For the second-last day of the “Advent Reviews” series, I have another novel that I read earlier this year, but never got around to reviewing, mostly because I did not enjoy the book at all and was somewhat reluctant to do a negative review at the time. Plus, I already had too much of a backlog in that regard (still do), so I passed over it. I love reading SF set within the solar system, such as Orson Scott Card’sEarth Unaware or Katy Stauber’s Spin The Sky, and that’s one of the reasons I picked up this book, in addition to the striking cover art. But the book failed to impress me and it left me pretty disappointed as a complete experience. Once again, this is a review from memory, so I do apologise for any details that I get wrong.

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Best Debuts of 2012

This year has been an excellent year for debuts, whether it’s science fiction or fantasy or historical fiction or urban fantasy or noir or western or young adult or whatever. Some truly amazing authors have made themselves known, and many of these have gone on to impress with second novels also released this year. In this blog I take a look at the debut novels of the year that I just loved and would recommend far and wide to everybody.

I didn’t actually read that many debut novels this year (from 2012), so the list is going to be unfortunately small – only eight in total, which is why I’m going to do a straight list rather than a Top 6 and 6 Honourable Mentions as I had initially planned.

So let’s have at it, yeah?

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Advent Reviews Day 21: Erevis Cale Trilogy by Paul S. Kemp

Paul’s Erevis Cale Trilogy was my first introduction to Forgotten Realms, and to Wizards of the Coast, earlier this year, and it’s turned into a fascination with the entire setting that just refuses to go away. I haven’t read as much within it as I’d like, but the stuff I’ve read has been fairly good so this fascination is definitely here to stay. Plus Paul is an excellent writer in my opinion. This is another from-memory review so if I get anything wrong, I do apologise.

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Advent Reviews Day 20: Hard Times In Dragon City by Matt Forbeck

I’m a huge fan of Matt Forbeck’s work: whether it’s novels or comics. I have yet to read any of his work that I didn’t like, and he has been the most consistent author for me to date, not to mention that he’s also the one I’ve reviewed the most! That creates certain expectations of course, and Hard Times In Dragon City fulfills those expectations quite nicely. As the first Shotguns & Sorcery novel, this is the fourth in his 12-for-12 project in which he aimed to write one 50,000-word novel a month. I’ve read the first trilogy, Matt Forbeck’s Brave New World, and it’s superb superhero fiction. Exciting stuff!

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Advent Reviews Day 19: Strike and Fade by Guy Haley

Guy Haley is one of the authors I discovered this year, when I picked up an eARC of his second Richards and Klein Investigations novel, Omega Point, and then requested the first novel, Reality 36, as well. I liked both novels and was hungry for more, which introduced me to his novel Champion of Mars which ties a bit into his novels above and was just plain fantastic. Then I heard that he was going to be writing for Black Library and that he had already been commissioned for two novels! In all honesty, Guy is definitely one of my favourite authors period. Strike and Fade is the first of his works for Black Library that I’ve had an opportunity to go through, and it is just mind-blowing.

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