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Best Debuts of 2013

In a lot of ways, 2013 has been a fairly good year for debut novels, as much as 2012 was. There have been some really fantastic releases, and they have all continued an unofficial tradition of doing something different with the genres that they have been set in. I can say for certain that of all the debut novels I read this year, none of them have been quite what I expected. Some of these novels have been really, really good while a small handful have been disappointing.

I put together a list at the end of last year in which I ran through my top picks of all the debuts I’d read, and I found the experience to be quite rewarding, and a great help in figuring out just why these novels were so good beyond just writing up the reviews.

All in all, of the 20 debut novels I wanted to read this year as per my list (link), I read 18 of them. Here are the 8 books I consider to be the best of the bunch.

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12 Days of Best Covers of 2013: Day #10

The tenth pick for the “12 Days of Best Covers of 2013″ list is the cover for Wesley Chu’s The Deaths of Tao, the sequel to his 2013 debut from Angry Robot Books, The Lives of Tao by Argh! Oxford. The Lives of Tao is one of the best debut books I’ve read this year, largely because how approachable and… normal its protagonist, Roen Tan, is. The Deaths of Tao lives up to the promise of its predecessor and its a book that’s an adventure from start to finish and I couldn’t get enough of it. The launch of The Lives of Tao was so successful that Angry Robot pushed the release of the sequel up several months and The Deaths of Tao was released quite recently. Which is pretty frikkin’ great actually. I’m hoping that the third novel is release soon as well.

The tenth comic cover that I pick is Marc Silvestri and Sunny Gho’s jaw-dropping cover for Ron Marz and Laura Braga’s Witchblade #170, which sees Ron Marz return to the series after a long hiatus and newcomer Laura Braga join in as the artist. I’ve read a fair few Witchblade comics prior to this and I have to say that Witchblade #170 is definitely among the best by quite a margin. Now that I’m following this series regularly, I’m very excited where things are going, especially given how Witchblade #171 ended. Can’t wait for Witchblade #172, which will be coming in about 4 weeks or so. Long wait.

Without further ado, hit the break to see both the covers in all their glory! The full list of all these covers is available here.

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12 Days of Best Covers of 2013: Day #5

For this new seasonal end of year list, the fifth book cover that I pick is Christian Schoon’s debut novel from Angry Robot’s YA imprint Strange Chemistry, Zenn Scarlett. Launched last year, Strange Chemistry has put out some great novels and Zenn Scarlett is certainly one of the best that I’ve read. Despite being a near-future science fiction story set in the near-future on Mars, it is also quite a magical fairy tale as well. I love that dual aspect of the novel and I’d certainly recommend it.

And the fifth comics cover that I pick is the first issue of writer Brian Wood and artist Olivier Coipel’s X-Men. This series made some waves before its release because it is a book absent of any male characters in its core team of X-Men. A more appropriate title for this book would have been X-Women. As it is, many people refer to it is as such any way, typically X-(Wo)Men. This is the book that got me really started with reading the X-books, and its been a fun ride for the most part. Another recommended series to read!

Without further ado, hit the break to see both the covers in all their glory! The full list of all these covers is available here.

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12 Days of Best Covers of 2013: Day #1

For this new seasonal end of year list, the first book cover that I pick is the second novel in the Night’s Masque series by Anne Lyle, published by Angry Robot Books. Anne’s first novel, The Alchemist of Souls, was one of my first Angry Robot reads last year and it got me hooked on to reading more of the publisher’s output. The cover for that novel too was rather excellent and that success was repeated for the second book in the series.

And the first comics cover that I pick is the first issue of Brian Wood’s Star Wars from Dark Horse Comics. As a life-long fan of the entire setting, it is one of the best covers I’ve seen to date and its what got me started on really reading again all the different Star Wars comics, regardless of where in the setting they are set. And it also gave me a good solid taste for the kind of books that Dark Horse puts out each month.

So without further ado, hit the break to see both the covers in all their glory! The full list of all these covers is available here.

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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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NANP: The Evil One. The Doombringer. The Destroyer of Worlds. Wilbur.

Continuing the trend of hosting some great Angry Robot authors for Names: A New Perspective, today’s guest on the blog is Wesley Chu. Wesley’s debut novel, The Lives of Tao, comes out pretty soon, and itpis one that I’m really looking forward to reading, since I love the concept and the cover art for it. Aliens and multiple lives? Sign me up! Here’s what Wesley has to say on the topic of names. And slightly topic, I just realised that his initials are the same as Wesley Crusher’s…

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NANP: Great Names For The Great Families

I love interacting with debut authors. Often, they are much more excited about their books, and they are much more open to talking with bloggers. It’s a bit of a random observation, but it’s what I’ve seen over the past year and 2 months. Names: A New Perspective was created so I could talk with debut authors in a more… professional capacity, and continuing with the trend of having some really great debut authors from the past 2-3 years stop by the blog, today’s guest is Emma Newman, the latest debut from Angry Robot, who are currently my top favourite publisher in the industry. I’ve recently read Emma’s first book, Between Two Thorns (review soon!), and it is one awesome title start to finish. Today is also the launch of the book in the UK (details here), so if you are anywhere near Bristol, UK, be sure to stop by at Forbidden Plant this evening and say hi! In the meantime, here is Emma’s great post on the topic of names. Oh and also, Happy Book Birthday to Emma!

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Cover Art: The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu (Angry Robot)

Time of late has been extremely limited, between work, reading, and reviewing, so the blog has been a bit neglected with regards to new content. This is why I’m doing a cover reveal post for one of my most anticipated reads of the year. Read on and find out why!

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NANP: The Character of Names

The first guest author on Names: A New Perspective for March is Joseph D’Lacey. His latest novel, Black Feathers, was my first introduction to his work (review) and it was also one of my best reads for last month (see here). All I can say right now is that I eagerly await the release of the next book in the Black Dawn series, currently titled The Book of the Crowman. Good times ahead! Here’s what Joseph has to say on the topic of names and his processes.

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NANP: The Geography of Names

Today, I welcome Gav Thorpe to Names: A New Perspective. Tabletop war games designer and author of numerous tie-in fiction novels, as well as a trilogy of original work, Gav is one of my favourite authors and he has penned some of the best novels I’ve read, one of which I consider to be a Warhammer 40,000 classic: Angels of Darkness. And he has penned one of the best Horus Heresy audio dramas as well, one that cemented my love and fascination with the Raven Guard and their Primarch Corax: The Raven’s Flight (review). His original work for Angry Robot Books, a sandals and sorcery tale that begins with Crown of the Blood (review) was a stand-out read for me last year, and I’m eager to progress with the series this year. Here’s what Gav has to say about the topic of names.

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NANP: Using Names In Fiction

This has been a while in coming, and I’m really excited to host Guy Haley on the blog today for Names: A New Perspective. I first met Guy last year on Twitter after reading his first two Richards and Klein Investigations novels for Angry Robot (reviews here and here). And when I read his stand-alone novel Champion of Mars (review) from Solaris Books, all I wanted was for him to one day write for Black Library. I thought he’d be a perfect fit for them, since Champion of Mars had the type of style and substance I want in a Black Library book. And lo behold, it was announced a few short months later that he was going to be writing three novels for them! Three! Super excited to read his books. Anyway, here’s the man himself on the topic of names. Enjoy!

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