Blog Archives

Best of 2014 Part 1a: Novels

This post is coming in at a slightly later time than I’d prefer, about two weeks late at least, but I guess I can’t really “complain” when the lateness is due to my own wedding which took place exactly two weeks ago on the 5th. It has certainly been a very busy and intense time, what with being engrossed in all the marriage stuff and then even after that there’s been one thing after another. Reading time has definitely suffered greatly, which makes me a little sad considering how much I love reading, but eh, all for a good cause really.

With half the year now over, it is time to do the first of my “Best of the Year” posts, for the period 1st January to 30th June. There’s been a ton of books that I’ve read in this period as usual, and I made a very strong effort to read more tie-in fiction than I usually do, so the list is most assuredly going to reflect that. Tie-in fiction is a very important part of the publishing industry I feel and it always deserves some recognition. Now if we could only get an award started that celebrated tie-in fiction and all would be alright with the world. Or so my thinking goes.

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

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Rebellion by Lou Morgan (Book Review)

Lou Morgan’s 2012 debut Blood and Feathers proved to be one of the best novels I’d read that year, and also a fine guide in my exploration of the urban fantasy genre which started that very year with Chris F. Holm’s Dead Harvest from Angry Robot Books. Blood and Feathers was a great read but it missed the mark a little, yet it was good enough that I looked forward to reading the sequel Rebellion, which was released in early 2012. However, I couldn’t get the time to read it then, which is why I made the effort to finally get through it last month. And it proved to be every bit as good as its predecessor.

Rebellion continues the story of Alice as she tries to find her place in a world where the Fallen have left Hell in a mass exodus and are causing all sorts of trouble in her world. This is also the world where the Archangel Michael will stop at nothing to destroy Lucifer once and for all, even if it means sacrificing his own people, or that of the other Archangels. Rebellion is much more cerebral and fascinating than its predecessor, and that’s what I loved most about it, in the end. That was exactly what I was looking for in the novel and Lou Morgan delivered on that front quite handsomely.

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Best of 2013 Part 2a: Books

Since 2013 is now over, its time to do my second “Best of the Best” list, for the second half of the year from July-December. There were some really good reads in this period, and as always, picking the best has been a chore. I always try to keep these lists as diverse as I can and hopefully you agree.

You can check out my top-of-the-month lists on my Reading Awards page and this list is both an extension, and a continuation of what goes on there.

Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then! Read the rest of this entry

NANP: Names Need Their Rough Edges Knocked Off

Today I welcome Juliet E. McKenna to the blog for Names: A New Perspective, a science fiction/fantasy author of long standing who has put out several novels over the years, many to great acclaim. She was one of the authors on my “25 Series To Read In 2013″ list and my first encounter with her work, Hadrumal Crisis #1: Dangerous Waters (review), proved to be a really good experience. As 2013 ends and 2014 begins, I will definitely be looking to continue on with this quartet of novels because I find the world and the characters to be quite fascinating. Given how long she’s been in the industry, Juliet certainly has some great advice for authors new and established alike on the matter of how to name characters, and her post is well worth the read, so here it is.

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The Cover Art Mega-Post Part 3

So this is the third such post I have done for the blog. I took a 2-month break in between posts so that I could have some more material to showcase here, and it certainly has helped. There were a lot more books I wanted to cover, but I chose to stick withe magic number 17, the number of books I’ve covered previously.

A lot of the books on this list are next year’s releases, and just as before, they all sound great, even some of the ones that are second or third (or else) in their respective series. I’m not sure if I can put aside the time to catch up to them any time soon but I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to get around to some of them at least. We’ll see how that works out.

In the meantime, enjoy all these great covers and these books! Hope you liked the previous posts and that you’ll like this one as well.

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The Cover Art Mega-Post Part 2

Two weeks ago I did the first of these kind of posts, which can be found here. There were some really fun-looking books on that list that I would love to read (all of them) this year, but given how these kind of things work out for me, especially of late, that is probably not going to happen any time soon. My only consolation is that these covers are so bloody damn good!

Hope you liked the previous post and that you’ll like this one as well.

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Best of 2013 Part 1

I did two “Best of the…” lists last year, one for the half-year from January to June, and the other for the half-year from July to December. The lists proved to be quite popular, and I was recently asked if I was going to be doing any more. To which I said yes. I like putting together lists like this. It gives me a chance to reflect a bit on all the good stuff I’ve been reading in novels and comics, or listening to in terms of audiobooks, audio dramas and so on.

You can check out my top-of-the-month lists on my Reading Awards page and this list is both an extension, and a continuation of what goes on there.

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

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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: Angels and Dragons

As another month of Names: A New Perspective begins to wind down, today I host James Maxy, author of the Dragon Age (nothing to do with the game) and Dragon Apocalypse series from Solaris Books. I’ve read only the first Dragon Apocalypse book, Greatshadow (review), to date, but I’m definitely eager to read more since I found it to be one of the best-written fantasy novels featuring dragons. James writes with a great flair for awesome action sequences and some wonderful team dynamics, and I’m very hopeful for the sequel, Hush, which has been sitting somewhere on Mount Toberead for a while now. Before I begin reading the book however, here’s what James has to say on the topic of names.

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Names: A New Perspective Part 3

The last two weeks have been spent in a mad scramble to get people on board for the next phase of Names: A New Perspective. I really should have gotten this done a month ago, but I kept getting sidetracked by other things (Game of Thrones, finishing edits on Project Dharmayoddha, reading a ton of graphic novels, catching up on my monthly reading, etc), that it just didn’t happen on time.

But, I have the new schedule done and all worked out, and my thanks to everyone who has agreed to participate. The last few guest posts that have gone up have not been mentioned in any of the schedules, since I was mostly just winging it all, but now everything is set for the most part. This is the schedule that I will be referring to in the coming weeks, and I will also be expanding on this one as I contact yet more authors and bring them on board.

Here they are:

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Publishing and Marketing 01: Publisher Communication

About 2 weeks ago, I asked readers if they would be interested in some sort of a semi-regular column on the blog, the core topic being publishing & marketing. The response on the blog itself was rather lukewarm, to be honest, but I did have some good, albeit short, conversations with people over Twitter and Facebook about this.

The whole idea for the column sprung out of the “disaster” earlier this month when it was revealed that Random House’ eBook-only imprint, Hydra, was contracting new authors on the conditions that there would be no advance payments (which disqualifies the imprint from being considered a publishable market according to the rules, regulations and guidelines of the Science Fiction Writers of America’s organisation), and that they wanted complete rights over the work in question, irrespective of medium/format. Their payment structure was also dubious, frontloading almost all the costs of publishing the author’s work on the author himself/herself. Such costs include editing, covers, marketing, and so on, from what I understand. John Scalzi has done two in-depth posts on the subject here and here.

online-relationships-300x189Given the amount of information out there already on this particular subject, the furor over which has caused Hydra to revise some of its terms and offer authors better payment plans after a VERY stern letter from the SFWA, I am not going to cover this for now. All I can say is that if you are looking to get published by such eBook-only imprints, and I stress eBook-only, then you damn well make sure that you do not sign away your rights for foreign translations, audiobooks, print, and so on. Other people have already said it best: make sure to get some legal opinion and at least ask around when you get that contract. Make sure that you are informed about what you should and should not be doing.

Anyhow. Moving on.

For this first installment in this column series, I wanted to talk about publisher communication. Communication is a funny thing. We all define it quite differently and it means different things for different people. The specific area I want to cover today is how publisher communication works with marketing in the context of keeping readers and reviewers (they need not be mutually exclusive) informed and keeping a positive dialogue open. So here we go! Read the rest of this entry

NANP: Nomenclature and Subsconscious

Today’s guest on Names: A New Perspective is Eric Brown, who has penned a number of works in the SF and Children’s Fiction genres. I’ve been eyeing his Bengal Station and Helix novels from Solaris for a while now, having heard some great praise about them in recent months. And then I got an email from Solaris that he has a new Helix novel, The Serene Invasion, coming out, which is great news and finally the impetus to get me reading his books, which I shall be doing next month. In the meantime, here’s what Eric has to say on the topic of names and their meanings and significances.

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