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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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Most Anticipated Books of 2014

For two years now, my goal has been to read as many different kinds of novels as I can. I’ve tried out several different genres/subgenres that I normally would not, and the experience has helped me in becoming a better reader and a reviewer. Being a prolific reader and reviewer is all about diversity, in all its different forms. And that’s what I’ve come to value most.

Still, its not that easy, dealing with the diversity, or just the sheer volume of all the reading. When I put together the 2013 list of my most anticipated books (link), I intended to read all of them. But sadly that never happened and somewhere along the way I just lost track. The 2013 list had 51 books on it. The 2014 list has 41 books on it. A much more manageable number I dare say.

We’ll see how the year pans out and whether or not I will indeed be able to get through all them. I remain hopeful as ever. And there will be some more lists going up in the next couple weeks, so stay tuned for those.

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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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NANP: Making The Characters Fit

The final guest on the blog for this edition of Names: A New Perspective is author Bryony Pearce. Her second novel, The Weight of Souls, is coming out tomorrow in the US/CAN from Strange Chemistry and has already seen a UK release on the 1st of this month. The book is coming out when Strange Chemistry will soon be celebrating its first full year and it is definitely an exciting time for their various books. I’ve been interested in The Weight of Souls for quite a while now. I love the premise, I love the cover, and as I said in my cover round-up post from yesterday, Strange Chemistry has been putting out some great fiction since their launch, and this book looks set to continue that excellent trend. Today, here’s Bryony talking about the names in her book and what their relevance to the narrative is.

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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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NANP: Nature of Names

This edition of Names: A New Perspective is going to be coming to an end quite soon and the first guest for these closing stages is this year’s debut author Laura Lam. Published by Angry Robot’s Young Adult imprint Strange Chemistry, Laura’s Pantomime (review) was one of my top favourite reads this year and I even put it on my Top Debuts of 2012 list [Yes, I know the publication date is 2013 but I read it last year, so yeah]. Pantomime was a really wonderful book, very much a fairy tale, and I enjoyed it a lot. Definitely looking forward to the sequel Shadowplay, which comes out next year in January. In the meantime, this is what Laura has to say on the topic of names.

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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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June Reading List Poll

In January and February, I ran two highly successful polls where I asked all the readers of the blog to help me pick my reading list for the following months. The first one was for novels, the second one for comics. I managed to meet the reading goals for the first of those polls, but am still progressing through the second one, mostly because I’ve been traveling a bit too much of late, and reading time has generally been at a premium due to work and more time devoted to my writing.

However, I should be done with it by the end of this month, so keep an eye out for updates on that.

In the meantime, here’s my next reading poll, and this one is for novels once again. Hit the break to find out more.

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NANP: The Enjoyment of Names

Today’s guest on Names: A New Perspective is Christian Schoon, the debut author of the upcoming YA SF novel Zenn Scarlett from Strange Chemistry, Angry Robot’s YA imprint. I’m on somewhat of a kick for novels set on Mars at the moment, and that’s one of the reasons I’m looking forward to the novel, in addition to the fact that some of the recent Strange Chemistry titles I’ve read have been really fun, so Zenn Scarlett should be continuing that good streak. Here’s what Christian has to say on the subject of names.

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NANP: Names and Naming

Joining me today on Names: A New Perspective is Martha Wells, author of several SFF novels and also a number of tie-in fiction novels, with more on the horizon. I’m particularly excited about her upcoming Princess Leia, which should be really good fun. I’ve just recently finished reading her upcoming YA novel for Strange Chemistry, Emilie and the Hollow World, and it was a damn fine read. In short, Martha is currently a favourite author and one of my next reads will be her Death of the Necromancer, which went out of print a while back and which she has recently self-published. Definitely check out her books! This is what Martha had to say on the subject of names and their importance.

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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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NANP: Names Are A Melody

Angry Robot Books launched their Young Adult imprint a few months, called Strange Chemistry. One of the first wave of launch titles includes the arabian-themed pirate fantasy The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke. This was my first taste of a YA novel in recent times, and I liked what I saw (my review). The novel shows a lot of promise and I’m waiting for the sequel to come out. In the meanwhile, Cassandra has an original novel coming out from Angry Robot as well, The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, and that one’s on my reading list for early next year. Should be good times! With her arabian-themed setting and characters, here’s what Cassandra had to say on the subject of names and their significance on today’s Names.

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