Blog Archives

Black Wolves by Kate Elliott (Book Review)

It has been a while since I’ve done any reviews, largely due to the fact that I’ve barely read 10-12 novels in the last one year or so. Far cry from my regular 9-11 books a month before that. Just been a long period of “don’t really care, just want time off, too much work, ugh” and so on. Getting back into reading hasn’t exactly been easy since it is as if my reading mojo is gone. But thankfully, I’ve started to turn it around of late, and one of the books I’ve had the pleasure of reading recently is Kate Elliott’s Black Wolves.

Black Wolves is the first novel in the trilogy of the same name. It follows a multitude of characters in a (low) fantasy setting and deals with the ruthless politics of a kingdom forged by the sword and inherited by weaker successors where the loyalties of good men and women are commodities. It is a very different kind of novel than I usually read, but I have a fair amount of experience with Kate’s diverse works, and Black Wolves doesn’t disappoint. It is a fun and entertaining read, though it could have used some trimming here and there to be a bit more brief.

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25 Series I Want To Read in 2015

I began this particular reading challenge in 2013, as a way to motivate myself to read widely across genres and also to kind of catch-up on some big names of the various genres I haven’t been able to get around to as yet. The 2013 challenge was a close one for me, and last year’s challenge I completed in full, though there was a bit of a snag with that one early on. Either way, I still love this challenge immensely, given all the different flavours and styles I get to sample with it, and so here’s the 25 series I am looking forward to reading in 2015.

You can see the previous list for 2014 here and 2013 here.

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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

Epic Fantasy: A Personal Definition

Over at her blog, Helen Lowe has had an interesting discussion taking place of late on the topic of what makes epic fantasy what it is. Its been quite an informative discussion to say the least (more). The descriptions and definitions that people attach to this seemingly simple 2-word phrase have provided a lot of new perspectives, many of which I have never considered before.

And that made me think about how I define “epic fantasy”. What are the components of it? What are the essentials? Like with any other discussion about the definition of genre categories, there are no easy answers here either and that has a lot to do with personal biases and preferences. I’ve seen a lot of books come out in the last few years that have been hailed as epic fantasy but that I wouldn’t necessarily classify as such, since for me there are some basic requirements for a book to be hailed with that genre label.

Which is what this post is about.

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Are Classics Re-readable?

As part of my “Top 25 Series To Read In 2013” reading challenge, I’ve read a fair amount of books this year that can be considered to be classics of science fiction and fantasy, in all their different forms. There is a certain charm to all these novels that has persisted long after they were first published. Whether we talk about Frank Herbert’s space operatic political intrigue epic Dune or Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman’s true-to-style epic fantasy Dragons of Autumn Twilight, I’ve had a lot of fun with these novels.

And that is my question: are they re-readable? I’ve read Dune and Dragons of Autumn Twilight several times since when I first read them in 2001. I think they are rereadable, but I’m not completely sure. Is the question answerable in part with regard to whether the book is good or not? We shall see.

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The A-to-Z Author Survey

Earlier this month I posted two surveys on my blog. Sort-of surveys at any rate. You can find the one about books here and the one about comics here. I really had a lot of fun doing those, and I thought it would be fun to doing them again, but with a cool twist that I hope sounds as inspired to you as it does me. Or maybe not.

I spent the last 3 hours thinking of some kind of a blogpost to write. There are some ideas I had but nothing I could put up today, which was the whole point really. So yeah, this is going to follow the same meta layout as the other surveys. I’m not limiting this survey to just novelists, I’m including comics writers as well.

Hope you enjoy! And do share your thoughts in the comments!

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The A-to-Z Book Survey

So a few days ago my reviewing/blogging buddy Ria at Bibliotropic posted a nice survey of sorts on her blog. It was a cool article and with her permission, I’m sneaking off my own spin on it.

Hope you enjoy! And even if not, do share your thoughts in the comments!

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NANP: Cold Names

Today’s guest for Names: A New Perspective is one of my favourite authors of this year, Kate Elliott, who has penned several SFF series over the years, like Spiritwalker, Jaran, Crown of Stars and others. I’ve only read her first Spiritwalker novel, Cold Magic (my review), but I’ll be reading the sequel Cold Fire in a few days, and then the third book Cold Steel hopefully next month. For me, Kate’s writing defines itself through detailed and thoughtful world-building, of the kind that Brandon Sanderson and Frank Herbert have done with their Mistborn and Dune Chronicles novels. World-building is something I love and Kate’s alternate Europe in Spiritwalker is one of my favourite SFF worlds. Here’s what Kate has to say on the topic of names in Cold Magic and its sequels.

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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 Poll Results

The voting process on my latest reading poll closed last night, after two weeks of intense excitement and record after record. Once again, just as with the previous two polls that I’ve run, this was a humbling experience given the tremendous response from the authors and their fans and everyone else who helped make this new poll such a success.

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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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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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