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12 Books in 12 Months

writing books and blogging about it

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fantasy

The time for dithering is past – A Book Review

I don’t write a lot of book reviews anymore, because it’s hard to write them without spoilering and I hate to be spoilered. Occasionally though, I read a book that catches my attention so fully that I need to tell people about it. Continue reading “The time for dithering is past – A Book Review”

The Book Blogger Files #5 – On Starships and Dragonwings

There are so many book bloggers on the internet that if you laid them all end to end they’d reach to Alpha Centauri and back – but how do you know whether the reviews on any one site will match your own tastes?  One way might be to find out a little more about the people behind them.  And so I present The Book Blogger Files – a series of interviews with the literary enthusiasts behind the keyboards.  Today I’m speaking to Anya, who reviews SF and Fantasy on her blog On Starships and Dragonwings.

me_and_ozWho are you, where are you in the world, and what inspired you to get started with book blogging?

I’m a graduate student in Computer Science in Michigan, though I lived my life in Minnesota up until grad school. I started book blogging because I wanted to try out this crazy blogging thing and could only think of one hobby that I was unlikely to ever get tired of: reading!

Where did the name ‘On Starships and Dragonwings’ come from?

My blog was originally called ‘About The Story,’ but when I switched to self-hosted, I wanted a name that fit me better – I realized I no longer only cared about the story!  My genres of choice are sci-fi and fantasy, so I wanted a name that incorporated both of them. I basically decided that I most enjoy escaping ‘on starships and dragonwings’, so that became the name!

What is it about SF/Fantasy that appeals to you over other genres?

Continue reading “The Book Blogger Files #5 – On Starships and Dragonwings”

Book Recommendations

Lately I have been trying to read ALL THE BOOKS.  This is impossible, but I am making a better fist of it that I did when I was doing the writing of the 12 books in 12 months.  Here are some brief highlights of what I’ve read since the start of October.  You should read all of these and tell me what you think.

  • The Pirates in an Adventure with WhalingGideon Defoe
    Made me laugh out loud several times, even better than the first in the series; ham.
  • SparksDavid Quantick
    Tonally a lot like Douglas Adams.  Parallel universes.  Jolly good fun.
  • Let’s Pretend This Never HappenedJenny Lawson
    Likely to make you snort-laugh in a most unladylike fashion. A memoir of a perplexing childhood and an account of an interesting adulthood by one of the internet’s best bloggers.  Worth a look if you enjoy Caitlin Moran, or if you want to laugh a lot.
  • MausArt Spiegelman
    I’m late to the party with Maus, obviously – it’s been on my to-read list for years, but I finally got around to it last month.  I can’t add much to what you probably already know – it’s fascinating and horrible and heartbreaking.  Read it please.  The end.
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar ChildrenRansom Riggs
    A magical tale built around old sepia photos of freak shows.  I worried this might be a little bit cheesy, especially when the American kid went to visit Wales… but it’s actually not.  I’m very curious to know what happens next.
  • The Sisters BrothersPatrick De Witt
    If you’re a horse lover you may wish to look away.  An absorbing tale of the Wild West, but not the Will Smith kind.  It is a little slow to get started, but once it gets going it is very good.

Interview: EJ Newman

EJ Newman

I was faffing about on the Twitter back in January when SF author Ken MacLeod retweeted a message about 20 Years Later, the debut novel from EJ Newman. I hadn’t come across her work previously, but a quick look at her website told me I had to get in touch to find out more, as her creative output puts mine to shame!  She found time in her busy schedule to answer a few questions about her debut novel (a mystery set in post-apocalyptic London), current projects (Split Worlds, which involves producing a new story every week for a year and a day) and supporting local bookshops.

“I’m often asked what it is about dystopian novels that grabs the YA reader’s imagination, and I always like to point out this is nothing new – every generation post-apocalyptic and dystopian novels have a surge in popularity. When I was growing up it was The Tripods and Empty World (that was the first post-apocalyptic novel I read) and there’s the perennial appeal of the books 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 for example. The only different today is that the “YA market” has been explicitly defined in a way it wasn’t the last time this sub-genre was popular.

That aside, the reason it keeps being popular is quite simple I think; dystopian fiction explores problems and threats that already exist all around us, but writ large. In most dystopian fiction the reader is given a hero who resists the system, who wants to fight despite how dangerous it is – thereby enabling us to live out our own fantasies vicariously. When I was a teen, I was constantly furious at adults who were simply ignoring terrible things going on in the world. In dystopian fiction, the heroes actually do something about it.

Continue reading “Interview: EJ Newman”

Pictonaut Challenge – Faces in the Woods

I have some lunchtime reading for you in the form of February’s Pictonaut Challenge, hooray!  This picture screams fantasy, I’m sure you will agree, so I cracked out some silly names and had at it.  Enjoy.

“Fancy a bit of banana loaf?” Razir said hopefully.  He really wasn’t looking forward to trying to cross the ravine, but the other two were eager to press on.  There again, both of them could swim. 

“It’s got nuts in,” he added lamely.

Continue reading “Pictonaut Challenge – Faces in the Woods”

Interview: Angry Robot Books

Jhonen Vasquez (http://www.questionsleep.com/)

Some publishers think technological changes in the way we read may herald the end of books.  Lee Harris, editor of “SF, F and WTF?!” publishers Angry Robot Books (home to books by Dan Abnett, Andy Remic, Chuck Wendig and a host of others – my title tip is The World House by Guy Adams) says not.  In this interview he explains why…

How and when did Angry Robot Books get started?
Angry Robot was founded by Marc Gascoigne in the summer of 2008 as part of HarperCollins. We published our first titles in the UK and Australia in July 2009 and in the US and Canada in September 2010.

What is the robot so upset about?
He’s not upset. He’s angry. Big difference. Pray you never find out why…

Continue reading “Interview: Angry Robot Books”

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