First, it’s still Friday. Have some chipper flute-and-guitar action, from the re-orchestrated soundtrack from a video game from 1998.
For those who have read THR, this was the song in my playlist for the introduction of the Golden Caravan. It’s kind of cheesy, but I still love it. And that title: “Everyday is a Carnival ~ The Even More Glorious, Beautiful Golden City”. Awesome. Tilde and all. (Though the song just ends mid-phrase; it’s not this video. Same on the CD.)
It’s been a while since I’ve caught up with books I’ve read, so this will be an unusually long one. But I have read a lot of Book 1s so far this year.
Side note: I don’t do affiliate links. These are just links.
Fantasy / Science Fiction & Related Genres
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin – Epic-scale in that it largely concerns gods trapped in mortal form and the human dynasty they use/are used by. Gloriously weird climax.
Magic Bites, Ilona Andrews – Urban fantasy/romance-flavored. I don’t read a lot of UF, so I wanted to try more.
Kei’s Gift, Ann Somerville – Fantasy, the type with armies massing and complicated cultural clashes and politics and such. Also crosses over to m/m romance. With angst. So it was a long whiff of catnip for me.
A Call to Arms, Shiriluna Nott – Epic fantasy, YA, m/m romance. Very cute. And the next volume should be out this year!
Pocket Apocalypse, Seanan McGuire – Urban fantasy, book 4 of the InCryptid series. InCryptid is the one urban fantasy series that I follow rabidly of my own accord (not because everyone else I know is reading it, and I need to stay current in order to keep up with everyday conversation). Why? Well, its protagonists are unpowered mortals who train and study their faces off to get the badass skills they wield; and it revolves around cryptids and other mythological/paranormal creatures.
Scrapplings, Amelia Smith – An unusual take on epic fantasy. The characters are quite young, and they don’t seem to realize that they’re in the prologue to an epic fantasy. They act and think as though they’re in a Dickensian street-urchin hardscrabble novel – which they are – but there are also prophecies and secret royal heirs and magic powers breathing down all of their necks, which they either take for granted or ignore. It’s an interesting combination of factors.
My story with the Romance genre is that I came to it late in life, and I’m now playing catch-up. I don’t have clear favorite subgenres yet, so I’ve been trying different things and mostly navigating by trope (I like stories like this, not so much like that).
While It Was Snowing, Elyssa Patrick – Contemporary novella. I’d seen it recommended as a non-alpha-male m/f romance, and I am always up for one of those. I swear this book existed, but it seems to be gone now. Collector’s item!
The Duchess War and The Heiress Effect, Courtney Milan – Historical (Victorian). I am really under-acquainted with historicals; my Kindle is still stuffed with Regencies that I haven’t read yet. These make up part of the Brothers Sinister series. I quite liked them, but wanted to switch gears for a bit before finishing the series. Especially since the third hero is a Victorian-era scientist; in other words, I’m saving dessert.
The Understatement of the Year, Sarina Bowen – Contemporary new-adult. It’s the third in a series, but each of them works separately too. I may have mentioned this one in my last book post, back on Tumblr. But I reread it. Within a couple months of reading it the first time. I must have been having a bad week. So yes, this is about the first out gay college hockey player and his torturously closeted high school sweetheart. On re-read, I was more mellow about Graham’s self-sabotaging moves/attitude.
Trade Me, Courtney Milan – Contemporary new-adult. I’d picked this up when it was new based on the “billionaire story for people who don’t like billionaire stories” verdict out in blogland. I have yet to try a billionaire story in my catching-up phase, because the concept has never appealed to me. But I started reading after hearing an interview with the author about some of the themes/ideas. So all those romance novel billionaires – when do they ever actually do any work, and what do their companies DO, and what about capital gains tax? Plus, she had a self-imposed rule that the hero would not shower the heroine with gifts. If I hadn’t already been sold, I’d be sold. And it did not disappoint.
Trust the Focus, Megan Erickson – Contemporary new-adult. “I’m secretly in love with my best friend and we’re on a road trip” SOLD! And there’s a heartfelt grief subplot SOLD! Also, neither of them is an alpha jerk SOLD TWICE IF I COULD! …that’s what I mean by navigating by trope.
World of Trouble, Ben H. Winters – The conclusion to The Last Policeman trilogy. I don’t normally go for mysteries/police procedurals, and I’m an occasional apocalyptic reader at best, but I happened to glom onto this (pre-)apocalyptic police mystery.
Books About Writing/Publishing
Rise of the Spider Goddess, Jim C. Hines – An amusingly annotated version of an early novel. I admit that I skimmed a lot of the novel itself to get to the commentary.
The Indie Author Power Pack, a box set consisting of:
Write. Publish. Repeat., Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant
Let’s Get Digital, David Gaughran
How to Market a Book, Joanna Penn
I read these right after releasing my first book, and got a brain-blast of information that I don’t think I fully absorbed. I’ll have to reread all of them now that I’ve had some time to digest what I’ve learned since.
2,000 to 10,000 (or 2k to 10k), Rachel Aaron – How to organize and approach a writing session in order to create the conditions amenable to getting a lot done. I love the approach that it should be fun and exciting to work on your story, and if you aren’t feeling it, the problem may be that the scene is wonky – not that you’re a lazy/terrible writer, my usual frustrated assumption. This is not the main point of the book, but it still had a big effect on me.
Invisible: Personal Essays on Representation in SF/F, an essay anthology – I felt a bit like I am not the target audience for this anthology, since I already think that representation is important. I felt as though I were being convinced of something that I already believe. However, if this is an unfamiliar concept to you, I really recommend it.
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Renni Browne & Dave King – I saw this highly recommended around the indiesphere, and I have to pass along the recommendation. I look forward to cracking this open again when I dive into the next round of editing.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King – A classic. I found some parts of it frustrating, but all of it entertaining.
The Elements of Style, William Strunk – Plugged all over On Writing; I realized I hadn’t gone through it in a decade or two.
Reader Magnets, Nick Stephenson – Also plugged everywhere, and I grabbed it because it was free. Turns out its major advice is… offering stuff for free. OK, it’s more complex than that, but I was amused.
Take Off Your Pants! Outline Your Books for Better, Faster Writing, Libbie Hawker – People who write without first making an outline are said to “write by the seat of their pants”, or call themselves “pantsers” for short. So there’s the title. As a person who really wants to outline but never quite got the hang of it, I was intrigued. It is a very character-centric approach, which I appreciate.
So that’s my reading list for 2015 so far. Next time: update more often.
Edit to add: Updated my personal Goodreads account for the first time in about 2 years. TBR pile: 117. That’s not as bad as I thought it was. Good news.