Friday, 17 December 2010

Another Book Challenge for 2011...

The 2011 Stephen King Challenge!
Hosted by BookChickCity
Welcome to The 2011 Stephen King Challenge! I love horror, and I've loved every Stephen King book I've read. Unfortunately that's not that many. I really want to read more books written by this amazing author, which is why I created this challenge. So, if like me you want to delve further into the dark imagination of Stephen King, then join me in my quest!
This time to read a minimum of 6 Stephen King books in 2011. I can do that! The Stand is long overdue a re-read and I also have the entire Dark Tower series sitting neatly on the shelf. OK, that's 8 so far. And I still haven't read Under the Dome, On Writing or Full Dark No Stars yet. One more to choose and that gives me 12. Will have to think about that... I haven't read either It or The Tommyknockers, are they worth reading? Or what would you recommend instead? Let me know what Stephen King book should make the list in the comments.

Reviews will be published on this site so watch out for the first one in January. 
All reviews will be tagged with #SKChallenge2011

Thursday, 16 December 2010

2010: the year of the book

I think I can safely say that 2010 has been the best year of my life in terms of reading and books in general. Hyperbole? I don't think so... I have found a host of new authors (old and new) to read; made friends with some lovely and talented people; reviewed over 60 books; attended 2 conferences; had my name published in the acknowledgements section of a forthcoming book; had quotes from my reviews used in book trailers and on book websites; attended book signings; learned a lot about the speculative fiction genre; set up a personal blog and joined a group review blog... this has been the year when I immersed myself into my passion. Books, reading and writing about what I have read. And I have loved every minute of it!

It's a big wide multiverse out there

My Best of 2010 has been published at Speculative Book Review along with the other collaborators' lists. It makes for interesting reading as our tastes vary considerably within the speculative fiction genre. Read the post here.
What I realised when compiling my list was that I had read less new releases than I thought. Some of the books I loved best were first published in the 70's and 80's. I have been discovering a rich seam of unmined gems in the form of classic SF and Fantasy.
[Picture from]

I reviewed books by:
  • Octavia Butler
  • Sheri S. Tepper
  • Christopher Priest
  • Joanna Russ. 
I read short stories by:
  • Howard Walthrop
  • Pamela Sargent
  • Avram Davidson
  • Tanith Lee. 
I sought out books by:
  • Gwyneth Jones
  • Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Elizabeth Bear
  • Charles de Lint.
What about the new and shiny? Well, I can be distracted by 'the next big thing' as much as the next person and have discovered some excellent new authors, most of whom had their publishing debut in 2010. There is some incredible new talent out there, and many of these are women, which always pleases me. Of the guys, these are names to watch:
  • Mark Charan Newton
  • Blake Charlton
  • Adam Neville
  • M.D. Lachlan
  • Stephen Deas
  • Scott Harrison
  • Gary McMahon
  • Sam Sykes
  • Mike Shevdon
  • J.C. Marino
There has been a lot of debate on a range of blogs and forums about women writing speculative fiction. All I will say on the subject is more, more, more! There are not enough women being published, partularly in science fiction yet some of the best new talent out there is female, especially in the realm of Fantasy. Here are my recommendations:
  • N.K. Jemisin
  • Catherynne M. Valente
  • Aliette de Bodard
  • Lauren Beukes
  • Kaaron Warren
  • Seanan McGuire
  • Kim Lakin-Smith
  • Jaine Fenn
  • Suzanne McLeod
  • Elizabeth Bear

And to all the new friends I have made: from bloggers, to authors, to tweeters and beyond, a very big thank you to you all, I couldn't have come this far without you. You know who you are and I appreciate every one of you. 

A few special mentions: Yagiz, Ty, Peter and Victoria at Speculative Book Review, Harry at Temple Library Reviews; Gav, ex of Nextreads for Short Story Month; Jason and Amanda for Eastercon; Mark CN for keeping me up to date with environmental issues. And to Kev, I have only one word to say to you... "Olives!"

[Cover of City of Hope and Despair by Ian Whates (released early 2011?)]

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Taking up the Speculative Reading Challenge 2011

One of my (many) New Year's resolutions is to read those classic Science Fiction and Fantasy novels I have bought but never actually got round to reading. Amanda at Floor to Ceiling Books is hosting the Speculative Reading Challenge for 2011 and so I have decided I will join in this time.

My aim is to read and review at least two books per month (one female and one male author) here on this site and the provisional list is as follows:

  • The Earthsea Quartet by Ursula Le Guin
  • Replay by Ken Grimwood
  • Daggerspell by Katherine Kerr
  • Sailing to Sarantium by Guy Gavriel Kay
  • Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite
  • Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Transformation by Carol Berg
  • A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
  • Bold as Love by Gwyneth Jones
  • Life During Wartime by Lucius Shepard
  • Ash: A Secret History by Mary Gentle
  • The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
  • The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Keeping it Real by Justina Robson
  • The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
  • Deerskin by Robin McKinley
  • Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delaney
  • Sacrifice by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams
  • Snake Agent by Liz Williams
  • The Wild Wood by Charles de Lint
  • Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  • Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart
An ambitious list perhaps, but as I already own all of these books, this is a good opportunity to read them and to find out what makes them firm favourites with many of my fellow bloggers and reviewers.