Reading Urban Fantasy “Classics”

I’ve been thinking about some of the Urban Fantasy books on my wishlist and shelves. A lot of these are books that I added to my to-read list when I was still discovering the Urban Fantasy genre. I wanted to know what was the best, what people always recommended and then, more often than not, I went out bought them all. Now, of course, many of them I did read. Patricia Briggs, Laurell K. Hamilton, Kelley Armstrong, Chloe Neill, etc. etc!

But many I just never got to and… that makes me both a wee bit sad and a wee bit glad. The latter because it means I still have fantastic new literary-universes to explore!

Anyhow, here’s a look at some of the books I’ve “really, honestly, I promise” been meaning to get to. I can’t recommend them myself, but they are considered “classics”* for a reason!

As you can see, I have a lot of good books still on my list! The Kitty series, for instance, is supposed to be a must-read for fans of Kelley Armstrong and – hello! – features a radio host! And hell, the Dresden Files I kinda just want to read in order to get into the fandom.

C.E. Murphy is one of those authors I constantly see featured at Forbidden Planet and always kick myself for not having gotten to. And then there’s the Fever series – which everyone and their mother raves about but is still on my list… how did that happen? Or what about Rob Thurman? I remember including her in a post of male authors (oops) almost 6 years ago now… and yet. 🙂

SO! I am taking it upon myself to kick off a personal challenge: read some Urban Fantasy “classics” and find some new favourites.

This is not a deadline challenge, but rather a perpetual reminder to self. I plan to get to some of these books this year (I’m looking at you, Carrie Vaughn) and will let you know how I get on!

* Just in case some of you are feeling extra pedantic, I remind you that I am using the word “classic” very lightly. Not to mention the fact that “urban fantasy” is still a relatively new genre (25 odd-years old, though there are older works that could probably fit the under the title as well). So, yes, these novels are millennials – but they are still “classics” in my book!

My “dead-tree” book problem

Alicia Martin Biografias

When things go very wrong for a booklover. (“Biografias” installation art by Alicia Martin – check out her site for more great art!)

I’m planning on moving later this year. This big decision comes along with an even bigger one: what the hell do I do with the 300+ books I have crammed on my shelves.

It’s been many years since I’ve had to do a “proper” move. In fact, last time swapped homes, I convinced my former landlord to store my stuff for the sole reason of not wanting to move my books. Those books are still there, FYI… and do not include the hundreds of “keeper” books I have at my mother’s! Some might say I have a problem – but I disagree. There is no such thing as “too many books”… but there is something called “not enough bloody space”.

So I’ve decided to clean house… well, this house at least. I am looking at what I own already, comparing that to what I have in digital format and then being ruthless about it. Basically: unless it is a signed edition or has a super-gorgeous cover, it is leaving the building. (Yes, I am making decisions based on cover art – I am superficial that way.) I am also putting an end to paper ARCs and charity book shopping, because that way lies even more madness.

This is really hard for me, because I absolutely adore my “dead-tree” editions. As much as I love the convenience of ebooks, nothing quite replaces the feel of a book in your hand. But sometimes you just have to think practically. I ordered about 4.5 kilos worth of comic books the other day and, as I was picking them up, thought, “What the hell are you doing, Kay?”.

Of course, I will never stop buying paper books. Impossible. I plan to die surrounded by more books than anyone could ever possibly read. But I am going to start weighing space vs. desire for every purchase. I don’t need to have the paper version when an ebook can provide the same experience.

Anyone else suffering from similar woes? I imagine there are plenty of us – especially among the blogger community!

My new comic book… obsession… thing [aka Comic Books 101 by WOMEN]

A small selection of the comic books that are TRYING TO TAKE OVER MY LIFE. (No, not trying. I am letting them. They are awesome.)

A small selection of the comic books that are TRYING TO TAKE OVER MY LIFE. (No, not trying. I am letting them. They are awesome.)

At some point between returning from BEA and enjoying the genius that was X-Men: Days of Future Past (OMG that movie), I made the executive decision that comic books were going to be my new thing. Because anything that has created so many awesome spin-off products (Avengers! The Walking Dead! TONY STARK!) had to be pretty awesome.

Now, my main concern about comic books: the gender thing. I worry about anything that is male-dominated, as I have no desire to patronize ANYTHING filled with the male-gaze. Life is short. Sexism is so 1880s. Female empowerment FTW.

In fact, I had tried to get into comics a few years ago… and stopped. I wandered into Forbidden Planet’s comic section and was glared at by creepy male teenagers… add to that the fact I had no idea what I was looking for and… I didn’t go back!

But forewarned is forearmed. So, I went into research mode and first decided to hit up youtube for some recommendations… and recommendations by women, if possible. There was a lot! First off, the lovely Priscilla over at The Readables was also starting out in the comic book world, so her beginners video is was a good place to start with the terminology. Knowing that the paperback editions of the comics were just bind-ups and not some super-special long edition? Really useful bloody thing to know.

Next I discovered the awesome comicbookgirl19. She is super into the superhero side and is, well, a total expert. Her comic book video for nooblers was super useful. One of her videos hooked me up with the Thor: God of Thunder series (and I lurved it). So much so, that I have to get you into it as well:

And through the awesome comicbookgirl19 came Amy Dallen of Geek & Sundry! I’d recommend ALL of her comic book videos as she is SO inspired by comic books. It is her work and her passion – her enthusiasm is for comics is totally catching. I am like “YES COMIC BOOKS WILL EMPOWER FUTURE GENERATIONS OF WOMEN TO BE AWESOME SUPERHEROS” whenever I watch her videos 🙂

I hope these videos help you get into comic books the way they have helped me. I have LOVED what I’ve picked up so far and have already spent an obscene amount of money on new titles. I FEEL NO GUILT AND LURVE IT ALL.


Book Talk: Where did all these spaceships come from (and how can I make them leave)?

Book Talk: Sci-fi YA

At BEA, it was clear that YA sci-fi was definitely an up-and-coming genre. Entangled by Amy Rose Capetta was featured in the YA Author focus panel, The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey was all the rage and ARCs of Rush by Eve Silver (review) and These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner were making the rounds. But taking a look at YA releases for 2014, I can’t help but notice an overwhelming amount of intergalactic travel.

And it makes me nervous.

Some 2013 Sci-Fi YA novels that got a lot of buzz at BEA. 

See, while I’ve had great success reading apocalyptic YA, vampire YA, zombie YA, you-hadn’t-even-heard-of-this-monster YA… I haven’t had too much success with Sci-Fi YA. Let me clarify: it’s spaceship Sci-Fi YA is what I’ve had trouble with. I tried reading Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan and Across the Universe by Beth Revis and couldn’t stand either of them. Both seemed like bad action/romance novels that just happen to be set in space.

No, really. They sucked.

Upcoming 2014 Sci-fi YA releases.

On the other hand, I’ve got my overwhelming desire to love anything with a big ol’ spaceship in it. I’m a big trekkie and browncoat, and really really want to see what I love brought out in YA. But most of the time, the books turn out to be like Star Trek: Into Darkness: complete fiascos that miss the entire point of science fiction.

That said, maybe things are turning around? I recently completed The 5th Wave and Rush – and while I found neither to be absolutely spectacular, they were certainly enjoyable. I’m also a few dozen pages into the sci-fi YA novel, These Broken Stars, and while it is still too early to say for sure, I am really enjoying it. The writing is surprisingly solid and I have a feeling the characters will be too. So… maybe things are looking up?

Out of the 2014 books, there are a couple that look of interest (I’m talking about Salvage by Alexandra Duncan)… but I have to say that Alienated by Melissa Landers sounds like it will either be an epic fail or an epic win. That one will really depend on execution.

So, what do we think of this new trend? Will more books mean more good books… or do I have a lot of mediocre to look forward to?

The End is Year (The 2011 Challenge Wrap-up Post)

Another year, another bunch of not-so-completed challenges! 2011 will officially go down as the year that I didn’t quite make it.

For starters, I only managed to read 63 books. That’s eight less than last year! That just seems wrong… I feel like I should have either improved my “count” or at least stayed the same. While, yes, I know it is not about the numbers, I still feel like I missed out on a whole bunch of books this year because I just didn’t have the time. This year? I will have to find the time.

In terms of challenges, I signed up to only four last year… and successfully completed one. For the second year running, I signed up for the Debut YA Author Challenge. I managed to read 9/12 debut novels – not bad! Unfortunately, quite a few of the debut books I read were duds. Not bad, per say, but not great. But, of course, some were fantastic – like Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor and Enclave by Ann Aguirre.

Then there was the A-Z Challenge, which I can’t say I really participated in. Even though I updated the list with the books I’d read, I didn’t go out of my way to read books that started with letters I hadn’t read. I thought that the challenge might get me to read books I wouldn’t have otherwise… but it didn’t.

I also signed up for the Off the Shelf Challenge, in which I had to read 50 books I already owned. I didn’t do too badly, reading 31 novels that had been on my shelves the year before. In fact, now that I think of that, I’m rather proud of my 31 books!

One challenge I did complete this year was the TBR Newbies Mini-Challenge. I have always enjoyed the New Author Mini Challenges held by Literary Escapism, and this one was no exception! The challenge got me to read books by Naomi Novik, Suzanne Collins and Alan Brennert – all of whom made my Top Ten list of the year. I think I might actually sign up for the New Authors challenge this year, seeing how well I’ve been doing with the mini-challenges…

And that’s all for 2011. I’ll be summing up my reading resolutions for 2012 sometime tomorrow… they should look something like this:

  1. Read books.
  2. Read good books.
  3. Read excellent books.
  4. DNF bad books.

Getting a Kindle: Why I Finally Gave In [BTT]

Booking through ThursdayE-readers like the Kindle and iPad are sweeping the nation … do you have one? Do you like it? Do you find it changes your reading/buying habits? If you don’t have one, do you plan to?

After years of holding out hope that this e-reader business would just go away… I am getting a Kindle (this one, to be specific). It’s official – feel free to alert the press.

Seeing as how I am a devoted real-book lover, how on Earth did I come to such a conclusion? I’ll give you two words: Law Books. In case I’ve never mentioned it, I started studying Law part time last year. And whilst I do love spreading the books around me in a sort of research seance, travelling with them is a bitch. Altogether, they weigh – I kid you not – 20 kilos. Twenty kilograms. After putting them on the scale, my only thought was, “I really, really need a Kindle”.

But there are other things that I am looking forward to using my Kindle for. For starters, Netgalley is probably going to become my main new source of reading material. I have read and reviewed books from Netgalley before, but I have always found that reading them on the computer diminishes my enjoyment of the book. Which is odd, considering I have read fanfiction online for years without a problem. Oh, I suppose I could put fics on my Kindle as well… now that would just be odd.

But why the Kindle and not the iPad or another tablet computer? I present my list of well-thought-out reasons:

  • E-ink. Don’t get me wrong, I love beautiful, shiny, high-resolution screens as much as the next girl. But I spend all day reading and typing in front of a computer. My reading time is the only time my eyes catch a break. Also, I will want to take my Kindle on day trips… the type that involve reading during the, ya know, daytime.
  • Price. I am a reluctant e-book buyer. As such, I really have no desire to spend an excessive amount of money on my new e-book. The Kindle fits that requirement perfectly.
  • International usage. The new Kindle can be used anywhere in the world, which is brilliant. I cannot wait to be stuck on a train to Russia (or whatever) and saying “ooh, I think I’ll get the latest book in the X series”. 
  • Internet browser. When desperate, the Kindle can be used as a tablet computer. One never knows.
Also, the Kindle’s new lending library couldn’t be better timed. I am just waiting for Amazon UK to set it up!
For those of you who are thinking about getting a Kindle I hope this helped!