My last post was about adjectives that turn me off books in promotional material, so this week I thought I’d turn it around and look at some common book-selling adjectives that might make me more likely to read a novel. Of course, no one word alone is going to sell me something, but there are a few that would help pique my interest if other signs are good.
I’ve ruled out obvious genre-markers like “fantasy” and “science fiction” (from the title of this blog it’s already pretty obvious I like those kinds of books), and narrowed it down to five that are most likely to catch my eye or appeal to my personal tastes: Continue reading
Whether it’s in a blurb, a social media post, an email from an author or publicist, or an advertisement, I often see adjectives used to promote books… and while some of those adjectives do their job well, I’ve noticed others immediately rub me up the wrong way. These seemingly innocuous little words provoke grimaces or eye-rolls, instead of doing what they’re presumably meant to do: make me want to read the book.
Of course, these are specific to me and my personal tastes, but I thought for some fun, and in case it helps anyone know how not to promote a book to someone like me, I’d list a few that stand out. Continue reading
Hugo Awards Ceremony Booklet, Worldcon 2019
Back in June I set myself the goal of reading as many of the finalists for this year’s Hugo Awards as possible, and in the end I was pretty happy with what I managed. So on the awards night at Worldcon I bustled into the auditorium, ready to cheer for my favourites… and not a single of my top picks won! I wasn’t too crestfallen, since I also liked the ones that did win, but it goes to show you how varied tastes are when it comes to awards. Apparently some of the categories were decided by a slim margin of votes, so there was stiff competition.
In light of this, and since everyone always talks about the winners, I thought I’d take this opportunity to give a shout out to some of the finalists which didn’t win, but which I personally thought were fantastic. Continue reading
“Welcome to Dublin 2019: An Irish Worldcon” reception area sign, Dublin CCD
Between trying to read as many books before the Hugo voting deadline as possible, finalising a draft of a novel, going to Worldcon, going on holiday, and getting all my wisdom teeth out (a nice treat I saved for my return home), it’s taken a while to find the time to blog again… but I’ve finally managed it, so I thought I’d share a few pics and experiences I took away from my first World Science Fiction Convention.
I often like to look at which books get nominated for fantasy and science fiction awards. A nomination doesn’t always mean I’ll like a book, because I’ve come across winners I’ve loved and others I’ve hated, but I enjoy finding out whether I agree with the choices. I rarely actually vote in any awards, either because I can’t, or because I don’t have time to read the shortlisted entrants before the deadline, and I don’t like to choose without having considered them all.
This year, however, I’m going to WorldCon, so for the first time ever I’m able to vote in one of the biggest SF&F awards out there: the Hugos! I’m pretty excited about it, so I decided I’m going to try to read the finalists in as many categories as I can before the online ballot submission closes on July 31st.
I’m a slow reader, so I don’t know how many I’ll manage, but here are the main categories I’m going to attempt: Continue reading
So this post is coming ridiculously late in the year, after everyone else has long finished their reflections on 2018… but I got so side-tracked doing that fantasy decades series that I never gave a shout out to my favourite reads from last year, which seemed a shame. So I figured: better late than never!
I read lots of wonderful books, but I’ve chosen the 5 that most impressed and bewitched me. For each I’m just going to say why I loved them (in a spoiler-free way), so if you want to know in more detail what they’re about, you can click on the links to read the blurbs on Goodreads. Continue reading
So at long last I’ve come to the final decade I’ll cover in this series: the 00s! This period saw a surge in fantasy films and television shows, with adaptations of The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and The Chronicles of Narnia bringing the genre and its classics to new audiences. The “Noughties” were also crucial for paranormal romance and young adult fantasy – sales grew exponentially, in no small part due to the success of Twilight. Many series from this decade are still being added to today.
Below I’ve listed what I believe to be the 12 most popular or influential fantasy novels published between 2000 and 2010. I’ve tried to use the original cover from that year where possible. Series titles are included in brackets: Continue reading
As a child of the 90s I confess to having a particular soft spot for this decade… but personal biases aside, this was an important one for fantasy. Best-sellers boosted the genre to further heights (the phenomenon that was Harry Potter started in 1997), and many popular series that began in the 90s are still being written today, not to mention adapted into to film and television hits.
Below I’ve listed what I believe to be the 12 most popular or influential fantasy novels published between 1990 and 2000. I’ve tried to use the original cover from that year where possible. Series titles are included in brackets: Continue reading
First edition of The Colour of Magic
by Terry Pratchett, Colin Smythe, 1983. Image
After the boom of the 60s and 70s the fantasy genre continued to enjoy mainstream popularity, with many 80s authors branching into new sub-genres and styles. Fantasy tropes were so established that works of comic fantasy, which poked fun at them and were humorous in tone, became increasingly popular. Urban fantasy as we now know it also had its early roots in this decade.
Below I’ve listed what I believe to be the 12 most popular or influential fantasy novels published between 1980 and 1990. I’ve tried to use the original cover from that year where possible. Series titles are included in brackets: Continue reading
Medieval illustration of the four elements, seasons, solstices, zodiac signs and ages of man. Image from Wikimedia
This week I’m excited to bring you a guest post from urban fantasy author Ken Hughes, who’s taking a closer look at the four elements and the use of elemental magic systems. Ken is the author of the Whisperers Series and the Spellkeeper Flight Series, and has recently released his latest book, Freefall:
“Water. Earth. Fire. Air.” Those are the first words in Avatar: The Last Airbender, but we’ve seen the same four-elements structure of magic and worldbuilding in so many other fantasy stories that the dreaded word “cliché” is never far away.
Still, the difference between a cliché and a classic might just be how long it’s been since we’ve seen that idea handled well (which Avatar does, yes). And fantasy does love its classics. Continue reading