Why Auroras Are Like Magic

I recently ventured north of the Arctic Circle in the middle of winter. As you can probably tell from the title of this post, it wasn’t just because I wanted to frolic in the snow, ride husky sleds and marvel at the rare appearances of the sun (though I enjoyed doing all of these things), but because I wanted to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, which are more likely to be spied during the darkness of long winter nights.

Incredible videos like this one – a time-lapse of images taken from the International Space Station – had whet my appetite for auroras: Continue reading

How Long Should a Fantasy Book Be?

It’s a question often asked by aspiring authors wondering if their manuscript is several thousand words too long or short, but it’s also an intriguing one for readers to consider: is there an ideal length for a fantasy novel?

Every book is different and for any suggested word or page count you see, you are likely to encounter several popular fantasy books that are outside of it. Nonetheless, as someone who reads a lot in the genre and has also submitted work to competitions, agents and publishers, I thought I’d tackle this topic from three different perspectives:

  • how long popular published fantasy novels are,
  • how long the industry (agents, publishers, competitions) prefers them to be,
  • how long readers prefer them to be.

Continue reading

The Magic of a Brilliant Book Brilliantly Read: The Gentleman Bastards Audiobooks

The Gentleman Bastards is a much-loved fantasy series that is particularly popular in audiobook format. Fans who’ve listened to the audiobooks regularly recommend them, the narrator Michael Page has won awards for his performances (including his narration of The Lies of Locke Lamora), and author Scott Lynch has made no secret of the fact he thinks Page does a brilliant job: Continue reading

My Top 5 Fantasy and Science Fiction TV Series

I’ve long been a fan of fantasy and sci-fi TV shows, and although I don’t have time to watch as many as I would like (I guess I’m reading too many books!) if a good one comes along I’m liable to get addicted. For example, I recently finished watching the first season of Westworld and had to force myself not devote all my waking hours bingeing on it. The experience had me trying to remember which other fantasy and science fiction shows had a similar effect. After some thinking, I’ve narrowed it down to the five I like most: Continue reading

Book Stats for 2016

I love bookish statistics, and what they reveal about people’s reading habits. I enjoy it when I come across them on other blogs (for example on Magic of Books), so even though I didn’t read a huge number of books in 2016 compared to other people I know, I thought it might still be fun to see what the stats on the humble selection I did read look like… and to satisfy my nerdy appreciation for graphs and charts. Continue reading

My Favourite Fantasy and Science Fiction Books in 2016

Well it’s that time of year again – the time when bookworms set their reading challenges, make a bookish resolution or two, and muse on what novels they enjoyed most during this particular loop around the sun. So to join in the New Year’s spirit, here are the 6 best fantasy and sci-fi books (and/or series) that I read in 2016: Continue reading

Amazing Concept, Disappointing Film: ‘Upside Down’ Could Have Been Great

I don’t normally write movie reviews… in fact, I don’t even really write book reviews, I just occasionally mention or rate books I like. But this week I had to make an exception, because I recently watched a film on Netflix that irked me, not because it was terrible (though I did find many aspects of it to be terrible) but because it could have been so good. It could have made it onto my favourite sci-fi films of all time list. Continue reading

The Quirks of Buying Books in Germany: Fixed Pricing and the ‘Buchpreisbindung’

I regularly receive promotional offers from a German book store chain called Thalia for discounts on their products (e.g. “12% off everything today!”). However, there’s always a little asterisk, and in the fine print you see something to the effect of:

*Not valid for use on books or ebooks due to the Buchpreisbindung.

Given this is primarily a book store, it seemed pretty strange they never sent me discount vouchers to tempt me to buy actual books.  Continue reading

When Evil Characters Switch Sides

I haven’t been blogging for a few weeks – I put everything on hold because I was visiting family and wanted to make the most of that time, since I don’t get to see them often (they are on the other side of the world!). But now I’m home I thought I’d get back into things with a short post on something I love in fantasy: evil characters turning good.

Sure, I like a plain old dastardly villain I can hate, but a seemingly evil character who gradually discovers their soft, gooey core, and crosses over to join the good guys? No matter how many times I see it, if it’s done well it still gives me the warm and fuzzies. Continue reading