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 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.

I was thinking of this because I’ve recently been reading the Throne of Glass series, which is full of villains that change their colours and show their softer sides, as well as morally questionable heroes and heroines in general. I’ve also finished the Red Rising trilogy, which has so many characters crossing back and forth it’s hard to tell who’ll be left standing on the “good” side in the end. Clearly, it’s something many readers, myself included, enjoy.

So what is it that’s so compelling about this ‘crossing over’ from evil to good? Here is my attempt at breaking it down: Continue reading

6 Famous Fairy Tale Writers and Collectors

Most of us know a few fairy and folk tales, and have grown up seeing multiple renditions and retellings of these stories. But less of us are familiar with the collections that popularised them, or the writers that penned the versions we know today. So I thought I’d have a look at 6 fairy tale collectors and writers that have given us some of our most beloved fairy tales: Continue reading

Poisons, Antidotes and Remedies in Fantasy

The dramatic regicide-by-poison in Game of Thrones may have placed them centre-stage, but poisons have always been rife in the fantasy and science fiction genres, along with antidotes and remedies.

Poisoning may simply seem like a convenient (if dastardly) way to kill a character, but poisons and antidotes are used in a variety of ways to add twists, tension, and complexities to fantasy plots. Continue reading

What Makes a Good Book Tagline?

A great tagline can help sell books and give readers an idea of what kind of story they’re picking up. However, titles, covers and blurbs play a much larger role in book marketing, so taglines (aka straplines or endlines in the UK) are rarely discussed. We’re more likely to associate them with the subtitles on movie posters or trailers, and most of us would be hard-pressed to quote the tagline of our favourite novel. In spite of this, I’d wager that at least one out of every two books you pick up will have a slogan or catchphrase that appears on its front or back cover.

So this week I’ve collected 20 stand-out taglines from various books on my shelf and analysed which ones I like, which ones I don’t, and why I believe they do or don’t do a good job of selling the novel. Continue reading

A Trip to Braavos and King’s Landing

I recently spent a week in Spain and made sure to fit in a day in Girona into my schedule. It’s a beautiful, ancient city with an impressive medieval wall, and it’s also got an airport with cheap flights to the rest of Europe… but I’d be lying if I pretended it was anything other than pure nerdy Game of Thrones fandom that peaked my interest. Continue reading

How My Dad Ended Up in a Potter Queue

Okay, so this is going to be a bit of a short post this week, but I wanted to write about something that happened to my dad recently because I found it amusing, and because Father’s Day is coming up this Sunday (in Australia anyway). Continue reading