Exciting news about… me!

Greetings my fabulous readers ~

Life really can become a whirlwind at times with opportunities popping up when you least expect them. One such opportunity came when Luna Station Quarterly put out a call for bloggers to join their team. I filled out their application hoping but not knowing what to expect. And then I got the fateful email: “Welcome” and “Come join us!” To which I replied, “Yes!”

There were more words involved, but the basic gist is that I will have a monthly column with Luna Station Quarterly where I get to highlight and share titles from small presses, a huge passion of mine. I am not sure of all the particulars just yet for when it will start, but I will have all that information soon and will provide updates and links.

I have titled my column “Beyond the Front Tables” because I want to focus on the stories out there readers may have missed or that bookstores don’t have readily available. Discovering “new-to-me” authors is proving to be a wonderful adventure and I am reading some truly amazing tales I can’t wait to share with everyone.

So, stay tuned my fellow bibliophiles and until next time, happy reading!!

A Thank You Note to Authors and Bookmakers

I wanted to write a quick post to say thank you to all the writers, artists, editors, and publishing gurus that make books possible. Creating books is a labor of love and not an easy task. There are thousands upon thousands of books produced and put into the ether throughout the year.

It is a basically a Thunderdome for books: “10,000 books enter, one book leaves.” It is a vicious career path and I commend anyone that voluntarily enters that blood bath. I try to support the industry from this “low man on the totem pole” position I occupy the best I can in a variety of ways.

I read widely, I give books as gifts for every occasion, I spend nearly every spare dollar on books (more than I can keep up with for reading or with shelf space), I talk about books and give recommendations to friends and co-workers. I try to spread the word, and my love, for books.

I will be eternally grateful to the authors that have pursued their passion of the written word. The ones that couldn’t ignore those voices whispering stories deep in their brain. It is a lonely path, one fraught with doubt and agony, an often thankless endeavor.

But I want to send my “THANK YOU!!” to all those that work tirelessly, hours upon hours, creating and polishing all the books I love to read and own. I am but one voice, but I will use it to shout from the rooftops how much I love you all for doing what you do every day.

Back List Party Time! Let’s Get This Party Started..

As I posted yesterday, I am planning on focusing more time with back list titles for my personal reading this year. Despite the time suck that will be graduate school, I am hoping to really dig deep and get a LOT of personal reading done as well as required reading. (I haven’t even set-up my TV in the new place specifically to avoid the other major time suck.)

And, since so many are sharing their “Shiny and New I Want to Read in 2015” lists I thought I would share my “Yeah, I am SO Behind on Reading” list. This is not an exhaustive list, more a sampling of what I am making a priority in the overall list in the coming year. So, without further ado, and in no particular order, here are some of the titles I hope to inhale this year:

Novels:

  • Of Blood and Honey (and) And Blue Skies From Pain, both by Stina Leicht

Published in 2011 and 2012 respectively these novels bring an interesting political twist to a supernatural conflict. With a premise of Ireland + the 70s + supernatural forces you get something I can’t wait to read. Paul Weimer shared his 2015 list, http://skyseastone.net/jvstin/?p=4064, and he mentioned Stina Leicht’s new title Cold Iron coming out later this year and it looks really intriguing. But I want to treat myself to her early titles first.

Described as a “woven tale of adventure, magic, and the power of the human spirit,” this is a book I need in my life. Karen Lord has a new title coming out this year, The Galaxy Game, which will be her third novel I believe. I have heard so MANY wonderful things about her debut Redemption in Indigo, published in 2010, I decided to start here, then move to her second novel The Best of All Possible Worlds, first published as hardcover in 2013.

“The rich and privileged have fled the city, barricaded it behind roadblocks, and left it to crumble.” I am dying to know what happens in the city and so this is a MUST read for me. I honestly can’t recall where or when this title was brought to my attention but it was originally published in 1998 and I can’t wait to hold this in my hands. I have added her entire back list to my Wish List.

Lagoon is a first contact novel that doesn’t happen in the U.S.. Yes, please. I will read that all day long.  Who Fears Death takes place in a post-apocalyptic Saharan Africa and looks to be a very powerful read, originally published in 2010. Paul had this on his list (linked above) as the U.S. edition is coming out this year. I am too impatient to wait plus I LOVE the UK edition cover so I am ordering now to enjoy sooner rather than later.

I am a horror girl at heart, always will be, and this debut looks incredibly creepy in the VERY best of ways. A wandering spirit doling out vengeance on killers with a plot twist? Sold.

Gary during episode 209 of the Coode Street Podcast stated this book was “striking” and that Brissett was doing really interesting things with gender roles. I found this incredibly intriguing and added it to the list straight away. This book came out in December of 2014 so I hope EVERYONE picks this up.

Something described as “The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Hunger Games” from the perspective of a BEE?! Yeah, I am in. I heard about this first via Simon Savage‘s Twitter feed and he was beyond excited about this novel.

Julie is an amazing person online that I recent e-met via Twitter. She suggested this as a good entry point. It is a best-selling Amazon horror title and has gotten great reviews as an original take on vampires – and I love me some vampire horror!

I waited for the omnibus edition to come out so I could have all the books and the new novella that came out at the end of 2014.  I have heard so many insane things with plot twists and power struggles I have been eagerly awaiting this hefty tome for some time. And it is indeed hefty at 1,453 total pages. I bought it the week it was released but I think for actual reading I might treat myself to the ebook version as well!

I was told this is a wonderful place to start for Martha Wells so I purchased the ebook and a hardcover edition (the hardcover has such beautiful art I couldn’t resist). Anything where “traces of a necromantic power that hasn’t been used for centuries” is involved has my absolute attention.

I was pulled into Frohock’s shorter and recent work/collaborations, but I have long been wanting to go back and read this novel, originally published in 2011. The cover art alone is gorgeous and intriguing. Plus, a novel described as “a compelling tale of faith rediscovered, trust regained, and hope reawakened” is something I could use more of this year.

  • The Complete Bel Dame Apocrypha trilogy: God’s War, Infidel, and Rapture by Kameron Hurley

Everyone I know has already read Hurley’s The Mirror Empire that came out in 2014 and is anxiously awaiting Empire Ascendant, the sequel due this year. While I do own The Mirror Empire, I have been waiting to read it – I am weird in that I like to binge read a whole series at a time, so I wait. That being said, I have heard Hurley on various podcasts (including the Coode Street Podcast) and absolutely adore the way she talks about world-building.  I was torn about waiting and then I discovered this trilogy! This trilogy also received rave reviews for Hurley’s world-building prowess and with a keen change-up of a matriarchy to boot I am more than happy to start here.

Short Story/Novella Collections:

I love author collections that give me a glimpse to the various voices carried within. This looks like a great collection originally published in 2006 with a wide range of story material.  I am REALLY excited for this one.

I have been intrigued by all the titles in this series(five thus far) because it is set in one of my favorite time periods, the turn of the 20th century. Add to that a mystery and magic and I am already hooked.  Elizabeth Bear has a new title coming out next month, Karen Memory, that is getting a lot of buzz but I want to relish some earlier work first. After these titles I think I will pick up Carnival as my first Bear novel. There is just so much to pick from, I am really excited about Bear’s back list!

What better way to discover authors you might have missed than digging into three of the Nebula Award collections??! I can’t think of one and I might continue to work my way back to collect them all over time.

This is a collection of short stories from Swedish author Karin Tidback, the U.S. ebook published in 2012.  This is a collection I accidentally stumbled across while searching for something else, so fortuitous! It is described as a “feast of darkly fantastical” and that pretty much sums up some of my favorite fiction ever. I have a feeling I found another author to be obsessed with for life!

Yoon Ha Lee is an author I found on Twitter and sought out her debut collection based on other Twitter comments. I have had this on my TBR list since last year (it was published in 2013) and this is the year I will finally make the time to feast upon these stories described as “wonderfully fresh and deeply ancient.”

  • Errantry: Strange Stories by Elizabeth Hand

Elizabeth Hand was recommended to me by John Stevens via one of her novels, Available Dark. However, when I came across this title, published in 2012, while creating my extremely long Small Beer Press wish list I knew this is where I would start.  Stories that “tease apart the dark strangeness of everyday life” are EXACTLY why I read short fiction. You get that glimpse into a moment, a portion of time, that is very fleeting but sticks to your bones.  I am incredibly excited to pick this one up.

I have heard so many amazing things about Johansen’s character development and world-building from her Marakand series (The Leopard is the first in the series published last year), but I wasn’t sure if that was where I wanted to start. Then I came across this small collection published in 2008. I purchased the short story collection knowing I was already excited about the author’s current work but I wanted to dig deeper before plunging into such an epic world. This seems like a perfect fit.

* * *

I could keep listing more novels and short story collections to include but I think the above lists give a good idea of what I am making a priority for my 2015 reading. I am playing catch up and will end up behind from all the books coming out this year. But I will keep a list and continue my passion for the Back List!

What about some of your favorite authors? Have you explored all they have written? What about newly discovered authors? If it wasn’t a debut title you just discovered you should seek out their back list while waiting for their next release.  All the cool kids are doing it!

I have linked all the author names to their websites. If you are intrigued by any particular titles you can easily seek out even MORE and keep up to date with anything new forthcoming.  Here is to happy reading and exploring through the Forest of the Back List.

Also, if you can think of any additional titles I might enjoy, or, want to add something you are looking forward to reading please feel free to share in the comments below!  I love talking about books!

2015 Reading Goals

Starting grad school while still working full time will make personal pleasure reading more of a challenge but will still be a priority throughout the year. This will also be the first year I am going to actively track my reading to know more definitely just how much and what I am reading.

My goals in number form:

  1. Read 52 fiction titles
  2. Read 26 non-fiction titles
  3. Read 350 short stories/essays (published individually versus in a book collection)

My general reading goals:

  1. Read more diversely
  2. Read more back list titles
  3. Explore new (to me) non-fiction more broadly
  4. Explore more small press titles and hybrid authors
  5. Track all my reading (in a fun and nerdy spreadsheet)

I debated if I should include required reading for grad school and ultimately decided it counts; reading is still reading. I am also going to subscribe to more journals and magazines for short stories and essays.

Reading is a huge source of happiness for me and I find I buy books more readily than I am making the time to read them. That is a huge focus for me in this coming year. I have not even set-up my TV in my new home to avoid being sucked into mindless dribble I have seen over and over again.

I am hoping required reading and writing for class won’t hinder pleasure reading too severely but I will be able to gauge that more in the coming months once classes start.

It is going to be an exciting year and I look forward to discovering new titles and authors, interacting with fellow readers and authors even more, and sharing my love of the written word with those around me!

2015 and I are going to be GREAT friends!

This year is bringing a lot of change and new endeavors for me. Just to name a few:

  • I moved into my own place in November and am finally getting settled (still a lot to do).
  • I start graduate school January 5th working towards my master’s degree.
  • I am working in a new department at work.
  • I will be attending my first major conventions this year: World Horror Convention and World Fantasy Convention.

Even with all that I have going on I want to do even more with my time and energy. I have many personal goals I am going to also work towards during this coming year. In no particular order:

  1. Learn to knit/crochet. (I want to be able to make gifts for people.  A blanket and a book will make for the best gift packs.)
  2. Read more. (I spent way too much time allowing life and TV to get in the way. Not this year.)
  3. Track my reading. (I have never paid much attention to my reading but this is going to change going forward. I want to read more diversely, read beyond the “front table” and seek out back list titles and small press authors.)
  4. Take better care of me. (I am too quick to turn to processed foods and ignore working out and allow a sedentary lifestyle to take root. This year I am focusing on me and my health. I also want to support local farmers buying produce directly from the farm.)
  5. Write. Write. Write. (Dedicating time to developing this blog and finding my voice is a huge priority for me. I also want to get back to my fiction writing, something I put on hold too many years ago.)
  6. Take more pictures. (Photography is another hobby that brings me great joy and something I have neglected. There are a lot of beautiful hiking spots near here and I will be exploring them more fully with camera in hand.)

I don’t have specific resolutions per se, I want to make 2015 the year I finally start living life to the fullest, making my goals and dreams a priority.  It is going to be a full and busy year but an awesome one.

I am sure it will be a bumpy road but I welcome the challenge. So, 2015 let’s see what you have to offer.

Extreme Bibliophile Declaration

I may have a slight obsession with books.  Okay, if I am to be honest it is a huge obsession.  The only time it really becomes an issue is on moving day and, in turn, unpacking day.  All the other days of the year are blissful moments spent discovering new authors and their wonderful stories.

Anthologies, blogs, Twitter, all wonderful places to find new authors.  Wandering the rows of books at a library book sale or the shelves of a bookstore brings the excitement of Christmas morning every time.  Will intriguing cover art draw my eye?  Perhaps an author I respect has written a blurb now prominently displayed on a new release.

Every week I am bringing in more books than I have a chance to read but that never stops me from seeking out more.  Having choices readily available means I can explore exotic lands and meet new people without ever leaving my cozy chair.

I am proud of my extreme bibliophile ways.  Books make me happy, it is that simple.