Category Archives: Reading

When the Book is Better than the Movie

When the Book is Better than the Movie

This summer, PBS launched The Great American Read—a show about the best-loved books in America. You can see the top 100 list over here. Along with this series, you can also vote for your favs, which you should. (Sadly, none of my Bell Forging Cycle made it, sorry folks.)

Along with the launch, PBS Digital Studios—creators of some of the best content on YouTube—released a Great American Read-themed video on the comparison of films to the books they were based upon. It’s good. Watch it here:

The narrator is the very talented Lindsay Ellis. I’m excited to see her work with PBS and hope this is the start of more collaborations. I’ve been following her work since her Channel Awesome days, and I consider myself a fan.

For those who don’t know Ellis runs a channel where she does longer-format deep-dives into specific films or movie concepts. Her observations on storytelling are wonderful—a big reason why I am drawn to her videos. Some of my favs:

You can find Ellis on Twitter, Patreon, and of course YouTube.

Reading Recommendation: Join by Steve Toutonghi

Join by Steve Toutonghi

“Join is a searing, ballistic plunge into the mysteries of identity and mortality. Its ingenious core is revealed and amplified by high voltage suspense and murder. Delicious.”

Katherine Dunn, Geek Love

If that quote doesn’t make you want to read this book, you’re probably dead. I’m happy to say that today is the launch of Join by author Steve Toutonghi. Now before I continue, full disclosure: Steve is a friend of mine, a former co-worker (and boss), and I was lucky enough to be an early a beta reader of the manuscript that became Join.

Join is good, it’s real good, and you should buy and read it. As I mentioned in my review on Goodreads, Join reminds me of the work of Philip K. Dick, Kurt Vonnegut, or, more recently, Jeff VanderMeer. A strange and cerebral tale that is both intimate and engaging. The story is set on a familiar near-future Earth that has been ravaged by extreme weather events. In this setting, we find ourselves confronted with the technology of Join: the merging of individual’s consciousnesses (and bodies) into a single person with the memories comprised of each former individual. The Join technology is the crux of the story, the partial cause of tragic events on a personal and, ultimately, global scale. Throughout the novel, Steve takes us on a journey into the ramifications of Join, masterfully weaving beautiful prose with his dark humor, while examining ideas of individualism, mortality, gender, and consciousness.

A great novel doesn’t have to provide answers, often all it needs to do to achieve greatness is asks the right questions. The thing I like—and this is something a lot of authors can glean from this book—is Steve’s use of restraint. This was something that was present even in early drafts. Steve goes just far enough, poking and prodding at ideas and asking difficult questions. Ultimately this tactic challenges us the reader to provide the final answers. As a result, the story left me dwelling on Join’s themes long after it had ended.

Join a beautiful first book, and one I am happy and excited to recommend. It arrives today from Soho Press, and you can purchase it pretty much everywhere: Amazon, Barnes & NobleIndieBound, and more. I’m sure you local library or independent bookstore can get it as well. Make sure to follow Steve on Twitter and check out his website at stevetoutonghi.com. When you’ve finished, make sure to leave a review on Goodreads.

My Reading List for 2015

My Reading List for 2015

As is now a yearly tradition, I share my reading list for the year. Last year I surpassed my goal of thirty books with thirty-seven. This year I had a goal for thirty-five and ended up with exactly that. (I’m not the fastest of readers.)

Since this list is so long, I tend not to fill it with reviews, but you’re welcome to follow me on Goodreads where I do review books I read from time to time. At the end of the list, I will call out some of my favorite books of the year. As before, all links will go to Amazon as a default, but if one of these books sound interesting to you then I would encourage you to visit your local independent bookstore and purchase through them.


Novels:

  1. The Mirror Empire (Worldbreaker Saga #1)
    by Kameron Hurley
  2. Blightborn (The Heartland Trilogy #2)
    by Chuck Wendig
  3. Dune (Dune Chronicles #1)
    by Frank Herbert
  4. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America
    by Erik Larson
  5. The Hour of the Oxrun Dead (Oxrun Station)
    by Charles L. Grant
  6. The Martian
    by Andy Weir
  7. The Slow Regard of Silent Things (The Kingkiller Chronicle #2.5)
    by Patrick Rothfuss
  8. The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1)
    by Scott Lynch
  9. Something Wicked This Way Comes
    by Ray Bradbury
  10. Annihilation: A Novel (Southern Reach #1)
    by Jeff VanderMeer
  11. NOS4A2
    by Joe Hill
  12. The City of Ember (Book of Ember #1)
    by Jeanne DuPrau
  13. Changeless (Parasol Protectorate #2)
    by Gail Carriger
  14. The Wind Through the Keyhole (The Dark Tower #4.5)
    by Stephen King
  15. The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2)
    by Brandon Sanderson
  16. Karen Memory
    by Elizabeth Bear
  17. The Flight of the Silvers (Silvers #1)
    by Daniel Price
  18. Southern Gods
    by John Hornor Jacobs
  19. Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances
    by Neil Gaiman
  20. Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2)
    by Brandon Sanderson
  21. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland #1)
    by Catherynne M. Valente
  22. Black Chalk
    by Christopher J. Yates
  23. Redwall (Redwall #1)
    by Brian Jacques
  24. Chapelwood (The Borden Dispatches #2)
    by Cherie Priest
  25. The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4)
    by Brandon Sanderson
  26. The Tombs of Atuan (Earthsea Cycle #2)
    by Ursula K. Le Guin
  27. The Dunwich Horror
    by H.P. Lovecraft
  28. The Harvest (The Heartland Trilogy #3)
    by Chuck Wendig
  29. A Darker Shade of Magic (A Darker Shade of Magic #1)
    by V.E. Schwab
  30. The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3)
    by Brandon Sanderson
  31. Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking
    by David Bayles, Ted Orland
  32. The Spirit Machine
    by Robert Hazelton
  33. A Witch’s Feast (The Memento Mori Series #2)
    by C.N. Crawford
  34. The Gap Into Conflict: The Real Story (Gap #1)
    by Stephen R. Donaldson
  35. The Deep
    by Nick Cutter

If there is one takeaway I have, it’s that I read way to much Sanderson. He’s on the list four times. While I’m not discounting him as a writer (his books are a lot of fun), that’s way too much for me. So next year I vow to be Sanderson free (even if the next Stormlight book comes out.)


Favorite Novel of 2015:

Flight of the Silvers by Daniel Price

The Flight of the Silvers (Silvers #1)
by Daniel Price

It would have been easy for me to select Dune or Something Wicked, both classics and both books I love. However, I wanted to pick something that was a new favorite, something that stuck with me after I put it down. Flight of the Silvers was that book. Daniel Price wrote an amazing world with incredible characters all struggling together and against one another. A fresh new sci-fi series and I cannot wait for the sequel.

Favorite Novel Runners-up of 2015:

Chapelwood by Cherie Priest

Chapelwood (The Borden Dispatches #2)
by Cherie Priest

The sequel to last year’s runner-up, Maplecroft. This book exceeded its predecessor and was easily one of the best books I read all year. Priest’s take on new mythos is both fresh and familiar, it’s dark but is still heartfelt and incredibly engaging. I loved every minute of it.

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1)
by Scott Lynch

I didn’t know what to expect when I sat down to read this book and even a few chapters in I was dubious. I’m glad I stuck with it. I loved this book. The world is familiar but feels fresh and fully realized, its characters are well-crafted and real, and the plot was amazingly complex. I found it impossible to anticipate and quite difficult to put down.


Graphic Novels:

Unlike last year, in 2015 I read a whole swath of great graphic novels and a handful of some pretty terrible ones. As with the previous list, at the end I’ll pick my favorite graphic novel from 2015. (I’m not going to pick Saga… I’m not going to pick Saga… I’m not going to pick Saga.)

  1. The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 1: The Faust Act
    by Kieron Gillen (Author), Jamie McKelvie (Author, Illustrator)
  2. Prophet, Vol. 1: Remission
    by Simon Roy (Author), Farel Dalrymple (Author), Giannis Milogiannis (Author), Brandon Graham (Author, Illustrator)
  3. East of West Volume 1: The Promise
    by Jonathan Hickman (Author), Nick Dragotta (Illustrator)
  4. Moon Knight Volume 1: From the Dead
    by Warren Ellis (Author), Declan Shalvey (Illustrator)
  5. Southern Bastards Volume 1: Here Was a Man
    by Jason Aaron (Author), Jason LaTour (Illustrator)
  6. Trees, Vol. 1: In Shadows
    by Warren Ellis (Author), Jason Howard (Author, Illustrator)
  7. Saga, Vol. 5
    by Brian K. Vaughan (Author), Fiona Staples (Illustrator)
  8. Catbeard the Pirate, Book 1: Keelhauling & Kitty Litter
    by Matt Nelson (Author & Illustrator)
  9. Sex Criminals, Vol. 2: Two Worlds, One Cop
    by Matt Fraction (Author), Chip Zdarsky (Illustrator)
  10. The Manhattan Projects, Vol. 1: Science Bad
    by Jonathan Hickman (Author), Nick Pitarra (Artist)
  11. Neonomicon
    by Alan Moore (Author), Jacen Burrows (Artist)

Favorite Graphic Novel of 2015:

Prophet, Vol. 1: Remission
by Simon Roy (Author), Farel Dalrymple (Author), Giannis Milogiannis (Author), Brandon Graham (Author, Illustrator)

I didn’t pick Saga! But seriously, there was something so engaging about this reboot of Prophet (a former, and awful, Image character from the 90s) that I loved. It’s Conan in space, the artwork is beautiful, the stories bizarre. Prophet, Vol. 2: Brothers is already on my list for next year.

Favorite Graphic Novel Runners-up of 2015:

Catbeard The Pirate Book One: Keelhauling & Kitty LitterCatbeard the Pirate, Book 1: Keelhauling & Kitty Litter
by Matt Nelson (Author & Illustrator)

As you can tell from my list, when it comes to comics, I usually am not drawn to comedy. However after a recommendation from a friend, I picked up Matt Nelson’s fantastic book. Catbeard is charming, witty, and was a delight to read. What else would you expect from a book with cat-beard voodoo curses, dinosaur riding heroes, and strange pirate adventures? It was the perfect respite between some of the darker graphic novels I was reading. Ready for the next one.

Trees

Trees, Vol. 1: In Shadows
by Warren Ellis (Author), Jason Howard (Author, Illustrator)

Trees is one of those books I wish I thought of, the setting is simple, but the ramifications of its simplicity are complex. What would society do if strange and enormous aliens arrived on Earth? Ten years after that event, Trees seeks to explore that idea, with what appears to be terrible ramifications, I can’t wait for more.


So that’s my list for 2015. A lot of really great stuff, and I’m looking forward to new books in 2016. I was also given a new challenge! If you recall, in 2014, I was challenged to read more women authors, and I ended up doing just that. Well, my friend Steve Toutonghi, author of the upcoming sci-fi novel Join, challenged me to read more classics in 2016. So that’s my plan. First on my plate (after I read my advanced reader copy of Join) is to dive into Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges and then it’ll move onto Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain.

How about you? How does your reading list compare this year? Did anything stick out? Did you find a new favorite book or favorite author? What are your plans for 2016? Is there any new book you’re excited to read? Are there any classics I should visit in my 2016? Leave a comment and let me know!

A Spring Update

A Spring Update

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a news update. Looking back the last time I updated everyone on the progress was back in December. So yeah, time to rectify that. A lot of things have been happening and I am excited about 2015.


  • The Bell Forging Cycle, Book III — Red Litten World

    We’re so close! I can almost taste it.

    • TEASER SITE IS LIVE

      The teaser site for Red Litten World has been live for a while. But I haven’t really called attention to it. You can see what’s happening over on redlittenworld.com. We’re going back to Lovat, people.

    • COVER REVEAL IS COMING

      You read that right. I have finalized the cover of Red Litten World and we’ll be doing a big ol’ cover reveal very soon. I’ll be making a bigger blog post around the coming cover reveal and revealing the date a little later. Subscribers to my newsletter get the first glimpse. So if you’re not a member, sign up today. Just click here to sign up →

    • MANUSCRIPT HAS MOVED TO EDITING

      We’re getting close! As of a week ago I handed the manuscript of Red Litten World over to my editor. Now the hard/fun part begins. The manuscript topped out at 105,823 words which makes this the longest in the series so far. But, I’m sure a big chunk of those will get cut. (That’s a good thing.) Really excited getting into this portion.


  • CthulhuCon Next Weekend

    I’m planning a post about my CthulhuCon schedule later this week. But since it’s coming I did want to hit on some highlights.


  • Another Vague O.D.E. Updates

    So I have been pretty quiet on O.D.E.. So quiet in fact I haven’t really revealed the title! But that’s all going to change real soon. I’m nearly finished with the first draft, and the cover is coming along, and I am pretty excited about the project as a whole. It’s refreshing to write a standalone story.

    As I have mentioned in the past, this is much different from The Bell Forging Cycle but it’s a cool world with some engaging characters wrapped up in an intense story, I think you’ll dig it. More to come later.


  • Introducing: The Faults of Man, A Bell Forging Novella

    If you’re a watcher of my project tracker, you’ll have noticed that I am working on a novella title: The Faults of Man. This is intended to be a short story set in the Territories but not told from Wal’s perspective. I’m keeping a lid on the plot right now (you’ll have to wait until Red Litten World arrives) but the idea is this will take place during the events of Red Litten World and will focus on some familiar characters.


  • Tuesday Tales? Wednesday Words?

    So over the weekend I did a reading. I had a lot of fun doing it, and got a pretty warm reception. Kari-Lise suggested I keep doing it, and I thought it’d be fun to make it a weekly thing. Maybe read through The Stars Were Right. I mention it here to really judge the reception of that. If you think it’s something I should do, shoot me an email or leave a comment below. If there’s enough interest we’ll make it a regular thing.


So there’s the spring update. My writing is all in a weird spot, as you can see there is a lot of things coming, but nothing is quite here. That said, a big part of writing is pushing through, and I’m going to keep on pushing. Thanks to all my readers and fans for sticking around, it’ll be worth it.

Story time!

Live Reading – 4:00 PM (PST)

As mentioned earlier this week, I am going to be doing a live reading today at 4:00 PM from my first book, The Stars Were Right. To watch, just follow me on Twitter and I’ll tweet when my stream goes live. Or you can watch from your Apple iPhone by using the Periscope App. (My username is kmalexander.)

Those using Periscope can ask me questions. While I won’t be able to see the questions during the reading, once it’s over I’ll happily answer any questions folks may have.

See you at 4:00 PM PST!

Let’s Do A Live Reading

Let’s Do A Live Reading

So, my good friend Jake had an idea: with the arrival of Periscope people can stream anything to the world. So why not use this awesome new technology to do a live reading of one of my books for the whole internet. Brilliant, right? So, it’s going to happen and best of all it’s going to happen this weekend. I am going to do a reading of the Prologue of The Stars Were Right and you can tune in.

How can you tune in? Well there’s two ways:

  1. If you have an iPhone all you need to do is download Periscope, create an account, follow me (I am @KMAlexander) and then this weekend when I go to do my reading you’ll be notified and you can view my stream directly from your phone. It’s as simple as that.
  2. Don’t have a smartphone or using an Android phone? Fret not, you can still watch. Just follow me on Twitter and when my stream goes live Periscope will automagically tweet and you be able to tune in live from the web.

The plan is to do this on Saturday afternoon (PST). I’ll make another blog post before I begin. So keep an eye out. The way Periscope works I won’t see any questions while I read, but I’ll be happy to take any questions after. If Saturday works out, I’ll do it again on Sunday.

Writing this out is getting me all excited. I’m really looking forward to this, it sounds like it’ll be fun. Plus, it’ll be good practice for my reading at CthulhuCon next weekend. So follow along… readings are coming.