Tag Archives: neil gaiman

My 2017 Reading List

My Reading List for 2017

Can you feel it? The end of a year approaches. That means it’s time to revisit all the books I’ve read over the last year. As always most of this list correlates with my Goodreads reading challenge. (See my Goodreads Year in Books here.) It’s always a bit longer here because I can’t list any of the beta readings I do for friends.

I had no challenge this year. Which was great. There’s a lot of books on this list that I had been saving after the last few challenges. It was nice to be able to work through the proverbial nightstand pile. One minor note, there’s are a few books on here I’d consider novellas. Usually, they wouldn’t make the cut or they’d be shifted to another list, but I am keeping them this year. I read a few enormous tomes, so I feel they balance things out.

Since this list is always enormous, l forgo reviews. However, follow me on Goodreads where I do occasionally leave reviews. I call out some of my favorites of the year at the end of each list. As before, all links will go to Amazon as a default, but if one of these books sound interesting to you, then I encourage you to visit your local independent bookstore and purchase through them. It’s vital for your local economy to buy local whenever you’re able.


📚 Novels

  1. Yesterday’s Demons (The Verdant Revival Book 1)
    by Mike Ripplinger
  2. Red Rising
    by Pierce Brown
  3. Hard Magic
    by Larry Correia
  4. The Incorruptibles (The Incorruptibles #1)
    by John Hornor Jacobs
  5. Dawn (Xenogenesis #1)
    by Octavia E. Butler
  6. The Golem and the Jinni (The Golem and the Jinni #1)
    by Helene Wecker
  7. The Black Company (The Chronicles of the Black Company #1)
    by Glen Cook
  8. The Last Days of New Paris
    by China Miéville
  9. Two Serpents Rise (Craft Sequence #2)
    by Max Gladstone
  10. Hammers on Bone (Persons Non Grata #1)
    by Cassandra Khaw
  11. The Girl with All the Gifts (The Girl With All The Gifts #1)
    by M.R. Carey
  12. The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1)
    by N.K. Jemisin
  13. The “Wonderful” Wizard of Futhermucking Oz (Futhermucking Classics Book 1)
    by Matt Youngmark
  14. Beta Reading
    by REDACTED
  15. Rocannon’s World (The Hainish Cycle #1) …again
    by Ursula K. Le Guin
  16. The Collapsing Empire (The Interdependency #1)
    by John Scalzi
  17. Beta Reading
    by REDACTED
  18. River of Teeth
    by Sarah Gailey
  19. The Magicians
    by Lev Grossman
  20. The King in Yellow …again
    by Robert W. Chambers
  21. The Half-Made World (The Half-Made World #1)
    by Felix Gilman
  22. Engines of the Broken World
    by Jason Vanhee
  23. The Brotherhood of the Wheel
    by R. S. Belcher
  24. Alif the Unseen
    by G. Willow Wilson
  25. Master and Commander (Aubrey/Maturin #1)
    by Patrick O’Brian
  26. “I Give You My Body . . .”: How I Write Sex Scenes
    by Diana Gabaldon
  27. A Monster Calls: Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd
    by Patrick Ness
  28. The Rise of Ransom City (The Half-Made World #2)
    by Felix Gilman
  29. Devil’s Call
    by J. Danielle Dorn
  30. Full Fathom Five (Craft Sequence #3)
    by Max Gladstone
  31. Lord Foul’s Bane (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever #1)
    by Stephen R. Donaldson
  32. A City Dreaming
    by Daniel Polansky
  33. The Stand
    by Stephen King
  34. This Dark Earth
    by John Hornor Jacobs
  35. Justice Calling (The Twenty-Sided Sorceress #1)
    by Annie Bellet
  36. Jade City (The Green Bone Saga #1)
    by Fonda Lee
  37. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
    by Susanna Clarke
  38. The House on the Borderland
    by William Hope Hodgson
  39. Mortal Engines (Mortal Engines #1)
    by Philip Reeve
  40. All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1)
    by Martha Wells

🏆 Favorite Novel of 2017:

The Golem and the JinniThe Golem and the Jinni
by Helene Wecker

I can understand why The Golem and the Jinni took so long to write. (Apparently, ten years.) It’s captivating. Wecker’s command of language is stunning. The story is a classic American tale exploring the immigrant experience through the eyes of two people who are both similar and yet unlike anyone else. A must read.

🏅 Favorite Novel Runners-up of 2017:

The Half-Made WorldThe Half-Made World
by Felix Gilman

This was recommended to me by a friend, and I am so glad I picked it up. The weird west is fast becoming one of my favorite genres. Its worldbuilding is superb and its characters fantastic. The conflict between the Line and the Gun is well realized. I was hooked and loved every moment I spent with its pages.

Jonathan Strange and Mr NorrellJonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
by Susanna Clarke

It has magic and fairies and English gentlemen magicians. Its characters are fully realized, its plot more intricate than most novels, and all of this is handled with a deft hand. (Oh, Clarke’s use of language is divine.) A love letter to Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and England.

Picking this was difficult this year. There are so many others I could have named as runners-up but tradition dictates I only pick two. Sorry other books and authors of aforementioned other books, thems the rules.


💥 Graphic Novels:

  1. House of the Holy
    by Mike Carey (Author), Dave Kendall (Illustrator)
  2. Rat Queens Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery
    by Kurtis J. Wiebe (Author), Roc Upchurch (Illustrator), Fiona Staples (Illustrator)
  3. The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes …again
    by Neil Gaiman (Author), Sam Keith (Illustrator), Mike Dringenberg (Illustrator)
  4. Rat Queens Vol. 2: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth
    by: Kurtis J. Wiebe (Author), Stjepan Sejic (Artist)
  5. Triceratots
    by: Josh Montreuil (Author & Artist)
  6. Descender Vol. 1: Tin Stars
    by Jeff Lemire (Author), Dustin Nguyen (Artist)
  7. Injection Vol. 1
    by Warren Ellis (Author), Declan Shalvey (Illustrator), Jordie Bellaire (Illustrator), Fonografiks (Illustrator)
  8. House of Penance
    by Peter J. Tomasi (Author), Ian Bertram (Illustrator), Dave Stewart (Illustrator)

🏆 Favorite Graphic Novel of 2017:

Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass & SorceryRat Queens Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery
by Kurtis J. Wiebe (Author), Roc Upchurch, Fiona Staples (Illustrators)

Rat Queens is a traditional D&D fantasy-style book, but it’s not the setting that’s so engaging. It’s its characters. Every single one is delightful in their own particular way. Hannah, Violet (my fav), Betty, and Dee are complex, and that complexity makes this book shine.

🏅 Favorite Graphic Novel Runners-up of 2017:

House of PenanceHouse of Penance
by Peter J. Tomasi (Author), Ian Bertram, Dave Stewart (Illustrators)

A story of guilt, loss, and humanity. The Winchester House is a strange place. This book explores Sarah Winchester’s motives behind the building of the infamous house. The art is gorgeous, if not a bit difficult. Violence should never be easy to confront, and House of Penance refuses to glorify.

The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes & NocturnesThe Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes
by Neil Gaiman (Author), Sam Keith, Mike Dringenberg (Illustrators)

So, this is a bit cheat, since Sandman has long been one of my favorite comic series of all time. But I needed to include it here. Gaiman’s book is still as delightful as it was when I first read it. Dream’s quest to regain his stolen possessions still serve as an excellent catalyst for a fantastic journey.


So there’s my list for 2017! I read a lot of amazing books and some really great graphic novels. (Sadly, no short stories this year.) I have no reading challenges in 2018. So, I plan on continuing with my escapism theme for the foreseeable future.

Are you looking for a good book? Want to see my reading lists from previous years? Check any of the links below and see what I was reading in the bygone halcyon days.

 2013 • 2014 • 2015 2016 •

Next year, why not join me? Goodreads does a reading challenge every year, and I am an active participant. First, follow me on Goodreads (leave me a review while you’re there), and once the New Year arrives, participate in the Goodreads Reading Challenge for 2018.


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#My5 - Influences, Inspirations, Ideas

Introducing: #My5

Attend any convention, sit in on a reading, or visit panel and during open Q&A, and you’ll hear a common question asked by someone in attendance. It’s a query every author gets. I’ve seen Neil Gaiman blog about it, Stephen King speak about it, and Ursula K. Le Guin write about it. It comes down to this:

“Where do you get your ideas?”

I think people assume that there is some hidden mystery or a big secret in being a writer. However, the truth is that inspiration comes from everywhere and anywhere; the smallest thing can spark a multitude of ideas, and it’s different for every author. For me, I can imagine several key instances that have triggered something in my mind, ideas that have taken root and helped construct the world of The Bell Forging Cycle. I want to share those ideas, and I know others do as well, so I am introducing #My5, a new project I’m starting, focusing on inspiration and ideas. The goal is to create a familiar and straightforward format allowing published authors (indie or traditional) from any and all genres to share some of their inspirations for specific projects with their fans and peers. In these posts, writers will list five sources that influenced one of their projects and they’ll link to the blogs of others authors who are doing the same thing. There’s no rule on what you can find inspiring, be it music, television, books, speeches, landscapes, travel, or whatever; it’s all open. The key is that you can only pick five, no more, no less.

So, if you’re a published author who regularly blogs, you’re invited to participate! Just shoot me an email at hello at kmalexander.com and let me know you’re participating. Write your post, publish it, and link to others who have done the same. The goal is to create a network of ideas so we can share our inspirations together. You can download the #My5 Logo using any of the links below.


Download the #My5 Logo600×600 PNG: White | Black
1200×1200 PNGs: White | Black
(Vector version available upon request.)


The first round of #My5 entries are coming really soon. So watch this space and follow me on Twitter! I’ll be posting my own and linking to others. Even the simplest thing can often spark amazing stories and complex worlds; inspiration abounds, let’s explore it.

Yes, It’s Happening in Books

For a while now, in light of the recent string of tragedies we’ve seen in the world, I’ve watched fellow authors make a particular comment. (Most of the time on social media.) It can be paraphrased as such:

“None of the things happening in the world right now are happening in books.”

Okay, I can understand where they are coming from, but such a blanket statement feels a touch fantastical. Yes, the violence, destruction, hatred, and bigotry in books have little impact on the real-life lives of people, and yes, there is a solace there. But, to say those things don’t happen in the pages of fiction feels a little naive. Fiction deals with challenging topics all the time. Look at many popular book series on the market today; nothing is off-limits.

Take J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, which began as a children’s book; it danced with bullying, bigotry, racism, and the aftereffects of murder. Harry Potter himself suffers, at the very least, mental abuse at the hands of his aunt and uncle (you could probably argue physical abuse as well.)

The world of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, a darling of the YA genre, is horrific. The children of an enslaved populace are forced to fight to the death for the entertainment of a wealthy, hedonistic society and its corrupt government. It’s not a pleasant place.

George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, which is the most mature of these examples, deals with the consequences following a myriad of tragedies. You name it, and it’s there: violence, rape, murder, torture, war, slavery, incest, rebellion, terrorism, bigotry, regicide, patricide and on and on and on and on. The novels are laden with grim events.

That is how it should be. It is what makes fiction so great. Fiction is a safe space that lets us confront those problems; fiction lets us experience both the beautiful and the terrible. It allows us to see different perspectives that we may never face in our daily lives. That kind of intellectual experience hones us as people. It makes it possible for us to build up generous amounts of empathy, so when real-world problems confront us (and they will, believe me), we will have the tools to face them. As Neil Gaiman so eloquently explained in his essay Little Triggers,

“There are still things that profoundly upset me when I encounter them, whether it’s on the Web or the word or in the world. They never get easier, never stop my heart from trip-trapping, never let me escape, this time, unscathed. But they teach me things, and they open my eyes, and if they hurt, they hurt in ways that make me think and grow and change.”

It does a great disservice to hand-wave away the terrible and sometimes disturbing themes of fiction. If anything, I believe that they should be celebrated. The personal value brought on by these perspectives is unmeasurable to us as a society, and thankfully—unlike real life—if a book ever gets to be too much, we can always close it for a little while.

Friday Link Pack 08/21/2015

Friday Link Pack 08/21/2015

Friday is here! As is today’s Friday Link Pack! Some of these links I’ve mentioned on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Do you have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Click here to email me and let me know! (Include a website so I can link to you as well.) Let’s get to it…

WRITING:

6 Unusual Habits Of Exceptionally Creative People
Sometimes a shift in our routine can help our creativity. In this article, Dr. Travis Bradberry examines six habits used by some pretty talented folks to boost their creativity.

Obsessively Detailed Map Of American Literature’s Most Epic Road Trips
If you have read my second book, Old Broken Road, it’ll come as no surprise to learn that I love a good road trip story. So I was pretty excited when my favorite blog, Atlas Obscura, put together this incredible post mapping out some of America’s greatest road trips.

Neil Gaiman’s 8 Rules of Writing
I have long been a fan of writer’s personal lists of rules. It’s always good to glean what you can apply to your own list (and yeah, we all have our own personal list.) Neil Gaiman is no exception. (Note #5.)

Map Of The Known Territories
This Monday, I released the official map for my Lovecraftian urban fantasy series: The Bell Forging Cycle. Hand annotated by Wal himself, the map gives readers a glimpse into the world of the Territories and covers everything up to the forthcoming Red Litten World. Check it out, I think you’ll dig it.

ART:

Banksy’s Dismaland
So, Banksy has a new art show. The work itself is solid, as always. But, the whole shtick of thinking you’re making some new revelation by calling out Disney as a purveyor of fantasy while true injustice flourishes in the world is tiresome and juvenile. To quote a friend of mine this is a: ‘bitter and angsty teenager dabbling in punk rock.’ Honestly, the New York show was more interesting. This lacks subtlety and nuance and the theme is played out. It’s Banksy, so it’s making waves, so I’d be remiss not to mention it. You can see more at the Instagram account.

The Title Sequence For The Dunwich Horror
My badass editor, Lola Landekic, put together this piece for the blog Art of the Title. Examining Daniel Haller’s 1970s Lovecraftian B-Movie The Dunwich Horror. The movie is not good, but Sandy Dvore’s titles combined with Les Baxter music is wonderful.

RANDOM:

Ammassalik Wooden Maps
It’s no secret that I love maps. So when I saw these wooden maps carved by the Inuit in the late 1800s I was blown away. Rendering land in such a tactile way makes a lot of sense when you think about it, but we’ve been so programmed to view a map as a flat image that this comes across as foreign and strange. More reading on Wikipedia. [Thanks to Adam for sharing this with me.]

Realise Minas Tirith
So… this group in the UK wants to build Tolkien’s Minas Tirith… with crowd funding. And over the next 40 days they’re trying to raise $2,904,500,000. Yeah, nearly 3 billion dollars. A lofty goal for sure, but it’s still cheaper than most US military spending.

Underwater ‘Stonehenge’ Monolith Found Off Coast of Sicily
If the nightmare corpse-city of R’lyeh was Cthulhu’s home, perhaps this recently discovery near Italy is his summer vacation home?

Superheroes A ‘Cultural Catastrophe’, Says Comics Guru Alan Moore
As the part time crazy wizard and comics icon, Alan Moore, steps out of public life. He gave one last (???) interview to Pádraig Ó Méalóid at Slovobooks. In it discusses a variety of things from superheroes to defending his work from the accusations of violence, sexism, and racism in his work. It’s worth reading even if you’re not an Alan Moore fan. You can read the full interview here.

WEIRD WIKIPEDIA:

Bubbly Creek
“Bubbly Creek is the nickname given to the South Fork of the Chicago River’s South Branch, which runs entirely within the city of Chicago, Illinois, US. It marks the boundary between the Bridgeport and McKinley Park community areas of the city. The creek derives its name from the gases bubbling out of the riverbed from the decomposition of blood and entrails dumped into the river in the early 20th century by the local meatpacking businesses surrounding the Union Stock Yards directly south of the creek’s endpoint at Pershing Road. It was brought to notoriety by Upton Sinclair in his exposé on the American meat packing industry entitled The Jungle.”

Gross.

H.P. LOVECRAFT STORY OF THE WEEK:

The Challenge from Beyond
This isn’t a story from only H.P. Lovecraft. Each section was written by one of his contemporaries. The final story features sections written by C.L. Moore, A. Merritt, Lovecraft, Robert E.Howard, and Frank Belknap Long. The end result is, well… interesting.

GIF OF THE WEEK:

space toast coast to coastThanks to Setsu for submitting today’s gif!

Neil Gaiman on TriggerWarnings

#TriggerWarning

“But so much of what we read as adults should be read, I think, with no warnings or alerts beyond, perhaps: we need to find out what fiction is, what it means, to us, an experience that is going to be unlike anyone else’s experience of the story.”

Neil Gaiman, Little Triggers

I absolutely loved this line. I highly recommend you read the full essay here. You can pick up Neil Gaiman‘s newest collection of stories, aptly title Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances, pretty much everywhere.

Friday Link Pack 05/01/2015

Happy Friday! It’s time to share a few links I’ve found over the last few days. Some of these I mention on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Click here to email me and let me know! (Include a website so I can link to you as well.) Let’s get to it…

Writing:

A Question About Editing
Interesting post from Hugh Howey about editing, today’s reader, and the modern expectation of perfection in writing.

The State Of Storytelling In The Internet Age
A quick overview covering how amazing things are to how much of the industry is in flux. It’s now so much easier to reach so many people, and the internet has opened up so many new channels for creators, but new struggles have emerged.

Little Triggers
I am wary of the phrase “trigger warning”, and I’m glad to see Neil Gaiman is with me. I highly recommend checking out this post from his new book Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances. In this excerpt Neil explores how fiction is supposed to push us, teach us things, and help us grow.

The Story You Want to Read
Fellow author and writing group pal, Michael Ripplinger, explores a specific story arc—the return of an ancient evil—that attracted him to writing. It’s always fun recognizing these sort of things in our writing.

A CthulhuCon Debriefing
Last weekend we didn’t have a Friday Link Pack because I was heading down to Portland for CthulhuCon. How did it go? Fantastic! I break it down in this post, hit the highlights, and share a few pictures.

Art:

Artist Transforms The 12 Zodiac Signs Into Terrifying Monsters
I love monsters. Who doesn’t? So I was on board when I saw Damon Hellandbrand‘s take on the familiar zodiac signs. Libra is my favorite.

Catch My Fade – Seamus Conley
So one of Kari-Lise and my favorite artists is Seamus Conley. There’s something so emotional in every one of his pieces. His latest series, Catch My Fade, currently being show at the Andrea Schwartz Gallery in San Francisco, California is nothing short of amazing.

Re-Covered Books Contest: ‘The Old Man and the Sea’
I really enjoy these recover contests that the Fox in Black does occasionally. They’re really handy for indie authors to get some good ideas on cover designs, plus you always find some really beautiful pieces. April’s contest for re-covering Hemingway’s The Old Man and The Sea is no exception.

Random:

The Dezeen Guide To Brutalist Architecture
Not everyone is a fan of brutalism, but I am. There’s something so combative about the buildings, something arrogant. I love the brash unapologetic retro-future style. In this article Dezeen Magazine explores brutalism architecture, and discusses how we should preserve the legacy.

It’s Time to Retire “Boob Plate” Armor. Because It Would Kill You
I think we’re all well aware at how ridiculous (and often sexist) “boob plate” armor can be, but armor’s job is safety, and in this article for Tor.com writer Emily Asher-Perrin gives us the best reason to avoid it: it would kill the wearer. [Thanks to Spencer for sharing this.]

18 Delightfully Artistic Vintage STD Posters
These vintage PSAs from the U.S. Army shows their focus of stamping out VD. They are amusing, terrifying, and well… a bit strange. It’s interesting how it seems to point the finger at women and not the male soldiers who were the guys actually doing most of the sleeping around. Ah, good ol’ sexism solidly alive and well in postwar America.

The Wikipedia Entry For Guam, Retold As A YA Novel
The fake-wikipedia article you always wanted to read. Tropes delightfully abound. [Big thanks to Christine for sharing this one. Hilarious stuff.]

Random Wikipedia Article of the Week:

The Hyphen War
“The Hyphen War (in Czech, Pomlčková válka; in Slovak, Pomlčková vojna—literally “Dash War”) was the tongue-in-cheek name given to the conflict over what to call Czechoslovakia after the fall of the Communist government.”

Lovecraft Story of the Week:

The Other Gods
Barzai the Wise and his disciple Atal climb a mountain to gaze upon the gods of the earth and discover more than they bargained for.

Gif of the Week:

gotta go fast!