The Snobbery’s Naughty and Nice List 2012 Edition (Part IV)

Now that my Rant Engines have been re-engaged, I’m having a hard time getting it together enough to talk about the things I loved this year.  AND THERE WERE SO MANY!  I might have to split this Nice post into two.  One for NEW things and one for things that were NEW TO ME.  Or I might just mix them up and put everything in neat little categories.

Sound good?

Honestly, I really don’t care if it sounds good because that’s how I’m doing it.  So there.

~o~

Mrs Claus with the Naughty List

~o~

sj’s Favourite Books of 2012

Best SF

The Deacon’s Tale by Arinn Dembo (reviewed Mar. 18)

Really, I shouldn’t have liked this as much as I did.  As you can see right there on the cover, this is a Sword of the Stars novel.  I don’t play, nor have I ever played Sword of the Stars (but it appears to have a decent following, I just don’t play many computer games anymore).  It’s set in an established future universe that should really only appeal to SotS gamers.

But I loved it.  No tedious infodumps for newbs, just good story telling.  And the best part?  There were these detailed Appendices at the end, that were really supposed to be for the players, but that I found incredibly helpful.

If you like space operas, give this a try.  As I said up there, you don’t have to’ve played the game to fall into this one.

Best YA

I have a few choices for this one, so just hang tight.

best ya 2012

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde (review haiku May 14), Debris Dreams by David Colby (reviewed Oct. 15) and Katya’s World (reviewed Oct. 1) by Jonathan L Howard

So, here we have 2 sf novels and a fantasy novel.  Other than the genre aspect, the only thing in common is how very SMART they are.  These are books that don’t assume young readers are stupid.  These are books that don’t act all condescending to their readers, just because they MIGHT not be adults.  I’ve already talked my 13 year old into reading the Fforde, but I’m still WORKING on getting him into sf, so the other two might be a bit of a struggle.

These are books that make me wish I knew more kids in their target age group so that I could hand them a bundle of awesome reading material this holiday.

If you have teens that like reading and you want to get them something that isn’t full of icky love triangles and stupid girls that need to be rescued every five seconds, buy them these books.

Best MG

httyd

How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell

OKAY, YOU CAUGHT ME!

  1. I haven’t reviewed these here, only on goodreads.
  2. I haven’t actually finished the series, I have only read the first six books (but I do have the next 2, I’m just missing 9 and 10).

So, forgive me for that, but ZOMG WHY HAVEN’T YOU READ THESE YET?!  I know you’ve probably all seen the Dreamworks movie that claims to be based on the first book, but they ARE NOTHING ALIKE.  And, as my husband informed me last night, I’m not allowed to talk shit about the movie retroactively since I saw it before I read these, but…

I’m kind of going to anyway.

Sorry, husband.

It’s really unfair to compare the two.  They’re both set in the same place, and the characters (some of them) have the same names, but other than that they really don’t have a whole lot in common.  The books are a lot funnier than the movie was, and you won’t LOVE TOOTHLESS in the books like you did in the movie…unless you love him for being a little asshole all the time.  Because he totally is, but it’s hilarious.  Instead of getting Hiccup OUT of trouble, he’s usually the CAUSE of the trouble, and he shows zero remorse for it.

Adults, you’ll like these if you still retain your childish whimsy.  Parents, get them if you have little boys and girls that like Vikings and dragons and can appreciate a well-told fart joke.

Best Urban Fantasy

best uf 2012

The Collector series (reviewed June 19 and Aug. 26) by Chris F. Holm and the Miriam Black series (reviewed Jul. 16 and Jul. 23) by Chuck Wendig

Oh, look!  We could easily call this “sj’s ZOMG FAVOURITE Covers of the Year” or “Angry Robot Really Outdid Themselves With These Titles” or “Just Take My Money For The Next Twelve Books Already.”

I don’t know if there will be that many more with either of these series, but a girl can hope, yeah?

Anyway, the only thing these books have in common with each other (other than the things mentioned above) are their publisher and that they’re awesome.

The Collector series follows Sam, a basically good guy who made a few bad decisions and now works collecting the souls of the damned.  Both books are great, but I like the second a bit more.  It expands on the first (it’s not really necessary to read both, but you’ll catch cool little references if you read them back to back), but doesn’t get mired in further backstory than is necessary.  They’re both incredibly fastpaced and difficult to put down.  I really can’t wait to read The Big Reap in July.  CAN’T WAIT.

Miriam Black is not for the faint of heart.  If you’re adverse to swearing, or…well, just some gross out imagery, you should skip these.  Seriously.  There are a ton of really bad reviews by people who went in thinking they were getting another YA UF novel with a pretty cover and hated it because this wasn’t what they were expecting.  Kate told me after she read Blackbirds that she wanted to take a bunch of showers, and that’s pretty accurate.  You’ll feel a little dirty after finishing.  Carpet Noodle.

~o~

Next time, I’ll talk about my NEW FAVOURITE AUTHOR and a new book by one of my CURRENT FAVOURITES.  In the meantime, talk amongst yourselves.  What did you lovelovelove this year?

Debris Dreams Giveaway WINNER!

Yay, another winner!

I’m super excited to have been given the chance to give a copy of Debris Dreams to one of you.  It’s already going on my End of the Year lists for suresies, and I hope everyone else gets a chance to read it and love it.

AND THE WINNER IS…..

KATE SHERROD, YAY!

I know she was really interested in reading this.  I hope she loves it like I did.

Congratulations, Kate.  Email/Chat me up and let me know what format you want, please?

Debris Dreams Blog Tour – More Music Fun (Plus GIVEAWAY!)

Image via Karen Gadient

Okay, remember yesterday how I said I had something fun related to Debris Dreams for you guys?  I was originally thinking I’d work with David on a playlist for you, but instead we’ve managed to intercept some messages between Dru (our main character) and Sarah (her girlfriend back on Earth).

Sarah’s dad is a salvage worker dismantling Delta City (also known as New Detroit) for spare parts (heh), so Sarah’s been subjected to a lot of “classic” rock and other stuff from the late 20th/early 21st century.

From:  CayerBear22

To:  DruOfNight

Subject:  !!!

Message:  I present to you some of the cultural artifacts my dad has found!

Attachments:  1, 2, 3

*

From:  DruOfNight

To:  CayerBear22

Subject:  Re:  !!!

Message:  He found a Korean pop song, a psychedelic rock anthem and an autotuned vocal number in a forgotten basement?

*

From: CayerBear22

To: DruOfNight

Subject:  Re:Re:  !!!

Message:  Those whacky Pre-Slump Americans. They really knew how to get down to the G-town.

*

From:  DruOfNight

To:  CayerBear22

Subject:  Re:Re:Re:  !!!

Message:  Sarah, have I ever told you I only understand fifty percent of what you say?

*

From: CayerBear22

To: DruOfNight

Subject:  Re:Re:Re:Re:  !!!

Message:  I thought that was the foundation of our relationship.

*

From:  DruOfNight

To:  CayerBear22

Subject:  Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:  !!!

Message:  No, that would be Star Wars.

*

From: CayerBear22

To: DruOfNight

Subject:  Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:  !!!

Message:  Speaking of Star Wars…

Attachments:  1

~o~

Now for the giveaway!  Once again, Candlemark and Gleam have provided us with a DRM-free eCopy of one of their books.

How to Enter:

  1. Subscribe.  If you’re already subscribed, you’re ahead of everyone else.  We’ll also accept twitter followers or those of you who read us via RSS, we know who comments regularly.
  2. Leave a comment below letting us know which song(s) you think will be considered a classic in 50 years.

Want More Entries?

For a bonus entry, tweet about this post and let us know in a comment reply to yourself.  For a FURTHER bonus entry, share this post on facebook or g+ and post a screenshot in a comment reply to yourself (or if you don’t want to post your real name in the blog comments, you can just email the screenshot to us at dodisharkicorn @ gmail .com).  So easy!

Winners will be drawn from The Hat at 5pm EST on Tuesday, November 20.  Check back with us then to see if you’ve won!

Debris Dreams Blog Tour – David Colby’s Musical Inspiration

A few weeks ago I read and reviewed David Colby’s Debris Dreams.  I mentioned then that I’d been looking forward to it since the moment I heard about it.  It really didn’t disappoint.  It’s part of (what I’m hoping becomes) a trend of super smart YA sf that doesn’t dumb itself down for younger readers.  It doesn’t rely on romance to propel itself forward, and it’s so well written, I wish it was for adults so I could convince some of my other hardcore sf friends to pick it up.  Yeah, I said it.  You think I’m snobby?  Heh.  YOU HAVE NO IDEA.

Anyway, when I knew the blog tour was coming up, I asked Kate (the head honcho over at Candlemark and Gleam) if she thought David would be interested in writing a post for us about the music he uses for writing.  Her response was that it would likely make his day since he’s always making playlists (see, he and I should totally be best friends, TAKE THAT SUSIE!)…and then, like, an hour later, I had this post in my inbox.  I may have also made a few notes of commentary (hint:  I totally did).  Enjoy.

~o~

Music for writing is a very strange topic—at least for me. A lot of my friends compose massive playlists that hew to the tone and themes of their WIPs. I’ve never had the head for that, if only because my musical tastes are bizarre and relatively narrow.

Just like my taste in food!

Wanna know what this is all about? You’ll have to read the book!

Still, I do think that what tracks I listen to has a relationship to what I am currently writing: I like something energetic for when I need to get pumped, something depressing when I’m writing something happy, something upbeat when I’m writing something depressing. But since I have so few musical likes, I think it’d make more sense to talk about specifics than to talk about generalities.

Let’s start off with the songs that are now intrinsically linked to Debris Dreams: Drive in the Sky by Mikio Sakai, Wonderful Life (also by Mikio Sakai) and Sun’s Gone Dim by Johann Johannsson.

Drive in the Sky and Wonderful Life are the opening and closing songs to the astoundingly good, hard sci-fi anime PlanetES. PlanetES was a major inspiration for my writing of Debris Dreams, as it is a show about a team of space garbagemen. Since debris in orbit is a major issue (in Debris Dreams, PlanetES, and real life), the story of garbage collection and debris management is really quite exciting and interesting. It helps that the animation that goes along with both songs are perfect encapsulations of our space program’s humble beginnings and the height that it can one day reach.

And, amazingly, it does this WITHOUT excluding Non-American space explorers. Star Trek: Enterprise, I am still disappointed in you.

However, if you listen to these songs, you’ll find that they’re…rather upbeat. Debris Dreams is, for the most part, not exactly the sunniest book out there.

That’s where Sun’s Gone Dim comes in. I heard Sun’s Gone Dim in the astoundingly evocative and exciting trailer for Battle: LA. While the actual movie overdid the shaky-cam just a bit much (if you ask me), the trailer is a chilling, exciting one that tells very little about what the actual movie is going to be about while still making you excited. And the song—a creepy, slow, somber piece—is awesome all by itself. It perfectly suits the detached feeling I was trying to create in Debris Dreams.

HONORABLE MENTION: The entire This Is War album from 30 Seconds to Mars. I love this album, and listened to it CONSTANTLY while writing the book I wrote just before Debris Dreams. So much so that I can’t listen to Kings and Queens without imagining six teenagers fighting transdimensional spiders with weaponized metaphors, World War I-era rifles, and swords [ed. note - Um...what is this book that I totally want to read?  David, we need to talk.]. So, if I hadn’t written that book first, This Is War would be listed here.

But there are some writing songs that are divorced from any particular book, which I love listening to while writing anything. I have recently acquired a taste for Katy Perry’s songs – Firework, Hot and Cold, California Girls (I blame the awesome Equestria Girls parody used for a MLP:FIM commercial) and Teenage Dream [ed. note - David, I'm totally pretending I didn't see this.  I like you too much to make believe Katy Perry is okay.  I'm not even linking to her on my blog BUT I LOVE MLP:FIM, so I'm totally linking to the parody.] are some of my favorites. But I also have an occasional taste for… I don’t know enough about the rap scene to know if Eminem still counts as “hardcore,” but he swears a lot more than most songs I listen to, and a few by him—Won’t Back Down, specifically—have caught my ear and ended up on my iPod.

HONORABLE MENTION: Everything by Weird Al. I love his songs, love his stage presence, love him in general; I even love his underrated comedy UHF which remains one of my favorite comedies ever… right up there with Galaxy Quest and Mystery Men.

So, those are the semi-well known songs that I like, but I’d hate to end this without talking about two bands that are slightly more obscure, but that I love to death for totally different reasons: Memmaker and Abney Park.

Abney Park—which I am currently listening to a lot due to writing a semi-steampunk alternopunk magitech novel—is an awesome combination of electric-rock and STEAMPUNK-themed music. Accordions, synths, and great lyrics makes for songs that really make you feel like an air pirate. If you listen to their songs and don’t want your own zeppelin, then you have no soul [ed. note - David, I swear it's like you're my long lost little brother, or what my oldest will be like in 10 years.  You're scaring me.].

But if Abney Park is past-punk, then Memmaker is future punk. Industrial-techno? I think that’s the best way to describe their sound. It’s eerie and strange, but has a driving energy to it, intermixed with the occasional stolen remixed quote made into part of the song. The first song by theirs that I heard—Get your Ass to Marsis a combination of their music and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s dialogue from the fantastic Total Recall.

That’s going to come in handy when I start working on Debris Dreams’s sequels…

HONORABLE MENTION: Heart of Courage, by Two Steps from Hell. Listen to it and try not to feel like the most dramatic thing ever is happening. Right now. It is music that has been written, crafted, and sculpted into the perfect expression of “trailer music” and by the gods, it works. If my novel is ever made into a movie (HAH!) [ed. note - I totally want this to happen AND I hope I'd be invited to the premiere, just sayin'.] that music would be used by the trailer.

Or else.

~o~

Debris Dreams is out November 13 (THAT’S TOMORROW!).  While it’s too late to get in on the Kickstarter goodness, you can still watch this awesome video David made to help encourage presales.  If this doesn’t make you want to read this book, I’m not even sure why you’re still reading my blog.  [wink]

But seriously, go read my review and then head over to the C&G shop to pick up a copy for yourself.  Or, you can come back here tomorrow to check out something fun I worked on with David and try to win a copy for yourself!

Book Review – Debris Dreams

Remember when I reviewed Katya’s World and complained that there wasn’t stuff like this when I was growing up?  Add David Colby’s Debris Dreams to the list of “WTF, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE?” books.

How to describe it?  Part Ender’s Game, part Firefly – not the hardest of sf, but no pandering to young readers either.  This was one of my Read-a-Thon books, so I kind of zoomed through it, but I knew I would going in.  I’ve only been waiting for this book to come out since I first heard about it back before they even had a cover.

AND WHAT A COVER IT IS!  No seriously, this cover pretty much perfectly encapsulates what you’ll find inside the book.  A quick pulpy YA read that doesn’t want to talk down to its audience.

Our protagonist is gay, but that’s kind of not a big deal.  It’s YA so it’s not like there are tons of sexy situations – even when Dru meets up with her back-on-Earth girlfriend in a VR environment.  All it means is that she’s not available, and the boys kind of stop hitting on her.

Mostly, this book is about how very much war sucks.  Especially war when you’re not really sure what/why you’re fighting, and even if you’re fighting for the right reasons.

I loved it.  If I’d had more time to just READ, I’d have had it done in one sitting.  I hated putting it down because I just wanted to know what happened next.  I was attached to Dru and Jillian and Sarah and David and Jason and even Liam.  I was invested in all of these kids and when bad things happened (and bad things DO happen, there’s no sugarcoating the horrors of war in space, here) I felt like I’d lost my friends.

It’s amazing how incredibly close you can grow to fictional characters in less than 300 pages, isn’t it?

Debris Dreams will drop November 13.  If you’re dying to pre-order, you can via the print release kickstarter currently going.  There’s also a physical copy giveaway going on goodreads right now!  Visit the microsite over at Candlemark and Gleam for a preview of the first chapter, and more information on the book and the author.

Thanks again to Kate over at Candlemark and Gleam for the review copy.  If you’re looking for awesome DRM-free ebooks, check them out.  Everything is inexpensive but worth it.

I need to stop raving about things, I’m losing my snarky cred, aren’t I?

Seriously, though.  This is an excellent year for YA sf.  An EXCELLENT YEAR.