A Recommended Reading List (2016)

I am occasionally asked for book recommendations, which I LOVE doing although I am always baffled to be asked. I prefer to tailor recommendations toward the asker (if I know of two or three books or authors previously liked, I feel much better pulling recs from my “library”, so to speak), but I’m also happy to do a “best of the best according to Faith”, and so here is such a list for books I read in 2016*. Continue reading

The Mirror of Fiction

If you’ll indulge me, dear readers, I’d like to ramble a little bit about representation in fiction.

I’m not going to dive too deeply into an analysis of why representation is a good thing; that’s been done before and better by other people — and regardless, it should be intuitively understood that seeing yourself reflected in the culture you consume is validating, normalizing, comforting. That privilege has too long belonged mostly to young-to-middle-aged cis white men, and so any deviation from that “norm” (which is, in the context of the diversity of the real world, not normal at all) is to be celebrated.

I also don’t want to dwell on representation done badly, and all the harm that can do. I’ve argued about it too much recently, what with J.K. Rowling’s latest foray into Native American mythology.

What I want to do instead is to highlight a couple of books I’ve read recently that have done a good job of representing the sort of people who are traditionally ignored or elided in fiction — because the sense of relief when you can finally see yourself on the page, know that you aren’t alone in feeling the way you do or being the way you are, is immeasurable, and if I can help others to feel that, I should.

So with that said, three books read recently where I noted a particular attention to diversity in representation: Continue reading

The Podcast Post (Redux)

It’s been a while since the last podcast post, so let’s revisit the subject. First we’ll see which podcasts have stood the test of time, and which new additions have filled out my repertoire.

Looking Back

What podcasts did I mention last time? Am I still listening to them?

  • The SF Signal PodcastStill listening to this one — not every episode, but I keep an eye out for interviews or topics that look interesting. However, now that SF Signal is shutting down, I anticipate that the podcast will stop as well.
  • Writing ExcusesStill short, still sweet, still listening.
  • SF SqueecastUnfortunately is on (possibly permanent) hiatus.
  • Welcome to Night ValeI can’t, I’m sorry. This one is just not grabbing me. I gave their other project “Alice Isn’t Dead” a try as well, and similarly it’s just not for me.
  • Tea and JeopardyJust as lovely and as British as ever 🙂
  • Galactic SuburbiaStill as excellent as when I first started listening. Alisa, Alex and Tansy have really interesting and insightful things to say, and we have very similar tastes in books!
  • The Thrilling Adventure HourStill in love! Although as part of my recent change in life philosophies, I’ve allowed myself to stop listening to the segments that I don’t enjoy as much. Which means, essentially, that I’m listening to “Beyond Belief”, “Sparks Nevada”, and “Down in Moonshine Holler”, though that last may not be a permanent keeper. We’ll see.

Looking Forward

What new podcasts have I picked up?

  • Breaking the Glass Slipper: A podcast about women in SF, Fantasy, and Horror. There have only been two episodes so far, but it seems very promising. And certainly a subject matter I’m invested in!
  • Fangirl Happy Hour: A podcast very much in a similar vein to “Galactic Suburbia”, though it has more cursing in it. Also enjoyable to listen to, and a good source of recommendations.
  • The West Wing Weekly: GUYS. You don’t understand. I love this show so much. This is an episode-by-episode discussion of the West Wing, with your hosts Hrishikesh Hirway and JOSHUA MALINA he was on the show for real, guys, I can’t. With insightful discussion of episodes and lots of guest appearances from interesting people (actors, writers, costume designers etc.) involved with the show.

And You?

Any interesting podcasts on your radar? I’m always open to recommendations!

Indie Roundup: Science Fiction #1

This is the first post in a new series, where I highlight some of the indie books I’ve read and liked lately. Finding those hidden gems is hard, and it’s tempting to just not bother, but as an aspiring author myself I’d like to support the people who are writing great stuff, even if it’s not repped by a big publishing house. Hopefully this will make it a little easier.

Feel free to share your own recommendations in the comments! Continue reading

On Catfights and Cliches

I could have chosen to write this post a couple of different ways. I could have framed it as a feminist criticism of a certain tired trope, and drawn on my own writing as an example. In fact, that’s what I intended to do when I came up with the idea for this post.

But I just finished a week of non-stop, intense academic work, and then I went to the Dean’s Christmas party and broke the cardinal rule not to eat English pizza because I’d had too much wine and not enough sleep, and then I sat on a plane for eight hours, came home, and fell on my face.

I’m tired.

So instead I’m just going to talk a little bit about two of my characters, and why I made some of the choices I did in writing them and their relationship. Continue reading

The Podcast Post

In Which I Am Reluctant

So. I have long been resistant to the aural tradition, because I honestly find it difficult to follow audio-only things. I am such a visual person that I have fits if my brother wants help with his math homework, because he reads the questions aloud to me and won’t let me look at the paper. (CANNOT. HANDLE.)

I tried audiobooks once (I think it was a “try one free” deal) and…didn’t work. I couldn’t follow the story at all, kept getting lost, was super frustrated the whole time.

In Which I Am Reluctantly Converted

I’ve been working at a nonprofit this summer, and a lot of the people there listen to music while they work. So I started listening to music while I worked. And I enjoyed that.

Then the girl next to me started talking about all the podcasts she was listening to.

Here’s the thing: I try to be a good aspiring writer – I follow all the authors and agents on Twitter (and see some interesting stuff that way), subscribe to the Publisher’s Marketplace newsletter, try to keep up with what’s going on in the industry. But there are only so many hours in the day.

ENTER PODCASTS. Continue reading

Review: Relic by Renee Collins

Relic is a fantastic, fun read from a talented new author, Renee Collins. The plot is fast-paced from the first page, and there wasn’t a moment that dragged. For the most part the characters are vivid and realistically written, and the dialogue was western-flavored without being overwhelming. In fact, it was a serious contender for my best-of-2013 shelf.

One of the strongest aspects of Relic was the setting. The Western spin is an angle that’s not too common in fantasy, and it provided a rich backdrop for the action of the novel. I loved the atmosphere of the book – Collins did a great job.

I was also glad to see a premise/magic system that hasn’t been done before. The idea of Relics (bones of magical creatures) providing people with magical abilities is – as far as I know- unique. Considering how much they featured in the plot, however, I would have liked a little more explanation as to how exactly they worked – it seems to vary based on what’s needed for the plot. Individual relics seem to work on contact, or by ingestion, but there are also guns which are somehow powered by relics, and that’s never really explained at all.

Considering he was the major love interest, I would have liked to have seen more of Landon. I also would have liked him to be a bit more involved in the investigation of the burnings/mystery of the unknown relic/something! There’s a scene were he chastises Maggie for getting caught up with Alvar and life at the hacienda, but it’s not like he’s doing much of anything either…plus, his relationship with Maggie felt a bit rushed.

There were a few hints that Maggie might see Yahn as a potential love interest as well, which I thought was silly and unneeded, but that’s probably just my bias (I strongly dislike multiple love interests).

I liked that I couldn’t figure Alvar out – one moment he was kind, the next entitled and demanding. However there were some moments where I felt his characterization was a bit too inconsistent…and the explanation felt like a bit of a cop-out.

I prefer my villains not to be ‘evil’…to have some sort of motivation, however twisted, for what they are doing. That doesn’t appear to be the case for the ultimate antagonist of this book.

Despite these nitpicks, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Relic, and if there is a sequel – the ending seems well set up for one – I will certainly read it!

Full disclosure: I received an eARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.