alanajoli: (mini me short hair)
Happy New Year! It's been some time since I posted; it was a busy year at Casa Abbott for non-writing reasons. We've welcomed baby Fish into our family, joining his sister Bug, Three-stripe, cats Jack and Tollers, and I as members of our household. But while I'm behind on many things, I've continued to read a lot! Since I posted last year and the year before about my reading goals, I wanted to post last year's results and this year's goals before 2015 progressed too far!

This year, I did not count all the picture books I read, but I did count all my review picture books individually. For the year, I totalled 163 books, which is up from last year's 129 (probably in part due to counting all the review books individually). There was a method to my madness, however: I wanted to see what percentage of titles were review books as compared to non-review books. Here's some of the interesting breakdown:

  • 89 titles were review books

  • 106 were children's or YA books

  • Only 12 were graphic novels, which is rather low

  • I read 7 romance, 69 SFF, and 2 nonfiction


I did reasonably well on my goals. The 2 nonfiction titles beat my goal to read just 1. I read 13 out of the 15 novels from my TBR pile I'd hoped to read, 4 titles by autobio writers, 6 rereads (out of a goal of 3), and read one non-genre novel.

The most interesting statistic I kept last year was print vs. digital. I surprised myself by reading 91 books in paper and 72 digitally. I thought I skewed toward e-books, so it's interesting to me that I'm not even at 50% digital reading. Some of this is due to reading for the MFAs. I rely heavily on the library to provide me with MFA reading, and though some are available as e-books, most are more readily available in print.


Highlights of the year?
  • Rereading Max Gladstone's Three Parts Dead--and seeing it make the MFA finalists list--was great fun. It's been especially fun to read more of the Craft books, both post-publishing and in mss format, in combination with playing Max's Craftverse game Choice of the Deathless. Without the books being required for the game and vice versa, they work so well in conjunction!

  • Finishing Devon Monk's "Allie Beckstrom" series was bittersweet, but starting the "House Immortal" books makes me confident there's more excellent reading to come.

  • I had the fantastic opportunity to interview Gene Luen Yang for the autobio project, and I read The Shadow Hero and Boxers and Saints in preparation for that. They were both some of my favorite reading for the year, for very different reasons. I'd recommend The Shadow Hero to anyone, but especially readers who have a fondness for Golden Age superheroes. Boxers and Saints is a fabulous moral and ethical investigation of a historical period with a lot of magical realism thrown in, and I found it both enjoyable and tremendously moving.

  • The biggest surprise read was probably Eleven by Tom Rogers. It's a book about 9/11, mostly from the perspective of a boy who's just turned 11, and it's fantastic both as an exploration of the event through fiction for middle graders and as a coming of age story. It was also pretty wild to realize that 9/11 happened before the middle grade age group was born--so it qualifies, on some level, as historical fiction.

  • I'd also recommend without reservation the Super Lexi middle grade books by Emma Lesko. Lexi is neurologically and developmentally different from her peers, which makes her a fascinating POV character, and Lesko's commitment to neuro-diversity in children's books shows in how beautifully she captures Lexi and makes her so easy to empathize with.

  • I loved finally finishing Shanna Swendson's "Enchanted, Inc." series, which for ages looked like it wouldn't get to continue beyond book four. (I'd still read more books in that world!)

  • I'm also really eager to see where the "Kate Daniels" (Ilona Andrews) and "Safehold" (David Weber) books end up next!


There were, of course, a lot of other great books, but listing them all would be fodder for TLDR (if I haven't already hit that point).

I was pretty happy with this year's goals, so I'm planning to keep them the same. Here's to another year of good reading!
alanajoli: (Default)
Remember how I mentioned doing author interviews for PW and Kirkus? Well, both of my most recent author interviews are up online. The first, for Kirkus, was with Arthur Mokin, a documentary writer who has published a tale of the Exodus in Meribah. The book uses a main character who is an Egyptian, and whose outsider view allows him to give commentary on the Hebrews in exile. I think it's a pretty insightful book, and Mokin was a lot of fun to interview.

For PW, I interviewed Kij Johnson, whose short story "Ponies," which blew me away when I read it on Tor.com, is featured in her new collection, At the Mouth of the River of Bees. The print portion of the interview is here, but it's probably behind the paywall until next week. The rest, and longer, portion of the interview is over on Genreville. Kij is one of those writers who, when I read her, I thought, How have I not read her work before? Her back list isn't terribly long, but it's one I look forward to fitting into my schedule.

Speaking of PW and Kirkus, both of which I review for, I am still inundated with review books at the moment, with three graphic novels due on Friday, another two due next week, and two more novels for July, as well as a pile of books I've been meaning to review for Flames Rising and an ARC for Black Gate. Whew! It's a good thing I read quickly!
alanajoli: (Default)
One of the cool things I get to do sometimes for the various periodicals I write for is interviewing authors. Back when I was writing for Literature Community News, I had the opportunity to chat with Shanna Swendson, Rick Riordan, and Keith Baker. I'm looking at doing some interviews here at MtU&E in the not too distant future. And quite happily, Editor Matt at Flames Rising has pointed me in the right direction as far as matching me with some great folks to interview. Most recently, I chatted with Dave Gross about his new Pathfinder novel, Master of Devils, which comes out this month.

I hadn't actually read a Pathfinder novel before interviewing Dave, but after chatting with him, I definitely want to -- especially his new release. Dave is a huge fan of kung fu movies, and he worked to integrate high fantasy, kung fu/wuxia storytelling, and roleplaying ties into one novel. I think it'll definitely be worth checking out!
alanajoli: (Default)
Second post of the day -- when was the last time that happened on this blog?

Over the past week or so, I've been e-mailing back and forth with the amazing Shawn Merwin (also known as Super Shawn, but don't let him know I spoiled his secret identity!). He asked me a bunch of questions about writing Into the Reach as a shared-world novel, and I answered them in detail. The result is this interview over at Critical Hits. When you get a chance, check it out!

Interview!

Jun. 26th, 2010 09:08 pm
alanajoli: (Default)
A little while ago, [livejournal.com profile] dcopulsky, who was a student on the trips in both Ireland and Greece and Turkey, asked if I'd do an interview for his site Question Riot, where he posts new interviews on Thursdays. The interview is now up, and it gets into all of the different kinds of writing that I do, from my bread and butter freelance work to my fiction, RPG, and comics work. Dan asked questions covering the whole gamut, and I had fun answering.

Work has been pouring in lately, which is great in that it means pay checks, but does complicate those goals I submitted to Kaz's Summer Camp. I may have to revise my plans this Tuesday! I have gotten through all of the children's finalists for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards, and I turned in my votes this morning. I've got one more adult novel to finish before votes are due on Wednesday, and hopefully I'll finish it tomorrow so I can get back to my review books!

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Alana Joli Abbott

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