Touch by Claire North

TouchTouch by Claire North took me completely by surprise. I’d never heard of Claire North. (Yes, I know. More about that later.) I hadn’t seen much pre-release buzz about the book. I don’t think I’d ever read a book from (Hachette imprint) Redhook before. I frankly thought the blurb sounded a bit too standard-horror-ish, but I picked it up anyway to try a few pages and see if it could draw me in.

Am I ever glad I did. Touch is a gloriously dark and almost perfectly executed novel. (More about that “almost” later too.) It’s so good that I set out to get the author’s first novel, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, even before I finished Touch, and then read it before I got around to writing this review, deadlines and work and sleep be damned.

I was entirely unaware of this author until I crossed paths with Touch. Since then, I learned that Claire North is the second pseudonym of Catherine Webb. Webb has by now published sixteen novels, eight of them under her own name, six as Kate Griffin, and now two as Claire North. She was born in 1986, which means she’s under 30 years old as I’m writing this. She apparently wrote her first novel when she was only 14. Discovering all of this after just having read two of my favorite pieces of speculative fiction in years was nothing short of mind-blowing for me.

(I obviously haven’t read any of the novels she wrote as Webb or Griffin yet. They seem very different from her work as Claire North: YA for Webb, and more traditional fantasy for Griffin. Whether it’s the author’s decision or the publisher’s, I can definitely understand using different pseudonyms to compartmentalize these three very different styles of fiction.)

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Giveaway winner! (Karen Memory giveaway)

KarenMemoryWell, I completely forgot to announce the winner of the Karen Memory giveaway from, oh goodness, has it really been almost weeks now? Sorry about that!

Without further ado, the winner of this giveaway is:

Getty H. from Dallas, TX

Congratulations, Getty! Your copy of Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear will be sent to you by the kind people at Tor Books.

For those of you who didn’t win, stay tuned as I hope to have several other great giveaways coming up soon, as well as the usual slew of reviews and SF/F-related ramblings!

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2014 Nebula Awards – the reactions

SFWAThe nominations for the Nebula Awards were announced today. As a resource, I’ve decided to try and collect links to the various reactions and discussions here, similar to what I did for last year’s Hugo award nominations.  (And later this year, depending on the amount of time and energy I have at the time, I’ll probably do the same again for this year’s Hugo Awards.)

Important note: I’m just collecting links here, not endorsing anyone’s opinion. If it’s a reaction to these award nominations, I’ll link to it. If you see a post that isn’t included, drop me a note in the comments or via Twitter, and I’ll add it as soon as I can.

2/25:

Preliminary Thoughts on the Nebula Nominees (Adventures In Reading)

Unpacking the Best Novel Nebulas (Chaos Horizon)

2/21:

Some Thoughts on the 2014 Nebula Nominees (Cora Buhlert)

Hit Chinese sci-fi novel nominated American Nebula Awards (I Cross China)

What you need to know about the 6 novels up for the 2014 Nebula Awards (Blastr)

Brief Note on Awards (Nerds of a Feather)

2/20:

Announcing the 2014 Nebula Awards Nominees! (Tor.com)

This Year’s Nebula Award Nominees (John Scalzi)

FINALISTS: 2014 Nebula Awards (with Free Fiction Links!) (SF Signal)

Read Tor.com’s 2014 Nebula-Nominated Fiction (Tor.com)

2014 Nebula Awards Ballot Announced (Locus)

The 2014 Nebula Awards Nominees (Electric Literature)

WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY FINE and YESTERDAY’S KIN both receive Nebula nominations! (Tachyon)

BREATH OF WAR UP FOR A NEBULA (Aliette de Bodard)

2014 Nebula Award Nominees (SFF180 – on YouTube)

 The Nebula Awards Shortlist Is Full Of New Names (i09.com)

Ann Leckie’s ANCILLARY SWORD is a Nebula Award nominee! (Orbit)

 The 2014 Nebula Nominees! (Andrew Liptak for the new B&N SFF blog)

A REALLY SOLID LIST OF NEBULA NOMINEES FOR 2014 (Paul Weimer)

Brief thoughts on the Nebula shortlists (Larry Nolen, OF Blog of the Fallen)

Nebula Award Nominations (Chaos Horizon)

By all that’s holy in a sci-fictional universe, it’s a Nebula Award reaction post! (Jason Sanford)

Tabula Rasa member Rick Bowes nominated for Nebula Award (Tabula Rasa)

I’m a Nebula Nominee (Maybe 1.5 Nominees) (Ken Liu)

Eugie Foster Nominated for a Nebula Award (Foster on Film)

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From the Department of Shut Up And Take My Money: the Subterranean Press Humble Bundle!

AcademicExercisesSubterranean Press is one of my favorite publishers in the SF/F world. They publish a wonderful range of works, from novels to novellas to short story collections and even the occasional non-fiction work. They consistently put out gorgeous books (in the physical sense), and even if the limited editions are sometimes on the pricey side, they usually release electronic versions at very reasonable prices too. I’ve reviewed a significant amount of their releases over the years, including several here at Far Beyond Reality.

Apparently SubPress is 20 years young this year, and to celebrate they’ve put together a Humble Bundle with some truly wonderful gems. As usual with Humble Bundles, you can pay what you want, but if you pay more than the average amount you unlock a bunch of extra books, and if you pay more than $15 you unlock a few more. (FYI, the average amount paid has just about doubled since yesterday.)

Oh, and let’s not forget: half of the proceeds of this awesome sale will go to the Worldbuilders charity.

You can find the Humble Bundle here, and below the break you’ll find a list of some of the works that are included. Go take advantage of this awesome deal while you can!

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Posted in News and Other SFF-Related Ramblings, Sales | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Mini-review: Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

ThroughtheWoodsI’ll start out with the main point of this review: Through the Woods by Emily Carroll should be on your Hugo ballot for Best Graphic Story. Haven’t heard of it yet? Still plenty of time to find a copy and read it! I hope this review will convince you to do so.

Through the Woods is an intense and dark collection of graphic short stories by Emily Carroll. These are mostly subtle horror stories or maybe very dark fairy tales, playing on themes of family and trust in the best Gothic tradition. The narration is understated, a “less is more” approach that very effectively creates a real sense of dread about what’s coming. Carroll is simply masterful at gently leading you into the story and then abandoning you when you find out exactly what went bump in the night at the very beginning. It’s terrifying and incredibly effective.

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You Can’t Take Back What You Already Have

Stefan (Far Beyond Reality):

Here’s John Scalzi talking a whole lot of common sense about the increasingly contentious Hugo awards and the genre in general. I don’t re-blog stuff very often, but, well, this one is worth a read.

Originally posted on Whatever:

First, go read this. This is only one dude, to be clear, but his defensive, angry and utterly terrified lament is part and parcel with a chunk of science fiction and fantasy fandom and authors who want to position themselves as a last redoubt against… well, something, anyway. It essentially boils down to “The wrong people are in control of things! We must take it back! Attaaaaaaaack!” It’s almost endearing in its foot-stompy-ness; I’d love to give this fellow a hug and tell him everything will be all right, but I’m sure that would be an affront to his concept of What Is Allowed, so I won’t.

Instead let me make a few comments about the argument, such as it is. Much of this stuff I addressed last year when a similar kvetch appeared, but let me add some more notes to the pile.

1. The fellow above asserts…

View original 2,395 more words

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Faith by John Love is on sale for $1.99 – and a quick note about sales posts

Faith-coverI’ve done a few of these sales posts lately, and I promise it won’t become a habit (see below for more thoughts on this) but this one is simply too good to pass up. Last week I reviewed John Love’s second novel Evensong (review, excerpt), frequently referring to his excellent debut Faith… and now Faith is on sale for $1.99 on Kindle!  This is a great opportunity to pick up one of the most criminally overlooked novels of 2012.

So, with all that being said, here’s a quick note about sales posts. I don’t want Far Beyond Reality to turn into a blog full of “great deal – buy this NOW!” posts. There are plenty of them, they’re easy to find, and I wouldn’t really contribute anything new to the world by doing the same thing. My focus has always been on reviews, with a side of interviews, excerpts, and news, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.

On the other hand, a post like this one may lead someone to discover a novel they otherwise wouldn’t buy, and that’s not a bad thing.  

So here’s what I plan to do: I’ll only announce a sale if it’s for a book I’ve personally read, reviewed, and rated at least 4 stars out of 5 on Goodreads. No endless lists of “books $2.99 and under” here, no daily deal — just the occasional pointer that a great novel I highly recommend can temporarily be purchased for less than usual. Given how stingy I am when rating novels, this should happen rarely enough that it (hopefully) won’t annoy anyone.

(And a final note on the Amazon links: on the first few posts like this I’ve done, I received helpful comments that the books in question were also on sale at B&N, Kobo, and so on. I am short on time and patience, and I’m sure my readers will check with their preferred retailer anyway, so I don’t check every online bookstore and set up links to them every time.)

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