Monthly Archives: May 2015

Vectors: Beach Reads

Summer’s coming, and we’re talking about favorite beach reads! Some Novelocity members take that more literally than others…

Fonda.Lee.02Guest: Fonda Lee
For me, a good “beach read” book is one that packs a lot of entertainment into a tight package. No way I’m lugging a 900-page epic fantasy on vacation, and we all know e-readers don’t mix well with sand and water. What I want is a brisk, witty, page-turner that goes straight for the action and intrigue and doesn’t let up. Most of all, I want it to be really damn fun.

9780425272480_Night-OwlsNight Owls by Lauren M. Roy and its sequel, Grave Matters, fit the bill in all ways. This new urban fantasy series stars a cast of quirky and sympathetic characters, a nocturnal (by owner’s necessity) bookshop, vampire politics, a rare magic book, and delightfully creepy monsters called Jackals. Roy gleefully mixes familiar supernatural elements into her own unique and addicting stew, one that’s well worth enjoying alongside your pina colada this summer.

GraveMattersFonda Lee is the author of Zeroboxer, a high-action young adult science fiction novel about a young man battling to make it to the top in the world of zero gravity prizefighting amid brewing interplanetary conflict between Earth and Mars. Fonda is a recovering corporate strategist, an avid martial artist, a fan of smart action movies, and an Eggs Benedict enthusiast living in Portland, Oregon. You can find Fonda at and on Twitter @fondajlee.


Steve Bein
DuneI have to go with Dune, right? The beach is all about sun and sand, and Frank Herbert knows his sun and sand.

Dune has everything you want in a beach novel. It’s a classic, so people who see you reading it will be impressed by your literary tastes (and also by how fetching you look in your swimsuit, I’m sure). It’s a bestseller, which means it’s in every used book store, which means you don’t have to get upset if it gets all sandy or saltwatery. If you’ve never read it before, it’ll keep you hooked. (Wait. You haven’t read it before? What’s wrong with you? Get cracking.) If you have read it before, you can enjoy the prose while still keeping an eye out for whatever mischief your kids or your dogs are causing on the beach.

Dune is particularly worth re-reading on the beach, because Frank Herbert really did know his sand. It was while researching the sand dunes of Oregon that he cooked up the idea for the planet Arrakis, and that comes through in every desert scene. Go to the beach, read that book, watch what the wind does to the sand, and tell me that guy didn’t know his sand.


Fran Wilde
Augggghhhh beat me to it!!

::shakes fist::


Beth Cato
Superheroes AnonymousA beach read, to me, is a fluffy, fast read (i.e. one that doesn’t involve spice flowing. Typically). I recently read Superheroes Anonymous by Lexie Dunne, and it epitomized a beach read. It’s an adventure romp is a world plagued by superheroes and supervillains, and poor Gail becomes known as Hostage Girl. Her super power seems to be that she’s always caught in the middle of these conflicts… until she actually ends up with super powers. It’s pure fun, a send-up on the genre, and the romantic element is the light kind that makes you smile as you read. My one caveat is that there’s a cruel cliffhanger ending, but hey, the next book, Supervillains Anonymous, is out at the end of June. It will soon be easy to read them back-to-back.


M.K. Hutchins
flotsamI don’t think I’ve ever talked up a picture book, but Flotsam by David Wiesner makes me feel like I’m at the beach, regardless of how far away the ocean is. There’s no text to this book, but there is a magical camera that washes ashore, full of pictures of other beaches and magical underwater places. It’s the kind of thing I could leisurely stare at for a long time. Apparently other people feel similarly because it has that shiny Caldecott Medal on it.



Fran Wilde
LongitudeSince Steve took my top choice…

I’m going to go with two non-fiction books. They’re not fluffy, but the beach is not just sun and (ahem) sand. It’s also great for stars and planet watching. And for imagining long voyages at sea. so I’ll recommend Dava Sobel’s The Planets (Penguin Books, 2006) for its exploration of the solar system, and our relationship to the planets; and Longitude (Walker, 1995 & 2007) for its tale of genius, invention, the age of exploration, nautical lore, and challenges, and the fact that you can put it on your e-reader and not have to carry it in your beach bag (it’s big. It’s worth it.).



Tina Connolly
Ooh, since Megan started the picture book trend –

BeachDayI recently ordered a copy of “Beach Day” by Karen Roosa, illustrated by Maggie Smith (no, not *that* Maggie Smith.) I first checked this book out when my now 4yo was a toddler and fell in love with it. The text in the book is perfectly nice, sensory images of the beach “waves roar/ rush and soar/ rolling, crashing/ to the shore”, but my favorite thing about the book is the way the illustrations create a whole story that’s not in the text, about a family’s day at the beach.

Now, I’m sure the creators of the book worked on the overall book together, and I’m absolutely not criticizing the text here, just really *loving* the way the illustrations tell a whole story that you could enjoy even if there was no text. (Which is of course what you want for pre-readers!) Honestly, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in visual storytelling…especially if you have a little one to read to!

You can clearly track the various activities of the family as they all enjoy their day at the beach, making new friends, etc. Even the dog makes a friend — and, poignantly, has to leave the other dog behind at the end of the day.

I’m looking forward to reading this one over and over with toddler #2 now!

Vectors: Maternal Figures

Mother’s Day was celebrated in America this past Sunday. Today we look to our favorite mothers portrayed in genre fiction and media.

Beth Cato
BoneshakerIf I expand the question to include movies, I think of Elastigirl in The Incredibles and Sara Connor in Terminator 2. Focusing on books, though, it’s a lot harder. I think that points to a major deficit in the genre. Most of the powerful, female protagonists that come to mind are not mothers or even maternal.

However, one of the fundamental books of steampunk has a fantastic mother. Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker features the sassy Briar Wilkes, the kind of woman who is willing to brave poisonous gas and a zombie-filled Seattle in order to save her undeniably daft teenage son. She’s a character to root for and it’s great to see her in the background of other stories in the series.

M.K. Hutchins
Carpe DemonCarpe Demon by Julie Kenner stars a retired demon-hunter turned soccer mom who suddenly finds herself needing to brush up on her old skills to keep her family and town safe. It was a fun read — quick plot, great voice, and a perspective I rarely see in fiction. I loved how fresh the book felt, just by making the character older and giving her a teenager and a toddler to juggle as well as a town infested by demons.

KataraI’m also immensely fond of Katara from the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender. She’s not a mom, but she often fills that role for others. One of my favorite scenes is Sokka, her brother, telling someone else that he can’t remember the face of his mother anymore. When he tries, he just sees Katara. Mother-characters often get shortchanged, but the writers made Katara a well-rounded person with her own goals, fears, and internal struggles. She cares deeply about others — whether she’s mothering them or dressing up as a spirit and engaging in epic water-bender battles to defend people she just met. I adore her.

Steve Bein
Aunt PolAunt Pol from David Eddings’s Belgariad is the first one who springs to mind. She’s the kind of mom who never needs to spank a kid because one arched eyebrow is enough to make the kid shape up. She’s loving and stern in equal measure, and then there’s the fact that she’s also a sorceress of godlike power. That’s always helpful for keeping the rugrats in line.

New Release: SERIOUSLY WICKED by Tina Connolly

I am really excited to announce that I have a new series starting today from Tor Teen! Seriously Wicked is a light-hearted standalone about a girl who lives with a *seriously wicked* witch. School Library Journal used a lot of lovely words about it like “magical” and “whimsical” and “witty” and “effervescent” (to which I used a lot of words like “squee!!”)

Read on for a little more about it, or read the first chapter right here as part of the Buzz Books 2015 YA collection!

Seriously Wicked by Tina Connolly

The only thing worse than being a witch is living with one.

Camellia’s adopted mother wants Cam to grow up to be just like her. Problem is, Mom’s a seriously wicked witch.

Cam’s used to stopping the witch’s crazy schemes for world domination. But when the witch summons a demon, he gets loose–and into Devon, the cute new boy at school.

Now Cam’s suddenly got bigger problems than passing Algebra. Her friends are getting zombiefied. Their dragon is tired of hiding in the RV garage. For being a shy boy-band boy, Devon is sure kissing a bunch of girls. And a phoenix hidden in the school is going to explode on the night of the Halloween Dance.

To stop the demon before he destroys Devon’s soul, Cam might have to try a spell of her own. But if she’s willing to work spells like the witch…will that mean she’s wicked too?

Find the book at Powells, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon, and find all my tour stops and more information on my website!

Novelocity’s Own Beth Cato & Ken Liu are Locus Award 2015 Finalists!

Congratulations to Beth Cato and Ken Liu for being named 2015 Locus Award finalists!

Beth’s novel The Clockwork Dagger was listed as a finalist for Best First Novel.

Ken’s translation of The Three Body Problem was listed as a finalist for Best Science Fiction Novel; his novella, “The Regular,” (Upgraded) was listed as a finalist for Best Novella.

New Release: Superposition by David Walton


SUPERPOSITION is about a family torn apart, a man falsely accused of murder, and a race to control a quantum technology before a powerful creature destroys them all.

Jacob Kelley’s family is turned upside down when an old friend turns up, waving a gun and babbling about an alien quantum intelligence. The mystery deepens when the friend is found dead in an underground bunker…apparently murdered the night before.  As the details of the crime slowly come to light, the weave of reality becomes ever more tangled, twisted by a miraculous new technology and a quantum creature unconstrained by the normal limits of space and matter. With the help of his daughter, Alessandra, Jacob must clear his name and find the true murderer before the creature destroys his family and everything he loves.

Barnes and Noble

You can read more about David Walton and his work at