Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Reading Outside the Box

I have a confession to make: I'm a boring reader.

I read three kinds of books - science fiction, epic fantasy, and urban fantasy.  I sometimes will pick up a paranormal romance, but it's generally more toward the UF side of the house than the romance side of the house. Sci-fi romance often leaves me cold. (And actually, maybe a little pissed off. Like, you went to all that trouble and world building just to be a backdrop to some banging? *shakes an angry fist* What about the galactic alliance? What about the AI that helped the protagonist? Grrr.)

Recently, however, there's an influx of genre-benders that have shaken me out of my rut. Now it's sort of like Pokemon - I've gotta read 'em all.

Military fantasy is a big deal in the last few months. It's sort of the union of military science fiction and urban fantasy. Think Stargate but replace the Stargate with a magic portal, and maybe replace Samantha Carter with Anita Blake. (Mmm, an entire Anita Blake/Daniel Jackson fan fic just took place in my head. I'm a dirty girl.) I am an avid military sci-fi reader and an avid UF reader, and thus the military fantasy thing should be relevant to my interests. However, I haven't read one that was particularly flattering to either genre. Weirdly enough, UF enthusiasts are hailing this hybrid as some startlingly new and amazing thing. Done right, it could be. I just haven't seen one I loved yet.

The union of noir and urban fantasy is a happier one for me. For example, City of the Lost by Stephen Blackmoore is freakin' awesome. If Tarantino did a zombie movie, it would have a protagonist like Joe Sunday. It's dark, violent, and sometimes wickedly funny. I enjoyed it from start to finish and I hope there's more. (My review of it can be found here.) This book also convinced me that I need to start reading crime fiction. Of course, where the hell do you even start with that?  Fortunately, this blog post by Kristin Centorcelli gave me five great places to begin.

I've also heard that romance thrillers are a big thing. I haven't picked up one of those yet, but I did pick up some research reading. I got The MacKenzie Brothers anthology from the awesome Liliana Hart for the romance part, and Rupture by A. Scott Pearson for the thriller part. I'm loving them both, so I'm going to have a high bar for a romance thriller when I get to that.

These genre-bending novels have given me the best homework ever. I can spot a 'good' military fantasy because I know military sci-fi and I know fantasy. I want to be able to spot the good noir urban fantasies and the good romance thrillers, too. (Plus, I'll have the added bonus of being able to snark the crappy ones.) I feel like I can only benefit by getting outside of my comfort zone and reading stuff I never thought of as relevant to me before. I highly recommend it.
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  1. I still have to read City of The Lost, but it's on my list since your review.

    I've gotten really into mystery in the past year, and enjoy a good one as much as I like UF. This: http://sophielittlefield.com/bad-day-for-sorry.php
    has been my favorite so far.

    I can;t get into romance much at all, but I try every few years. :/

    1. I loved A Bad Day for Sorry. I picked it up since Nicole Peeler raved about it and she was right. It was excellent. I may have to do more mysteries.

    2. I think they have all the adventure I crave and offer a few out of the box heroines. You know, ones over thirty and maybe *gasp* not hot and single.

  2. I stepped out of my usual Paranormal Romances and tried the Rom-Suspense Ash trilogy by Shiloh Walker. I really enjoyed them. Liked the first book best, and surprisingly liked the killer as a character - he was a creepy SOB, and I wanted him to die, but an interesting character.

    I'm jumping way out of my usual "fantasy-fiction only" camp to read the latest from Neil deGrasse Tyson. But then he is awesome and funny, so I think I will enjoy the book.