2017 Baileys Women’s Prize Winner

The 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction was awarded last night to Naomi Alderman for her fourth novel, The Power.

The 2017 Chair of Judges, Tessa Ross, said: “The judges and I were thrilled to make this decision. We debated this wonderful shortlist for many hours but kept returning to Naomi Alderman’s brilliantly imagined dystopia – her big ideas and her fantastic imagination.” (Source)

The Power by Naomi Alderman

In The Power the world is a recognisable place: there’s a rich Nigerian kid who larks around the family pool; a foster girl whose religious parents hide their true nature; a local American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But something vital has changed, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power – they can cause agonising pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly.
This extraordinary novel by Naomi Alderman, a Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year and Granta Best of British writer, is not only a gripping story of how the world would change if power was in the hands of women but also exposes, with breath-taking daring, our contemporary world.
(GoodReads)

Have a look at the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize Shortlist for more reading inspiration.

2016 Nebula Award for Best Novel

The Nebulas honour the best in science fiction and fantasy in a number of categories every year.  This year the honour of Best Novel went to Charlie Jane Anders.

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane AndersA novel about the end of the world–and the beginning of our future.
Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn’t expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one’s peers and families.
But now they’re both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who’s working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention into the changing global climate. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world’s magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world’s ever-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together–to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.
A deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the apocalypse.” (GoodReads)

You can see the rest of this year’s Nebula winners here.

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Review: Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

I closed this book wondering what the hell had happened.  John Updike described it best in his New Yorker review: “Haruki Murakami’s new novel, “Kafka on the Shore”, is a real page-turner, as well as an insistently metaphysical mind-bender.” It is definitely both a page-turner and a mind-bender!

“Kafka on the Shore is powered by two remarkable kafka on the shore by haruki murakamicharacters: a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who runs away from home either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search for his long-missing mother and sister; and an aging simpleton called Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction and now is drawn toward Kafka for reasons that, like the most basic activities of daily life, he cannot fathom.  As their paths converge, and the reasons for that convergence become clear, Haruki Murakami enfolds readers in a world where cats talk, fish fall from the sky, and spirits slip out of their bodies to make love or commit murder. Kafka on the Shore displays one of the world’s great storytellers at the peak of his powers.” (GoodReads)

Kafka on the Shore was published in 2006 and went on to win the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel (2006), the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize Nominee for Longlist (2006), and the PEN Translation Prize (2006), among others.

Murakami tells the stories of the two protagonists, Kafka and Nakata, in alternating chapters building us up to the main event in splendid Murakami fashion.  The way is sprinkled with metaphysical breadcrumbs moving you forward in the story, letting you know something extraordinary occurred and will occur.  It is a fascinating read but like his Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World you don’t get clear cut answers.  You must make sense of the mystery for yourself.

I’d be lying if I said I completely understood everything that went on in the novel when I read the last line.  I felt baffled despite having seen many of the breadcrumb details sprinkled throughout the story come together.  I will have to read it again.  On his official website in response to questions about the book Murakami himself recommends reading the book several times to fully comprehend it.

“I suggest reading the novel more than once. Things should be clearer the second time around. I’ve read it, of course, dozens of times as I rewrote it, and each time I did, slowly but surely the whole started to come into sharper focus. Kafka on the Shore contains several riddles, but there aren’t any solutions provided. Instead several of these riddles combine, and through their interaction the possibility of a solution takes shape. And the form this solution takes will be different for each reader. To put it another way, the riddles function as part of the solution. It’s hard to explain, but that’s the kind of novel I set out to write.”

I enjoyed reading Kafka on the Shore and am looking forward to reading 1Q84 which is next according to Jessica’s Book Oblivion post on the best way to read Murakami which I am following.  Having read two of Murakami’s books so far I also recommend reading Hard Boiled Wonderland first before Kafka on the Shore.  Murakami has become a firm favourite of mine for his wonderful blend of the metaphysical and magical realism with ordinary life and people.

Have you read Kafka on the Shore? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

lilolia review rating 4 stars great

 

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Review: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

American Gods by Neil Gaiman has been sitting on my TBR list for a good long while and for good reason as it’s won a lot of great awards: Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel (2001), Hugo Award for Best Novel (2002), Nebula Award for Best Novel (2002), Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel (2002), among others which you can see on GoodReads if you are not yet convinced.american gods by neil gaiman

“Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life.
But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and a rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.
Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined—it is a job that takes him on a dark and strange road trip and introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own.” (GoodReads)

I’m so glad this book didn’t sink into the oblivion that is the bottom of my TBR list because it is as great as people say it is.  This is the second of Gaiman’s books that I’ve read and I really enjoy his voice and storytelling.  He’s pretty masterful at writing everyday life mixed with fantastical elements and bringing in all together into a highly believable and immensely enjoyable read.

The characters are amazing and the story is full of surprises.  I can’t say much about it specifically without potentially dropping in spoilers for those of you who’ve not read it so I shall remain silent on the details.  Suffice to say that this was a fantastic book which provided me with a few days of fabulous escapism.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a bit of urban fantasy and a really well written story.

 

lilolia review rating 5 stars excellent

 

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Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman was nominated for and won multiple awards in 2013.  It is a short fantasy novel and a great read.  The story follows a little boy as a fantastical and unsettling event occurs in his life.The Ocean at the End of the Lane neil gaiman

“Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.” (GoodReads)

Gaiman’s writing is wonderful and the story was really different so I enjoyed this quick read.  I liked that the plot moved along quickly and although I was saddened not to have specific closure on one lovely character at the end it was all part of the charm because, quite simply, life isn’t cut and dry and neither are all endings.  All of Gaiman’s characters were fabulously fleshy.  I’ll definitely be reading more of his novels in the future.

 

lilolia review rating 3 stars good

Review: Hard-Boiled Wonderland & the End of the World by Haruki Murakami

I’ve been meaning to get to Murakami for quite a while now.  I was going to start with 1Q84 but after reading Jessica from Book Oblivion’s post on the best way to read Murakami I took her advice and decided to start with Hard-Boiled Wonderland & the End of the World.  With a title like that you’re not sure what you’re going to get! I was completely absorbed by this book.  I loved every moment of it and it is thus far my favourite read for 2015.  Actually, I’ve added it to my favourite books (of all time) shelf on GoodReads.hard boiled wonderland and the end of the world by haruki murakami

Hard-Boiled Wonderland was published in 1985 but not for one minute did it feel like it could not have been written last year.  I would describe this book as part scifi and part fantasy but I don’t think putting a label on this book is going to do it any justice because it is many things all at once.  It is a highly enjoyable and clever book set in a time where some things resemble the world we live in and other things do not.   The book alternates between two narratives; one part End of the World and one part Hard-Boiled Wonderland.  There is so much going on in this book with so many wonderful and inventive details.  You’ll be entertained and you’ll be left thinking about it for a while after.

The blurb on GoodReads describes the novel:

‘A narrative particle accelerator that zooms between Wild Turkey Whiskey and Bob Dylan, unicorn skulls and voracious librarians, John Coltrane and Lord Jim. Science fiction, detective story and post-modern manifesto all rolled into one rip-roaring novel, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is the tour de force that expanded Haruki Murakami’s international following. Tracking one man’s descent into the Kafkaesque underworld of contemporary Tokyo, Murakami unites East and West, tragedy and farce, compassion and detachment, slang and philosophy.’

None of the characters in the book are named.  A few readers talk about why on GoodReads.  In my opinion, they just don’t need them because they are all so distinct anyway.  That’s a good writer for you.  Also when I finished this book and began mulling it over I realised because of certain elements of this story they can’t have names…I wish I could talk about why I think that but I refuse to ruin this novel for any of you even in the smallest way.  A huge part of the enjoyment of this novel is the discovery of what is going on so if you enjoy detective elements to your reading you’ll enjoy this.

I highly recommend this book! I absolutely loved it! I’d love to hear what you thought of it if you’ve read it.  Next on my Murakami TBR is Kafka on the Shore.

 

lilolia review rating 5 stars excellent

Terry Pratchett & the Discworld Series

150312152121-terry-pratchett-exlarge-169Yesterday we received the sad news of Terry Pratchett’s passing.  Pratchett is a beloved fantasy writer best known for his Discworld series.  He has been honoured with an OBE and many literary awards for his work.  His books have sold upward of 85 million copies and have been translated into 37 languages.  His popularity is rivalled only by that of J K Rowling in the fantasy world.  Pratchett has listed JRR Tolkein, Robert E Howard, H P Lovecraft, and William Shakespeare as inspiration as well as mythology, folklore, and fairytales.pratchett the end tweet

The Discworld series is 40 books strong with the very first one, The Colour of Magic, published in 1983.  Since then Pratchett has written about two Discworld books per year.  The 41st book was due out later this year.  Fans of Pratchett may be wondering if this is the end of the Discworld series and while it seems that may be true I have read in a New Statesman article from 2012 that Pratchett was happy to have his only daughter, Rihanna Pratchett, carry on the series.

“the Discworld is safe in my daughter’s hands”

Whether fans will be happy about this or not, I have no idea.  However, the end of the Discworld series remains to be seen.  Many, including myself, have not yet read the series.  Pratchett is known to have had a good sense of humour and his fantasy series reflects this.  It is a comical and satirical series often including parallels with current cultural, political, and scientific issues.

I have included the full book list of the Discworld series to guide you on your Discworld journey should you wish to embark upon it.  Many of the Discworld books are also part of sub series which I have included in brackets after the publication date.

The Discworld Series:

1          The Colour of Magic [1983]    (Rincewind #1)

2          The Light Fantastic [1986]    (Rincewind #2)

3          Equal Rites [1987]    (Witches #1)

From BuzzFeed’s 26 Discworld Quotes About Life, The Universe, And Everything

4          Mort [1987]    (Death #1)

5          Sourcery [1988]    (Rincewind #3)

6          Wyrd Sisters [1988]    (Witches #2)

7          Pyramids [1989]

8          Guards! Guards! [1989]    (Ankh-Morpork City Watch #1)

9          Eric [1990]    (Rincewind #4)

10        Moving Pictures [1990]

11        Reaper Man [1991]    (Death #2)

12        Witches Abroad [1991]    (Witches #3)

13        Small Gods [1992]

14        Lords and Ladies [1992]    (Witches #4)

15        Men at Arms [1993]    (Ankh-Morpork City Watch #2)

16        Soul Music [1994]    (Death #3)

17        Interesting Times [1994]    (Rincewind #5)

18        Maskerade [1995]    (Witches #5)

19        Feet of Clay [1996]    (Ankh-Morpork City Watch #3)

20        Hogfather [1996]    (Death #4)

From BuzzFeed’s 26 Discworld Quotes About Life, The Universe, And Everything

21        Jingo [1997]    (Ankh-Morpork City Watch #4)

22        The Last Continent [1998]    (Rincewind #6)

23        Carpe Jugulum [1998]    (Witches #6)

24        The Fifth Elephant [1999]    (Ankh-Morpork City Watch #5)

25        The Truth [2000]

26        Thief of Time [2001]    (Death #5)

27        The Last Hero [2001]    (Rincewind #7)

28        The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents [2001]

29        Night Watch [2002]    (Ankh-Morpork City Watch #6)

30        The Wee Free Men [2003]    (Tiffany Aching #1)

31        Monstrous Regiment [2003]

32        A Hat Full of Sky [2004]    (Tiffany Aching #2)

33        Going Postal [2004]

34        Thud! [2005]    (Ankh-Morpork City Watch #7)

35        Wintersmith [2006]    (Tiffany Aching #3)

36        Making Money [2007]

37        Unseen Academicals [2009]    (Rincewind #8)

38        I Shall Wear Midnight [2010]    (Tiffany Aching #4)

39        Snuff [2011]    (Ankh-Morpork City Watch #8)

40        Raising Steam [2013]

41        The Shepard’s Crown [2015?]    (Tiffany Aching #5)

FBF: The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein

Lilolia Friday Book Feature Post Header

 

The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein

Last week’s Friday Book Feature was #26 of the All TIME 100 Novels list and since we are one quarter of the way through that list I’m going to take a break from it and feature books from another great list; the Telegraph’s 100 Novels Everyone Should Read.

The Lord of the Rings is one of the best selling novels ever written.  It is a hugely popular high fantasy trilogy published in 1954.  After the success of The Hobbit in 1937 Tolkein was persuaded by his publishers to write “a new hobbit” book which he began writing in December 1937.  At the time Tolkein had a full time academic position at the Pembroke College, Oxford and writing of Lord of the Rings was slow going.  It took him from 1937 to 1949 to write the books on and off.  Originally Tolkein planned for The Lord of the Rings to be the first volume of a two volume set with the second being The Silmarillion but his publishers rejected that idea.  Instead, they marketed his book as a three volume set.  Tolkein’s novel was made up of six books so each of the three volumes contained two books.  The original manuscripts, totalling 9250 pages, are now in the JRR Tolkien Collection at the Marquette University. (wikipedia)

LOTRThe three books that make up the The Lord of the Rings are; The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King.  They are filled with wonderful characters, beautiful landscapes, and incredible adventures.  The trilogy has been widely translated (about 38 languages) and is beloved by readers all over the globe.  Fans have been so taken by the world Tolkein created that it has heavily impacted popular culture.  Tolkein’s huge success with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings has led him to be called the ‘father’ of modern fantasy literature.

Another element that has fascinated readers is the elvish language in Tolkein’s books.  Tolkein was a philologist who was influenced by the Welsh language.  In his essay, English and Welsh, he said:

“If I may once more refer to my work. The Lord of the Rings, in evidence: the names of persons and places in this story were mainly composed on patterns deliberately modelled on those of Welsh (closely similar but not identical). This element in the tale has given perhaps more pleasure to more readers than anything else in it.”

Tolkein’s books were not only imbued with the magic of his interest in language but also by his interest in the great Norse Sagas and Old English literature.  In fact it may be of interest to Tolkein lovers that back between 1920 and 1926 Tolkein completed a translation of the epic Beowulf from the Old English to Modern English which remained unpublished until 2014.  It is entitled Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary.  The translation is followed by a 200 page commentary which formed the basis of his acclaimed 1936 lecture Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics.  I have yet to read Beowulf for myself, long since on my TBR, and I’m going to try and get this translation for myself.

Despite the success of The Lord of the Rings there were those that criticised the work.  Tolkein was a member of a literary group called the Inklings and even within this group there were critics.  Inkling member Hugo Dyson apparently ‘complained loudly at its reading’.  However, long time friend and fellow Inkling, C S Lewis said: “here are beauties which pierce like swords or burn like cold iron. Here is a book which will break your heart.”

Speaking of hearts, I found this detail so lovely: Tolkein’s wife Edith was apparently the inspiration for the characters  Lúthien Tinúviel and Arwen Evenstar.  Tolkein is said to often have referred to Edith as “my Lúthien”.  The Tale of Beren and Lúthien is the story of the love and adventures of the mortal man Beren and the immortal Elf-maiden Lúthien.  In The Lord of the Rings her story is told to Frodo by Aragorn.  Wikipedia makes mention of a moment between Tolkein and Edith which inspired him to write the meeting of these fictional characters and their love:

While Tolkien was stationed at Kingston upon Hull, he and Edith went walking in the woods at nearby Roos, and Edith began to dance for him in a clearing among the flowering hemlock: “We walked in a wood where hemlock was growing, a sea of white flowers.”  This incident inspired the account of the meeting of Beren and Lúthien.

Tolkein and Edith are buried together and below their names on their headstone are the names Beren and Lúthien – a testament to their love!

In Tolkien’s Middle-earth legendarium, Lúthien was the most beautiful of all the Children of Ilúvatar, and forsook her immortality for her love of the mortal warrior Beren. After Beren was captured by the forces of the dark lord Morgoth, Lúthien rode to his rescue upon the talking wolfhound Huan. Ultimately, when Beren was slain in battle against the demonic wolf Carcharoth, Lúthien, like Orpheus, approached the Valar gods and persuaded them to restore her beloved to life.  Shortly after his wife’s death, Tolkien wrote the following in a letter to their son Christopher.

“I never called Edith Luthien – but she was the source of the story that in time became the chief part of the Silmarillion. It was first conceived in a small woodland glade filled with hemlocks at Roos in Yorkshire […]”

I have loved Tolkein’s world ever since my dad’s nightly readings of The Hobbit when I was a child.  If you have not already, I highly recommend reading these books.

Review: Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

Today I started and finished Kafka’s novella Metamorphosis.  I found this story a simple one – to the point.  I would say The Metamorphosisthis story is open to a number of interpretations and this review is about my interpretation because as I read it I felt it was about something very specific for me.

Kafka has Gregor Samsa turn into a bug/creature after a night of terrible dreams and what ensues is Gregor’s experiences as he becomes accustomed to a body less mobile, flexible, and strong than before, as well as a separation from his family.  He was the breadwinner of the family and overnight instead becomes dependent on them.  This story is as much about what his family goes through as it is about his steady decline.  Although Kafka has Gregor turn into a bug to make his point in this story, I personally felt all along that this was about a very capable, independent man who suffers a major physical setback whether that is paralysis by accident or reaching the final stages of a terminal illness.

It felt like a harsh but truthful look at how families deal with having to look after a family member who can no longer look after themselves.  As much as we love our family members this can be a very draining if not gruelling experience.  The fact that Gregor passes away undramatically in the early hours of the morning also speaks of terminal illness to me and particularly cancer kept coming to my mind.  The way the family steadily gains independence for themselves and ultimately feels relief when he has passed on, as harsh as that may seem, also lends itself to my interpretation of terminal illness.

It was a simple and honest read.  I found it terribly sad.  I hoped all the way through that my interpretations would be wrong, that Gregor would transform back into himself and that the story would be about the rest of the family learning to be independent.  But when I read the ending I realised that was true, but that it was also about the sadness, despair, and isolation a person may feel when they can no longer care for themselves, when they feel a burden to their loved ones, and possibly, facing death.  Thanks to fellow blogger, Wordman, for this recommendation.  I recommend anyone read this novella and see what it means to you.

 

lilolia review rating 3 stars good

 

2014 Hugo Best Novel Award Winner

This year the Hugo Award for Best Novel went to:

Ancillary Justice by Ann LeckieAncillary Justice (Imperial Radch, #1)

On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.  Once, she was the Justice of Toren – a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.  Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance. (GoodReads)

2014 Hugo Award Winners

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2013 Nebula Award for Best Novel Winner

Here is the winner of the SFWA’s 2013 Nebula Award for best Novel:

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch, #1)

On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.  Breq is both more than she seems and less than she was. Years ago, she was the Justice of Toren–a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of corpse soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.   An act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with only one fragile human body. And only one purpose–to revenge herself on Anaander Mianaai, many-bodied, near-immortal Lord of the Radch.

From debut author Ann Leckie, Ancillary Justice is a stunning space opera that asks what it means to be human in a universe guided by artificial intelligence.

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2013 Nebula Awards Winners Announced

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Review: The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

The Golem and the Jinni is Helene Wecker’s first novel which I found surprising because it is such a beautiful and well written book.  I was attracted to this book firstly because lots of people were raving about it on the web and secondly because of its lovely cover.  Sometimes you’ll read the blurb of a book and think what a great story this has to be…often you’ll be The Golem and the Jinnidisappointed but in this case you definitely won’t be.

“Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master, the husband who commissioned her, dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York in 1899.  Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Though he is no longer imprisoned, Ahmad is not entirely free – an unbreakable band of iron binds him to the physical world.  The Golem and the Jinni is their magical, unforgettable story; unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures – until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful threat will soon bring Chava and Ahmad together again, challenging their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.” (more on GoodReads)

I loved this book and I found the story so unique and interesting.  I really enjoyed following Chava the golem and Ahmad the jinni around 19th century New York, exploring it for the first time along with them.  This book is full of lovely little details about the destination of many; New York, and their homelands; Europe, Syria, about the people themselves and their cultures.  All these details about what led so many people to emigrate and how they survive in this new world.  These details form the colourful backstory and set the stage for a whole cast of great characters.

I really enjoyed all these historical details together with the fantastical elements of the golem, a jewish folkloric creature, the jinni, an arabic folkloric creature, and the wizard that brings them together in a twist of events I won’t reveal.  What made this story really special though is that none of this is overdone.  The historical element is just enough to set the scene and let you get a feel for the place without boring you to death, the fantastical element is only present in so much that you can experience what Chava and Ahmad feel as not only outsiders in a new world but as beings outside of the human experience.

There are also some wonderful passages that deal with Ahmad’s past in the Syrian desert which I enjoyed for this blend of historical and fantastical detail.  It’s this blend that Wecker does so well I think that made me connect with this book so much – every moment is believable and so great to read.  I highly recommend this book, I loved it.

 

lilolia review rating 5 stars excellent

 

 

A Guide to Reading David Eddings’ Fantasy Series

David Eddings is a very famous American writer of high fantasy with a number of series under his belt.  Many of his books were written together with his wife, Leigh Eddings.  If you are planning to read Eddings for the first time here is the info to help you navigate reading the series in the best order accompanied by some nice maps.

A1 – Prequels to Belgariad & Malloreon:

  1. Belgarath the Sorcerer (1995)
  2. Polgara the Sorceress (1997)
  3. The Rivan Codex (1998)Belgariad & Malloreon Map david eddings

A2 – The Belgariad

  1. Pawn of Prophecy (1982)
  2. Queen of Sorcery (1982)
  3. Magician’s Gambit (1983)
  4. Castle of Wizardry (1984)
  5. Enchanters’ End Game (1984)

A3 – The Malloreon (sequel to the Belgariad)

  1. Guardians of the West (1987)
  2. King of the Murgos (1988)
  3. Demon Lord of Karanda (1988)Elenium Map david eddings
  4. Sorceress of Darshiva (1989)
  5. The Seeress of Kell (1991)

B1 – The Elenium 

  1. The Diamond Throne (1989)
  2. The Ruby Knight (1990)
  3. The Sapphire Rose (1991)Tamuli Map david eddings

B2 – The Tamuli (sequel to the Elenium)

  1. Domes of Fire (1992)
  2. The Shining Ones (1993)
  3. The Hidden City (1994)

C1 – The Dreamers

Dreamers Map david eddings

  1. The Elder Gods (2003)
  2. The Treasured One (2004)
  3. Crystal Gorge (2005)
  4. The Younger Gods (2006)

Eddings’ books were firm favourites in my house when I was growing up.  I haven’t read them yet myself but hopefully I’ll get to them in the near future.  Have you read any of these books?  Share your thoughts.

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2013 Hugo Award Winner

The 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel went to Redshirts by John Scalzi

Redshirts

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship’s Xenobiology laboratory.

Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces, (2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations, and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy below decks is expended on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission. Then Andrew stumbles on information that completely transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives. (Goodreads)

http://www.thehugoawards.org/

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2012 Nebula Award Winner

This year’s Nebula Award for Novel went to: 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

11830394The year is 2312. Scientific and technological advances have opened gateways to an extraordinary future. Earth is no longer humanity’s only home; new habitats have been created throughout the solar system on moons, planets, and in between. But in this year, 2312, a sequence of events will force humanity to confront its past, its present, and its future.

The first event takes place on Mercury, on the city of Terminator, itself a miracle of engineering on an unprecedented scale. It is an unexpected death, but one that might have been foreseen. For Swan Er Hong, it is an event that will change her life. Swan was once a woman who designed worlds. Now she will be led into a plot to destroy them. (view on Goodreads)

 

http://www.sfwa.org/2013/05/2012-nebula-award-winners-announced/

 

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A Guide to Reading Terry Brooks’ Shannara Series

Terry Brooks is most famous for his Shannara Series of fantasy fiction.  For those of you interested in embarking on the Shannara journey, here is a guide to reading the series in chronological order.

1. Word and Void Series
1 – Running with the Demon (1997)
2 – A Knight of the Word (1998)
3 – Angel Fire East (1999)

2. Genesis of Shannara Series
1 – Armageddon’s Children (2006)
2 – The Elves of Cintra (2007)
3 – The Gypsy Morph (2008)

3. Legends of Shannara Series
1 – Bearers of the Black Staff (2010)
2 – The Measure of the Magic (2011)

4. Paladins of Shannara Series
1 – Allanon’s Quest (2012)
2 – The Weapons Master’s Choice (2013)
3 – The Black Irix (2013)

5. Original Shannara Series
1 – The Sword of Shannara (1977)
2 – The Elfstones of Shannara (1982)
3 – The Wishsong of Shannara (1985)

6. Heritage of Shannara Series
1 – The Scions of Shannara (1990)
2 – The Druid of Shannara (1991)
3 – The Elf Queen of Shannara (1992)
4 – The Talismans of Shannara (1993)

7. Voyage of the Jerle Shannara Series
1 – Ilse Witch (2000)
2 – Antrax (2001)
3 – Morgawr (2002)

8. High Druid of Shannara Series
1 – Jarka Ruus (2003)
2 – Tanequil (2004)
3 – Straken (2005)

9. The Dark Legacy of Shannara Series
1 – Wards of Faerie (2012)
2 – Bloodfire Quest (2013)
3 – Witch Wraith (2013)

10. Defenders of Shannara Series
1 – The High Druid’s Blade (2014)
2 – The Darkling Child (2015)
3 – The Sorcerer’s Daughter (2016)

11. The Fall of Shannara Series
1 – The Black Elfstone (2017)

 

I’ve shared with you the chronological order of the Shannara books but if you are interested you can also follow Brooks’ suggested order for new readers to the series.

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2010 Hugo Award Nominees

The 2010 Hugo Award Nominees have been announced.  Here is a list of the nominees together with an explanatory paragraph on each of the nominees provided from the Guardian

The 2010 nominees are:

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

“Boneshaker is not the only steampunk book on the list. Although I can’t help wondering how long before the boiler blows on the overheated sub-genre, there’s no denying it provides some fine conceits. How’s the following for a publisher’s description? “At the start of the Civil War, a Russian mining company commissions a great machine to pave the way from Seattle to Alaska and speed up the gold rush that is beating a path to the frozen north. Inventor Leviticus Blue creates the machine, but on its first test run it malfunctions, decimating Seattle’s banking district and uncovering a vein of Blight Gas that turns everyone who breathes it into the living dead.” Yes! It’s “pure mad adventure” according to boing boing and that sounds good to me.”

The City & The City by China Miéville

“If the quality of the one book that I’ve read from the shortlist is anything to go by, this should be a vintage year. China Miéville has set a hard-boiled detective thriller in a city called Beszel that has the strange distinction of being in the same place as another city called Ul Qoma. If that sounds confusing, that’s because it is, but wrapping your brain around the strangeness is all part of the pleasure and challenge of the book. Imagine The Wire with added weirdness and less over-acting. It pushes up against the boundaries of possibility to provoke reassessment of our own reality. It has a few rough edges – but only as a result of flinging itself so hard at the doors of perception.”

Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America by Robert Charles Wilson

“Previous Hugo winner Robert Charles Wilson’s 13th novel has the steampunk-inspired setting of a world after peak oil, where technology has retreated to pre-20th century levels and the United States is dominated by the Dominion Of Jesus Christ on Earth (think the Catholic church, only even worse). It features the deliberately florid narration of the titular hero’s adventures in a war against the Dutch (of all people). It’s a 22nd-century novel, written in 19th-century style that has direct bearing on the present day, and Cory Doctorow says it’s: “politically astute, romantic, philosophical, compassionate and often uproariously funny.”

Palimpsest by Catherynne M Valente

“Palimpsest is “a sexually transmitted city”. Bits of its map are transferred from lover to lover in the form of tattoos – and people are only able to enter those parts that appear on their body. Those that want to get around Palimpsest properly have to find “sequential lovers” who link up to their map. It’s a setting that might out-weird even China Miéville and it’s undeniably ingenious – although first glimpses suggest an over-use of adjectives: “They wear extraordinary uniforms: white and green scales laid one over the other, clinging obscenely to the skin, glittering in the spirelight.” Yet, the online reviews I’ve read suggest that this clotted-cream approach just adds to the richness in the long run.”

Wake by Robert J Sawyer

“A blind teenage maths genius undergoes an operation to recover her sight – and when she wakes up discovers that she can also see the electronic signals of the World Wide Web. She does so just in time to help her perceive a new consciousness, the world’s first digital intelligence – as it comes to life on the internet. This is supposedly a return to the hard science fiction of the old school, blending theories from pure science with imaginative speculation. The Canadian National Post says that Sawyer has put together: “a daunting quantity of fact and theory from across scientific disciplines and applied them to a contemporary landscape… He paints a complete portrait of a blind teenage girl, and imagines in detail – from scratch – the inside of a new being.” You can read a big chunk of it here.”

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

“The Windup Girl is a “New Person” – a being engineered to service the pleasures of sex tourists in a future version of Bangkok where bio-terrorism has become a tool for corporate profit – and wealth is measured in calories. The extracts here suggest that Bacigalupi doesn’t flinch from the brutal implications of either side of this premise. It sounds disturbing and profound.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2010/apr/06/hugo-awards-2010-shortlist

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2010 Hugo Award Winners

Yes, you read correctly, winners in the plural.  For the third time in its 57 years the Hugo Best Novel Award is tied between two winners.

The winners for the 2010 Hugo Best Novel Award are:

China Mieville for The City and The City

Paolo Bacigalupi for The Windup Girl

 

The Guardian had this to say about the winning novels:

With Miéville’s novel a fantastical twist on a crime story, and Bacigalupi’s a futuristic tale about an engineered girl grown for sex tourists, this year’s winning titles show the range of science fiction today. Set in Thailand, The Windup Girl tells the story of the beautiful Emiko, grown in a creche for a Kyoto businessman but now abandoned in Bangkok, and her encounter with AgriGen’s “Calorie Man” Anderson Lake, whose job is to look for “extinct” foodstuffs to help his company “reap the bounty of history’s lost calories”. It has been compared to William Gibson’s cyberpunk classic Neuromancer in the Washington Post, which also cited Margaret Atwood, JG Ballard and Philip K Dick as influences. The book also carried off this year’s Nebula award for best novel.

Bacigalupi pronounced himself “blown away and so pleased with this huge honour”, describing his fellow winner’s novel as “excellent”. The City and the City, which has already won Miéville the UK’s top two science fiction prizes, the Arthur C Clarke and British Science Fiction Association awards, is very different to Bacigalupi’s novel. The story of a murder investigation in the decaying city of Besźel, it quickly emerges that things aren’t quite as they seem: Besźel exists in the same physical space as another city, Ul Qoma, and Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad must travel there to solve the mystery. “Miéville thickens his plot with exceptional mastery,” wrote Michael Moorcock in the Guardian.

“Keeping his grip firmly on an idea which would quickly slip from the hands of a less skilled writer, Miéville again proves himself as intelligent as he is original”.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/sep/06/china-mieville-paolo-bacigalupi-hugo-award?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

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2010 Nebula Award Winner

The 2010 Nebula Awards were announced at the Nebula Awards Banquet held at the Hilton Cocoa Beach Ocean front on 15 May 2010.

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

The Guardian had this to say of Bacigalupi’s novel:

“Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl was voted winner of the Nebula by the 1,500 author members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, ahead of novels including China Miéville’s fantastical crime novel The City and the City, which won prestigious UK science fiction prize the Arthur C Clarke late last month, Jeff VanderMeer’s Finch and Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker.

Nominated for a Hugo award and named one of the 10 best novels of last year by Time magazine, The Windup Girl is the story of Emiko, an engineered being grown in a creche to satisfy the sexual whims of a Japanese businessman and abandoned to roam the streets of Bangkok. Set in a world where the global economy is built on calories, Emiko meets Anderson Lake, who is searching Bangkok for “extinct” foodstuffs for his company AgriGen.”

For more category winners follow the link: http://www.nebulaawards.com/index.php/guest_blogs/sfwa_announces_2010_nebula_awards_winners/

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2010 Hugo Award Nominees

The World Science Fiction Convention has announced the ballot for the 2010 Hugo Awards.

The 2010 Hugo Award Winners will be announced in Melbourne, Australia during Aussiecon 4, the 68th World Science Fiction Convention.  The Awards Ceremony will take place on Sunday 5 September 2010.

Best Novel

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

The City & The City by China Miéville

Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America by Robert Charles Wilson

Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente

Wake by Robert J. Sawyer

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

Best Novella

“Act One” by Nancy Kress

The God Engines by John Scalzi

“Palimpsest” by Charles Stross

Shambling Towards Hiroshima by James Morrow

“Vishnu at the Cat Circus” by Ian McDonald

The Women of Nell Gwynne’s by Kage Baker

www.thehugoawards.com

www.aussiecon4.org.au