Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Best Novel: Powers by Ursula K. Le Guin
Best Novella: "The Spacetime Pool" by Catherine Asaro
Best Novelette: "Pride and Prometheus" by John Kessel
Best Short Story: "Trophy Wives" by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Script: WALL-E, screenplay by Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, original story by Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter
Andre Norton Award: Flora's Dare: How a Girl of Spirit Gambles All to Expand Her Vocabulary, Confront a Bouncing Boy Terror, and Try to Save Califa from a Shaky Doom (Despite Being Confined to Her Room) by Ysabeau S. Wilce
Solstice Award: Kate Wilhelm, A.J. Budrys & Martin H. Greenberg
SFWA Service Award: Victoria Strauss
Bradbury Award: Joss Whedon
Grand Master Award: Harry Harrison
Author Emerita: M.J. Engh
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
The City & The City by China Mieville
Published by Del Rey Books
Quickie post today. I've been meaning to get a longer review written, but life got in the way.
The City & The City is deliriously weird just the way a Mieville book should be. Kinda like if you took a Philip K. Dick, Raymond Chandler & George Orwell book, blended them up with a great episode of Law & Order & poured them into a big ol' glass of Weird.
Somewhat weak on the ending (like a few of Mieville's books) but well worth reading.
Perdido Street Station still ranks as my Favorite Mieville book, this one maybe coming in third behind Un Lun Dun.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Increase Your Karmic Footprint
Wanda Jewell has a problem. After
serving nearly 20 years as Executive Director of the Southern
Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) she is overrun with books. All
kind of books; finished copies and galleys, advance reading copies,
advance reader editions, paperback and hardbound, slip-covered and not,
limited editions, signed and unsigned, personalized and not. Books
here, books there, books, books, everywhere…and each publishing season
brings more. It was while she was contemplating the management of her
extensive personal library, (with the television news on in the
background) that Wanda had her “Aha!” moment: How to weed her
collection and support her southern indie bookstores at the same time?
In a flash of Obama-induced inspiration, Wanda created her own Free
Book Stimulus Plan.
Books can be purchased anywhere. So
why shop at indie bookstores? Because buying a book at your local indie
bookstore doesn’t just stimulate your reading, it stimulates your local
economy. Shopping local is an investment in your own neighborhood and
good karma all around. And because you can get a free book! Hoping to stimulate sales at indie
bookstores, Wanda is dismantling her personal library and offering it
to shoppers one free book at a time. Beginning April 2nd, readers who
purchase a book at a SIBA-member indie store and send her a copy of the
receipt will receive book from her collection completely free of
charge. Visit FreeBookStimulusPlan.com
for details and a list of participating bookstores. Print out the
request form on the site and mail it in with a copy of your store
receipt (the receipt must include the name of the store). That is all
you have to do to get a free book from Wanda’s personal library.
This offer is open only to
consumers living in the contiguous United States. Completed form with
receipt must be mailed to
Free Book, 3806 Yale Ave., Columbia, SC 29205
and only while supplies last. Consider this a challenge to deplete
Wanda’s library – she doubts it can be done!
Here is all that Wanda asks in return. Visit FreeBookStimulusPlan.com;
Pass it on. Post to blog. Pay it forward. Print to press. Play the 411.
Shout it out. Share the news. Spread the word. Soapbox it up. Tweet
& Retweet. Facebook & Myspace. Get the word out. Free Book for
Shopping Southern Indie Bookstores! Increase your karmic footprint!
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Published by Doubleday Books
When an author publishes their second novel after having tremendous success with their first novel, most readers approach it warily. For some authors it's hard to follow up a great debut with a second, equally as good. Luckily The Angel's Game is not actually Zafón's second book, just the second that's been translated to English. Zafón actually published a few young adult novels in Spanish before he wrote The Shadow of the Wind.
But needless to say, Zafón has done it again. He has woven a new story just as engaging & beautiful as SOTW.
The Angel's Game actually takes place in the same area of Barcelona as SOTW. Set in the period just before the civil war that leads up to SOTW. The main character is David Martin, who at the beginning of book is working at a newspaper & gets his chance to be a writer. Soon with the help of of his friend & mentor, Perdo Vidal, he is able to lift himself out of poverty & start writing for a living.
He soon leaves the newspaper & starts writing pulp fiction under a pseudonym for a less than desirable publishing house. But while making good money, he realizes that he is truly not happy & longs to write for himself. Soon he's approached by a mysterious benefactor, Andreas Corelli, who asks David to write a book for him. The subject would be Corelli's choosing. And David would have one year to write it. Once he's done, he will be rich & free to write for himself. But just who is this man giving him this chance? And what will it truly cost him in the end? I'd tell you more, but that might give something away.
Much like SOTW, there is an overall mystery winding it's way through the story. But at the same time there is a fabulous love story/triangle and sins of the past come back to haunt the characters.
Zafón really shines in his storytelling & his dialogue. The interaction between David & his "ward/protege", Isabella, is simply magic. As with SOTW, you really fall into the lives of these characters & live and breathe with them. But eventually the story has to end. And at the end I was in tears, not just because of the story, but simply because I knew my time with these characters was coming to a close.
This is a book I would highly recommend, definitely in my top 20 of all time.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Down River by John Hart
I know it's been awhile since I've posted a new review. Chalk it up to laziness. Not that I haven't read anything worth reviewing. Actually there's been a few, Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis, and a few others have been great books, worth blogging about. I've just been lazy.
But Down River is one of the best books I've read all year. It is a thriller indicative of early John Grisham, (and by early, I mean A Time To Kill early). It grabs you, sucks you in & only finally lets you go at the end.
Down River is a story about family dysfunction, secrets buried deep, and what some people will do to keep those secrets buried.
The story follows Adam Chase as he returns home to Rowan County, North Carolina after five years gone. Five years ago, Chase was accused of murder. The community turned on him, even his stepmother testified against him. And this caused Chase's father to also turn on him. Chase was eventually found innocent, but the damage had been done. Having been shunned by his family, and most of his friends, he takes off for New York.
Until one day he gets a call from an old friend asking him to come home. Chase reluctantly does so, and within minutes of being back, he finds himself wrapped up in new trouble that's been brewing while he was gone.
Chase finds out that a power company wants to buy a good chunk of land in the community to build a nuclear power plant. The deal would make a lot of people in the county very rich. But Chase's father is refusing to sell. And since he holds the biggest chunk of land, the deal hinges upon him.
Also living on Chase's family farm is Dolf, a longtime farmhand & friend to Chase's father, and his Granddaughter, Grace. Minutes after seeing Chase for the first time in five years, Grace is brutally attacked. And naturally with his past, blame starts to fall on Chase.
And to tell you anymore would give it away. But needless to stay, in the grand traditions of good thrillers, a few bodies show up & secrets are revealed.
Down River is a really good read, and my only complaint is that I tore through it too fast. But that's a testament to the book, not bad thing at all.
This was Hart's second book & needless to say, it won't be long till I track down his first book King of Lies!
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Un Lun Dun by China Mieville
Un Lun Dun by China Mieville
Published by Ballantine Books 03/07
Rating : 9
448 pages ISBN: 9780345495167
What happens when your best friend is destined to save a world, but she just has jus been put out of commission?
Un Lun Dun answers that question very well!
China Mieville is best known for his dark gritty fantasy novels for adults that are set in the world of Bas-Lag. (Perdido Street Station, The Scar, & Iron Council. Which if you haven't read & like dark, gritty, weird fantasy, run, don't walk to your local bookstore!) But Un Lun Dun is intended for young adults. But don't let that keep you away from this great novel. Like a lot of other great young adult novels, this one can be enjoyed by any ages.
Zanna & her best friend Deeba live in London, and one day after some weird events find themselves transported (Like any great fantasy story.) to Un Lun Dun. Un Lun Dun is an Abcity, a place where all the lost & broken things in London end up. A lot of things in Un Lun Dun are what the locals call Moily, mildly obsolete in London. It is a place where all the rubbish, old currency & broken umbrellas go.
Un Lun Dun is populated by a number of strange people & creatures. (Much like Mieville's other books.) Giraffe's hunt the streets & attack the unwarry, & old milk cartons make good pets.
Once in Un Lun Dun, Zanna & Deebe find out that Zanna is the "Zhwazzy". THe Zhwazzy is the Chosen one who is prophesied to save both Un Lun Dun & London from the dark, mysterious Smog! But shorty after arriving Zanna is attacked & put out of commission. And can no longer act as the chosen one. Can Deeba pick up where she left off & save the world?
Un Lun Dun touches upon a number themes including environmentalism, class, politics, & destiny. But none of the themes with the exception of environmentalism is heavily forced upon you. (And the environmental messgae is a good one.) One of the things that I liked that it touched upon was Choice. We are who we choose to be, not what a prophesy says we are, or who we have to be. A great message for the younger readers venturing into this novel.
The other great thing in this novel is the way Mieville plays with words. Words literally come to life at times in this story. And Mieville's play on words is so wonderfully subtle, sometimes you won't even catch them. And when you do you be giggling at how he does it. And one other really neat thing is that Mieville supplys a number of black & white sketches that help illustrate this world throughout the book.
Overall this is a beautifully written book, with characters you genuinely care about & want to root for. If you like the young adult books that Neil Gaiman & Clive Barker have done over the last few years, then you will love this book!
Monday, February 19, 2007
Publication date: November 2006
Started: 08/01/2006 Finished: 08/07/2006
Rating: 8 3/4 Pages: 339
First of all let me say how much this book surprised me. Connolly is best known for a series of crime novels starring his character of Charlie "Bird" Parker (Starting with the novel Every Dead Thing.). A tough ex-cop who gets involved in crimes with a slight supernatural twist. While these novels are very good, they are somewhat totally different than what Connolly is doing here with The Book of Lost Things. And different here is very good!
The novel starts out in World War II era London. The main character , David, is dealing with the impending death of his Mother who is very sick, and whom he loves very much. So much in fact that he starts little rituals to help "protect" her. These rituals are very OCD like and needless to say they don't work. His Mother passes away, leaving David & his Father to fend for themselves.
As he growing up, David's Mother instilled in him a love of Books & stories. And now David takes solace in those stories to lessen the loss of his Mother.
So time goes by & David & his Father become closer, but eventually his Father falls in love with another woman named Rose. And of course this doesn't sit well with David. He refuses to get along with her. And on top of that, he starts experiencing seizures that are accompanied by weird dreamlike visions of another land. And after the seizures he finds that he can "hear" the books on his shelves. He could "hear" them talking to him & amongst themselves!
It's then that David's Father tells him that Rose is pregnant, and he's going the have a brother, and they'll all going to move out of London to escape the bombings. So they pack up & move to Rose's family's house in the country. A huge crumbled down old mansion covered in Ivy. David gets a room filled with all kinds of old books. At of course not being very happy there, he retreats into them. And his relationship with his new step-mother deteriorates more & more. And he looks upon his new Brother with disinterest & jealousy. He does take solace in exploring the grounds of the house & finds a hidden garden that he uses as his "escape" when he wants to be alone.
One day he's down in this garden & he looks up at the window of his room. And he sees a strange looking man in his room looking through his books. Naturally he freaks out, runs & tells his Father, who then goes up to his room to check it out. The only thing he finds is a bird trapped in the room.
Shortly after this David's relationship with his step-mother comes to a head, and they end up shouting at each other, and Rose slaps him. When David's Father comes home he blames David & sends him to his room. Later, in the middle of the night, something unknown wakes David up. He can't figure out what woke him up, so he sneaks out of the house, down to the hidden garden. As he's heading out there, a German bomber is blown up in the sky above & the wreckage falls towards David in the Garden. David retreats further into the garden & finds himself the hollow of a tree (Which in tales like this, always seem to go deeper than they should.) So he finds his way out & realizes that he's now in another world!
Once he's in the other world he hears what he thinks as his dead Mother's calling to him to come rescue her. So he sets off to find her. Along the way he meets up with different people who try to help him or hinder him. (Some of these characters you may recognize from fairie tales, some you may not.) All while trying to dodge the evil Crooked Man, The man who he saw through his bedroom window earlier in the story. The Crooked Man tempts him with a way home, but at what cost?
The Book of Lost Things is a wonderful coming of age set against a fairie tale world. If you like stories like Stephen King's The Talisman, or Robert McCammon's Boy's Life, you'll love this story.
Published by Bantam Books 07/06
Rating: 9, 499 pages
To start off The Lies Of Locke Lamora is probably the most impressive debut novel that I've stumbled across in awhile. I'd been hearing some buzz about this book before it was published, but the cover blurb by George R.R. Martin is what eventually caught my eye. And so I picked it up & was very pleasantly surprised & very happy that I did.
Lynch has done what so many Fantasy writers in the post Harry Potter/ Lord Of the Rings Movies landscape have failed to do, created a living, breathing world in which to tell his stories in. And he's also created a wonderful new character in Locke Lamora.
The best description I seen for this book rings very true. One reviewer stated that Lies read like a "fantasy" Ocean's Eleven.
And I totally agree.
The book follows the main character of Locke Lamora and his "family", The Gentleman Bastards. The Gentleman Bastards are a group of thieves that steal from the wealthy nobles of Camorr simply for the challenge & fun of it. Lynch paints them as slightly "Robin Hood" like.
The book flashes back & forth in time. The stories set in the past tell how Locke Lamora, an orphan, is raised by a master thief named Chains. Chains manages to teach Locke the ways of thieving even though Locke is severely a pain in the ass & very head-strong. The main story focuses on Locke & his band all grown up & planning their "ultimate" con.
However the balance of power among the thieves in Camorr is starting to shift. The local "Godfather", Capa Barsavi, is feeling his crime empire threatened by a mysterious figure known as the Gray King. The Gray King is slowly killing Capa's most trusted men.
Locke & his Gentleman Bastards find themselves caught in the middle of a massive gang war, with the Gray King using them as unwilling pawns in his plan to take over the criminal underworld of Camorr.
The story unfolds at a swashbuckling pace. Lynch manages to mix adventure & humor together in very fine fashion. And the "flashback" chapters are as well done as the main story. Lynch also shapes the world around Locke convincingly. Bringing Camorr to life in my mind's eye as I followed the story.
Overall is Lies is a very enjoyable read & a solid debut from an author that I'm looking forward to reading new things from in the future. Throughout the book Lynch develops a few story threads that go unanswered. Deftly setting up future books set in Locke's world. (Red Seas Under Red Skies, the follow-up is slated for a late July release in hardcover. While Lies comes out in paperback in June.)