Sunday, August 28, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

"Tatyana" by Elena Samokysh-Sudovskaya

I have not finished a single book this month. I'm not really sure how August has gotten by me so fast, but it has. I had a stack of books I planned to read this month, but they're all still right there in the stack!

At the top of said stack:

Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch

After that, another book I planned for August:

And after that, it'll probably be September! This year just keeps zipping right along.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. If you want to let the world know what you're going to be reading this week, head on over to her blog and leave your link. It's also a great way to discover new books and new blogs.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Hugo Awards for 2016

The 2016 Hugo Awards were presented this weekend, at MidAmeriCon II, the 74th World Science Fiction Convention. Here's the list of winners:

  • Best Novel: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
  • Best Novella: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (
  • Best Novelette: "Folding Beijing" by Hao Jingfang, translated by Ken Liu (Uncanny Magazine, Jan.-Feb. 2015)
  • Best Short Story: "Cat Pictures Please" by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld, January 2015)
  • Best Graphic Story: The Sandman: Overture written by Neil Gaiman, art by J.H. Williams III (Vertigo)
  • Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form): The Martian screenplay by Drew Goddard, directed by Ridley Scott
  • Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form): Jessica Jones: "AKA Smile," written by Scott Reynolds, Melissa Rosenberg and Jamie King, directed by Michael Rymer
  • Best Editor—Short Form: Ellen Datlow
  • Best Editor—Long Form: Sheila E. Gilbert
  • Best Professional Artist: Abigail Larson
  • Best Semiprozine: Uncanny Magazine edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, and Erika Ensign & Steven Schapansky
  • Best Fanzine: File 770 edited by Mike Glyer
  • Best Fan Writer: Mike Glyer
  • Best Fan Artist: Steve Stiles

I don't read as much sci-fi as I once did, but I still enjoy the genre. And several of these titles look interesting enough for me to add them to my "must take a look" list. I did recently acquire one of the "Best of the Year" books edited by Ellen Datlow, but it was her horror series rather than the SF. And I've seen The Martian — excellent movie!

You can see the full line-up of nominees and list of winners on the Hugo Awards website.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Book Beginnings: A Death in the Family

Mrs. Malory and A Death in the Family (Signet, 2006), part of Hazel Holt's wonderful Sheila Malory series of cozy mysteries. These are the book's opening lines:
I am very much afraid [my cousin Hilda wrote] that you may have to suffer a visit from Bernard Prior. He arrived at my house uninvited, and indeed unannounced, last Wednesday and stayed for several hours. He seemed oblivious to my hints that he and that dim little wife of his had long outstayed their welcome, so that in the end I was obliged to be quite brisk in my effort to get rid of them. 
Apparently now that he has retired he has taken up genealogy — such a tedious study, I always think — and wished to glean from me any information I might have about our common ancestors.

My Thoughts:

I love the Mrs. Malory mysteries, and my first thought was that I thought I had already read this one. But after skimming a bit of the first chapter, it doesn't sound at all familiar. Must have skipped over it (number 17 in the 21-book series). And my second thought was oh dear, they're dissing genealogists! Which makes me feel very uneasy since I dabble in family history myself, and hate to see a fellow enthusiast made light of. I'm also hoping that the genealogist won't turn out to be the murder victim in this one, but it's not looking good. Oh well, I'll just have to read on and see what develops.

I've been going through an annoying reading slump lately — just can't seem to settle down with any book for very long. But in the past, Sheila Malory has almost always given me the nudge I need to get going again — so I'm hoping she has that effect this time.

Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Friday.  As she says, the idea is to post the first sentence (or so) of the book you're currently reading, along with any first impressions or thoughts you have about the book, the author, etc.  It's a wonderful way of adding new books to your must-read list, and a chance to connect with other readers and bloggers.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Teaser Tuesday: Dark Matter

This week my teaser lines come from Dark Matter, the new novel by Blake Crouch (Crown, July 2016). This quote is from the first page of Chapter One:
Standing happy and slightly drunk in my kitchen, I'm unaware that tonight is the end of all of this. The end of everything I know, everything I love.
Yeah, I know that sounds like a spoiler — but it's from the book's first page, so I don't think it's giving anything away. I've read one other book by Blake Crouch — Pines, the first book in his Wayward Pines trilogy — and really enjoyed it; so I'm hoping this one is just as good.

Don't really care much for that cover (the Kindle edition). Boring, and it sort of makes me dizzy if I look at it too long. Here's a shot of one of the international paperback editions (Hungary) that's a little more interesting:

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Jenn at Books and a Beat. If you'd like to read more teasers, or take part yourself, just head on over to her blog.

And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in your comment here.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

This Too Shall Pass

Milena Busquets
Translation by Valerie Miles
Hogarth, May 2016
176 pages

Publisher's Description:
Blanca is forty years old and motherless. Shaken by the unexpected death of the most important person in her life, she suddenly realizes that she has no idea what her future will look like. 
To ease her dizzying grief and confusion, Blanca turns to her dearest friends, her closest family, and a change of scenery. Leaving Barcelona behind, she returns to Cadaqués on the coast, accompanied by her two sons, two ex-husbands, and two best friends, and makes a plan to meet her married lover for a few stolen moments as well. Surrounded by those she loves most, she spends the summer in an impossibly beautiful place, finding ways to reconnect and understand what it means to truly, happily live on her own terms, just as her mother would have wanted.

My Thoughts:

Apparently Milena Busquets' short novel This Too Shall Pass was quite a sensation in Europe, but it's gotten a cooler reception over here. And I think I can understand all the mixed reviews.

In the book Blanca's mother has just died; to deal with her grief, the 40-year-old "orphan" decides to return to a place she remembers fondly from her childhood. And she also decides that just about everyone she's ever met should go along. And they do. Making for lots of interesting and confusing situations.

Blanca is definitely a maddening character, imperfect (to say the least!) and self-involved — and her relationship with her mother is something any psychiatrist would probably love to get a chance at. Let's just say it was very close, prickly, and ... well, a little weird. The book is narrated in Blanca's voice, so we get her thoughts and opinions throughout. And many of her comments about her mother sound very much as if she were speaking about/to a dear friend or "significant other" rather than a parent. But then, you sort of get the distinct impression that her mother was the significant other in Blanca's life. At one point (p.75 in the ARC), while mentally addressing her absent mother, she says:
I guess you were partly aware that you were the love of my life, and no other stormy love affair would ever come close to outdoing yours.
And knowing she feels that way makes her extreme feelings of loss and confusion a little easier to understand and tolerate.

But with all her problems and foibles, Blanca is also very human, funny and warm-hearted. So although I started out agreeing with the nay-sayers, I ended up enjoying the book quite a bit. Not sure I'd actually recommend it — it's probably not for everyone. But I'll be looking for more of Busquets' work in the future.

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(Full Disclosure: I received my copy of This Too Shall Pass free of charge, from the publisher, through Library Thing's Early Reviewer program. No other compensation was received, and no one attempted to influence my opinion.)

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● Qualifies for the following reading challenges: Books In Translation Challenge,  European Challenge, 2016 Women Challenge, Women's Fiction Challenge.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Teaser Tuesday: The Port-Wine Stain

This week my teaser lines come from The Port-Wine Stain, by Norman Lock (Bellevue Literary Press, June 2016). This quote is from page 49 of the uncorrected proof, so it might differ slightly in the published edition (but probably not):
His words were wild, and I trembled to hear them. And then he placed the skull upon the table and began to run his fingers over it, as though he meant to read Vogel's character in the fleshless face.
The book is a historical novel about a young medical assistant who becomes acquainted with Edgar Allan Poe, and much of the writing definitely has a very Poe-ish ring. I've read about half the book and I'm enjoying it, but also still waiting for something significant to happen. So far, it seems to be mostly style and not much substance.

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Jenn at Books and a Beat. If you'd like to read more teasers, or take part yourself, just head on over to her blog.

And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in your comment here.