logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: Frances-Hardinge
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-07-04 20:58
2018 Hugo Ballot: WSFS Best YA Award
Akata Warrior - Nnedi Okorafor
The Art of Starving - Sam J. Miller
The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage (Book of Dust, Volume 1) - Philip Pullman
In Other Lands - Sarah Rees Brennan
A Skinful of Shadows - Frances Hardinge
Summer in Orcus - T. Kingfisher

This is part of a series of posts reviewing categories in this year's Hugo ballot. I'll be discussing the entries, the voter packet, and my ballot. I've nominated and voted most years since 2011, when I figured out that all I had to do was join Worldcon to get to do so. 

 

YA is a new category this year. To which I can only say: IT IS ABOUT FUCKING TIME. This year's business meeting should give it a permanent name as well. " The World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) Award for Best Young Adult Book" is a bit unwieldy. The proposed name is Lodestar, but of course, no bit of progress can be made without some pushback.

 

The category was added as a separate award from the Hugos, which is how the Campbell was already classified. Of course, the Campbell's been treated just like a Hugo forever, with only the occasional footnote to point out that it isn't one. But now that there's a YA category, blogs feel the need to lead with it not being a Hugo. It's voted on by the same people as part of the same ballot and awarded at the same ceremony. 

 

  • Akata Warrior, by Nnedi Okorafor (Viking) - I started Akata Witch years ago, and abandoned it a quarter of the way, and didn't make it quite as far in this sequel. I'm just not in love with the protagonist or with the habit of every person around her constantly being hypercritical and challenging her every word and action. I'm just not the right audience.

 

  • The Art of Starving, by Sam J. Miller (HarperTeen) - I didn't make it more than a few chapters into this one, but I have a very hard time reading about eating disorders. I was hoping this would be a bit more metaphoric, but there's a scene where the narrator accidentally eats some tater tots and finds himself powerless, and I just can't. Again, I am not the right audience.

 

  • The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage, by Philip Pullman (Knopf) - I read a sample and didn't find anything interesting enough to bother continuing. 

 

  • In Other Lands, by Sarah Rees Brennan (Big Mouth House) - I completely missed this title in spite of it being from one of my favorite YA imprints - the same small press that published Archivist Wasp. While the cover art is kind of lackluster, the story is dynamite. Portal fantasy with a pacifist bi protagonist in a low magic world where most humans train to be soldiers. Brennan discusses writing this as a serialized work on her blog in the afterwards. As a complete novel, it's a delight to read. Easily my favorite YA novel on the ballot.

 

  • A Skinful of Shadows, by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan UK / Harry N. Abrams US) - This has a bit of a slow start, but turns into an interesting, somewhat dark jaunt across war torn England. The main character is a very appealing form of bold, constantly subverting the expectations of those around her. 

 

  • Summer in Orcus, written by T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon), illustrated by Lauren Henderson (Sofawolf Press) - This novel was also a portal fantasy originally published in a serialized format. It was also a fun jaunt, but it felt a bit young for a YA novel. Like it would be better classified as the high end of middle grade.

 

So my favorite two of these were originally serialized stories, which is not consistent with my usual view of serialized short fiction. Perhaps encountering them already collected into a continuous narrative makes them work better for me. In spite of my reservations about the categorization of Summer in Orcus, it will place second on my ballot after In Other Lands. Third will be Skinful of Shadows, and the rest I may just leave off the ballot.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-07-04 15:34
A Skinful of Shadows - Frances Hardinge
A Skinful of Shadows - Frances Hardinge

Another Hugo ballot book, this time something from the YA list, and again something I probably wouldn't have ended up reading otherwise - that's one good thing about these kind of awards, I guess, that you might come across stuff that's outside your usual stomping grounds...

 

A Skinful of Shadows is set in the run-up to and early days of the Civil War, the UK one. We first meet our protagonist, Makepeace, in the sternly-Puritan environment where she is living with her mother. Life is tough, to say the least, and the threat of outright war is still in the future while Makepeace tries to deal with the way her mother is attempting to toughen her up by making her stay in the local graveyard overnight. It's not until after the death of her mother in a riot some months later and an unwanted claim being made on her by her father's family that Makepeace discovers just what ghosts have to do with her own ancestry. 

 

Once she has found her place in her family's home, even though that place is working in the kitchen since she's one of the former lord's illegitimate children, Makepeace discovers the truth about the family to whom she's related. The current crop of lords are literally being bred to exist as containers for the ghosts of their ancestors, with Makepeace and her half-brother James being convenient substitutes if the process doesn't work. Once she's realised just what fate awaits her, Makepeace begins to plot her escape although it takes a while for her plans to actually work out. 

 

A Skinful of Shadows is an interesting book and probably one I would have absolutely loved as a teenager, with a clear attention to detail in terms of the ongoing history and the lives people lived in that period. Makepeace doesn't quite work as well as a character for me and I can't quite put my finger on why that is, which is irritating, hence my rating at 3 stars rather than 4. 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-06-26 03:41
Review: A Skinful of Shadows
A Skinful of Shadows - Frances Hardinge

I quested this being in the YA category for the first few chapters as the protagonist was so barely in the age range that it felt more like middle grade. Of course, after a few chapters, not only does the plot get out of MG, but time skips forward a few years and this turns into an honest to goodness MG novel. 

 

The main character is bold and reckless in a very appealing way. The setting is a historical one I haven't seen a million times. The worldbuilding is a little odd - really, is there only one blood line with this "curse"? But waving those slight concerns (and we see such a narrow part of the earth that who knows), this works quite well. 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-05-08 14:57
The Lie Tree / Frances Hardinge
The Lie Tree - Frances Hardinge

Faith Sunderly leads a double life. To most people, she is reliable, dull, trustworthy - a proper young lady who knows her place as inferior to men. But inside, Faith is full of questions and curiosity, and she cannot resist mysteries: an unattended envelope, an unlocked door. She knows secrets no one suspects her of knowing. She knows that her family moved to the close-knit island of Vane because her famous scientist father was fleeing a reputation-destroying scandal. And she knows, when her father is discovered dead shortly thereafter, that he was murdered.

In pursuit of justice and revenge, Faith hunts through her father's possessions and discovers a strange tree. The tree bears fruit only when she whispers a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, delivers a hidden truth. The tree might hold the key to her father's murder - or it may lure the murderer directly to Faith herself.

 

The May selection for my real-life book club. The verdict? We liked it a lot. As one member said, it started out kind of depressing with all of the women seemingly held back and held down by a repressive society and the men in their lives. But as the story progressed, I realized that just like weeds, the women of the tale were strong enough to find their way to some control by growing up through the cracks!

There’s a fair amount of darkness and duplicity in the work. I guess with a title like The Lie Tree that is unavoidable. Faith Sunderly demonstrates that peculiarity of human nature—she cares much more about the opinion of her odious, abusive father than for her mother who she despises as “less than.” And in doing so, she despises herself for being that ultimate “less than,” a girl. She believes in her father’s uprightness until she discovers his special possession, the Lie Tree. A plant which feeds on lies and the more people who believe them, the better the plant grows.

When her father is killed (and her family is due to be disinherited because he is believed to be a suicide), Faith takes matters into her own hands—she tells the tree what it wants to hear and it grows much more luxuriantly that it ever did under her father’s care.

I loved the book for Faith’s realization of her worthiness and intelligence and the resilience of all the women to resist the patriarchal control in their society. I’m looking forward to reading more by Frances Hardinge.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-04-19 15:22
TBR Thursday
The Lie Tree - Frances Hardinge
The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
The Warded Man - Peter V. Brett
Dragonfly in Amber - Diana Gabaldon
The Magic of Recluce - L.E. Modesitt Jr.
Stations of the Tide - Michael Swanwick

I'm currently reading Smilla's Sense of Snow and The Good Women of China.  Once I've finished them, it's time to move on to these books.

 

My real life book club meets soon, and our May choice is The Lie Tree.  This is our year of reading exclusively young-adult literature and this book was highly recommended to me.

 

I've got three books for my Science Fiction and Fantasy reading project:  Dragonfly in Amber, The Magic of Recluce, and Stations of the Tide.  There's a hold on Dragonfly and the other two are interlibrary loans, so they can't be renewed. 

 

I'm also reading with an eye to my August conference.  Peter Brett will be a guest of honour and I'm going to read his The Warded Man to get an idea of what his work is about.

 

Years ago, for RL Book club, I read Barbara Kingsolver's The Bean Trees.  Now I intend to see what The Poisonwood Bible is like.

 

Saturday I'm headed to an art show where one of my friends is exhibiting and Sunday I'm doing brunch & a movie with another friend.  The movie is a filming of a Shakespearean production, Timon of Athens, a play that I have never seen performed. 

 

Happy reading, friends!

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?