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text 2018-05-25 23:57
Fantasy Flights May Meeting - Nebulas
Six Wakes - Mur Lafferty
The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter - Theodora Goss
A Stranger in Olondria - Sofia Samatar
Who Fears Death - Nnedi Okorafor
China Mountain Zhang - Maureen F. McHugh
Lord of Light - Roger Zelazny
All Flesh is Grass - Clifford D. Simak

Every month, I go to a book club that meets at a local taproom. Rather than reading a specific book, each month has a theme. May's theme was the Nebula Awards because, well, they are awarded in May. The Nebulas are one of those awards I've always been vaguely aware of from stickers on books, though I do enjoy Ceridwen's Blogging the Nebulas posts. I was a bit surprised to see how many previous nominees I'd read. I had to cull down to just a handful of recommendations. 

 

Here's what I ended up bringing from this year's ballot:

 

Six Wakes - Mur Lafferty. I wanted to read something on topic for the month, so I compared this year's Nebula and Hugo nominees. The overlap included Six Wakes, which I hadn't read yet, and is published by Orbit. The Hugo voter packet includes whatever publishers provide, and Orbit has traditionally included excerpts of nominees, not full books. Strategery! Turns out, I liked it quite a bit. 

 

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter - Theodora Goss. I read this one last year, and abso-fucking-lutly loved it. Great characters in an interesting concept, and there's a sequel out really soon. I was so happy to see it on an awards ballot. I won an auction for a signed copy that arrived a day before our May meeting.

 

I also decided, like I had when our theme was the Hugos, to bring some of my favorite losers. The awards hadn't been announced when we met, so I didn't even know my first two picks had lost. I would have brought Stone Sky, but I've rec'd to this group before. But here are some real losers:

 

A Stranger in Olondria - Sofia Samatar.  I adored this beautifully written fantasy novel about a book nerd's misadventures. The not-sequel is also amazing. Samatar's prose is just wonderful. My copy of this was signed here in Alabama, at a lecture she was giving MFA students in Tuscaloosa. Because if a master of the genre is going to make an appearance in my state, I can be a little late to work the next morning. Oh, since I'm late posting this, I can link to her recent AMA. This book lost to Ancillary Justice in 2014. But it did win a World Fantasy Award, a British Fantasy Award, and a Crawford Award. Samatar also won the Campbell Award for best new writer. Her blog has since become private, so I can't link to her post about the WFA, but more on that in the next book.

 

Who Fears Death - Nnedi Okorafor. My copy of this is technically a gift for my niece. I got it signed at Worldcon in Chicago. She's almost old enough to read  it. This is a different indictment/celebration of fantasy than Samatar's, but no less powerful or wonderfully written. It lost to Blackout/All Clear in 2011, and I can't even. It did win a Kindred, and a World Fantasy Award that year, sparking an essay that eventually resulted in a redesign of the award statue 5 years later.

 

China Mountain Zhang - Maureen F. McHugh. I read this so long ago I don't have a review for it. It combines a vast scope with a well done character study. McHugh has done a lot of outstanding work, and this is no exception. This lost to Doomsday Book in 1993, but won a Lambda, Locus, and Tiptree.

 

Lord of Light - Roger Zelazny. This is one of those books that starts off firmly a fantasy, but reveals itself as science fiction, and the author is a poet. One of my favorite books. My current not for load copy is the leather bound Eaton Press edition. In addition to being a piece of goddamned art, this book was the cheesy sci-fi novel used as cover for the Canadian Caper, aka, the CIA operation in Argo. It lost to The Einstein Intersection in 1968, but won a Hugo that year.

 

All Flesh is Grass - Clifford D. Simak. Simak wrote at least three versions of alien invasions that followed roughly the same plot. This is the best one. A small town finds itself cut off from the outside world and some purple flowers are revealed to be extraterrestrials. Creepy and weird, it's worth a read if you're visiting that era of scifi. It lost to Dune in 1966, making it one of the first losers.

 

Next month's theme is Urban Fantasy.

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review 2018-05-08 08:00
We Can Be Mended
We Can Be Mended - Veronica Roth

I had missed the announcement of this final epilogue to the Divergent series completely, but don't worry, you won't miss a thing.

It's five years since the events in Allegiant (which was a ridiculous book and I'm still being kind), and I didn't have a strong desire to go back, but the completist in me wanted to have read the entire series, so here I was, reading We Can Be Mended.

And they get mended over the course of this 27 page story. I've seen a lot of people hate this story with a passion, but I'm more indifferent. I only got the slightest of information on how the world changed and what is going on now. Instead there's the rather forced coming together of two of the surviving characters from the book.

I would only recommend it for big fans of the series, and even then prepare to dislike it.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-05-06 09:36
Hello Stranger
Hello Stranger: The Ravenels, Book 4 - Lisa Kleypas

My reviews are honest & they contain spoilers. For more, follow me:


Hello Stranger was the book 4 of Lisa Kleypas’s brand new historical romance series The Ravenels. Even with some ups and downs along the way I’ve been enjoying her return to the arena of historical romance. I’m just glad she’s writing HR again and hoping that she’ll continue to do so for years to come. And TBH I’m simply blown away by this one! Hello Stranger, for me, wasn’t a highly anticipated release like some of the previous ones in the series but... Wow! Ethan Ransom!! I *heart*!!!

First a bit of background, which is how I like to do my review... Set in the Victorian-era, book 1 of the Ravenels is titled Cold-Hearted Rake. It gives you the intro to The Ravenel family, and its two surviving brothers Devon and Weston. The Ravenels are a rowdy bunch who had always had a penchant for self-destruction. They live wild; always drawn to the adrenaline rush and the danger, never bothering to think about the consequences. And they die young too, which has come to be known as the “Ravenel curse”. Devon and West, both have the same bend on self-destruction. They had no title or money but, regardless, Devon didn’t want a title stooped under a pile of debt and a dilapidating country estate on his shoulders. But when his titled cousin, the last direct heir to Lord Trenear, breaks his neck from a fall from horseback, he had no other choice. Now, not only he was bordered with the duties that came with the title, but also Devon found that he’s now responsible for Theo’s 3 younger sisters—Helen, and the twins Cassandra and Pandora. If that wasn’t the worse thing to deal with, he’s also now responsible for Theo’s widow, Kathleen. At first, their relationship was that of oil and water but soon it turned into something else. Devon and Kathleen found themselves in love (which did nothing for me unfortunately), so on and so forth. A family, responsibility and love did change both Devon and West to become more cautious about their lifestyle, spending it on more fruitful ventures. As a result, they finally found themselves with a thriving estate. Devon and Kathleen have married, had a child, their life seemingly fulfilled.

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review 2018-05-06 07:53
Second Activation
Second Activation - Darren Wearmouth,Marcus Wearmouth

First, there was the First Activation, which resulted in a world where everyone had one goal: a murder-suicide. The first part of the novel was survival horror as two brothers who escaped this fate try to stay alive amidst this crazy scenario. I really liked that part. After they stumble on some of the people who are behind it, it turns out to be more of a stop the bad guys kind of books. I was less a fan of that.

Unfortunately, Second activation was more of the latter. In every sense of the world. It was still very fast paced and certainly entertaining, but it also felt a bit repetitive. Also, everyone who was not one of the three main characters were dying like flies even though the main characters themselves obviously never get hurt. They are THAT good. The ending left room for another book, but I'm not sure there is one.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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review 2018-05-06 07:26
Baby Shower
Baby Shower - Cassandra Khaw

All of the characters in Born of the Blade are struggling with their biggest challenge yet: a baby shower. It seemed a bit like an episode of a sitcom, or else maybe just a middle part of a book but as a separate part of the serial it was a bit strange. Of course, the baby shower itself is filled with much more than baby presents, but still. To me it felt like filler, and this is only the 3rd episode. I’m curious to see where this is going.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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