A- #BookReview: How to Raise a Kraken in Your Bathtub by P Djèlí Clark

A- #BookReview: How to Raise a Kraken in Your Bathtub by P Djèlí Clark"How to Raise a Kraken in Your Bathtub" by P. Djèlí Clark in Uncanny Magazine Issue 50, January-February 2023 by P. Djèlí Clark
Format: ebook
Source: supplied by publisher via Hugo Packet
Formats available: magazine, ebook
Genres: historical fantasy, short stories, steampunk
Series: Uncanny Magazine Issue 50
Pages: 26
Published by Uncanny Magazine on January 3, 2023
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKobo
Goodreads

The January/February 2023 issue of Hugo Award-winning Uncanny Magazine .

Our landmark Issue 50, a double sized issue! Featuring new fiction by Ken Liu and Caroline M. Yoachim, Mary Robinette Kowal, P. Djèlí Clark, A. T. Greenblatt, A.M. Dellamonica, Eugenia Triantafyllou, Sarah Pinsker, E. Lily Yu, Marie Brennan, Christopher Caldwell, John Wiswell, and Maureen Mchugh. Essays by Elsa Sjunneson, John Picacio, Annalee Newitz, A.T. Greenblatt, Diana M. Pho, and Javier Grillo-Marxuach, poetry by Neil Gaiman, Terese Mason Pierre, Sonya Taaffe, Betsy Aoki, Theodora Goss, Ali Trota, Abu Bakr Sadiq, Elizabeth Bear, and Brandon O'Brien, interviews with Ken Liu and Caroline M. Yoachim by Tina Connolly; interviews with Eugenia Triantafyllou, E. Lily Yu, and Christopher Caldwell by Caroline M. Yoachim, a cover by Galen Dara, and editorials by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas, and Meg Elison.

My Review:

The title of this story is the title of the manual that Trevor Hemley receives along with the rather expensive ‘Kraken egg’ that he’s purchased from an advertisement in the back of a magazine. Which all sounds utterly dodgy when you think about it for even half a second – but Trevor Hemley didn’t. Think, that is.

All Trevor thought about was the possibility of fame and fortune, of finally proving to his wealthy father-in-law that he was worthy of the hand of the man’s daughter – even though he already had that hand, along with a lovely home and a secure position all provided by his wife’s father.

Which of course made him feel all that more looked down upon by his wife’s family and their wealthy connections.

So a kraken. Or rather a plan to hatch said kraken in his bathtub, reveal the existence of the long-believed either mythical or extinct kraken to the world, and reap the rewards that Trevor felt were his due. After all, in Trevor’s Victorian Era, the Industrial Revolution was in full swing, fantastic discoveries were being made around the globe by Englishmen of science and daring, and the sun never set on an Empire that reaped the benefits of all the countries to which it believed it was bringing enlightenment while raping their economies and destroying their cultures.

But England is unassailable from without – as history has proven time and again. Which does not mean that it can’t be conquered – or that vengeance can’t be delivered upon it – from within. One crate and one bathtub at a time.

By a monstrous and rapacious creature – in fact a whole horde of them – with appetites as large as empires.

Escape Rating A-: The whole of this story is considerably greater than the sum of its parts, which is merely one part of what makes it so much fun and so thought provoking at the same time.

On the surface, it’s a bit of a funny story about a man whose reach has very definitely exceeded his grasp, as well as a bit of a morality tale about the parting of fools and their money, combined with the message that anything that sounds too good to be true generally is and that people generally get conned because they’ve conned themselves first.

But those messages were delivered in a thrashing of tentacles and teeth which Trevor Hemley certainly deserved. What gives the story its shiver of horror mixed with delicious righteousness is the way that Trevor is merely a part of the deliverance of those messages to a much wider and even more deserving ‘audience’.

Because it’s not really about the kraken after all. Even though it still is. And it’s the double-barrelling of the story, that it’s both the tongue-in-cheek tale of a man who does something really, really stupid and pays for it, AND it’s a story about colonialism where the colonizers get more than a few tentacles of their just desserts.

The title of this is marvelous, eye-catching and true in more ways than one – much like the story it represents. However, that title isn’t the only reason I picked this up yesterday – but it is one of the reasons that I picked it first out of the Hugo Packet for this year’s awards – which leads me straight into the other reasons I chose to read this story to round out a week that’s had a whole lot of ‘meh’ in it.

As a person with at least a Supporting Membership in this year’s World Science Fiction Convention, I have voting rights for the Hugo Awards. In order to be informed about exercising those rights, the Awards committee compiles a packet of ebook versions of as much of the nominated material as the publishers will give them. That packet became available this week and I immediately downloaded the lot.

A lot that included this story by P. Djèlí Clark, whose previous work I have very much enjoyed, and in the case of the whole, entire Dead Djinn Universe (A Dead Djinn in Cairo, The Angel of Khan el-Khalili, The Haunting of Tram Car 015 and the utterly awesome A Master of Djinn) absolutely loved. While there are no djinn in this story, dead or alive, I was still up for some of his work because I knew it would be a gem whether or not it had received a Hugo nod.

All of which is to explain that many of the works that have received Hugo nominations (including another story from this very issue of Uncanny Magazine!) will appear in reviews here over the coming weeks. Based on the works that I have already read, plus this first foray into the nominated shorter works, it’s going to be an excellent year for the Hugos no matter which stories ultimately go home with rockets!

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 12-19-21

Do I start with cat news and pictures or end with the cat news and pictures? Decisions, decisions…

If you missed the story about Jorts, the not terribly bright orange cat, it’s here: https://www.cnet.com/how-to/jorts-the-cat-unraveling-the-wild-saga-of-the-internets-kitty-du-jour/ and was pretty much all over the interwebs for a day. Jorts is adorable. And kinda dumb. But adorable.

George is also an adorable ginger cat. He’s also smarter than we thought. Or possibly hoped. A while back I posted this picture of the shoe cabinet we had to buy because George EATS shoelaces. Not just plays with them, but actually consumes them. Which has a bit too much potential for making a mess of his kitty insides. Kind of like the vet visit that resulted from buttering Jorts in the above story.

There were more than a few people who were on Team George after this picture, certain he would get the better of the cabinet, or us, or both at some point. He has. Friday Galen discovered that George had eaten his shoelaces while he was actually WEARING the shoes. He only discovered his shoelaces were just GONE when he went to tighten his suddenly loose shoes only to learn that there was nothing left to tighten them WITH.

I shelve my shoes among my books. So far, George hasn’t discovered them. At least not YET.

The Hugo Award winners were announced last night in a ceremony at the 79th annual WorldCon, DisCon III, in Washington D.C. The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells won both the Best Series Hugo and the Best Novel Award for the latest entry in the series, Network Effect. If you have not met Murderbot, you are in for a treat. The Best Novella winner was the marvelous The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo and the Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book (technically not a Hugo) went to the absolute awesomesauce A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher. For the full list of winners, check this link: http://www.thehugoawards.org/2021/12/2021-hugo-awards-announced/

One last bit before the usual recap and prognostication part of the Sunday Post. I normally post a “Best of the Year” list and a “Most Anticipated for Next Year” list. And I will be this year, but I’m holding off until just before the New Year in order to participation in an event hosted by KimberleyFaye Reads, Top 10 of 2021.  I may include the December 25 and December 26 topics as part of my Stacking the Shelves and Sunday Post next weekend, but I’m all in for the December 30: Best of the Best and December 31: Books I’m Looking Forward to in 2022 events. Hope to see you there and then!

Current Giveaways:

$10 Gift Card or $10 Book in the Winter is Coming Giveaway Hop (ENDS TUESDAY!!!)
$10 Gift Card or $10 Book in the Dashing December Giveaway Hop

Blog Recap:

B+ Review: Boundaries edited by Mercedes Lackey
A Review: Cyber Mage by Saad Z. Hossain
B+ Review: The Secret of Snow by Viola Shipman
Dashing December Giveaway Hop
A- Review: Overlord by Anna Hackett
Stacking the Shelves (475)

Coming This Week:

The Untold Story by Genevieve Cogman (review)
Ghost of the Bamboo Road by Susan Spann (review)
Murder Under Her Skin by Stephen Spotswood (review)
Velocity of Revolution by Marshall Ryan Maresca (review)
The Last Daughter of York by Nicola Cornick (review)

Review: What Makes This Book So Great / An Informal History of the Hugos by Jo Walton

What Makes This Book So Great by Jo Walton
Format read: ebook purchased from Amazon
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook
Genre: nonfiction, books and reading, science fiction, fantasy
Length: 446
Publisher: Tor Books
Date Released: January 21st 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

As any reader of Jo Walton’s Among Others might guess, Walton is both an inveterate reader of SF and fantasy, and a chronic re-reader of books. In 2008, then-new science-fiction mega-site Tor.com asked Walton to blog regularly about her re-reading—about all kinds of older fantasy and SF, ranging from acknowledged classics, to guilty pleasures, to forgotten oddities and gems. These posts have consistently been among the most popular features of Tor.com. Now this volumes presents a selection of the best of them, ranging from short essays to long reassessments of some of the field’s most ambitious series.

Among Walton’s many subjects here are the Zones of Thought novels of Vernor Vinge; the question of what genre readers mean by “mainstream”; the underappreciated SF adventures of C. J. Cherryh; the field’s many approaches to time travel; the masterful science fiction of Samuel R. Delany; Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children; the early Hainish novels of Ursula K. Le Guin; and a Robert A. Heinlein novel you have most certainly never read.

Over 130 essays in all, What Makes This Book So Great is an immensely readable, engaging collection of provocative, opinionated thoughts about past and present-day fantasy and science fiction, from one of our best writers.

 

An Informal History of the Hugos by Jo Walton
Format read: eARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, ebook
Genre: nonfiction, books and reading, science fiction, fantasy
Length: 576
Publisher: Tor Books
Date Released: August 7th 2018
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

The Hugo Awards, named after pioneer science-fiction publisher Hugo Gernsback, and voted on by members of the World Science Fiction Society, have been given out since 1953. They are widely considered the most prestigious award in science fiction.

Between 2010 and 2013, Jo Walton wrote a series of posts for Tor.com, surveying the Hugo finalists and winners from the award’s inception up to the year 2000. Her contention was that each year’s full set of finalists generally tells a meaningful story about the state of science fiction at that time.

Walton’s cheerfully opinionated and vastly well-informed posts provoked valuable conversation among the field’s historians. Now these posts, lightly revised, have been gathered into this book, along with a small selection of the comments posted by SF luminaries such as Rich Horton, Gardner Dozois, and the late David G. Hartwell.

Engaged, passionate, and consistently entertaining, this is a book for the many who enjoyed Walton’s previous collection of writing from Tor.com, the Locus Award-winning What Makes This Book So Great.

My Review:

I read these in reverse order. I started reading An Informal History of the Hugos while I was at Worldcon, anticipating the upcoming Hugo Awards ceremony. I was also looking for something big that I wouldn’t have to write up in the middle of the con, because that just wasn’t happening.

But once I finished the book, especially after attending a panel hosted by the author that covered which great books in 2017 did not make the Hugo Ballot, I wasn’t ready to quit. And there was another book just waiting for me.

Admittedly, it was just a bit surreal reading about what made older books so great while I was waiting for panels to start that talked about what new books were/would be so great. But it was a good kind of surreal.

After one panel where I wanted to buy “all the things” and started doing so on Amazon as the panel was running, I finally figured out that might be a bit much, even for me. So I started a list that just got longer and longer and LONGER as the con went on.

Something to look forward to.

But right now I’m looking back at two very interesting books that just go together, not only because they were written by the same person.

Both of these books are, in their own way, a bit meta. They are books that talk about books. They also talk about the joys of, and the experience of, reading. If either one of those is your jam, they make for marvelous reads. They are also great to dip in and out of. While both books are rather long, they are divided up into short, easily digestible – or dippable – sections.

But while there are similarities, there are also differences.

What Makes This Book So Great is very personal. The book is made up of a series of blog posts that were originally posted at Tor.com, but this is, unquestionably, the author’s point of view. Like all readers, she loves what she loves, and also hates what she hates. And isn’t one bit shy about explaining about either.

Even when I disagreed with her, and I often did, this was fun to read because it felt like we had similar experiences of reading and thoughts about reading and its joys. Even if I occasionally wondered what she was thinking about certain books. There are some arguments I would just love to have, as well as some books I’ve passed by that suddenly sound awfully interesting.

Among Others by Jo WaltonIf you read and loved Among Others, this book will feel strangely familiar. It was obvious in Among Others that this was an author who loved the genre and had read extremely widely in it. This book feels like just the tip of that reading iceberg – which must be enormous.

An Informal History of the Hugos is a bit less personal, but no less interesting. The Hugos began in 1955, and have been presented annually every since. We know what won, and what it won for. For the past several decades we also know what was nominated. And it’s not difficult to figure out what was eligible in any given year, even those earliest years – even if it is a pain for the pre-internet years.

This book does not set out to provide the author’s opinion about what should have won in any given year – not that we don’t get a lovely slice of that. Instead, it looks at what was eligible in each year, what got nominated (if available), what won other awards that year (if applicable) and what won the Hugo. And attempts to determine whether what appeared on the Hugo ballot was of decent quality and reasonably represented the state of the field that year.

It makes for a fun to read time capsule of SF history. As someone who has been reading SF for a long time, but not for the span of the awards, I have to admit that the discussion of the earliest years felt a bit academic, or at least distant, at least to me.

When the book really picks up for me turned out to be 1971. I was 14, reading more fantasy than SF, but some of each. And most importantly, had enough of an allowance to spend on books. So that’s the point where I remember seeing things in the racks, even if I didn’t buy them myself (or check them out of the local library).

I was fascinated from that point forward, seeing what else was available that I missed or wasn’t ready for or couldn’t afford. And it was cool to not just read each year afterwards, but to see how many of the eligible books I had read at the time. It brought back a lot of fond memories.

And I still have some of those books.

The author stopped in 2000, ironically the first year I attended Worldcon. While her reasons make sense, a part of me wishes she had continued. I’d love to read what she thought of the nominees and winners earlier in this decade, during the puppy farrago. Maybe we’ll see those posts in another decade or so, after the dust has settled a bit.

But part of what makes this book so fascinating is its premise – and her conclusions. Did the Hugo voters mostly represent the field? Were most of the nominees of high enough quality to justify their inclusion on the ballot? Were there some books that seem blindingly obvious in retrospect that were completely overlooked at the time? Did they occasionally miss the boat, or not merely the boat but also the body of water it was floating on?

The answer makes for an interesting – and highly debate worthy – yes all the way around. Read it and see if you agree.

Ratings: I’m not sure whether these qualify for “Escape” or “Reality” ratings. I was surprised at how much I lost myself inside each book. But at the same time, they are very meta, nonfiction about fiction.

There’s no question that you have to be a genre fan to be interested in An Informal History of the Hugos. What Makes This Book So Great is mostly, but not completely, SF and fantasy. (I loved the commentary on one of my all-time favorite books, Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers).It also has a lot to say about the joys and experience of reading, regardless of genre, so it will be of interest to anyone who likes to read about reading, and is open-minded, or at least less particular, about genre.

Whether an escape, reality, or a bit of both, I put both of these books on the B+/A- fence.

Happy Reading!

Stacking the Shelves (236)

Stacking the Shelves

Today’s monster Stacking the Shelves brought to you (and me) by the release of the 2017 Hugo Packet. For those wondering what that is, why that is, or both, here’s the quick recap. The Hugo Awards are nominated and voted upon by both the attending and supporting members of Worldcon (World Science Fiction Convention) for that year. (I am a supporting member of Worldcon 75 in Helsinki. Not going; too far, saving pennies for 2019 in Dublin). It used to be the members’ responsibility to find copies of the nominated works to read before voting. How many and whether everyone did or does is an open question, but as usual I digress. One of the joys of ebooks is that it is relatively inexpensive for publishers to provide ebook copies to the voters of all the nominated works. Considering that a supporting membership currently costs $40, and that the value of the ebook copies of just the best novel nominees is WAY more than $40, it’s a steal. (For those who want the books but not the membership, this year Tor is offering a package of all of their nominated works for $20. Still a steal)

So I’ve listed just the tip of my iceberg here, the best novel, novella, novelette and related works that I didn’t already have. I also picked up the best short story and best graphic novel nominees. You get a lot for that $40 along with the right to vote for the ones you like best. Or vote against the ones you liked least. I intensely disliked All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders, but it got nominated. Taste is individual, and that seems to have been a book that no one was neutral about, either readers loved it or like me, found it completely derivative. We’ll see what happens at Worldcon in August.

For Review:
A Conspiracy in Belgravia (Lady Sherlock #2) by Sherry Thomas
Glass Houses  (Chief Inspector Gamache #13) by Louise Penny
Lowcountry Bonfire (Liz Talbot #6) by Susan M. Boyer
So Great a Prince by Lauren Johnson
Urban Enemies by Jim Butcher, Kevin Hearne, Kelley Armstrong, Seanan McGuire Jonathan Maberry and others, edited by Joseph Massise
You Say It First (Happily Inc #1) by Susan Mallery

Received in Hugo Packet:
The Art of Space Travel by Nina Allan
The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers #2) by Becky Chambers
Death’s End (Remembrance of Earth’s Past #3) by Cixin Liu
The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson
The Jewel and Her Lapidary by Fran Wilde
Ninefox Gambit (Machineries of Empire #1) by Yoon Ha Lee
A Taste of Honey (Sorcerer of the Wildeeps #2) by Kai Ashante Wilson
This Census-Taker by China Mieville
The Tomato Thief (Jackalope Wives #2) by Ursula Vernon (from Apex Magazine)
Too Like the Lightning (Terra Ignota #1) by Ada Palmer
Touring with the Alien by Carolyn Ives Gilman (from Clarkesworld)
Traveler of Worlds: Conversations with Robert Silverberg by Robert Silverberg and Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
Words are My Matter by Ursula K. LeGuin
You’ll Surely Drown Here if You Stay by Alyssa Wong (from Uncanny)

Borrowed from the Library:
The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston
The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

Review: The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

goblin emperor by katherine addisonFormat read: audiobook purchased from Audible; ebook provided by the publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genre: fantasy
Length: 446 pages
Publisher: Tor Books
Date Released: April 1, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an “accident,” he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.

Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment.

Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody. Amid the swirl of plots to depose him, offers of arranged marriages, and the specter of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor. All the while, he is alone, and trying to find even a single friend… and hoping for the possibility of romance, yet also vigilant against the unseen enemies that threaten him, lest he lose his throne – or his life.

My Review:

I just want to squee. I absolutely adored this from beginning to end. My only regret is that it’s finished. The Goblin Emperor gave me a terrible book hangover and I did not want to leave this world.

As June is Audiobook Month, it is fitting that I started out listening to this book on a long trip, and was utterly absorbed from the very beginning. However, as wonderful as the audio was, it just didn’t go fast enough. A little past halfway, I dove into the ebook and raced to the end.

The story is one that has been told before. The emperor is dead, long live the emperor. Except that this story is not nearly that straightforward.

The Emperor of the Elves is murdered when the airship containing himself and his three oldest sons is sabotaged. He has two remaining heirs; his oldest son’s son, a boy of 14, and his disregarded and disrespected fourth son, a young man of 18. The Empire has a very poor history when it comes to minor Emperors and their regencies (no surprise there), so Maia suddenly finds himself the new Emperor. At 18, Maia is barely old enough that he will not require a regency. Whether he’s experienced enough to do the job is a completely different question.

He has no training for the job. He was raised in exile, not because he did anything wrong, but because his father hated his mother. Not that she did anything wrong either, but the previous emperor was a man who could not bear to admit to his mistakes – and marrying the Goblin princess while he was still mourning the loss of his beloved third empress and her unborn child was definitely a mistake.

A mistake for which Maia pays the price, over and over.

While somewhat knowledgeable about court etiquette and logic, at least in theory, Maia has no experience of life in the cutthroat political atmosphere of the imperial court, or even of life among the nobility. He can’t dance, he can’t ride a horse, and he has no clue how to make small talk or write meaningless letters.

Even more embarrassing, he has spent the last ten years of his life being beaten and bullied by the man who was supposed to be his guardian. Maia’s first lessons are in “emperoring up” and presenting an impassive expression in the face of everyone who tries to take advantage of his inexperience – including his former guardian.

Maia is on his own. He has had no teachers, and he has no guide to the strange new world in which he finds himself both a king and a pawn. Everyone who surrounds him has heard tales that he is unnatural, dim-witted or crippled in some way, when in fact the only things that hold him back are his youth and his ignorance. Ignorance is curable, and Maia struggles to overcome it while continuously dodging attempts on his power and his life.

Maia sometimes questions whether he will manage to outlive his youth. The reader does too.

And he never loses sight of the fact that he is only on the throne because someone sabotaged an entire ship full of people in order to take down the emperor. And who may also want to take Maia down, if one of his courtiers or relatives doesn’t get there first.

Escape Rating A+: I absolutely loved this one, which makes it difficult to review it properly. Or even improperly. As The Goblin Emperor is one of this year’s Hugo nominees for Best Novel, I am also immensely grateful that it is a real choice. I’m having a difficult time deciding between this and Ancillary Sword (reviewed here). I’m looking forward to reading Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu to see if it’s a real horse race.

Back to The Goblin Emperor. The story is one that is familiar in some ways. It is also one that it much easier to do wrong than it is to do right. Addison (now revealed to be Sarah Monette) did it very, very right.

This is a combination of coming-of-age/into-power story and political court intrigue. What makes it so good is that the author made the very insular court intrigue extremely fascinating by combining it with Maia’s coming of age story. There are no big battles in this book, but there are lots of tiny and important ones. Perhaps I should have said that there are no big army battles, because this book is not about warfare. The climax is in many ways quiet, but extremely compelling, and utterly fitting, in its quietness.

The plots come to their current conclusion, not with a bang (or a lot of bangs) but with a whimper. Maia goes from needing to tell himself that he is the emperor to fully inhabiting his role and his life, even if neither are what he wanted. They are what he has and he is determined to make the best of them. In the end, he wears it well.

Because we see this world from Maia’s often confused, sometimes frustrated, and constantly worried perspective, we feel each blow against him, whether it is political or physical or psychological, right along with him. We start out the story every bit as confused as he is about who is who and what is what. We thrill at his small triumphs as well as his big ones, because we are inside his skin. A place where we are often as befuddled as he is, but he is such a fully drawn character that we desperately want him to succeed.

Which he finally does, in his own way. As he tells himself at the beginning, he is not his father, and he will not be emperor in the same way that his father was. His way finally triumphs. We become his friends, as do many of the people around him, even though they have been taught that they shouldn’t.

And it is absolutely awesome.

Note on the audiobook version: The reader was terrific, and did an excellent job voicing all of the many, many characters in the story. Some reviewers have commented that there are a plethora of tongue-twisting names in this story, which there are. As a court intrigue, this court is fully populated with schemers and dreamers alike. While the names look almost like nonsense syllables in print, the audiobook made those names easier to follow. It also pointed out that none of the names are pronounced quite the way we expect.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Stacking the Shelves (131)

Stacking the Shelves

This probably tells anyone anything they might want to know about what I think about the current chaotic state of this year’s Hugo Awards. Marko Kloos withdrew his nomination because his eligible book, Lines of Departure, was on the Puppy ballots. His full statement is on his blog, The Munchkin Wrangler, but the very short paraphrase is that he felt that his book only made it because it was on a Puppy slate, and he couldn’t accept an award nomination that wasn’t earned by the quality of the work. He also disassociated himself from the Puppies.

I’m probably not the only person who had this response, but when I read his withdrawal, I bought his first two books, Terms of Enlistment and Lines of Departure, and grabbed a review copy of the third, Angles of Attack, from NetGalley. I enjoy military SF and the reviews of the first two books are pretty stellar. so I’m looking forward to these.

For Review:
Angles of Attack (Frontlines #3) by Marko Kloos
The Brass Giant (Chroniker City #1) by Brooke Johnson
Katrina: After the Flood by Gary Rivlin
Knight’s Shadow (Greatcoats #2) by Sebastien de Castell
Murder and Mayhem (Murder and Mayhem #1) by Rhys Ford
A Pattern of Lies (Bess Crawford #7) by Charles Todd
Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran
The Story by Judith Miller
The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
Waterloo: the True Story of Four Days, Three Armies and Three Battles by Bernard Cornwell
Zer0es (Zer0es #1) by Chuck Wendig

Purchased from Amazon:
Lines of Departure (Frontlines #2) by Marko Kloos
Lowcountry Boil (Liz Talbot #1) by Susan M. Boyer
Lowcountry Bombshell (Liz Talbot #2) by Susan M. Boyer
Terms of Enlistment (Frontlines #1) by Marko Kloos

 

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 4-12-15

Sunday Post

You still have a few hours left to enter my 4th Annual Blogo-Birthday Celebration Giveaway. I’m giving away four(4!) $10 gift cards or books, so that’s four chances to win. But time is running out!

The big piece of bookish news this week has been the continuing fracas over the nominee slate for this year’s Hugo Awards. If you are looking for balanced coverage of the mess, take a look at either George R.R. Martin’s Not a Blog entries or File 770’s posts. I am planning to attend WorldCon this year in Spokane, which means that yes, I was eligible to nominate. I’m glad that I did this year, even though very few of my nominations made it to the final ballot. I am definitely planning to vote. I think I’ve figured out what I’m going to do, but there are lots of thoughts still running around my head. This has been a big topic of discussion around our house this week. While it certainly makes the evening walks go faster, it is also an exhausting piece of chaos, and there are not going to be any winners at the end, possibly including whoever takes home the actual Hugo rockets. If anyone does.

I thought seriously about writing a blog post on this mess, but I have decided not to. What I wrote for my own amusement was cathartic but probably not helpful to anyone except me.

Besides, I believe that Robert A. Heinlein, who seems to be the patron saint of the Puppies, said it best in The Notebooks of Lazarus Long:

If you are part of a society that votes, then do so. There may be no candidates and no measures you want to vote for…but there are certain to be ones you want to vote against. In case of doubt, vote against. By this rule you will rarely go wrong. If this is too blind for your taste, consult some well-meaning fool (there is always one around) and ask his advice. Then vote the other way. This enables you to be a good citizen (if such is your wish) without spending the enormous amount of time on it that truly intelligent exercise of franchise requires.

In the meantime, here is what’s happening on Reading Reality…

blogo-birthday-april6Current Giveaways:

Four $10 gift cards or books in my 4th Annual Blogo-Birthday Celebration!

Winner Announcements:

The winner of the $10 bookish prize in the Fool for Books Giveaway Hop is Danielle S.
The winner of a paperback copy of Never Too Late by Robyn Carr is Natasha D.

doc by maria doria russellBlog Recap:

4th Annual Blogo-Birthday Celebration + Giveaway
B+ Review: Wildfire at Larch Creek by M.L. Buchman
B+ Review: The Fifth Heart by Dan Simmons
C Review: Bite Me, Your Grace by Brooklyn Ann
A- Review: Doc by Mary Doria Russell
Stacking the Shelves (130)

 

 

 

bookseller by cynthia swansonComing Next Week:

The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg (blog tour review)
The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson (blog tour review)
One Bite Per Night by Brooklyn Ann (review)
BiblioTech by John Palfrey (review)
Ivory Ghosts by Caitlin O’Connell (blog tour review)

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 8-17-14

Sunday Post

We just finished watching the Livestream of the Hugo Awards at LonCon. While Livestream is not the next best thing to being there, it was still fun to watch. We both spontaneously clapped when Ann Leckie won Best Novel for Ancillary Justice. That book was positively awesome and deserves every single award that’s been thrown its way.

It was also terrific to see the attempt at Hugo Ballot stuffing by the self-proclaimed defenders of the old guard go down in flames.

However, it’s too bad that all the various nominations for Doctor Who related episodes cancelled each other out. (We still need to watch Game of Thrones).

As much fun as NASFiC was, we missed going to WorldCon this year. Next year in Spokane!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

Current Giveaways:

2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino
Winner’s choice of The Cursed, The Hexed or The Betrayed by Heather Graham

Winner Announcements:

The winner of Inamorata by Megan Chance is Elizabeth H.
The winner of The Virtues of Oxygen by Susan Schoenberger is Laura P.

hexed by heather grahamBlog Recap:

B Review: 2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino + Giveaway
B+ Review: Unbound by Cara McKenna
B Review: The Sweet Spot by Stephanie Evanovich
A- Review: The Hexed by Heather Graham + Giveaway
B+ Review: An Unwilling Accomplice by Charles Todd
Stacking the Shelves (100)

 

 

black ice by susan krinardComing Next Week:

Black Ice by Susan Krinard (review)
Left Turn at Paradise by Thomas Shawver (blog tour review + giveaway)
Take Over at Midnight by M.L. Buchman (review)
Phantom Evil by Heather Graham (review)
The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne (review)

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 4-27-14

Sunday Post

hugo_smFor those of you interested in science fiction and fantasy, the nominations for the 2014 Hugo Awards were announced last weekend. If you enjoy the genre, purchasing a Supporting Membership in the annual WorldCon is always a bargain, even though you aren’t planning to attend the Con. Why? Because everyone who has a supporting membership gets to vote on the Hugos, and in order for the voting to be informed (or at least the possibility thereof) every supporting and attending member receives a packet of the nominated works in all categories in the ebook format of their choice. This year, in addition to Ancillary Justice, Neptune’s Brood, Parasite and Warbound, the ENTIRE Wheel of Time saga by Robert Jordan was nominated for best novel and will be included in the packet. All 14 volumes. A supporting membership costs $40 US, and it’s worth it just for the ebooks of the best novel category alone. But the packet also includes all the best Novella, best Novelette, best Short Story nominees, and etc., etc. It’s a steal.

And I hope that next year The Forever Watch is nominated. It was awesome.

Current Giveaways:

Dash of Peril by Lori Foster (print, US/CAN only)
Nightmare Ink by Marcella Burnard (5 ebook copies)
Ladder to the Red Star by Jael Wye (ebook)

Winner Announcements:

The winner of The Last Time I Saw You by Eleanor Moran is Mai T.

forever watch by david ramirezBlog Recap:

A+ Review: The Forever Watch by David Ramirez
B+ Review: Ice Red by Jael Wye
Guest Post by Author Jael Wye on Love and Mars + Giveaway
Guest Post by Author Marcella Burnard + Giveaway
A- Review: Dash of Peril by Lori Foster + Giveaway
B+ Review: Sing for the Dead by PJ Schnyder
Stacking the Shelves (86)

 

 

king of thieves by jane kindredComing Next Week:

Don’t Blackmail the Vampire by Tiffany Allee (blog tour review)
King of Thieves by Jane Kindred (blog tour review)
The Garden Plot by Marty Wingate (blog tour review)
The Collector by Nora Roberts (review)
Ladder to the Red Star by Jael Wye (blog tour review)

The Sunday Post AKA What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 7-28-13

Sunday Post

First, a slightly geeky public services announcement. For anyone who has either an attending or supporting member in LoneStarCon 3, which is this year’s World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon), the last day to vote on the Hugo Awards is July 31. Thank goodness you can vote online, but the deadline still got away from me.

LoneStarCon 3 LogoIf you read science fiction and fantasy, even if you don’t think you will ever attend WorldCon, a supporting membership, purchased early, is an amazingly good deal. Here’s why: supporting members receive ebooks of ALL the Hugo nominated works; novels, novellas, short stories, pretty much everything, for the low, low price of a $60 membership. (It’s less if you get in earlier) If this is stuff you would read anyway, it’s cheap at twice the price. And you get to vote on which ones win the awards!

Speaking of which…

Winner Announcements:

Stephanie F. won the $10 Amazon Gift Card from the Hot Summer Romance Blog Hop.

The Story Guy by Mary Ann RiversBlog Recap:

Brazen Bash
A- Review: The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers
Guest Post from Author Mary Ann Rivers on Why I Love Libraries and Librarians + Giveaway
B Review: Stoker’s Manuscript by Royce Prouty
B Review: Immortally Embraced by Angie Fox
B+ Review: Redemption by Susannah Sandlin
Guest Post by author Susannah Sandlin on the Unsung Heroes of Paranormal Romance
B Review: A Lesson in Chemistry with Inspector Bruce by Jillian Stone
Stacking the Shelves (52)

Absolution by Susannah SandlinComing Next Week:

The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough (blog tour review)
Silent Warrior by Lindsey Piper (review)
Caged Warrior by Lindsey Piper (review)
Troll-y Yours by Sheri Fredricks (review)
Absolution by Susannah Sandlin (review)
A Private Duel with Agent Gunn by Jillian Stone (review)

Have you ever noticed that good series books are like potato chips, you can’t read just one?