Dystopian

Hugo Awards – 2019

 

The Hugos are awarded annually at WorldCon for excellence in the field of science fiction and fantasy by the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS). This year’s WorldCon will be held in Dublin for the first time. The prestigious Hugo Awards honor literature and media as well as fan activities and will be presented on August 18.

Check out the nominees below:

Best Novel
The Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette Kowal
Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers
Revenant Gun, by Yoon Ha Lee
Space Opera, by Catherynne M. Valente
Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik
Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanhorse

 

Best Novella
Artificial Condition, by Martha Wells
Beneath the Sugar Sky, by Seanan McGuire
Binti: The Night Masquerade, by Nnedi Okorafor
The Black God’s Drums, by P. Djèlí Clark
Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, by Kelly Robson
The Tea Master and the Detective, by Aliette de Bodard

 

Best Novelette
“If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again,” by Zen Cho (B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, 29 November 2018)
“The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections,” by Tina Connolly (Tor.com, 11 July 2018)
“Nine Last Days on Planet Earth,” by Daryl Gregory (Tor.com, 19 September 2018)
The Only Harmless Great Thing, by Brooke Bolander (Tor.com Publishing)
“The Thing About Ghost Stories,” by Naomi Kritzer (Uncanny Magazine 25, November-December 2018)
“When We Were Starless,” by Simone Heller (Clarkesworld 145, October 2018)

 

Best Short Story
“The Court Magician,” by Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed, January 2018)
“The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society,” by T. Kingfisher (Uncanny Magazine 25, November-December 2018)
“The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington,” by P. Djèlí Clark (Fireside Magazine, February 2018)
“STET,” by Sarah Gailey (Fireside Magazine, October 2018)
“The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat,” by Brooke Bolander (Uncanny Magazine 23, July-August 2018)
“A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies,” by Alix E. Harrow (Apex Magazine, February 2018)

 

Best Series
The Centenal Cycle, by Malka Older
The Laundry Files, by Charles Stross
Machineries of Empire, by Yoon Ha Lee
The October Daye Series, by Seanan McGuire
The Universe of Xuya, by Aliette de Bodard
Wayfarers, by Becky Chambers

 

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
Katherine Arden
S.A. Chakraborty
R.F. Kuang
Jeannette Ng
Vina Jie-Min Prasad
Rivers Solomon

 

Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book
The Belles, by Dhonielle Clayton
Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi
The Cruel Prince, by Holly Black
Dread Nation, by Justina Ireland
The Invasion, by Peadar O’Guilin
Tess of the Road, by Rachel Hartman


Awards are also given to the artists and editors, as well as to the magazines that the legions of scifi/fantasy fans enjoy. See https://dublin2019.com/hugo-finalists/ for the nominees in those categories.


Congratulations to all!  🙂

 

 

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The Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Awards – 2016

 

SilverFalchionFinalistLogo

Killer Nashville is one of the most popular conferences in the country for writers and readers and is held each year in the Nashville, Tennessee area. Established by writer and filmmaker Clay Stafford in 2006, the conference assists authors in the craft of mystery, thriller, suspense and crime fiction writing. Stafford and American Blackguard, Inc. also work to further various literacy programs throughout the year.

 

As a part of both encouraging and rewarding writers in their varied fields, the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Awards are given to authors and their outstanding books published in the previous year. This year, the awards were presented on August 20th at the Guest of Honor and Awards Banquet. Here is a partial list of 2016 finalists for their 2015 titles:
 

Winners are indicated in red.

Best Fiction Adult Book
Baron R. Birtcher, Hard Latitudes
Mylo Carbia, The Raping of Ava Desantis
Christine Carbo, The Wild Inside
Paul Cleave, Trust No One
Craig Faustus, Buck Go Down Hard
Jenny Milchman, As Night Falls
Ray Peden, One Tenth of the Law
D.M. Pulley, The Dead Key
Michael Ransom, The Ripper Gene
Jan Thomas & Grant Jerkins, Done in One
Timothy Vincent, Prince of the Blue Castles

 

Best Fiction First Novel
Kris Calvin, One Murder More
Christine Carbo, The Wild Inside
Bevan Frank, The Mind of God
Michael Ransom, The Ripper Gene

 

Best Nonfiction Adult Book
Unni Turrettini, The Mystery of the Lone Wolf Killer
Merlin Tuttle, The Secret Lives of Bats

 

Best Action Adventure
Baron R. Birtcher, Hard Latitudes
Jan Thomas & Grant Jerkins, Done in One
JD Wallace, Silent Cats: Deadly Dance

 

Best Mystery / Crime
R.G. Belsky, Shooting for the Stars
Kris Calvin, One Murder More
Kay Kendall, Rainy Day Women
BV Lawson, Dies Irae
Melinda Leigh, Minutes to Kill (A Scarlet Falls Novel)
D.M. Pulley, The Dead Key
Michael Ransom, The Ripper Gene
Linda Sands, 3 Women Walk into a Bar
K.C. Tansley, The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts
Jan Thomas & Grant Jerkins, Done in One

 

Best Romance / Romantic Suspense
Melinda Leigh, Minutes to Kill (A Scarlet Falls Novel)
Glenna Mason, In the Rafters

 

Best Science Fiction
Chuck Grossart, The Gemini Effect
Sally Ann Melia, Hunted by Aliens

 

Best Thriller
R.G. Belsky, Shooting for the Stars
Baron R. Birtcher, Hard Latitudes (tie)
Thomas Davidson, Past is Present
Bevan Frank, The Mind of God
Debra K. Gaskill, Call Fitz
Jerry Hatchett, Unallocated Space
Melinda Leigh, Minutes to Kill (A Scarlet Falls Novel) (tie)
Michael Ransom, The Ripper Gene
M.A. Richards, Choice of Enemies
Jan Thomas & Grant Jerkins, Done in One
John Vance, Death by Mournful Numbers

 

Best Comedy
Traci Andrighetti and Elizabeth Ashby, Deadly Dye and a Soy Chai
Thomas Davidson, Past is Present
John Hegenberger, Spyfall

 

Best Fiction Short Story Anthology
Ramona DeFelice Long, Fish or Cut Bait
Kaye George, Murder on Wheels
Joe McKinney, Shrieks and Shivers from the Horror Zine
Josh Pachter, The Tree of Life

 

For additional categories and winners, please visit www.killernashville.com

Congratulations to all the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Awards-2016 nominees and winners!  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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Three Summer Vacation Quickie Reviews

 

In a rush to pick out your summer vacation ‘beach-reads’? This may help with the ‘run-in-and-grab’ non-thought process. Categories are listed in no particular order of favoritism or warning…

 

Dragons:

Book Cover - Brisinger by Christopher Paolini

Brisinger” by Christopher Paolini.  

More complex than the previous two books in the trilogy. Eragon is more developed as a character, but this has resulted in less time spent on adventures/conversations with Saphira, his dragon. Still great fun for dragon/fantasy fans.  🙂

 

Rated PG-13 for war and violence.

 

 

Faith-based fiction:
Book Cover - Night Light by Terri Blackstock

Night Light” by Terri Blackstock.

A world-wide power outage has kicked the earth back into 19th century technology. No cell phones, no computers, no AC and people have to ride bikes and grow their own food. Fascinating look at how one Christian family chooses to deal with the challenges of a more primitive life, including digging a well to obtain potable water. The young children in the book have dialogue that is developmentally inaccurate, but the overall story made me wonder how I would cope – and what kinds of vegetables I would be able to grow so that I could barter with someone who raised chickens.

 

Rated PG-13 for a murder, a kidnapping and scenes of drug usage.

 

 

YA Fiction:
Book Cover - I am Number Four by Pitticus Lore

I am Number Four” by Pitticus Lore.

An alien teenager, who has been hiding out on Earth with his protector, must deal with saving the world from nasty beings from his home planet that aim to wipe out his species. Made into a movie, but the book is MUCH better. There are sequels, but “I am Number Four” is the best. Filled with teen bits like first love, outsiders that don’t quite fit in, but are smarter than the ‘cool kids,’ blowing up the high school, etc.  Written for teens that are into intense action stories.

 

Rated PG-13 for alien invasion, intensity, and violence. Adults should look this over to assess its appropriateness for their teen.

 

Do you have a favorite summer vacation book? Let us know in the comments below.  🙂

Check out three quite different Beach Reads from last summer's list here.

Whatever you decide to read, enjoy!

 

 

 

 

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July 4th Mysteries – 2016

 

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Looking for a book to read with a July 4th Mystery theme?

 

Book lists exist for every holiday during the year, with some titles on some lists that could be used with several different holidays. Switch Christmas for the USA 4th of July in the text and the story might work just as well – the mystery being the essential part of the piece.

 

This updated list of twenty 'July 4th Mysteries' titles contains entertaining books by bestselling and/or new authors where the 4th of July theme is important to the novel. Some are oldies but goodies, some are relatively recent. If you know of others, please tell us in the comment section.  🙂

 

“Murder on Parade” by Donald Bain  

 

“Murder by Fireworks” by Susan Bernhardt


“The Cat Who Went Underground” by Lilian Jackson Braun


“Dead on the 4th of July” by Meg Chittenden

 

“A Catered Fourth of July” by I. Crawford


“Red, White, and Blue Murder” by Bill Crider


“Lemon Meringue Pie Murder” by Joanne Fluke


“Tool & Die” by Sarah Graves

 

“Act Of Darkness” by Jane Haddam


“Dead, White and Blue” by Carolyn Hart

 

“Yankee Doodle Dead” by Carolyn Hart


“Exit Wounds” by J. A. Jance


“A Timely Vision” by Joyce and Jim Lavene


“Knee High by the Fourth of July” by Jess Lourey


“Star Spangled Murder” by Leslie Meier

 

“Foal Play” by Kathryn O’Sullivan

 

“4th of July” by James Patterson/Maxine Paetro

 

“Can't Never Tell” by Cathy Pickens


“Death by Deep Dish Pie” by Sharon Short

 

“Independence Day Plague” by Carla Lee Suson

Happy 4th to the USA readers and stay safe during the festivities. Have fun choosing from the July 4th Mysteries.   🙂

 

 

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Goodreads 2015 Choice Awards

 

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Most of the winners of major book awards are selected by members of the groups that give the award – much like the film industry’s Academy Awards are selected each year. Mystery writers vote on the major mystery awards; romance writers vote on the Rita Award, etc.
 

Goodreads, the popular readers/authors site, has a slightly different model for the Goodreads Choice Awards. During the year, readers chat about books they’re reading and make lists of their favorites for their friends and followers to see. They also rank books they’ve read with stars, indicating how much they liked (or disliked) the titles published that year. There are thousands of books listed on the site, with thousands of comments, giving anyone who’s interested a way to see how a book (published in the U.S. in English) is viewed by the Goodreads group. Amazon acquired Goodreads, so these reviews and stars probably have an impact on book sales.

 

During October each year, the Goodreads staff looks at the stats and does the math, then nominates 15 books for each of 20 categories that have an average rating of 3.5 stars or more.

 

The members of the Goodreads community vote in elimination rounds. They are allowed to vote in all twenty categories, giving a broader view of a book’s popularity. If you sign up to become a member of Goodreads, you can vote as well.

 

Opening round completed: Nov. 3rd thru Nov. 8th   (voting on the selected 15 in each category, write-ins accepted)

Semifinal Round completed: Nov. 10th thru Nov. 15th  (voting on the original 15 along with the top 5 write-ins in each category – voters could change their minds about the original vote)

Final Round Completed: Nov. 17th thru Nov. 23rd  (voting on final top 10 books in each category)

Here are the 2015 voting links for eight of the categories. Final results are now available.

Fiction

Mystery & Thriller

Historical Fiction

Fantasy

Romance

Science Fiction

Non-Fiction

YA Fantasy & Science Fiction

 

Curious about the winners in six of the twenty categories for the 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards season?

Fiction: Rainbow Rowell's "Landline"

Mystery & ThrillerStephen King's "Mr. Mercedes" 

Historical Fiction:  Anthony Doerr's "All the Light We Cannot See"

History & BiographyHelen Rappaport's The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra"

RomanceDiana Gabaldon's "Written in My Own Heart's Blood"

Science Fiction:  Andy Weir's "The Martian"

The 14 additional categories included cookbooks, horror, non-fiction, children’s books and more.

Did you read any of the winning choices from 2014? If so, what did you think? Let us know in the comment section.

 

The 2013 Goodreads Choice Awards went to:

Fiction: Khaled Hosseini’s “And the Mountains Echoed”

Mystery & Thriller:  Dan Brown’s “Inferno”

Historical Fiction:  Kate Atkinson’s “Life After Life”

History & Biography:  Brian Jay Jones’ “Jim Henson”

Romance:  J.R. Ward’s “Lover at Last”

Science Fiction:  Margaret Atwood’s “MaddAddam”

 

It’s interesting to note that in 2013, 1,953,770 total votes were cast for the Goodreads Choice Awards.

At the end of voting in 2014, there were 3,317,504 votes.

At the end of voting this year, there were 3,007,748 votes cast.

 

Happy reading!  🙂

 

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“Divergent” by Veronica Roth

 

Book Cover - Divergent

Dystopia: “an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives” (Merriam-Webster) OR “a community or society that is in some important way undesirable or frightening.” (Wikipedia)

 

It used to be that everywhere I turned in the YA section of the bookstore, vampires were front and center. Now that the Hunger Games Trilogy has proven to be wildly successful, vampires seem to have been edged out – at least in product placement – by books with a Dystopian theme. Veronica Roth’s Divergent series is the latest of the genre to be a hit with teens and have a movie tie-in.

 

Beatrice Prior and her brother are 16 and they will soon take a test to see which faction in their society is a suitable match for their particular strengths. Each of them is in some way unhappy about the idea of staying with the family’s faction, Abnegation (a selfless group) and they seek out other factions (Dauntless=brave, Erudite=intelligent, Candor=honest, Amity=peaceful) after their test results come in.

 

The choice Beatrice makes in Divergent changes her in ways she doesn’t always understand or embrace, and may destroy her as she uncovers the truths behind the exciting hype of the Dauntless. And, when secrets are revealed about her test, she faces danger from the very faction she chose.

 

Beatrice renames herself Tris and is like many real-life teens – she doesn’t appreciate the support system that surrounds her until she needs it, she takes her parents for granted, she’s insecure in her physical appearance, she searches for something beyond the life she has in hand, she feels unworthy when in fact she’s better than her peers – in other words, she’s growing up painfully as most teens do.

 

Roth writes Tris as having a conflicted moral compass, and angst about doing the wrong thing. During training, her hands shake when faced with something new, but when protecting a friend, she performs unflinchingly. She is small for her age, so outdoes her competition by using her brain. She has an excellent trainer, a mysterious ‘Four’ who seems intimidating in his coldness and yet perfect in so many ways. Roth reveals the layers of the young man’s background as the relationship develops.

 

Divergent features an interesting mix of sixteen year olds with varied flaws and positive attributes, and their range of personalities and skills keep the plot moving and the action believable within the Dystopian world. There are loyal friends and nasty instructors, psycho initiates, desperate people who live outside the faction compounds, evil adults who plot and scheme for control, and, of course, a way for the teens to outsmart the evil adults. A few of the action scenes that involve incredibly difficult physical tasks, would lend themselves to great FX in the movie version if there is a big enough budget.

 

Young Adult fiction is a playground for vampires, martial arts experts, archers, unexpected heroes, magicians, and werewolves in the sci-fi/paranormal/fantasy realm. Partly because parents are curious about what their offspring are reading and partly because of all the media hype, full-fledged adults are now big fans of YA as well. I read the Twilight series, the Hunger Games trilogy, and now the Divergent series, and am happy to be numbered among the followers.

 

Please visit www.veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com to find out the latest about Roth and her projects.

 

 

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“The Hunger Games” trilogy by Suzanne Collins

 

Book Cover - Catching Fire

 

What would happen if your father died and the only source of income for the family disappeared?

 

Have you ever skipped meals so that your sister could eat? Would you break the law to keep your family from starving? Would you place your life in danger rather than let your sister go to certain death?

 

Do you have it in you to kill people in order to stay alive? What are you made of? Do you have the power to change the world by your actions?

 

If you’re breathing and have access to multi media, you have probably heard of the “Hunger Games” trilogy (or the movies based on the books) and might even be numbered as one of the legions of fans.

 

What is it about this worldwide phenomenon that has captured the interest of so many people, both young and old? Some say that the trilogy is violent, is depressing, and there are very few nice characters in the tale. (A teenager shared with me recently that the perceived violence label is odd, given the violence level in TV shows and PG-13 movies) This series is so popular among the Young Adult/Teen crowd that it’s being studied in High School English classes in the U.S.

 

At the “Hunger Games” core is a teenagers’ love story, a triangle of Katniss Everdeen, Peeta Mellark, and Gale Hawthorne. Jealousy, unrequited feelings, and complete cluelessness on the part of our heroine keeps the two guys alternately at arm’s length and/or willing to die for her. Katniss has been emotionally closed off for so long while trying to survive in a Dystopian world, that tenderness and caring from others is a surprise and she rarely sees it as genuine. The only person in her life that she is sure she loves, whose love in return she knows is real, is her sister, Prim. And, for her sister, she would risk all.

 

But, the themes in the “Hunger Games” are broader than a love story, even as good as this one is. Katniss, Peeta, and Gale live in the coal-mining District 12 of the country Penam. Two children (ages 12 to 18) from each of twelve Districts of Penam are chosen by lottery to compete in the annual Hunger Games, a punishment delivered by the government for a rebellion that occurred decades in the past. Over a period of several weeks, the champions from each District are challenged with brutal survivalist type tasks: fending off vicious wild animals, using the meager supplies granted to them by the game masters, foraging for the rest, while killing off their opponents with whatever means possible. The competition is to the death, because only one can remain standing at the end. The reward? Better food for a year for their families back home.

 

But, even in victory, there is fear. Missteps can cause the downfall of others, the death of innocents. The government is always watching, wary of people who show any signs of leadership or rebellious tendencies, and willing to impose medieval justice to anyone violating the law.

 

The supporting characters are interesting people that give depth to a sometimes terrifying story set in the desperation of a world gone horribly wrong. The villains are multi-layered, some forced to do the government’s bidding, some genuinely nasty. The hairdressers, the groomers, and the trainers are complex, flawed and all working to make the best of a corrupt world that gives no quarter to the weak and rewards the strong only with survival.

 

"Hunger Games" is an excellent, chilling YA novel, recommended to me by several teenagers as well as some adults. I thoroughly enjoyed the pacing and the realistic characterization. I couldn’t put any of the books in the series down until the last gripping pages, even in the second read-through to do the review.

 

Not surprisingly, archery became popular again to teenagers in the United States after Katniss first used her bow. A bow was even used as the murder weapon of choice by a teenager in an episode of the TV show, “Longmire.” The TV show, “Revolution,” had a bow wielding teenager as one of the central characters. And, the copycats abound. But none quite so successful as the original, Katniss.

 

The three books in the series: “Hunger Games,” “Catching Fire,” and last but not least, “Mocking Jay.”

 

The movies: “Hunger Games ” played in 2012 and was wildly successful. The second, “Catching Fire,” debuted in November, 2013, with "Mocking Jay, Part 1" following in 2014. "Mocking Jay, Part 2" opens in November, 2015.

 

‘May the odds be ever in your favor’ that you have a chance to read all of the "Hunger Games" books. 

 

For more information about Suzanne Collins and her books, please visit www.suzannecollinsbooks.com

 

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