I’d never paid very much attention to prize lists before, but I have several friends who regularly read the entire Women’s Prize List, so these book prizes slowly started becoming ingrained into my psyche. This year, very much on a casual whim, I decided that I would read the all Hugo novel finalists. Partly, it was because when I saw the Hugo list I realized I’d already read two of them and planned to read two more, but also because it’s kind of fun to read the entire list and make guesses as to which one will win!
And also, you know, SFF is my genre. It’s what I write and mainly what I read, so it certainly behooves me to be aware of what is popular in the community. This is a particularly salient point for the Hugos, because unlike, say, the Women’s Prize books, which are selected by a panel of judges, the Hugo finalists are based on votes by members of Worldcon, so it really is an indication of the community’s current inclinations. When I say “the community,” of course, that’s a complicated word – most lay readers are probably not members of Worldcon, nor are they voting in the Hugos, so these nominations likely reflect people who are in the industry – writers, editors, reviewers, artists, etc.
I only committed to read the adult novels, because short stories and novellas and novelletes usually aren’t my thing.
Anyway, read on for my thoughts! Continue reading “Hugo Finalists 2020”
First lines are magical. While a bad or mediocre first line won’t make or break a story, a great first line can absolutely propel it into greatness. A great first line will immediately attract a reader, will make them laugh in delight or quirk an eyebrow in curiosity or sigh in awe. I love the potential of first lines, and the way they can entirely capture a story’s tone and tenor in a single sentence.
A few weeks ago there was a Top 5 Tuesday topic about first lines, and because I’m always late to these parties, I’m only doing this now, and I’m doing 20 first lines, because I can’t choose. I’ve read 17/20 of the books listed below; the remaining three include one I DNF’d (sad, given it’s one of my favorite first lines ever) and two I still intend to read.
So, in absolutely no order whatsoever because ranking would have driven me insane, enjoy! Continue reading “20 Favorite First Lines in Books”
The Light Brigade
I have no idea how to give this a proper rating, as I pretty much hated reading it, and not, as I had expected, because it is confusing (though it definitely is) but mainly because it’s so fucking bleak. That is, of course, the point – hard military sci-fi isn’t about to shy away from all the visceral realities of war – but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I’m also generally not a fan of dystopias because they often hit too close to home; so much of dystopic visions Hurley has come up with in The Light Brigade don’t seem too far off from what we’re living now. It’s kind of terrifying, when you think about it too closely. Continue reading “Book Review: The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley”
The City in the Middle of the Night
Charlie Jane Anders
The City in the Middle of the Night takes great care to develop its characters, character arcs, character dynamics, and its worldbuilding, and pretty much forgets all about having a cohesive plot. The biggest criticism of this book would be that it is meandering and slow. It’s not that it doesn’t know where it wants to go – now that I’ve finished, I can step back and see the general plot arc meant to be established here – but it doesn’t get there clearly or quickly enough. There’s a lot of waffle and pointless journey stuff in between all the important bits, and this book, already rather short, could have been way shorter. Continue reading “Book Review: The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders”
The Mermaid & Mrs. Hancock
Imogen Hermes Gowar
I think the best way to describe The Mermaid & Mrs Hancock would be: uneven, meandering, and unbalanced, in terms of both pacing and genre. It’s almost as though it can’t quite decide what it wants to be. Somehow, it is too long and yet not long enough.
Oddly enough, a book with this kind of pacing normally wouldn’t be able to hold my attention, but I was never once bored! I think that is to do with two factors. One is my own personal interest in Georgian London as well as the history of prostitution. Harlots is one of my favorite shows. The amount of historical detail Gowar displays here is simply astonishing. It stops just shy of being too much, but because of this detail I could picture everything so, so clearly; I felt like I was inhabiting this time period. Continue reading “Book Review: The Mermaid & Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar”