Nebula Award Winner

Nebula AwardNebula Award
The brilliant writer, Connie Willis, has achieved another award to add to her auspicious collection. Having won a previous 6 Nebulas and 10 Hugos, she recently won another Nebula for her 2 volume novels, Blackout and All Clear (released separately in 2010). These novels were also nominated for the 2011 Hugo. These two books further the time-travel storyline started in a 1982 short story, "Fire Watch" (included in her short story collection Fire Watch), and the books Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog, all multiple award winners too. They all revolve around time traveling history students and their professors at Oxford University circa mid-21st. In these latest award winning books, the students' field work assignments involve time-travel to various points during WWII England. The assignments involve reporting on the events while taking on roles like a shopgirl during the Blitz, an American reporter at Dunkirk, and a servant helping to evacuate children to England's countryside. But time-travel is never without some hiccups along the way. If you like adventure, historical fiction, and don't mind a bit of time-travel, dive into these right away! Great summer reading awaits!

Author Birthdays: Baum, Porter, Bulgakov

May 15th marks the birthday of authors L. Frank Baum, Katherine Anne Porter, and Mikhail Bulgakov.

L. Frank Baum was an American children's author most well known for his story The Wonderful Wizard of Oz; there were at least 17 total Oz books that Baum wrote.

Baum also wrote short stories about the magical land of Mo. You may be interested in looking up other books by Baum which were actually published under the pseudonyms Edith Van Dyne, Floyd Akers, Schuyler Staunton, John Estes Cooke, Suzanne Metcalf, and Laura Bancroft.

Katherine Anne Porter was an American writer and Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner (for The Collected Stories). She was also nominated numerous times for the Nobel Prize.

Porter's novel Ship of Fools was a best-seller and was made into a film starring Gone with the Wind's Vivien Leigh.

Mikhail Bulgakov was a Russian playwright and novelist. His most well known work was The Master and Margarita, a novel about the Devil visiting Soviet Russia. The book is something of a cult favorite now.

In addition, we have a collection of six of Bulgakov's plays. There is also another of Bulgakov's novels at AADL, Heart of a Dog, which is a strange story about a dog-turned-kind-of-man.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #262

After the second ice age, America Pacifica is one of the last habitable places and it is the only home that 18 year-old Darcy ever known. The island is ruled by a mysterious dictator named Tyson where education, food and the basic means of survival are strictly rationed and controlled by the "chosen" few.

Darcy lives a hand-to-mouth existence with her mother Sarah, a pearl diver by trade, in a leaky apartment. When Sarah disappears, Darcy embarks on a quest to find her. Along the way, Darcy learns about her island home's history, the secrets her mother guarded fiercely, and the same secrets that now put Darcy in mortal danger.

In Anna North's richly imagined debut novel set in the near future, she chooses to downplay the "science" aspects in favor of a more naturalist and realistic narrative, from the perspective of a likable heroine who is plucky and resourceful as she is melancholic and vulnerable. "An entertaining, stylishly written doomsday novel."

Readers looking for a readalike to Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games might find Darcy a new protagonist to root for.

Fans of post-apocalyptic dystopian, global-disaster survival story might also enjoy the Flood series by Stephen Baxter.

Author Birthdays: Niven, Dillard, Boyne

April 30th marks the birthday of authors Larry Niven, Annie Dillard, and John Boyne.

Larry Niven is an American author of science fiction. He is probably most well known for Ringworld, a winner of many literary awards, which has three sequels and a few prequels.

Niven's latest works include Stars and Gods, a collection of short stories and pieces of non-fiction, Betrayer of Worlds, a prelude to Ringworld, and The Best of Larry Niven, a collection of short stories with the author's explanations for them.

Annie Dillard is an American writer and former contributing editor of Harper's magazine. Her most well known work is The Maytrees, a story of "loving and longing", which was named one of the Top 10 Best Books of 2007 by the New York Times Book Review.

Dillard won the Pulitzer Prize for Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, a book about religion and philosophy in the style of a journal. She also has written a book of found poems called Mornings Like This.

John Boyne is an Irish author; you may have heard of his novel The Boy In The Striped Pajamas, which was also made into a film. His forthcoming novel is called The Absolutist, set to come out in the UK in May.

Boyne's other books include The Thief of Time, a mixture of historical fiction and fantasy about a boy born in the 18th century who doesn't age, and Crippen, a mystery set in the early 20th century.

Author Birthdays: Hersh, Kingsolver, Okorafor-Mbachu

April 8th marks the birthday of authors Seymour Hersh, Barbara Kingsolver, and Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu.

Seymour Hersh is an American award-winning journalist and author. Many of his articles were written for The New Yorker. He won a Pulitzer in journalism for his writing on the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War.

Hersh's books include a biography of JFK, called The Dark Side of Camelot, which portrays the late president as reckless, and was very controversial after its publication. He also wrote Chain Of Command: The Road From 9/11 To Abu Ghraib, which discusses topics like the torture and mistreatment of prisoners in Abu Ghraib.

Barbara Kingsolver is a multi-award-winning American author, whose latest novel was the popular The Lacuna, which won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2010.

Kingsolver's best known work might be The Poisonwood Bible, which is about a missionary family who moves to the Belgian Congo in the mid-20th century. Her most interesting book, in my opinion, might be her non-fiction book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year Of Food Life, which outlines Kingsolver and her family as they attempt to eat solely locally-grown food for one year.

Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu is a Nigerian-American fantasy writer. Her newest book, Who Fears Death, was nominated for the Nebula Award in 2010.

Okorafor-Mbachu has written some young adult novels, which may be of interest to many teens in world literature classes who are looking for something a bit more modern than the classics. Her novel The Shadow Speaker is set in a futuristic West Africa and relays the tale of a girl with magical powers who is seeking vengeance.

March's Classics & FairyTale-Remakes plus a Family-Friendly Book to Film

BeastlyBeastly

Beastly is an edgy romance based on teen author Alex Finn's novel - ultra-modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

Seventeen-year-old Kyle is the spoiled, shallow and incredibly popular prince of his high school kingdom. Kyle foolishly chooses Kendra, a witch masquerading as a high school student, as his latest target for humiliation. Unfazed by his cruel behavior, Kendra decides to teach him a lesson --- she transforms him into someone as unattractive on the outside as he is on the inside. Now he has one year to find someone who can see past the surface and love him, or he will remain "Beastly" forever.

Red Riding Hood is based on the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, made famous by The Brothers Grimm.

In this modern version, Valerie is a beautiful young woman torn between two men. She is in love with a brooding outsider, Peter, but her parents have arranged for her to marry the wealthy Henry. Unwilling to lose each other, Valerie and Peter are planning to run away together when they learn that Valerie's older sister has been killed by the werewolf that prowls the dark forest surrounding their village.

Hungry for revenge, the people call on famed werewolf hunter Father Solomon to help them kill the wolf. But Solomon's arrival brings unintended consequences as he warns that the wolf, who takes human form by day, could be any one of them. As panic grips the town, Valerie discovers that she has a unique connection to the beast --- one that inexorably draws them together, making her both suspect and bait.

We have, yet another Hollywood remake of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre. While the plot is well known, let's hope Mia Wasikowska, and Michael Fassbende bring something exciting to this period drama of Jane and her Mr. Rochester.

Now finally something for the whole family.... ( Rating: PG)

Mars Needs Moms! is based on the picture book by Berkeley Breathed.

Take out the trash, eat your broccoli --- who needs moms anyway? Nine-year-old Milo finds out just how much he needs his mom when she's nabbed by Martians who plan to steal her mom-ness for their own young. We go along on Milo's quest to save his mom - a wild adventure that involves stowing away on a spaceship, navigating an elaborate, multi-level planet, and taking on the alien nation and their leader

Author Birthdays: Rossen, Fleischman, Weis

March 16th marks the birthday of authors Robert Rossen, Sid Fleischman, and Margaret Weis.

Robert Rossen was an American screenwriter and director. He wrote both Academy Award-winners The Hustler (starring Paul Newman) and All the King's Men, which was based upon a Robert Penn Warren book.

Rossen also co-wrote The Roaring Twenties, a noir film starring greats likes James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart. The story focuses upon bootlegging and gangsters, and was based on the experiences of fellow writer Mark Hellinger.

Sid Fleischman was an American children's author and Newbery Award winner for his book The Whipping Boy. In his autobiography, Fleischman gave a few tips to aspiring writers, which can also be found on his official website.

According to Fleischman himself, he tended to "find story ideas in odd folk beliefs." This plays out in works like The 13th Floor: A Ghost Story for the triskaidekaphobiacs and The Ghost in the Noonday Sun. Fleischman passed away last year, the day after his birthday.

Margaret Weis is an American fantasy writer and co-creator (along with fellow author Tracy Hickman) of the game world DragonLance. While she has many, many series, I will only mention one other, which she also co-wrote with Hickman: The Death Gate Cycle, which is set in a sort of post-apocalyptic fantasy world.

Weis also owns Margaret Weis Productions, Ltd., a company that "publishes a wealth of original and licensed game and book products", with a strong focus on fantasy TV series.

A Game of Thrones to Hit The Small Screen

On April 17th, 2011 renowned New York Times Bestselling Fantasy author George R.R. Martin's epic series A Song of Ice and Fire will have its season premiere on HBO. Entitled A Game of Thrones which is also the title of the first book in the acclaimed series the first season of the HBO series is set to cover the first book in Martin's unfinished seven book saga.

George Martin weaves and intertwines the lives of the kings, queens, lords, ladies, and knights who make up the fictional land of Westeros. Martin's masterful writing style leaves the reader emotionally exhausted and is what keeps fans eager for the next book. However, there is a sense of apprehension looming over HBO not being able to adequately recreate the vision of Westeros and depict the tangential lives of the characters who make up Martin's epic A Song of Ice and Fire series.

With that being said the harsh and adult content of this series in which Martin does not stray from the mature subject matter of rape, incest or brutality which makes the A Song of Ice and Fire series geared towards a largely adult readership. With HBO's success in producing mature and adult oriented shows like True Blood based on - Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire series - it goes without question that HBO would be best suited to produce George Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire saga.

Martin has written and published four of the seven books that are expected in the series. Much to the frustration of his readers, Martin is notoriously known to extensively delay the release of the next installment within this series. With A Game of Thrones being published in 1996 and A Feast for Crows, the fourth book in the series published in 2005, Martin has taken nine years to get up to the fourth book. The latest installment, A Dance with Dragons was recently announced to be released on July 12, 2011. At fifteen years to put out five books, Martin is still better than Robert Jordan and those who are patient are rewarded with quality work where George R.R. Martin has not failed to produce.

Barring an unanticipated major flop with the upcoming first season, HBO should settle in for a long ride with the A Song of Ice and Fire series which will include the visual narration of A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords the second and third book in the series.

'Starcrossed'

Starcrossed is the second novel by historical fantasy author Elizabeth C. Bunce, and the first book in the "Thief Errant" series.

The story stars a learned and streetwise thief, Digger, who, in order to escape the wrath of the kingdom Inquisitor and his policing Greenmen, finds herself and her fate entwined with that of a party of drunken nobles. With the group is Lady Merista, a young girl whom Digger quite suddenly discovers is deeply into something punishable by torture and death -- magic. Digger becomes torn between her developing love for her young friend, the suspicious and dangerous activity of Merista's parents, the blackmailing and vengeful friend of her host, and her mantra: Stay Alive. Don't get caught. Don't get involved.

If you like intrigue, spies, magic, romance, and a sassy heroine, this is a must-read. Bunce not only presents a vivid and fast-paced tale, but also an addictive world, moving characters, and a great tension between people and their rulers. Historically, the story throws us into a sense of the Inquisition and the witch craze in Europe.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #242

Benjamin Hale's "mischievous debut" The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore * is a love story between the world's first speaking chimpanzee and a primatologist. Just bear with me here, alright?

Born and raised in captivity (no less, at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo, famous for its primate house), Bruno is unlike any chimpanzee in the world - precocious, self-conscious and very gifted, and he speaks. Primatologist Dr. Lydia Littlemore takes him into her home to oversee his education and nurture his passion for painting but has a rough time with his more primal urges and outbursts which ultimately cost her her job, and send the unlikely pair on the road.

"Like its protagonist, this novel is big, loud, abrasive, witty, perverse, earnest and amazingly accomplished.... it goes beyond satire by showing us not what it means, but what it feels like to be human -- to love and lose, learn, aspire, grasp, and, in the end, to fail."

Caution!!!!!! Exuberantly detailed sex between species might offend some readers. Proceed at your own risk.

Benjamin Hale is a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, where he received a Provost's Fellowship to complete this novel, which also went on to win a Michener-Copernicus Award.

Readers who enjoyed Sara Gruen's Ape House and Laurence Gonzales' Lucy (blog) will find this a delight.

* = Starred review

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