Barbara Evers (Bevers) is an active member of SCWW and has two novels in progress. Her short stories have appeared in The Petigru Review and Stupefying Stories. Her essay, Unexpected, appeared in the award winning anthology, Child of My Child. In the real world, Barbara is a corporate trainer, instructional designer and occasional public speaker. In her spare time (!?), she reads slush for Stupefying Stories. Her writing blog, An Eclectic Muse, abides by its name, so don’t be surprised at the variety of topics you find there.
I receive email alerts from BookBub every day concerning free downloads on Kindle. The Summoning was not in the list, but while I considered one fantasy, I noticed a review suggesting to not waste my time on the suggested book. The reviewer said I should read Kelley Armstrong‘s The Summoning instead. Curious, I found the book and downloaded it.
YA is not my preferred fantasy genre, and when I do read it, it tends to be along the lines of Harry Potter or Eragon, so Armstrong’s book was a change for me. That said, the book is well-written, and I read it quickly.
Fifteen-year-old Chloe lives as normal a life that she can, considering her mother died when she was a young child and her father travels, leaving her with housekeepers. Behind in development, Chloe explodes into development in one huge blast. By the end of one day, she’s begun her period, been asked (sort of) to a dance, and started seeing dead people. Yes. In Sixth Sense style, she sees dead people, but she doesn’t understand what’s going on. After all, it just started.
When the burned ghost of a dead janitor frightens her into running through the school halls screaming, she’s sent to a home for children with special needs with a promise from her beloved Aunt Lauren that it will only be for two weeks. At Lyle House, the doctors tell her she suffers from schizophrenia. Unsure of what to think, she begins to study the actions of the other teens in this home.
And discovers Lyle House is not all it seems. Chloe is not alone in her talents. Others at the home have unusual abilities. Soon she learns that a population of supernatural beings exists, and two of the boys at the home have a connection to them. They hatch a plan to escape, and that’s when they discover how many people truly know what they are and seek to control them.
The Summoning is well-written with good character development and suspense. Not a lot came as a surprise to me, but I’m not the typical reading audience, either. The one point that caught me off-guard half-way through the book was that Simon was Asian. I missed that during our first introduction to him. The rest of the character descriptions, especially, Derik’s, are vivid and full of life.
Since Chloe attended a school for the arts in hopes of becoming a movie director someday, there are a lot of movie references and film development details that I truly enjoyed. I found myself impressed with Armstrong’s ability to work those details in so well. In fact, I wondered if she might have a film background.
If you enjoy YA fantasy with supernatural beings like you see in the TV show Alphas, then this could be a book you will want to read. It is first in a series.
4 Stars out of 5.
Guest Blogger, Allie McCarn (Allie), reviews science fiction and fantasy books on her blog Tethyan Books. She has contributed many great book reviews to WWEnd including several Grand Master reviews featured in our blog. Allie has just kicked off a new blog series for WWEnd called New Voices where she’ll be reviewing the debut novels of relatively new authors in the field.
The Book :
“In the world of Tiamat, power changes hands every 150 years, due to the periodic opening and closing of a galactic stargate. During the winter cycle, the Snow Queen reigns, and technophile ‘Winters’ live in a society supported by contact with people from the Hegemony, a government that spans a number of worlds. At the end of this cycle, the Snow Queen and all the world’s technology are sacrificed as the offworlders leave through their closing stargate. Then begins the reign of the Summer Queen, and the primitive, superstitious Summers.
The current Snow Queen, Arienrhod, has no intention of relinquishing her power and watching her technological world collapse. Though she has many schemes to change the cycle, one involves her own clone, a young woman named Moon. Raised as a Summer and in love with her cousin Sparks, Moon has her own ideas about what her life will hold. She intends to be a sibyl, a wise woman of the Summers who can channel answers to nearly any question. However, the fates of Moon, Sparks, and Arienrhod may not be theirs to control…” ~Allie
This is the first novel I’ve read by Joan D. Vinge, which makes it my 3rd novel in the Women of Genre Fiction Reading Challenge. The Snow Queen is from relatively early in her writing career, four years after her 1976 nomination for John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer for the novelette “Tin Soldier” (published in 1974).
The Snow Queen is the first book of the Snow Queen Cycle, but it stands alone as a novel. I’m not sure whether or not I will continue the series, simply because the story does seem complete.
Leslie goes by L at omphaloskepsis, a place made to write about reading books and film outside the University classroom, an excuse made to write differently than the usual review blog. She loves creative and intelligent storytellers, words involving the letter v, and knee socks. After noticing she has yet to read nearly enough Sci-Fi or Fantasy of the grown-up variety, she found herself at WWEnd in pursuit of new-to-her female authors.
Beginning Mechanique I wondered what I had gotten myself into. It was not the short chapters that exchanged narrators, shifted person (1st, 2nd, or 3rd), and moved in and out of time. For the first hundred pages read and often set aside for life-interruptions, I mentioned aloud some form of: It’s like a short story that has been stretched and contorted rather painfully into a novel. It’s like myself with the long jokes, getting parts out of order or forgetting something key and attempting to restart or go back and Sean is trying not to show his impatience, while N is rubbing her temples at the clumsy world-building. Mechanique had me rubbing my temples. I could come up with some clever literary explication about how the chapters’ movement and their disjuncture mimic in form the renderings of a travelling circus through a devastated landscape. But all I could think was, will this smooth out?
The skirting of a secret via sly reference from lip corners and oblique cuts of the eye can be tantalizing but I can only take so many had I only noticed-type asides. I love non-settings and characters made up of context as much as the base coat of an adverb-adjective-noun, and imagery so precise as to lay the page bare. Bird was fairly featureless but for the reactions people had to her. I was working to form her out of negative space. It was exhausting, in part because she wasn’t the only one.* I (lover of the parenthetical) wondered what the deal was with all the parentheticals. Some could’ve been footnoted if not excised altogether but for the idea that they are yet not an aside of the narrator-of-the-chapter. I was tripping over them. They fit and yet not. They were metal bones, inorganic among the easier flow of text; only sometimes they didn’t make their aerialist lighter.
Christine Bellerive (cmbellerive) is an omnivorous reader who devours literary and genre fiction alike. When she’s not reading, she’s editing other people’s books — and writing a fantasy novel of her own. Her other interests include stringed instruments and hunting dogs of the American South. She blogs at Strange Quarks.
I picked Soulless because of the fun cover: Victorian girl with attitude, holding unspeakably awesome brass parasol. I figured it’d be a whimsical light read.
The story takes place in an alternate history where “supernaturals” (vampires, werewolves, ghosts) are accepted in society and live their lives duly regulated by law. Queen Victoria has a government bureau to oversee them. Alexia Tarabotti is a snarky spinster who belongs to another class of beings: “preternaturals,” which means humans who have either too much soul or no soul at all. She’s one of the soulless ones, which basically seems to mean that she has terrible taste in art, and also she can neutralize a supernatural. Werewolves and vampires lose their powers when in physical contact with her.
Enter Lord Maccon, a handsome and wealthy werewolf. Romance and hijinks ensue.
Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. For one thing, it’s on the girly side for my taste. I was hoping for an adventure story, but this is really a romantic comedy, and romantic comedy of the type that reads like the naughty dreams of a fifteen-year-old girl. Maybe if I liked that sort of thing in general, I’d be more positive about this book, but it just wasn’t for me on the basis of genre alone. I can hardly read Jane Austen, even though I recognize the quality of her writing, because of the ladies-in-drawing-rooms-worrying-about-love subject matter. So reading a knockoff wasn’t much fun.
I also found it difficult to get past the stilted pseudo-Victorian diction. I don’t mind a mannered and archaic voice — I really enjoyed E. B. Hudspeth’s The Resurrectionist – but for me the execution has to be spot-on. Carriger uses some genuine Victorianisms, but also a lot of stereotypical British phrases that sound cut-and-pasted from Mary Poppins, as well as modern expressions that are anachronistic in context. She sticks them together in long, poorly-constructed, vaguely Austen-ish sentences and calls it steampunk. It was like listening to someone talk in a terrible fake accent for 350 pages.
The concept of “soulless” people was pretty original, and I liked the eventual introduction of scientists trying to figure out what vampirism is. What is the “soul,” and how does it transfer from person to person? There are some potentially interesting themes here, but nothing much gets done with them. Alexia is occasionally witty, and there were even a couple moments when I chuckled out loud. Still, overall I didn’t enjoy this book.
Did I mention the clunky makeout scenes? They go on for pages and pages, and they sound something like this: “Then he inserted tab A into slot B. Oh my! she said.” The level of detail is awkward, cliched, and unsexy. Not to mention anachronistic.
I even lost some of my amusement with the cover design, when I realized that the main character is supposed to have ample curves. Then what is a rail-thin woman doing in the picture? Feminism’s come so far.
Perhaps the most popular blog series WWEnd had last year were the ones that covered free Hugo nominated content. With the recent announcement of the 2013 nominees, we are, once again, covering nominated works, including short stories, novelettes, novellas, graphic novels and related works. In the coming weeks, we will be looking in every nook and cranny to determine where you can find all of the stories that you should read in order to have an informed opinion on who should win. Here is what we have found (so far) on the short stories.
First, we highly recommend LoneStarCon 3 (A.K.A. Worldcon 2013) membership. If you can’t afford an attending membership of $200 (as of this writing, installment plan available) or can’t make it out to San Antonio, the supporting membership is only $60, and it will include digital copies of (most, if not all of) the novels, novellas, novelettes, and short stories for your perusing. The novels alone would cost more than $60 to buy. If history is any indication, the reading packets will be out by May.
The first thing you’ll notice about this year’s nominees is the dearth of short stories. This is apparently because of a clause in the WSFS constitution that states:
No nominee shall appear on the final Award ballot if it received fewer nominations than five percent (5%) of the number of ballots listing one or more nominations in that category, except that the first three eligible nominees, including any ties, shall always be listed.
I’m not sure what to think of that rule. It seems to me that it might discourage diversity in the nomination process. Well known authors are more likely to get a larger concentration of votes, and excluding the fourth and fifth place nominees just because the top three authors are hogging the votes seems counter-intuitive. Wouldn’t you want to expose more authors rather than fewer?
At any rate, all three nominated short stories can be read for free online right now. I also included the original publication dates, in case you just want to go out and buy the original book or back issue:
- “Immersion”, by Aliette de Bodard was nominated for Nebula and BSFA awards, so has been online for a while, now. It was first published by Clarkesworld in their June 2012 issue. Enhance your daily commute by listening to the audio version, downloadable here.
- “Mantis Wives”, by Kij Johnson is also available in the pages Clarkesworld, in their August 2012 issue. The audio version of the story is available here.
- “Mono no Aware”, Ken Liu was published as part of an anthology by VIZ Media, engilted The Future is Japanese. To read it, go to click on the “Look inside” preview feature from the book’s Amazon listing (or just click here) and scroll down to the first full story. No, it may not be the most convenient method for accessing the story, but you could always buy the anthology (the Kindle version is only $3.99). If the publisher makes the story available elsewhere online, we’ll update this page.
It’s a tad disappointing to see such a short list, but maybe it’s enough to keep you occupied until we publish the novelettes list (coming soon). On the bright side, it won’t be hard to read every nominated short story, so that part of the ballot will be easy for you to fill out.
Next up: Novelettes!
The 2013 Hugo Award nominees have been announced! In the Best Novel category the nominees are:
- 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit)
- Blackout by Mira Grant (Orbit)
- Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)
- Redshirts by John Scalzi (Tor)
- Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed (DAW)
Congrats to all the nominees! For the full list of nominees in all categories see the press release on The Hugo Awards official website.
What do you think of this year’s crop of noms? Anthing stand out for you? Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire) keeps rolling with her Newsflesh series having been nominated for all three books in the trilogy.
In his youth, Barry F. (bazhsw), really enjoyed reading science fiction and fantasy, and then stopped for the best part of twenty years. In 2012 Barry made a committment to “read more science fiction” and decided the Women of Genre Fiction Reading Challenge would be his launchpad.
The central character of Ironskin is Jane Eliot. She was injured by a fey bomb towards the end of the Great War trying to save her brother. The injury causes her to leak her curse and project that emotion onto others – her’s being rage.
The effects of the curse can be countered by iron and consequently Jane wears an iron mask that stops the curse from affecting others but does cause those emotions to build up inside her and others like her with no outlet.
Jane struggles to keep employment before accepting a governess job where she believes the child could use her help. This is her entry into the mysterious world of Mr Rochart and the foreboding Silver Birches.
Ironskin is a retelling of Jane Eyre. Jane Eyre is a book I treasure and have gone back to many times. I have also been sympathetic to retellings and additions to the ‘Eyre’ canon – in particular I find Wide Sargasso Sea an essential ‘prequel’ and puts a significant twist on the original.
Originally published in 1937, The Hobbit has been a perennially appealing source of material for films and other media. The book itself is an entertaining children’s story, episodic in structure, simple in tone and theme, inventively fantastic, and occasionally frightening, but generally acceptable to a broad audience. It is a widely read book, being long but never boring, and especially entertaining for its intended audience.
So obviously Peter Jackson would decide to change the tale into one of “epic” scope, filled to the brim with violent battles, portentous overtones, and car—I mean, sled—chases. But I am not yet concerned with Jackson’s ill-begotten films. His trilogy of films adapted (or perhaps “inspired”) by the novel is but the most recent example, and film rights to Tolkien’s breakout novel have been passed between studios like Hepatitis B for decades.
Once after receiving a script adapting his Lord of the Rings trilogy, Tolkien complained about the process in a letter:
I would ask them to make an effort of imagination sufficient to understand the irritation (and on occasion the resentment) of an author, who finds, increasingly as he proceeds, his work treated as it would seem carelessly in general, in places recklessly, and with no evident signs of any appreciation of what it is all about.
What do you think of the result? Have you read either of these books or any of the other nominees?
Anyone paying close attention to our novel pages today may have noticed a curious thing. Many of our novels now have a section for “Film & Television Adaptations.” This was added to tie into our brand new shiny book list, Genre Lit-Flicks. This begins our project to build what we hope will be the definitive list of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror novels adapted for feature films and television. Here are some fun facts to whet your appetite:
Did you know…
…the children’s classic The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has been adapted a total of three times: once animated, once as live-action for the BBC, and most recently as a special effects extravaganza by Disney?
…legendary actor Marlon Brando’s most infamous role was in the critically panned The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996)?
…the ur-Horror novel Dracula has been adapted to film so many times we didn’t even try to list them all?
These and many other fun facts await your perusal at the Genre Lit-Flicks list.
But wait… there’s more!
That’s right! In addition to providing our loyal WWEnd members with the most comprehensive and up-to-date list of genre novel adaptations, we are launching a new blog series entitled Hell is Adaptations (series is not yet rated), which will document our ongoing trudge through the mire of Hollywood’s idea of what makes for good genre storytelling.
See any glaring omissions in our list? Think we should add a book to our database that was made into your favorite movie? Let us know in the comments below! Just be aware that we are not planning to add adaptations to the list until they have a theatrical or (shudder) direct-to-DVD release. We do know that World War Z is on its way, thanks…