Sci-Fi, Fantasy, & Horror Awards Roundup

The 2016 Hugo Award winners were announced on the weekend, and I was really happy to see that, despite the ongoing drama of the Sad / Rabid Puppies and their efforts to return science fiction to its “traditional” roots, the Hugos are continuing to reward innovative and diverse storytelling. I’m also stoked that my two favourite novels from 2015 have both picked up awards (and two of the most prestigious ones to boot!) – Naomi Novik’s Uprooted won the Nebula, and N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season won the Hugo. I wouldn’t have been able to pick one over the other, so I’m glad they were both recognized.

For those unfamiliar with the major awards in this multi-faceted genre, here’s a roundup of some of the major ones, and the winners/nominees for 2016 so far!

The Hugo Awards 

hugoawardFirst awarded in 1953, the Hugos are given by the World Science Fiction Society. Anyone can actually nominate and vote on the Hugos by becoming a Worldcon member for the coming year. There are currently 14 categories, including best novel, best novella, best novelette, best short story, best graphic story, best dramatic presentation (long and short). See for the full list.

2016 Winners Include:


The Nebula Awards

nebulaEstablished in 1965, the Nebulas are presented by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and honour the best works of science fiction or fantasy published in the United States. There are 6 categories: best novel, best novella, best novelette, best short story, the Ray Bradbury award for outstanding dramatic presentation, and the Andre Norton award for young adult science fiction and fantasy. See for more.

2016 Winners Include:

  • Best Novel: Uprooted, by Naomi Novik
  • Best Novella: Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor
  • Andre Norton Award: Updraft, by Fran Wilde


The Bram Stoker Awards

stokerawardPresented by the Horror Writer’s Association, this has been awarded for “superior achievement” (rather than “best”) in horror and dark fantasy writing since 1987. There are currently 11 categories, including: novel, first novel, short fiction, long fiction, and young adult fiction. More information – and a better look at their amazing trophy – here:

2016 Winners Include:


The Philip K. Dick Award

philipkdickThis award is given to the single best original paperback of the year, published the US. It’s a joint effort, currently presented by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society, The Philip K. Dick Trust, and the Northwest Science Fiction Society, and was first presented in 1982. See for more info.

2016 Winner: Apex, by Ramez Naam

And there are still a few of the major awards still to be distributed this year:

The World Fantasy Awards 

worldfantasyawardFirst presented in 1975, the World Fantasy Awards are given out for the best fantasy fiction by the World Fantasy Convention. Up until this year the trophy was a bust of a caricatured H.P. Lovecraft, but it has now been retired due to complaints that Lovecraft, while an important influence on the genre, cannot be representative of the entire genre due to his overt racism. No word on what the new trophy will be, although the World Fantasy Convention finished receiving submissions in April. The 2016 winners will announced in late October, and there are 10 categories. Read more at

2016 Best Novel Nominees:


The Arthur C. Clarke Award

This is a British award, given to the best science fiction novel published in the UK (although there’s no restriction on the author’s nationality, as long as the book was published in the UK – Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale was the first winner). It was established in 1987, and, like the Philip K. Dick, is a single-category award. Read more at

2016 Nominees:


Sunburst Awards 

sunburstawardCanada’s own award for “excellence in Canadian Literature of the fantastic,”
this is a juried award for speculative fiction in 3 categories: adult, young adult, and short stories. It has been distributed since 2001. Find out more at

2016 Shortlist Nominees for Adult Fiction:


I know this list of awards is woefully incomplete, so for a great run-down of more of the sf/fan/horror awards out there, check out

Any ideas for 2017’s nominees yet?

– Kat

Backyard Bears & Other Outdoor Musings

With multiple local bear incidents in the last week and my inclination for spending my spare time outside, in or around the woods, I’ve been thinking about living in such close proximity to wildlife as we do North Van, and what that means in terms of ensuring both their and our well-being. I’ve also been evaluating my outdoorsy know-how (particularly in regards to bear encounters!) and have decided that I could definitely use a refresher course. So if you’d like to brush up your wildlife and wilderness safety knowledge with me, here’s what I’ll be reading!

Co-existing With Our Neighbours…
livingwithbears bearsinbackyard livingwithwildlife   urbanbestiary
These titles each offer a look at living in close quarters with our furry (or feathered… or scaly) neighbours. Linda Masterson’s Living with Bears Handbook (on order) is now in its 2nd edition, and offers practical solutions to avoid conflicts with backyard bears. Edward R. Ricciuti’s Bears in the Backyard (on order) follows a similar vein for other animals – including coyotes and cougars – as well as bears,with a great mix of stories, research, and advice.

Russel Link’s Living with Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest (on order) covers a wide variety of backyard visitors – mammals, birds, and reptiles – specific to our region, discussing both how to identify them and live harmoniously with them. Lyanda Lynn Haupt’s The Urban Bestiary is a more philosophical title, exploring the science, myth, and stories of common urban critters using a through a bestiary-like format.

In Defense (and Celebration!) of Bears…
grizzlymanifesto bearspirit
For most of us, bears inspire equal parts fear and awe, and these two titles do an excellent job exploring that. In The Grizzly Manifesto, journalist and conservationist Jeff Gailus explores the politics of Grizzly population management in both the US and Canada, and is a an eye-opening wake-up call. Bear: Spirit of the Wild is a bear photography collection from National Geographic, and (as you’d expect) is filled with powerful, spectacular shots of polars, grizzlies, black, and spirit bears from photographer Paul Nicklen’s journeys in the Canadan, Alaskan, and Norwegian wilderness.

Outdoor Safety…
ultimatebackcountry outdoorsafety bearaware
For those of you who spend time hiking and backpacking,  here are a few titles specific to outdoor adventure. Aram von Benedikt’s Ultimate backcountry Survival Manual is a recent release (May 2016), covering a wide array of backpacking gear, skills, and survival situations – including animal encounters – in detail.  BC Author Mike Nash’s Outdoor Safety & Survival covers all of the essentials, including gear, navigation, wildlife encounters, first aid, and other emergency situations (personally, I love the cover). Alternately, if you’re looking for something more focused, Bill Schneider’s Bear Aware (on order) is – in Falcon Guide style – a succinct, “quick reference bear country survival guide.”

New Outdoor Adventure Books…
bravingit becomingwild
Or, if you prefer your outdoor adventure by proxy, try one of these recent titles. Braving It by James Campbell is a story of a father and daughter’s adventures in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, as well as an exploration of a father-daughter relationship and a child’s coming-of-age.  In Nikki van Schyndel’s Becoming Wild, she recounts her experiences living self-sufficiently for 18 months in coastal BC’s wilderness. I’m most intrigued by her bringing a cat along…? My cats wouldn’t last a minute – they’re more afraid of bugs and spiders than I am.
Wishing you happy and safe outdoors-ings, whether in person or by armchair!
– Kat






Funny Women


I love comedy. Whether via online videos, podcasts, or attending weekly har-har rituals like Vancouver’s Sunday Service , I’m an addict for a good laugh. In particular however, I’m hooked on funny women.

I may be biased, but there is something deeply refreshing about hearing a brilliant modern woman speak frankly about all the experiences, taboos, and general double standards that come packaged with a set of ovaries with refreshing,  hilarious and brutal candidness. Thankfully, these days  it seems as though female comedians are getting more of the attention and praise they deserve, and there is therefore a plethora of performers and formats to choose from.

Here I present a list of a few funny women and their funny books. Most are available from the library in print, but as the resident audio-book evangelist allow me to spread the gospel and sing it from the hills—it is one thing to watch one of your favorite comedians on YouTube, but to spend hours listening to them reading their own memoirs is a whole other experience. Not only do you get a chance to hear the author perform impressions, crack-up at their own jokes, or sometimes tear up over an old memory, many authors insert little aside commentaries for the exclusive pleasure of audio listeners.


The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer amyschumer

Unless you’ve been living under a pop-culture rock for the past few years, then you have also had the pleasure of hearing or seeing Amy Schumer perform. Aside from being a critically-praised stand-up comedian, she wrote and starred in last year’s film Trainwreck, and has been featured on numerous TV shows and films. Her new book shares hilarious, and often touching stories from her life in her characteristic unflinchingly candid style.

Not sold yet? Check out this hilarious excerpt from Vogue magazine.  

Not That Kind of Girl; A Young Woman Tell You What She’s “Learned” by Lena Dunham  dunham

Lena Dunham is one of those young women who are so accomplished at such a young age that you almost want to hate them…… except that her special brand of self-defecating humour and brazen attitude make it extremely hard to do so. In her first memoir, Dunham recounts stories from her childhood, sex life, and experiences navigating the milieu of everything in between.



I’m Just a Person  by Tig Notaro

I’ve already talked about this one before, but I really really love Tig Notaro so here we go again.  Her new book talks about a span of only four months in 2012 where Notaro was hospitalized for a debilitating intestinal disease called C. diff, her mother unexpectedly died, she went through a breakup, and then she was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer. She then took her grief onstage to become one of the most intimate, and startling stand-ups out there today. For more information on her story, and the way her comedy has changed since that fateful period of time, I highly recommend checking out this great interview she recently gave with The Guardian. 

Bossypants by Tina Fey bossypants

What I liked most about listening to Bossypants (aside from her hilarious bonus audio commentary) was learning  more about her process breaking into the comedy scene in the 90’s and 2000’s, working at SNL, and the struggles she encountered as a woman in the field. Fey is classy, clever and funny as hell. If you haven’t read this one yet, I highly recommend it.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

kaling Whenever I read Kaling’s work I feel as though I’m having a glass of wine with an old friend and giggling over the absurdities of our lives. Admittedly I haven’t had the chance to read Kaling’s newest book, however I loved her first collection of essays Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? , and the audio version of Why Not Me? features guest appearances by other Office legends like B.J. Novak–so I have faith.



Honorable Mentions:

Yes Please! By Amy Poehler 

The Bedwetter;  Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee by Sarah Silverman

You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein

Seriously–I’m Kidding by Ellen Degeneres

Are You There Vodka? It’s me, Chelsea. By Chelsea Handler


-Mikale Fenton


You and I are Going to Live Forever…

This week my Facebook feed was ablaze with findings from research done by Yale University suggesting that book lovers live longer (sometimes, not always, accompanied by YouTube clips of Oasis singing “Live Forever“).  In the interest of living a long long long long life, I decided to do some ‘science’ of my own.  If reading books makes you live longer, which book on my TBR pile would boost a readers’ longevity most?  Here’s how things panned out:

LiveForever1The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector

This re-issued classic measures in at a paltry number — so small it barely registers on my tape measure unless I squint.  It does, however, pack a big wallop: a dense novella about a poor girl in Rio de Janeiro.

LiveForever3A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel

More promising is Mantel’s A Place of Greater Safety — a 872-page door stopper that tackles the French Revolution.  It shadows three men Robespierre, Desmoulins, and Danton, from their childhood, and charts the rise of the Reign of Terror.  As a longtime fan of A Tale of Two Cities, I feel like this book would make a good entry into Mantel’s fiction while adding years to your life.

longevityThe Dying Grass by William T. Vollmann

Now we’re getting places.  Vollmann’s 1300+ page account of the Nez Perce War (not to be confused with pince nez) is sure to aid readers questing for immortality.  It also offers an immersive look at the conflict between Native Americans and European colonials.  Washington Post called it,”the reading experience of a lifetime.”

The Familiar LiveForever4by Mark Danielewski

When the books are best measured vertically, you know you are on the right track.  Danielewski’s The Familiar is not only HUGE, it’s a wildly experimental novel that centres around a 12-year old epileptic girl named Xanther.

What can I say? I like big books! Which big books will you use to read yourself into old age?


Brazilian Fiction

Rio_2016_logo.svgIt’s almost impossible to believe that we are into August already — a month that heralds the arrival of the Summer Olympics (aka Rio 2016).  Whenever the Olympics are held, the book lover in me wants to get a literary taste of the host country.  Here are some works of contemporary Brazilian fiction you might enjoy:

perfectdaysPerfect Days by Raphael Montes

Teo is a loner who identifies more with his med school cadaver than he does with other humans — until he meets Clarice.  When Clarice rejects him, Teo kidnaps her and takes her on a road trip around Brazil.  Montes has been hailed as the Brazilian Stephen King.

crowblueCrow Blue by Adriana Lisboa

After her mother’s death, thirteen year old Vanja moves from Rio to Colorado to search for her biological father.  Lisboa does an exemplary job of “[documenting] the experiences of travel and interacting with other cultures, […] as a means to explore the attachment to her home country and understand its history and politics.”

silenceThe Silence of the Rain by L.A. Garcia-Roza

This police procedural is the first in a series that’s a bestseller in Brazil.  Inspector Espinosa is called in to investigate the murder-robbery of Roberto Carvalho, a businessman with million dollar life insurance policy, a missing secretary and a very attractive wife…

beardBlood-Drenched Beard by Daniel Galera

Galera’s novel whisks readers off to Garopaba in southern Brazil, where an unnamed young man arrives to start a new life and solve the decades old mystery of his grandfather’s murder.


Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelhoeleven

Maria is a young prostitute with a dim view of romantic love who goes of a voyage of self discovery as she travels from Rio to Geneva.  Coelho is internationally bestselling author of The Alchemist. 

Feliz leitura!



Celebrating British Columbia Books!

quadraIn honor of Monday’s upcoming BC day, we thought it was high time to highlight a few of our province’s literary treasures.  British Columbia is blessed to have a plethora of literary talent, many of whom root their stories in the places and regions they know best: the vast and varied British Columbia landscape. Below is a collection of both contemporary and classic BC-saturated books to keep you company while enjoying the beautiful long weekend ahead!

Happy reading!

New Arrivals

A Taste of Haida Gwaii: Food Gathering and Feasting at the Edge of the World by Susan Musgrave  tastehaida

This is a beaaaaautiful, hilarious, and fascinating collection of photographs, stories, and recipes that reflect BC’s wild West Coast. The first time I picked this book up at the library I knew that one round of check-outs was not going to be enough so I immediately purchased my own copy.

As proprietor of Copper Beech House, an infamous Haida Gwaii bed and breakfast,  writer and poet Susan Musgrave unveils her first cookbook which balances humour and wit to illuminate cooking and living on Haida Gwaii to life with stories gathered over decades.


The Spawning Grounds by Gail Anderson-Dargatz spawninggrounds

Best known for her gorgeous bestselling novel, The Cure for Death by Lightning and , A Recipe for Bees, Salmon Arm’s very own Gail Anderson-Dargatz has a new novel coming out this fall examines the cultural, and physical geography of the central B.C.’s Thompson-Shuswap region.



Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeline Thien 

As mentioned by Patricia in her last post, Vancouver born Madeline Thein’s newest book is already generating quite a bit of critical attention and was recently nominated for the Man Booker Prize Longlist is an international saga which stretches from 1940’s China to present-day Vancouver.


 Bit Rot by Douglas Coupland bitrot

From Coal Harbour’s “Digital Orca”, to City of Glassa literary and visual ode to our fair city, Douglas Coupland is an undeniable Vancouver icon. In his newest book, Bit Rot Coupland mixes short fiction  with essays to explore the ways humanity tries to make sense of our shifting consciousness.  (From the publisher)

Classic Reads

curveoftimeThe Curve of Time by Wylie Blanchet

Wylie Blanchet is a legend, and The Curve of Time is a testament to her bravery and independent spirit. Following the death of her husband, she explored BC’s often rugged a central coast alone with her five children summer after summer in the 1920’s and 1930’s.  Her stories are incredible, albeit at times a little problematic when read from the perspective of a modern reader. That being said, if you haven’t already done so, I really can’t recommend this book enough. Did I mention that she literally died at her type writer? This woman, I tell ya.


Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson  monkeybeach

A true BC classic, since it’s orginal publication, Monkey Beach has become a fortified piece of the BC literary cannon. “Set in the Kitimaat area, Monkey Beach is a truly beautiful novel filled with details of Haisla culture and wildlife surrounding Kitimaat. It “combines both joy and tragedy in a harrowing yet restrained story of grief and survival, and of a family on the edge of heartbreak” (from the publisher).


goldenspruceThe Golden Spruce by John Valliant

What started as a feature article for The New Yorker soon evolved into this epic examination of the tragic loss of one of British Columbia’s most infamous natural wonders, the mysterious disappearance of the man who destroyed it, and a look into life on Haida Gwaii and the global forces which shape it. If you haven’t read this book, do it. Valliant is a master storyteller. He successfully lures readers in with compelling storytelling and pushes them to consider their own complicity in a modern world that often depends on the destruction of nature for survival.


Enjoy yourself out there this weekend!


Man Booker Prize Longlist 2016

As fun as it was to predict the longlist for this year’s Man Booker Prize, I did an utterly terrible job of it.  Zero of my thirteen predictions made the actual longlist (which fills me with optimism that I’ll be able to do better next year).  Without further ado, here are the nominees:

From Canada

thienI couldn’t be more excited to see Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien on the longlist.  It’s an intergenerational saga that stretches from present day Vancouver back to 1940s China.  The Globe and Mail raves that this novel “will cement Madeleine Thien as one of Canada’s most talented novelists”, and I can’t wait to read it.

The other Canadian nominee we share with the UK.  David Szalay’s novel in stories All That Man Is gives us glimpses into the lives of nine males at various stages of their lives.

From the US

selloutThe US has a strong presence on the longlist with five nominees:  The Sellout by Paul Beatty, a laugh out loud satire of race in America; acclaimed short story writer David Means’ Hystopiaan alternate history novel-within-a-novel;  Ottessa Moshfegh’s Eileen, which the Guardian called “a courageous, masterful evocation of physical and psychological squalor”;  Work Like Any Other by Virginia Reeves, a debut novel set to be published in Canada in January 2017, and Elizabeth Strout’s acclaimed My Name Is Lucy Barton.

From the UK

northwaterThere are also five contenders from the UK:  A.L. Kennedy for Serious Sweet, a love story that will be published in Canada in October 2016; Deborah Levy for Hot Milk, the story of a mother and daughter who travel to Spain in search of a cure for the mother’s illness; Graeme Macrae Burnet’s His Bloody Project, a historical courtroom drama set in Scotland that will be available in Canada in March 2017 (and looks amazing!); Ian McGuire’s The North Water, a tale about a 19th century Arctic whaling expedition; and The Many by Wyl Menmuir, a haunting novel about the effect a newcomer has on a small fishing village.

From South Africa/Australia

coetzeeThe Schooldays of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee

This sequel to The Childhood of Jesus will be published in Canada in October 2016.  If Coetzee wins the Booker this year, he’ll be the first person to ever win the award three times.  His previous wins are for The Life and Times of Michael K and Disgrace. 

Anyone want to predict the shortlist*?  Odds are your predictions will best mine.


*The shortlist will be announced on September 13, 2016. The winner will be announced on October 25, 2016. (Go, Madeleine Thien, go!)