Kat’s Picks

Kat’s Fall Picks 2017

September

provenanceProvenance, by Ann Leckie

Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch trilogy, which started with Ancillary Justice, was a breath of fresh air in sci-fi, and earned her Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and Arthur C. Clarke awards. This novel, set in the same universe as the Radch trilogy,  follows Ingray – a power-driven woman seeking to gain status by regaining artifacts priceless to her people, but who soon finds herself and her world embroiled in an interstellar conflict which threatens her plans and her future.

 

demigods Demi-Gods, by Eliza Robertson

This is a debut novel from a Canadian writer, complete with a British Columbia setting. It’s a coming of age novel which begins in 1950 and follows the then-9-year-old Willa through adolescence to adulthood. In 1950 she is introduced to her new step-brothers for the first time, and her relationship with the younger of the two – Patrick – becomes increasingly damaging, despite how seemingly drawn to him she is.  The blurb on the cover – “A little bit dark. A little bit weird” – sums it up well, as Robertson creates a wonderfully pervasive sense of menace and dread whenever Patrick appears.

 

thissideofsad This Side of Sad, by Karen Smythe

Karen Smythe has previously written on elegies and mourning in both non-fiction and short-story format. In this first novel she begins with the death of a man, although whether his death was suicide or an accident is a mystery.  After his death, his widow begins a period of self-inquiry, questioning both her identify and her own capacity for love. Also a large part of me wanting to read that is that I’m just intrigued by that cover…

 

October

thecoreThe Core, by Peter V. Brett

This is the title I’m most excited about for the Fall, as it finally wraps up one of my favourite current fantasy series, which started back in 2008 with The Warded Man.  The series’ main draws for me are the superb world building, the unique system of magic, and the excellent ensemble cast of characters, each of whom the story follows from childhood to adulthood, while realistically developing their skills and powers, as well as their motivations.  If you need something to tide you over in between Game of Thrones seasons and books then pick this one up – it now also has the benefit of now being complete in 5 books.

 

plagueofgiantsA Plague of Giants, by Kevin Hearne

The first few books of Kevin Hearne’s previous series, The Iron Druid Chronicles, are among my favourite funny sci-fi/fantasy books, but after 8 books I have to confess some fatigue with it so I’m excited that he has a new series coming out. Here Hearne has switched from urban to high fantasy, and rather than drawing from world mythologies he has done his own world-building here, complete with a really interesting system of magic and an excellent cast of characters.

 

Generations, by Flavia Bondigenerations

This graphic novel follows a young man, Matteo, as returns home from three years in Milan after falling out with his father over his relationship with a man. To avoid his father, Matteo stays with his grandmother, who already lives with his three aunts and cousin, while he decides what to do with his life. This is a moving, realistic story exploring acceptance, generation gaps, and coming-of-age, ultimately demonstrating that the events that pull a family together can be stronger than the issues that pull them apart.

 

November

artemisArtemis, by Andy Weir

Andy Weir’s debut novel, The Martian, was an excellent piece of straightforward, realistic yet highly approachable science-fiction. Artemis is much in the same vein, although this time his setting is an established colony on the moon. The protagonist here, Jazz Bashara, is a smuggler with ambitions mostly gaining wealth so she can afford more comfortable digs, but when she takes on a job with payday too good to refuse she finds herself embroiled in a struggle for control of Artemis itself.  This is a compulsively readable story with a very well-developed world, and Jazz herself makes for a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining narrator.  If you’re a fan of classic sci-fi and/or caper stories, check this one out.

Enjoy!
Kat

 

NVCL Reads: Number in the Title

To help with another one of our trickier categories in the #NVCLreads Canada 150 bingo contest, here are some selections you could use for the #NVCLreadsNumber slot!

15dogsFifteen Dogs, by Andre Alexis

In this 2015 Giller Prize winner, the gods Apollo and Hermes make a bet  in a bar:  Apollo claims that if they grant human consciousness to 15 dogs each and every one of them will be even more unhappy than humans are. If even one of the dogs dies happy then Hermes wins.  So of course you have to steel yourself for the fact that all these dogs are going to die, but it’s a brilliant, moving read and completely worth it. Just make sure you have some tissues handy!

This could alternately be used in the #NVCLreadsWinner category!

playeronePlayer One, by Douglas Coupland

In his 2010 CBC Massey Lectures acclaimed novelist and visual artist Douglas Coupland explores the modern crises of time, human identity, society, religion and macroeconomics and the afterlife in the form of a novel – a 5-hour story set in an airport cocktail lounge during a global disaster.*

 

numberofthings

A Number of Things, by Jane Urquhart

Ok, I know I’m obeying the letter of the law more than the spirit here, but technically I think this counts as it literally has “A Number” in its title, and for good measure it does have an actual number in the sub-title. (Ok, Patricia is rolling her eyes at me now, so moving on…). Anyway, I think this title was made for this contest – it was written by Urquhart in celebration of Canada’s 150, and in it she chooses 50 uniquely Canadian objects and tells their stories.

For Teens…

ruleof3The Rule of Thre3, by Eric Walters

The first of a trilogy about one suburban neighbourhood’s existence after a global blackout, which has shut down everything from cell phones to basic utilities to computer-chip dependent vehicles. As resources dwindle, crises mount, and chaos descends, sixteen-year-old Adam’s neighbourhood must band together for protection, and having a police captain for a mother and a retired government spy living next door suddenly become keys to survival.*

moonatnineMoon at Nine, by Deborah Ellis

From the award-winning author of Parvana’s Journey, this 2016 title is based on interviews with a young woman forced to flee Iran because of her sexual orientation. It follows fifteen-year-old Farrin who has grown up with secrets: ten years after the overthrow of the Shah, her aristocratic mother is still working against Iran’s conservative revolutionary government. But when Farrin befriends Sadira, the intriguing and outgoing new student at her school for gifted girls, her own new secret is even more dangerous. Because the girls discover their relationship is more than just a friendship—and in Iran, being gay is punishable by death.*

juvie3

The Juvie Three, by Gordon Korman

Gecko, Terence, and Ajay are serving time in juvenile detention centers until they get a second chance. Douglas Healy, a former juvenile delinquent himself, takes them into his halfway house, hoping to make a difference in their lives. One night there is a scuffle, and Healy is accidentally knocked unconscious. When he awakes in the hospital, he has no memory of them or of the halfway house. Afraid of being sent back to Juvie, the guys hatch a crazy scheme to continue on as if the group leader never left.*  Korman does an excellent job in this novel of balancing what could otherwise be weighty topics with his trademark humour and amusing antics.

 

 

And for the Tweens and Kids, 

sevenmagpiesThe Seven Magpies, by Monica Hughes (novel)

In somewhat of a departure for Hughes, who usually writes science fiction, this novel blends mystery, fantasy, Celtic mythology, and boarding school stories.  Set during World War II, Maureen Frazer’s father has been sent to the front, her mother is helping with the war effort, and Maureen is shipped off to the Logan Academy for Young Ladies, a remote but safe boarding school in Scotland. There she finds that the girls have a secret society, called the Seven Magpies. When Maureen herself falls under the spell of a strange standing stone, she begins to understand what’s making her schoolmates seem so strange and then she discovers what the real danger is. A magical story of what may happen when teenagers tamper with the ancient power of the Celts.*

 

myarctic123My Arctic 1, 2, 3, by Michael Kusugak (picture book)

Explore Michael Kusugak’s world of animals and adventure in the Arctic Circle! Discover counting and creatures, and learn who’s predator and who’s prey. Witness five Arctic foxes hunting six furry siksiks. Then watch seven fishermen catch eight Arctic char. Numbers explored include 1 to 10, 20, 100 and even 1,000,000 (millions of berries ripen in the fall). Each scene, rendered in Vladyana Krykorka’s breathtaking paintings, is awash in Arctic colors and includes the depicted number in English and Inuktitut.*

This could alternately be used in the #NVCLreadsFirstNations or #NVCLreadsArctic categories!

 

* Description from publisher

NVCL Reads: Colour in the Title

To help you with one of our trickier #NVCLreads Canada 150 Bingo contest categories, here are our picks for Canadian books with a colour in the title!

 

Through Black Spruce, by Joseph Boyden (2008)throughblackspruce

From internationally acclaimed author Joseph Boyden comes an astonishingly powerful novel of contemporary aboriginal life, full of the dangers and harsh beauty of both forest and city. When beautiful Suzanne Bird disappears, her sister Annie, a loner and hunter, is compelled to search for her, leaving behind their uncle Will, a man haunted by loss.While Annie travels from Toronto to New York, from modelling studios to A-list parties,Will encounters dire troubles at home. Both eventually come to painful discoveries about the inescapable ties of family. Through Black Spruce is an utterly unforgettable consideration of how we discover who we really are.*

As a Giller Prize winner, Through Black Spruce could alternately be used for #NVCLreadsWinner

 

blackberrysweetjuice

Black Berry, Sweet Juice, by Lawrence Hill (2001)

In Black Berry, Sweet Juice, Book of Negroes and The Illegal author Lawrence Hill movingly reveals his struggle to understand his own personal and racial identity. Raised by human rights activist parents in a predominantly white Ontario suburb, he is imbued with lingering memories and offers a unique perspective. In a satirical yet serious tone, Hill describes the ambiguity involved in searching for his identity – an especially complex and difficult journey in a country that prefers to see him as neither black nor white.*

 

orangefish

The Orange Fish, by Carol Shields (1989)

Emerging from these twelve beautifully articulated stories are portraits of men and women whose affairs and recoveries in life take us into worlds that are both new and yet unnervingly familiar. A smile of recognition and a shock of surprise await readers of these finely crafted stories. From the magical orange fish itself — enigmatic and without age — to holiday reunions; from the passions and pains of lovers and friends to the moving uncertainty of a Parisian vacation, this exquisite collection is bound to delight and enchant Carol Shields’ fans everywhere.*

bluebeardseggBluebeard’s Egg, by Margaret Atwood (1983)

In this acclaimed collection of twelve stories, Margaret Atwood probes the territory of childhood memories and the casual cruelty men and women inflict upon each other and themselves. She looks behind the familiar world of family summers at remote lakes, ordinary lives, and unexpected loves, and she unearths profound truths. A melancholy, teenage love is swept away by a Canadian hurricane, while a tired, middle-aged affection is rekindled by the spectacle of rare Jamaican birds; a potter tries to come to terms with the group of poets who so smother her that she is driven into the arms of her accountant; and, in the title story, the Bluebeard legend is retold as an ironic tale of marital deception.*

Bluebeard’s Egg could alternately be used as an #NVCLreadsMargaret

 

greengrassGreen Grass, Running Water, by Thomas King (1993)

Strong, Sassy women and hard-luck hardheaded men, all searching for the middle ground between Native American tradition and the modern world, perform an elaborate dance of approach and avoidance in this magical, rollicking tale by Cherokee author Thomas King. Alberta is a university professor who would like to trade her two boyfriends for a baby but no husband; Lionel is forty and still sells televisions for a patronizing boss; Eli and his log cabin stand in the way of a profitable dam project. These three—and others—are coming to the Blackfoot reservation for the Sun Dance and there they will encounter four Indian elders and their companion, the trickster Coyote—and nothing in the small town of Blossom will be the same again…*

Green Grass, Running Water could alternately be used for the #NVCLreadsFirstNations category

And for the Kids:

bluehippopotamusThe Blue Hippopotamus, by Phoebe Gilman (picture book)

A young hippo falls madly in love with an Egyptian princess. Desperate to be with her, the hippo asks a magician to change him into “something she could love.” The magician reveals that he’s unable turn a hippo into a human, but can turn him into a toy, and he grants the hippo the power to turn himself back into his real self whenever he chooses. The excited hippo accepts this offer, and becomes the princess’s new toy – but will this be enough?*

 

redisbestRed is Best, by Kathy Stinson (picture book)

First published in 1982, Red is Best is not just a Canadian classic, but an overall children’s classic about a child’s insistence that everything is better in red – stocking, mittens, jackets, cups, and most definitely boots.

 

silverwingSilverwing, by Kenneth Oppel (novel)

A relatively recent classic but a classic nonetheless, Silverwing is the story of Shade, a young Silverwing bat. He’s the runt of his colony, but he’s determined to prove himself on the long, dangerous winter migration to Hibernaculum, millions of wingbeats to the south. During a fierce storm, he loses the others and soon faces the most incredible journey of his young life.*

 

 

anneofgreengablesAnne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery (novel)

A list of books with colours in the title obviously wouldn’t be complete without this Canadian icon. Also, it was first published in 1908 so this classic Canadian book will be 100 next year! What better time to revisit it?

 

 

Happy (and colourful!) summer reading!
– Kat

 

* descriptions from the publisher

 

NVCL Reads: Science Fiction and Fantasy

First up in our reading recommendations for the Canada 150 #NVCLreads Bingo game (adult version) is the Science Fiction and Fantasy square, #NVCLreadsSciFi! The following is a mix of new(ish), classic, and personal favourites by our talented Canadian SF/FAN authors:

amongothers

Among Others, by Jo Walton (2011)

While Jo Walton is usually categorized as a fantasy writer, I wouldn’t hesitate to also recommend her to non SF/FAN readers as well because of her masterful prose and wonderfully realized characters.  This haunting (and Hugo award winning!) novel follows Mori, crippled and struggling to escape a troubled childhood and the tragic loss of her twin sister, killed in a confrontation with their mother who had been dabbling in dark magics.  But her attempts to build a new life for herself, including a cautious return to magic, bring her back to the attention of her mother and an inevitable confrontation.

If magic isn’t your thing you could try the more speculative My Real Children or, if philosophy is more your bag, her Thessaly trilogy and any of them will count towards the science fiction or fantasy square!

 

walkawayWalkaway, by Cory Doctorow (2017)

Doctorow’s latest is in the speculative fiction genre, and an interesting blend of utopia and dystopia.  Based in post-scarcity society where you can 3D-print any of the basic necessities of life including food and shelter, its premise begins with a young couple who simply choose to walk away from mainstream society and its out of control wealth and power gap and lack of jobs.  Away from society and occupying lands devastated by climate change they and those who join them discover one thing that the ultra-rich have not been able to achieve – a way to conquer death itself.

* could alternately be used for the #NVCLreadsEnvironment or #NVCLreadsDystopia

 

companytown

Company Town, by Madeline Ashby (2016)

Nominated in the 2017 Canada Reads contest (eventually won by Andre Alexis’ awesome Fifteen Dogs), Ashby’s biopunk novel takes place on a defunct, city-sized oil rig that was recently purchased by an uber-wealthy family company. Its main character, Hwa, is one of the few people in her community (the former oil rig) without any biotechnology enhancements, making her the ideal bodyguard for the young heir of the company. While at its basic its a murder investigation, it contains some excellent world-building, and Hwa is a fascinating, compelling character and the true strength of the book.

 

gardensofthemoon

Gardens of the Moon: The Malazan Book of the Fallen #1,
by Steven Erikson (1999)

Ok, now it’s time to admit I haven’t read one of the consistently ranked best Fantasy series of all time. This one’s been on my bucket list for ages, and if it’s on yours too then this is a great excuse to pick it up.  Gardens of the Moon kicks off a 10-volume fantasy epic that spans thousands of years and follows the struggle for power in the Malazan empire. It’s renowned for its world-building, huge cast of characters, and its sheer scale. So, epic fantasy at its most epic.

*coming in at 666 pages, this could alternately be used for the #NVCLreads400

 

Children of Earth and Sky, by Guy Gavriel Kay (2016)

childrenofearthandskyUsually categorized as “historical fantasy”, Kay’s novels are not really fantasy and are only quasi-historical (although they are meticulously researched, so the term “alternate history” might work better), so, here’s a good read for those of you who are not really fantasy readers, but need to fill that square! Kay’s latest is set in near-Renaissance Europe (specifically 16th c. Croatia) and follows the intertwining lives of a large cast of characters – among them a woman out for revenge, a spy, an artist,  a merchant’s son, and a boy training to become a soldier – against the backdrop of a looming war.

 

oryxandcrake

Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood (2004)

I’m not sure how one could responsibly write a post on Canadian science fiction and not mention Oryx and Crake and the Maddaddam Trilogy, so if you haven’t yet read it now’s the time. Science-fiction of the post-apocalyptic variety, this novel follows Sandman, who may be the last human left alive. Mourning his friend Crake and Oryx, the woman they both loved, he searches for answers in a world destroyed by genetic engineering run amok. While many people I know preferred the sequel – The Year of The Flood – to its predecessor, Oryx and Crake remains my favourite for its disturbing and unforgettable vision of the future.

*could alternately count for the #NVCLreadsDystopia or #NVCLreadsMargaret

 

Need more? Other Canadian Sci-Fi and Fantasy authors include Kelley Armstrong, R. Scott Bakker, Julie E. CzernedaWilliam Gibson, Tanya HuffRobert J. Sawyer, S.M. Stirling, Robert Charles Wilson

Happy reading and Happy 150th, Canada!
Kat

Kat’s 2017 Most Anticipated Reads

It’s apparently the year of the sequel, at least for my anticipated reads. But three of my current favourite series are wrapping up this year and I’m very, very excited about that. I didn’t even come close to finishing my 2016 TBR list, but since the whole point of a TBR list is to keep adding more to it, here we go!

January Releases:

bearandnightingale

The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden

One of the few on my list that’s not part of a series, Arden’s debut novel draws heavily from Russian folklore, and is perfect blend of mythology, history, and magic, with fully realized characters and an incredibly well-captured setting. If you liked Uprooted, definitely read this one next. It’s a perfect winter read, although its Medieval Northern Russia Winter setting means that warm blankets and tea while reading this one are a must.

bintihome Binti: Home, by Nnedi Okorafor

In this sequel to 2015’s Hugo and Nebula-award winning novella, Binti – who left home abruptly to attend an off-world university against her family’s wishes – now returns home with her unlikely friend Okwu, and humanity must truly face whether it’s possible for the two races to truly exist peacefully.

February:

conjuring A Conjuring of Light, by V.E. Schwab

This is the finale to Schwab’s brilliant trilogy (which includes A Darker Shade of Magic, and A Gathering of Shadows), where there are four separate worlds with four Londons. Each of the Londons have a different relationship with magic, but there is only one magician left who can travel between them. This chapter in the story promises to wrap up the trilogy in a pretty spectacular fashion, and I’m hoping we get to learn lots more about the fallen black London….

March:

collapsingempire The Collapsing Empire, by John Scalzi

I love John Scalzi, and not just for the twitter account he made for his kittens (@scamperbeasts), even though it’s adorable.  In his new book, humanity has gone to the stars and has colonizing many other planets, but only because of access to the Flow – a phenomenon that allows them to bypass faster-than-light travel (which doesn’t exist). But when it’s discovered that the Flow moves, and may soon cut humanity off from travel between its worlds, they must scramble to save their empire from collapse.

April:

wakinggods Waking Gods, by Sylvain Neuvel

This is the sequel to 2016’s Sleeping Giants, a sci-fi/conspiracy story of of a team of scientists and military personnel discovering and assembling a colossal robot, who’s parts were scattered all over the earth. The book was quickly optioned for a movie last year. In this follow-up it looks like the now-assembled robot has some company, and Earth may be facing invasion. If you like straight-forward sci-fi that still manages to balance plot and character development, this series is a great pick.

borneBorne, by Jeff VanderMeer

I never actually read VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy, but I heard so many good things about it that I’m going to try his new one. It’s dystopian/post-apocalyptic fiction about a world destroyed by bio-engineering run amok, and a scavenger who discovers a strange biotech creature which she immediately feels strong, inexplicable bond with.

June:

downamongthesticksDown Among the Sticks and Bones, by Seanan McGuire

This is the second book in McGuire’s Wayward Children series. The previous title, Every Heart a Doorway, was one of my favourite books from 2016, so I’m really excited for this one. It’s not really a direct sequel though; it follows the back-story of two of the most interesting characters from Every Heart, but promises to be much darker, as the world that sisters Jack and Jill found themselves was like a horror movie, filled with mad scientists, vampires, and death.

August:

wardedmanThe Core, by Peter V. Brett

This is the final installment of Brett’s Demon Cycle, which is so far one of my all-time favourite fantasy series. There’s no cover for this book yet, so I’ve posted the first book in the series – The Warded Man. In this last book – The Core – Arlen and Jardir travel down for the final face-off with the demons who have plagued (and decimated) humanity for so long. This series is exciting, fast-paced, featuring some great world-building and a really fascinating system of magic, so if you’re an “epic fantasy” fan I’d definitely recommend this one.

stoneskyThe Stone Sky, by N.K. Jemisin

The first in this trilogy – The Fifth Season – was brilliant, and the second opened up the world and characters even further, so I’m very excited for this concluding volume. In this last one, Essun’s daughter Nassun has fully come into her power, and now between the two they will either save or destroy the world.

 

 

September:

communication Communication Failure, by Joe Zieja

The first in this “Epic Failure” series, Mechanical Failure, was the funniest, most ridiculously silly book I’d read in a long time; while that can be a tricky thing to maintain in a series, I have high hopes for this one.  It’s a military sci-fi, which is not normally my favourite, but the snappy dialogue, ridiculous (but unfortunately not too far out of the range of realism…) characters, and unrelenting chaos and absurdity won me over and I can’t wait for more!

 

Of course I am continuing not to mention The Winds of Winter, The Doors of Stone, and The Thorne of Emberlain here because that’s asking way too much in a year already packed with sequelly goodness, but I can still keep my fingers crossed for at least an official publication date. What SF/FAN are you most looking forward to this year?

Happy Reading!
Kat

 

 

 

 

 

Kat’s Top Reads of 2016

My Top Reads list this year is admittedly a little short. While 2016 hasn’t been as bad a reading-year as it has been a year in general, I did get stuck on several books for way too long, and had more than a few misses from titles I’d had high hopes for. That being said, it’s definitely not all bad! I did find a few books that I really truly loved among those that I…. didn’t quite love as much.

arcadia Arcadia, by Iain Pears

I’m starting with my number 1 pick for the year, because it’s just that kind of year. This is an ambitious mix of sci-fi and fantasy, following 10 separate characters in 3 different timelines. It’s a little confusing and slow at first, but it’s completely amazing when all the pieces start to fit together (which they continue to do right up until the last few pages, making for an increasingly page-turning read). The book also has an app version, which allows you to put the whole story together in different ways. The plot is difficult to describe (and I don’t think the book blurbs do it justice), but it involves a lot of time travel, and explores the relationship between past and present, fact and fiction, in ways you would never expect.

everyheartEvery Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire

A close second on my 2016 favourites list, this novella is set in an unusual school that takes in children who at one point in their lives have discovered a doorway to another world. These worlds usually fit the children perfectly, but then they were somehow cast out and forced back into our world where they don’t fit anymore.  The story is lyrical and beautiful, and I adored the characters and the worlds they found, and then heartbreakingly lost. My only complaint was previously that it was too short, but fortunately there’s a sequel due out next year! This is a great pick for teens, or adults like me who are still convinced there’s a doorway to another world out there somewhere…

mechanicalfailureMechanical Failure, by Joe Zieja

This book finally allowed me to add a new title to my list of the best in ridiculously funny sci-fi & fantasy for the first time in years (it’s still a very small list. I’ll promise I’ll share when it’s bigger). In this story, Sergeant-turned-smuggler Wilson Rogers is forced to return to military service, only to find that the easy going, peacetime military of his younger days is a thing of the past, and things are about to go seriously, catastrophically wrong. It also features an ill-tempered robot whose programming won’t allow him to swear, and the phrases he comes up with to compensate earned me a lot of funny looks in the airport when I kept giggling. Another great pick for teens, and of course for very silly adults.

summerlongSummerlong, by Peter S. Beagle

A novel by the author of The Last Unicorn, this is a great pick for fans of magical realism. It features a vivid (and relatively local!) setting and characters who feel truly real and whose growth and are wholly believable, along with a bit of mythology and magic thrown into the mix. A short but beautiful and bittersweet read.

 

gatheringofshadowsA Gathering of Shadows, by V.E. Schwab

V.E. Schwab has had a great year between this title and her teen book This Savage Song (written as Victoria Schwab). This is the sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic, and it definitely lives up to the high standard set by its predecessor, with a fascinating world, interesting characters, and a fast paced plot. I particularly loved that we got to see so much more of Lila in this one. This is a great pick for series readers, as they won’t have long to wait for the final installment – A Conjuring of Light – which is due out in February.

 

infomocracy

Infomocracy, by Malka Older

In a year dominated by politics and elections, this title a timely read. In this quasi-utopian vision of the future, the world votes for a single government via a global system of micro-democracies. Keeping this system running is the Information, a global organization that controls and disseminates data in order to keep the electorate informed.  The plot of course centres around an election, but the strength and intrigue of this novel lies more in its political and informational world-building. It’s a fascinating read, full of big ideas that are worth exploring.

Well, I guess that makes this my top 6 for this year! Next year my reading resolution is to put down the book if it’s not keeping me up past my bedtime. While that might not be the healthiest approach for my sleep cycle, it should result in a healthier-sized best of list for 2017.

What were your favourites this year? Any sci-fi / fantasy you feel I’ve missed?

Happy holidays, and happy reading!
Kat

Kat’s Fall 2016 Picks

While I’m not quite ready to admit that Fall is actually on the horizon, I’m more than happy to start thinking about what I’ll read during the season. And I’m sure I’ll be ready for some serious reading time once this  foolish attempt to ride my bike up to Whistler is finished on Saturday. So here’s what I’ll be reading while I’m taking a break from my bicycle and letting my poor muscles recover!

September

survivingloganSurviving Logan, by Erik Bjarnason and Cathi Shaw

At 5,959m elevation, Mt. Logan is Canada’s highest peak. In 2005 North Shore Rescue put together a team of experienced mountaineers and search-and-rescue personnel to tackle the summit. The expedition started out with good weather, but it quickly took a dangerous downturn, trapping three members of the team on the mountain. This true story recounts their efforts to survive the storm as conditions turned from bad to worse, to near tragic. There are many great mountaineering books out there with amazing stories of survival, but I’m really looking forward to reading one featuring local figures.

summerlongSummerlong, by Peter S. Beagle

In his first novel since 1999, the author of the beloved The Last Unicorn tells the story of a longtime couple who take in a young waitress, who in turn begins to inspire development and change in the both of them. This book is being described as mythical fantasy, and even has a Pacific Northwest setting to boot, so this is probably the book I’m most looking forward to this season.

nutshellNutshell, by Ian McEwan

A tale of deceit and murder, told from the point of view of a 9-month-old unborn child. It’s a mix of psychological thriller, mystery comedy, and tragedy, but the narration alone sounds too odd and interesting to pass up!

 

 

October

numberofthingsA Number of Things, by Jane Urquhart

Inspired by Canada’s upcoming sesquicentennial (I did not know that was a word until now… 150 years, for those of you in the same boat as me), Canadian author Jane Urquhart tells the stories behind 50 Canadian objects, including a particular cherry tree, an artist’s shoe, a tea doll, and a royal cowcatcher. I had to look up what several of the items actually were (including the cow catcher… apparently my train-knowledge is lacking), so this promises to be an informative read made poetic by Urquhart’s always beautiful prose.

cyclistoutinthecoldThe Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold, by Tim Moore

Travel writer Tim Moore has previously attempted to cycle the Giro d’Italia route on a period bike while in a period costume, and the Tour de France route complete with the requisite cheating and excessive wine-drinking. Continuing to display a complete lack of self-preservation, he has most recently spent three months cycling the 9,000 km route of the old Iron Curtain on a two-geared East German shopping bike. Moore’s books are always worth a read, and are a great mix of travelogue, history, and amusement at someone else’s self-inflicted pain.

appetitesAppetites, by Anthony Bourdain

In chef and travel writer Anthony Bourdain’s latest, he offers a collection of his personal favourites, both from home and from his travelling years of sampling food from all over the world. It contains recipes that Bourdain thinks everyone should know how to cook,  but also promises to “terrify your guests”… apparently that’s “with your culinary efficiency”, but I’m choosing to take it out of context. Especially since the cover itself is a bit on the terrifying side.

crosstalkCrosstalk, by Connie Willis

In Crosstalk, Science Fiction writer Connie Willis takes social media and communication to an extreme with a near-future world where couples can actually get a procedure increase empathy between them. The procedure is designed to help with emotional connection and communication, because nothing could possibly go wrong with that, right?

 

November

fateofthetearlingThe Fate of the Tearling, by Erika Johansen

This is the conclusion of the Tearling Trilogy. Its first volume (The Queen of the Tearlingwas fairly standard fantasy, but in a surprising move the second volume (The Invasion of the Tearling) began crossing over into dystopian sci-fi, and after that I can’t wait to see how Johansen is going to tie it all together. But the real strength of this series has always been the wholly believable development of Kelsea’s character, from awkward, insecure teenager to strong monarch determined to save her people, so I would definitely recommend checking out the series – it’s unique, with a steady, engaging plot that gives equal weight to its characters and its action.

willfulchildWillful Child: The Wrath of Betty, by Steven Erikson

I’m always looking for new books to add to my funny sci-fi & fantasy list (which is still a work in progress), and I’m definitely on the Trekkie-spectrum, so I have high hopes for enjoyable silliness on this series. This is the sequel to 2015’s Willful Child, a spoof on the whole exploring the galaxy Star Trek type genre, which sold me with the tagline “Bravely going where they really shouldn’t”. I’ll be saving this one for a really rainy day when I need a laugh.

 

What are you reading this season? You know, when it arrives. Which definitely isn’t quite yet.

– Kat