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 http://www.thehugoawards.org/ 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 http://www.sfwa.org/ 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: http://horror.org/awards/stokers.htm

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 http://www.philipkdickaward.org/ 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 http://www.worldfantasy.org/

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 https://www.clarkeaward.com/

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 http://www.sunburstaward.org/

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 http://www.locusmag.com/SFAwards/

Any ideas for 2017’s nominees yet?

– Kat

Booker Prize Longlist Predictions 2016

The Booker Prize Longlist (aka The Booker’s Dozen) is out tomorrow.  It’s one of the literary highlights of the year.  To be nominated a book must be published in the UK between October 1, 2015 and September 30, 2016, and have been originally published in English.  That’s a pretty wide open field (as you can see from this Goodreads list of eligible nominees). So who will make the cut?  Here are my predictions:

Which books would make your dream longlist?  Tune in tomorrow to find details of the actual longlist.



Meet our new Community Librarian

Name: Mikale Fenton

Mikale sailing in Clayoquot Sound while enjoying a good book

Mikale sailing in Clayoquot Sound while enjoying a good book

Job Title:  Community Librarian

Best book I have read this year: This is a tough one! I think that I’d have to say Rachel Cusk’s “The Outline”. At its core it’s about a woman who travels to Greece to teach a writing course, and the mostly one-sided conversations she has with the people she encounters along the way. While it may not sound like much, the novel is written with such delicate precision that through each fascinating conversation Cusk explores philosophical questions and universal themes surrounding relationships, memory and interpretation. I’ve heard mixed reviews for this book, but personally I was devastated when it was over.

On a side note, although I tend to gravitate mainly towards literary fiction I’m also a complete junkie for dystopic fantasy and thoroughly enjoyed Emily St. John Mandel’s “Station Eleven”, a quiet and dark dystopic tale set in the familiar Great Lakes landscape. Highly recommended to anyone looking for a more mature entry into the apocalypse genre.

Rachel Cusk's Outline

Rachel Cusk’s “The Outline”


I will read any book by: John Valliant, Joan Didion, Michael Ondaatje, Joseph Boyden, John Steinbeck, & Haruki Murakami.

Best place to curl up with a book on a rainy day: Currently my favorite reading nook is in my new apartment on the couch nestled in with the radio, my house cat and an endless supply of licorice spice tea!

Best place to lounge with a book in the sun: I spend a lot of time camping and hiking on the North Shore mountains and on the west coast of Vancouver Island where I always make sure to bring my book along. That being said, I think some of my most memorable and sureal reading sessions have been atop of a BC ferries sundeck battling with cross winds while keeping an eye out for marine life.

A book I know I should read, but haven’t: Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. I’ve had it on my nightstand for longer than I’d care to admit, but I always seem to come up with an excuse to read something else. The shame…. the shame…

The book I push on all my friends because it is soooooooo good: A good friend recently referred to me as an “audiobook evangelist” after listening to me preach the same tired sermon about the library’s incredible collection of downloadable e-audiobooks and how to find the goodies. Like anyone, I have a hard time finding as much time as I’d like to read, however as an avid runner and cyclist  audiobooks are my go-to. Top recommendations: the audiobook version of “World War Z” is enough to make anyone an audio convert. As an “oral history” told from the perspectives of a dozen Zombie apocalypse survivors (just bear with me), this audiobook takes advantage of its format by employing dozens of A-list actors to narrate each chapter with their own unique voice and dialect. Trust me and skip the terribly-adapted movie, all you need are headphones to enjoy this story.

For classics, one of my favourite books of all time is “East of Eden” by John Steinbeck. I feel like this book is as close to perfection as a novel could possibly be. It’s a beautifully-written, sprawling epic about three generations of two families in California’s Salinas Valley who inadvertently re-enact the story of Cain and Abel.

Where you can find me: When not out in the community, I spend my Fridays and Saturdays helping library customers choose their next read at on the Reader’s Advisory desk and the 3rd floor Info desk here at NVCL.

I love to talk books and would love to hear from you. Tweet me at @mikalefenton and tell me what you’re reading!


Christmas Gift Suggestions: Cookbooks

A beautiful cookbook makes a terrific gift. Who doesn’t love to leaf through the options and look at the photos of creative and lovely meals? Here are my top picks from 2015.

PioneerWomanDinnerThe Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime, by Ree Drummond

Blogger Ree Drummond, who writes about her life on a ranch, has knocked it out of the park (again) with her new cookbook. This one focuses on comfort food dinners, and is great for cooks at all levels. It ranges from super-quick meals, to pasta, sides, and make-ahead freezer items. Lots of pictures show the way, and the text includes the family stories behind the food. A terrific gift for any cook.

The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook, by America’s Test KitchenCompleteVegetarian

Eat your vegetables! This practical and comprehensive cookbook produced by America’s Test Kitchen is wide-ranging and really useful. Icons are used throughout the book to indicate if the recipe is gluten-free, vegan, etc., and there are tons of colour photos to illustrate key steps and tricky techniques. Put a bow on this one for the vegetarians on your Christmas list (while you scarf down another helping of turkey).

GeniusRecipesFood52 Genius Recipes, by Kristen Miglore

Not for the beginner, this cookbook is a compilation of favourite recipes that the author (a food blogger on Food52) considers game-changers. That is, they involve new techniques, use an ingredient in a new way, or debunk a kitchen myth. Beautifully illustrated, this book will make a great gift for the dedicated foodie on your list.

Deliciously Ella, by Ella WoodwardDeliciouslyElla

Popular blogger, Ella Woodward, was bed-ridden and in chronic pain. When conventional medicine failed her, she tried a change in diet – and has been blogging about plant-based, gluten-free cooking ever since. Sweet-potato brownies anyone? Roasted butternut squash risotto? This is the perfect gift for the health-conscious and for people interested in going gluten-free.

VeganRichaVegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen, by Richa Hingle

Who could resist a recipe book containing items like Mango Curry Tofu and Avocado Naan? Richa Hingle delivers the secrets of Indian spices and cooking, and provides workflow tips to incorporate modern appliances and techniques. Plus it’s vegan and has many gluten-free options. An ideal gift for the health-focused and adventurous cooks on your list.

You’re running out of time. Give the gift of yum.

Christmas Gift Suggestions: Humour

The long nights and short days at this time of year can lead to a certain grouchiness, Christmas notwithstanding. For those grumps on your Christmas list needing a little lightening up, here are some great Humour titles

WhyNotMeWhy Not Me?, by Mindy Kaling

Kaling, an American actress known for her roles as Kelly on The Office and her show The Mindy Project, here delivers a series of essays with titles like “How to Look Spectacular,” “Soup Snakes,” and “Unlikely Leading Lady.” Her trademark anxieties, observations on glamour, and 4 a.m. worries are the perfect antidote for a busy and stressful holiday season.

Modern Romance, by Aziz Ansari and Eric KlinenbergModernRomance

Most comedians who author books, write memoirs. Not Aziz Ansari. In this book he partners up with Sociologist Eric Klinenberg and they tackle the subject of, well, modern romance. The resulting research project is by turns hilarious and surprising, and it’s unlike anything else on the shelves this season. A great gift for the singletons on your list, as well as anyone given to rolling their eyes at modern foibles.

FuriouslyHappyFuriously Happy, by Jenny Lawson

A funny, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? Lawson goes there in this highly amusing memoir about her lifelong battle with mental illness – except that it’s really more about embracing life and joy in outrageous ways. Odd, sardonic, and fun, this one would make a great gift for anyone needing a little levity.

SevenGoodYearsThe Seven Good Years, by Etgar Keret

Accomplished Israeli author Etgar Keret covers a seven year stretch between the birth of his son and the death of his father in this entertaining and terrific memoir. The text is divided into humorous little episodes that reveal much about human stupidity, birth, death, and children’s devious imaginations. Wrap this one up for anyone on your list.

And for the more plugged-in set, here are a few humorous titles by Internet personalities: bloggers, Youtubers, etc.:

YoureNeverWeirdYou’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost), by Felicia Day

“Home-schooled for hippie reasons,” Day dishes on her misadventures in Hollywood and on being an Internet star.

Self Help, by Miranda SingsSelfHelp

Youtuber Miranda Sings provides singularly unhelpful and sassy advice on life. Very loopy.

YouDeserveDrinkYou Deserve a Drink, by Mamrie Hart

A cocktail recipe accompanies each of these hilarious and boozy adventures.

Happy shopping!

Michael’s Top Ten Reads of 2015

The year is winding down and it has been fun to look back at all the great books of 2015. Here are my top ten:

ShedThatFedThe Shed that Fed a Million Children, by Magnus MacFarlane Barrow

Best for fans of: Inspiring stories about individuals making a difference in their world, eg. Little Princes by Conor Grennan

What’s the appeal? A compelling narrative with an unlikely hero that shows what is possible in helping the developing world

The Reason You Walk, by Wab KinewReasonYouWalkcover

Best for fans of: Father-son relationship narratives and thought-provoking First Nations material – eg. Up Ghost River, by Edmund Metatawabin

What’s the appeal? A moving and hopeful story about a well-known aboriginal Canadian and his journey to healing

FallenFallen: A Trauma, a Marriage, and the Transformative Power of Music, by Kara Stanley

Best for fans of: Terrific writing and engaging page-turners about love, recovery, and brain science – eg. My Stroke of Insight, by Jill Bolte Taylor; The Brain’s Way of Healing, by Norman Doidge

What’s the appeal? Norman Doidge’s books have put neuroplasticity on the cultural radar. This book gives us the personal journey of the author’s husband and his slow recovery from a traumatic brain injury. Plus it’s by a local (Sunshine Coast) author

Becoming Nicole, by Amy Ellis NuttBecomingNicole

Best for fans of: Inspiring stories about love, family, and achieving identity – eg. She’s Not There, by Jennifer Finney Boylan

What’s the appeal? This is a remarkable biography that offers insight into the life of a young trans girl, and the impact her circumstances have on her twin brother and other family members

StolenSistersStolen Sisters, by Emmanuelle Walter, Translated by Susan Ouriou and Christelle Morelli

Best for fans of: Social justice narratives and background material for current events – eg Missoula, by Joh Krakauer

What’s the appeal? I’m not sure “appeal” is the right word here. The missing and murdered indigenous women of Canada are (finally) much in the news. This sobering work of investigative journalism puts a human face on the victims

Beyond the Call, by Lee Trimble with Jeremy DronfieldBeyondTheCall

Best for fans of: World War II histories, Cold War relations, and highly personal biographies/memoirs of extreme circumstances – eg. And No Birds Sang, by Farley Mowat

What’s the appeal? Covers a little known aspect of the Second World War, and reads like a novel. Also illustrates the personal costs paid by military personnel put into harms way

OnTheMoveOn the Move: A Life, by Oliver Sacks

Best for fans of: Honest memoirs that reveal surprising aspects of the subjects’ lives. Also, the humanistic approach to medicine – eg. Awakenings, by Oliver Sacks

What’s the appeal? Sacks refusal to treat his neurology patients as a bag of symptoms has long been an inspiration. Here is the story of his life, told by the man himself

438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea, by Jonathan Franklin438Days

Best for fans of: Epic true accounts of stamina, self-reliance, and survival – eg. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

What’s the appeal? This is a true version of Life of Pi. A storm knocked out the outboard motor of a fishing boat that then drifted 9,000 miles in fourteen months – an astonishing story of Macgyver solutions and strategies to maintain sanity

InRealLifeIn Real Life: My Journey to a Pixelated World, by Joey Graceffa

Best for fans of: Youthful exuberant writing focused on the online experience – eg. Binge, by Tyler Oakley

What’s the appeal? Youtube celeb Graceffa discloses the difficulties he faced as a young gay man. Directed to the young adult reader, this uplifting memoir provides insight into the birth of Youtube culture

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear, by Lindsay Mattick, illustrated by Sophie BlackallFindingWinnie

Best for fans of: Picture books that deal with true events and subjects – eg. Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla, by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by G. Brian Karas

What’s the appeal? Beautiful illustrations, and a compelling story about the original bear that inspired Winnie the Pooh. Great for parents who get asked to re-read the same story over and over….

Happy Reading!

Patricia’s Top Ten Reads of 2015

Sigh. I love pouring over the end of year book lists and seeing the full range of what’s out there for us to read and savour. Without further ado, here’s my humble offering of the year’s best reads:

crookedheartCrooked Heart* by Lissa Evans

Best for fans of: Quirky characters, dark comedy, fiction set in WWII

What’s the appeal? Evans draws wonderfully full characters.  I loved Noel and Vee and Mattie and didn’t want their story to end.

George by Alex Ginogeorge

Best for: Reading aloud with your middle-grader, exploring new viewpoints

What’s the appeal? George is a girl who was born a boy and is determined not to let her sex get in the way of her dream of playing the lead role in the class production of Charlotte’s Web.

watchmanGo Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Best for: Fans of To Kill a Mockingbird who can stand to have their ideas shattered

What’s the appeal?  I found Watchman a very tough book to read because it forced me to question how I could ever have been utterly convinced that a young girl be a completely reliable narrator.

nestThe Nest by Kenneth Oppel

Best for:  Staying up all night reading, fans of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline

What’s the appeal?  It’s rare to find a horror novel that’s suitable for children and adults, but Oppel strikes a fine balance, creating a fine-tuned sense of anxiety and absurdity.

outlineOutline by Rachel Cusk

Best for:  Fans of literary fiction, readers who appreciate when authors play with narrative form

What’s the appeal?  The novel is told in ten conversations each of which help us sketch out the narrator’s story.  If the concept doesn’t grab you, it’s worth reading for the writing alone.

PurityPurity by Jonathan Franzen

Best for:  Someone in the mood for a sprawling read, readers of Thomas Pynchon

What’s the appeal?  The Sunday Morning Herald said it best, “Franzen’s greatest strength remains his old-fashioned dedication to the slow time of the artform: its patiently constructed psychology, its slow accrual of event and subsequent resonance.”

rednoticeRed Notice by Bill Browder

Best for:  Those who like to read about lone individuals taking on political corruption and conspiracy

What’s the appeal?  I read this book because I didn’t know much about Sergei Magnitsky beyond the name. While Browder is difficult to relate to at first, how he has dealt with Magnitsky’s murder is exceptionally powerful. What a transformation to undergo.

shadowshaperShadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older

Best for: Fans of YA urban fantasy

What’s the appeal? The blurb promised a cross between The Mortal Instruments and Caribbean folklore, and that’s pretty much exactly what Older delivers. 

shamedSo You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

Best for: Someone looking for a quick, but informative read

What’s the appeal?  Ronson frames our modern day obsession with public shaming via social media in terms of the history of public shaming.  His writing is witty, yet not glib — Ronson fully admits his own complicity. 

symphonySymphony for the City of The Dead: Dmitry Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M. T. Anderson

Best for fans of: Narrative non-fiction, music history, Russian history

What’s the appeal?  It’s a brilliantly told tale of the survival and triumph of artistry amid political turmoil

What was your favourite read of 2015?  Sound off in the comments below.