Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Hugo Awards – 2017

Originally created in 1953, the Hugo Awards are among the most prestigious and beloved accolades for science fiction, fantasy, horror and related genres. Presented annually since 1955, they are voted on by members of the World Science Fiction Convention (“Worldcon”). The awards were presented at Worldcon 75, Helsinki, Finland, August 11, 2017.
Best Novel
The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin
In this sequel to the Hugo Award-winning novel The Fifth Season, the world known as Stillness is on the verge of collapse. This is the way the world ends . . . for the last time. The season of endings grows darker as civilization fades into the long cold night. Essun, once Damaya, once Syenite, now avenger, has found shelter, but not her daughter. Instead there is Alabaster Tenring, destroyer of the world, with a request. But if Essun does what he asks, it would seal the fate of the Stillness forever. Far away, her daughter Nassun is growing in power – and her choices will break the world. The book has complex characters, detailed world-building, and thought-provoking meditations on identity and human nature. This book is a must-read for science fiction/fantasy devotees.
The other SF Fantasy finalists are:
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers
Death’s End by Cixin Liu
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer
Best Graphic Novel
Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening by Marjorie Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda
“Set in an alternate world of art deco beauty and steampunk horror. Monstress tells the epic story of Maika Halfwolf, a teenage survivor of a cataclysmic ware between humans and their hated enemies, the Arcanics. In the face of oppression and terrible danger, Maika is both hunter and hunted, searching for answers about her mysterious past as those who seek to use her remain just one step behind . . . and all the while, the monster within begins to awaken.”
The other graphic story finalists are:
Paper Girls, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan
Saga, Volume 6 by Brian K. Vaughan
The Vision, Volume 1: Little Worse Than A Man by Tom King

by GW

Monday, August 28, 2017

After GAME OF THRONES, try...

Well, Game of Thrones has wrapped up another season. If you find yourself missing your favorite characters, why not see what other films their actors have starred in?

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Image result for pompeii posterMe Before You: Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen) leads this adaptation of the hit novel by JoJo Moyes.

Pompeii: Kit Harington - or Jon Snow on the show - stars in this fusion of swords-and-sandals epic and blockbuster disaster flick.

X-Men: Days of Future Past: Peter Dinklage, or Tyrion Lannister, plays antagonistic scientist Bolivar Trask, whose inventions serve as the catalyst for this time-traveling superhero adventure.

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Dredd: Lena Headey, or Cersei Lannister, plays drug lord Ma-Ma in this claustrophobic sci-fi action movie. Co-star Karl Urban is also no stranger to epic fantasy, having previously starred in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Image result for fate of the furious posterJohn Wick: Alfie Allen, who plays Theon Greyjoy on Game of Thrones, accidentally pulls an ex-hitman (Keanu Reeves) out of retirement in this stylized shoot-em-up.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Gwendoline Christie, who you know as Brienne of Tarth, plays the intimidating Captain Phasma in this entry to the Star Wars universe.

The Fate of the Furious: The eighth entry to the Fast and the Furious Franchise features Kristofer Hivju, who plays Tormund Giantsbane on the show. He plays the right hand man for antagonist Charlize Theron.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Quirky, Idiosyncratic, Odd, and Unconventional

I recently read and highly recommend the novel Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. This endearing novel is for those who like their characters a little quirky. Nearly 30-year-old Eleanor is friendless and lives a very predictable life, eating the same one-pot meal every day, wearing the same black pants and white blouse to work (she has multiples of the same outfit) and her only companion is vodka which she drinks only on the weekends. Her routines keep her safe, but slowly her carefully crafted world starts to crack. Simultaneously, she develops a crush on a musician from afar and is drawn into a friendship with Raymond, the new IT guy at work, and with Sammy, an older man whose life she and Raymond save. Without self-pity and deficient in nearly all social skills, Eleanor is unaware of her ability to charm and inspire those who want to help her and those who grow to care for her. Honeyman’s superb, heartbreaking, comical and irresistible novel creates a character so original that it’s hard to believe it’s a debut.
Here are a few more examples of other quirky, idiosyncratic or odd characters. I hope you find these characters as endearing as I do. Happy Reading!
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
A curmudgeon hides an awful personal loss beneath a cranky and short-tempered exterior while jarring with new neighbors, a lively family whose chattiness and habits lead to unexpected friendship.
The Rosie Project by Graeme C. Simsion
Don Tillman, a brilliant geneticist, thinks that having women fill out a six-page, double-sided questionnaire before a date is rational and reasonable. Rosie Jarman, an impulsive barmaid, thinks Don should loosen up and learn to live a little. Follow the unlikely pair in this laugh-out-loud, feel-good story of surprising joys, discovery and love.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
A middle-aged bookseller grieving his lost wife, an energetic publisher’s rep, and a charmingly intelligent abandoned child come together on a small island off the New England coast in this delightful novel of love and second chances.
Sara arrives in the small town of Broken Wheel to visit her pen pal Amy, only to learn Amy has just died. A story of how she brings the love of books and reading that she shared with Amy to the residents of Broken Wheel is just a wonderful read. Any book lover will enjoy Sara’s story and that of the friends she makes in Broken Wheel. 

by JM

Monday, August 21, 2017

After the Eclipse, Try...

If you viewed today's eclipse, but don't want to wait until 2024 for the next one, you might be interested in these films!

Image result for 2001 a space odyssey eclipse poster2001: A Space Odyssey: The opening shots of an eclipse remain some of the most iconic in science fiction. A science fiction film which moves from the pre-historic birth of intelligence toward the emergence of man as pure thought somewhere in the future.

The Right Stuff:  The story of how seven cocky pilots became the astronauts of Project Mercury and pioneered America's launch into the space race.

Image result for the right stuff posterApocalypto: An eclipse interrupts an execution, saving the protagonist of this thrilling adventure.

Little Shop of Horrors: In this musical, business booms at Mushnik's Flower Shop when an exotic potted plant called Audrey II arrives after a solar eclipse. People are rushing in to see it--and disappearing.

Ladyhawke: A total solar eclipse appears at the climax of this medieval adventure.

Image result for apocalypto posterPitch Black: Vin Diesel stars in this science fiction thriller. After their spaceship crashes on an abandoned world of three suns, a group of pilgrims encounters very aggressive creatures that can only live in darkness. Seems safe on a world of three suns, but a total solar eclipse is imminent...

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And don't miss our list of Stellar Reads, either! 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Stellar Reads

The upcoming solar eclipse is telling of the fascination that people have with the sun, space, and the planets beyond us, a topic that lots of great fiction centers on.  Here are a variety of great reads set in space or involving what life on the planets beyond us might be like.

Lightless by C. A. Higgins
Serving aboard the Ananke, an experimental military spacecraft launched by the ruthless organization that rules Earth and its solar system, computer scientist Althea has established an intense emotional bond--not with any of her crewmates, but with the ship's electronic systems, which speak more deeply to her analytical mind than human feelings do. But when a pair of fugitive terrorists gain access to the Ananke, Althea must draw upon her heart and soul for the strength to defend her beloved ship.
Nightfall by Isaac Asimov
Kalgash is a world on the edge of chaos, torn between religious fanaticism and scientific rationalism. Their civilization is threatened by Nightfall, the first sunset in over two thousand years.
Red Rising by Pierce Brown
Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children. But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago.
Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
When Captain Jim Holden's ice miner stumbles across a derelict, abandoned ship, he uncovers a secret that threatens to throw the entire system into war. Attacked by a stealth ship belonging to the Mars fleet, Holden must find a way to uncover the motives behind the attack, stop a war and find the truth behind a vast conspiracy that threatens the entire human race.
Coming Home by Jack McDevitt
An antiquities dealer travels to Earth to search for an artifact of the early space age and to search for an interstellar transport that vanished 11 years prior.

by LM

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The End of Summer Reading

Don’t want summer to end? Check out these hot reads as summer cools down.
In the tenements of old New York, a young Russian Jewish immigrant woman is taken in by an Italian family who sells ice. Through sheer persistence and strong will, she manages to build an ice cream empire. Lillian Dunkle is a complex character who will both make you cheer even as you are dismayed. Have ice cream on hand when you read this book! -- Marika Zemke for LibraryReads.
The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close
When Beth and Matt, an aspiring politician, move from NYC to DC, Beth initially hates it. But things start to turn around for her when they befriend another “transplant” couple, Ashleigh and Jimmy. Beth’s loyalty is tested when she is forced to admit to herself that Matt is just not quite as attractive, magnetic or charismatic as his rival-friend, Jimmy…..who harbors similar political aspirations.The Hopefuls is on point in its descriptions of young marriage, career ambition, and complicated friendships. 
The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell
Deep in the heart of London, in a lush communal square, as a festive garden party is taking place, a thirteen year-old girl lies unconscious and bloody in a hidden corner.
The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson
Set during the summer before the outbreak of World War I,follow the story of headstrong, independent Beatrice Nash and kind but stuffy surgeon-in-training Hugh Grange along with his formidable Aunt Agatha. 

by NM

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Time to Get Your Craft On!

Bandana-Rama by Judith Cressy is a colorful, beautifully illustrated beginning sewing book that is packed with ideas you will want to make. Take out your old bandanas or buy some new ones and create some amazing bandana items. This book includes 21 projects from start to finish with easy to follow pictures and directions. Projects include: a bandana belt, drawstring top, purse, decorative pillow, blouse, skirt and more. There is also a tutorial on techniques: from tying a knot to how to use a sewing machine. It may inspire you to design and create your own ideas from bandanas.

Two great books we used to develop ideas for projects to demonstrate our new sewing machines and sergers at our Maker-Faire were Megan Nicolay’s Generation T books. The T-shirt inspired projects Meghan has created are incredibly easy, inexpensive and anyone can make them. I highly recommend making some of these projects. Meghan Nicolay has a great website that has more T-shirt and craft ideas.  

Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform aT-shirt is Megan Nicolay’s first book and she has transformed the way we think about T-shirts. Her ideas are unique and inspirational. Megan's illustrations are easy to follow and easy to sew and you do not need a sewing machine. She encourages you to be your own designer and provides a template to help you design your own ideas. There are projects in this book for every person: tops, skirts, bags, pillows, hats and even a wedding dress. Think outside the box. T-shirts can be made into anything, literally.

Meghan as revolutionized the T-shirt. She has repurposed it, reinterpreted it and reinvented it. Now she explores new ways to slash a tee, scrunch a tee, and sew a tee with Generation T: Beyond Fashion. A collection of 120 projects for every occasion, it takes the humble yet ever-malleable tee in dozens of new directions. The rallying cry is: Don't buy; DIY. The result is hip, imaginative, crafty, and very green. There's a basic primer on techniques: knotting, sewing, braiding and lacing. Projects range from the simplest no-sew to intermediate, and all have easy-to-follow illustrations.

Girl With a Sewing Machine by Jenniffer Taylor
Create your own unique clothes to fit your personality and your shape. This stylish, instructive book from The Great British Sewing Bee’s Jenniffer Taylor shows you how to make and adapt your own clothes in a simple, no-fuss way. Using Jenniffer’s fun and imaginative ideas, this book will teach you how to get started transforming unloved items of clothing into new and exciting outfits; how to customize clothes with doilies, tassels, tie-dyeing and block printing; and finally how to measure yourself, create patterns and make clothes from scratch. The book is packed with all the tricks of the trade that Jenniffer has learned along her sewing journey. 

See Kate Sew by Kate Blocher
Create beautiful crafts for your home and everyone in it--no experience required! Learning how to sew has never been easier! In See Kate Sew, blogger Kate Blocher shows you how to make dozens of beginner-friendly projects with professional polish. From stylish pillows and home decor to adorable soft toys for kids and fashion-forward accessories, there is plenty to make and gift--or keep just for you! Detailed instructions and step-by-step illustrations help ensure your success, while sewing tutorials on everything from creating buttonholes to mitering quilt corners. Best of all, projects can be sewn together in 60 minutes or less. Sew great!

by EM