The winners of the 2010 Hugo Awards have been announced:

Best Novel: TIE: The City & The City, China Miéville (Del Rey; Macmillan UK); The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade)

Best Novella: “Palimpsest”, Charles Stross (Wireless; Ace, Orbit)

Best Novelette: “The Island”, Peter Watts (The New Space Opera 2; Eos)

Best Short Story: “Bridesicle”, Will McIntosh (Asimov’s 1/09)

Best Related Book: This is Me, Jack Vance! (Or, More Properly, This is “I”), Jack Vance (Subterranean)

Best Graphic Story: Girl Genius, Volume 9: Agatha Heterodyne and the Heirs of the Storm Written by Kaja and Phil Foglio; Art by Phil Foglio; Colours by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Moon Screenplay by Nathan Parker; Story by Duncan Jones; Directed by Duncan Jones (Liberty Films)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Doctor Who: “The Waters of Mars” Written by Russell T Davies & Phil Ford; Directed by Graeme Harper (BBC Wales)

Best Editor Short Form: Ellen Datlow

Best Editor Long Form: Patrick Nielsen Hayden

Best Professional Artist: Shaun Tan

Best Semiprozine: Clarkesworld edited by Neil Clarke, Sean Wallace, & Cheryl Morgan

Best Fan Writer: Frederik Pohl

Best Fanzine: StarShipSofa edited by Tony C. Smith

Best Fan Artist: Brad W. Foster

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer: Seanan McGuire

Congratulations to all the winners! I am especially happy to see Seanan McGuire recognized as best new writer since I love her October Daye series.

The Last Stormlord
by Glenda Larke
704pp (Paperback)
My Rating: 5.5/10
Amazon Rating: 4/5
LibraryThing Rating: 4.03/5
Goodreads Rating: 3.83/5

The Last Stormlord is the first book in the Stormlord trilogy, also known as the Watergivers trilogy, by Glenda Larke. The second book, Stormlord Rising, recently came out in the US. It was already available in Australia, and it will be released in the UK in November. Stormlord’s Exile, the third book, is supposed to be released sometime next year although there is not yet a publication date.

For as long as anyone can remember, the Quartern has depended on the stormlords for their survival. The stormlords collect water from the sea and move the water to the tunnels so each person has the amount of water necessary for life. However, even though there are several rainlords with varying degrees of power to manipulate water, there is only one stormlord left – and he is ill and becoming weaker with the effort providing water to the four quarters without any aid. As the water levels remain low and the situation becomes more dire, some believe it is time to stop supplying water to the other quarters since it’s better to save themselves than to have everyone die from dehydration. While the stormlord is prepared to do so, he is only willing to as a last resort and first he sends some rainlords to one of the quarters to search for water sensitives with the potential to take his place.

The Last Stormlord took a long time to become interesting and still never became as engaging as I would have liked. The beginning was very rough with a video game tutorial feel to it. It started out with Terelle, a young girl whose father sold her and her sister into lives as courtesans. Although Terelle does seem to finally be developing more of a purpose by the end of the book, at first her point of view felt like a way of using an inexperienced character to inform readers of the way the world worked. The conversations with her sister in the first chapter are clumsy as they argue about how Terelle does not want to be a whore once she is old enough, and her sister goes into great detail about why they are different from common prostitutes on the street corners. A few pages later Terelle asks her sister about her mother, and her sister replies that she’s already told her everything she knows – but instead of leaving it at that she tells her once again everything she knows, including the woman’s name. Soon after that, the man who usually handles water payments asks Terelle to take his place for the first time, leading to lots of questions on supplying water to the Quartern.

Once the other characters were introduced and Terelle was not the sole protagonist, it did get better, although the world building and magic system were easily the main strength of the novel. Larke has created a fascinating society of desert people whose lives revolve around water, and a few of these people can even sense or manipulate it. A person’s wealth is measured by if they receive an allotment of water with the very poorest people fending for themselves on the lowest level. The situation of the decline of the stormlords who supply the four sections created a lot of tension, as people disagreed about how to handle this dilemma and best conserve water. Should water be withheld from two quarters to save the other two since everyone will die without water anyway? When is the right time to exercise this? Should people be punished for having children when there is already not enough water to go around?

While the world and the societies were well-developed, the characters were not for the most part. Terelle’s story was drawn out and pointless until close to the conclusion. She will most likely be an important character in the next couple of books, but her perspective could have been much shorter in this book. Her plight of escaping life as a courtesan just was not all that compelling. Even though she should have been easy to empathize with due to her desire to have free will and escape this life she does not want, her single-minded focus on leaving made her seem whiny, especially when so many other people were far worse off than she was. At least Terelle was alive and well with shelter, water and food.

In addition to Terelle, there was a young water sensitive named Shale, whose story also began slowly but at least made him seem like someone who would play a prominent role in the future due to the strength of his power. The non-teen protagonists were more engaging, although I was becoming fond of Shale by the end. My favorite was the scholarly Ryka Feldspar, who had little talent with water and was pushed toward marrying Kaneth due to the fact that they might have children with some water sensitivity. Nealrith, the son of the stormlord who sadly fell short of his power, struggled with feeling like he should be able to take some of the strain off his father. Although we never really see his perspective, Taquar is the most intriguing – he’s somewhat mysterious since his motives are murky and he is near the strength of a stormlord himself. In spite of liking some of the other characters, they didn’t seem to get as much time in the story as Terelle and Shale and they also never really came alive with lots of complexity and human emotion.

The names were rather distracting and overdone such as Beryll and Ryka Feldspar, Kaneth Carnelian, Shale and Mica Flint, Nealrith Almandine, Taquar Sardonyx, Amethyst and Opal. Many of the expressions used were also excessive, such as “sandcrazy, ” “a dry end,” and “sun-dried fool.” It seemed to go overboard in driving home the point that these are desert people.

By the time it concluded, The Last Stormlord was beginning to go somehwere, but it took too long to get there considering it was about 700 pages long. Even though there are two more books coming, a book with that many pages should do more than set up the world and the rest of the series, even if it just makes one care about the different characters and what happens to them. It was mildly entertaining at times with a strong setting, but it was not particularly absorbing.

My Rating: 5.5/10

Where I got my reading copy: It was a review copy sent by the publisher.

Other Reviews:

My husband just found this news that Neil Gaiman’s Sandman may end up as a TV series! According to the article, Warner Bros. TV is in the process of attaining the television rights to the series and Supernatural creator Sam Kripke may be involved.

Sandman holds a special place in my heart for a couple of reasons. It was the first graphic novel series I read, and it convinced me that storytelling in that format could be just as good or better than a novel. The creativity and epic scope of Sandman makes it my favorite of any work by Gaiman I’ve read, and it’s really exciting to think it could end up as a TV series.


It’s hard to believe it is September already! Here’s hoping more books are finished this month than July since last month’s pile is looking rather sad, although I’ve also read part of two more books before today. Eek, I haven’t reviewed any of these yet either!

Books read in July:

31. Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs
32. Shadow Magic by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett
33. Killbox by Ann Aguirre

Favorite book from July: I liked all three of these but it’s not a difficult choice. I’ll have to go with Shadow Magic – I just loved all the characters, especially Caius.

What did you read last month?

This week brought four books that were complete surprises, and three of them are ones I really, really want to read right now, making me sad that I’m not capable of reading eight books simultaneously (since there are about five other books I want to be reading now). Actually, I already had the ARC of one and just got the finished copy in the mail this time, but I’d prefer to read the finished version anyway.

As far as the next review goes, I haven’t been able to make much progress since I’ve been working on another interview in my spare time instead. The questions are almost ready to go, though, so I should be able to get back to finishing that review soon.

Lady Lazarus by Michele Lang

This is the first book in a trilogy by the same name, and it is on sale on August 31. It was actually one of the books on my list to look for at Book Expo America, but I missed it. Then it was a “maybe” book since it looked a little iffy to me from the blurb, but after looking through the actual book and reading the first couple of lines, I now really want to read the rest:

I damned my soul in the summer of 1939. I did it for the noblest reasons, the best ones — to save the people I loved; to make a terrible wrong turn right.

After reading this, I can’t help but want to know about how she damned her soul and what these reasons for doing so are.

Dark Victory, the second book in the series, is scheduled for release in 2011.

With the romance of Twilight, the suspense of The Dresden Files, and the delicious thrills of True Blood, the enthralling saga of Magdalena Lazarus unfolds. Descended from the legendary witch of Ein Dor, she alone holds the power to summon the angel Raziel and stop Hitler and his supernatural minions from unleashing total war in Europe. The Nazis have fighters more fearsome than soldiers, weapons more terrifying than missiles, and allies that even they are afraid of SS werewolves; the demon Asmodel who possesses a willing Adolf Hitler, and other supernatural creatures all are literally hell-bent on preventing Magda from possessing the Book of Raziel, a magical text with the power to turn the tide against Hitler’s vast war machine.

Magda, young and rebellious, grew up in the cosmopolitan city of Budapest, unaware of her family’s heritage. When her mother dies, Magda–ready or not–is the Lazarus, who must face the evil that holds Europe in an iron grip. Unready to assume the mantle of her ancient birthright, but knowing that she must fight, she sets out across Europe searching for the Book. Magda is desperate enough to endanger her soul by summoning the avenging angel Raziel. When she sees him in the glory of his celestial presence, her heart is utterly, completely lost…

Blameless by Gail Carriger

Blameless is the third book in the Parasol Protectorates series and it is supposed to be on sale August 31. I’ve been following this series ever since I got an ARC of the very first book, and I liked the second book even better than the first so I was very excited to open up a package and find this within. This should be fun!

I’m going to avoid posting the blurb for this one since it contains spoilers for both the first and second books. However, if you do want to read it, the blurbs for all three books are on this page on Gail Carriger’s website.

Hell’s Horizon by Darren Shan

This is the second book in The City series following Procession of the Dead. It will be released in hardcover in January 2011.

In the City, The Cardinal rules, and Al Jeery is a loyal member of his personal guard. But when Al is pulled from his duties at Party Central to investigate a murder, an unexpected discovery leads him in a new direction, where his loyalties and beliefs will be severely tested.

Soon he is involved in a terrifying mystery that draws in the dead, the City’s Incan forefathers, the imposing figure of The Cardinal, and the near-mythical assassin Paucar Wami.

Wami is a law unto himself, a shadowy, enigmatic figure who can apparently kill anyone he chooses without fear of punishment or retribution. And Al is about to find out that he has a lot more in common with Wami than he could ever have imagined…

Cold Magic by Kate Elliott

This is the first book in a new series, The Spiritwalker trilogy. It is supposed to be released in September, but Kate Elliott recently mentioned on Twitter that it is already in stock at Amazon. As I mentioned the first time when I got an ARC of it, I really like the sound of this one and I’ve wanted to read something by Kate Elliott for a while now so I’m looking forward to it.

From one of the genre’s finest writers comes a bold new epic fantasy in which science and magic are locked in a deadly struggle.

It is the dawn of a new age… The Industrial Revolution has begun, factories are springing up across the country, and new technologies are transforming in the cities. But the old ways do not die easy.

Cat and Bee are part of this revolution. Young women at college, learning of the science that will shape their future and ignorant of the magics that rule their families. But all of that will change when the Cold Mages come for Cat. New dangers lurk around every corner and hidden threats menace her every move. If blood can’t be trusted, who can you trust?

Naamah’s Curse
by Jacqueline Carey
576pp (Hardcover)
My Rating: 7.5/10
Amazon Rating: 3.5/5
LibraryThing Rating: 3.54/5
Goodreads Rating: 3.98/5

Naamah’s Curse is the second book in Jacqueline Carey’s latest trilogy following Naamah’s Kiss. Although this new series is set in the same world as the earlier Kushiel’s Legacy books, it takes place a few generations after the end of the second trilogy. The final book, Naamah’s Blessing, does not yet have a publication date, but Jacqueline Carey did mention in her August update on the home page of her website that she has turned in the manuscript.

Note: As this is the second book in a series, there will be spoilers for the first book, Naamah’s Kiss, contained in the plot description. Skip the plot description and read the part below the horizontal line if you do not want to have parts of the first book spoiled but want to read the review.

Moirin has left the emperor’s daughter and the comfort of the palace at Ch’in to follow Bao, who died and was resurrected by transferring half of Moirin’s diadh-anam to him. Once Bao discovered his new close connection to Moirin, he decided to leave to sort through his thoughts about it. He was not sure how to feel about sharing this bond with Moirin without her choosing it, even though she made it clear she wished for him to stay with her. Princess Snow Tiger reminded Moirin that she had the choice not to wait around for him to come back, so Moirin departed alone to try to catch up with him before winter.

Moirin spends some time traveling in Bao’s footsteps, although she does end up having to wait through the winter before seeing him again. However, once Moirin finds Bao in Tatar, their joyous reunion does not last. Although Bao is happy to see her, he cannot leave without angering the Great Khan. The two devise a plan that would allow Bao to act freely, but they are betrayed and separated when Moirin is imprisoned by religious zealots eager to convert her to Yeshuite ways – and Moirin has completely lost track of Bao this time.

Naamah’s Curse is a difficult book to review because it definitely had its flaws, but at the same time, I really enjoyed it and want to read the next book. (I also want to go back and read the five books in the original two trilogies I have yet to read, particularly since I thought Kushiel’s Dart was a stronger novel than either book in this new trilogy.) Considering the length of Naamah’s Curse, not a whole lot happened. It seems to be a case of middle book syndrome since it wandered off for a while and then eventually came back to setting up the final book toward the end. Also, so much of the first book was explained in detail that I kept feeling like I was reading the equivalent of a clip show a couple of times. Not only was a lot of it expounded on early in the book, but even more from the first book was described toward the middle when Moirin was thoroughly questioned about her past. Looking back on it with these issues, I can’t help but feel that I shouldn’t have found it nearly as compelling as I did. Yet I’d be lying through my teeth (er, keyboard?) if I said I didn’t find it extremely readable in spite of these weaknesses – just like the first book, I found it went by much faster than I would have expected for such a long novel. It wasn’t a book where I kept counting the number of pages left and wondering when it would end, but instead I devoured it since I could hardly put it down.

In some ways, Moirin does not seem particularly complex as a character. She’s very kind to everyone and it seems as though the only people she encounters who do not love her are villains. Admittedly, with this great compassion, it makes perfect sense that she would be so well-loved, but at times it does seem a little overdone that just about anyone she encounters will go out of their way for her when they barely even know her. Every major action is dictated by Moirin’s destiny as it is revealed to her through her diadh-anam, and the use of her fate to drive the plot does make some occurrences seem all too convenient. Yet in spite of feeling this way, I liked Moirin and her concise yet elegant narrative voice. The sadness resulting from her great destiny makes her easier to empathize with. For even though Moirin has been gifted with such a great capacity for love and compassion, she is constantly having her heart broken over and over again due to her role as a tool of the goddesses. She gets so attached to the people in her life, and then the will of the goddess keeps forcing her to leave them all behind.

In this novel, we get to see a lot of Asia with particular emphasis on Mongolian, Russian and Indian cultures with some Indian mythology integrated into the story. One of my favorite aspects of Naamah’s Curse was visiting all the different places with Moirin and the way Carey handled all these diverse heritages. In the first book, Tatar (Mongolia) sounded like a fearsome country since Moirin spent some time in Ch’in, whose inhabitants did not get along very well with the neighboring nation. Once Moirin went to Tatar, though, she found the people to be like anyone else and Tatar was depicted as no worse than the previously visited Ch’in.

While weaker than the preceding volume in the series, Naamah’s Curse was still very entertaining. It was too long, particularly since it recapped a lot of what already happened in the first book, and it did seem to meander away from the main plot at times. In spite of that, the blending of different cultures and mythologies, the writing, and the examination of the double-edged nature of Moirin’s gift made it well worth reading.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Where I got my reading copy: It was a review copy sent by the publisher.

Reviews of other books in this series:

Other Reviews of Naamah’s Curse: