Category: Fantasy

Finalists Roundup: National Book Award Fiction Picks!

The National Book Foundation has unveiled the finalists for the National Book Awards. Listing five books each in five categories, they’ve given us some recognizable names, but it’s going to be an interesting year considering that none of the authors have taken home a National Book Award in these categories before.

For this article, we’re going to show you what made it into the ‘Fiction’ category.

 

 

Trust Exercise by Susan Choi

 

Trust Exercise: A Novel by [Choi, Susan]
Image Via Amazon

 

Susan Choi brings us a novel that paints a picture of an American suburb in the early 1980s where students at a highly competitive performing arts high school struggle and thrive in their pursuit of music, movement, Shakespeare, and their acting classes.

When within this striving “Brotherhood of the Arts,” two freshmen, David and Sarah, fall head over heels, but their passion does not go unnoticed—or untoyed with—by anyone, especially not by their charismatic acting teacher, Mr. Kingsley.

Among its heaps of praise, the words of Sophie Gilbert in the Atlantic ring true, writing: “The students in Choi’s story shape their identities and their imaginations around art, letting its colors seep onto their blank pages”.

 

 

Sabrina & Corina: Stories by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

 

Sabrina & Corina: Stories by [Fajardo-Anstine, Kali]
Image Via Amazon

A collection of short stories that uses Denver, Colorado as a backdrop, we follow three Latina women who must navigate the land the way they navigate their lives: with caution, grace, and quiet force.

The first story, “Sugar Babies,” shows that ancestry and heritage cannot stay buried forever when they come to the forefront of the conversation during a land dispute.

“Any Further West” follows a sex worker and her daughter as they leave their ancestral home in southern Colorado only to find a foreign and hostile land in California.

“Tomi,” has a woman leave prison and finds herself in a city that is a shadow of the one she remembers from her childhood.

The title story, “Sabrina & Corina,” follows a Denver family that falls into a cycle of violence against women, coming together only through ritual.

Kirkus Reviews sums up the collection with these words:

Fajardo-Anstine takes aim at our country’s social injustices and ills without succumbing to pessimism. The result is a nearly perfect collection of stories that is emotionally wrenching but never without glimmers of resistance and hope.

 

 

 

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

 

Black Leopard, Red Wolf (The Dark Star Trilogy Book 1) by [James, Marlon]
Image Via Amazon

 

The first in a trilogy, this book draws from African history and mythology, following Tracker, an infamous hunter. Tasked with tracking down a mysterious boy who disappeared three years earlier, Tracker breaks his own rule of always working alone when he finds himself part of a group that comes together to search for the boy, but throughout a journey filled with shape-shifting man-animal known as Leopard, he wonders who this boy and why he’s been missing for long and, above all, why are many people want to keep Tracker from finding him?

Neil Gaiman said the novel has “[a] fantasy world as well-realized as anything Tolkien made.”

 

 

The Other Americans by Laila Lalami

 

The Other Americans: A Novel by [Lalami, Laila]
Image Via Amazon

 

Late one spring night, Driss Guerraoui, a Moroccan immigrant in California, walks across a darkened intersection when he is killed by a speeding car.

Driss Geurraoui’s death brings together a diverse cast of characters:

We have his daughter Nora, a jazz composer who returns to the small town she thought she left for good.

His widow Maryam, who wishes for a return to the old country.

Efrain, an undocumented witness whose fear of deportation prevents him from speaking up.

Jeremy, a former classmate of Nora’s and a veteran of the Iraq war.

Coleman, a detective who is slowly discovering her son’s secrets.

Anderson, a neighbor trying to reconnect with his family.

…and the murdered man himself.

Rayyan Al-Shawaf from the Washington Post sums up the novels as: “Lalami gives us a searching exploration of the lives of several individuals with whom mainstream American society has a vexed relationship”.

 

 

Disappearing Earth by Julia Philips

 

Disappearing Earth: A novel by [Phillips, Julia]
Image Via Amazon

 

On the shoreline of the Kamchatka peninsula at the northeastern edge of Russia, two sisters go missing. Months later the police investigation has turned up nothing.

Now we follow the lives of those connected to the crime⁠—a witness, a neighbor, a detective, a mother⁠—as they try to continue their lives without closure in a land where heaven and hell, from the densely wooded forests, open expanses of tundra and soaring volcanoes, all exist on the same plain.

Bethanne Patrick of NPR noted in her review of the novel that:

Julia Phillips witnessed Kamchatka in transition from its Soviet-era sleepiness into post-Communist Wild West-like corruption. While she says her next novel “is not set on a volcanic Russian peninsula I need to save up for three years to get to,” readers of Disappearing Earth will be willing to follow her to any destination.

 

 

From murder mysteries to epic fantasies and from short stories to novels, it’ll be tough this year. Who do you think will win this year’s fiction categories?

 

 

Featured Image Via Entertainment Weekly

7 Books For International Lesbian Day – Because Love Is Love

To celebrate the holiday of love and awareness, we’re sharing a versatile of books featuring Lesbian characters and the adventures they must have.

These books range from the fantastically adventurous, to romantically dramatic!

 

 

#1 Perfect Rhythm by Jae

 

Perfect Rhythm (Fair Oaks Book 1) by [Jae]

 

When pop star Leontyne Blake loses the love in her love songs, a sudden family emergency brings her back to her tiny hometown of Missouri. Tending to her father, sick in the hospital, Leontyne is finally able to escape the pressure of the music industry, as well as the pressure of finding someone who loves her for her, and not her fame.

Everything changes when she meets her father’s nurse, Holly Drummond, who is not only unimpressed with Leontyne’s success, but is more interested in Leontyne as a person. Holly is a woman different from any that Leontyne has ever met, uninterested in relationships in general, and also Asexual. As the relationship between these women develops, they need to find the perfect rhythm to find something more, a love that both had given up on a long time ago.

A great read for any hopeless romantic!

 

#2 The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley

 

The Stars Are Legion by [Hurley, Kameron]

 

This sci-fi epic and Hugo Award winner will take you by storm, throwing you into an all-out war, blood-battles and all, but more than the intense drama of war, this story is about our heroine’s search for truth. Zan wakes with no memory of who she is, and where she has come from. Encaptured by strangers, all women, who claim they are her family and that she is their salvation, Zan must fight her way to the truth to save a dying world.

If action is what you’re looking for, look no further than this book! With twists and turns at every corner, this book perfectly blends the sci-fi genre with action and drama that will blow you out of this world, and there’s a little romance between the protagonist and another of the fierce women of the story.

 

#3 The Price of Salt (Carol) by Patricia Highsmith

 

The Price of Salt by [Highsmith, Patricia]

 

A beloved classic romance for the modern-day, this tale follows two women, lost in the daily monotony, living untrue to themselves and their potential. Therese, a struggling young sales clerk, and Carol, a stay at home mother in the midst of a bitter divorce, find each other, and therefore find joy and freedom that they never believed was possible before. Abandoning their oppressive daily routines for the freedom of the open road, they together build a love that they have always wanted. However, this is not a fairy tale romance where all it takes is two people falling in love to reach the happy ending, because of Carol’s obligations as a mother, she is forced to choose between her love for Therese and her beloved child.

True love never comes easy in the real world, and this emotional roller-coaster of a novel shows that tenfold.

 

 

#4 The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie  

 

The Abyss Surrounds Us by [Skrutskie, Emily]

 

If that last book was a little too real for you, here’s some fantasy to escape the soul-crushing that is reality.

Combining monsters and pirates together this book follows Cassandra Leung, a trainee in a family of Recokners, trainers of genetically engineered sea monsters to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. When the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water. With plans to make the Sea her own, the Pirate queen orders Cas to train a monster pup to push her plans into action. Torn by her desire to uphold her family’s noble cause and her survival as a captive, Cassandra must choose wisely to live the Pirate life.

 

#5 My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness by Kabi Nagata 

 

My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness by [Nagata, Kabi]

 

Intensely personal, this graphic novel is Kabi Nagata’s revealing story, her struggles with depression and sexuality as a young woman. With charming and provocative illustrations, Nagata leaves nothing censored. The true and difficult reality of struggling with mental health and coming to terms with your sexuality is perfectly illustrated, both literally and figuratively, in this book. For any reader of this book, how real and relatable the story is written is moving.

 

#6 Nevada by Imogen Binnie

 

 

Maria Griffiths, a young trans woman, takes a life-changing journey away from her life in New York City after she discovers that her girlfriend has been lying to her. With her life as she has known it forever changed, Maria sets off to escape the painful lies that have been revealed, but with the struggles that trans people face looming over her head, her ventures are much harder than she wishes. Joined by another trans woman on her life journey, they must find their way in the world.

 

 

#7 We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

 

We Are Okay by [LaCour, Nina]

 

Having run from her old life, Marin has kept many secrets about her final moments before she left her family and old friends behind. With tragedy and grief from her past still tormenting her for years since she left, the past finally comes back to haunt her when her best friend Mabel pays a visit to Marin’s lonely apartment. The truth must finally come out, and Marin must face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

 

Images via Amazon

 

 

 

Featured Images via Amazon

Turkey Says Inspiring Kids’ Book Should Be Treated like Porn

The Turkish government recently ruled that Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls should be treated like pornography because of its “detrimental influence” on young people.

 

 

Published in 2016, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls offers 100 tales of extraordinary women meant to inspire young children. Each story, written by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo in the style of a fairy tale, is accompanied by illustrations from over 60 female artists. The Guardian described it as an “empowering, resolutely ‘anti-princess’ storybook.” It’s been an incredibly popular best-seller and has been published in 47 languages around the world.

 

Favilli and Cavallo, image via Penguin Books

 

But in a decision published at the end of September, the Turkish government’s board for the protection of minors from obscene publications said:

Some of the writings in the book will have a detrimental influence on the minds of those under the age of 18.

This means Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls can be sold only to adults and must be kept out of view in bookshops. Essentially, it has to be treated like pornography.

 

Image Via Amazon

 

Cavallo responded to the decision, saying:

Girls deserve to grow up surrounded by more female role models. They deserve to grow up thinking that they can be anything they want. When a government is scared by a children’s book promoting equality, that means that promoting these messages through children’s literature can have and is having an impact, and it makes me even more motivated to keep fighting every day.

The Turkish publishers’ association released another statement last week, arguing the government’s decision threatens the principles of a democratic society. And Turkish publisher of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls said it was waiting for the decision to be officially communicated to it before commenting.

 

 

Featured Image Via The Guardian

Professor Minerva McGonagall in Harry Potter movies

7 Facts About Minerva McGonagall

Today, October 4th marks the day of two very important birthdays: mine (not to brag) and my personal favorite Hogwarts professor, one who has proven to be the wisest and most badass character in all of Harry Potter, Minerva McGonagall!

 

Professor Minerva McGonagall in Harry Potter movies

Image via Vulture

 

While this surface-level description paints her in a blindingly positive light, the reality is that deep down (if you do your research), she has been through far more than anyone, muggle or wizard, had ever gone through or could even bear to live with and is actually one of the most tragic characters within the world that Rowling has crafted around the “Boy Who Lived,” all of which just adds an extra layer to her already complex character that came to be an all-round crowd favorite amongst the Potterheads (including me).

So, here are seven facts about Minerva McGonagall that you may not have known about from just reading the books or watching the movies. (Also, Maggie Smith’s strong acting chops adds another layer to the reader’s imagination of McGonagall’s badassery.)

 

1. Her sorting into Gryffindor took over five minutes

 

Sorting Hat on Hermione in 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' movie

Image via Thought Catalog

 

If you actually counted every time a young witch or wizard gets sorted into a house in any of the movies, then you would get no more than a minute, or two tops.

Very much like Hermione (my personal favorite character of the series and whom the Hat was initially stumped on placing in either Ravenclaw or Gryffindor), Minerva has the special kind of qualities that can really stump – or stall – the Sorting Hat for at least five minutes straight upon placing a new-coming student into a House that it’s quite literally a “Hat-Stall,” until she was finally placed in Gryffindor, just like Hermione, and has really lived up to her House name in more ways than just being the House Head!

 

2. She was named after the Roman name for a Greek goddess

 

Painting of Athena with spear and shield

Image via commons.wikimedia.org

 

Speaking of living up to Gryffindor’s name, if you ever studied Greek/Roman mythology, then you should probably recognize McGonagall’s first name Minerva, which was the Roman name given to the Greek goddess Athena (a.k.a. goddess of wisdom, courage, and justice, especially when it comes to warfare).

As for her surname McGonagall, while it for sure shows off her Scottish lineage and was actually named after the Scottish poet William Topaz McGonagall (a.k.a. the worst poet known throughout the U.K.), it’s actually a name that’s not at all within the Wizarding World, which brings us to this fact…

 

3. She is a half-blood witch

 

Professor McGonagall duelling in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire movie

Image via Bustle

While her mother Isobel Ross was a full-blooded witch, Minerva’s father Robert McGonagall, however, was a muggle, and Isobel, sworn by the International Statute of Secrecy not to reveal herself or anything about the Wizarding World to muggles, did not tell Robert until long after the birth of their first child Minerva, who started to exhibit her magical abilities to her parents.

Robert decided to stay and keep Isobel’s identity a secret, showing how loving and loyal her husband really was, and when her parents even later had two boys, Minerva helped her mother out in cleaning up the messes caused by her brothers’ magic.

(Keep her magically-mixed parents in mind: they will pop up again later…)

 

 

 

4. She won awards for Transfiguration and later, the Order of Merlin: First Class

 

Professor McGonagall teaching Transfiguration in 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' movie

Image via YouTube

 

Not only is she awesome at her job teaching Transfiguration and at being a freakin’ Animagus (a.k.a. a product of Transfiguration that already made her more than qualified in teaching Transfiguration), she won awards for doing what she does best, including her badges for Prefect and Head Girl, top grades for her O.W.L and N.E.W.T exams, and upon leaving school, the Transfiguration Today: Most Promising Newcomer award.

Also, after the Battle of Hogwarts, because of her strong display of bravery (by far, her truest moment of living up to her Head of Gryffindor name) in protecting the Hogwarts grounds against Voldemort and his Death Eaters, she so rightfully earned the Order of Merlin: First Class, an award specifically given for acts of bravery or entertainment within the Wizarding World.

 

5. She was engaged to a muggle (for less than a day)

 

Professor McGonagall in 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' movie

Image via Radio Times

 

Now, here is just a taste of what makes Minerva a tragic character of the series…

The summer after graduating from Hogwarts, Minerva returned home to Scotland and met Dougal McGregor, who was the son of a muggle farmer and with whom Minerva fell deeply in love. In fact, later that very summer, she accepted his proposal to marry him!

However, and this is the part where I get back to her parents, not willing to make the same mistake her mother made but still not willing to risk the secrecy of the Wizarding World, Minerva broke off the proposal the very next morning after their engagement, but she very much later regretted her decision to do so: during Voldemort’s rise, McGregor was murdered in the crossfire of an anti-muggle attack by the Death Eaters.

Try looking at her the same way you did before…

 

 

 

6. She married her former boss (for three years)

 

Professor McGonagall in 'Harry Potter' movie

Image via Hollywood.com

 

 

If you thought the previous point about Minerva’s tragic life was dark (but then again, this is the world of Harry Potter we’re talking about), here’s an extra dark layer…

While Elphinstone Urquart (Minerva’s boss from her first job working at the Ministry of Magic, a fact that I didn’t much room to make for on this list) over the years had asked Minerva to marry him, even while she was briefly engaged to McGregor, at one point, she finally accepted his proposal and of course, married and lived with him in a cottage at Hogsmeade. However, their marriage only lasted three years, as Urquart died from a Venomous Tentacula bite, and Minerva moved back to her Hogwarts chambers, leaving behind the home she shared with her last love.

I swear Minerva can never catch a break with her personal life!

 

7. She got to be permanent headmistress after Voldemort’s defeat

 

Professor McGonagall at the Battle of Hogwarts in 'Harry Potter and the DEathly Hallows: Part 2' movie

Image via The Book Addict’s Guide to MBTI

 

Well. At least she’s got one of many things going for her: after the Battle of Hogwarts, she was appointed Headmistress of Hogwarts. Permanently! And that is where we see her today…

I don’t think it’s too much of a coincidence that she and I both share a birthday: we’re both smart Libras with so much to offer the world. Happy Birthday, Minerva, my Hogwarts kindred spirit.

Also, to anyone out there in the U.K. if you ever find a normal-looking tabby cat looking down at a map, then you know where Minerva McGonagall is…

 

Featured Image via Wizards And Whatnot