The 2011 Book Polygamist Awards!

Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen to the 1st Annual Book Polygamist Awards! (insert applause and cheering here)

Every year I look back at the books I have read and assign awards to those that have stood out in some way. Before now that acknowledgement has been for my eyes only in my treasured reading journals so I am happy to make them public for the first time!

The awards will be in two parts: the Annual Awards which are ones that I have given to books every year and will likely continue to do so; and the Special Awards which are awards that I have created especially for this years contenders.

I hope you enjoy ūüôā

Annual Awards

Shortest Read:

The Bro Code by Barney Stinson with Matt Kuhn, at around an hour

Honorable Mentions:

Coraline by Neil Gaiman, at 1 day

Eddie Dickens Trilogy (Awful End; Dreadful Acts and Terrible Times) at 2 days for all three.

Longest Read:

Monster Blood Tattoo Book Two: Lamplighter by D M Cornish, at 27 weeks and 3 days! O.o

Honorable Mentions:

Coldheart Canyon by Clive Barker, at 25 weeks, 3 days!

The Books of Blood: vol 1-3 by Clive Barker at 30 weeks and counting!!

Most Books Read by a Single Author:

 

4 by Kerry Greenwood (Urn Burial; Heavenly Pleasures; Devil’s Food; Trick or Treat)

Honorable Mentions:

3 by Charlaine Harris (Definitely Dead; All Together Dead; From Dead to Worse)

3 by Philip Ardagh (Awful End; Dreadful Acts;Terrible Times)

Best “New” Author Award:

Every year I make a list of authors I have discovered and who I want to read more of, so this year I thought I’d give an award to the author that I was the most impressed with and have since¬†researched several other books of theirs that I’m interested in¬†as well as a few other authors that get honorable mentions.

William Gay (Twilight)

Honorable Mentions:

Marianne de Pierres (Nylon Angel – Book 1 Parrish Plessis series)

Andrew Nicoll (The Good Mayor)

Kathryn Lasky (Guardians of Ga’Hoole: The Capture)

Muriel Barbery (The Elegance of the Hedgehog)

Catherine Webb (The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle)

Special Awards

The Best End to a Series Award:

Destiny (Trinity trilogy) by Fiona McIntosh

Honorable Mention:

The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials) by Philip Pullman

The Best Start to a Series Award:

The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle (Horatio Lyle series) by Catherine Webb

Honorable Mention:

The Capture (Guardians of Ga’Hoole series) by Kathryn Lasky

The Longest and Strangest Title Award:

The Travelling Death and Resurrection Show by Ariel Gore

Honorable Mention:

A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley

The “Graphic Novels are a Legitimate Genre” Award:

This is the first year I have read Graphic Novels and actually treated them like real books (i.e. included them in my book journal; wrote reviews etc.) so I thought the two fabulous Graphic Novels deserve their very own award ūüôā

Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons AND V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd

The Short but Sweet Award:

This year has included a few short-story anthologies, a format I don’t generally read a lot so I have chosen the best short-story collection as well as the best individual stories.

Zombie: an Anthology of the Undead by Various

Best stories: Family Business by Jonathan Maberry; The Zombie Who Fell from the Sky by M. B. Homler; The Storm Door by Tad Williams; Second Wind by Mike Carey; Weaponized by David Wellington.

The BRAAIINNS! Award:

This year stood out as the year I started to love zombie stories! It wasn’t the first time I read anything with zombies (in 2010 I read Nekropolis by Tim Waggoner which is about a zombie detective; the first Anita Blake book by Laurell K Hamilton, Guilty Pleasures, which involves zombie raising, and right before the dawn of 2011 I read The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan which is set in a zombie-apocalyptic world) but after Zombie: an Anthology of the Undead¬† I was hooked so the BRAAIINNS Award goes to:

Zombie: an Anthology of the Undead by Various

with an honorable mention to Alice in Zombieland by Lewis Carrol and Nickolas Cook ūüėõ

The Revisited Award:

This is a new award I came up with, given to a book I re-read and still loved in 2011:

Mister God, This is Anna by Fynn

The About Time! Award:

This award goes to a book that I had been meaning to read for a long time:

Coldheart Canyon by Clive Barker

Honorable Mention:

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

The Best Cover Art Award:

The Secrets of the Chess Machine by Robert Löhr

Honorable Mentions:

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

The Good Mayor by Andrew Nicoll

The Misleading Cover Award:

Yearn: Tales of Lust and Longing by Tobsha Learner

(to find out why this cover is misleading see my review)

The “They’ve Still Got It!” Award:

This is another new one that I created purely to highlight two of my favourite authors whose newest releases I read this year and loved just as much (if not more) than previous favourites:

Joanne Harris for Blueeyedboy AND Tracy Chevalier for Remarkable Creatures

2011 has been a fabulous year for me, not just for reading but in many aspects of my life, and I hope for even more great reads and wonderful events now that its 2012!

I hope you all also¬†read some novels in 2011 that deserve awards and you have an amazing 2012 ūüôā

Advertisements

I see you Quiver in antici….pation

I haven’t blogged about new book purchases for a while because I haven’t been able to afford new books ūüė¶
I recently adopted a little miniature¬†Schnauzer called Tia who had a sad history; she was found in an abandoned house, covered in ticks and still producing milk from a recent litter of puppies. She was very timid and slept a lot when we first got her, and I¬†noticed that her teeth were in a bad shape so we took her to the vet for a check-up. On examination of Tia the vet told us that she had a fever and unusual bleeding, that we thought was just her on heat again, and that he had to put her on a drip and do some tests because he suspected she had an infection in her uterus (it had a fancy medical name that I¬†can’t remember). She had tests and did need to be spayed¬†immediately, which we planned to do in the near future¬†but now was urgent. She also had teeth removed during surgery because they were so rotten.

Needless to say the whole process cost around 1000 dollars, which as a student was way out of my budget, but with some help from the generous Mum Bank and Loans the bills were paid and little Tia was on the road to recovery. Since then I have been slowly paying Mum back out of my meagre fortnightly student payment, and so any purchases¬†I¬†make have been strickly¬†necessities, thus no books ūüė¶

Quiver

However, when I¬†saw that a book I¬†have longed for for¬†a while – Quiver by Tobsha Learner – was for sale from my bookclub¬†for the quite achievable price of $24.95 during a fortnight when I¬†had a bit of money spare (hallelujah!) I couldn’t resist.

If you read my review of Yearn: tales of lust and longing¬†you will know that I’m¬†already a bit of a fan of Tobsha Learner’s unique brand of erotica, and Quiver is the only collection of short stories I¬†haven’t read yet. So, when I¬†received¬†a note in my mailbox saying I had a package waiting for me at the post office, I was slightly more excited when it was Quiver rather than the other book I¬†ordered recently, the next Sookie¬†Stackhouse¬†book I’m up to, Dead and Gone.

Lets hope it was worth all the anticipation ūüôā

REVIEW: Yearn: Tales of Lust and Longing By Tobsha Learner

Yearn : Tales of Lust and Longing By Tobsha Learner

¬†I think this book suffered a little because I judged it by its cover and it’s predecessor. It’s hard to tell from the thumbnail, but the cover picture is a gorgeous half-naked woman, covered in tattoos, seemingly flying with an umbrella like a modern-day Marry Poppins. When I saw it in one of my fave bookstores Oxford St Books in Leederville¬†I instantly wanted it – initially because of the¬†cover and then even more because I saw it was another collection of erotic stories by Tobsha Learner, author of The Witch of Cologne (a book that I haven’t read yet, but do own) Soul (which was a very memorable book) and two other collections of erotic stories, Quiver (which I haven’t read yet) and Tremble (which I loved). I didn’t buy it that day at Oxford St Books because I had just been to see Black Swan¬†with my¬†mum and brother and hadn’t a¬†cent to my name, but¬†I later saw it in the list of new books on my book club’s website and promptly ordered it :).

I thought, based on the kind of stories in Tremble (erotica but with a twist of fantasy, horror, or just plain strangeness) and the fanciful cover I was in for a series of odd and interesting erotic stories that would make great blog fodder, but as anyone who has been following my ramblings will see, I haven’t written a word about the stories in Yearn since I reviewed the first story Ink. I thought Ink was a very interesting story (despite being so long) but not many of the others lived up to it. All of them were well-written and interesting in their own way, but most of them were missing that added quirk that made Tremble such a memorable read. To her credit, Tobsha Learner can turn a sexy phrase wonderfully, and I like that all of her stories have real plot and don’t just read like a corny porno, but what I liked about Tremble was that each story was¬†stranger than the next, while a lot of the ones in Yearn were sadly run of the mill. I was also disappointed that there was no story based on the tattooed Marry Poppins on the cover, as I was really looking forward to that one :(.

One thing I did find quite interesting is that all of the stories had some reference to a previous story, Ink being the main reference, so I had a bit of fun waiting for the link to pop up. These are the ones I noticed (although there may be ones I missed):

  1. The second Story, Flight Is about a famous Australia actor, Jerome Thomas, who longs for an erotic encounter with a woman who¬†hasn’t¬†heard of him and his string of Romantic Comedies. On the plane to London¬†he is reading his latest script in which he would play Victorian biographer, D’Arcy Hammer, the same young biographer from Ink.
  2. In the third story, Barrow Boy, Eddy Wedgwood is a wealthy metals trader with working-class English roots that he has to keep hidden from his fianc√©e’s snobbish parents. At several points during the story it is mentioned that Eddy has an important meeting with a Chinese businesswoman who has just flown in, the same Chinese businesswoman who has a “mile-high club” encounter with Jerome Thomas in Flight.
  3. The fourth story Fur is one that has a couple of references. The story revolves around May, a university student whose boyfriend one day has a supposed mental breakdown, believing that he has been possessed by the spirit of a warlock and is shipped off to his mother’s leaving May with a big black cat called Shadow. May later has strange erotic dreams/experiences with a black man who she is uncertain is real or is a product of her own insanity, and who may or may not be Shadow in human form (besides Ink this was one of my favourites). Firstly May mentions the recent market crash, which occurs at the end of Barrow Boy. She also happens to be studying anthropology, and her thesis is on eighteenth-century tribes of Polynesia, which echoes back to the subject of D’Arcy Hammer’s biography in Ink, which is about the life and travels of¬†explorer Joseph Banks, in particular his time in Polynesia. The explorer is also mentioned in one of her lectures.
  4. The fifth story, called Tigger is about Joanna Wutherer¬†(or Tigger) a lecturer at Sydney University (and the same one who did the lecture on Joseph Banks in Fur) who meets a much younger man at an art opening. The story ends with the man, Seth, talking to May (from Fur) after Joanna’s wake and you find out the whole story has been his recount of how he met his wife.
  5. In Pussy and Mouse, the sixth story, Cassandra Whool is an overweight call-centre worker who lives out erotic power-driven fantasies online on Second Life. In Second Life Cassandra’s character, Tasinis, goes to Tahiti, a fantasy island set in the 1800’s, which is another reference to Ink.
  6. Weather, the seventh story (and another one I enjoyed) is about Phoebe Rosehurst who believes she shares a psychic connection with local weatherman Rupert Thornton after his sensual movements while predicting the weather leads to Phoebe having intense sexual fantasies and prophetic dreams. This story had another reference to Ink – one of the reports Phoebe has to look over at the insurance company she works at details damage done to the resting place of Joseph Banks.
  7. The eighth story is Flower, a story about recent divorcee, Sara La Carin, who wants to buy a collection of art and auction it off for charity. While searching at one gallery she spots Rupert Thornton (the weatherman from Weather) and her and her companion gossip about his failure to predict ‘the big storm of eighty seven’ which happens at the end of Weather.
  8. And finally, the ninth story The Alchemy of Coincidence (which is a good description of the whole book) which is about sculptor Jennifer (who created the sculpture Sara buys in Flower) and her new show which is about whether art can prompt a coincidental meeting. As a subject she chooses a man out of a french Vogue that she could never meet and crafts many copies of several of his body parts (face, ears, nipples, hands, penises, feet) to use in an installation, and starts to acquire an obsessive sexual fascination with him. Besides the character’s work being in Flower, this story has many other references to the other stories – probably the most. Sara’s¬†husband is a film maker and one of his films launched the career of Jerome Thomas from Flight. Also while showing her work to her art dealer in a gallery, Sara looks at a piece of art inspired by the artist’s experience in Second Life, a reference to Pussy and Mouse.

So overall there was a few great stories, as well as some pretty average ones, and I did enjoy Yearn ….but just not as much as I thought I would. I also am still interested in reading all of Tobsha Learner’s work because I think she’s a very talented author.

I give Yearn : Tales of Lust and Longing by Tobsha Learner:

3 / 5 Stars 

Short story? SHORT!?

So, I started reading the first story in Yearn : tales of lust and longing¬†on Sunday¬†night thinking that I could read it all that night as well as start Stardust… and I only finished it last night. The reason why it took me three night to read it when normally I read a short story in one go? It was 70 odd pages long! That is not what I call a short story! But to its credit it was a great story and definitely needed as much explanation as was given, so it can be forgiven. *Spoiler Alert: If you don’t want to know the basic plot of this story, don’t read on*

The story¬†is set in Victorian England and¬†is about a young biographer who¬†has almost finished writing a biography on a famous explorer but has just about¬†run out of money as his father doesn’t support him anymore. He is therefore relying on his new book to be a success, when he finds out that his arch-enemy (and coincidentally, the uncle of his fiance) is writing a biography on the same subject, and as he is more well-known and respected, his book would be more popular leaving our hero’s book to fall into obscurity.

The only hope for the young biographer is to find some nugget of information on his subject that is new so that his book will make an impact. He looks over all the resources he has found, with no luck, and then, while he’s wallowing in despair a chimney sweep comes to clean his chimney. They get into a conversation about work, and when the sweep hears of the subject of the book he reveals that he swept the chimney of the very house that the great man once lived in, and in fact found a canvas bag up there with a journal in it belonging to the man. Trying to hide his desperate excitement the¬†biographer asks if he can look over the papers to help with his writings (leaving out the importance of this find, so he doesn’t have to pay the sweep).

On reading the journal he discovers it contain detailed descriptions of an elaborate ritual the explorer participated in with his lover in Tahiti that involves taboo sex acts (involving two men and two women) and animal sacrifice. The biographer is elated as he knows that this controversial material is just what his book needs to become a hit, but the purpose of the ritual interests him even more. The ritual is meant to channel the participates sexual energy to a goddess that will allow the person conducting the ceremony to see through another’s eyes for an hour as long as they have a personal item of the person they want to inhabit. In a recent altercation between the biographer and his rival, one of the rival’s gloves comes into his possession and this gives the young man an idea – he could recreate the ritual, which would not only prove to him that the journal was real, but also allow him a peak at his rivals work.

To perform the ritual the biographer borrows a large amount of money from family members to buy the supplies, hire two prostitutes and enlist the help of the chimney sweep. The four travel to the woods and perform the ritual and at the moment of joint climax, the biographer does find himself looking out through his enemy’s eyes. What he sees sickens him, but you don’t find out exactly what it is until the end.

The biographer publishes the book to high acclaim, and there is even rumours that it will be banned (which is course a writer’s best publicity) but then the biographer receives a message saying that his writing has been called into question by his rival, and he has to prove it is not fiction at a public debate the next day. The biographer has the manuscript, but he also needs the chimney sweep as a witness. The biographer goes into the chimney sweep’s impoverished neighbourhood, despite the fact that there has been a outbrake of cholera, but finds that the man he seeks has died of the disease. Dismayed, the biographer returns¬†home,¬†uncertain of what he will say in his defence, and is visited by none other than his rival. The rival reveals that he knows the diary was a fake because he hired the chimney sweep (an actor) and wrote the diary himself, using his knowledge of the explorer’s writing style and handwriting, and he simply copied the details of the ritual from an old grimoire. The rival threatens to¬†reveal he is a fake, but the biographer becomes enraged, and proclaims that the ritual works because he performed it himself. At this point his fiance (and his rival’s niece) enters and accuses the biographer of betrayal. He then explains what he saw¬†through¬†his rival’s eyes – the man having sex with his own niece. He makes the rival a deal –¬†he won’t expose him and his niece if he withdraws his accusation and publically¬†endorses the book at the debate.

It was a great story, and even had potential to become a novel, but I’m glad the next one is much shorter ūüôā

Fairy tales and Erotic tales

Because I finished both Beatle Meets Destiny and All Together Dead  the other night, which were both my own books, I chose two new ones to read from the vast pile of my own books next to my bed. Because I had gotten a few new ones recently that I really wanted to read, I added them to the pile and coincidently it was two of those that won the eeny, meeny, miny, moe РStardust By Neil Gaiman,

that I mentioned in a past post; and Yearn : tales of lust and longing By Tobsha Learner,

which I received from my book club shortly before I started writing this blog.

The two books are worlds apart. Stardust for those of you who haven’t seen the movie¬†is a fairy tale style story about a young man in a mythical Victorian era town of Wall, who travels over the wall that gives the town its name to fetch a falling star¬†for his beloved. I loved the movie, and have read a bit of Neil Gaiman’s work (and loved what I read) and so have been wanting to read this book for a while. Yearn¬†on ¬†the other hand is a collection of strange erotic stories by Australian author and bizarre erotica extraordinaire, Tobsha Learner. I have read her previous collection of erotic stories Tremble which contained wonderfully strange stories such as: a woman who is given a mandrake root by an older female family member, which one day turns into a living disembodied penis, and goes on a psychotic rampage when her affection turns to an actual man; a nun has an immaculate conception due to touching a saint’s dried up nipple, and has to hide on an island to give birth to, raise, have a sexual relationship with, and eventually watch die,¬†a rapidly growing incarnation of Jesus; and a diver who gets trapped in an underwater cave/air pocket sleeps with a mermaid, who then kills him. When I read Tremble I was constantly retelling the strange stories to my housemate, so now that he’s moved out, be prepared to see them aired here – these are stories that have to be shared to be processed ūüėõ

…..I just realised that i¬†don’t have a “sigh off” yet – so any suggestions would be much appreciated ūüôā