Seveneves

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Our book for the month over at Flips Flipping Pages is Neal Stephenson’s “Seveneves,” which is quite a doorstopper so I carved out time a couple of weeks ago to read it.

It begins quite ominously: “The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason,” which basically is a drawn-out disaster scenario, where fragments of the moon are set to rain down on Earth in around two years, rendering it inhabitable for 5,000 years. Evacuation into space is determined as the best hope for humanity, and the world’s powers and scientists quickly assemble the Cloud Ark. The International Space Station is transformed into a hub for smaller vehicles (arklets), to house two representatives from each nation, as well as a handful of specialists to ensure the survival of the human race.

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What Things Mean + Sula’s Voyage

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It’s been a couple of years since I interviewed Filipino writers Sophia Lee and Catherine Torres at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore, shortly after the results of the Scholastic Asian Book Award were announced. It was a proud moment for the Philippines as Sophie’s novel, “What Things Mean” was named the winner of the Scholastic Asian Book Award, while Catherine’s novel, “Sula’s Voyage,” was one of the finalists.

The Scholastic Asian Book Award aims to recognize excellence in fiction in Asian stories for children, showcase the diversity of literary talent within the region, and to encourage and inspire more books and stories with Asian content. (Read more about it.)

The way Sophia and Catherine described their novels definitely made me long to read them, and I finally got to, as review copies of the books made their way to me a couple of weeks ago!

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Smaller and Smaller Circles (Interview + Giveaway)

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It was in 2013 when I first encountered the crime-solving Jesuit Fr. Gus Saenz in the anthology “Manila Noir,” where he appears in the story “Comforter of the Afflicted.” Not that he needed further introduction. I was in college when I first heard of the novella “Smaller and Smaller Circles,” although I was not able to get ahold of a copy until the Manila Noir book signing, when I and a bunch of other bloggers quickly foraged through the bookstore shelves for copies when we found out F.H. Batacan was at the event.

I read “Smaller and Smaller Circles” shortly after that, and I thought it was a great character study. I also liked the way it explored the nature of humanity and what pushes people over the edge. And when the expanded novel came out, I was quite curious to see what changes were made to the original manuscript. I read it in preparation for yesterday’s book signing and I wasn’t disappointed – there’s a lot more meat to this expanded edition – and I was glad to revisit the novel once more.

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#cybilsreads: Nimona

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“Wow” was all I could say as soon as I finished Noelle Stevenson’s “Nimona.” Very few books manage to surprise me these days, and I must say Nimona blindsided me — I wasn’t expecting to fall completely in love with this book!

Nimona is a young girl with the ability to shapeshift, and she signs on to be the sidekick of the evil villain Lord Ballister Blackheart. Nimona and Blackheart scheme to expose the treachery of the kingdom’s champion (and Blackheart’s nemesis) Ambrosius Goldenloin and the Institution of Law Enforcement.

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Longbow Girl

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The place we’re staying at right now (while our house is getting renovated) has a big tub, and over the summer it quickly became a favorite reading spot when it was too darn hot to do anything else.

This is how I ended up reading Longbow Girl by Linda Davies. Set in the wild Welsh countryside, Merry Owen’s family is struggling to keep their small farm from the clutches of their aristocratic neighbors, the De Courcys.

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