May Wrap-Up

Is anyone else a little shocked that it’s already June 2019? Where have the last five months gone?

May was a bit of a whirlwind as I struggled to finish reading and then writing reviews for all of the best novella and best novel nominees for this year’s Nebula Awards. It was down to the wire, but I finished shortly before the awards went live! After consuming mostly science-fiction and fantasy for a few months I desperately needed a change, so I spent the last half of the month reading contemporary and historical fiction, but I’ve fallen behind again in my reviews.


Alice Payne Arrives by Kate Heartfield  small 4 stars + Review
All Systems Red by Martha Wells  small 4 half stars + Review
The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette De Bodard  small 3 half stars + Review
Artificial Condition by Martha Wells  small 4 half stars + Review
Fire Ant by Jonathan P. Brazee  small-2-stars + Review
The Submission by Amy Waldman  small 4 stars (RTC)
Runaways: That Was Yesterday by Rainbow Rowell, illustrated by Kris Anka  small 3 half stars (RTC)
Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney  small 3 half stars (RTC)
The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea  small-3-stars (RTC)

Book of the Month: All Systems Red and Artificial Condition. The highlight of my Reading the Nebulas Challenge was FINALLY reading Martha Wells’ Murderbot Diaries novellas. Given the critical acclaim they’ve received and reviews from friends, I figured I would enjoy these, but I didn’t know quite how much! I’ve already begun enthusiastically shoving them at friends and family and can’t wait to read the other novellas in this series.

Least Favourite: Fire Ant. I support independent authors and those who write for the joy of it, but if you don’t want your work to be read critically and judged alongside other novellas, maybe don’t campaign successfully/game the system to have your work nominated for a prestigious award! Riddled with grammatical and spelling errors and about as generic a military sci-fi story as they come, this was not for me.

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Seen on Stage: Indulge me for a minute while I RAVE about how fabulous and moving and important Soulpepper’s production of The Brothers Size was! Written by Tarell Alvin McCraney (who co-wrote the film Moonlight based on his own play, In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue), the play is part of his Brother/Sister plays triptych combining Yoruba mythology with contemporary issues faced by African-American men. There’s a timeless quality to The Brothers Size and yet it feels so relevant in this day and age. The relationships between the three men, older brother Ogun, younger brother just released from prison Oshoosi, and Oshoosi’s cellmate and sometimes lover Elegba were rendered beautifully by actors Daren A. Herbert, Mazin Elsadig , and Marcel Stewart, respectively. The Brothers Size is intimate, sensual, heartbreaking, and powerful in its examination of brotherhood, freedom, and responsibility. It’s undoubtedly one of the best shows I’ll see all year and I desperately hope that Soulpepper decides to produce the other two plays in this triptych one day.

I also saw Next to Normal for the first time and loved it!  Musical Stage Company’s production starred the force to be reckoned with that is Ma-Anne Dionisio as Diana. Wow! Dionisio’s voice is stunning, and her anguish and anger about her condition were keenly felt in this tour-de-force performance. I loved that the Toronto cast was so diverse (Diana and her children are played by Asian-Canadian actors) and that the role of Doctor Madden, usually played by a man, was here played by the inimitable Louise Pitre! Stephanie Sy was another highlight of this production as underappreciated daughter Natalie. The set design seemed bland and uninspired for a show of this caliber though  and I found the actors playing Dan (Troy Adams) and Gabe (Brandon Antonio) didn’t have the strongest voices and failed to live up to the energy or emotion brought to the musical by the other performers. Seeing this so closely on the heels of another musical about mental illness, Dear Evan Hansen, I found the message in Next to Normal healthier and more relatable personally, and I was more moved by this production than by Evan’s duplicitous actions.

Coming up in June: I don’t have a set reading list for this month and I’ve paused most of my holds at the library so I’m looking forward to a less structured month of books. Sadly I am still lacking five star memorable reads this year, so I may be diving into my backlist and trying to find some books that I know I’m going to love to read this summer! Hopefully the weather will co-operate – we’ve had a cold and rainy May here in Toronto – for some outdoor reading!

What was the best book you read in May? What books will you be checking out in June? Let me know in the comments!