calissa: A low angle photo of a book with a pair of glasses sitting on top. (Mt TBR)

 

Once Upon a Time, Once Upon a Time X, OUATX, OUAT, Melissa Nucera, Stainless Steel Droppings, Carl V. Anderson

Artwork by Melissa Nucera

The Once Upon A Time X reading challenge finished yesterday, so it is time for me to check in with how I went. To recap, OUAT is a reading challenge for lovers of fantasy, fairytale, folklore and mythology. It is organised by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings and runs from 21 March to 21 June. I signed up for:

Once Upon a Time, Once Upon a Time X, OUATX, OUAT, Melissa Nucera, Stainless Steel Droppings, Carl V. Anderson

 

Read at least one book from each of the four categories. In this quest you will be reading 4 books total: one fantasy, one folklore, one fairy tale, and one mythology. This proves to be one of the more difficult quests each year merely because of the need to classify each read and determine which books fit into which category. I am not a stickler, fear not, but I am endlessly fascinated watching how folks work to find books for each category.

In my sign-up post, I identified my books as:

FolkloreAradia: Gospel of the Witches by Charles Leland. Purportedly a study of Italian witch folklore in the 19th Century, there are some doubts as to its authenticity.

FairytaleThe Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth. More historical fiction than fairytale, but I think it’s close enough. It tells the tale of Dortchen Wild who falls in love with Wihelm Grimm as she tells him the fairytales she has grown up with. Reviewed here.

MythologyIshtar edited by Amanda Pillar and K.V. Taylor. A trio of novellas based around the myths of Ishtar. Reviewed here.

I made it, but only by the skin of my teeth! I finished Aradia just yesterday, having become distracted by reading for the Hugo Awards.

I’ve not yet mentioned the fantasy component, mostly because it’s the easiest part. This year I read:

Arkanae by Lynette Noni. A young girl steps through a portal into another world where she ends up attending an academy for students with special abilities.

Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch. The fifth in the Peter Grant/Rivers of London series. Peter takes a much-needed break from London to help search for two young girls abducted in the country. Includes fae done right.

Marked In Flesh by Anne Bishop. Fourth book in The Others fantasy series. As with the entire series so far, the book has some excellent ideas and intriguing worldbuilding but is let down in execution. There are a lot of characters and not enough distinguishing their voices, even in close third-person.

Bespelled by Dani Kristoff. A Sydney witch finds herself in a tricky predicament when a malicious spell renders a handsome, high-powered lawyer in love with her. A fun read, though it veered briefly into some dark territory.

Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani. Reviewed here.

The Opposite of Life by Narrelle M. Harris.  When bodies start dropping like flies around Melissa Wilson, she decides it is up to her to investigate. She soon discovers Melbourne has an undead underground she never suspected. I felt it did a good job of subverting some typical urban fantasy tropes and I particularly enjoyed the relationship between Melissa and her awkward investigative partner, Gary.

Widdershins by Jordan L. Hawk. The first book of the Whyborne & Griffin series. A private investigator and a languages scholar team up to uncover a cult while struggling with their attraction for each other. Another m/m historical romance with a big dollop of the supernatural that gives it a vibe similar to The Mummy. Which the story plays on. Griffin was charming, but it’s Whyborne’s adorable but heartbreaking awkwardness that did me in. Highly recommended.

Sisters of Icarus by Becca Lusher. Reviewed here.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. Reread. I saw the Miyazaki anime before I read the book and was so astonished at how different the versions were that I had trouble seeing the book for its own merits. I think I did better this time around. There’s a lot to love in this quirky YA tale. I especially love Howl’s origins and Sophie’s no-nonsense approach to his drama-queen antics.

Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold. Reviewed here.

Memories of Ash by Intisar Khanani. Reviewed here.

Vigil by Angela Slatter. Reviewed here.

Ember by Bettie Sharpe. Reviewed here.

 

Once again, I enjoyed the event hugely, though I wish I’d had more of a chance to check out some of the other reviews that went up as part of the event.

If you participated in the event, I’d love to hear how you went. If not, what fantasy, fairytale, mythology or folklore have you read lately?

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

calissa: (Calissa)

Ishtar, Amanda Pillar, K.V. Taylor, Kaaron Warren, Deborah Biancotti, Cat Sparks, horror anthology, Morrigan Books, Gilgamesh Press

Published: November 2011 by Morrigan Books
Format reviewed: Paperback, 262 pages
Genres: Horror, sci-fi, speculative fiction
Source: Pulp Fiction Books
Reading Challenges: Australian Women Writers Challenge 2016, Once Upon A Time X, #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks
Available: Amazon ~ Book Depository ~ Booktopia ~ Kobo

Disclaimer: A few of the contributors are acquaintances. I have done my best to give an unbiased review.

This novella collection is powerful, sexy and very, very deadly.

‘The Five Loves of Ishtar’: Kaaron Warren Follow the path that the goddess Ishtar takes through the eyes of her most devoted worshippers, her washerwomen. Sharokin, Atur, Ninlil, Shamiran, Ninevah and Ashurina share in their goddess’ loves, losses and triumphs, as kingdoms rise and fall in the Land of Rivers.

‘And the Dead Shall Outnumber the Living’: Deborah Biancotti In modern-day Sydney, male prostitutes are dying. Their bones have turned to paste and their bodies are jelly. As Detective Adrienne Garner investigates the deaths, she finds rumours of strange cults and old gods whose powers threaten her city and, ultimately, her world.

‘The Sleeping and the Dead’: Cat Sparks Dr. Anna remembers little of her life before the war, merely traces of the man she used to love. When three desperate travellers rekindle slumbering memories, she begins a search that takes her to Hell and beyond. A search for love and, ultimately, enlightenment.

Having an interest in mythology but next to no knowledge of Ishtar herself, I picked up this anthology on a whim at a speculative fiction convention in the distant past. It trends a bit more towards horror than I would usually read–unsurprising, given the authors–but it remained within my tolerance.

As the description makes clear, Ishtar is a collection of three novellas that tell the story of the goddess at different points in time. Kaaron Warren kicks off the anthology, showing Ishtar at the height of her power. Ostensibly told in first person, the point-of-view pulls towards omniscient third person. I didn’t find this a problem, but I know others may. In fact, I found the point-of-view an interesting aspect of this story. There are multiple washerwomen telling the story, but the sameness to the language encourages the reader to perceive them as the same person–much as Ishtar does. And yet, the washerwomen often have different attitudes towards the goddess they serve. I appreciated this nuance.

Being Kaaron Warren, of course there’s viscera in the seams of Ishtar’s clothing and armies of still-born babies. Despite this, I found the story a bit slow-paced and felt my attention wandering from time to time. It had a lot of work to do in laying the foundations for the other stories. Covering a lengthy period of history, it details Ishtar’s myths as well as her loves (which are usually related), bringing them to life with historical detail. I enjoyed the way it commented on the changing relationship between the genders (though I should note it was very heteronormative and subscribed to a gender binary). Likewise, it did an excellent job of showing the changes in power experienced by Ishtar.

Deborah Biancotti’s modern take was better paced and it hooked me in much more quickly. Like Cat Sparks’ story, it was told in third person, present tense. Ishtar was more of a distant character in this story, though remains at its heart. As such, her motives weren’t entirely transparent and the story lost cohesion a bit towards the end. However, I thought it connected well to the previous story and the justification for setting it in Australia was reasonable. One quibble I had was to do with the style. In places it was both show and tell, as if the author didn’t trust the reader to interpret the description correctly. However, this was a relatively minor annoyance.

Having dealt with the past and the present, Cat Sparks’ story focuses on the future. It is unclear how far in the future it is, particularly since Dr. Anna’s memory is a bit sketchy. It is also unclear where exactly it is set, other than a desert wasteland containing remnants of the present day. I liked this because it could equally have been former Mesopotamia as Australia (though I’m leaning towards the latter). I found the style a bit fussier than the previous stories, playing with language in a way that was sometimes enjoyable and sometimes tiresome. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this story most of the three. I appreciated the way certain elements of the previous stories had been reinterpreted for the future setting. As with Deborah Biancotti’s story, the ending devolved into chaos a little too much for my taste. However, it was also an appropriate finale to the anthology.

Overall, I found Ishtar a solid anthology but one not precisely to my taste.

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

calissa: A low angle photo of a book with a pair of glasses sitting on top. (Mt TBR)
Once Upon a Time, Once Upon a Time X, OUATX, OUAT, Melissa Nucera, Stainless Steel Droppings, Carl V. Anderson

Artwork by Melissa Nucera

Once Upon A Time is a reading challenge I look forward to every year. Organised by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings, it’s challenge for lovers of fantasy, fairytale, folklore and mythology. It runs from 21 March to 21 June and there are a number of ways you can participate. Those who are busy but still want to join in can sign up for just one book, while those looking for something more challenging might consider reading one book from each of the listed categories plus Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. There are also challenges for lovers of short stories, movies and games. Whatever you decide, the core rules of OUAT are:

Rule #1: Have fun.

Rule #2: HAVE FUN.

Rule #3: Don’t keep the fun to yourself, share it with us, please!

Rule #4: Do not be put off by the word “challenge”.

Last year caught me completely off guard, but this time around I’m ready! I’ve decided to stretch a bit with this year’s challenge and have signed up for: Once Upon a Time, Once Upon a Time X, OUATX, OUAT, Melissa Nucera, Stainless Steel Droppings, Carl V. Anderson

Read at least one book from each of the four categories. In this quest you will be reading 4 books total: one fantasy, one folklore, one fairy tale, and one mythology. This proves to be one of the more difficult quests each year merely because of the need to classify each read and determine which books fit into which category. I am not a stickler, fear not, but I am endlessly fascinated watching how folks work to find books for each category.

I’ve paired this challenge up with the #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks challenge, and have raided Mt TBR for the following:

Charles Leland, Aradia, Gospel of Witches, folklore, Ishtar, mythology, Deborah Biancotti, Kaaron Warren, Cat Sparks, Amanda Pillar, K.V. Taylor, Kate Forsyth, The Wild Girl, fairytale, Once Upon A Time

FolkloreAradia: Gospel of the Witches by Charles Leland. Purportedly a study of Italian witch folklore in the 19th Century, there are some doubts as to its authenticity.

FairytaleThe Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth. More historical fiction than fairytale, but I think it’s close enough. It tells the tale of Dortchen Wild who falls in love with Wihelm Grimm as she tells him the fairytales she has grown up with.

MythologyIshtar edited by Amanda Pillar and K.V. Taylor. A trio of stories based around the myths of Ishtar.

Once Upon A Time reading challenge, reading pile, The Spell of Rosette, Kim Falconer, Battle Axe, Sara Douglass. The Dark Mirror, Juliet Marillier, Blood of Innocents, Mitchell Hogan

Of course, this still leaves the fantasy component, but I have no concerns on that front. In fact, fantasy makes up most of my Mt TBR! Fortunately, I like having lots of possibilities. The photo shows only a very tiny selection… one that may have been influenced by reading Jennifer Fallon’s The Lyre Thief not long ago. With the exception of Blood of Innocents, they’re all books written by Australian women writers that I’ve been meaning to read for far too long.

If you’d like to join the challenge, there’s still time to sign up. I’d also love to hear from you: what fantasy, folklore, fairytale and mythology is on your Mt TBR?

 

 

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

calissa: A low angle photo of a book with a pair of glasses sitting on top. (Mt TBR)

oncetimenine400

The Once Upon A Time IX reading challenge finishes on Sunday. I’m busy chasing deadlines and am not likely to squeeze in any more reading, so it is time for me to check in with how I went. To recap, OUAT is a reading challenge for lovers of fantasy, fairytale, folklore and mythology. It is organised by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings and runs from 21 March to 21 June. I signed up for:

once9quest1

Read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time categories. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres.

In my sign-up post, I mentioned that I was nervous because this was my first year participating in the challenge while also blogging here at Earl Grey Editing. It turns out I need not have worried–there’s always plenty of fantasy on my Mt TBR. This year I got through six books.

Books! )

Once again, I enjoyed the event hugely, though I wish I’d had more of a chance to check out some of the other reviews that went up as part of the event. Next year, I might try the more challenging Quest the Second: read one book each of fantasy, folklore, fairy tale, and mythology. At least I have plenty of time to prepare.

If you participated in the event, I’d love to hear how you went. If not, what fantasy have you read lately?

 

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

calissa: (Calissa)

22740970

Published: July 2014 by Smashwords
Format reviewed: E-book (mobi)
Series: Tales of the Aekhartain (Historical Aekhartain #1)
Genres: Historical fantasy
Source: Smashwords
Reading Challenges: Once Upon A Time IX
Available: Amazon ~ Smashwords

Disclaimer: The author is a friend. I have done my best to give an unbiased review.

Demairo’s life is far from easy. Living on an isolated island with a father who hates him and a mother he adores, things are difficult enough without the whispering voices that cry on the wind. Because this is no ordinary island.

Luckily Demairo is no ordinary child, and he has some unusual friends to support him. But a storm is coming, and no amount of crows, seals or shining stars can save him – unless he chooses to be saved.

A choice is only the start of the journey.

Set in Roman Britain (456AD), Unbound and Free is a collection of four stories following Demairo across almost thirty years as he finds out where he truly belongs.

Although the blurb calls Unbound and Free a collection of stories, I found it better to treat them as a single novel. The first of the novellas, Jealousy’s Shadow introduces us to Demairo and his family. It is clear from the beginning that the dynamics between them are uncomfortable at best, so if domestic violence is a trigger for you, it might be best to give this book a miss. Demairo’s father, Dewydd, is an abusive drunk who likes to take out his anger on the young boy.  Demairo’s mother, Lowena, does her best to shield her beloved son, but there is only so much she can do, especially when she has to keep the household running almost single-handedly. She gets some help from her brother-in-law, Elisud, who, while as sweet as his brother is sullen, does nothing to stop the abuse. Of everyone on the island, it is Elisud’s young daughter Ceri who has the most success in defusing Dewydd’s moods, perhaps because she is too young to fully understand the situation.

Of course, the cast list wouldn’t be complete without including the island itself. Rumours on the mainland call it cursed. Only Demairo hears the voices of drowned sailors begging to be released from their torment, but his whole family feels their influence. The gradual corrupting of the characters is nicely handled, particularly in Lowena. Atmosphere is a strength of the novella, arising from the supernatural elements of the island and the tense family dynamics.

I’m not particularly good with history, so I couldn’t say how accurate the details of the story were. I wasn’t convinced the story needed a historical setting and would have worked just as nicely as a low-magic secondary world.

The stories following Jealousy’s Shadow deal pretty directly with the aftermath of the first novella, so I won’t say much about them. The bulk of the second novella, Unbound and Free, had an intensity that matched Jealousy’s Shadow, though in quite a different way. I found the expectations Demairo’s family had of him to be a little uniform for my taste, especially since they didn’t seem to be based on anything concrete.

Unbound and Free is intended to be an entry point for new readers into Lusher’s Aekhartain series and on the whole I think it works as intended, with the exception of a few short scenes that new readers may find cryptic.

Join me on Friday for an interview with Becca.

oncetimenine400

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

calissa: A low angle photo of a book with a pair of glasses sitting on top. (Mt TBR)

oncetimenine400

While I was busy with event reviews, the equinox slipped past me and with it the start of Once Upon A Time. Organised by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings, OUAT is a reading challenge for lovers of fantasy, fairytale, folklore and mythology. It runs from 21 March to 21 June and there are a number of ways you can participate. Those who are busy but still want to join in can sign up for just one book, while those looking for something more challenging might consider reading one book from each of the listed categories plus Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. There are also challenges for lovers of short stories, movies and games. Whatever you decide, the core rules of OUAT are:

Rule #1: Have fun.

Rule #2: HAVE FUN.

Rule #3: Don’t keep the fun to yourself, share it with us, please!

Rule #4: Do not be put off by the word “challenge”.

I won’t lie to you: this year the challenge caught me completely off-guard and unprepared (hence the additional post this week). I have no idea what I’ll read, but there’s always plenty of fantasy on my Mt TBR. With that in mind, I’ve signed up for:

once9quest1

Read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time categories. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres.

This will be my first year participating in OUAT while also running the blog here at Earl Grey Editing. I’m a little bit nervous about how I’m going to go, so wish me luck!

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

Profile

calissa: (Default)
Calissa

August 2017

S M T W T F S
  1 23 45
6 78 910 1112
13 14151617 1819
20 212223242526
2728293031  

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Aug. 22nd, 2017 09:19 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios