[sticky entry] Sticky: Welcome!

Sep. 9th, 2013 08:05 pm
calissa: (Default)
Hi there!

This post is for those people I've just met and/or those who want to get to know me. I enjoy making friends and getting to know people, so I encourage you to introduce yourself if you haven't already.

Family )


Interests and organisations )

I do have some health troubles, mostly to do with my upper body, arms and hands. Sometimes managing the pain can be a challenge and can limit the amount of time I can write and spend on the computer.

I also like to get to know people. So if you have any questions, feel free to ask. :D

Last updated on 3 July 2017.
calissa: A low angle photo of a book with a pair of glasses sitting on top. (Mt TBR)

Published: February 2019 by Five Fathoms Press
Format reviewed: E-book (epub)
Series: The Harwood Spellbook #2
Genres: Fantasy, alternate history, romance
Source: Publisher
Available: Amazon (AU, CA, UK, US) ~ Barnes & Noble~ Kobo ~ Smashwords

Disclaimers: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This review contains spoilers for previous volumes/books.

Cassandra Harwood scandalized her nation when she became the first woman magician in Angland. Now, she’s ready to teach a whole new generation of bright young women at her radical new school, the Thornfell College of Magic

Until a sinister fey altar is discovered in the school library, the ruling Boudiccate sends a delegation to shut down Thornfell, and Cassandras own husband is torn away from her.

As malevolent vines slither in from the forest and ruthless politicians scheme against her, Cassandra must fight the greatest battle of her life to save her love, her school, and the future of the young women of Angland.

The first novella in the Harwood Spellbook series, Snowspelled was one of my favourite books of last year, so I was delighted to get my hands on a copy of the sequel. Thornbound does a brilliant job of meeting the standard set by the first book, keeping the thoughtfully feminist themes of the series while advancing both Cassandra’s story and the world itself.

Just as Cassandra is on the verge of achieving her big dream of opening a school for women magicians, things begin to unravel. Her childhood bully arrives as head of the delegation sent to decide if she’ll be allowed to keep the school open. She finds herself saddled with Angland’s most annoying weather wizard as an instructor… who then misses his first class. The Boudiccate have sent her husband running all over the country on urgent business since the day of their wedding. And to top it all off, Cassandra hasn’t had a good night’s sleep since she arrived at the school, thanks to a reoccurring nightmare. It’s enough to leave anyone fatigued and frazzled.

Cassandra continues to make a compelling character. As a trailblazer–both as the first woman magician and as the head of the first school for women magicians–she’s headstrong and stubborn, with a clear idea of what she wants and a reasonably solid plan as to how to bring it about. Going against society’s expectations means she knows the value of appearing confident and relying on her own strength. However, these qualities don’t always serve her well, particularly in her personal life. The story does a fantastic job of pushing back at narratives of the lone hero, noble sacrifices, and, to a degree, protecting loved ones. Instead, it draws out themes of respecting the choices of others, making connections, and not trying to do it all oneself.

I was also delighted to see Cassandra continuing to wrestle with the loss of her magic. All too often, fantasy stories turn to the magic fix, especially when it relates to health and able-bodiedness. While the loss of her magic doesn’t affect her in a physical way, it represents the absence of a crucial part of Cassandra–one that she still grieves over, even as she forges ahead. It forces her to be more resourceful and to rely on others, making her a far more interesting character than otherwise.

The story is set in an alternate Regency period. Many stories set around this era tend to be very white, so it was gratifying to see a reasonably diverse cast. Both Cassandra’s husband and sister-in-law are people of colour who occupy positions of significant power in this world. Racial tensions have been transferred to species instead, with an uneasy truce between the humans and the fey who formerly occupied the land. Naturally, there are some prejudices on both sides and we see some of this play out in Cassandra’s half-fey housekeeper, Miss Birch. Even Cassandra, who has nothing but respect for Miss Birch’s skills, catches herself making disparaging comments about the fey in front of her housekeeper.

Elements of mystery are included, as Cassandra tries to figure out who made the altar to bargain with the fey and what the deal is with the thorny vines both in her dreams and in the waking world. Cassandra is juggling so many balls that it keeps the stakes high and the story moving at a reasonable pace as she reels from one disaster to the next.

On the whole, I found Thornbound just as charming a novella as its predecessor. Its exploration of feminist themes was both thoughtful and satisfying. I’m really looking forward to the continuation of the series.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

calissa: A black and white photo of a large, dark teapot and a small Chinese teacup with a fish painted on the side (Tea)

Loose-leaf Links is a feature where I gather together the interesting bits and pieces on sci-fi, fantasy and romance I’ve come across and share them with you over tea. Today’s tea is Earl Grey from Lupicia. This has become my favourite Earl Grey blend. The tea is excellent quality and the bergamot is fragrant without being harsh.

Announcements ) Awards News ) Community and Conventions ) On Equity ) For Writers ) For Readers )

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

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

It’s amazing the way the minute I say I don’t care about shrinking Mt TBR it goes and shrinks. A lot of it was due to Aurealis reading, which had to be wrapped up. However, I also did a bit of decluttering. It’s nice to have the pile below 400 books again.

Mt TBR Status

Mt TBR @ 1 January 2019: 442
Mt TBR @ 31 January 2019: 391

January Reading Plans ) Books Read ) Books Acquired ) February Reading Plans )

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

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

Published: January 2019 by Wednesday Books
Format reviewed: Trade paperback, 400 pages
Series: The Gilded Wolves #1
Genres: Historical fantasy
Source: Pan Macmillan Australia
Available:Abbey’s ~ Amazon (AU, CA, UK, US) ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Book Depository ~ Booktopia ~ Dymocks ~ Indiebound ~ Kobo

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Severin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Severin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To find the ancient artefact the Order seeks, Severin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artefact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

There was so much to love about The Gilded Wolves. This fast-paced adventure features a diverse cast, magical heists and a hefty dose of intrigue. It was a joy from start to finish.

I’m always here for a good heist, especially if it involves a tight-knit team. When the story opens, the team have been together for a while and have well-established relationships, giving the sense of a fully fleshed-out world. In fact, when we first meet the team, they are in the middle of a heist and Severin is elbow-deep in trouble. It makes for a wonderfully dynamic start.

The story is told in close third person, with chapters alternating between the perspectives of the team members. Since they each have distinct roles, this enables a view of the different aspects of the heists they pull–which is handy, since their capers often require simultaneous action in different places. When things go wrong, we get to see the other parts of the team realise that something’s not right and follow them as they try to correct course.

The characters are also distinct in their backgrounds and personalities. Laila is a desi cabaret star, a talented baker, and has the ability to read the history of objects when she touches them. Zofia is a Polish Jew, an engineer with a magical affinity for metals and numbers, and is on the autism spectrum. Enrique is a bi, white-passing Filipino historian with a love for language. And Severin himself is half-Arabic, the owner of a luxury hotel and someone who burns for revenge.

These diverse backgrounds are not just for show. The story tackles issues of racism and colonialism. Severin was denied his inheritance because the French faction of the Order of Babel were unwilling to have two non-white patriarchs heading their magical Houses, choosing instead to support Severin’s rival–the half-Haitian Nyx. And the bigger picture involves the Order of Babel undermining and suppressing non-Western nations’ ability to practice their traditional magics. Being a magical heist story, I inevitably compared The Gilded Wolves to The Lies of Locke Lamora. Its willingness to tackle these issues and to include such a diverse cast is what makes The Gilded Wolves superior, in my opinion.

It’s also a very visual novel; it includes some lovely description of outfits, food and architecture without ever getting bogged down. Each of the Houses has their own symbols and visual motifs, which complement the dramatic nature of the plot.

A story of this kind naturally has some twists and turns. The Gilded Wolves managed a nice balance between those I was able to predict and those that surprised me.

All in all, I expect The Gilded Wolves will make my year’s best list once December rolls around. I can’t wait for the next book.

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

calissa: A black and white photo of a large, dark teapot and a small Chinese teacup with a fish painted on the side (Tea)

Loose-leaf Links is a feature where I gather together the interesting bits and pieces on sci-fi, fantasy and romance I’ve come across and share them with you over tea. Today’s tea is Canberra Breeze from Adore Tea. I’m still not sure how I feel about this one. It’s a blend of caramel, berries and rose, with the latter two being the predominant tastes. I’m fond of rose teas, not so much of berry teas. The disparate tastes didn’t make a great first impression, but it’s growing on me. It goes nicely with raspberry jam on toast.

Announcements ) Awards News ) Community and Conventions ) On Equity ) For Writers ) For Readers )
calissa: A low angle photo of a book with a pair of glasses sitting on top. (Mt TBR)

Published: Self-published in January 2019
Format reviewed: E-book (epub), 524 pages
Series: Aurora #7
Genres: Science fiction, military sci-fi, space opera
Source: Publisher
Available: Amazon (AU, CA, UK, US) ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Book Depository ~ Booktopia ~Google Play ~ Indiebound ~ Kobo

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This review contains spoilers for previous volumes/books.

The battle is over, but the war is just beginning . . .

The Zeta invasion has occurred and the world now knows the truth: that an alien threat exists. While the UNF scramble to maintain calm, the pressure mounts to finally reveal their black ops ALPHA soldiers. The only question is, who will be entrusted to lead them?

Harris is still reeling from the devastation that occurred during Decima, and when a startling discovery is revealed, he suddenly loses the trust of the UNF. Next in line is McKinley, but still recovering from his injuries, hes struggling to accept what he has now become. Carrie, on the other hand, is the strongest shes ever been, but her linkage to Harris, and his to the Zetas, sees them forced out and treated as the enemy.

The power they once had within the UNF is lost.

Without a ship or a leader, and with enemies closing in on all sides, the Aurora team must fight to regroup and claw their way back from oblivion.

Carrie, Harris and McKinley face their most explosive showdowns yet, in this action-packed instalment that will leave readers on the edge of their seats!

Reading through the Aurora series thus far has been a long journey: the last instalment was published a bit over two years ago. Bridgeman hasn’t been idle in that time, releasing both a self-published title (The Time of the Stripes) and a traditionally published book (The Subjugate out from Angry Robot). This dedicated work ethic shows through in Aurora: Aurizun. There were a couple of rough spots in the writing style early on, but these quickly smoothed out and, on the whole, were an improvement on previous books.

The pacing remained a little uneven. The story is divided into two parts, with the beginning of the first part largely given over to the fallout from the previous book. This had the potential to feel slow, but there was enough emotional weight to keep things tense. The action peaks at the end of the first part, then slows down as the different factions manoeuvre around each other, before building up once again to the big finale I’ve come to expect from this series.

Once again, this is not a good entry point for new readers. Not only is this the seventh book in the series, but these are not small books and they feature a large cast. Being swamped with award reading, I didn’t get a chance to look back over the previous books in the series, so I feel it is a credit to Bridgeman’s writing that I was able to ease back into the story with minimal confusion over who was who.

However, this may also be due to the fact that this book doesn’t spend a lot of time with the crew of the Aurora. Having lost their ship in the previous book, they spend most of their time cooling their heels, with the focus being more on the personal journeys of Carrie, Harris and McKinley. A schism in the UNF also takes a lot of the spotlight as the top brass split over the best strategy to combat the looming alien threat. Readers who like politics and shifting alliances should very much enjoy this book.

The story also does a good job of continuing the themes of bodily autonomy that have woven throughout the series. I particularly appreciated the way it touched on women’s reproductive rights and how these get hijacked by the patriarchy for their purposes. And I was gratified to see the inclusion of more queer representation, particularly in a character who defies the usual stereotypes.

While I generally enjoyed the story, I was ultimately left with the feeling the series was treading water. There were some steps forward, particularly in relation to the personal journeys of the three central characters. However, these mostly felt like tying up loose ends from previous books rather than treading new ground. The characters are on a deadline, albeit a long one, so the wasting of time does raise the stakes somewhat for future books. That said, it didn’t make for a satisfying read and, given how long the series already is, I wonder how much of it is necessary.

In between all the politicking are some excellent set pieces. The action sequences are strong, visual and violent, helping to anchor the tone of the series.

All in all, Aurora: Aurizun was a solid instalment of the series and I’m curious to see what the next books hold.

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

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

If you’ve been following me for even a short time, you probably know I’m a sucker for a reading challenge. Some of the ones in which I participate are seasonal or only run for a short time. However, I usually sign up for a couple of year-long challenges, just to keep things interesting.

2018 Challenges Wrap-ups

First up, my personal goal for 2018 was to read 125 books. Honestly, I had a hard time trying to decide what seemed reasonable. 2016 & 2017 were both record years and I found it difficult to judge if they marked a permanent change in my reading or whether they are outliers. It seems it’s more of a permanent change, because I ended up hitting 155 books by the end of 2018.

For the annual Goodreads challenge, I was again aiming for 125 and hit 147.

You might think that with all that reading, I’d have managed to meet my goal of shrinking my Mt TBR down to 330 books. Not so. I finished the year at 442, so this goal was a definite failure. In the end, I discovered that I just didn’t care enough about this goal to make it happen. Reviewing makes it a bit of a challenge, and I just have too much fun with book clubs and awards reading. If I have a giant pile of books to read, so be it!

I’d signed up for the Beat the Backlist challenge, aiming to read 52 books published before 2018. I technically managed this, reaching 81 books published before 2018, but it wasn’t in any conscious way and still left the oldest books on Mt TBR untouched.

2019 Challenges

I’ve decided to increase my personal reading goal to 140 books this year. I was thinking about making it 150 books, but I have some rather hefty tomes I want to try and get to. Similarly, my Goodreads goal is 130, allowing space for books not listed on Goodreads.

Having determined that shrinking Mt TBR is just not a priority for me, I have decided to take a bit of a different angle to approaching the pile. This year, I want to tackle the 10 oldest books on the stack. These include:

Vanity Fair by William Thackery
Cloud of Sparrows by Takashi Matsukoa
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
The Magical Toyshop by Angela Carter
Jigs and Reels by Joanne Harris
Creative Wisdom for Writers by Roland Fishman
Palace by Katherine Kerr and Mark Kreighbaum
Boy and Going Solo by Roald Dahl
Creative Mythology by Joseph Campbell

Added to these will be The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu and Black Wolves by Kate Elliot. Both authors are Guests of Honour at Continuum this year and I’d like to have read something of their work before seeing them.

What about you? What reading goals and challenges are you participating in this year?

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

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

Happy New Year! I hope those of you celebrating had wonderful holidays. I had a good break and was glad to spend some time with my family. The only down side was I didn’t get as much reading done as I would have liked.

Speaking of which, it’s time for me to take a good look at my reading stats for the year.

2018 Reading Stats ) Mt TBR Status ) Books Read ) Books Acquired ) Online Reading ) January Reading Plans )

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)

With Christmas now just a couple of days away, Earl Grey Editing is shutting down for the year. I’ll be on holiday as of today until 7 January, making this my last post of 2018.

Before I go, I thought I’d share my favourite reads from this year. These are not books that were necessarily published this year, just read by me this year. In no particular order:

2018 Favourites )

Those are my top picks for this year. What’s on your list?

I hope those of you who are celebrating have a wonderful holiday. May the new year bring you an abundance of tea and books. I look forward to seeing you in 2019.

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

calissa: (Default)
Now that I have finally sorted out some issues with photo hosting, it's time for another update!

Blue Suede Shoes and Dia de los Muertos )

Raven, Frosting and Haunt It! )

Red Currant and By Any Other Name )

Raven and No Filter )

Raven, Sunny Demeanour, Butterfly Dream, Simply Daisy )

Moonlit and Nassau )

I've got a few more to come, but that will do for now.
calissa: A low angle photo of a book with a pair of glasses sitting on top. (Mt TBR)

Since the launch of The Belles earlier this year, Dhonielle Clayton has been very open about taking inspiration from Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. Today I’m over at the Skiffy and Fanty Show, taking a look at the way these two books form an interesting dialogue, with The Belles building on the foundation formed by Uglies while bringing a somewhat more nuanced and feminine perspective.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

calissa: (Default)


Sunset by Elizabeth Fitzgerald on 500px.com





Apologies to those of you I usually send Christmas cards to. This year has eaten my brain and left me underprepared for the holiday season. It leaves me a little sad, since I find the tradition of letting people know how much I appreciate them to be a good one with which to close out the year. However, I also know it's important to look after oneself, especially at such a busy time.

Blogging work has pretty much wrapped up for the year--just a few loose ends to tie up tomorrow. I'm looking forward to taking a break and diving into a few good books.
calissa: A stalk with drying grass seeds sits in the foreground with a golden hill and blue mountains in the background. (Summer)


Hi everyone! Since the formatting promised to prove a nightmare, today's post is only at the Earl Grey Editing blog. Hop on over if you're interested in seeing some of my favourite photos of this year.
calissa: A low angle photo of a book with a pair of glasses sitting on top. (Mt TBR)

With 2018 almost done, awards season is once again gearing up. Which means it’s time for my obligatory eligibility post.

Work I’ve Reviewed

The Ditmar Awards

The Ditmars are Australia’s popularly-voted awards for SFF. Traditionally, they’re presented at NatCon. In 2019 that will be Continuum 15, held in Melbourne 7-10 June.

Works I’ve reviewed that are eligible for the Ditmars:

Best Novel

The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross
City of Lies by Sam Hawke
Echoes of Understorey
by Thoraiya Dyer
Ice Wolves
by Amie Kaufman
Ironheart
by Jodi McAlister
Restoration by Angela Slatter

Best Novelette/Novella

Icefall by Stephanie Gunn

Hugo Awards

The Hugos are the international popularly-voted awards for SFF. Traditionally, they’re presented at Worldcon. In 2019 that will be held in Dublin, Ireland, on 15-19 August.

In addition to the material above, the following works I’ve reviewed are eligible for the Hugos:

Best Novel

Baker Thief by Claudie Arseneault
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
Blood Binds the Pack by Alex Wells
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan
Markswoman by Rati Mehrotra
The Sisters Mederos by Patrice Sarath
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
Twice Dead by Caitlin Seal

Best Novella

Accelerants by Lena Wilson
A Glimmer of Silver by Juliet Kemp
The Flying Turk by Alex Acks, published in Murder on the Titania and Other Steam-Powered Adventures

Angela Slatter’s Verity Fassbinder trilogy is also eligible for Best Series.

Not-Hugos

The Lodestar Award

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan
Ironheart by Jodi McAlister
Markswoman by Rati Mehrotra
Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
Twice Dead by Caitlin Seal

Campbell Award

Sam Hawke
Rati Mehrotra
Leife Shallcross

Work I’ve Created

I am eligible for fan writing categories for these reviews.

The Skiffy and Fanty Show, where I write reviews and conduct interviews, is eligible for the Hugos in the categories of Best Fanzine and Best Fancast. My fellow reviewers are also eligible for Best Fan Writer.

My story New Berth, published in Mother of Invention, is eligible for Best Short Story, with the anthology eligible for the Ditmars in Best Collected Work. Since the story is my first pro sale, I get to take a crack at the Campbell Award, as well.

Happy nominating, everyone! If you have recommendations, I’d love to hear them!

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)

As I’ve mentioned before, my reading stats tend to be down in November. I generally manage 6-8 books, so I was pleased that I managed the higher end of that range this year. I reviewed two collections of short stories this month, which slowed me down. The stop-start of short story anthologies is more difficult for me than simply sinking into a novel.

November also marks the last of my reviewing commitments for the year. Next month, I anticipate sinking into reading for the 2018 Aurealis Awards.

Mt TBR Status

Mt TBR @ 1 January 2018: 351
Mt TBR @ 31 October 2018: 415
Mt TBR @ 30 November 2018: 427

Books Read ) Books Acquired ) Online Reading )

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

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

Published: December 2018 by Queen of Swords Press
Format reviewed: E-book (epub)
Genres: Fantasy, sci-fi, historical fiction, LGBTQIA
Source: Publisher
Available: Publisher (print and electronic) ~ Amazon (AU, CA, UK, US) ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Book Depository ~ Booktopia~ Indiebound ~ Kobo ~ Smashwords

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Outlaws. Lovers. Heroes. Villains.

With their peg legs, their parrots and the skull and crossbones flying from the mastheads of their ships, classic pirates are some of the worlds best-known and easily recognizable outlaws. Or are they? These fifteen stories spin new tales of pirates crossing dimensional barriers for revenge, fighting terrible foes in outer space and building new lives after the Trojan War. Travel to the South China Sea, then on to New York City after a climate apocalypse, then roam the Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy and voyage to distant and fantastical worlds. Go with them as they seek treasure, redemption, love, revenge and more. Raise the Jolly Roger and sharpen your cutlass (or recharge your raygun) and climb aboard for some unforgettable journeys.

Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space) is a wonderfully varied anthology of short stories that was a delight to read. As the title suggests, it covers a range of time periods and genres, from ancient history through to future Earth and into entirely different worlds. Overall, it leaned towards fantasy and pirates of the sea, but there was enough of a mix to prevent boredom.

Queen of Swords Press has historically been very supportive of diverse work, and it shows in this anthology. A number of stories featured f/f romantic elements and one particularly memorable story (Serpent’s Tale by Mhari West) features a poly triad set in Viking times. It also includes characters from a range of backgrounds, with some of the real-world stories being set in the Caribbean, South-east Asia and Colorado. This inclusivity not only reflects the state of the world, but served to keep the stories interesting.

In addition to the variety of settings, there was also a reasonable variety of tone. It ranged from the fun and wacky to darker stories of revenge and those that embraced the grimmer parts of pirate history. However, on the whole it tends towards the lighter end of the spectrum and threats of sexual violence are distant where present.

One trope that I saw a little more often than I would have liked was the exceptional woman–the one woman on an otherwise all-male crew. By and large, it was handled well, but it was an uncomfortable default, particularly in stories with fantasy settings.

I was unsatisfied by a few stories that felt like a chunk of a larger story and lacked proper closure. This is something of a personal bugbear and will not be true for all readers. However, other stories in the collection also felt like they were part of a larger story but still managed to give proper closure to the tale they were telling. A particularly good example of this was the closing story Search for the Heart of the Ocean by A.J. Fitzwater, in which Captain Cinrak the Dapper, capybara pirate extraordinaire, goes on a quest to retrieve a jewel to replace the one she set free from the Queen’s tiara in a previous story.

The overall quality of the stories was good, though there were one or two that weren’t at the same standard as the others. A couple of my favourites were the opening story Treasured Island by Ginn Hale, in which a pirate is marooned on a sentient island and finds peace in living close to nature, and Andromache’s War by Elliott Dunstan, which tells of what happens to Hector’s wife after the sack of Troy–a fierce story about a woman no longer willing to be powerless in the face of men’s war.

All in all, Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space) is an anthology with heart and was a welcome read in stressful times.

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

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

PHOTO by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash. QUOTE from The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

November was SciFiMonth, a reading/media challenge run by Imyril of x+1 and Lisa of Dear Geek Place. The idea is to use the occasion as an excuse to consume all the science fiction you’ve been meaning to get to. Since I did so well with the RIP XIII reading challenge over September and October, I thought I’d keep the ball rolling with SciFiMonth.

Except it didn’t work out that way at all. It turns out that while my reading on any given month varies wildly from year to year, November is the one month I consistently read less. I’m still not entirely sure why that is; NaNoWriMo isn’t something I engage in regularly (and didn’t do this year). At a guess, I would say it had to do with Christmas preparations and the headlong race to the end of the year.

Whatever the case, I didn’t end up reading much for the month of November and only a small portion of it was science fiction:

Knight Errant by KD Sarge. Really a m/m romance in a sci-fi setting. Taro is a former con artist trying to go the straight and narrow to make his adopted sister proud. Unfortunately, Rafe, his sister’s new passenger and old flame, is making that difficult. When Taro tries to get rid of Rafe, the two end up getting captured, then crash land on a deserted planet where everything is trying to kill them. Of course, shenanigans ensue. A decent enough read, but I don’t think it successfully managed to straddle the line between genres.

Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space) edited by Catherine Lundoff. An anthology of pirate stories. A lot of these were fantasy, but there were definitely some space pirates. Review forthcoming.

Peace Force by Simon Haynes. A YA sci-fi. Harriet Walsh is a terrible candidate for the Peace Force, but she’s broke and about to be evicted. When she answers a recruitment letter, she discovers the Peace Force need her help more than she thought. Read for the Aurealis Awards, so I won’t be giving any further thoughts.

I also reviewed Icefall by Stephanie Gunn, a story about mountineering in space that I highly recommend.

All in all, not the most inspired of efforts. I think that in the future I’ll avoid reading challenges for the month of November.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

calissa: A black and white photo of a large, dark teapot and a small Chinese teacup with a fish painted on the side (Tea)

Loose-leaf Links is a feature where I gather together the interesting bits and pieces on sci-fi, fantasy and romance I’ve come across and share them with you over tea. Today’s tea is Afternoon Tea from Lupicia. Despite the colour, it doesn’t taste strongly of tannin, thanks to the blend of Darjeeling and Assam. It is delightful to drink at any time of day.

Awards News ) Community and Conventions ) On Equity ) For Writers ) For Readers )

 

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)


Published: November 2018 by Tachyon Publications
Format reviewed: E-book (mobi)
Genres: Fairy tale, fantasy, contemporary, historical
Source: NetGalley
Available: Publisher (print and electronic) ~ Abbey’s ~ Amazon (AU, CA, UK, US) ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Book Depository ~ Booktopia ~ Dymocks ~ Indiebound ~ Kobo

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Fantasy legend Jane Yolen presents a wide-ranging offering of fractured fairy tales. Yolen fractures the classics to reveal their crystalline secrets, holding them to the light and presenting them entirely transformed; where a spinner of straw into gold becomes a money-changer and the big bad wolf retires to a nursing home. Rediscover the tales you once knew, rewritten and refined for the world we now live in―or a much better version of it.

How to Fracture A Fairy Tale collects stories and poems from across Jane Yolen’s long career and adds in a significant amount of new material. It covers not only fairy tales, but also myths and legends–such as Icarus, or Arthur and Guinevere.

The bulk of the book is given over to the stories, while the final 15% or so contains explanations of how Yolen put her own spin on each story and pairs it with a poem. I personally would have preferred each explanation and poem to immediately follow the story, in part because I have a terrible memory. However, it does allow readers to move easily from one story to the next. One could easily skip the poems and explanations if one wanted to… though I wouldn’t recommend it. I often found the poems to be punchier than the stories and many contained lovely imagery.

As with any collection or anthology, the material was a bit hit and miss for me. I felt many of the stories were more focused on ideas than emotions, making the fractured fairy tale an intellectual exercise. This is another reason I would have liked to see the explanations immediately follow the story.

Yolen has had a long and successful career. Many of the stories date back decades and I found myself noticing the ways they didn’t meet the standards of today in terms of representation. Although there are a few self-rescuing princesses, a lot of the gender roles remain traditional, with the women taking care of domestic chores, while the men are the hunters, bread-winners or rulers. I only noted two stories where a prominent character had been gender-flipped and both involved turning an avatar of death into a woman. By and large, people of colour appear only in stories where the entire story is set in a non-white culture. There were a handful of such stories.One Ox, Two Ox, Three Ox and the Dragon King rather rubbed me the wrong way, substituting a dragon with a Western temperament for the calmer Eastern one. But by and large, the remainder of these stories seemed okay–with the caveat that I’m not of the cultures represented and am therefore not the best judge. Unsurprisingly, the Jewish stories fared best and seemed to have the most heart, tapping into Yolen’s own background.

Being fairy tales, there was a lot of dark material. Stories come with trigger warnings for sexual assault, incest, concentration camps, and physical and emotional abuse. There was also some body shaming and sex shaming. Readers are advised to tread with caution.

Some favourites of mine included One Old Man, With Seals, which takes the Greek shapeshifting sea god Proteus and introduces him to a modern, retired librarian; Great-Grandfather Dragon’s Tale in which an elderly dragon tells his grandchildren the tale of Saint George and the split between dragons and men; and Mama Gone, yet another story about a dead mother… but one who returns as a vampire. Of the poems, I liked Warning from the Undine, a nicely sinister poem with a more traditional rhyming scheme than most of the other poems in the collection; To Be Paid, a satisfying and rather political poem about writers taking vengeance through their art; and When I was a Selchie, a poignant meditation written after the death of her husband.

All in all, How to Fracture a Fairy Tale shows the span of an impressive career, but it’s a collection that needs more inclusivity for a modern audience.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

Profile

calissa: (Default)
Calissa

February 2019

S M T W T F S
     12
3 456789
10 111213141516
17 181920212223
2425262728  

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Feb. 21st, 2019 08:37 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios