I love love love to read short stories (the literary ones from college are my favorites!), but I don't think that I've ever reviewed an anthology. Since I was so intrigued by the authors and the premise of Beyond the Pale, I figured that I would give it a shot.
I have to be honest and say that I skipped some of the stories for various reasons. I know that Jim Butcher is everyone else's favorite here at Bibliophilia, Please, but I am yet to read The Dresden Files. (Before you string me, I bought them on Kindle and Audible, so Storm Front will be happening soon.) I also skipped Frost Child by Gillian Philip because I wasn't in the mood for fairies at the time. Jan Yolen's A Knot of Toads and Nancy & Belle Holder's The Adventures of Lightning Merriemouse-Jones were both passed over, as I could get into them. That being said, these stories will not factor into my overall rating of the book.
Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela Saladin Ahmed
When I took classes on Middle Eastern history, I had to read One Thousand and One Nights because a culture's fairy tales are important to their history. (If you want an in depth conversation on this, I'm down for it later.) Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela is very like the stories that Scheherazade told.
Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela was a fairy tale without a true villain, and I never felt any danger for the main character. However, I was engaged and creeped out through the end and will happily read more stories from Ahmed. 3.5/5 Stars
The Children of the Shark God Peter S. Beagle
I was a die hard fan of The Last Unicorn growing up, so I had the highest expectations of this story in regard to the rest of the collection. Thankfully, The Children of the Shark God is a story that I could walk away from and return to later because I got distracted despite the story's brevity.
The Children of the Shark God a typical "god" story where no mortal can know or understand his/her ways. What struck me as funny is that the Shark God was not the character in the story that loved unconditionally. That's not really a spoiler as gods tend to act like assholes in mythology, but it was something interesting to read.
I'm impatient, so I did get a little bored because nothing really happened except the exploration of the family dynamics between the Shark God's mortal wife, children, and himself. Of course their are supernatural/paranormal elements because, hello? God? The writing was good and I persevered. 3/5 Stars
Misery Heather Brewer
Misery was my favorite story in Beyond the Pale and resonated most strongly with me. Misery reminded me so much of depression. You can't remember life before it or how you got there, much like the characters living in the town of Misery. The eyes of the neighbors have the only colors in a world of black, white, and gray. That was pretty fucking profound. If that's not misery, nothing is. And, of course, Misery loves company.
After reading the story, I looked up the author to see what she says about the story, and I was right. I mean, there really wasn't anything else that it could've been about. 4/5 Stars
Shadow Children Heather Brewer
I was unable to sleep one night, so I pulled out the anthology and read Shadow Children
It's about the scary shadows that creep in the dark, and needless to say, there was no going back to sleep for me. 3.5/5 Stars
Red Run Kami Garcia
Red Run is the prefect example of what a short story should be like. I was on the edge of my seat, anxious to see what would happen next. Excellent ghost story! 4/5 Stars
Pale Rider Nancy Holder
Pale Rider is a bit more dystopian than paranormal at first. The world has pretty much ended, and Dana is scrambling to survive with her friends. Then Alex shows up and changes everything.
There are quite a few things that I found to be inconsistent with the story, and I was scratching my head in confusion by the end. 2.5/5 Stars
South Gillian Philip
South was a bit confusing to me at first because of the narration of the story. However, I knew exactly what the story would essentially be about as soon as I read about the water, ice, and penguins. That's how you know I read far too much urban fantasy. 3.5/5 Stars
I know my reviews were very short, but so were the stories. I did the best I could to avoid spoiling your enjoyment. That being said, I liked what I did read in Beyond the Pale, and I found some new (to me) authors that I'll be reading. If an author can successfully execute a short story, then I am very interested in seeing what they can do with a novel.
- 3.5/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance digital copy of the book from the editor in exchange for an honest review. (less)
Angelfall by Susan Ee has been on my radar for a few years now, but I avoided it because I haven't had a lot of luck with self-published novels. Honestly, I probably would have taken my time in getting around to reading it, despite the fact that I owned it on Kindle and Audible, if not for many reviewers that I trust raving about it in anticipation of its sequel, World After.
I'm so glad that I got off of my ass and read it.
Angelfall is one of those rare books that captures you so completely and makes it impossible to devote any sort of time or attention to work, children, bathing, sleeping, etc. Sadly, I'm not really exaggerating. From the moment that Penryn happened upon Raffe being dismembered by other angels, there was no getting away from it.
Angels really aren't my thing usually, but Angelfall makes them into badass warriors instead of the friendly Renaissance beings that we're more familiar with. I mean, even the Bible says that carry flaming swords and bring destruction in their wake. They are vicious, thus making Angelfall a very dark book. And awesome.
Equally badass is the main character, Penryn Young. No, she doesn't wield that famous flaming sword, but she can kick ass and take names. Her paranoid schizophrenic mother has made her take multiple forms of martial arts for five years because she was afraid that something would harm Penryn. (Apparently paranoid schizophrenics have a leg up on the competition in the apocalypse.) Back to Penryn - she's a girl that I really dig. She puts her family above everything, even her moral hesitations about beating up on an injured person for information. Wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. Anywho, she will kick your ass and take your name.
You guys, I also need to tell you about Caitlin Davies. She is the narrator for Angelfall, and she made the story explode from an overload of fabulousness. Susan Ee's writing is awesome on its own, but Davies really brought the characters to life. The voices of the various characters were diverse without sounding silly, and there's not much I love more than listening to a narrator and being able to tell which character is speaking without the "_____ said" nonsense.
It has taken me weeks to find the words to do justice to Angelfall, and they still aren't enough. This is a book that I will forever be a champion for, and it still won't be enough. I've already bought several copies for my friends and family as gifts, and I highly recommend you get your hands on a copy, too. You won't regret it.(less)
I must have paid some sort of sacrifice to the god of bestowing wonderful books because I've come across many lately, with J.D. Horn's debut, The Line, being the latest of the bunch. I was worried that I wouldn't like the book, despite it being a paranormal fantasy set in the South. However, the main character, Mercy Taylor, and Horn's excellent writing won me over within the first handful of pages.
Because of Anne Rice, I've noticed that many people expect Southern Gothic literature to be set in New Orleans. Savannah, Georgia is a spellbinding (see what I did there?) alternative to the Big Easy because it is also a city rich with history, ghosts, and promises of magic. I felt that Savannah was just as much a character in the story as Uncle Oliver or Jilo because we are shown so many landmarks and quirks of the city throughout the story. The Savannah in The Line is probably in our world, but there are just a few differences. Magic, hoodoo and witches are kept under wraps for the most part, but those who believe in it are generally accepting of it.
The characters in The Line are flawed, secretive, and thoroughly intriguing. There are love triangles, lies, scandals, betrayal, and murder - you know, a typical Southern family. Seriously though, the Taylors are very dysfunctional, and their treatment of Mercy made me cheer for her even harder. Let me just say though, Mercy makes her money by lying (guiding the Liar's Tour of Savannah), and she is head over heels in love with her sister's boyfriend. Perfect she is not.
After reading The Line, I was very surprised to learn that this was Horn's debut. His writing is clean and sharp, and it was difficult for me to put the book down. There were twists and turns in this book that blew my mind. I'm usually good at guessing how things would turn out, but that was not the case. There was one bit that I thought I saw coming, and then it was turned on its head. My mouth was genuinely hanging open.
The only gripe that I have about The Line is that the ending was a little rushed. I think things started tying up too quickly, and I didn't get enough information to back up some of the twists. They still made sense, but I wanted to know more. I will cut the book some slack because there is a sequel coming out later this year.
The Line is a wonderful book that any readers of Southern Gothic and the paranormal will enjoy immensely. It's one of the best books that I've read so far this year, and I can't wait to read more books from Horn.
- 4.5/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a copy of the novel from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for an unbiased review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All expressed opinions are awesome, honest, and courtesy of me.(less)
I'm typing sentences, deleting them, and attempting to write more. I don't know what to really say except that Burning Girls left me speechless. I sta...moreI'm typing sentences, deleting them, and attempting to write more. I don't know what to really say except that Burning Girls left me speechless. I started reading the story without reading any reviews or the words italicized at the start. It was on Tor.Com - what else did I need to know?
What I found in Burning Girls was a striking mixture of witchcraft, Judaic mythology, fairy tale, history, and feminism. The more I read, the more I was sucked in by the writing of Veronica Schanoes. She weaved the above-mentioned elements into her world flawlessly and held me helplessly ensnared in it. By the time I reached the end, my skin crawled and was covered with chill bumps.
Veronica Schanoes' Burning Girls is a story you should put aside an hour for, and she is definitely a writer whose future works I will be impatiently waiting to read.(less)
Prophecy Girl has all of the makings of a book that I'd love - initially. Cecily White has a deligh...moreReview originally posted on Bibliophilia, Please.
Prophecy Girl has all of the makings of a book that I'd love - initially. Cecily White has a delightful sense of humor that saturates the novel. It is a paranormal story set in New Orleans that nods to other supernatural works. Amelie Bennett, the protagonist, is snarky, stubborn, and just has something special about her that I cannot put my finger on, but I know that I would like to see it in more heroines. However, the issues that I had with White's debut clouded my enjoyment.
Firstly, let me say that I didn't not like any of the characters. They were just the problem. It was really difficult for me to remember them from scene to scene. I could recall the name of the school's Queen Bee and clique member, but I had a hard time remembering the more important characters and what their roles were. I kept going back in the book to refresh myself on who people were. It is very rare that I have to do this when I'm reading. Prophecy Girl had enough twists that this was a pretty major problem for me.
There was, of course, a romance in the novel. I had some mixed feelings about it, but I think Ami handled it as well as could be expected. She was very honest about her feelings, and she called Jack on his bulls--- when he dished it out. (Why can't more heroines do this?!) I will say that I do NOT like the whole teacher-student romance, even if they are close in age. I think anyone who is in a position of authority over their partner, especially a younger one, creates a lot of issues, and it's just wrong when a teacher is involved. But I won't rant because it wasn't terribly offensive. Jack was a substitute teacher for all of five minutes, so I just squinted my eyes at it a little and kept reading.
Though I had a hard time enjoying the book as thoroughly as I think I could have, it was still a pretty good read. Cecily White is an author that I'll most definitely be keeping my eye on in the future, and I can't wait to read books with her fantastic writing style. I will try to read Prophecy Girl again because the positive aspects of the book are definitely worth it.
- 2.5/5 Stars -
*To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an ecopy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.(less)
Me: Well, well, well, you FINALLY read Stormdancer.
Myself: You knew that I would! I just had to get around to it.
Me: Oh, please, you're the biggest procrastinator ever!
Myself: Whatever, I read the book, marveled at the epic world-building, basked in my crush on Yukiko, and cried like a bitch at the end.
Me: I hate that you use such a cliche word like "epic" to describe the novel. Why not use the less tired word "magnificent"? I mean, this man created this whole other world (yet similar to ours) that is undergoing the effects of horrible pollution and heinous government that we can all likely look forward to if we don't straighten up.
Myself: I'm going to stop you before you go too far on that. You know we get tired if we start thinking too hard about such things as environmentalism in fantasy and science fiction. And then you'll start making Dune references, and people will get bored...
Me: Okay, I'll leave Dune out of it, but the perfect balance of politics, environmentalism, and writing is pretty damn close to Frank Herbert. We'll see how the world history does in the next books.
Myself: *rolls eyes* No one reads Dune anymore. Can we please talk about the state of things in Shima and Yukiko?
Me: I tell you what, I wouldn't be booking any vacations there. It's a scary thought that the primary fuel source can also be used as a drug, and 99% of the population is addicted to it. Think of the situation that we'd be in if we could smoke gasoline.
Myself: Well, there are people who huff it, but thankfully folks tend to outgrow that after they turn twelve.
Me: Don't bring your pets with you to Shima, either.
Myself: Can we talk about Yukiko now, please?
Me: Buruu was cooler.
Myself: I liked Yukiko, and he wouldn't have been what he was without her. She had this feisty, rebellious personality, and she did not take shit off of anyone.
Me: She was harsh and close-minded. If you had even the smallest fault, she wrote you off and was cold.
Myself: Yes, but she was loyal to her loved ones and friends. She was also very trusting once she let a person in.
Me: She also let her panties be her guide in the middle of a revolution like the silly teenage girl that she was.
Myself: Please, that was barely referred to, and you should be the last person making disparaging remarks about where panties have been followed.
Me: Buruu felt the same as I did. Go to page 216:
Yukiko could barely hear his voice over the sound of her heart pounding in her chest. RAIJIN, TAKE ME NOW. She shot Buruu a withering glance as he rolled over on his back and pawed at the sky. HAVE MERCY ON ME, FATHER. TAKE MY WINGS. CHAIN ME TO STINKING EARTH. BUT THIS TORTURE I CANNOT ENDURE.
Myself: That took up maybe 1/90th of the story.
Me: No, Buruu being awesome took up all of the story.
Myself: Pssh, you loved Yukiko, too.
Me: I loved what she did in one of the last fight scenes.
Myself: *sniggers* I figured that you would like that.
Me: She and I are of one brain when it comes to that. Do you remember what I did to —
Myself: I have a little bit of a crush on Kin.
Me: You would. Sprinkle a little nerd powder on the man, and your heart is pounding like Yukiko's.
Me: I wonder if the title of book two is prophetic at all...
Myself: Can we just talk about the fight scenes in the book?
Me: What?! Everything was vital to the story, and it wasn't overdone. It was just beautiful destruction that gave Yukiko the opportunity to grow. You're just saying I'm impossible because you sobbed in the break room at work as you finished the book.
Myself: You cried, too! We're the same person, genius.
Me: Yes, but you're the crazy one.
Myself: I'm not the one that started talking to Myself. *smirks*