Tag Archives: gottakeepreading

Fangirl Squeaking

The Outcast Hours

Aka. I get paid to read things? Amazing things? HOW?!

Basically, I got to copy-edit an absolutely fantastic anthology; it’s ridiculously varied, interesting, strange, weird, wonderful and eerie. I don’t think I have a favourite story – although I do have about six that have captured my heart in various ways – but it’s been fantastic to work on.

And I did have to read through and tell China Mieville if any of their writing could be improved. ARGH. (Spoiler: it couldn’t.) Anyway, The Outcast Hours is now up for pre-order, and has a wonderfully weird mix of stories – I adore it.

We live our lives in the daylight. Our stories take place under the sun: bright, clear, unafraid.
This is not a book of those stories.
These are the stories of people who live at night; under neon and starlight, and never the light of day.
These are the stories of poets and police; writers and waiters; gamers and goddesses; tourists and traders; the hidden and the forbidden; the lonely and the lovers.
These are their lives. These are their stories. And this is their time:
The Outcast Hours.

Including stories by Amira Salah-Ahmed, Cecilia Ekbäck, Celeste Baker, China Miéville, Daniel Polansky, Frances Hardinge, Indrapramit Das, Jeffrey Alan Love, Jesse Bullington, Karen Onojaife, Kuzhali Manickavel, Sam Beckbessinger, Lauren Beukes, Dale Halvorsen, Lavie Tidhar, Leah Moore, Maha Khan Phillips, Marina Warner, M. Suddain and Omar Robert Hamilton.

Also, I recently got to email one the authors of my favourite book ever, basically going “Hi so yes here’s a little bit of business stuff and OMG I LOVE YOUR BOOK SO MUCH THANK YOU FOR WRITING IT I’VE READ IT NINE TIMES AND IT’S STILL SO AMAZING” and also incidentally I got to read it nine times, and it’s still as fantastic the ninth time. So, there’s that. (I should be able to tell you about that soon!)

I’m still mostly in shock about all of this; the amount of fantastic writing, fantastic authors, fantastic editors… I’m currently working on some of the best SFF to come out of 2018 and it’s just amazing.

I get to read wonderful things, and they pay me to do it. My job rocks!

Review: Love&Bubbles

Love&BubblesA Collection of Queer Underwater Love Stories, edited by Jaylee James & Jennifer Lee Rossman

Love & Bubbles coverDive into romance with these twelve stories of queer love under the sea!
 
Love & Bubbles is a short fiction anthology of love stories united by an underwater theme and featuring characters from across the LGBTQ+ spectrum.
 
Go on a deep-sea voyage to study a brand-new species alongside a cute, distracted scientist. Discover your magic with a water witch and the help of a cute mermaid. Explore the waters of an alien ocean. Get summoned to the surface with a grumpy old merman and his non-binary water demon neighbor. Swim with a catfish goddess, rescue a dolphin… and so much more!

So. Cute! The anthology is a lovely collection of sweet stories, and definitely worth picking up if you need the equivalent of a warm hug. I love the sheer range of protagonists, places, romance choices and possibilities; from the one central theme, the authors have all gone in very different directions, while still keeping the thread of romance and sweetness throughout.

Summoned by Minerva Cerridwen is about a very sweet elderly couple; a grumpy merman meets his strange neighbour and accidentally ends up going along for his next job…which, incidentally, made me laugh that you’d summon the equivalent of a demon for it! In the second story, Worlds Between Us by Riley Sidell, I love the dual-world nature; it’s got long distance relationship issues alongside communication and “will this magic even work?” problems, and I love the complex relationship and cultures hinted at – and the nosy whale, who is adorable.

Some of the stories have similar themes; Color and Pressure by Evvan Burke follows undersea scientists, and I like the worried and reserved nature of the protagonist. Stuck by Mharie West has a similar premise, but taken in a more sci-fi direction as it follows scientists working undersea, getting hung up on an ex…and what happens if your attention gets distracted by a colleague! The Dwindling Forest of Kelp by Victoria Zelvin also has a sci-fi feel, alien and yet familiar; a visitor to the planet trapped along with an inhabitant, learning to communicate and also wondering where/how they’re going to go…

The Selkie Wife by Lia Cooper is a very sweet story; I love the idea of a selkie in the modern world, and the changes in the seas that make coming back to the one place that much harder! Familiar Waters by VS Holmes has a similar feel; it’s very poetic and beautiful, with a mix of mythology and romance – the idea of migration and leaving, and the changes that happen over time, but the relationship remains. Shallows by Jennifer Lee Rossman has a more modern theme, with dolphin shapeshifters and romance – what’s not to like? Signing Under The Sea by Lizzie Colt is also quite modern, following a slowly growing relationship between an ocean dweller and human visitor.

Some of the stories are more human-centric; possibly my favourite story, Tanner and the Water Nymph by Jaylee James, has a non-binary protagonist and a problem with the shower which means meeting an unexpected visitor, and I love the conclusion to this story! It’s so sweet. A Happy Place by Maggie Derrick follows a witch in exile because she hasn’t yet found her magic, and the realisation that maybe she doesn’t have to stick within the confines of what she’s expected to do…especially as she meets someone she’d like to know better… And the last story, Ondine by M Hollis, follows someone returning home after their mother’s death, remembering former history and an old love, and wondering if it’s something they want to return to.

So, overall – a very sweet and unexpected anthology, and definitely worth a read if you want a diverse and light-hearted, romantic read.

Review: The Wizard’s Daughter

The Wizard’s Daughter by Jeff Minerd

Sixteen-year-old Brieze is the apprentice and adopted daughter of a powerful wizard. She never met her biological father, a merchantman from the faraway Eastern Kingdoms who had a brief romance with her mother, then disappeared. When Brieze discovers her mother is still secretly, crazily in love with this man, even after seventeen years, she decides to find
him, confront him, and get some answers from him for her mother’s sake.

In her small airship the Devious, she makes the long and dangerous journey to the Eastern Kingdoms. Along the way, she confronts pirates and the nocturnal ship-crushing beast known as the Nagmor. She survives a harrowing trip through the legendary Wind’s Teeth. She discovers why her father disappeared, and in the process she learns the true
version of her own story.

When Brieze’s boyfriend, Tak, receives word she’s in danger, he sets out on his own journey east to help her. Will he be able to rescue her, or will she end up having to rescue him?

I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this from Jeff as I’d read The Sailweaver’s Son and reviewed it over at SFFWorld. This is the second in a projected three (I think?) – certainly it ends on something of a cliffhanger, so we’re certainly set up for another one!

While the last book focused on Tak, this one is firmly about Brieze (albeit there is some storyline that follows Tak, now training to be a soldier.) The wizard’s apprentice has decided to find her father, and I adore her – well, basically, pig-headed stubbornness that means she’s going to do it, no matter what anyone else says! The characterisation throughout the book is lovely, and Brieze’s stubbornness, independence and sheer character comes through well. My favourite part was probably her trying to sneak out of the Palace, but fighting the Nagmor was a close second.

The atmosphere and worldbuilding is very good, and I loved the Wind’s Teeth, along with the cities; the characters are also entertaining, and the story rattles along at a nice pace. Tak’s arc, while brief, gives a nod to PTSD and the stupidity of young love;  and Brieze finds some of her answers while getting more questions – and everything gets pushed along nicely for the third book, which I hope will give both characters some interesting conclusions!

In short; if you like a mix of epic fantasy and steampunk in a world with floating ships, goblins, sky-monsters, pirates, wizards and very stubborn heroines, then read The Sailweaver’s Son, and then read this!

My TBR pile – Winter 2018

to be read pile winter 2018My To-Be-Read pile is slightly ridiculous. (Again.) And I’m on holiday this week, so I’ve got some time to read! So what’s on the heap?

Takes a deep breath…

(Ok, some of these aren’t entirely fair; I’ve read War of the Worlds, Journey to the Centre of the Earth and The Magicians, but they were part of my BristolCon haul. I’ve also had some of these on my TBR for a year…whoops. And that’s in spite of the amount I have managed to read!)

So! If Cats Disappeared from the World, Your Favourite Band Cannot Save You, Autodrome, The Affinity Bridge, Strange of Tempest, Dreamwalker, Truthwitch, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (in progress), Vanished Kingdoms, Prince Thief, The Man In The High Castle, This Savage Song, The Corpse-Rat King (in progress), The Adamantine Palace, The Bone Season, The Court of Broken Knives and Moon’s Artifice.

And on ebook…

The Wizard’s Daughter (in progress), Love&Bubbles, Starborn, The Ninth Rain, Dangerous To Know, Everless, The Written, Sanyare, Valley of Embers, Where The Waters Turn Black, Touch of Iron, Spectris, Shattermoon, The Tethered Mage (in progress), The Secret of Ji, Broad Knowledge & Choose Wisely.

That’s not including the books that are on my “ooh, that’d be good” – this is literally my “I own this and need to actually read the damn thing” list/pile.

And that’s not including a novel about magical teenagers that I’m halfway through, one about a love & gods & epic struggles that I need to do a third read on, two submissions from friends that I’ve put into my work inbox just so I’ll get them done, a short story and some sneaky erotica from a friend that’s on the top of my list because they’re an amazing writer, and whatever new fiction is on Wattpad. Plus, looking through my pile, there’s a bunch of authors that I need to go see if they’ve published anything more…

Despite the towering heap that I suspect some day will fall over, I’m always happy to take recommendations! But if you need me this week – I’ll be reading.

Ps. Someone at work asked me – “So, how many books do you read a year? Is it, like…as many as 50?”

“Oh, yes. Probably a lot more…”

I did then explain that it’s also my job, but still! 😀