Wednesday, 18 September 2019

#bookreview: Heroes of the Realm

Heroes of the RealmHeroes of the Realm by Danielle Ackley-McPhail
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I backed this one on kickstarter!

Heroes of the Realm is a collection of short stories based on the theme of... heroes! As usual, with anthologies, there's a mixed bag of stuff in here.

Ashling and the Little People (Kathy Tyers) -- This is an interesting twist on Irish legends and how Christianity pushed out the local beliefs and superstitions of the area. 4/5 stars

The Tea Dragon (L. Jagi Lamplighter) -- Obviously my favourite! It has tea. And dragons. The scoundrel (more like dandy) has a change of heart which seems somewhat a little too sudden, but tea and dragons make up for everything. Almost. 5/5 stars!

The Fire Proof Man is Dead (James Chambers) -- Magic or science? There's some detective work going on here when super heroes end up stealing stuff before turning up dead. It's okay. 3/5 stars

The Garrison Holds (Steve Rzasa) -- Somewhat superman like, Tobias is tempted to use his powers the same way the enemy does, even if that goes against the principles he's supposed to be upholding. 3/5 stars

Where Monsters Wait (Gabrielle Pollack) -- The monsters aren't real, are they? Lyric has to decide if she believe the mad man or if she's willing to let her village be destroyed. 4/5 stars

Will o The Wisps (Wayne Thomas Batson) -- Another one of my favourites! Stoker Graves is crazy about ghosts--he's excited to go to a camp where Will o the Wisps have been said to kill people, but when it starts to come true, will he have the bravery to face them? 5/5 stars

The Devil in the Details (Danielle Ackley-McPhail) -- I can't quite decide about this one. I liked it but it didn't quite stick in my memory. I also didn't quite get what the mom was supposed to be. 3.5 stars maybe

Glint Starcrost and the Ice Prison (Paul Regnier) -- Dashing rogue in mortal peril? Attempting to save the woman in the midst of the jailbreak? I probably shouldn't like this as much as I did. 4/5 stars

Hard s Watcher (Kerry Nietz) -- I liked the twist in this one. I was expecting it to be something super creepy at first. 4/5 stars

The Librarian Who Would be King (Teisha Priest) - Nothing super new with this one, but I liked it all the same. My soft heart always goes out to the wronged/framed person being saved at the last minute. And then selflessly saving other people on the way. 5/5 stars

The Brick (Jeffrey Lyman) -- mmmm This was a bit too space sci-fi for me. 3/5 stars

All in all, a nice read.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Introducing... #YouBeneathYourSkin by @damyantig @SimonandSchusterIN


Today I have the honour and privilege of introducing Damyanti Biswas' new book, You Beneath Your Skin!

Damyanti has been a great writer friend ever since I started talking about this writing thing online, so I'm really excited that her book is hitting the shelves today!

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You Beneath Your Skin is a crime novel about the investigation of an acid attack on a woman from Delhi’s upper class, set against the backdrop of crimes against underprivileged women. They are assaulted, disfigured with acid, and murdered.

While the framework is that of a thriller, the novel threads together different narrative strands. The author tackles various social issues: crimes against women and why they occur, the nexus between political corruption, police and big money; the abuse of the underprivileged, be it adults or children.

Of these the issue of crimes against women is the strongest—why do men attack women? Why do they gang together? What happens when a woman tries to break the glass ceiling? Can toxic masculinity masquerade as benevolent patriarchy?

Parents would also find this novel fascinating: how do you bring up a good human being in today’s troubled times? How much do you know of your teenager’s life? If you’re the parent of a special child, what challenges do you face and what sort of support can you expect?

It is a whodunnit, but also a whydunnit, because violent crime unravels those affected: the people, the relationships, the very fabric of society, and we get a glimpse of what lies beneath. That’s why the title, You Beneath Your Skin.

The narrative of the book was researched and shaped during the author’s work with Project WHY, and some of the experiences generously shared by acid attack survivors from the non-profit Stop Acid Attacks. To return this debt of gratitude, all author proceeds from the book will go to these two non-profits.

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Damyanti Biswas lives in Singapore, and works with Delhi's underprivileged children as part of Project Why, a charity that promotes education and social enhancement in underprivileged communities. Her short stories have been published in magazines in the US, UK, and Asia, and she helps edit the Forge Literary Magazine. You can find her on her blog and twitter.

All the author proceeds will go to Project WHY and Stop Acid Attacks.


Get a copy now: India | Outside India


Here's a preview of Chapter One!

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Preorder A Kind of Death!

Okay, so this has been kind of under wraps for a while, but preorders are now up so...


A princess who makes dangerous bargains with the afterlife. A man desperate to save his wife, no matter the cost. An uber driver for the undead.

Death, whether real or metaphorical, comes for us all. Yet it is not always the end. And in the depths of grieving can be the promise of hope and redemption.

The tales and poems in this anthology explore the depths of love, loss, and transformation. Whether in a reimagined folktale or a modern urban fantasy, A Kind of Death features a fine balance of tragedy and comedy, but always with a hint of wonder and hope.

As this anthology concerns matters of loss (all handled tastefully and without graphic depiction), certain stories might prove challenging for sensitive readers. Recommend reading with a hot beverage and/or a packet of tissues.

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Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07X8P6636
Other Major Online Retailers: https://books2read.com/u/meB9Yg

Paperback Preorder: https://uncommonuniverses.com/product/a-kind-of-death-a-short-story-and-poetry-anthology-paperback/
Hardback Preorder: https://uncommonuniverses.com/product/a-kind-of-death-a-short-story-and-poetry-anthology-hardcover/

Note: paperback and hardback preorders will receive exclusive A Kind of Death swag!

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Uncommon Universes Press is a traditional publishing company featuring fresh science fiction and fantasy stories with wonder, adventure, and sacrifice. Check out the links below to learn more!


Wednesday, 11 September 2019

#bookreview: The Resurrectionist of Caligo | Wendy Trimboli & Alicia Zaloga

The Resurrectionist of CaligoThe Resurrectionist of Caligo by Wendy Trimboli
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Roger Weathersby is a Man of Science in a land ruled by magic--it's magic that lends legitimacy to the throne, passed down through the royal blood. He's skeptical about it, the way the royals are worshipped and deified, but when Roger is framed for murder, magic might be the only thing that can save him.

The Resurrectionist of Caligo delves into the slightly macabre, with Roger digging up dead bodies for a living, throwing us back into that bygone era were doctors were still learning about the human body. And of course, there's the murders--not just one, but the serial murders that Roger is framed for.

I picked up an advanced proof copy of this from the Angry Robot Books booth during Worldcon, so had no clue what I was getting into. This book surprised me from the very start!

The story is straight forward, barring a few surprising twists, and told in the third person from Roger and Sibylla's POVs. I appreciated this very much because Roger comes very close to being Too Stupid To Live at times. The distance afforded by the third person POV, less angst and more humour, plus the (mostly) altruistic motives, saved me from getting too annoyed. (I did think will you just shut up now, you're being an idiot a few times.)

But as I mentioned, the humour! This is the type of writing that I enjoy: snark and dry wit. I found myself laughing to myself quite a lot. I also do like the star-crossed lover scenario, made even better by the fact that it's not a new love, but a failed entanglement that is still getting in the way of them moving on.

There are some niggling "but why..." questions, but nothing that really detracts from the enjoyment of the story. Overall, a fun read!

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

#bookreview: Kingdom of Souls | Rena Barron

Kingdom of SoulsKingdom of Souls by Rena Barron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

All Arrah wants is to have just a little magic. The way her parents have it, the way her Grandmother, the great Aatiri chieftain, wields it and sees visions of the future. But she doesn't, and when children start disappearing in Tarah, Arrah does the forbidden: exchanges years of her life for the taste of magic.

Kingdom of Souls is involved and complex. Gods walk the earth, the Demon King is manipulating humans for his freedom, and Arrah is caught in between, powerless. It's beautifully crafted, bringing you into a world of witch doctors and magic, an eternal battle of good vs evil--except who is good and who is evil? Barron turns your expectations upside down, creating a pantheon of gods who are both good and evil, powerful yet fallible. After all, they created this mess. Now they need to fix it.

Arrah is a compelling character--as she needs to be as the voice of this novel. It's fascinating to sink into her view of the world, the outsider always wanting to fit in, the outcast desiring the one thing that would finally make her accepted by her society. It's made even stronger as her most precious relationships are tested and tried, exploring the question, what is love? Does her mother love her even in the midst of her frigid nature and her pursuit of revenge? Can Rudjek really love her in the face of the opposition of both their families?

The gods come into it here and there, with brief interlude chapters that sound like monologues. It's a little jarring, but does give some context to everything that is taking place.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Harper Voyager via Netgalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Kingdom of Souls releases on 19 Sept 19.


Sunday, 1 September 2019

Of Endings and Goodbyes

There’s always a sense of leaving.

Today I sit on the 607 to White City, to what may be my last Ealing write-in. I usually read on the bus, but today I watch the scenery and feel a sense of... nostalgia? A sense of saying goodbye? It doesn't make sense. It’s only been a year.

Not long enough to set down roots. Not long enough to belong. Not really.

But there is a sadness in saying goodbye. I’m maudlin. I don’t leave the UK until mid-December but I am moving away from this neighbourhood in West London down to the south.

Spotify croons You’re not finished yet. You’re not finished yet.



I’m not. I have an essay to hand in that I’m procrastinating on because of this finality.

These are neighbourhoods I’ve never explored, but have always thought one day, one day I’ll get off this bus at a random spot in between and I’ll see what you have to offer. 

I never have. Now I never will. They’re just shops. A suburb. I don’t do this back home. Maybe I should.


I take photos. It’s a beautiful day. I want to remember this place. It has been good to me.

You have been good to me.

~

I don’t write at the write-in today. I read and reread my essay, tweaking it to sound a little bit more academic, a little less like an irreverent Terry Pratchett-esque commentary. Deleting my snarky footnotes does the trick.

The discussion revolves around reasons to punch a priest and the differences between the Catholic Church and the Church of England. We should read more Austen to figure out what a parish is, one says.

I order the cream tea, telling myself it’s not the last cream tea I’ll have in England. I have another three months, more than enough time for tea and scones. I finish editing the essay, leaving only the references to be formatted. I have been putting off formatting the references for half a week now. What's another few hours?

I am restless. I'm always restless.



I leave early, at half-past four, to make it in time for church.

The Piccadilly is shakier than usual. I hate the Piccadilly line but the Metropolitan doesn’t serve Ealing. There doesn’t seem to be a direct train to Uxbridge coming anytime soon, so I take the Piccadilly to Rayners Lane and change to the Metropolitan there.

~

Church is a series of telling people that I'm done, I'm almost done, I'm leaving soon. I have plans, I don't know what my plans are, I'm working on plans. I hope to tour Europe before I go, I don't know if I will see you again.

It's a rash of goodbyes, some I take care to tell that it may be my last service, it will be my last evening service. Next week, my halls will kick me out at ten in the morning, so I'll have to wake up for the morning service. We have a life group BBQ after that, and then I'll be gone.


We have dinner.

I walk home in the gathering dark. It's getting dark earlier, there's a chill in the air. I've gone from complaining about the stifling heat to thinking I should close one of my windows. It's not that cold yet, 3/4 of my windows stay open. I don't use my scarf, though I brought it out.

I fix my references.

Submit my essay.

I'm done.


There's always a sense of leaving; all things come to an end.

You make all things new.

Friday, 30 August 2019

#Dublin2019 #AnIrishWorldCon in tweet threads

I was looking up my own notes for the panels I attended at Worldcon 2019, so here's a listing of the threads I made. Also so I can find it later on. lol. I dunno how this embedding thing works, I'm assuming you can click it to open the full thread.

We'll see.

























Why did I attend so many panels. hahaha.