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New Suns – Speculative Fiction by POC collection – Blog Tour Book Review

Synopsis

“There’s nothing new under the sun, but there are new Suns,” proclaimed Octavia E. Butler.

New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Colour showcases emerging and seasoned writers of many races telling stories filled with shocking delights, powerful visions of the familiar made strange. Between this book’s covers burn tales of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and their indefinable overlapping. These are authors aware of our many possible pasts and futures, authors freed of stereotypes and clichés, ready to dazzle you with their daring genius.

Unexpected brilliance shines forth from every page.

What I Thought

As with any short story collection there will be stories that you love, many that you like and a couple that just don’t quite hit the spot (at the time of initial reading at least). When the former two outweigh the latter you are onto a winner and that was the case here.

Speculative fiction is always as much about the here and now as it is about visions of the future. A number of the stories provide such good political commentary that Trump will want their authors federally investigated! Three Variations on a Theme of Imperial Attire (E. Lily Yu) – a take on the Emperors New Clothes conjured up scary naked visions I didn’t really want but provided brilliant political satire.

The stories were an eclectic mix which is what you hope to get with mixed representation. Here we also had mixed presentation. From an euthanasia tourist holiday infomercial script to fairytales, ghost stories, gang warfare – there is something to suit everyone. I guess I was expecting a little more straight science fiction but enjoyed the variety of fantasy and slightly more contemporary feeling pieces. Even the couple of stories that didn’t quite hit the spot for me were lyrically written and just because the meaning was not immediately apparent to me doesn’t mean they won’t jump out at someone else. As readers we bring so much to what we read and current preoccupations jump out more readily.

My two favourite stories were:

The Freedom of the Shifting Sea (Jaymee Goh). With echoes The Shape of Water this is a f/f love story with feminist themes.

The Virtue of Unfaithful Translations (Minsoo Kang) is written as an historical paper on a peace treaty orchestrated by two translators who don’t quite translate what is being said by the violent rulers going head to head. I particularly liked the add on commentary about not looking enough at the female perspective and I’d actually really want to read the translators story in real time.

Do you like reading short stories about the macabre and unusual? Then pick up New Suns and step into the unknown.

Check out the rest of the blog tour and see which stories other people highlighted.

I was gifted my copy of New Suns for the purposes of providing an honest review. All opinions are, as ever, my own

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Beauty of the Wolf by Wray Delaney – Blog Tour – Beauty and the Beast Retellings

Welcome to my spot on the Beauty of the Wolf blog tour. Wray Delaney is a pen name for author Sally Gardner. I’ve read both Maggot Moon and Tinder – her “retellings” of the moon landing and the fairytale The Tinderbox.

In Beauty of the Wolf she tackles Beauty and the Beast with a gender twist, faeries and an Elizabethan setting. Sounds marvellous, and just feast your eyes on this beautiful hardcover 😍.

Synopsis

‘What some might call beauty, I find monstrous’

In the age of the Faerie Queene, Elizabeth I, Lord Francis Rodermere starts to lay waste to a forest.

Furious, the sorceress who dwells there scrawls a curse into the bark of the first oak he fells:

A faerie boy will be born to you whose beauty will be your death.

Ten years later, Lord Rodermere’s son, Beau is born – and all who encounter him are struck by his great beauty.

Meanwhile, many miles away in a London alchemist’s cellar lives Randa – a beast deemed too monstrous to see the light of day.

And so begins a timeless tale of love, tragedy and revenge…

A stunning retelling of Beauty and the Beast

Beauty of the Wolf is out now, and if your appetite for Beauty and the Beast retellings has been whet, you might like to check out the following too. I appear to have a number of them – not all read yet.

Books

The Original by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve (1740)(not yet read 😱) – this edition designed by MinaLima has interactive pages and is a work of beauty.

A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR) /A Court of Mist and Fury (ACOMAF) by Sarah J Maas – ACOMAF has to be one of my favourite books of all time and the first and the second books in this series are loosely inspired by B&tB with Faeries making the perfect beasts.

A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer – a contemporary YA fantasy with a human girl sucked into a world where a Prince is cursed to relive his 18th year and turn into a beast every autumn. This is a recent release, and first in a series.

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (not yet read) – our beauty in this one is betrothed to an evil ruler and has been trained to kill him. Will she?

The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross (not yet read) – this one is told from the Beast’s point of view and reviews suggest he is extremely sympathetic in this version.

Disney

2017 Film novelisation (Read)

Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly (Read) – story centred on an adventure with the magical book that appears in the 2017 film.

As Old As Time (not yet read) is part of the Twisted Tales series and has the tagline – What if Belle’s mother cursed the beast?

The Beast Within (not yet read) is part of the Villains Tales series focusing on the Beast.

Film/TV

Disney animation (1991) – Belle is my favourite Disney Princess and every bookworm I know just wants the Beast’s library, and a number prefer the cartoon beast to the cartoon human. Plus Chip is the cutest teacup ever.

Disney live action (2017) – I actually really enjoyed this live action remake staring Emma Watson especially the little feminist twists that were added.

Beauty and the Beast TV series (1987 – 1990) – I was in love with this series as a teen. Linda Hamilton of Terminator fame starred as Catherine who finds romance with Vincent (Ron Perlman) who lives below the city in the sewers.

Beauty and the Beast TV Series (2012-2016) – Smallville’s Kristin Kreuk is a detective who falls for an ex-soldier hiding from the government who experimented on him. I started this series and really enjoyed it. Must watch the rest.

Beastly (2011 Film) – Vapid pretty boy Pettifer gets cursed by an Olsen twin and needs Vanessa Hudgens to fall in love with him. Cheesy but fun.

Are there any other B&tB retellings I’m missing?

What strikes you most about the synopsis of Beauty of the Wolf?

I was gifted a copy of Beauty of the Wolf from HQ/HarperCollins and I think I’ll be having a Beauty and the Beast themed read/watchathon in March.

Forsaken Genesis by M. J. Marinescu – Blog Tour Book Extract

On Sunday I had an interview with author MJ Marinescu on the best bits of being a writer and today here’s the synopsis and an extract from his book Forsaken Genesis.

Goodreads Link

Synopsis

The world has changed in more ways than one. Most humans live in the safety of the hive cities, massive industrial complexes walled off to the outside world. Yet, the dangers of the wilds are no longer limited to the outskirts. Rumours abound of strange things in the night. Sightings of subhumans and citizens being abducted, whisked off by men in vans or worse. The Department of Control keeps a close eye on the citizens of Avalon but who are they protecting?

Melissa thought the world outside the facility would be safe. Free from the pain and the incessant tests of the men in white coats but what she finds is a world unknown. Fleeting memories call to her like a siren song pleading for her to remember. Can she figure out her strange dreams and the shadowed figure who hounds her in her sleep? She must discover who she is and come to terms with the truth that may have been kept from her for good reason if she hopes to survive in this strange new world.

Author Information

MJ Marinescu has always dreamed of being a novelist. Writing stories from a young age, the author has never faltered from that dream as well as devoting time to fitness and martial arts. Born in Ottawa Ontario, the author now lives in Calgary Alberta and enjoys art, animals, and nature. You can keep up with MJ on Twitter @MJMarinescu or at the official website

Prologue Extract

Johnathan surveyed the scene of the crime, the flashing lights of the Department of Control perimeter drones warning the public to remain at a distance. Another disappearance in a string of similar incidents over the past few months. The difference this time was that he arrived before whoever was covering them up.

“How did you find this one so fast Faye?” Johnathan asked.

“I knew the person involved. There’s something else you need to know, but I wanted to tell you in person,” she replied, a look of concern on her face as she regarded him.

Johnathan scratched his unkempt beard, the stress of the recent mysterious cases beginning to show on him. “Well?”

Faye motioned for him to follow her as she stepped through the laser perimeter. The drones scanned both detectives as they crossed, running their images through the department’s databases. The building was lit only by the shouldermounted flashlights as they headed down the hallways.

Avalon was the first of the industrial hives of humanity, a pinnacle of the modern age, but despite the prestigious title, the city was not immune to squalour and crime. This building, like countless others, was one of the many places untouched by the reach of the city’s everincreasing supervision.

Faye stopped outside what remained of a door. Another of the drones kept watch, reporting everything back to the department where it would be catalogued and filed. “John, look at me. We’ve been partners for a long time. We’ll figure this out, okay, I promise.”

Johnathan looked at Faye, gazing at her into the room. The air hung with the burned solder and copper, but also pine, which seemed out of place. Pushing his way past Faye, he stepped into the apartment. Torn furniture littered the simple room, but most of the area was filled with cybernetic scraps, paint cans, and other hastily abandoned equipment. “Junkers? What does this have to do with our case?”

“Not only junkers, John, they were trying to control the Awakening. Now they’re gone,” she spoke, barely above a whisper.

A chill washed over him as his mind toyed with the possibility. “How is that possible? Wait. You said you knew the person involved? Faye?”

She motioned with her eyes for him to follow as she placed a finger to her lips. Continuing through the room, Faye stepped out onto the landing through the broken window. The city’s neon lights and loudspeaker announcements rang out over the heavy rain and the constant patter of water on metal. A set of rusted fire escape stairs snaked down the side of the building.

Johnathan looked back into the room before following his partner down the precarious stairs. When they reached the bottom, he asked again, “Where are we going?”

“I don’t want the drones to hear, okay?”

He raised his hands in mock surrender. “Okay.”

“I promised her I wouldn’t say anything, but after tonight I have to. It’s Jane.”

The name hit him like a truck. “My Jane? What about her?”

“Look, I investigated this fellow a couple of weeks ago. He was working out of the room upstairs. When I came in, I saw Jane. She was with him.”

“What the hell does that mean? It couldn’t have been Jane. She said she was going to visit her mother in France.”

“I’m telling you, John, it’s the truth. She only told you that she was leaving town for a while because she’s afraid. She told me that she was showing signs of Awakening. She was desperate and trying to find anything that could help, so she turned to the junkers.”

“Son of a…” he trailed off, tapping on his communicator. “Call Jane,” he commanded as the device complied.

“John, stop. I made her tell me where she was staying, but that isn’t the only problem now.”

“Why wouldn’t she tell me?” He pressed the communicator again, disconnecting the call as the voicemail message played. “All right, I’m listening.”

“It wasn’t the Order of the Shield who got here first. It was the Grove.”

“Like the Grove? I thought they were a myth?”

“Well, if my contact is to be believed they’re real. I don’t have any reason to doubt him, and now shortly after he contacted me, he’s gone dark,” Faye said flatly.

“Okay, so the Grove is real if we believe your guy, and he was working on helping the Awakened. The Grove must also be after them, like the Order. The disappearances, the coverups, they must have all been Awakened. This means the government is working with the Order, and if they’re in on it, the department must be too.”

Faye quirked an eyebrow. “Now you see why I didn’t want the drones to hear.”

“This is insane. We sound like conspiracy nuts. I’ve been with the department for twentyfive years. Nothing like this has ever come up.”

“Well, this whole Awakened business is very different from normal problems.”

“True. So, where’s Jane? If she’s mixed up in this, I need to get to her first.”

Faye pulled out a crumpled piece of paper and handed it to him. “Be careful, John. If the department is part of this, you can’t use any of their gear. Don’t even take your car there.”

“Good idea. Thanks, Faye. You can handle the rest of the work here?”

She nodded, then strolled off towards the front of the building leaving him alone in the alleyway. Johnathan read the address on the paper, turned off his communicator and ran off.

~~ * ~~

Jane opened her eyes groggily as the bright, white light of the room assaulted her. She tried to move but soon realised she was restrained on a table. Panic set in as she struggled against the bonds trying to remember how she got here. She was sitting in one of Overdrive’s socalled safe houses. He had set her up temporarily while he worked out the last few things he needed for his cure. A loud crash from the next room woke her up. What would John do? she thought, looking around the room, trying to find any clues.

The room was large and filled with state of the art equipment, better than any she had at the hospital. Some of them she did not recognise but could hazard a guess as to their purpose. Aside from the equipment, the room itself was dull. She glanced around for insight into the area. Thick windows surrounded her. One window revealed a hallway with doctors, or she assumed they were doctors by their attire, walking this way and that, each accompanying a young girl. Patients of some sort, they all wore the same drab robe, ranged in age from five to their late teens, and all walked with the same sleepy demeanour.

From the second window, she could see two men conversing. One man was some sort of chairman if she had to guess. His perfectly tailored suit, slickedback hair, and sunglasses commanded authority and a sense of selfimportance. The second man, another doctor. Judging by their body language, they were speaking about her.

The third set of windows revealed a room similar to the one she found herself in. The same bed, machines, and a girl in her late teens who struggled against her bonds. Her wild mane of dark hair flailing as she did. Unlike the other girls Jane had seen, this girl seemed scared, either the drugs they used to keep the children docile had worn off or were otherwise ineffective. She watched the girl struggle violently while the doctor in the room ignored her antics as he busied himself with something Jane could not make out. It reminded her of a video she had seen as a child. A rabbit restrained, struggling so frantically until it broke its own neck trying to escape whatever tests the doctor had planned.

Her thoughts were cut short as the door to her room opened. She stared as the man in the suit strode off down the hall. The doctor he had been speaking with approached her with a predatory smile, like a child who had been given permission to keep the cricket he captured.

“Sorry to keep you, Mrs. Edwards.”

“How do you know my name? Where am I? What’s going on here?”

“We know a great deal about you, and soon I hope to know more. Please give me a moment while I prepare the serum.”

Jane could hear him moving things behind her but could not see. What little hope she had remaining that this may be an actual hospital died as the stark realisation hit her. Panic once again set in as she struggled against her restraints. The girl in the other room looked at her before the doctor pressed a switch causing the windows to tint.

She felt a sharp pain in her neck from the doctor injecting her, causing the room to spin and his words to fade as she tried to make sense of them. She lay helplessly as he picked up instruments to run his assessment of her. The way he went about his business with casual disregard shocked her, and she wondered how many other people he had done this to. At that moment, she realised the last thing she had told her husband had been a lie and that she was never going to have the chance to tell him the truth.

The blog tour runs until Sunday so do check out the other posts.

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