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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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Guardians of the Wild Unicorns by Lindsay Littleson – Book Review

I recently hosted a guest post from author Lindsay Littleson, which you can read here. I’ve now read Guardians of the Wild Unicorns and am back with my review.

Synopsis

Lewis is cold, wet and miserable on his school residential trip in the Highlands of Scotland. The last thing he expects to see is a mythical creature galloping across the bleak moorland. Unicorns aren’t real… are they?

Lewis and his best friend Rhona find themselves caught up in a dangerous adventure to save the world’s last herd of wild unicorns. Fighting against dark forces, battling the wild landscape, and harnessing ancient magic, can they rescue the legendary creatures in time?

Author

Lindsay Littleson is a primary school teacher in Renfrewshire, Scotland. After taking up writing for children in early 2014, she won the Kelpies Prize for new Scottish writing for children with her first children’s novel, The Mixed-Up Summer of Lily McLean.

What I Thought

I loved this book. Particularly the realistic friendship between Lewis and Rhona.

It starts with poor Lewis dangling from a cliff on a school adventure trip. Except he’d much rather be inside with a good book – I’m with him there! His best friend Rhona is much more adventurous and is trying to bolster his confidence, leading to a line that gave me an image that made me snort laugh. And when you are dangling an inch away from death your life flashes before your eyes or unicorns do!?

Chapters are told alternately from Lewis’ and Rhona’s points of view and cleverly enable the reader to see their inner insecurities. But we also see how they both keep these from, and share them with the other, over the course of them working together and building even more trust in each other.

The conservation storyline is really important and I think that using mythological creatures highlights their rarity and increases the suspense. The children have to outwit some very misguided and/or nasty characters to prevent the unicorn’s re-extinction. This would make an excellent book for class discussion on conservation as well as being a gripping and human story. It also deals with themes such as anxiety and young carers and will speak to children that may not fully see themselves in the many overly brave and outgoing books characters there are.

The use of the Scottish setting and smattering of dialect was a great touch and the publisher DiscoverKelpies is focused on publishing books with a Scottish twist. It is amazing how reading about books set near you or to places you’ve been can add to the magic.

I will leave you with the fact that a group of unicorns is called a blessing. As was reading this book.

Thank you to Kirsten at Floris Books/Discover Kelpies who #gifted me the copy of Guardians of the Wild Unicorns used for this honest review and again to Lindsay for the earlier Guest Post.

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.

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