Nine by Night: A Multi-Author Urban Fantasy Bundle of Kickass Heroines, Adventure, & Magic. Nine books. Nine bestselling authors. Nine heroines that take names—and chances—while confronting dark foes, whether by force of arms or magic, that threaten their entire world. Over two thousand pages of epic reading await! Let the adventures begin.
Irene Watts' writing always seems to transport me into a mythical world, with odd and neurotic creatures somehow endearing in their vulnerabilities and inherent humanity. Fragments of a whole, her Appetite and Sentiment in the Crow's Nest seem to make up the primary characters of a single being lurching through the vast ocean of a wider consciousness, occasionally boarded by a blind and malicious being like Montag, or watched carefully by the more compassionate birds. I find her work charming...and the visual accompaniment only lends to the poetry.
Irene Watts' writing is more like entering a state of mind, an existential moment. There is an element of being lost inside a deconstructive haze. And, if you're anything like me, there's humor there, in the dark corners. Kind of Edward Goreyish, "To Inhabit" is like the Doubtful Guest only with the protagonist as her own suspicious intruder.
Irene Watts' "The Bizarre Tongue" takes the reader on a journey through the birth, cycles of life and discovery and realization (or ideation) of a consciousness to a form of enlightenment...but it seems to me that is not the crux of the story. Instead, it is how the world responds to different forms of beauty, missing the core of experience living inside that transformation as they try to make it manageable, marketable, attainable, material...classifiable. Written as a bird-filled poem, rich with imagery and quirks of humor covering over a deeper sadness at the blind groping of most "seekers" and marketers of seeking, this story stays with you, poignant and haunting.
A quirky, odd, disjointed tale, "The Sun Shone" features homicidal yet sympathetic bulls, back braces, snot, gods and goddesses, vitamin packs, angry pharmacists, Jesus and GI Joe. The images are difficult and visceral. The humor jabs out of nowhere, at times making me laugh aloud. Makes Woody Allen's tales of neurosis in New York seem tame in comparison.
Interesting story, more about the changing of consciousness and its vessel, combined with an almost humorous view of the randomness of coincidence than about cryogenics per se. Some interesting ideas in here (the image of robots "cavorting in caves" will stick with me for some time), and moves quickly, almost Asminov-fashion in terms of style and sparse, dialog-heavy style. A very good read.
Great story - very well written with a visual, in the moment style, believable dialogue and characters. It's also extremely creepy (in a good way). Has a bit of the Butcher Boy vibe to me, only with a great twist at the end. Definitely worth a read!
Really great short story - in fact one of the best I've read in a long time. The characters are well drawn and I got sucked in enough to be at the edge of my seat by the ending, as there's a strong thriller component in addition to the humor. Surprisingly touching ending too, given where it starts - strong recommend!
Very sweet short story, with a lot of heart like all of Laura Ware's work. I'll read pretty much anything by her, because there's always such a sincerity to her characters and situations. This is about the compromises one has to sometimes make to keep a marriage intact.
Really fun and original urban fantasy novel, with a tough heroine and one of the most fascinating worlds I've read about in a long time. Once I got past the initial confusion as to Karen Abrahamson's version of Seattle, I was completely hooked on the world and its characters, and read the entire story in 24 hours.
The idea of redrawing the "map" of the world in kind of a cold war stalemate occurring between and within countries totally fascinated me. Rather than a "magical" world, this felt very grounded and real to me...I found myself sucked into the power struggles between this off-shoot of Homeland Security and the rest of the agency, as well as between the different characters within the branch itself.
The main character, Vallon Drake, is an agent of the GSA and one of the "gifted" tasked with holding the nation's boundaries and correcting accidental changes to the landscape by nascent gifted who are unaware of their abilities. In her world, if one is gifted they can access an ability to remake the physical...erase a house or change a building into a parking lot with some basic tools and their inherent abilities. But woe to the person (or people) who happen to be inside the building being redrawn! The story opens with Vallon looking for a colleague of hers who is caught in just this predicament. While trying to save his life, she ends up a murder suspect, and in the course of trying to clear her name uncovers a wider plot to destroy the NW coast of the United States.
It's a fun ride, and I'm really looking forward to more books in this world!
I really enjoyed this - kind of like "Where the Wild Things Are" mixed with a bit of Lewis Carroll and a dash of J.R.R. Tolkien with the scary spider creatures. My only complaint really is that it seems almost like too big of a story for a short story...would love to see a novel with this world, or even a novella. It reminds me of those dark yet whimsical stories I loved most when I was a kid (and still do!)
Fascinating world with a tough and very authentic heroine whose gift as a "storyteller" is what both gives her power and also marks her for death. I found myself drawn completely into this world and its characters pretty much from the beginning, when Sally stumbles in to find her grandmother murdered on her own kitchen floor. She manages to pass Sally a final story as she dies, about a creature called a "Bone Collector" who hunts storytellers like the two of them.
From that moment forward, Sally is both chasing and hunting one of the more frightening villains I've read in a long time, who eats the bones of storytellers to take their stories into himself. He hunts her friends, her father-figure, Doc, her lover, Rafe, all in an attempt to collect on the deal her grandmother made with him many years previous. In the process, Sally is forced to brave the void to other worlds, and to do whatever she can to kill the Bone Collector before he kills her.
It's difficult to summarize this story, as so much of it is in mood and feel, which alternates between darkly poetic and gritty and very urban/real feeling. The characters are sympathetic and multi-dimensional as they struggle with the multiple realities they are facing. The world which Sally inhabits used to be a part of our world, but for reasons unknown "drifts away" from the world we knew, until no one there needs to eat, and there is no contact with anyone past the void at the edge of town. That alone forms such an interesting backdrop...this fading world and how the people of the town cope with their situation.
It actually at times reminded me of the Gunslinger stories by Stephen King, part mythos and part reality...or some of Neil Gaiman's work. A very unusual voice and world, and one that will stay with me probably for quite some time.
The opening sequence of the book is really evocative, and pulled me in immediately to want to know more about the mystery of the painter, Emery Lake, and his work about to be unveiled in NYC after years of producing nothing. I really enjoyed the interactions with the famous, long-dead painters when Lake and his daughter travel to Provence and he "meets" (or creates?) Renoir, Cezanne, Picasso and Van Gogh...although I admit they worked for me better as characters sometimes more than others. I really loved the main characters throughout, particularly that of Emery Lake himself. Overall, this was a great read and I found myself being pulled back to it, again and again. Much of it is about grief and moving on, especially as an artist...and finding a new foot forward from which to create after the tremendous loss of a loved one. It's also about being a parent, and how sometimes you have to make it through not only for yourself but for those who love and need you. All in all, a great book, and one that really showed a tremendous knowledge and appreciation of the subject matter by the author, including the historical periods demonstrated and the personalities of the artists portrayed. Will look forward to reading more by Terry Hayman for sure!
Too funny. Definitely captures, err...something...in the experience of attending retreats during the monsoon in the land of monkeys, dal and the Dalai Lama. Worth a read if you enjoy laughing at the absurdity of culture clashes and spiritual seekers who take themselves too seriously.
Really fantastic alternate history/historical novel with an excellent lead character in the form of Heron, a mathematician and "miracle inventor" in the time of the Roman occupation of Alexandria. Heron, a real historical figure, is portrayed with a twist in Carpenter's book as a woman (the twin brother to the male Heron, who takes his identity when he dies, as she is the real mastermind of the pair, as portrayed in this novel).
The main premise surrounds the mystery surrounding the cause of the fires that burned down the Library of Alexandria...but the novel takes us through numerous other political intrigues happening at the time, as well as other historical figures Heron interacts with. There is also an interesting (fictional) character in the form of "the barbarian" from the North, who hires Heron to fashion for him a mechanical army from her "miracle" technologies, and in the process she prematurely invents the steam engine. Speaking of steam, in terms of the miracles themselves, there's a bit of a steampunk flavor the book at times, even without the actual steam power.
Overall, a huge recommend for strong characters, a believable alternate history (and interpretation of real history) that is completely fascinating and compelling. Add to that strong action, mystery and intrigue throughout the course of the novel, and it's a tough one to put down.
Three ways a person can scar themselves...all of them very different, and told with both heart and a wry sense of humor. The last story in particular was really visceral, and definitely squirm-inducing, (but in a good way), as well as being the funniest of the three. A well-written and interesting collection of tales that definitely stay with you. Recommend, especially if you like stories that sit somewhere between black humor, memoir, drama and horror.
Really great vignette about a real-life incident on the dangerous Ortega Highway in southern California. The outcome manages to shock even as the author conveys its near-inevitability...as well as its greater significance. To me, the story is more about the humanity of the narrator himself, and the combination of guilt and horror that accompanies those thoughts that arise in all of us from time to time, whether we admit it or not. The honesty of the writer and the dark humor mixed with real regret, really serves almost as a dual warning...about our mortality in those tin-can devices we tend to treat as indestructible, and how easy it is to wish ill on others we don't know, especially when they scare the pants off us. Highly recommend!
This review is from: The Fiddler's Talisman (Kindle Edition)
Really cute, fun story with endearing characters...I love the fairy godmother in a bar scenes, really funny and the voice of Evie, our fairy godmother narrator, makes the book just fly along. Great blend of magic and fantasy and absolutely grounded reality, along with history and classical music and everyday relationship woes. The love story is refreshingly innocent, too, and doesn't insist on the kind of cynicism common in a lot of similar fare. I also thought the book gave a nice take on New York itself, almost an "old fashioned" view of the city, like used to be portrayed more in movies a few decades ago, that I found faintly nostalgic. The setting and how it is experienced through the characters grounds the book even further, blending fantasy with reality in a convincing and almost seamless way.
Definitely promises to be a great series - I look forward to more!
This collection of stories by Donna Brown is delightfully dark and contains fascinating characters with stories that feel off in all of the right (and wrong) ways. I think my favorite of these was "Poison," the story of a wife's struggle with an indifferent and shallow mate, but all of them are clever and unexpected with fun twists. "Round Trip" is the story of a five-pound note as it changes hands through a slew of interesting characters, including a taxi driver, a waitress in a dive pub and a bingo parlour, telling each of their mini-stories. "C'est la Vie" is a grim story of murder and mayhem that also sneaks under your skin and pulls you into the mind of its rather off-kilter but oddly sympathetic narrator. All of these stories are great reads - a collection reminiscent of Shirley Jackson or Roald Dahl's more twisted shorts.
I loved this book...to me it was one of those books where you think it's going to be about the premise (which was cool in and of itself), but it really ends up being so much more than that, not only in terms of plot but in the people. The characters really got under my skin and felt very realistic to me, which isn't always the case in books of this kind. In terms of the premise, Gabby's world is pretty much of the logical extension of where we are heading now. It's a virtual reality type landscape, where instead of attending school the way children do now, they essentially are playing one giant video game in order to earn point thresholds that might allow them to make it into university. Carpenter does a great job setting up the world in the first part of the book, and establishing the main character, Gabby, as one of the ambitious overachievers in her class...yet also hinting she's not above a little hacking and game manipulation to help out her friends...especially those who struggle to maintain the high scores that come so easily to her, due to her high thoughts per second (TPS) scores. But then the story goes into a totally different direction, with a mystery thrown Gabby's way about the true purpose of the game, and what's really at stake for those who don't make it to "university." Wrapped into all of this is a lot of action and quirky characters, especially the frags who live outside the society, and the surprising depth behind one of the "mean girl" characters who seems totally different when you first meet her in the book.
A really great read, and I'll definitely be looking for the sequel. There is still so much I want to know about the world. While it resolved well for a book one, a ton of mysteries remain as to who really runs the world and what will happen with the frags and the other kids who don't make it into university (and those who do). There are also a lot of great villains and potential villains...one character in particular who could go either way...so really left on a highly suspenseful note.
I really enjoyed this book, and it is a fast read. It starts out with a very likeable character, Emmett, an older, African-American man who owns a farm in a time and a place where that didn't happen very often. When a crime is committed on his land, he is forced to cover it up because of who and what he is to the other ranchers, but it haunts him until the day he dies, and pretty much tears his family apart. The story starts there, but then fast-forwards about forty-odd years to his nephew, who is a NYC beat cop and a lot more affected by those past events than he knows. What follows from there is one of the most intriguing plot lines I've read in a long time...it reminded me of "They Live," a movie I really loved when I was younger, only without the dark humor of that movie. Instead it carries a far more serious tone, one somewhere between the X-Files and a police procedural. Simms, the main character, has a pretty normal life for a cop, until one day he is kidnapped by a bizarre and seemingly scientist who tells him a fantastical story about a conspiracy threatening to annihilate the human race. In the process of his kidnapping, the scientist shoots Simms up with a substance that he claims will allow him to see the "truth." After that, Simms' life is never the same...as a reader you're put through the wringer with him as he starts seeing things he can't explain, ends up in a mental institution and then on the run, all the while caught up in a conspiracy whose players he can only guess at, some of whom appear to be friends he's known and trusted for years. If I had any gripe at all (and it's a small one), it was only that it ended a little abruptly, and I would have liked more regarding the final payoff where the reader finally learns the true extent of what's going on and Simms' connection to all of it. But I really hope Lorde is planning a sequel, because I definitely want to read that book! Strong recommend.
A fun, erotic short story about an older businesswoman and a tryst she has with a younger man she meets online. Better written than most in this genre, with a lot of hot scenes and an interesting glimpse into the character's motivations more at the end. Well worth it if you like short erotic fiction.
I really liked this story...really well-rounded characters, and I liked the relationship between the two college roommates as much as I did the relationship between the main character, Aja, and Hayden, the boy with whom her roommate arranges the tryst. Kind of a sweet romance meets erotica, which I wish there was more of, frankly. Well written and hot, sensual scenes. Well worth the read!
While this is a story premise I've seen a lot of, I thought the author did a really good job of making it fresh, mainly by giving the characters and the situations more depth. It's as much a coming of age story as it is erotica, and while there are definitely lots of steamy sex scenes, there's also an ending that makes it feel a lot more about how all three of the main characters figure out what's missing in their lives. The main character is really likable, and the couple she babysits for is really sympathetic too...you really want their marriage to work, which to me, added a lot to the overall story. Well written and executed, and actually almost a novellette, rather than a short story.
I really loved this short(ish) story, introducing the "birth" of DeVante as a vampire, and his unconventional upbringing both as a human and as an immortal. The whole idea of "Ernesto" being born by a witch and growing up pretty much without much civilizing influence is intriguing, and I absolutely loved the description of his being "given" to Katarina, his (eventual) sire. The story is dark and very much a traditional, gothic vampire tale, which I love, but there's also a great deal of humanity and compassion in the detailing of the story of his other human companion, who helps Ernesto/DeVante shoulder the burden of caring for this brutal being, Katarina...in every way imaginable. I particularly loved the story between these two humans, and how they protect one another from Katarina, as well as compete for her attention. A complex, psychological story with great characters, and a perfect intro to the series. My only complaint was that I wasn't ready for it to end when it did...I would actually love to see a whole novel of DeVante's origins, based on this...there is so much here, I could easily see it evolving into a full-length novel at some point.
Wow. What to say about this novel.
It's...intense. I highly doubt people will have a "neutral" reaction to this book.
Personally, I loved it. It felt real on a deep level, even if that reality was in part symbolic. It also totally resonated with relationships I had in my own high school years, in particular with a very close friend who struggled with a lot of the same issues, in terms of feeling forever out of step with the world, and needing an intensity of feeling and connection with others to counteract that in some way, or maybe just to bear it. Flirting with the dark but loving and being drawn to the light was a component in our relationship, as well.
I don't want to say too much about the plot itself, because 1) I don't want to spoil it, and 2) more than anything, it served for me as a psychological journey and deconstruction. Primarily among the latter, it was like witnessing the systematic removal of all of the social "niceties" to reveal a kernel of raw truth underneath.
Or, it was a highly skilled exercise in brainwashing by an incredibly brilliant and manipulative sociopath...you decide.
Of course, I'm somewhat biased because I absolutely love this writer, and pretty much love everything of hers that I read. She captures spaces with her words like no other writer I know, and makes her characters so real I feel almost like I know them. Moreover, she has that gift of making sympathetic those situations and people who, on their face, might seem like they shouldn't be...which is a particular weakness of mine anyway.
Not for the faint of heart, however...or for those who like their morality in neat, succinct, black and white boxes where some things are always "good" and some people are always "bad" regardless of their life situations and the depth of feeling inside their hearts.