logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: short-stories
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-03-22 10:34
For Your Eyes Only
For Your Eyes Only (James Bond, #8) - Ian Fleming

A collection of five short stories that don’t really add much of importance to Bond canon. Still, I guess it’s nice to know where all those movie titles came from.

 

Quick impressions broken down by individual stories:

 

From a View to a Kill: 3* Just a fun little spy story without much substance.

 

For Your Eyes Only: 2* I liked the bit about the birds at the beginning. The rest was boring.

 

Quantum of Solace: 2* In which a casual remark by Bond results in him – and the reader – being subjected to a lengthy, somewhat dull cautionary tale regarding marrying air hostesses.

 

Risico: 2* Colombo is an interesting character, but the story itself is terribly boring and I skimmed most of it.

 

The Hildebrand Rarity: 3* “He rarely killed fish except to eat, but there were exceptions – big moray eels and all the members of the scorpion-fish family. Now he proposed to kill the sting-ray because it looked so extraordinarily evil.” F*** off, Bond. F*** all the way off. As if I didn’t dislike you enough already. Other than that, it was an engaging story, though there wasn’t much in the way of Bondness about it. It could have been just about any sexist, racist Englishman in the starring role.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-03-21 21:02
Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, V.3
The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume 3 - Holly Black,Peter S. Beagle,Stephen Baxter,Stephen King,Hannu Rajaniemi,Jeff VanderMeer,Meghan McCarron,Ted Kosmatka,Rachel Swirsky,Ken Scholes,Richard Bowes,Ted Chiang,Robert Reed,Elizabeth Bear,Kij Johnson,Paolo Bacigalupi,M. Rickert,Margo Lanagan,Maure
 
The depth and breadth of what science fiction and fantasy fiction is changes with every passing year. The two dozen stories chosen for this book by award-winning anthologist Jonathan Strahan carefully maps this evolution, giving readers a captivating and always-entertaining look at the very best the genre has to offer.
 
Short story anthologies like these are a wonderful way to find new authors that interest you. I should probably limit my intake, since my “to read” list is already over 1600 titles, but being the book lover that I am, I can’t resist having a peek sometimes.

As with all collections, some stories were fun, some were confusing, some were boring for me. But I can think of three in this book that made me think I wanted more from those authors.

The Dust Assassin, by Ian McDonald. Mostly because it is set in Asia and I think entirely too much science fiction & fantasy is set in North America. Plus this was a gripping story and I’d like to read more in this world.

Pride and Prometheus, by John Kessel. I love a good mash-up. This story used both Shelley’s Frankenstein and Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to create a little side-adventure that really tickled me. I will definitely be looking for more of Kessel’s work.

26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss, by Kij Johnson. Okay, so I have a huge soft spot for animals, plus I love it when an author gets the biology right! Acknowledgement that chimpanzees and gibbons aren’t monkeys, but they’re still in the circus act. The story left me with questions, something that I also love.

If you’re having difficulty choosing your next book, may I suggest an anthology in whatever genre you enjoy? Sure, there may be some duds, but at least one story in the collection will probably send you off on a whole new reading tangent!
 
 
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-03-20 07:28
The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories
The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories - Nnedi Okorafor,Patricia Hermes,K.J. Parker,Kamila Shamsie,Jamal Mahjoub,Catherine King,Kuzhali Manickavel,Monica Byrne,Kirsty Logan,E.J. Swift,J.Y. Yang,Usman T. Malik,Sophia Al-Maria,Jared Shurin,Claire North,Neil Gaiman,James Smythe,Maria Dahvana Headl

I'll admit I was a bit wary when I picked up Djinn Falls In Love: tempted by authors such as K.J. Parker and Claire North, I worried that the collection itself might suffer from repetition. I needn't have worried. The collection demonstrates a truly staggering variety of perspectives on the concept of djinn, as well as mixing prose and poetry, vignettes and plot twists. As is mentioned in the foreword, the unifying theme of the collection is the humanization of the Other. The collection begins with the poem that gave it its title by an author who goes by "Hermes," then quickly delves into the very traditional, very folkloresque-feeling story, "The Congregation," by Kamila Shamsie, which also contained one of my favourite quotes in the whole collection:

"There is no evil here, only love. God save us from a world that can't tell the difference."

The rest of the collection varied widely in the mood, setting, and in the vision of the djinn themselves.

 

My down-and-out favourite, and enough to make the collection a five-star all on its own, was "A Tale of Ash and Seven Birds" by Amal El-Mohtar. It is a rich, gorgeous allegory or immigration, where djinn refugees to the land of the wizard-nation repeatedly change themselves in their efforts to survive. An excerpt:

"Great Horned Owl

You are an apex predator. Nothing can hurt you now.

You have embraced silence. [...]

Sparrows though. Crows. Cormorants. All these will fill your belly now, and it's their own fault. All their own fault for not choosing a shape the wizard-nation cannot hurt, their own fault for being small or loud or trying to build communities of which the wizard-nation disapproved. You have learned the wizard-nation's way, and you will be able to stay, now, forever." This was not the only story to explore the theme of djinn as immigrant. "Somewhere in America" by Neil Gaiman is actually excerpted from American Gods, which I admit I wasn't thrilled about, but certainly fits the theme. Comically bitter and rather gruesome, it tells the tale of a disillusioned visitor who runs into a particularly peculiar taxi driver. "The Jinn Hunter's Apprentice" by E.J. Swift is an imaginative scifi story that takes place on a busy spaceport on Mars. A bunch of angry djinn, tired of having their once-peaceful world invaded, have invaded a ship and the captain calls in a djinn-hunter. In "The Spite House" by Kirsty Logan, djinns were made corporeal, badgered and threatened out of their homes by violent protesters bearing signs such as "NO SNAKES IN OUR NEIGHBOURHOOD", and forced to live on scraps in the outskirts of society.

 

Other stories use the djinn as the ultimate outside observers. "Bring Your Own Spoon" by Saad Z. Hossain, which was perhaps my second favourite story, takes place in a dystopian future in a ruined world made habitable only by the constant efforts of nanobots. A destitute human and djinn living on the outskirts of society decide to act upon their crazy idea of starting a restaurant for other forgotten members of society. The story is gorgeous and poignant and thoughtful. One of my favourite quotes:

"People always assume that poor people are dangerous. They wouldn't be here, if they were."

"Emperors of Jinn" by Usman T. Malik is a brutal tale about a group of children and a magic book that mixes casual cruelty with human possession. "Authenticity" by Monica Byrne uses a film student's desire to get a romantic encounter between djinn and human on film to very directly plays with the theme of observers and voyeurism--not for me, and I'm not entirely sure I understood the story's goal. "The Glass Lights" by J.Y. Yang is a wistful vignette about a girl who sees herself as a passive observer, constantly pulled by the needs and desires of others and her own compulsion to reshape the world as her djinn ancestors once did. She feels out of place in the world, not because she is secretly part djinn but because she is Muslim:

"You don't giggle with a girl in a headscarf, who can't watch any of the Channel 8 K-dramas you follow because she doesn't speak Mandarin."

 

Some of the stories stretched the idea of the djinn to represent sentient magic, supernatural beings, or even just as a metaphor for untapped and dangerous potential. I find K.J. Parker's short stories to be, without fail, utterly fantastic, and "Message in a Bottle was no exception. A scholar, pursuing forbidden research in the effort to save his country, is faced with the choice of whether or not to open a bottle that could either cure the deadly plague or cause an even worse one. As always, the story is fabulously fun and funny with a darkly ironic edge. Jamal Mahjoub's "Duende 2077" takes place in a future where capitalism has imploded and "The Caliphate flooded into the power void.". The main character is a jaded detective who begins investigating an apparently political crime and finds himself tracing the strands of a rebel plot. Vivid and gritty, it also takes the time to try to explore the motives of martyrs for a cause. "History" by Nnedi Okarafor is an interesting story about a singer who harnesses magic--including a djinn-- to improve her song, and also about the odd quirks of history and the ways in which our actions have unforeseen effects on others. "Queen of Sheba" by Catherine Faris King expands the djinn to other cultures in the context of a very sweet childhood story about growing up. "The Sand in the Glass is Right" by James Smythe uses the djinn as a mechanism to redoing a life over and over. I saw "Reap" by Sami Shah as a classic ghost-revenge story transcribed onto a slightly different space: that of members of the military spying on potential terrorists. It felt to me like a very traditional child-based horror movie, and I found the violence sick and pointless. "Black Powder" by Maria Dahvana Headley is a wild, gruesome, exceedingly American story about a magical gun whose bullets have the potential to grant wishes. Full of archetypal characters and twisted darkness, it reminded me strongly of Catherynne Valente. The writing is gorgeously vivid; for example:

"Each person is a projectile filled with sharp voice and broken volume, blasts of maybe.

The hands outstretch, the hearts explode. The chamber is the world and all the bodies on earth press close around each bullet, holding it steady until, with a rotating spin, it flies."

 

I also appreciated the more traditional takes on the djinn seen in stories such as "Manjun" by Helen Wecker, where a djinn, once the favourite of Lady Aisha Qandisha, becomes a Muslim and exorcises his kind from the humans they torment. It's a bittersweet story about the sense of loss and isolation from loved ones that the newly converted sometimes experience. "How We Remember You" by Kuzhali Manickavel is an odd and creepy story told to a djinn companion lost in childhood. "The Righteous Guide of Arabsat" by Sophia Al-Maria is a cynical and disturbing take on an inexperienced and gullible "mama's boy" who begins to believe his new wife is possessed by a djinn--after all, how else could she be sexually experienced? It's a telling exploration of morality, norms, and the dangers of combining dogmatic ignorance with credulous believers. Claire North's "Hurrem and the Djinn" is an enjoyable alternate history of Sultana Hurrem. Although it starts as a traditional fairy tale, I thoroughly appreciated the ironic relish and flair of North's dialogue, as well as the final sting about a proper woman's place.

 

The Djinn Falls in Love gets a high rating from me not just because of the wide variety of stories but also because of a few memorable tales mixed in. As with all anthologies, not every story will appeal to every person, but I believe there are enough spectacular tales in here that the collection is well worth a look.

 

~~I received this book through Netgalley from the publisher, Rebellion/Solaris, in exchange for my honest review. Quotes were taken from an advanced reader copy and while they may not reflect the final phrasing, I believe they speak to the spirit of the stories.~~


Cross-posted on Goodreads.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-03-18 01:19
ARC Review: Momo: My Everything by Posy Roberts
Momo: My Everything - Posy Roberts

Many, many moons ago, I read the first chapter of this book in a different incarnation, and I also have the previously published version of the whole book.

I struggled with a review for a while, and I'm still not sure that what you're about to read is going to accurately convey my thoughts.

There were many things I liked about this book, especially Nate. His carefree, easy-going persona really appealed to me, but I could also see that he had much inner strength, and a forgiving nature, which was truly needed in light of the stupid shit that sometimes came out of William's mouth.

Which brings me to William - he's the sole POV in this book - who made me cringe on more than one occasion while reading. His self-loathing was evident, even if he didn't think of himself that way, but the fact that he hides his sexuality behind drab colors and a strict and no-nonsense personality at work was telling. While he was more open about his sexuality outside of work, we're also told that he's normally attracted to jock types, and that flamboyant, twinky men don't usually do it for him, and thus the anomaly of his attraction to Nate was somewhat of a shock to him. I didn't enjoy being in his head, for most of the book, and he came across as judgmental and also somewhat ignorant. Like, it's okay to be gay when it's not obvious, and Nate's obvious gayness is a strike against him. Internalized homophobia is not a good look on you, honey.

Nate has an alter ego of sorts - on weekends, he works as a Geisha in a Japanese Tea House, as Momo. In fact, all the Geishas are male underneath the make-up and wigs, and most of the customers have no idea. He's out and proud, a bit flamboyant and unapologetic about it. I liked him from the start - his wicked humor, his easy smile, and his openness.

William and others from his company are enjoying a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, when William notices the somewhat prominent Adam's apple of the Geisha serving him and realizes that it's a man. He's intrigued, and when the young man gives him a business card with his phone number, William decides (after much soul-searching) to give him a call and ask for a date.

Nate/Momo sees something in William, though I couldn't understand what exactly that is. Perhaps he saw the lonely man who convinced himself he isn't lonely at all. Since we don't really get to know Nate other than through William's eyes, I couldn't discern what really drew him to William.

What bothered me the most is that William sought approval from three important people in his life - his brother, his mother, and his loctitian who's been doing his locs for a long time. I thought it someone strange that a grown man was so insecure in himself and his feelings for another man (albeit someone that didn't meet his usual attraction profile) that he had to seek the approval of others to ensure he was making a good decision. It just felt odd to me. What if they hadn't liked Nate? Would William have let him go?

Another thing that bothered me was William chastising himself for desiring Momo just as he desired Nate - as if they were two different people - and thinking that it was wrong. That he was wrong for wanting both. He also tested Nate at almost every turn, and I really didn't like William for doing that. He seemed to expect Nate to fail, and when he doesn't, William seemed surprised. I wanted to reach into the book and shake Nate to just drop William's judgmental ass. I think in these situations, it would have helped to have Nate's POV to make me understand what he saw in William and why he kept jumping through all those hoops for the guy.

William did eventually get his act together and redeem himself, though it was a long and draining road to read through to his happy ending.

There are a few sensual scenes, and I liked one of them best. The rest do further the plot, so there's no gratuitous hanky-panky here.

Overall, it's a good story, but not the best I've read by this author. That title remains with the North Star series.


** I received a free copy from the author. A positive review was not promised in return. **

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-03-17 08:00
Femme Fatale
Femme Fatale (Little Black Classics #15) - Guy de Maupassant

Femme Fatale combines the title story and three other short stories from French author Guy de Maupassant. I can only say that they felt rather explicit and openly contained lesbianism which quite surprised me since it was being written in Victorian times. Something else I notices was that it had a French-ness that I can't really explain any better.

The stories themselves were okay, but none of them left a real impression with me. Rather, they felt quite flat, but I'm not sure some of it was lost in translation. Since I don't read in French, it would have to be in translation again, so I don't think I will be reading more of this author.

Little Black Classic ~ 15

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?