Tag Archives: Elizabeth Bear

Dead Man’s Hand edited by John Joseph Adams

Overview
Image result for dead man's hand book cover

Title: Dead Man’s Hand
Author: John Joseph Adams, Joe R. Lansdale, Ben H. Winters, David Farland, Mike Resnick, Seanan McGuire, Charles Yu, Alan Dean Foster, Beth Revis, Alastair Reynolds, Hugh Howey, Rajan Khanna, Orson Scott Card, Elizabeth Bear, Tad Williams, Jonathan Maberry, Kelley Armstrong, Tobias S. Buckell, Jeffrey Ford, Ken Liu, Laura Anne Gilman, Walter Jon Williams, Fred Van Lente & Christie Yant
In: Dead Man’s Hand (John Joseph Adams)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Science fiction, Short story collections, Weird western
Dates read: 4th June – 26th November 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Titan Books
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: “Am I interrupting?” she asked.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

HOW THE WEST WAS WEIRD!

From a kill-or-be-killed gunfight with a vampire to an encounter in a steampunk bordello, the weird western is a dark, gritty tale where the protagonist might be playing poker with a sorcerous deck of cards, or facing an alien on the streets of a dusty frontier town.

Here are twenty-three original tales – stories of the Old West infused with elements of the fantastic – produced specifically for this volume by many of today’s finest writers. Included are Orson Scott Card’s first “Alvin Maker” story in a decade, and an original adventure by Fred Van Lente, writer of Cowboys & Aliens.

Thoughts

What a fantastic collection. And a great new genre to add to my ever-expanding knowledge of / collection of books. Before reading Dead Man’s Hand and Westward Weird, I had never heard of Weird westerns. And now it’s a genre that I’m seriously keen to find more of. There is just something amazingly fun and awesome about this collection. Very, very enjoyable.

The gunslingers and card players throughout this anthology took me on an absolutely joyous ride. One that I was kind of disappointed finished so quickly. The idea of the wild west has always intrigued me, making this the first time that I was completely able to thrown myself into this fascination.

This anthology didn’t quite get five stars because I didn’t fall head over heels for each and every story. Having said that, I would most definitely read this again. Even those stories which weren’t quite as holy crap amazing as the others.

<- Dead Man’s HandThe Red-Headed Dead ->

Image source: Amazon

Madam Damnable’s Sewing Circle by Elizabeth Bear

Overview
Image result for dead man's hand book cover

Title: Madam Damnable’s Sewing Circle
Author: Elizabeth Bear
In: Dead Man’s Hand (John Joseph Adams)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Steampunk, Strong women, Weird western
Dates read: 30th September 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Titan Books
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: Go on.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

In a parlour that offers services to those willing to pay, there are a certain set of rules. Ones which, if broken, can have some damnable consequences.

Thoughts

This short story was a lot of fun. Mostly because it was filled with a lot of blatantly obvious innuendos which had me giggling a little to myself. I’m a big fan of the subtle, but sometimes, it’s great to be… not so subtle. Specifically when you’re dealing with a story that is talking about a saloon…

There’s not many prostitute stories out there. Even fewer that are lighthearted and positive. It was exactly the kind of tale that I love. And, since I’ve now read a few of Elizabeth Bear’s short stories… it’s made me want to see what she can do in a full length novel… more books for my ever growing wishlist. Yay!

The only thing that I didn’t like about this short story… it ended. And now I’m sitting around, wondering where I can read more Elizabeth Bear and enjoy more of her unique and fun style of writing…

<- Alvin and the Apple TreeStrong Medicine ->

Image source: Amazon

Naked City edited by Ellen Datlow

Overview
naked-city

Title: Naked City
Author: Ellen Datlow, Jim Butcher, Delia Sherman, Richard Bowes, Ellen Kushner, Christopher Fowler, Patricia Briggs, Pat Cadigan, Peter S. Beagle, Naomi Novik, Matthew Kressel, Kit Reed, Lavie Tidhar, Nathan Ballingrud, Melissa Marr, John Crowley, Holly Black, Jeffrey Ford, Lucius Shepard, Caitlin R. Kiernan & Elizabeth Bear
In: Naked City (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Short story collections, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 28th June – 26th December 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Anthology
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: Out in Brooklyn in a couple of spots you can walk down a street and almost think it’s a hundred and twenty-five years ago.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

In this thrilling collection of original stories, some of today’s hottest paranormal authors delight, thrill, and captivate readers with otherworldly tales of magic and mischief. In Jim Butcher’s “Curses”, Harry Dresden investigates how to lift a curse laid by the Fair Folk on the Chicago Cubs. In Patricia Briggs’s “Fairy Gifts”, a vampire is called home by magic to save the Fae who freed him from a dark curse. In Melissa Marr’s “Guns for the Dead”, the newly dead Frankie Lee seeks a job in the afterlife on the wrong side of the law. In Holly Black’s “Noble Rot”, a dying rock star discovers that the young woman who brings him food every day has some strange appetites of her own.

Featuring original stories from twenty authors, this dark, captivating, fabulous, and fantastical collection is not to be missed!

Thoughts

This is a seriously diverse collection of urban fantasy short stories. Not to mention fun and engaging. Probably moving right to the top of my list if I’m being honest. Normally my purview of urban fantasy is kind of small. But the breadth and width of these stories and the style in which they’re written… just wow.

I loved the fact that most of these short stories were standalones. I used to really enjoy finding new series through short stories and novellas. But, I have so many now that sometimes just reading a standalone without having to hunt out more of that world (I’m obsessive, I do this EVERY time) was kind of nice. I got a great taste of the imaginations and storytelling talents of a variety of authors, without actually feeling the need to buy more, more, more. Honestly, there is nothing worse than finding myself a new series to obsess over and then realising that I have a whole slew of new books to buy…

Although this is an urban fantasy collection, it does have a darker twist to it than usual. Every single one of these stories is a little bit dark, a lot bit fun and most don’t have a happy ending. Which, I tend to love, because I get a bit over all the happily ever afters… but it’s definitely something to keep in mind as you rip through the stories.

<- CorpsemouthCurses ->

Image source: Patricia Briggs

King Pole, Gallows Pole, Bottle Tree by Elizabeth Bear

Overview
naked-city

Title: King Pole, Gallows Pole, Bottle Tree
Author: Elizabeth Bear
In: Naked City (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: CircusGhosts, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 26th December 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: Following the line of his motion, I realized suddenly that there was an awful lot of ink on my arm.

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Synopsis

He followed the ghost to the Bottle Tree. Then he started to lose his memory. How will they get it back?

Thoughts

I think that one of my greatest fears about growing old is the idea of forgetting everything that I know. There is a history of dementia in my family, so it’s a particularly scary thought for me. Which kind of made this story quite intense and almost terrifying. After all, it’s about forgetting parts of yourself that you don’t even know your forgetting. Sounds a little too familiar if you ask me.

I loved that this story’s lead was actually a city. In a weird, metaphysical way. Or a deity of the city, that’s a huge conversation for another day. But the idea was still brilliant. It made me wonder what beings would be created by my cities and towns. What they would forget with the passage of time. And how their personalities would change.

Probably the thing that I loved most about this story though was the interconnection between the circus, death and ghosts. It’s a surprising mix and not one that I would have thought of for myself. Yet, it was so blatantly obvious with a backdrop of LA once you read it. Such a great adventure!

 <- The Colliers’ Venus (1893) ReviewNightmare Carnival Review ->
Image source: Patricia Briggs

Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Overview
Image result for queen victoria's book of spells ellen datlow book cover

Title: Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells
Author: Ellen Datlow, Terri Windling, Delia Sherman, Jeffrey Ford, Genevieve Valentine, Maureen McHugh, Kathe Koja, Elizabeth Wein, Elizabeth Bear, James P. Blaylock, Kaaron Warren, Leanna Renee Hieber, Dale Bailey, Veronica Schanoes, Catherynne M. Valente, Ellen Kushner, Caroline Stevermer, Jane Yolen, Gregory Maguire, Tanith Lee & Theodora Goss
In: Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Fantasy, GaslampShort story collections
Dates read: 8th June – 6th November 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Tor
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: The sisters and I said nothing to one another, as I speak no German and they no English, but we watched the flames together until they seemed satisfied and departed, I know not where.

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Synopsis

Gaslamp fantasy, or historical fantasy set in a magical version of the nineteenth century, has long been popular with readers and writers alike. Many wonderful novels, such as Stardust by Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, and The Prestige by Christopher Priest, ower their inspiration to works by nineteenth-century writers, including Jane Austen, the Brontes, Charles Dickens, and Anthony Trollope. And, of course, the entire steampunk genre and subculture owes more than a little to literature from and inspired by this period.

Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells is an anthology for everyone who loves neo-Victorian fiction and modern fantasists using vintage settings, characters, and themes. Their approaches stretch from steampunk fiction to the Austen- and Trollope- inspired works known as fantasy of manners. The result is eighteen stories by experts from the fantasy, horror, main-stream, and young-adult fields, including both bestselling writers and exciting new talents, who present a bewitching vision of a nineteenth century enhance (or cursed!) with magic.

Thoughts

This is an absolutely brilliant collection. One that I didn’t want to put down and introduced me to a whole new genre. It’s my first ever Gaslamp collection, and although I found some of the stories throughout a little weird and intense… I also loved the vast majority of them. Enough so that I plan to read this again and again in the future.

I was expecting a pretty simple and balanced collection. I really wasn’t expecting such a convoluted and twisted set of stories. But, as I’ve often found in life, it’s those unexpected surprises are the best and most exciting aspects of life. They’re the moments that you don’t want to forget because they were unplanned. And this anthology kind of felt like that.

I tend to read a lot of short stories late at night. Or when I’m just needing a quick little break from the many complexities of my PhD. This is not the collection that does that for me. It’s seriously intense, completely unexpected and very full on. The kind of short stories that you want to read when you have your concentrating brain working… not when it’s late at night and you just want some easy entertainment…

 <- Poe ReviewQueen Victoria’s Book of Spells Review ->
Image source: Amazon

The Governess by Elizabeth Bear

Overview
Image result for queen victoria's book of spells ellen datlow book cover

Title: The Governess
Author: Elizabeth Bear
In: Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: FamilyFantasy, Gaslamp
Dates read: 25th August 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Tor
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: But she does, and there it is, and somehow she gets her mouth around it.

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Synopsis

Anabelle is the governess of three beautiful children. But not all is right in the manor, and it might take the strength of a woman to make it right again.

Thoughts

Not sure why, but at the beginning of this story, I was kind of expecting a much more cheerful and happier outlook in this story. Maybe a bit of a rags to riches story. I was so incredibly wrong. This is a little bit dark, a little bit uncomfortable and a really enjoyable read.

The Governess is a story that highlights the plight of women. Not only through Anabelle’s trials, but those of the mistress of the manor. Both are trapped by a man who is more than a little evil, and both are filled with their own hidden strength. The ending really drives home that although both women were brutalised and subject to horrors, they find a way to rise above and focus on a new future. The grasping of their own freedom and focus on what makes them strong, rather than what made them victims was the only really uplifting moment in an otherwise dark story.

This wasn’t a heavy fantasy story, it almost read a little like a historical fiction. But with just that hint of a fantastical element towards the very ending. Actually, it kind of made me want to watch Downton Abbey because it felt kind of like that era. Yet, the beauty of the fantastical hint at the end made me want to clutch this book to my chest, and find yet more stories written by Elizabeth Bear. A great introduction to a new author.

 <- For the Briar Rose ReviewSmithfield Review ->
Image source: Amazon