supernatural noir

I’ve been acclimating to the darker side of fantasy. I still don’t want to give myself nightmares, so I tend to take that type of thing in small bites. Luckily for me, Dark Horse just released an anthology of short stories – edited by the one and only Ellen Datlow – called Supernatural Noir, and the entries are brief enough to fit my specifications. The combination of traditional film noir elements with the supernatural also made for interesting (and sometimes disturbing) reading.

A hit man who kills with coincidence... A detective caught in a war between two worlds... A man whose terrible appetites hide an even darker secret...

Dark Horse once again teams up with Hugo and Bram Stoker award-winning editor Ellen Datlow (Lovecraft Unbound) to bring you this masterful marriage of the darkness without and the darkness within. Supernatural Noir is an anthology of original tales of the dark fantastic from twenty modern masters of suspense, including Brian Evenson, Joe R. Lansdale, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Nick Mamatas, Gregory Frost, and Jeffrey Ford.

It would be very difficult to give a fair notion of how I felt about each of these stories and still keep the entire review to a reasonable length. I’m not up to the challenge, honestly. So I’ll give you a sense of the anthology with a couple of mini-reviews, and tell you that others, like Melanie Tem’s contribution, had me writing things like, “Disturbing as heck. I might have nightmares.” Good intro, right?

“The Dingus” by Gregory Frost

A gritty story featuring a former boxer who takes his chances and investigates a death in the seedy world of petty (and not so petty) criminals. All of this is interrupted by the unnatural, and the result is a well-told piece, if not an ultimately satisfying one.

“The Getaway” by Paul Tremblay

Tremblay weaves a tale of a disaffected getaway man in a robbery gone wrong. How exactly it goes wrong is the stuff of horror, and rather than being a deliciously dark story, it comes off as uneasy and angry.

“Mortal Bait” by Richard Bowes

This is true noir fiction – plus fairies! Set in the 1950s, with the typical washed-up personal investigator, it’s detective work inside a con, steeped in atmosphere and cold, harsh reality. Good crime writing and interesting alternate ‘history,’ along with a well fleshed-out protagonist made it a joy to read.

“Ditch Witch” by Lucius Shepard

This entry was all sorts of depressing/interesting/vengeful. A story about two VERY lost souls who drive into scary-movie suspense and out the other side (or DO they?). Not for the faint of heart.

“The Romance” by Elizabeth Bear

Delicious. Absolutely wonderful, this tale. Just the right touches of light and dark and mystery and macabre.

“The Absent Eye” by Brian Evanson

Weird little story that fit in well with the supernatural theme, and also with noir. There was definitely a barren feel to the protagonist that lent it a certain air.

“In Paris, In the Mouth of Kronos” by John Langan

Very interesting yarn that conflated abuses in Iraq in the present day with some very ancient traditions and mythology for a classic tale of double cross. A mystery inside of several threads of the same weft, and dark and dangerous for sure.

Ellen Datlow is an award-winning editor for a reason – she brings together disparate personalities and voices, and consistently brings forth their best. This collection explored the dark corners of crime, the art of the noir genre, and the instability, creativity and horror present in the supernatural. While I appreciated it, I cannot say I unreservedly enjoyed it – but I think a true horror fan would.

Recommended for: adults (no one else need apply), fans of dark fantasy and horror, short story aficionados, and anyone who has watched a Humphrey Bogart marathon on the classic movie channel but wished that something TRULY terrible would just happen, already.

Fine Print: I read an e-galley of Supernatural Noir courtesy of NetGalley and Dark Horse.

waiting on wednesday (12)

I’m participating today in "Waiting On" Wednesday. It is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, and its purpose is to spotlight eagerly anticipated upcoming releases.

I’m not sure where I first heard about The Girl of Fire and Thorns. All I know is that suddenly it seemed like EVERYONE was talking about how awesome it was on twitter. And by then, of course, I was a little bit skeptical and also a lot intrigued (and wondering when I missed the bus, exactly). Fast forward a couple of months to the present day. Now that I’ve seen the summary, I can barely contain my excitement. It’s supposed to be all awesome and stuff, AND it’s epic fantasy? Sign me up right quick! The Girl of Fire and Thorns will be published by Greenwillow Books on September 20, 2011.

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness. Elisa is the chosen one. But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young. Most of the chosen do.

What books are you waiting on?

get brave and swim in the ocean

Saturday, June 25, 2011 | | 11 comments
That’s what I tell myself – this is BRAVE, and not completely foolhardy. I’ve swum across a lake before (YEARS ago, before I developed sense and/or fear), but have never attempted any distance at all in the mighty ocean. My friend Lauren and I are doing a one-mile ocean swim race tomorrow morning. In the Atlantic.

[art from katep’s etsy shop]

If I survive, I will be back next week with another contest and book reviews. Wish me luck!

teaser tuesday (62)

It's Teaser Tuesday, a bookish blog meme hosted every week by MizB of Should Be Reading. Here's how it works:

Grab your current read and let it fall open to a random page (or if you're reading on an electronic device, pick a random number and scroll to that section). Post two or more sentences from that page, along with the book title and author. Share your find with others in the comments at Should Be Reading, and don't give anything vital away!

“Ashley was the only one who could see the difference between what should be real and what should not be: she had some power here.

It pains me to confess Ashley had little poetry in her soul. She would have preferred titanium body armor.”

p. 149 of Trisha Telep’s Kiss Me Deadly anthology – quote from Sarah Reese Brennan’s ‘The Spy Who Never Grew Up”

giveaway! the girl who circumnavigated fairyland in a ship of her own making

Not many of you will remember this, but a very long time ago (in blog time) I featured the story of Catherynne M. Valente writing The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. I remember weeping a bit as I read Valente's posts, and I still cannot think of her without tearing up at her bravery and beautiful writing. So I am VERY pleased to be able to offer you the piece of fiction that emerged from that experience. Trust: it will be wonderful.

Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn?t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.

With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful.

Pesky details: 1 copy of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, to an entrant with a US or Canadian address. All you need to do is fill out the FORM. Giveaway ends June 28th at 11:59pm EST. Winner will be selected randomly and notified via email.

If you’d like to learn more about the book or the author, please check out the book trailer, Valente’s website, or her blog.

You can also enter to win this book here, here and here (here too). If you're offering a giveaway and want to be added to the list, let me know.

Fine print: This giveaway is made possible by Macmillan and Zeitghost Media. Thanks!

blueberry buttermilk muffins

Sunday, June 19, 2011 | | 4 comments
Blueberries were three pints for four dollars at the grocery store the other day, so naturally I bought three pints. And then I had to figure out what to do with them. Yesterday morning I woke up with a determination to make blueberry muffins, and they turned out so well that I’m making them again this evening. Side note: buttermilk makes any batter taste AMAZING. No joke.

Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins (from this recipe)


1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 pint fresh blueberries – rinsed and patted dry

2 tablespoons sugar


Position rack in the middle of oven. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Spray the top of a muffin pan with non-stick coating, and line with paper liners.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, 1 1/4 cups sugar and salt until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix together 1 3/4 cup of the flour and baking powder. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, mixing just until incorporated. Crush 1/4 of the blueberries, and stir into the batter. Mix the rest of the whole blueberries with the remaining 1/4 cup of the flour, and fold into the batter. Scoop into muffin cups. Sprinkle tops lightly with sugar.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown, and tops spring back when lightly tapped. Makes 12.

Recommended for: a special weekend breakfast treat, that time when you have too many blueberries and the buttermilk is nearing its expiration date, and any time when a little extra effort for some delicious food sounds like a good idea. Great with coffee or tea for a mid-afternoon snack, too.

p.s. I AM going to buy a camera one of these days and actually take nice pictures of food. Really. Just so far I've been using my crackberry, and it's...subpar. Apologies!

noah barleywater runs away

Friday, June 17, 2011 | | 3 comments

I’ve admitted it before here on the blog, and I’ll say it again: I’m a cover art snob. The book might have beautiful illustrations, or a title in a font either comfortingly familiar or tantalizingly new and different. Regardless, I am seduced by the visual art into reading – an activity where I must imagine the scenes and bring them to life in my head. Strange? A bit. But that’s part of the magic. I think rather a lot of us readers are like this, or publishers wouldn’t spend so much time crafting beautiful art on the outside of a book.

Back to the matter at hand, which is a specific book: Noah Barleywater Runs Away, by John Boyne. Given what I’ve said above, you may infer that I: 1) appreciate the cover art, 2) like the typography, and 3) think the illustrations on the inside are adorable. Luckily, I also loved the story within those decorated covers. It touched my heart, and made me want to call my family. In other words? It was quite good.

Eight-year-old Noah's problems seem easier to deal with if he doesn't think about them. So he runs away, taking an untrodden path through the forest.

Before long, he comes across a shop. But this is no ordinary shop: it's a toyshop, full of the most amazing toys, and brimming with the most wonderful magic. And here Noah meets a very unusual toymaker. The toymaker has a story to tell, and it's a story of adventure and wonder and broken promises. He takes Noah on a journey. A journey that will change his life.

What one of us hasn’t wanted to run away for a bit? I mean, I wanted to run away from home as a child (show me one kid who didn’t, really!), and I still do from time to time as an adult. The pressure, the problems, the pain – whether real, imagined or somewhere in between – it can all be too much. But that’s what life is, and oftentimes we find magic along with the hurt or the not-so-great to prop us up and keep us going. And this, I think, is what Noah Barleywater’s adventure is about.

This story reads first as an journey, and then as a fable, and towards the end as a fairy tale, before going back into the territory of ‘real’ interspersed with wonder. If I had to choose, I’d slot it in with magical realism. In my head it belongs on a shelf along with the Chronicles of Narnia, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Borrowers and The Yearling – all the books I remember vividly from my mother’s reading aloud days.

I had no idea what to expect going in, and I was happy to find that I had picked a book with some sort of magic, which also kept my attention (though I think it’s probably even more wonderful in the hands of someone of the age its meant to appeal to). There’s nothing to object to, and much to marvel at, and I will definitely be reading more of Boyne’s work in the future. Even if it did make me cry (in a good sort of way, you understand).

Recommended for: fans of middle grade literature, those fond of fables and fairy tales folded into real life, elders looking for something substantial to read aloud to the younger set, and anyone who can appreciate the urge to run away when life seems too hard, but can see the other side of the equation, too.

Fine print: I received an ARC of this book in a promotional giveaway from Random House.

waiting on wednesday (11)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011 | | 23 comments

I’m participating today in "Waiting On" Wednesday. It is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, and its purpose is to spotlight eagerly anticipated upcoming releases.

Fox and Phoenix has been on my radar for a couple of months – first because it just looks COOL, second, because I love the title, and third… the blurbs were just too wonderful for me to consider passing it up. Fantasy authors Tamora Pierce and Sarah Beth Durst liked this book. It’s enough for me! Fox and Phoenix will be published by Viking Juvenile on October 13, 2011.

The king of Lóng City is dying. For Kai Zōu, the news means more than it does for most former street rats in the small mountain stronghold, because he and the king's daughter are close friends. Then the majestic ruler of the ghost dragons orders Kai to travel across the country to the Phoenix Empire, where the princess is learning statecraft. In a court filled with intrigue, Kai and his best friend Yún must work together to help the princess escape and return to Lóng City. A refreshing mixture of magic, wit, and action, Fox and Phoenix is an auspicious debut!

What books are you waiting on?

the strange case of finley jayne (+ steampink giveaway winners)

Kady Cross’ YA steampunk debut, The Girl in the Steel Corset, has already made fans out of skeptics of the genre. Of course, I already loved steampunk, and I enjoyed Cross’ novel. When I heard that there was a prequel out in the wide world, I made sure to acquire a copy. And you know what’s rather wonderful? You can download a free e-book copy of The Strange Case of Finley Jayne for yourself (Amazon + B&N)!

Finley Jayne knows she's not 'normal'. Normal girls don't lose time, or have something inside them that makes them capable of remarkably violent things. Her behavior has already cost her one job, so when she's offered the lofty position of companion to Phoebe, a debutante recently engaged to Lord Vincent, she accepts, despite having no experience. Lord Vincent is a man of science with his automatons and inventions, but Finley is suspicious of his motives where Phoebe is concerned. She will do anything to protect her new friend, but what she discovers is even more monstrous than anything she could have imagined…

This novella serves mainly as an introduction to Finley Jayne, the heroine of The Girl in the Steel Corset, but it functions quite well as a brief adventure also. As the summary states, Finley’s job is as a companion to Phoebe, but as she goes she learns about some truly astonishing and dangerous things. And I think that’s all you really need to know about the plot of a novella to start with, anyway. What remains? To say whether I thought it was any good, of course!

What this prequel did well: establish Finley Jayne’s likability factor and hook the reader with an exciting opening scene. What this prequel failed to do: set up a real sense of suspense or mystery, be unpredictable, or teach me anything new. Unfortunately, a promising premise came to slightly less than nothing. In good news: the novel is better (and if you have any doubts, you can always go read it for free yourself)!

As a consolation prize, check out this funny quote from page 47:

“She felt like a great eggplant atop the chestnut mare, despite Phoebe’s assurances that she looked ‘smashing.’ If that wasn’t bad enough, many of the young men she had danced with at the engagement party tipped their hats and said hello to her as they rode past in their modern vehicles, calling even more attention to her eggplantishness.”

AND…in other news…

The winners of my steampink giveaway have been selected. Please join me in congratulating:

Marlene Breakfield and Lauren G!

Each of these lucky ladies will win a YA steampunk book of their choice from my original list. If you didn’t win this time around, please check out my current giveaway for Julie Halpern’s latest release Don’t Stop Now. Have a lovely week!

don't stop now giveaway

Tuesday, June 7, 2011 | | 2 comments
I'm a little slow on the uptake. I didn't realize that new books were released each week on Tuesdays until I had been book blogging for over a year. As I said: slow. But now that I do know that, I look forward to Tuesdays with a sort of unholy glee. And every now and then I am actually 'together' enough to do something about a Tuesday release date. Like today. Lucky you!

Julie Halpern's newest novel, Don't Stop Now, is out today from Macmillan. I'll post my review of it later in the week. Her last release, Into the Wild Nerd Yonder, was one of my favorite books of 2010 (I really really liked it). True story: I want you to read Julie's books. They're funny, quirky and genuine. To facilitate that, I'm hosting a giveaway for one hardcover of Don't Stop Now. Entering is super easy - just fill out the FORM! Giveaway is open internationally (book will ship via the Book Depository), and ends on 6/21 at 11:59pm EST. Good luck!

On the first day of Lillian’s summer-before-college, she gets a message on her cell from her sort-of friend, Penny. Not only has Penny faked her own kidnapping, but Lil is the only one who figures it out. She knows that Penny’s home life has been rough, and that her boyfriend may be abusive. Soon, Penny’s family, the local police, and even the FBI are grilling Lil, and she decides to head out to Oregon, where Penny has mentioned an acquaintance. And who better to road-trip across the country with than Lil’s BFF, Josh. But here’s the thing: Lil loves Josh. And Josh doesn’t want to “ruin” their amazing friendship.

Josh has a car and his dad’s credit card. Lil has her cellphone and a hunch about where Penny is hiding. There’s something else she needs to find: Are she and Josh meant to be together?

teaser tuesday (61)

It's Teaser Tuesday, a bookish blog meme hosted every week by MizB of Should Be Reading. Here's how it works:

Grab your current read and let it fall open to a random page (or if you're reading on an electronic device, pick a random number and scroll to that section). Post two or more sentences from that page, along with the book title and author. Share your find with others in the comments at Should Be Reading, and don't give anything vital away!

“Noah thought about it. ‘Well, maybe when I’m very old I’ll get married,’ he said finally. ‘Like when I’m twenty-five. There’s a girl in my class, Sarah Skinny, who’s my fourth best friend, and I expect we’ll get married one day, but not for a long time yet.’”

p. 68 of John Boyne’s Noah Barleywater Runs Away

the girl in the steel corset

Saturday, June 4, 2011 | | 4 comments

There’s something beguiling about steampunk. It’s the Victorian era, with added spunk and style. And, of course, it seems to be very ‘in’ right now. This is good news – we’re bound to get more of it (quantity), and well-written stories, too (quality). I was excited to see another young adult steampunk story getting a lot of publicity – because a merger of two of my favorite genres can't be a bad thing. And now that I’ve read The Girl in the Steel Corset, I know for sure that it was a wonderful idea.

In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one…except the "thing" inside her.

When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch….

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she's special, says she's one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

Griffin's investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help—and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.

But The Machinist wants to tear Griff's little company of strays apart, and it isn't long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she's on—even if it seems no one believes her.

Oh, this book was so FUN! It packed a punch from the start, and didn’t let up to the very end. I have to say that that is one of the great things about YA lit – that it can be so active and outrageous, and somehow work. The first scenes literally pulled me in and made me forget that I was worried that this blend of genres wouldn’t go over well. Hook? Perfect.

Another good element? The cast of characters. Finley Jayne is our heroine and focal point, and she’s a strong girl being pulled in multiple directions. I love that she does more than wait for the action to come to her. She is almost always a maelstrom of movement and intent and she learns and changes as the story progresses. I must say, it’s nice to read about a girl who can pull her own weight, both literally and figuratively (and I say that as an Amazon-sized person, myself).

The rest of the band each had quirks and talents that made them a mini-action force, and all were appealing in their own way. That said, my favorite character was Jack Dandy. Hold on to your hats, kids. I’m not saying I like love triangles (because I rather loathe them, and more on that later) – I’m just saying that the bits in this book that made me laugh out loud in happy surprise were usually Dandy’s part of the dialogue. I look forward to more of his rakish ways.

So I liked the action, the fast-moving plot, and the characters. At this point I might as well call it a day and get out the cherries and whipped cream, right? Wrong. I may have enjoyed the book, but I’m not blind to its faults, either (see? books are like relationships. or something.). Look away if you’re sensitive to criticism, because this next paragraph is about to get heavy.

Things I didn’t like: 1) Possible presence of love triangle(s). I’m over it. 2) Some nagging historical inaccuracies and/or unbelievable bits. Let me just be straight here: telephones didn’t work that way, the language was very modern, and the bits about the Queen of England? GAH. 3) Finley blushed about every other moment in the second half of the book. I mean, I get that she was embarrassed. There had to be another, less romance novel-y way of expressing it. 4) Absentee parents. Yes, it happens in steampunk-land too.

Having said all of that, I thoroughly enjoyed this romp through steampunk London. I felt as though I’d gotten inside an adventure, and the experience was entertaining. The good bits outweighed the stuff that would usually drive me batty. And though it definitely felt like a young adult novel and lacked some of the emotional gravity and wit I’d like to find in my reading, I had a rollicking good time with it, and can’t wait for the next volume.

Recommended for: fans of steampunk, fans of young adult lit, fans of fantasy and sci-fi, and anyone who isn’t picky about their clichés and won’t mind a good dose of fun with their reading. Innocent and amusing, to a T.

I read an e-galley version of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Harlequin, and am reviewing it in conjunction with steampink, an event to celebrate the feminine side of steampunk! You can enter to win a copy of the book here.

corsets & clockwork review (part two)

There are people who can’t stand an anthology. I think a lot of them read my blog. And you know what? I get it. For a long time, I hated the short story form. It was too brief, too unfinished, too…shallow. But now that I have the attention span of a gnat, I really appreciate short stories. I don’t have to stay up until 4am to finish the book. It’s there and then it’s not. Similar to how I can now eat mushrooms without gagging. Weird! It’s almost like I’m grown up or something (shhh…if we don’t tell anyone, it never happened).

In yesterday’s post I did mini-reviews of the first six stories in Corsets & Clockwork. Today I present you with the final seven. And also encourage you to check out steampink. And my steampunk giveaway!

“The Airship Gemini” by Jaclyn Dolamore

Take Siamese twins, put them on an airship over the Atlantic, and stir in a shapeshifter hoping to separate them. Result: a quirky tale just on the wrong side of believable. Part of the trouble undoubtedly lay in the length of the story (too short), but the combination of fantastical elements didn’t help either. Not without merit, but not essential.

“Under Amber Skies” by Maria V. Snyder

Snyder crafted a story of a technologically advanced Poland on the verge of World War II. While an engaging premise and mystery drive the plot, the dialogue felt forced and at times the heroine succumbed to TSTL syndrome (that’s Too Stupid To Live for you newbies out there). Partially redeemed by its twisty nature.

“The King of Greenlight City” by Tessa Gratton

A charming and surprising story that grabbed my attention and didn’t let go. It reminded me that magic is dangerous AND wondrous (which is the best sort of realization). Definitely an example of the kind of tale that takes you somewhere you didn’t expect to go, and teaches you something new about the world.

“The Emperor’s Man” by Tiffany Trent

A lovely little romance, this one. The author wove a dream-like fairy story, with just a touch of darkness for good measure and realism. Very light on steampunk, but entertaining regardless.

“Chickie Hill’s Badass Ride” by Dia Reeves

Oh. Dear. Me. Dia Reeves’ contribution took strange and turned it sideways. Not steampunk, but all sorts of weird and remarkable. I’m not sure I liked it or understood it completely, but it certainly made me sit up and notice. Bonus Factor: minorities in YA fiction!

“The Vast Machinery of Dreams” by Caitlin Kittredge

Bizarre, science-fictiony, and ultimately opaque. Written as a series of explanations of reality, this tale wasn’t straight-forward (sometimes a plus), but it also left one with a sense that they never truly knew any of the characters. If you’re here for enigmatic mysteries, this one’s for you.

“Tick, Tick, Boom” by Kiersten White

Girls dressing as boys in Victorian London? It’s becoming a cliché in steampunk circles. Thankfully White’s creation is something more than cliché. Although the romantic portion of the story feels a bit contrived, the feisty heroine is a genuine article and she (and her inventions) manage to pull off fun rather than boring. Good stuff.

As you can tell from today’s entry and part one, this collection had its moments. It was uneven, but when it was brilliant it was quite good. Frewin Jones and Tessa Gratton get A+ marks. I’m happy to report that steampunk has ARRIVED, and that I found several new-to-me authors through this short story excursion. Well worth my time, and yours, loves.

Recommended for: fans of YA paranormal romance, especially of the Clockwork Angel variety, steampunk devotees and neophytes, fans of light sci-fi, and anyone with a taste for historical fiction.

I received a finished copy of Corsets & Clockwork for review from Running Press.

corsets & clockwork review (part one)

How can you tell that a genre has ‘arrived?’ Specifically, how do you know that steampunk has arrived? I got a clue when I heard that a young adult steampunk anthology was on its way, and that several bestselling authors contributed stories to it. Way to go, steampunk! You’re all grown up and fabulous.

The anthology I’m talking about is Corsets & Clockwork: 13 Steampunk Romances, edited by Trisha Telep and published by Running Press in April of this year. I’ll be breaking up my review into two parts over two days for steampink (and because there were THIRTEEN stories, and my blog posts, while long, usually aren’t quite that long). Without further ado: Corsets & Clockwork!

Dark, urban fantasies come to life in the newest collection of Steampunk stories, Corsets & Clockwork. Young heroes and heroines battle evils with the help of supernatural or super-technological powers, each individual story perfectly balancing historical and fantastical elements. Throw in epic romances that transcend time, and this trendy, engrossing anthology is sure to become another hit for the fast-growing Steampunk genre!

This collection features some of the hottest writers in the teen genre, including: Ann Aguirre, Jaclyn Dolamore, Tessa Gratton, Frewin Jones, Caitlin Kittredge, Adrienne Kress, Lesley Livingston, Dru Pagliassotti, Dia Reeves, Michael Scott, Maria V. Snyder, Tiffany Trent, and Kiersten White.

“Rude Mechanicals” by Lesley Livingston

This first in the collection is a little tale with many references to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, much like Livingston’s other Bard-influenced fairy adventures. However, it suffers from too-flowery prose and too little charm. It is either saccharine sweet or I am a dyed-in-the-wool skeptic (or all of the above).

“The Cannibal Fiend of Rotherhithe” by Frewin Jones

A disturbing and darkling thing, this yarn…and yet full of allure and mischief as well. Contains both fairy tale and steampunk elements to good effect. Entertaining and elusive, just as a short story ought to be. Probably my favorite of the collection.

“Wild Magic” by Ann Aguirre

A classic forbidden romance between classes, which also pits magic against technology, and disenfranchised natives against privileged invaders, is the foundation of this entry. Predictable and sweet, it’s sure to please fans of YA paranormal romance.

“Deadwood” by Michael Scott

Old West, meet steampunk. This tale introduces two characters in an adventure too brief to do them justice. It feels a bit like the film Wild, Wild West, and skimps on personal development to describe a world that we might like better if we had more time in it.

“Code of Blood” by Dru Pagliassotti

A rousing adventurette set in Venice in the time of Napoleon, this story mixes steampunk with alchemical and magical elements. The third person narrative is a bit clunky, but the main characters are feisty and the result is fairly pleasing.

“The Clockwork Corset” by Adrienne Kress

A funny little story, in more than one sense. It’s slightly comical, and also a bit strange. Not sure what to think, but I do know that the privileged girl falling for lower class boy trope is getting a solid workout in this anthology!

Takeaways from this adventure in review writing: 1) READ “The Cannibal Fiend of Rotherhithe” if you don’t read anything else in this anthology. Totally awesome. 2) If you haven’t already, enter for a chance to win this book! 3) Check out steampink, and come back tomorrow for my mini-reviews of the rest of Corsets & Clockwork!

I received Corsets & Clockwork for review from Running Press. I have not been compensated, except that I got to read a fun story collection. Hurrah!

waiting on wednesday (10)

I’m participating today in "Waiting On" Wednesday. It is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, and its purpose is to spotlight eagerly anticipated upcoming releases.

When I read Fever Crumb late last year, I was bowled over by its brilliance. It wasn’t anything like I expected (and there lay most of its genius), and still it was clever, deep and set up a world that I wanted to know more about. Imagine my happiness when I learned that Philip Reeve had already written the sequel – A Web of Air!

Alas, for now it’s only available in the UK paperback version, and I am SUCH a snob about having matching books (until i’m not. but, you know.). Hold on a minute! Fever Crumb: Web of Air releases in a shiny US hardback version from Scholastic on October 1, 2011. Looks spiffy, no?

The second, thrilling adventure in the Fever Crumb trilogy from the brilliant and award-winning Philip Reeve.

Two years ago, Fever Crumb escaped the war-torn city of London in a traveling theater. Now, she arrives in the extraordinary city of Mayda, where buildings ascend the cliffs on funicular rails, and a mysterious recluse is building a machine that can fly. Fever is the engineer he needs - but ruthless enemies will kill to possess their secrets.

What books are you waiting on?

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