Sunday Short feature: Top Shorts for 2014

Sunday, December 21, 2014 0
Around the interwebs, others have been listing out their favorite stories published this year. I thought it would be a good idea to compile them -- there are some great recommendations here (and my to-read list has skyrocketed).

Sabrina Vourvoulias's Looking for the best Speculative fiction of 2014 in expected, and unexpected, places

Fran Wilde's 2014 Favorite Reads

Sword & Laser Discussion - Potential 2015 Hugo Nominees - Short Stories

Do you have any favorites from short stories published this year? Leave them in the comments!

Karen Lord's The Galaxy Game

Friday, December 19, 2014 0
Disclaimer: I received this book as an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

The Galaxy Game by Karen Lord

I really wanted to like this book -- I've always enjoyed my space opera with a side of political intrigue before. The Galaxy Game follows one teenage boy, Rafi, as he escapes government investigation for his psychic powers, travels to another planet, and tries to play his favorite game (wall running) with the elites.

But... I couldn't finish this book.

I spent the first 15% of this book confused -- so many different cultural references, so many different planet/base/city names to try and keep straight. I am a reader of epic fantasies and complicated space operas, so I like to think I can keep my character straights with the best of them... but this book was out there. I haven't read Lord's other book set in the same greater world (The Best of All Possible Worlds), but this book is being marketed as a standalone. As a standalone, it has a rather large learning curve for the backstory. 

I kept trying until Chapter 6 / 34%, but I couldn't do it anymore. The central character (Rafi) isn't really all that likable. When the adults in his life let him make a potential disastrous decision to go on the run from the government and then... they pout about it... I couldn't convince myself to continue to try and put the work in. I was just not all that interested in the central characters. 

One bright moment for me was the first time Rafi tries wall running. It was fun, as a reader, trying to keep up with the way gravity shifted with each level (and noting how quickly clumsy me would fail). But it was an interesting aside for a story that overall confused and frustrated me.

Rating 2/5.

Sunday Short: S. L. Huang's Hunting Monsters

Sunday, December 14, 2014 0
One of the funnest parts of this review feature, for me, is finding new sources of short fiction. I was particularly excited, then, when I found out that the Book Smugglers were starting a short story publishing venture. On their website, they explain: 'With the goal of discovering the best voices in speculative fiction from across the world, Book Smugglers Publishing publishes original short fiction featuring subversive, feminist, and diverse perspectives.'

Book Smugglers Publishing first story, S. L. Huang's Hunting Monsters, was published back in October, and is the short I am featuring this week.

A beautiful retelling of two fairy tales (Red Riding Hood and Beauty and the Beast), it is a story told from the perspective of Xiao Hong, a girl raised by her mother Mei and 'aunt' Rosa. In the world that Huang crafts here, there are beings called Grundwirgen -- humans in animal form. Xiao's mother is arrested and accused of grundwirgen murder, and when Xiao begins to search for evidence in her mother's defense, secrets from the family's past come to light.

I loved this story -- each of the characters was memorable and the retelling unique to my experience with fairy tale retellings. I also enjoyed that the family were all hunters and all female -- anything to promote something other than the traditional 'women are the gentler sex' role in fantasy fiction is a win in my book.

Favorite lines:

My mother taught me to shoot, but it was Auntie Rosa who bought me my first rifle. It was long and sleek and shiny, varnished wood and brass and just my size. I fell in love at first sight.

“Isn’t she a trifle young for a firearm?” said my mother.

“Too young? Ha. Seven is almost too old,” said Auntie Rosa. She reached down and ruffled my hair as I ran my fingers along the stock over and over again, marveling at the living smoothness of the wood. “Happy birthday, child. Careful not to shoot any grundwirgen.”

Apologies for the relatively quiet on the blog lately -- my family was all stricken with colds again and work has been busy. I've still got great plans for the next year and reviews upcoming -- they'll just not be on my original schedule. :(  With that said -- next week, the Sunday Shorts feature will be a little different: I am going to highlight blogs listing their top short stories for 2014. Do you have any favorites?
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