Book Review of BLACKFISH CITY and THE LESSON

Here’s my third and final book review of CHARM CITY SPEC authors and hopefully a helpful guide for your favorite book lovers during the 2019 holiday season. Did I choose these books because of the beautiful colors on the covers? If so, it was unconscious. I CONSCIOUSLY chose these two books because they have fantastic ideas, lyrical prose, and are so immersive that you will have a book hangover when you’re finished.

Such beautiful covers!

BLACKFISH CITY by Sam J. Miller

Genre: Speculative fiction, YA, dystopia

Premise: (back cover) When a strange new visitor arrives in a floating city in the Arctic – humanity’s last hope after the ravages of climate change – the city is entranced. She’s riding an orca and has a polar bear at her beck and call. She’s called “the orcamancer,” and she very subtly unites four desperate people to stage unprecedented acts of resistance. By banding together, they will learn shocking truths about themselves – and save their city before it crumples under the weight of its own decay.

Who would love it: Well, according to Miller’s Twitter account (@sentencebender), anyone who is “a fan of polar bears…or killer whales…or bad-ass lesbian grandmothers.”  Me. I’m a fan of all three. But, that doesn’t touch on Qaanaaq, the actual floating city he’s built, or the story of both refugees and elite within that city, or mysterious broadcasts or nanobonding. People who are fans of those things will also love this book.

Favorite character: Too difficult! I’ll go with a favorite moment instead.

The polar bear opened his eyes and looked at Kaev.

In the instant of that eye contact, Kaev felt like he had broken free of his body. A happiness surged through him, warm as the sun, blissful as a thousand orgasms. The peace he’d felt while sitting there had been ten times greater than the joy of fighting, but this new sensation was ten times greater than that peace had been.

“Hello, Kaev,” Dao said. He and his soldiers had their backs to the grid edge; they could not see the polar bear. “You’ve been sitting here for a long time. I’ve got to presume that means you wanted us to find you.”

But Kaev could not hear him.

We are one, he thought, eyes locked with the animal’s.

Final Thought:

Miller’s debut THE ART OF STARVING won the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction. His newest book DESTROY ALL MONSTERS dropped on 7/2/19.

 

 

THE LESSON by Cadwell Turnbull

Genre: Science Fiction

Premise: An alien ship rests over Water Island. For five years the people of the US Virgin Islands have lived with the Ynaa, a race of superadvanced aliens on a research mission they will not fully disclose. They are benevolent in many ways but meet any act of aggression with disproportional wrath. This has led to a strained relationship between the Ynaa and the local Virgin Islanders and a peace that cannot last.

A year after the death of a young boy at the hands of an Ynaa, three families find themselves at the center of the inevitable conflict, witness and victim to events that will touch everyone and teach a terrible lesson.

Who would love it: Wilton Barnhardt says, “I came for the aliens and a war of the worlds. I stayed for the deadpan St. Thomas humor, the complicated, charming, sexy island folk, and Turnbull’s delicious prose.”

Favorite character: Most people know that I have a soft spot for the familial, for the moments that ground fantasy in a web of relationships. Here’s our intro to Derrick (who is much more respectful that MY teenaged son).

Fifteen days before

“Aren’t you going to close the door?” Patrice asked.

“Grams said I can’t close the door if I have a girl in my room.”

“We grew up together.”

“That’s the problem. You grown now. Can’t have you up in my room with the door shut.”

Patrice glared at him, communicating all she could.

“Her words,” Derrick said.

“Boy, don’t you close that door!” Grandma Reed yelled from the living room.

“I know, Grams.”

“Come here for a second!”

“Be right back,” Derrick said. He grabbed some home clothes as he left to change out of his school uniform.

Patrice sat on Derrick’s bed.

Final Thought: Now I have to look up Turnbull’s Asimov’s short story “When the Rains Come Back” (made the Barnes and Noble’s Sci-Fi & Fantasy’s short fiction roundup in 2018) and Nightmare story “Loneliness is in Your Blood” (selected for The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018.

Book Review of SOONER OR LATER EVERYTHING FALLS INTO THE SEA and UNCOMMON MIRACLES

Here’s my second of three book reviews of CHARM CITY SPEC authors AND hopefully a helpful guide for buying gifts for the readers in your life during the holiday season.

For something a little different, I selected two short story collections: SOONER OR LATER EVERYTHING FALLS INTO THE SEA and UNCOMMON MIRACLES. Short stories are nice for those who like to experience many different “worlds” and casts of characters, who want to answer one question or examine one moment in time rather than commit to a three-act structure, and for those who, practically, have less time to read. Convinced? If so, here are two collections that would make a wonderful gift this holiday season.

Storm sunning herself between books.

SOONER OR LATER EVERYTHING FALLS INTO THE SEA by Sarah Pinsker

Cover art by Matt Muirhead

Genre: Speculative fiction, literary

Premise: There are thirteen different stories, so there are thirteen different premises. However, Publisher’s Weekly gave this collection a starred review. Here’s what they said:

*This beautiful, complex debut collection assembles some of Nebula winner Pinsker’s best stories into a twisting journey that is by turns wild, melancholic, and unsettling…The stories are enhanced by a diverse cast of LGBTQ and nonwhite characters. Pinsker’s captivating compendium reveals stories that are as delightful and surprising to pore through as they are introspective and elegiac.”

If that’s too oblique, here’s some specifics: In this debut collection, you will meet runaways, fiddle-playing astronauts, a touring band, under-employed Americans, retired time travelers, and dopplegangers.

Who would love it: Readers who like WINNERS… BECAUSE Sarah Pinkser’s stories have won the Nebula and Sturgeon awards, and have been finalists for the Hugo, the Locus, and the Eugie Foster Memorial Award.

 

Favorite character: Grandmother Windy (from Wind Will Rove)

“My grandmother was an engineer, part of our original crew. According to the tale, she stepped outside to do a visual inspection of an external panel that was giving anomalous readings. Along with her tools, she clipped her fiddle and bow to her suit’s belt. When she completed her task, she paused for a moment, tethered to our ship the size of a city, put her fiddle to the place where her helmet met her suit, and played ‘Wind Will Rove’ into the void. Not to be heard, of course; just to feel the song in her fingers.”

Final Thought: Pinsker’s first novel, Song for a New Day, also released recently so you should buy a copy of that too.

 

One orea bunny, two white with caramel markings, one striped with a Harlequinn face, one striped with solid face, and two fawn colored with gray bellies.

UNCOMMON MIRACLES

Genre: Speculative, Weird

Premise: “Julie C. Day makes a bold debut with this genre-bending collection of stories. At times whimsical, at times heart-breaking, but always clear-eyed and honest, Uncommon Miracles proves that Day has joined the front ranks of the writers carrying American fantasy into a new golden age.”

Specifics: (18 stories) A grieving man travels through time via a car crash. A family of matriarchs collects recipes for the dead. A woman gains an unexpected child in the midst of a bunny apocalypse. An outcast finds work in a magical slaughterhouse. Whether set in a uniquely altered version of Florida’s Space Coast or a haunted island off the coast of Maine, each story in this collection carries its own brand of meticulous and captivating weirdness.

Who would love it: Readers who like stories that are more Alice in Wonderland than Hallmark movie.

Favorite character: Cole (from “Everyone Gets a Happy Ending”)

“Steph and I are stretched out on plastic recliners, our laps full of her offspring: six desert cottontails, and for some unknown reason, one of the English Spot variety. After all my careful care – changing the bedding in their crate, cradling them when Steph disappears from their sight – the English Spot is still the only bunny who greets me when I come near. I’ve named him Cole. A fact I don’t share with Steph, though I whisper it to him like a lullaby when she isn’t near.”

Final Thought: Day recently released a novella titled The Rampant, an apocalyptic tale by way of Sumerian mythology.  Also, I love the cover art (by Tiffany Bozic).

Upcoming Appearances

Hello Friends,

I hope you’re enjoying Fall. It’s my absolute favorite time of year. Don’t come at me with your beach pictures or your bright white snow or even those cute little flower buds. AUTUMN IS THE BEST SEASON.

I have a couple of exciting upcoming events:

I’m being interviewed by Bob Mumby and Leslie Greenly Smith. The radio show will air live on Friday, 9/20 from 9-10 AM and then again on Saturday, 9/21 from 9-10 AM. It will repeat on 9/27 and 9/28 from 9-10 AM. The radio station is WAMN 970 AM.J  You can listen on the radio or online at http://khztv.com/WAMD/.

On Saturday, September 28th the Bel Air Public Library is hosting a Comic Con with a ton of free activities for the entire family including costume contests, video and board games, and a fandom scavenger hunt. I’ll be giving a talk from 11am – noon and then selling/signing copies of WALKING THROUGH FIRE.  Comic Con

October 18-20 I’ll be at Capclave, a literary convention in Rockville, MD that focuses on the short fiction form. I don’t have my programming event schedule yet, but will share when I do.

Nov 1st and November 3rd I’ll be at the Baltimore Book Festival 2019. I’ll be at both the SFWA area and the inspire stage. I’ll also be fangirling because the lineup of authors is INCREDIBLE. They’ve combined with the annual Light City Festival this year so will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Saturday Nov 2nd I’ll be in Bel Air at the Authors and Artists Event to sell/sign books.

Hope to see you at some of these events….and that you get a chance to curl up with a favorite book and your favorite warm beverage to enjoy this time of year.

Here’s the pup enjoying his (chew toy) version of a pumpkin spiced latte.

Love,

Sherri

Story in Pantheon Magazine

Hi Friends!

I’m happy to announce that my story, “A Quick Getaway,” is included in the new anthology by Pantheon Magazine. Isn’t the cover beautiful and haunting?

It’s available for sale from Amazon. Here’s the description: Be changed.GORGON: STORIES OF EMERGENCE contains 42 transformative stories spanning all genres from both emerging and new voices alike, with all new stories by Gwendolyn Kiste, Richard Thomas, Annie Neugebauer, Eden Royce, Beth Cato, D.A. Xiaolin Spires, Maria Haskins, Carina Bissett, Julie C. Day, A.T. Greenblatt, and more, and featuring 10 illustrations by Carrion House.

Love,

Sherri

Book Promotion

For two months now I’ve been promoting my debut novel, Walking Through Fire, through orders, interviews, and readings. I made sure copies were in the local library and I gave a talk to the local Rotary Club. I spoke on panels at the Baltimore Book Festival and I’m participating at the World Fantasy Convention. I will attend Charm City Spec as an author instead of an audience member. So, there are a lot more events, but we are making progress in introducing my book to the world.

For example, a new review came in today from Booklist:

“Woosley gets off to a running start in this debut series starter, and she draws on a mix of mythology and religious allusions to create a post-apocalyptic world caught in a battle for control and power.”

AND, Walking Through Fire was longlisted by Booknest for Best Debut Novel of 2018. The prize was an engraved sword so I’m pretty steamed that I didn’t win…(just kidding).

sherri-4

Plans for this week:

I will be in costume on Halloween as part of Charm City Spec’s reading series. The reading is at Bird in Hand, Charles Village Baltimore and starts at 7pm. Sam J. Miller (The Art of Starving and Blackfish City) and Julie C. Day (Uncommon Miracles) will also be reading.

Then I will commute to the Inner Harbor Thursday through Sunday to attend the World Fantasy Convention. My reading is at 4:30 PM on Friday.

On Saturday I will leave the convention to drive to Towson and I will sign copies of Walking Through Fire at Ukazoo Books (8641 Loch Raven Blvd.) from 3:30-5pm. Then I will join my family to celebrate my son’s birthday.

On November 7th I’ll drive to Hagerstown Community College in western Maryland for an author event: reading, answering questions from the writing students, and judging an impromptu poetry contest (or so I’ve been promised).

Thank you to everyone who purchased a copy, attends a reading, or leaves a review on Amazon. There are other novels that have huge marketing machines, or big publishers, but my little story is making progress. Thank you for believing in me!

Love,

Sherri

DEBUT

Writing-wise I’ve hit some milestones this year.

  1. I became an associate member of SFWA (science fiction writers of America)
  2. I had three short stories published in semi-pro or pro magazines: “Breakage”, “The Boy from Omran”, and “A Quick Getaway.”

    Tethys Issue of Pantheon Magazine. My story “The Boy from Omran” is available to read for free at http://www.pantheonmag.com

  3. I’ll be at author events September – December and……….(Drum Roll)
  4. My book, Walking Through Fire, is finally out in the world. Thank you to everyone who purchased a copy! We get to have fun now! Last night was firestorm yoga and the audience was as silly as I was — we had a lot of laughs as I led a class with poses modified to reflect the story in Walking Through Fire. The next event is Friday the 14th at Barnes and Noble in Bel Air, Maryland. And, on September 18th we will have a PARTY at Julie Ellyn Designs on Main Street in Bel Air. Special cupcakes, you ask? Maaayyybe.
  5. All events have details here.

Now, I need you to do one more thing: If you liked Walking Through Fire then please, please, please leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Even just rating with stars gets the Amazon AI to recognize traffic and then boosts the page higher on a search results list.

We are getting noticed, though. Check out this review from Fantasy Hive.  AND, I have an interview with S. H. Harrison. And, I have a video chat with The Richard Wilmore Show.

Thank you to everyone who is helping my dream become reality,

Love,

Sherri