azhure: (me phoenix)

pricklemoon

Prickle Moon is a collection of Juliet Marillier’s best short fiction. It contains eleven previously published stores and five new ones. Included are the Sevenwaters novella, ’Twixt Firelight and Water, the epic Nordic story, Otherling, and In Coed Celyddon, a tale of the young man who would one day become King Arthur.

The title story, especially written for the collection, concerns an old Scottish wise woman facing an impossible moral dilemma. Other new stories in the book include By Bone-Light, a contemporary retelling of the Russian fairy tale Vasilissa the Wise, and The Angel of Death, a dark story about a puppy mill rescue.

 

 

 

Note: I happily purchased the signed limited edition hardcover of “Prickle Moon”. For one, Marillier is one of my favourite authors, and an instant-buy. And for two, the cover was illustrated by my friend Pia Ravenari, and is just utterly gorgeous. So, yes, I have a bias for this book. But even without that bias, I always feel that Ticonderoga limited edition copies are always worth the outlay – they are beautiful objects, and “Prickle Moon” is no different.

Marillier is an author who clearly prefers to write novels instead of short stories, and this does show a little in this collection. There are a few amazing stories included (which are well worth the cover price of any version), but some of the others are a little uneven. There is, however, true beauty and wonder in all of them, even in some of the most wrenching ones to read.

The titular story, “Prickle Moon”, begins the collection and is new in print. The voice in this piece is just amazing, and you can feel the love that Marillier has for her subject matter in every line. “Otherling” is a reprint, but pairs well with “Prickle Moon”, with both heavily featuring nature and nature magic, with a good dose of historical feel.

Some pure fairy tale follows, with “Let Down Your Hair”, a gorgeous retelling of Rapunzel, and “Poppy Seeds”. There is Arthurian mythos in “In Coed Cellydon”, and a story of hope in “Juggling Silver”.

The longest story in the book is “‘Twixt Firelight and Water”, which fills in part of Marillier’s epic historical Sevenwaters series. Like the Sevenwaters books, this draws on myth and magic and history to create something amazing.

The next stories that follow are where some of the unevenness of the collection shows. It’s not that any of the stories are bad – and reading through Marillier’s afterward which explains the target of some of these stories, it’s understandable that they don’t fit quite perfectly into the magic of the other stories in the collection. Overall, they feel more like they were written for a specific publication, and didn’t spark from some deep magic, as the other tales do.

At the end of the collection, however, come some of the best stories. “Back and Beyond” perhaps filters some of Marillier’s own experiences with cancer, and is beautiful and hopeful and heart-wrenching at the same time. “Angel of Death” takes place in a puppy mill, and Marillier’s love of animals (and for her own rescue dogs) shines clear.

For me, the best story in “Prickle Moon” is the last, “By Bone-Light”, a retelling of Vasilissa the Fair, complete with Baba Yaga lurking in the basement of an apartment building. Everything in this story lives and breathes pure magic, and highlights Marillier at her mythic best. This story is original to the collection.

Overall, “Prickle Moon” is highly recommended, if you’re a fan of Marillier in general, if you love fairy tales, if you love myth and truly amazing storytelling. And if you haven’t read Marillier before, then this is a great place to start before diving into her larger books.

Mirrored from Stephanie Gunn.

azhure: (me phoenix)

POTD: John Green box set

John Green limited edition signed box set.  Technically a Christmas present, since it was purchased with Christmas money.

Today included attending the funeral for my husband’s grandmother, which is why there’s nothing more involved for today’s photo.  But the books did arrive today.  I have become a bit of a John Green fan girl (and a nerdfighter) of late.

Mirrored from Stephanie Gunn.

azhure: (me phoenix)

Caitlin R Kiernan’s The Drowning Girl  is officially my favourite book of 2012.  One of my favourite books of the last decade, too, I think.

I own a paperback and the kindle version.  I’m really hoping that someone like Subterranean brings out a beautiful hardcover edition of it, too.

You should read it.  Now.

Mirrored from Stephanie Gunn.

azhure: (me phoenix)
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Loot! Everything but the bottom three books from the con bag.

This morning I woke up to see the Hugo nominations have been announced.  I am full of fangirl squee to see so many awesome people and books and publications on there.  So happy to see awesome podcasts like Galactic Suburbia and SF Squeecast, and Cat Valente and Among Others and Mur Lafferty and and and!

And I have promptly gone and bought myself a supporting membership so I can vote :)

And in even more squee, I went to Swancon yesterday!  And for once didn’t come away with a ridiculous amount of books.  I did splurge a little and buy the limited hardcover of Kim Wilkins’ The Infernal from Ticonderoga, as well as Damnation and Dames, which was the one book I’d gone intending to buy.  I also indulged in buying some books for other people, including completing a friend’s set of Tansy Rayner Roberts’ Creature Court trilogy and buying another friend Joanne Anderton’s Debris.  I so love buying books for other people, especially when I know they’re in situations where they can’t indulge.

(And in an interlude of cute, the husband just opened his collection of Dr Who minifigs for the two-year old to see, and the kidlet is now playing with the ninth doctor and eleventh doctor.  We start them young here.)

Swancon was awesome, mostly because the wonderful Ju introduced me around a lot.  I got to have an awesome chat with Marianne de Pierres, who is just amazing and wonderful.  And I managed to attend only one panel, and only because I was on it ;)  And it was tremendous fun, and I kind of want to do more panels now.

I will likely try to make some more coherent blog posts this week, but I am proud of myself for going, since social anxiety has kept me away from things like this for so long.  And though I am tired and sore and need some serious introvert recharging time, I am very, very glad that I went.

Mirrored from Stephanie Gunn.

azhure: (me phoenix)

How to Be Sick by Toni Bernhard

 

Here’s a thing: coming up in March it will be ten years since I first fell ill.  At first, we thought it was a simple flu.  And then I ended up with severe post-viral fatigue.  And then everything else – the headaches, the joint pain, the sleep disturbances.  Cue two years of struggling through, with the eventual diagnosis of lupus/rheumatoid arthritis (depending on who you’re talking to; for me, the treatment is the same) and fibromyalgia.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost a decade.  This illness was part of the reason that I didn’t pursue a career in science.  This illness put me on a disability pension after I finished my PhD.  This illness has limited my life, but thankfully, has been treated well enough that I’ve been able to put my life back together, albeit not in the fashion I always thought I’d live.  Despite it, I have continued to write, and run a household.  Thanks to the support of my husband and family, I’ve been able to have a son.

And yet.  Despite all of this, despite getting the right treatment, despite therapy, despite everything, I’ve still found in myself a lot of anger about being ill in the first place.  This book is the  first thing that I’ve discovered that has given me some peace with that illness.

I owe a great debt to an online friend who pointed me towards this book (as well as the facebook group that was created to help people work through the book).  I am not a Buddhist, and I thought at first that would be a problem with working through the book and implementing work from it.  And yet, I didn’t ever find that to be a problem,  Bernhard’s style is so open and easy to read, integrating some of her own Buddhist practice in easy ways to help find some peace.  I’ve found myself incorporating several of the practices into my life since finishing it, and have found that they’ve given me a lot of peace.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is dealing with a chronic illness, or to anyone supporting someone with a chronic illness.  I don’t believe that anyone should stop fighting to find a way past illness, but there is a lot of peace in acceptance of it at the worst times.

Mirrored from Stephanie Gunn.

azhure: (me phoenix)

I have been rather silent around these parts.  I actually took a fairly long break from writing over the holidays (which was much needed) and just enjoyed some time with the family.

Now I am eyes deep in Aurealis Awards reading, beta reading a friend’s novel and have started working on Never again.  Add to that a two-year-old, and you don’t get much time for anything else.

I’m not going to write reviews, since stories in these are both eligible works in Aurealis wards, but I just wanted to say that you should go and read these anthologies, because they are freaking awesome.

 

 

 

Ishtar, Gilgamesh Press. (amazon link, kindle edition).

Ghosts by Gaslight, edited by Jack Dann. (amazon link)

My favourite story isn’t AA eligible, so I’m going to mention it - Theodora Goss’ Christopher Raven.  Worth buying for that story alone.

Mirrored from Stephanie Gunn.

azhure: (dreaming tree)

To celebrate Alisa Krasnostein’s nomination for a World Fantasy Award for Twelfth Planet Press (full list of nominees here – special congratulations to Charles Tan and Angela Slatter, too!).

My Twelfth Planet Press books, all in a row.  I think this is all of them, my books are in an incomplete state of organisation.


Mirrored from Stephanie Gunn.

azhure: (dreaming tree)

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I love book mail.

Especially when it includes Selina Fenech’s Memory’s Wake and Kate Gordon’s Thyla (were-thylacines!  ’Nuff said)

 

 

 

Mirrored from Stephanie Gunn.

Book mail!

Jul. 7th, 2011 12:15 pm
azhure: (dreaming tree)

2011-07-07_11-30-21_310.jpg

I may have squeed :)

And yeah, I couldn’t resist the 10th anniversary hardcover of American Gods.

Mirrored from Stephanie Gunn.

azhure: (dreaming tree)

Too many books today to fit them in the postbox.  This continues the influx of books purchased post Swancon, after hearing them talked about or recommended at the con.  Or because an author was awesome at the con – namely Glenda Larke.  I’m generally over epic fantasy, but had to buy her books.

 

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Mirrored from Stephanie Gunn.

azhure: (dreaming tree)

I’ve been toying with the idea of blogging more about some of the books that I read.  Not doing formal reviews, but just rambling a bit about them.

And so I shall begin, looking at two books: Power and Majesty and The Shattered City, books one and two of The Creature Court by Tansy Rayner Roberts.

I have to say one thing first – Tansy is a huge inspiration to me.  I’ve been following her blog and Twitter feed for a long time, and have been constantly amazed by how she balances her life – she is a small business owner, a mother and a writer.  And on top of that, she reviews books, and is part of the podcasting team at Galactic Suburbia.

Tansy has given me so much hope that I can find balance in my own life – especially with balancing mothering and writing.  I was very happy to be able to meet her at Swancon and thank her for her inspiration face to face.

And now, onto the books.  Which, I have to say, have some amazing covers.  They reminded me at first of the Australian editions of Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels books (which may be intentional, perhaps, because the series do have similar feels to them, in my opinion, anyway).

I adore Tansy’s writing in this.  Her voice is so strong in all of it, her characters finely drawn and complex (something that I didn’t appreciate fully until reading the second book, and I suspect will appreciate even more when the third book is released).  Tansy has an amazing way with dialogue, too, and reveals so much about her characters through their speech.

I love the world of these books.  Honestly, at the beginning of the first book I wasn’t that enamoured with it.  I was intrigued, yes – especially with the shapeshifters, which are treated in a very original fashion.  It was only at about midway through the first book that I found myself truly lost in this world.  But from that point on, I was totally lost.

I am now desperate for the third book, which I believe is going to be released late in the year.  And I suspect that I’m going to read it, and then promptly reread the whole trilogy from the beginning again.  Because I know that there’s lots of sneaky bits and pieces in the first book that I missed on the first read through :)

If you’re a fan of dark fantasy – especially if you’re a fan of Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels books – the Creature Court books are highly recommended.

 

Mirrored from Stephanie Gunn.

azhure: (dreaming tree)

Fiction

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Doomsday Book by Connie Willis*

Shadow by Will Elliott

The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz*

Above/Below by Stephanie Campisi and Ben Peek*

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein

 

Non fiction

The Happiest Mom by Meagan Francis*

 

*Books I particular enjoyed and would recommend.

Mirrored from Stephanie Gunn.

azhure: (dreaming tree)

9780765321534

I’ve heard Jo Walton’s Among Others described as a love letter to sf/f.  And it is, and so much more.  I adored all of the mentions of books throughout (even though I think I ended up with a long mental list of all the ones I hadn’t read and now want to).  I wish more books were written like this.

house of discarded dreams

I’ve actually had Ekaterina Sedia’s first two books sitting on my to-be-read shelf for ages, but a friend loving House of Discarded Dreams recently inspired me to pick this one up first.  And I am glad I did.  The prose melds with poetry, and the whole thing reads like a dream itself.  Just gorgeous.

Mirrored from Stephanie Gunn.

azhure: (dreaming tree)

2010 was a year in which, for me, I read very little.  I like to aim for 100 books a year, but I managed only 65.  I did, however, continue to accumulate books on my to-be-read shelf constantly, so I have a decent backlog to start reading this year.

My favourite books of the year, in no particular order:

  • Managing Death – Trent Jamison
  • Death Most Definite – Trent Jamison
  • Macabre – Angela Challis and Marty Young (editors)
  • Dead Sea Fruit – Kaaron Warren
  • The Girl With No Hands – Angela Slatter
  • Mysterious Skin – Scott Heim
  • Madigan Mine – Kirstyn McDermott
  • The Red Tree – Caitlin R Kiernan
  • Liar – Justine Larbalestier
  • Guardian of the Dead – Karen Healey
  • The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

Mirrored from Stephanie Gunn.

azhure: (dreaming tree)

The paperback version of Karen Healey‘s Guardian of the Dead, which arrived in my letterbox today.  Just beautiful.

Mirrored from Stephanie Gunn.

azhure: (dreaming tree)

Thanks to a conversation on Twitter, I was alerted to the existence of two book clubs – Women of Science Fiction and Women of Fantasy.

I am going to take part in both of them.  Some of the books I’ve read, and others I’ve been meaning to read for a long time.

Join me?

Mirrored from Stephanie Gunn.

azhure: (me window cross)

Day 01 – A book series you wish had gone on longer OR a book series you wish would just freaking end already (or both!)

The first thing that pops into my head is for the latter.  Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series has devolved into…what?  I don’t even know any more.  There’s a lot of aspects of the world of the books that I still enjoy as brain candy, but I honestly think that there’s a limit to how powerful you can make your protagonist before it all starts getting silly.  Not to mention how many weird sexual situations you can force her into ;)

I actually think that a lot of urban fantasy series are heading into this territory.  It becomes all about relationships and love triangles and heroines or heroes who keep on accumulating powers without too much actual character development.  There’s only so much I can read about the same character moaning about the same damn thing before I get fed up.

Series that I wish had gone on longer.  This is actually tougher.  I’d love to say Charles de Lint’s Newford books (even though I think he’s still writing in the series sometimes), but I think that he’s done as much as he can with the setting and characters without dragging it all painfully out.

Read the rest of this entry » )

Mirrored from Stephanie Gunn.

azhure: (Default)

Day 01 – A book series you wish had gone on longer OR a book series you wish would just freaking end already (or both!)

The first thing that pops into my head is for the latter.  Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series has devolved into…what?  I don’t even know any more.  There’s a lot of aspects of the world of the books that I still enjoy as brain candy, but I honestly think that there’s a limit to how powerful you can make your protagonist before it all starts getting silly.  Not to mention how many weird sexual situations you can force her into ;)

I actually think that a lot of urban fantasy series are heading into this territory.  It becomes all about relationships and love triangles and heroines or heroes who keep on accumulating powers without too much actual character development.  There’s only so much I can read about the same character moaning about the same damn thing before I get fed up.

Series that I wish had gone on longer.  This is actually tougher.  I’d love to say Charles de Lint’s Newford books (even though I think he’s still writing in the series sometimes), but I think that he’s done as much as he can with the setting and characters without dragging it all painfully out.

Read the rest of this entry » )

Mirrored from Stephanie Gunn.

azhure: (me window cross)

Randomly finding Deborah Kalin‘s Shadow Bound on the shelf, for I had not been paying attention to the internet and didn’t realise it had been released.

Not that I need more books on my to-be-read mountain, but I need to know what happens next, dammit.

Mirrored from Stephanie Gunn.

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