The stories are free online to download in epub, mobi or pdf format; you can purchase the paperback here and the stories are also being released in podcast!
I have a growing list of ARCs to read and review in the next month or two. I’m so excited for all of them and I wish I had more reading time to get to them faster, but alas I’m busy and slow and it takes me time to catch up. Very excited to read these, though.
Some secrets are worth killing for
The ancient city of Kepos sits in an isolated valley, cut off from the outside world by a towering wall. Behind it, the souls of the dead clamour for release. Or so the priesthood says.
Kala has never had any reason to doubt their word – until her father dies in suspicious circumstances that implicate the city’s high priest. She’s determined to investigate, but she has a more immediate problem: the laws of the city require her mother to remarry straight away.
Kala’s new stepfather is a monster, but his son Leon is something altogether more dangerous: kind.
With her family fractured and the investigation putting her life in danger, the last thing Kala needs is romance. She would rather ignore Leon entirely, however difficult he makes it. But when she learns the truth of what really clamours behind the wall at the end of the valley, she faces a choice: share what she knows and jeopardise her escape, or abandon him to his fate along with the rest of the city.
If she doesn’t move fast, then no one will make it out of the valley alive.
I really love Josie Jaffrey’s writing style, and I’ve read a few of her stories already, so I’m excited to start in on this one.
Kanjin hardly view their servants as human. Even less so when they are different.
Asagi is different. Both a man and a woman.
In the wake of his failure to protect a boy he saw as a son from their abusive master, Asagi is sold into the house of a young nobleman, Mahiro, who is the opposite of everything Asagi has ever known—gentle, kind, and generous.
Mahiro bonds with Asagi and their friendship blooms into a deep and profound love. But when Asagi is poisoned out of jealousy, Mahiro reveals himself to be youkai, a demon who feeds on blood, and he has no choice but to turn Asagi to save their life.
Asagi awakes reborn, strong, and eternally youthful. But the price for Asagi’s new life is high.
The blood of the innocent. Just as Asagi’s trust in Mahiro falters, the boy he failed to protect, now a man, reappears.
New master, same threat.
With both a literal and proverbial monster at the door, Asagi must decide what it means to be human to protect what they love most.
I’m always excited for more fantasy stories, so I super excited for this one!
When Ian arrives in the City, he reminisces about a time when he was a boy, staring at the stars. Now, as a young man, he wanders aimlessly through work, a budding romance, and the subway, his smartphone in hand, feeling lost.
That is, until he stumbles upon something different: the dreams of strangers. Mesmerized and enchanted, Ian follows his curiosity but quickly finds himself thrust into a situation he did not expect. Before too long, an ever-accelerating chaos of surreal nights and stark days surround him. Soon there is only one option: he must find answers before his life dangerously unravels and he loses everything.
Thoughtful, innovative, and magical, Buried Vapors is a poignant and timely novel that explores the deep yearning for purpose in all of us as humanity journeys adrift into the twenty-first century. Buried Vapors helps us find the light, even within utter darkness.
The writing in this one is soooo good so far.
From 1947 through 1991, the United States and her allies faced off against the Soviet Union and her proxy states in clandestine operations worldwide during the Cold War. It was not a conventional shooting war, but make no mistake, both sides lost thousands of brave men and women who fought for what they believed in. Eastern Europe was home to some of the most intense and harrowing missions as NATO forces directly opposed the Soviets behind the Iron Curtain. Jinnik: The Asset is the true story of one man’s role in the conflict.
Gideon Asche was the typical American soldier stationed in West Germany in 1979. He dreamed of getting out and going back home to California as a civilian who’d done his small part for liberty. Little did he know that his longtime girlfriend, Petra, was a Mossad agent who’d likely been recruiting him from the beginning. After his enlistment was up, Gideon found himself with an offer he couldn’t refuse: to become a covert operator helping people trapped beyond the lines of freedom.
For ten years, Gideon lived in the shadows under false identities, transiting border checkpoints and Eastern Bloc nations with supplies and much-needed cash for the resistance. He lost team members, contacts, and friends, but he made a difference in Eastern Europe. No mission was refused because it was too hard or had never been done before. The only thing that stopped him was his eventual capture and torture by the KGB in Bulgaria. Somehow, miraculously, he survived the ordeal to tell his story.
This one looks super intense, but I’m really curious to see what it’s all about.
Anyone else reading these? ♡
An Indelible Day by Cairo Marques (2020)
“We just weren’t compatible. Still, we’re going to exist within one another eternally. We’ve created indelible memories together.”
An Indelible Day is quite an interesting short story that makes for a quick, thought provoking read. The story is divided into three sections and each one is framed around conversations the main character, John C., has with three other people. The main characters are not given last names, only initials, which was an interesting stylistic choice. I think the last time I saw that was in classics, which is cool. The monologues of the characters and the way the story is framed reminded me of older stories, too, like Salinger’s style in Franny and Zooey, just having two characters engaged in a long conversation. It definitely flowed well.
I will say that I would’ve liked a bit more characterisation to really get to know each character and perhaps some backstory, and I do wish it had been expanded a little bit, with perhaps a bit more detail, but overall it made for a very interesting and engaging read.
I received a free ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review. Cross-posted to Goodreads.
Ring the Bell by Josie Jaffrey
It’s everyone for themselves in Unterstrom, and despite our efforts to convert them to our way of thinking, our neighbours won’t listen. They argue that the Surge serves a purpose, that the sick and old are a burden on the community, which is exactly what the masters in Overstrom want us to think. They argue this because it’s the accepted truth, but the real truth is more selfish.
Ouch, right in the dystopian feeeeeels. Ring the Bell follows Mia and Ari, two residents of Unterstrom who live in dire poverty and suffer at the mercy of those in Overstrom. Every five years, the Surge comes, but the first one to the bell tower buys their family a new life. Let the race begin …
This is such a good short story and it left me craving a badass sequel with Ida. I definitely, definitely recommend this.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Cross-posted to Goodreads.
Indie books are often where I look for most of my books. Not just because I write indie books myself and want to support fellow writers, but because I find so much diversity and so many hidden gems. So, without further ado, some indie books I’ve added to my list that I can’t wait to sink my teeth into:
Eat the Rich by Andrew Rivas | Jinnik: The Asset by Gideon D. Asche | Goblinprince by Abbigayle Grace | Lord of the Clouds by G.S. Lewis | Annabel Pickering and the Sky Pirates: The Fantastical Contraption by Bretigne Shaffer | Kartega by A.N. Sage
Anyone read any of these? I’d love to know what you thought!
A Small Revolution in Germany by Philip Hensher, narrated by Neville Watchurst [review cross-posted to Goodreads]
Sometimes, as humans, we decide without consultation what would be best for people.
It made for a nice listen and the narrator was quite good. Spike was interesting character and his relationship with Joaquin is explored well. The political conversations and musings are thought-provoking, and Hensher certainly knows how to write witty dialogue. I’m just not sure what my thoughts are on this one. Overall, though, the prose was good, and it made for a nice addition to lgbt+ historical fiction.
Beneath Ceaseless Skies Issue #304 [review cross-posted to Goodreads]
She offered me a handful of bees and told me what to do, word for word.
Listened to ‘The Honey of the World and the Queen of Crows’ by Dimitra Nikolaidou. Amazing title, just sayin’. Well written short story and the audiobook is worth a listen! Available here.
The Curse of the Black Cat by Lou Wilham [review cross-posted to Goodreads, Reedsy]
This is an inherently sweet spin on the classic fairy tale. Prince Alrik of Edan is set to marry Princess Amriah, whom he doesn’t, and can’t, love. Cos, you know, he fancies the pants off Filip, his valet. He tries to play along and give Amriah a chance, but he can’t. He feels nothing for her. Filled with fear of his secret being discovered, Alrik seeks out the witch Gwydion, for help: he wants to be ‘cured’. 😦 It’s a very sad moment, but rather than take advantage of him, Gwydion tells him there’s nothing wrong with him: I’m afraid there is no cure for such a thing, dear prince. We love who we love, and that is the end of that. No magic can change it, not even mine. Nor would I want it to. I really liked her! She’s such a kind person.
Unfortunately, Alrik doesn’t take this well and Gwydion turns him into a cat. And she can’t change him back cos magic doesn’t work like that. A cat you are now, and a cat you shall stay until you can learn to love yourself. It’s an interesting twist to say the least. In addition to being a cat, he’s now immortal. With no way back to his life as a prince, Alrik watches the world pass him by while trapped as a cat. He travels around, seeking out witches, but to no avail.
One day, centuries later, Alrik finds himself in New York, at a Japanese restaurant. He starts to fall in love with both the food and the chef, Yuuki. Very soon, Yuuki begins taking care of Alrik, and dubs the cat ‘Prince’. ADORBS.
What follows is a very sweet, fluffy *pun totally intended * romance. If you’re a fan of adorable fantasy tales, this one is totally for you (⌒▽⌒)
Hello, Moto by Nnedi Okorafor
When you mix juju with technology, you give up control. You are at the will of something far beyond yourself.
This was a really intriguing tale about witchcraft and technology, and the consequences that come from blending the two. I only wish there’d been a little bit more to the story, but overall I really liked it. Available here.
Trial Run (Wild Heritance #0.5) by S. Lynn Helton
She wasn’t trying to prove anything, was she?
Ooooh, this was cool. I haven’t read the Wild Heritance books, but this novella has left me bursting with questions. Such great world building and adventure! I can’t wait to see where the story takes Namid.
Migration by Kat Howard
In every life I can remember, which is not all of them, not any more, I have longed to fly.
This was an absolutely beautiful tale of birds and eternity. Read here.
The Sigil by Shakeil Kanish & Larissa Mandeville: LGBT, fantasy
Everything that happened led you to this place […] and a boy who lost his voice and didn’t care if he’d ever get it back now wishes every day that he could just open his mouth and tell you all of this.
I really enjoyed this début novel from Shakeil Kanish and Larissa Mandeville! The main characters of Lake and Nova are great, and the bro angst really brought the FEELS. Brotherly love is something I adore in books, so of course this one tugged at my heart. ;_;
I want him to choose what he wants to be, not be stuck in a magical destiny like I seem to be. He deserves the world. I MEAN.
The twists at the end were great, and I loved the artwork inside the book, too! Can’t wait to see where it goes next!
*I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
The Sycamore and the Sybil by Alix E. Harrow in Uncanny Magazine Issue 33: March/April 2020: Fantasy, feminism
It’s like each woman doing what she can until one day, somehow, it is enough.
WELL, GOSH. I’m shook, to be quite honest. I have found a new author to adore. Alix E. Harrow’s The Sycamore and the Sybil is utterly captivating. You can feel the sisterhood and solidarity running through every word and the prose is simply lush.
Totally, totally recommend.