Tag Archive | Phoenix Fiction Writers

Review: Strange Waters Anthology (Phoenix Fiction Writers)

I’m excited to share with y’all a review for this anthology of sci-fi and fantasy stories from the Phoenix Fiction Writers!

Title: Strange Waters

Authors: the Phoenix Fiction Writers

(E.B. Dawson, C. Scott Frank, Janelle Garrett, Hannah Heath, Nate Philbrick, K.L. + Pierce, J.E. Purrazzi, Kyle Robert Shultz, Beth Wangler)

  • Date read: January 30, 2020
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Sci-fi / Fantasy / Short Stories / Anthology
  • Year pub: 2019
  • Pages: 302
  • Source: The publisher
  • Notes: I received a free e-copy of this anthology from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

(5 stars to the collection overall! The stories might have different ratings, but most of them are 4’s or 5’s, definitely!)

STRANGE WATERS features nine sci-fi and fantasy stories from nine different authors. These tales range from intense to all the feels to hilarious and they’re all original and well-written!

A couple of them were too scary for me personally, but kudos to all these authors for writing such captivating stories in such a short space, all incredibly different even though they all feature the image on the cover! I had a blast reading this!

Here are some brief thoughts on each story. 🙂


Backpack Boy – by Nate Philbrick

Wow, talk about good writing. O_O I haven’t read a story like this before but it was sooo interesting and well-written. I loved the backpack boy and how things weren’t as they seemed and the sheer imagination of it. There were definitely feels, and I love how everything slowly got revealed. So original and yet classic-seeming, and like a definition of childhood.


Finer Things – by C. Scott Frank

Whoa! I loved this one! It’s very sci-fi, and sci-fi has to work hard to make me like it, but I was intrigued the entire time, on the edge of my seat, and I really liked the characters and their lively banter! Soren is my fave. They’re adorable. I love it! Fabulous and one of my favorites. ^_^


Roanoke – by J.E. Purrazzi

This one is set on an icy planet and I felt sooo cold reading it, so I guess it succeeded. XD Intense and exciting and unique! I liked the time element, and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, rooting for our heroine Ketera! I’ve found myself thinking of this one several times since I read it and sometimes feel like I watched a movie of it instead of reading a short story.


Kamynosa’s Labyrinth – by Beth Wangler

I absolutely loved the islands and nautical feel of this one! Princess Kamynosa was a fierce part of this competition. XD I especially loved Jadairos! He was my favorite. 🙂 It’s told like a history, which meant it took me a minute to get into it, since we feel a little removed from the story at first, but was also a really cool touch in another way. And everything was so vivid!


Barnaby Brown and the Glass Sea – by E.B. Dawson

THIS ONE! Oh my word. XD I’ve adored every E.B. Dawson short story I’ve read so far, and this one was so, so much fun! This unorthodox archaeology professor and his snark, though! I love Barnaby Brown so much. XD I kept wanting to quote the whole thing. Throw in unlucky Oliver and some shenanigans and problems and it’s just a riot. I love it so much! The idea of an archaeologist on another world/planet is so cool, by the way. And the ending was suuuper intriguing! Aaahh! Plus, fabulous banter. I love banter and humor and this one totally has a ton of both. 😀 One of my favorites!


Through the Lens – by K.L.+Pierce

This one was really fascinating, if a little scary, and I really liked the mind elements to it. It felt sort of quest-like and I was really curious to see what was going to happen, because I had no idea! I was confused a couple of times, but got straightened out, and a couple of the twists I did not see coming at all. o.o So yes, great suspense, and intriguing!


Ric Vayne and the Curse of Ghoul Nebula – by Kyle Robert Shultz

Disclaimer: I edited this one. But it’s absolutely hilarious and I love it so much. XD Ric Vayne, a space wizard, gets turned into a space ship, and shenanigans ensue. His dry narration, the humor, and the hilarious way that Ovo (the bird-like alien character) speaks totally made this story. I kept laughing. XD Another favorite!


The Underground – by Janelle Garrett

This one was SUPER INTENSE and I’m pretty sure I didn’t breathe the entire time I was reading it! *nervous laughter* It was terrifying, dystopian-ish story, with a good blend of fantasy and sci-fi feel. Oh, and I really liked Kef! It was just a bit too creepy for me, personally (I don’t do well with scariness or dystopian feels!), but certainly super well-written, and I never knew where it was going to go next. I’m sure many readers will enjoy it. ^_^


This Pain Inside – by Hannah Heath

This one was super fascinating and intriguing! I had similar problems with it as with the previous one, because, again, I’m just not a dystopian/post-apocalyptic person — sorry! It was really intense and scary and full of feels. But the writing was awesome, and the message, and the ending, and everything was very vivid. The under-the-sea stuff was intriguing, and I loved the mermaid tails. So, too scary for me, but that’s just me. XD But I definitely couldn’t put it down! Wow. Oh, and I liked how music was a part of it!


Overall, my favorites were Barnaby Brown and the Glass Sea and Ric Vayne and the Mystery of Ghoul Nebula, because I love funny stories, and they were both just so much fun. XD But all of the others were super good too (even the scary ones!) and I really enjoyed the collection as a whole! Definitely check this one out! 🙂


A Few Favorite Quotes

“You don’t think they’ll come looking for us down here? They never come down here. They’ve never had a good enough reason.”

Soren smiles mischievously. “I’m afraid I may have given them one.”

— Finer Things (C. Scott Frank)


“But you haven’t told me much about this expedition,” Oliver said. “Maybe we could talk about that. What’s this exciting find?”

“Well, you remember when Folger discovered the ancient city of Telia Cross?”

Oliver’s face brightened a shade. “Yes.”

“Well, it won’t be like that,” Barnaby muttered.

Oliver’s face fell. “Probably just as well. I’m allergic to dust.”

“We’re investigating the origin of a strange marking on a two-inch piece of potsherd,” Barnaby said.

“That sounds a little more likely.”

***

“I had no idea archaeology was so dangerous,” Oliver said.

— Barnaby Brown and the Glass Sea (E.B. Dawson)


Everything was worse in the middle of the night, including sarcasm.

— The Underground (Janelle Garrett)


I also want to quote the entire Ric Vayne story (it’s by Kyle Robert Shultz; of course it’s quotable and hilarious), and more Barnaby Brown, but I will leave readers to discover them instead. XD


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Thanks for reading! 🙂

Phoenix Fiction Black Friday Weekend Sale!

(My PFW paperback collection! <3)

Guys, check out the fabulous Black Friday through Cyber Monday sale that the Phoenix Fiction Writers are having right now!

They’re a group of authors who include Kyle Robert Shultz, E.B. Dawson, Beth Wangler, K.L.+ Pierce, Hannah Heath, Nate Philbrick, and others, and to celebrate the second anniversary of the Phoenix Fiction Writers, they have tons of ebooks, paperbacks, and bookish merch on sale this weekend!

Check it out HERE!

Read on for recommendations/shoutouts!

(PFW swag from Realm Makers)

Shoutout to K.L.+ Pierce, Hannah Heath, and Beth Wangler, who I got to meet at Realm Makers! One of my favorite memories from the conference this year was hanging out with them. 🙂 They are all awesome people and you should check out their books! ^_^ I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read from them so far and need to read more!

Shoutout to Kyle Robert Shultz, author of the Afterverse books, which I edit; the Afterverse is probably one of my favorite fictional universes. XD If you haven’t read any of the Beaumont and Beasley or Crockett and Crane stories yet, you are missing out! I highly recommend picking up any of them!

And shoutout to E.B. Dawson, who writes the most INTENSE AND GORGEOUS sci-fi short stories, some of which I fell in love with earlier this year and you totally need to read so you can die from the beauty like I did. XD (Head in the Heavens collects all six of the stories which I reviewed separately HERE.)

Shoutout to Nate Philbrick and his book Where the Woods Grow Wild which I adored even before he became a PFW author, and which I believe is 99 cents right now and you need it! (It’s whimsical and fantastical and reminds me of Lloyd Alexander.)

I haven’t really read the other PFW authors yet but that totally is about to change. XD And if you want to sample all of their writing, there are PFW anthologies, Antiheroes and Strange Waters. (I’m reading Strange Waters right now and it’s delightful!)

Just drop by and peruse the books and I’m sure you’ll find something delicious to try reading!

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving, and that you have a bookish weekend! If you’re doing NaNo, YOU CAN DO IT! (I finished on Monday. XD) Thanks for reading. 🙂

Strange Waters: New Phoenix Fiction Anthology!

Just a quick announcement to share that the new short story collection from the delightful Phoenix Fiction Writers is releasing TODAY! *applause and confetti*

I’m so excited to read Strange Waters (you’ll hear from me again with a review once I do) and you can read on for more about these sci-fi or fantasy stories from a group of talented authors! 😀

(I did read the one by Kyle Robert Shultz, which I edited — it’s hilarious and space fantasy and yes you need it in your life. I can’t wait to read the others!

Links

THE STORIES

Here’s more about each individual story that’s collected under the gorgeous cover above!

Backpack Boy by Nate Philbrick (www.natephilbrick.com)

Pirates have kidnapped Mum and taken her to the cave across the island.

The boy with the red backpack has everything he needs to rescue Mum: a map, a wooden sword, a book about pirate adventures, and a ham sandwich. Most importantly of all, he has his elephant.

But wooden swords and ham sandwiches might not be enough for the boy with the red backpack to face the truth he’s afraid of the most.

And the island starts to crumble…

Finer Things by C. Scott Frank (www.scottfrank.com)

Soren Tallweather and Tabitha Courtney are madly in love with each other and furiously in hate with the society that says they can never be together. They could escape, if only they had the means to buy anonymity. If they can get their hands on the right merchandise, that can certainly be arranged.

It was supposed to be in and out, but no job ever goes according to plan. Now it’s a race against the clock to get to safety with an all-too-familiar enemy on their tails. But justice, it seems, picks the most inopportune times to show up.

Everything they thought they had is at stake as Tabitha must settle the war within herself: what’s more important? Her own freedom or those less fortunate than her?

Roanoke by J.E. Purrazzi (www.jillanepurrazzi.com)

How far would you go to save your enemies?

The invention of trans-time communication has locked Ketera’s bloodline into a single destiny. A destiny that Ketera has been preparing her whole life to fulfill. While her friends mapped out their hopes and dreams, she mapped her voyage across the stars–a voyage to a lost colony on a dangerous water-covered planet that will one day declare war on Earth.

Two ships have been sent: one negotiating for peace, the other prepared for war. If Ketera’s mission as ambassador fails, the warship following in her wake will take whatever measures are necessary in order to protect the future.

But the road ahead of Ketera is dangerous, and her mission will take her away from everything familiar, across a planet of violent extremes, and into the frozen, sunless expanse. And all to save her enemies.

Kamynosa’s Labyrinth by Beth Wangler (www.bethwangler.com)

Princess Kamynosa doesn’t need anyone’s help. Anyone could see she will be quite capable of being the Archipelago’s Archon on her own.

But her parents haven’t noticed that. No, they have called for a Labyrinth.

Disgruntled and eager to prove she can do it alone, Kamynosa commandeers a boat and joins the Labyrinth to win herself. She has every confidence that she will soar past the other competitors on the sparkling seas.

Yet Captain’s Heir Jadairos obnoxiously stays close in her wake.  Even worse—he has a hero complex.

Proving that Kamynosa doesn’t need anyone just got a bit more challenging.

Barnaby Brown and the Glass Sea by E.B. Dawson (www.ebdawsonwriting.com)

An unorthodox professor of archaeology sets off to find his own answers about an unusual archaeological find, accompanied by an accident-prone student in need of extra credit.

The Archaeological Society of Catalan has pieced together a long and rich history for the planet of Illiana, based on a revolutionary dating system. But Dr. Barnaby Brown has his doubts about the accuracy of the procedure, which tends to give out false readings. His private findings seem to suggest that nothing on the planet is more than 500 years old–a hypothesis which, if proven true, would shake the very core of society.

When a set of incongruous new artifacts turn up, Barnaby learns they are inextricably linked to an old legend surrounding the Glass Sea. With an accident-prone student in tow, he sets out to find answers for himself and embarks on an adventure he never bargained for.

Through the Lens by K.L.+Pierce (www.klpiercebooks.com)

Viatem is here…and Dion does not have a gift for his younger sister.

Thankfully, he has a backup plan: a telescope that can see into the next galaxy.

But when completing the telescope means breaking into an enemy military installation, Dion will have to look within himself, and decide whether cutting through the shadows of his sister’s world is worth the price.

Ric Vayne and the Curse of Ghoul Nebula by Kyle Robert Shultz (www.kylerobertshultz.com)

Any wizard can fly a spaceship. Hotshot pilot Ric Vayne can fly one better than most. But just as he’s about to land a job that could finally pay off his bar bill, he finds himself pressed into service by a deranged captain.

That wouldn’t be so bad…except that Ric isn’t expected to fly the ship. When he wakes up after getting kidnapped, he discovers that he is the ship.

Which is a bad thing for many reasons–including, but not limited to, the fact that Ric no longer has fingers to hold his spellblaster. If Ric is ever going to get his soul out of a computer core and back into his body, he’ll have to be very clever about it.

But he’ll also have to work fast…because he’s headed for Ghoul Nebula, a place of pure chaos magic. And no pilot–or  ship–gets out of there alive.

The Underground by Janelle Garrett (www.janellegarrettwriter.com)

What if everything you believed was actually true?

His whole life, Kef has been told he is too idealistic. His older sister, Hiya, insists the Deep is a lost memory. It disappeared from the Raized Domains centuries ago.  Kef wants to believe the Domains haven’t been abandoned, but everything points to the contrary. Their parents mysteriously vanished. People keep turning up dead or missing.

And then, Hiya is taken by the feared Dragons.

Kef will stop at nothing to rescue her, including traversing to the Underground itself to take on the Dragons. What he finds there will change the whole sphere: but will he be too late to rescue Hiya?

This Pain Inside by Hannah Heath (www.hannahheathwriter.com)

The Poison that destroyed the surface has come to claim the deep. It is severing electricity lines, imploding underwater houses, and destroying the solar power rafts humanity uses as its energy source. The Neons, people who act as hosts for a magical force, are fighting an ever-losing battle to keep the Poison at bay.

But that isn’t any of Charlie’s business. All Charlie can think about is finding a cure for her chronic pain. After all, she is too tired and too weak to help fight the Poison. If she can just make the pain go away, maybe then she’ll be worth something. Maybe then she’ll become useful enough and strong enough to join the fight.

But when the Poison begins to threaten what little family she has left, Charlie may just have to rethink her views on pain, worth, and what makes a person strong.


There you are! I hope you’re looking forward to it like I am! Happy birthday to Strange Waters! *throws confetti*

Do you like anthology collections? I’m often hit or miss on short stories but I’m definitely looking forward to these!

Fall Books & 12 Princesses! Book Ishness (October 2019)

Time for bookish news and ishness! Since, you know, I haven’t had one of these in AGES.

I won’t attempt to catch up on all the releases and reading at the moment, and will just hop in with NEW THINGS for October. 😀

(Did I ever mention I’m a perfectionist? I keep not doing Book Ishness posts because I know I haven’t been keeping track of EVERYTHING and what if I miss something and ack I must recap all the months I missed and–! No. Breathe, Deborah. Goodness. Ahem.)

SO. This is not exhaustive (and hopefully not exhausting) but here are some bookish releases and fun things and stuff I’m up to!

First . . .


How about some releases for this month-ish?

  • Jenelle Schmidt’s first children’s picture book just released! It’s a Christmas book and looks totally adorbz.
  • I can’t wait to dive into reading Strayborn (E.E. Rawls), Sword of Soter (Ralene Burke), Mardan’s Anointed (Kathrese McKee), and Strange Waters (by all the Phoenix Fiction Writers)! I’ll be reviewing them once I’ve read them so watch for info on those!
  • Mistaken Divinity is the latest short story on Kyle Robert Shultz’s Patreon, featuring Nick and Cordelia running into Thor and Loki and other Norse people and it’s great. XD (For those not on Patreon, stay tuned because the next Beaumont and Beasley book is in the works, and I hear there’s a Crockett and Crane novella coming soon… As the Editor of the Afterverse, I Know Stuff. ;))
  • E.B. Dawson’s Lost Empire trilogy will be wrapping up soon with the upcoming release of The Guardian!
  • I haven’t kept up with the Lost Castle books but I hear there’s another one and it sounds delightful!
  • Uncommon Universes is releasing its first anthology, and while the subject matter doesn’t sound like my cup of tea I’m definitely curious about it since many authors I know are being published in it!
  • Selina J. Eckert is releasing a series of fairytale retelling novellas (I loved her Mesoamerican-inspired Rapunzel story!) and the next one is going to be Hansel and Gretel-related and sounds so interesting!

And two not-pictured:

DARK IS THE NIGHT — A new Mirriam Neal novel!!

Dark is the Night gets its own shoutout spot because it’s not on Goodreads or Amazon yet I’M SO EXCITED FOR IT.

Image and info from Mirriam’s Facebook cover reveal:

“The first day of Autumn is an auspicious day. A day for crunching leaves, apple cider, werewolves, and COVER REVEALS. I’m absolutely stoked to show you the cover for my novel, ‘Dark is the Night,’ and announce a mid-October release date!

That’s right, cryptids—the spooky South Carolina town of Salvation is being brought to you in paperback and kindle formats in less than a month!

Stay tuned for updates, and don’t forget to test strangers before inviting them inside.”

–Mirriam

GUYS I’M SO EXCITED. The last Mirriam novel to release was Paper Crowns (ONLY ONE OF MY TOP FAVORITE BOOKS EVER) and I beta-read Dark is the Night ages ago and I’M SO STOKED THAT IT’S RELEASING IN TWO WEEKS. Stay tuned. I’ll definitely be reading/reviewing it soon. 😀 I can’t wait for Skata and Angel to be released on the world!

Hollow

And aaahh! Just look at this epic-looking novella coming soon from Kyle Robert Shultz! It’s a novella about Ichabod Crane and I. can’t. wait. 😀 (Image from his Facebook.)


Um. So. Both of those are spooky-looking because October, but anyway, they look epic and I am THE EXCITED.


Other fun bookish things happening:

Twelve Dancing Princesses month

It’s Twelve Dancing Princesses month over at The Fairy Tale Central AND I COULD NOT BE MORE EXCITED. *screaming*

It’s only my most favorite fairy tale of all, and I can’t wait to see all the 12DP goodness being featured over there!

I might even see if I can do a post about this fairy tale myself this month, if I have time…

And now I want to read (and re-read!) more retellings. *shakes fist at calendar which says I have zero time* (But I might steal some of that time anyway. Maybe if I put on an invisible cloak I can evade Time. Hey, it worked for the Soldier following those princesses!)


Instagram and #SeriesthatIsnt

I have still been posting on my Instagram daily.

And I started a new hashtag! #Seriesthatisnt is all about book titles that sound like they should be in the same series but aren’t. XD

I’ve been having wayyy too much fun with this! You can check some of them out if you like, and it would be really fun if more people joined in on this! There have already been a few others doing it and it makes me happy. 😀


My Reading Life

So… I mostly read re-reads and picture books and beta/edits during September?? Which means I don’t have a lot of new exciting books to share about. Heh. But I have a few ARCs I need to read soon so I’ll hopefully be sharing some reviews in the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

October

I don’t have an official TBR/nightstand to share this month, since most of my have-to-reads are ebooks and don’t photograph well, and all the things in my physical stack I don’t know if I’ll get around to… BUT WE’LL SEE.

I don’t know how much time I’ll have to read later this month, but we’re only 4 days into October and I’ve already beta-read a delightful H.L. Burke short story, done one read-through on the Beaumont and Beasley book I’m editing (GUYS! :O), read a new Jayden and Dana story (aaahh!!!), and binge-read the Fellowship of Fantasy bookclub book of the month (Ghostlight by Rabia Gale; spookier than I usually read but otherwise AMAZING because Regency fantasyyyy) which has left me with a slight book hangover. So the month is off to an amazing start!

Here’s to a bookish October, friends! (While I freak out over needing to prep for NaNoWriMo. XD)

What are you reading? Thanks for dropping by, and have a great weekend!