Tag Archive | Strange Waters

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! 🙂

February 2020 Book Ishness

It’s time to share some bookish releases this month, and what I’ve been reading so far this year!

FEBRUARY RELEASES

There are some AMAZING books releasing in February which I’m super excited about! *muffled shrieking* (Titles link to Amazon or Goodreads.)

  • Winter Spell – Claire M. Banschbach — This one isn’t on Goodreads yet (hence no picture) but I’M SO EXCITED FOR IT TO RELEASE! It’s the final Faeries of Myrnius book (but it stands alone) and I copyedited it and it’s my favorite book by this author yet (aside from Oath of the Outcast which just topped my favorite reads of last year). Y’all. This book has absolutely everything that I love, and it’s wintry, and has faeries, and all of the relationships and snark, and just AAHHH. It’s amazing and you need it in your life! I think it’s releasing in March or late Feb. Soon!
  • Cry of the Raven – Morgan L. Busse (Feb. 4) — Final book in the Ravenwood Saga, and I’m SO excited that this one is out! *shrieking* IT WAS AMAZING! (Read my review here.)
  • No Chance Meeting – Jaye Elliot (Feb. 14) — Jaye L. Knight is publishing a contemporary romance under a pen-name, and I’m super looking forward to reading it! I’ll be sharing a bit about it for the blog tour later this month. 🙂
  • Freeze Thaw – Selina J. Eckert (Feb. 14) — This novelette is a breathtaking take on Sleeping Beauty, featuring an archaeologist student and an Ice Age princess! Pretty sure I didn’t remember to breathe the entire time I read it. Wow. (I copyedited this, so I got an early look at it!) This was a Top Ten Finalist in the Five Magic Spindles contest held by Rooglewood Press.
  • Clockwork Magician – W. R. Gingell (Feb. 28) — I’m very behind on the Two Monarchies series (I’ve still only read Masque and Spindle) but this is another one and it’s releasing soon and I can’t wait to catch up on these delightful books!
  • The New Emperor’s Concerto – Hazel B. West — I beta-read this and it’s totally another favorite! Set in futuristic London, with two chaps on opposite sides who may be the only ones who can stop another world war. It has one of my new favorite buddy stories and the characters and snark and Britishness is all MY FAVORITE. It’s brilliant and I love it so much! I’m so excited for it to release!

In other news . . .

February is Fantasy Month

If you haven’t heard, Jenelle Schmidt is hosting the Fifth Annual February is Fantasy Month blog event! There are giveaways, fantasy blog posts, and an Instagram challenge! Feel free to check out all the info here, and join in with fantasy posts of your own (there’s a linkup and everything)!


MY READING NEWS

January Reads

2020 is off to a great start for reading! Here’s what I read this last month. (If you want to read more about them, you can find them on Goodreads here.)

  • The Geppetto Codex – Kyle Robert Shultz — Aaah! The fifth Beaumont and Beasley book is finally here and it’s so good! Faun and dryad MCs, the Afterverse version of Venice, creepy puppets, awesome epilogues…!
  • The New Emperor’s Concerto – Hazel B. West — I just flailed about this so I’ll spare you. 😉 (But I love it!)
  • Unexpected Magic – Diana Wynne Jones — This one’s an anthology of fantasy or sci-fi short stories, although I read the short stories at the end of 2019 and only read the novella at the end (Everard’s Ride—terribly interesting) this year… Some of them weren’t my favorite but they were all interesting, and I enjoyed a bunch of them. I’ve been meaning to read this collection for ages, so I’m pleased I finally did!
  • Winter Spell – Claire M. Banschbach — I just talked about this one too but AAAAHHH IT’S SO GOOD!!
  • Freeze Thaw – Selina J. Eckert — Likewise!
  • The Butler’s Story – Hazel B. West — What a fun prequel short story that introduces the hero of The New Emperor’s Concerto, and the butler character, Sinclair. (Everyone needs a Sinclair!) If you’re curious about my squawking, you can meet these characters in the prequel short story which just came out!
  • 5,000 Words Per Hour – Chris Fox — I’m trying to read a few nonfiction books I’ve collected. This one was interesting and hopefully some of the ideas will be helpful.
  • Brown-Ears at Sea – Stephen Lawhead — I finally read this! I love Lawhead’s books for children, which are not very well known but delightful! I just loved this adventure of a stuffed rabbit being swept out to sea and having adventures, while trying to get home to his little boy.
  • Defined – Sarah Holman — An intriguing short story in the Tales of Taelis Kingdom Adventure series!
  • Writing Magic – Gail Carson Levine — I have a stack of a dozen books on writing which I’m hoping to get through, one month at a time, this year. I quite enjoyed this author’s thoughts about writing and it inspired me and made me smile. 🙂
  • The Honorary Agents and the Mystery of the Stolen Artifacts – Lindsay Helm — Fun mystery for younger readers. 🙂
  • The Honorary Agents and the Mystery of the Rare Coin – Lindsay Helm — And this is the sequel to that one and I loved it so much! It’s a fun mystery/treasure hunt and I really enjoyed it! ^_^
  • Elapse – Sarah Holman — I listened to this on audiobook and really enjoyed it! Also in the Tales of Taelis series, it made me excited to read the next book.
  • Strange Waters – Phoenix Fiction Writers — What a delightful collection of fantasy and sci-fi short stories! I need to get together a review for these. Some of them were a liiiittle too scary for me, but most were amazing! (And they’re all super well-written!)
  • Beyond the Shadowed Earth – Joanna Ruth Meyer — I’m getting my thoughts together for a review but WOW, that was gorgeous and mythic and intense! :O I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like it!

February: Currently Reading (Ish)

The closest I have to a nightstand stack right now. ARCs and review books, which I’m hoping to focus on and catch up on reading and reviewing in the next month or so! I’ve actually read the top two now, and I’m looking forward to getting into the others. 🙂

I’m also re-reading aloud Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn (fun Han Solo heist novel!), and I’m still in Green Dolphin Country by Elizabeth Goudge which is GORGEOUS but is taking me an embarrassingly long time because it’s so long and I keep having reading deadlines on other things. XD I WILL finish it soon! I’m determined!

January Book Haul

My January bookhaul! So many exciting books! (The top three were given to me.) Also, how about the adorable art by H.S.J. Williams! IT’S SO ADORABLE. I’ve read/loved Cry of the Raven, Hollow, Kate’s Christmas, and the Honorary Agents book. Looking forward to Emberhawk (it’s releasing March 10!!) and reading the Hero’s Guide series so I can read this third book!


That’s all the updates I have for now. Are there any books you’re excited about? I hope you have an amazing, bookish month! Thanks for reading!