The Enchantment Emporium, by Tanya Huff

Ahh,¬†Tanya Huff. Author of the Blood books,¬†turned into the short-lived Blood Ties series. Author of the Smoke books, starring a character who was from the Blood books but got cut from the TV show. Author of the Valor’s Choice series of novels that I haven’t actually read, but I know they’re SF with a nice strong female lead. She also wrote The Fire’s Stone, Gate of Darkness, Circle of Light (one of my favorites), the Keeper books, and the novels of Crystal, together in a volume called Wizard of the Grove. Also a bunch of collections of short stories. Seriously, with this much published, it’s kind of amazing that there are spec-fic fans who haven’t read SOMETHING of hers.

The Enchantment Emporium is set in a new universe, just a bit removed from our own (or maybe it IS our own) where there’s a family of powerful women, surnamed Gale, who nudge the universe around by immense personal ability. Alysha Catherine Gale (Allie), our heroine, is twenty-four, jobless, and single when her grandmother (the family’s black sheep) gives her a store to run — the eponymous Enchantment Emporium. However, that means moving away from the family, out to Calgary. Obviously they can come visit, but apparently everyone is too busy actually to come with her. And then the strange things start happening — a tabloid reporter (very attractive, by the way) comes by, dragons start flying over the store, and faerie beings start showing up. What has Gran gotten Allie into? Continue reading The Enchantment Emporium, by Tanya Huff

Impossible, by Nancy Werlin

Apparently Nancy Werlin primarily writes ‘literary suspense’ novels for YA/teen readers. She began publishing in the mid-1990s, and Impossible is her first book that is explicitly on the border of fantasy. She has a B.A. from Yale College, and won an Edgar Award for a novel entitled Locked Inside at some point. She was born in Peabody, Massachusetts, and has worked as a technical writer for various software and internet companies, in addition to her fiction writing.

Lucy Scarborough is a normal twenty-first-century girl, living in Massachusetts. Well, a normal girl with a crazy mother who is a bag lady in town, but she’s got a wonderful set of foster parents, Soledad and Leo Markowitz, some good friends, and a date to the junior/senior prom coming up shortly. Until an unfortunate event occurs at the prom, she turns up pregnant, and she finds her mother’s diary. In the diary, she finds out that all of the women in her family, as far back as anyone can remember, are under a curse; they all become pregnant at seventeen and when they give birth at eighteen, if they haven’t completed three impossible tasks (as detailed in a variant of “Scarborough Faire”), they go crazy. Fortunately, she has help, but not much time. Can she accomplish these things and stay sane? Continue reading Impossible, by Nancy Werlin

Cybele’s Secret, by Juliet Marillier

Juliet Marillier is the author of a number of books, one of which was Wildwood Dancing, which I read and reviewed earlier. This novel is a companion (not a direct sequel; it follows a different character) to that one, and continues the story of the Transylvanian sisters. Ms. Marillier is a musician by training and a writer by vocation; she has been a full-time writer since 2002. Her family emigrated from Scotland to New Zealand many years ago, and she lives in a cottage in Perth, Australia.

Paula is Jena’s younger sister, the scholarly, studious one. She has been helping her father with many of his business matters, and dreams of starting her own rare-book collection. When he mentions that he is going to travel to wherever-it-is, Paula immediately clamors to go along — and is allowed. For in the city, there is a woman named Irene who has her own scholarly haven for women, and Paula would like to study there. They get to town, hire a bodyguard for Paula, and she begins her studies — but something is strange about the piece they have come to town to buy, called Cybele’s Gift. Many people are after it, and things are starting to happen — attacks, sudden withdrawals from the bidding, and the involvement of strange individuals including a pirate . . . Continue reading Cybele’s Secret, by Juliet Marillier

Lust, Loathing, and a Little Lip Gloss (Sophie Katz, book 4), by Kyra Davis

Kyra Davis is half Jewish (Eastern European) and half African-American; she married early and repented at leisure, getting divorced within a relatively short period of time. Despite a career in the fashion industry, she found herself writing novels as a sort of therapy, given the events of her life. Unlike most people’s therapy journals, though, hers turned out to be worth publishing, and she signed with Red Dress Ink (now subsumed back into MIRA, rather like Luna). This is the fourth novel to feature her amateur detective and mystery novelist, Sophie Katz. Ms. Davis currently lives in Southern California, where she writes full-time.

Sophie Katz (also half Eastern-European Jewish and half African American) is at an open house one day when she runs into her ex-husband, a realtor. He tells her of a dream house, a three-bedroom Victorian being sold for well under market value, and she reluctantly agrees to meet him there. Turns out there’s a catch: When they get there, the owner is found dead of a heart attack. The owner’s son still seems likely to sell, provided that Sophie joins the Spectre Society. Also, the house may or may not be haunted. Add that to some odd characters in the Spectre Society itself, her ex-husband’s jealous new girlfriend, and Sophie’s mother, and Sophie finds herself in another uncomfortable situation . . . Continue reading Lust, Loathing, and a Little Lip Gloss (Sophie Katz, book 4), by Kyra Davis

Shaking the Tree: A Collection of New Fiction and Memoir by Black Women, edited by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah

Meri Nana-Ama Danquah was born in Ghana, viagra 60mg and emigrated with her family at the age of six, in the mid-1970s. Her full-length memoir, Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman’s Journey through Depression, was published in 1998 and immediately hailed as groundbreaking, being that it was the first work published by an African-American person dealing with depression. Since then, in addition to her writing career, she has been an advocate for mental health education, especially for Black women. Ms. Danquah has an MFA in Creative Writing from Bennington College and has been published in a rather impressive list of magazines, journals, and newspapers. In addition to that, she has edited two collections (this one and Becoming American) and has written quite a bit of fiction.

This is, as the title says, a collection of new fiction and memoir by Black women (published since 1990; capitalization is the editor’s). It includes, as Ms. Danquah says in the introduction, younger authors: generally under 40 at the time of publication. The table of contents is fairly long and complicated, since many of the works are excerpts from longer pieces, so I will provide a link to the Google Books version of it: here. I had not heard of any of the authors prior to reading this volume, partly because the women included are all younger than the Alice Walker-Toni Morrison-Maya Angelou-Gloria Naylor bunch. Many of them were born after Dr. King was assassinated, and all of them have received acclaim as writers from many different sources. Continue reading Shaking the Tree: A Collection of New Fiction and Memoir by Black Women, edited by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah

Collected Stories, by Lewis Shiner

Ahh, tooth Lewis Shiner. The man who convinced me that I never want to move to Durham, gynecologist NC (the same way that Slumdog Millionaire made me not want to visit India). Born in Eugene, OR in 1950, he moved around a lot as a kid, and read science fiction and adventure novels. One of Bob Dylan’s first few “Dylan Goes Electric” concerts changed his life utterly, and he became involved in music, which would turn out to be a lifelong love and the inspiration for many of his tales. After a degree in English from SMU, he started writing more and more and although his path wasn’t straightforward (there was some technical writing in there, as well as computer programming and car trouble), eventually he was regularly selling detective fiction and science fiction to short-story magazines. His first novel, Frontera, was a finalist for a couple of major awards, and he has written five since.

This collection of short stories includes apparently 41 of his biggest and best tales, ranging from one of his first published works (“Deep Without Pity”) to three stories that had web debuts within the last couple years (“Straws,” “Golfing Vietnam,” “Fear Itself”). The tales range from a couple of punk westerns, a few pulp-type stories, straight-up science fiction, ultra-short literary fiction, a few that were intended for men’s magazines, and, of course, a few tales about rock ‘n’ roll. I won’t list all 41 titles, as that would take too much time, but interested readers can haunt the Sub Press website until they post the table of contents. This book will be published at the end of November this year. Continue reading Collected Stories, by Lewis Shiner

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie is of Spokane/Coeur d’Alene heritage; he was born on the Spokane reservation in Washington and had hydrocephalus when he was a kid. He attended the local white high school and played basketball before going to Gonzaga and Washington State University. A B.A. in American Studies later, check he started writing poetry, and then novels, winning the great-young-novelist kind of awards. One of his short stories was adapted, with his collaboration, into the movie Smoke Signals. This novel is his first for YAs, and has won many more awards.

The story was inspired by his own life: Arnold Spirit, Jr. (called Junior on the rez) was born in the same town (Wellpinit) as Mr. Alexie, and made the same choice to go to Rearden, the all-white high school with an Indian as their mascot, after the same incident — discovering that his geometry book was the same book his mother had used, thirty years earlier. There, he has to confront his own heritage and what that means to him — as well as what his decision means to the rest of his reservation. He fights his own expectations, the expectations of the other students, and the expectations of his old best friend, Rowdy. Continue reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie

Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech

Sharon Creech was born in South Euclid, capsule Ohio, ed in 1945, and received her B.A. from Hiram College. This actually means something to me, as I currently live fairly close to both places. However, she spent a lot of summers in Kentucky, got an M.A. from George Mason University, and then proceeded to live in England and Switzerland, none of which I’ve done or even come close to doing. Her novels, which are generally realistic fiction, have won a good deal of awards, including the Newbery, Carnegie, and Young People’s Reader’s Choice awards. This volume won the Newbery Award in 1995.

This bittersweet novel has two plots interwoven. One is the main story, Sal’s story, where she is taking a trip with her grandparents across the country in a car to go visit her mother, and the other is Sal’s friend Phoebe’s story, which Sal is relating to her grandparents as they travel. Both stories involve girls whose mothers left for various reasons, and their ways of dealing with the situation. Sal’s story is set in Bybanks, Kentucky, where she used to live; in Euclid, Ohio, where they moved after Sal’s mom left; and in the car, going to Idaho. Phoebe’s story is set almost exclusively in Euclid, Ohio. Continue reading Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech

Novelties & Souvenirs, by John Crowley

John Crowley is one of the rare f/sf authors who gets significant recognition from the mainstream press — in that way where Harold Bloom has a good opinion of him. His novel Little, healthful Big is probably the most well-known to spec-fic audiences; it’s essentially magic realism in the non-Latin-American way, order and won the World Fantasy Award. He’s also won the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature, purchase a second World Fantasy Award for one of the novellas in this collection, and a third one for lifetime achievement. Born in 1942 in Maine, he currently lives in New York City and writes, as well as working in the documentary film field and teaching at places as prestigious as Yale.

Novelties & Souvenirs collects all his short fiction through its publication in 2004; it was published by Harper Perennial. Four of the stories were originally published in a collection called Novelty, after one of its stories. Others were published in various formats, including a chapbook, a collection printed by Subterranean Press, Asimov’s, and a few other anthologies. The titles include “The Green Child,” “An Earthly Woman Sits and Sings,” “The Nightingale Sings at Night,” “Missolonghi 1824,” “The Reason for the Visit,” “Novelty,” “Gone,” “Antiquities,” “In Blue,” and “Great Work of Time.” They include retellings, dystopias, alternate histories, and most other kinds of speculative fiction. Continue reading Novelties & Souvenirs, by John Crowley

One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Gabriel Garcia Marquez won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982. He is considered one of the pioneers of the ‘magic realism’ movement, pathopsychology a subset of postmodernism that concerns itself chiefly with telling things that are true, treatment even if they aren’t necessarily ‘real.’ He writes epic stories; this novel spans at least a hundred years, and six generations. Other novels include Love in the Time of Cholera, which was recently made into a movie. He is of Latino heritage, and is also considered a leader of the current Central/South American Spanish-speaking writers movement. His books, while originally published in Spanish, are all available in very well-done English translations.

Macondo is a city somewhere in Central America, founded by Jose Arcadio Buendia and his wife Ursula; he and a good deal of other people hacked through the forest to find the proper place to build. Over the course of the next hundred years, the town, largely isolated, rises to a peak of activity and prosperity, and then gradually sinks until it just dries up and blows away in the dust. Some of the Buendia family members become famous throughout the area, for different reasons — military, craftsmanship, etc. — and the strength of Ursula ties it all together for longer than imagined. Through it all, the Buendia family continues to lead the town, even when the years of moderate craziness and even some inbreeding bring the family down to a level never imagined by the first generation or two. Continue reading One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez