Review: The Outcast Hours ed. by Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin

40680026Verdict: Some brilliant stories but also many that did not work for me.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Short Stories, Anthology

Published by Rebellion, February 22nd, 2019

Find it on Goodreads.

Bold new anthology from the acclaimed editors of The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories

We live our lives in the daylight. Our stories take place under the sun: bright, clear, unafraid.

This is not a book of those stories.

These are the stories of people who live at night; under neon and starlight, and never the light of day.

These are the stories of poets and police; writers and waiters; gamers and goddesses; tourists and traders; the hidden and the forbidden; the lonely and the lovers.

These are their lives. These are their stories. And this is their time:

The Outcast Hours.

I adored the first anthology by the editor duo so much that I did not hesitate for a single second before requesting this one and immediately starting to read it. Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin do have a great way of building anthologies and even though I did not love this one as much, I will still be on the lookout for more work by these two.

These stories all take place at night, in the liminal spaces that entails, and span a wide array of genres. For me, the first half of the anthology was by far the stronger one with some absolutely stunning stories that make me excited to check these authors out. The second half and the micro-stories by China Miéville who are interspersed throughout did not work for me, however. Here I found myself skim-reading and often not caring at all.

The anthology starts very strong with a quiet horror story by Sam Beckbessinger, Lauren Beukes, and Dale Halvorsen: The Book Will Find You. I adored this story about grief and anger and supernatural beings, and the brilliant way it climaxes. I have been eyeing Lauren Beukes’ books for ages and really need to check her stuff out. I found Will Hill’s It Was A Different Time incredibly angering and wonderfully constructed. My personal favourites of the bunch were Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Sleep Walker and Frances Hardinge’s Blind Eye, both authors whose work I have wanted to read for ages. I should really get on with it.

I appreciate how varied this anthology was and how widely different in tone and style the stories were allowed to be. For me that is always a positive in an anthology because it gives me the opportunity to read outside my comfort zone without having to spend hours reading things I am not enjoying that much.

I received an arc of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Rebellion Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Wrap Up: November 2018 or Genre Fiction is the best

I had a pretty horrific month, personally. But my reading recovered from the abysmal month that was October, which is at least something; within 10 days I had read as much as I had read in the whole month before.

Books I read in November:

  1. The Outcast Hour ed. by Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin: 3 out of 5 stars
  2. Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson: 4 out of 5 stars
  3. Vengeful (Villains #2) by V. E. Schwab: 4 out of 5 stars
  4. Binti (Binti #1) by Nnedi Okorafor: 2 out of 5 stars
  5. Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy #1) by Ilona Andrews: 4 out of 5 stars
  6. White Hot (Hidden Legacy #2) by Ilona Andrews: 4,5 out of 5 stars
  7. Wild Fire (Hidden Legacy #3) by Ilona Andrews: 4 out of 5 stars
  8. Broken Magic (Chronicles of Amicae #1) by Mirah Bolender: 3 out of 5 stars
  9. The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein: 4 out of 5 stars
  10. Be With Me Always by Randon Billings Noble: 3,5 out of 5 stars
  11. Sadie by Courtney Summers: 4 out of 5 stars

Favourite of the Month:

Continue reading “Wrap Up: November 2018 or Genre Fiction is the best”

TBR: ARCs on my shelves part V (2018)

I have not talked about the ARCs I added to my virtual shelves in three months and while I did not request as many ARCs as I have done in the past, I have acquired a few and want to talk about them.

Still to be read:

38633526Vita Nostra by Sergey & Marina Dyachenko

Publication Date: November 1st, 2018

Publisher: HarperVoyager

Blurb (from Goodreads): The definitive English language translation of the internationally bestselling Ukrainian novel—a brilliant dark fantasy with “the potential to be a modern classic” (Lev Grossman), combining psychological suspense, enchantment, and terror that makes us consider human existence in a fresh and provocative way.

Our life is brief . . .

While vacationing at the beach with her mother, Sasha Samokhina meets the mysterious Farit Kozhennikov under the most peculiar circumstances. The teenage girl is powerless to refuse when this strange and unusual man with an air of the sinister directs her to perform a task with potentially scandalous consequences. He rewards her effort with a strange golden coin.

As the days progress, Sasha carries out other acts for which she receives more coins from Kozhennikov. As summer ends, her domineering mentor directs her to move to a remote village and use her gold to enter the Institute of Special Technologies. Though she does not want to go to this unknown town or school, she also feels it’s the only place she should be. Against her mother’s wishes, Sasha leaves behind all that is familiar and begins her education.

As she quickly discovers, the institute’s “special technologies” are unlike anything she has ever encountered. The books are impossible to read, the lessons obscure to the point of maddening, and the work refuses memorization. Using terror and coercion to keep the students in line, the school does not punish them for their transgressions and failures; instead, their families pay a terrible price. Yet despite her fear, Sasha undergoes changes that defy the dictates of matter and time; experiences which are nothing she has ever dreamed of . . . and suddenly all she could ever want.

A complex blend of adventure, magic, science, and philosophy that probes the mysteries of existence, filtered through a distinct Russian sensibility, this astonishing work of speculative fiction—brilliantly translated by Julia Meitov Hersey—is reminiscent of modern classics such as Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, Max Barry’s Lexicon, and Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale, but will transport them to a place far beyond those fantastical worlds.

Why I requested it: I love Russian literature and this one sounded right up my alley. And then my slump hit. Continue reading “TBR: ARCs on my shelves part V (2018)”

Friday Reads: I am not really reading.

I am still not really reading so I did the obvious thing and started two more books today. That brings the number of books I am currently reading to seven. I always read a few books at the same time but a number this high is usually an indication that something isn’t quite working. I don’t have any proper plans for the weekend, so hopefully I’ll get back into the groove. Until then, here are the books I am currently reading, how far into them I am, and a few thoughts.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

I heard a ridiculous amount of great things about this book and it is super readable. But it is also very very long. I am currently on page 231 of 714. I am enjoying it a lot but I just wish the main character wouldn’t talk about his penis so much.

The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty

I have been reading this for what feels like forever. I am only on page 217 of 526 and I have not made any headway in days. Told from dual perspectives, I am only enjoying one of them. Whenever we switch to the other viewpoint, I bail. I do want to finish it but I do struggle.

Heavy by Kiese Laymon

This is brilliant. But also really dark. I am on page 48 of 240. I do think that this will be a five star read for me but I need to be in the right head space to read it. But it’s brilliant! If you like memoirs you definitely should pick it up.

Vengeful (Villains #2) by V. E. Schwab

I have a difficult relationship with Schwab: I like her books but often don’t love them. and I haven’t finished a single of her series. (I cannot STAND Lila Bard, which is why I still haven’t read the last of the Shades of Magic series) I did absolutely adore Vicious though and have eagerly awaited the sequel for years. I am super enjoying it – but it is also super long. I am on page 230 of 575. This is a fairly quick read though and I will hopefully finish this during the next few days.

Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson

I was looking for a nice and easy audiobook to listen to on my way to work – and I love memoirs narrated by the authors and have a soft spot for celebrity memoirs (there, I said it). I have only ever seen Mathilda once, but I do like Mara Wilson on twitter. Her book is really warm and lovely and her voice is super soothing. I am around 2 hours from the end; which means that I should finish it next week (I only walk 15 minutes to and from work).

The Outcast Hour ed. by Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin

I really enjoyed another anthology the authors edited last year – and sometimes when I am slumpy, reading short stories really helps. I also need to make headway in my newly acquired pile of NetGalley arcs that I amassed over the last few months. I have read the first three stories and I do like the mix of tones. The first story was fairly creepy though – so maybe reading it at nighttime, alone in my house, was not the best idea ever.

Sadie by Courtney Summers

I have heard nothing but good things about this book and especially the audiobook. I figured I should give it a go. Thrillery type, podcasty audiobooks sounds just perfect for my reading mood. I have only listened to the first hour and so far I am really enjoying the full cast production a lot.

How is your reading going? Do you also tend to start too many books when you don’t really feel like reading?