Happy 2020: Round-up for Innkeeper Series and Sagas of Sundry’s Dread

Happy New Year, everyone!

To start off 2020, two things to potentially check out:

Sweep with Me by Ilona Andrews

The next installment of Ilona Andrews’ Innkeeper series is currently running as a web series prior to its official release as per usual with this series. This is an urban fantasy/sci-fi about the Innkeeper Dina, who runs a magical inn that acts as a waystation and point of neutrality for aliens (some werewolf and vampire-like) from space.

I don’t know that I’d recommend this as a starting point for newcomers, though. The beginning very much feels like it builds on the action of the previous stories.

Sagas of Sundry: Dread

I’ve written about this show before (Sagas of Sundry: Dread, and the Chilling, Psychological Story of Five Friends Haunted by their Experiences)–but back then, the series was behind a paywall. Now, it’s migrated to YouTube.

Since the 6-part story is newly accessible, I thought it was worth pointing out again. Here’s a few excerpts of what I’d written about it before.

Genre: Mystery/supernatural/horror web series/RPG Continue reading “Happy 2020: Round-up for Innkeeper Series and Sagas of Sundry’s Dread”

Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book Titles

I was super surprised to discover I’d never actually done a list for this topic before? And since That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday is having a free topic, now is a great time to remedy that. Including all of the covers would defeat the purpose of having the titles stand on their own, so this post will have to do without.

Titles can do a lot to pique our interest, but it is genuinely hard to pull off even when the author/marketing team wants to–because often it’s more important to have the title match the genre and brand. I find that very few titles stick out. These are the ones that really impressed me (please note that I haven’t read all of them yet):


Dead Witch Walking

Did I say that authors have to choose between cool titles and branding? Because here’s Kim Harrison, proving that’s not always the case. This is still the greatest urban fantasy title I’ve ever come across even over a decade post-publication. Continue reading “Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book Titles”

Into the Drowning Deep: Character-Driven Expedition Towards an Unknown Danger

Into the Drowning Deep is about a scientific expedition to retrace a voyage that’d gone missing seven years prior. No one knows what really happened to the Atargatis, except that the ship was found with no one left alive. But that failed voyage left consequences–for a young scientist who wonders why her sister never came home, a professor who carries the guilt for making the last expedition possible, a company whose reputation was left in tatters after the fiasco.

These people and more assemble to solve the mystery of the Atargatis…but how many of them will survive the answer?

Hands reaching out towards a streak of blood in dark water. The text reads "Into the Drowning Deep, New York Times Bestselling Author Mira Grant."
Image: Orbit

There is absolutely no way I would go anywhere near a story where the premise is ‘killer mermaids’ if I didn’t already trust the author.

I rarely venture into the horror genre at all, though I make exceptions for character-driven adventures. And Mira Grant (a penname for Seanan McGuire, who writes probably my favorite urban fantasy series ever) knows how to write a powerful, emotional story. Continue reading “Into the Drowning Deep: Character-Driven Expedition Towards an Unknown Danger”

5 Favorite Speculative Fiction Books with Under 2,000 Ratings on Goodreads

The prompt for this post is for Top Ten Tuesday from That Artsy Reader Girl.

So…this list turned out pretty queer. 3/5 of these books have queer main characters. Apollo in Thalia’s Musings is bisexual. One of the three protagonists in The Bone Palace is trans. I think something like four of the protagonists in Fire Logic are gay.

Granted, this isn’t everything I loved that’s under 2,000 Goodreads ratings–I selected the five that were easiest to talk about, and ignored multiple works in a series. And maybe Thalia’s Musings should be exempt since it’s also a web serial, and those aren’t usually huge on Goodreads, but still. The works that happened to be on this list all have unusually prominent queer characters for sci-fi/fantasy novels, and this list is specifically for books that haven’t received that much attention.

Which is a little disheartening to think about, so I’m just going to get on with the list. In no particular order:

The Final Formula

A woman with a vial and candles standing before a rundown hallway. The text reads "The Final Formula, Becca Andre".
Image: Becca Andre

Continue reading “5 Favorite Speculative Fiction Books with Under 2,000 Ratings on Goodreads”

Doctor Who Season 9: The Highlights of the Doctor’s (Female) Supporting Cast

I enjoyed a lot about this season. It wasn’t perfect, and I didn’t like every episode, but there were a number of story arcs that captured my interest. Doctor Who season 9 was at its best when it was a little bit sad, but also gave its characters a little bit more time.

In contrast to most of the previous seasons, this season featured quite a few interesting character journeys that focused on women. Doctor Who has not traditionally been that great with female characters, so color me surprised. (Spoilers follow.) Missy almost feels like a test run for a female Doctor (though I didn’t know that back when she first appeared, and thought it might have been appeasement to the fans who wanted a female Doctor without actually providing that.)

Still, I’m glad that the season also featured Ashildr (who I wrote about previously) and allowed Clara’s sometimes mediocre character to finish on a powerful note. Because I want to see original female characters with interesting stories and agency of their own, not only gender-flipped versions of previously male characters. Continue reading “Doctor Who Season 9: The Highlights of the Doctor’s (Female) Supporting Cast”

Agents of SHIELD S5: Still Going Strong Despite Some Stumbles

Genre: Action/Superhero

Synopsis: Our SHIELD agents find themselves thrown into the future, where the Earth has been cracked apart and rendered uninhabitable, while humanity is enslaved by an alien race. They must find out how they got here, what happened, and how to get back in order to stop the end of the world. 

Their information about the apocalypse is incomplete, and each agent must make their own decisions about what they think it will take to save humanity–and whether they’re willing to do that.

Series: The fifth season is over, there will be a sixth.

I’ve Watched: All of it.

Verdict: Totally worth it, though not everything worked for me this season.

Agents of SHIELD is always a good, solid watch. The first arc of the season, where the team ends up in the future and witnesses a post-apocalyptic world, was less enjoyable for me because the character reactions to their situation felt off. But the action was still exciting, and the moments when the characters were on point were totally worth it. Then everything was back on track after that first arc—the space arc—ended. Continue reading “Agents of SHIELD S5: Still Going Strong Despite Some Stumbles”

Sweep of the Blade: Badass Single Mother Integrates into Space Vampire Society

 

A woman wielding two swords stands with the background of planet behind her. The words read
Image: Ilona Andrews

Genre: Urban fantasy/sci-fi/romance

Synopsis: Maud was born into an Innkeeper family, and taught the customs of the varied alien races who used the inn as a waystation—or a safe house. But she left her family to marry a vampire, entering a society that viewed her as weak due to her humanity, despite her martial prowess. She had a daughter. And then her husband got all three of them exiled onto a dangerous planet where they had to fight to survive. Continue reading “Sweep of the Blade: Badass Single Mother Integrates into Space Vampire Society”

Black Panther: A Futuristic Wakanda Inspired by African Cultures, Tackling Responsibility

This was a great movie that paired Marvel’s style of adventure and humor with a fresh feeling. The setting and costumes were absolutely gorgeous, blending a futuristic/sci-fi feel and inspiration from numerous African cultures for its aesthetic–from the Maasai people in East Africa, to the Zulu people in Southern Africa, to the Akan people of West Africa. (Waris @diasporicblues details several in a Twitter thread; Lynsey Chutel and Yomi Kazeem wrote Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’ is a broad mix of African cultures—here are some of them for Quartz Africa, which I was super excited to see mention Dahomey’s historical female warriors.) Black Panther is quite feminist as well, including black women as both major characters and a substantial chunk of the background characters. Continue reading “Black Panther: A Futuristic Wakanda Inspired by African Cultures, Tackling Responsibility”

Sense8 2: Psychic Espionage, Fighting Back, and Finding Acceptance

Genre: Sci-fi

Synopsis: Eight people all born on the same day are able to communicate across great distances and access each others’ skills–they are a cluster of sensates, sharing a psychic link. A powerful organization hunts them, using their own kind to do so. And they must cooperate to stay free and alive, even while navigating their own personal challenges. Continue reading “Sense8 2: Psychic Espionage, Fighting Back, and Finding Acceptance”