Category: Speculative Fiction

Exploring #DesertFantasy this #WyrdAndWonder | “Speechless in Achten Tan” (Book One: The Sands of Achten Tan series) by Debbie Iancu-Haddad

Posted Tuesday, 31 May, 2022 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review Year 5 badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I stumbled across a reviewer request on Twitter in the middle of #WyrdAndWonder which intrigued me because it was for a novel which had a very bewitching premise! The lead character had lost the ability to speak, and she was on a Quest to find her voice! I had a few concerns in regards to the content of the novel which I discussed with the author prior to accepting the novel for review consideration. Plus, given that our 5th Year of Wyrd And Wonder was already underway, I did have concerns about being able to read it in time before our event concluded. The book took a bit longer to reach me but I was overjoyed once it did arrive as there was something uniquely different about the story and I was hoping that it wasn’t too Dark for me to enjoy reading.

I received a complimentary copy of “Speechless in Achten Tan” from the author Debbie Iancu-Haddad in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

Sometimes stories have a way of FINDING YOU rather than the other way round. When I asked the author directly about content warnings she mentioned to me about ‘fade to black’ romantic encounters and a limited number of explicit words as there was a replacement stronger word given as this is a Fantasy novel. Although one universally known word does make an appearance ever so briefly which I was grateful to hear about as well. Being this is a Desert Fantasy novel with a strong empathsis on Weird Fantasy aesthetics, I had a feeling I would enjoy being inside this world quite well! I wasn’t sure of course about how dark the world might evolve as I knew Mila was going to go on a Quest as all cavern witches must do at some point if they cannot ascend to the next stage of their development but one thing was for certain: I knew the visceral imagery and the enveloping of the world-building would be wholly new and original to discover as I do not spend a lot of time reading these kinds of Fantasy. Although, at some point I need to finish reading Empire of Sand.

I am grateful I was able to connect with the author via Twitter and include this reading with my stack of novels and stories this 5th Year of Wyrd And Wonder! And, perhaps by our sixth year I’ll have more joys of reading more stories in Achten Tan as I am dearly curious about the anthology Tales from the Year Between, Volume One: Achten Tan (Land of Dust and Bone) as much as I am eager for the sequel, too. It would be interesting to see what aspects of the world are explored in the anthology and of course, how that parlays into the series now being written. As the anthology was writ by different writers (all of whom would have different POVs) it would give an interestingly impression about Achten Tan and of course, a lot of curious possibilities of where Iancu-Haddad might take the series itself.

This is another example of why I lament about the blessings of being a socially bookish reader right now in today’s world because readers and writers can find each other in social settings which allow the reader to find stories they might have missed otherwise. I have long been a champion of Indie Publishers and Press as well as Self-Published or Hybrid authors — finding Skull Gate Media through reading this novel was an added bonus whilst continuing to seek out the Indie Fantasy section of a genre I love made my heart feel wickedly happy this Wyrd And Wonder. I love being a book cheerleader for #IndieFantasy storycrafters each May and thankfully I continue to be able to seek out the stories which are elevating my joy of discovery within the genre itself. As even outside of Wyrd And Wonder – these are the stories I desire most to read every week and month of the year.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

Exploring #DesertFantasy this #WyrdAndWonder | “Speechless in Achten Tan” (Book One: The Sands of Achten Tan series) by Debbie Iancu-HaddadSpeechless in Achten Tan
Subtitle: The Sands of Achten Tan : Book One
by Debbie Iancu-Haddad
Source: Direct from Author

Mila hasn't spoken in the five years since she became an Onra, a first level Everfall witch. After failing the test to reclaim her voice and control her magic, her mentor sends eighteen-year-old Mila to Achten Tan–City of Dust–a dangerous desert town, built in the massive ribcage of an extinct leviathan.

To reclaim her power, Mila must steal a magical staff capable of releasing it, from Bone Master Opu Haku's sky-high lair. Her only resources are the magical luminous elixirs of the cursed caverns where she grew up, and a band of unlikely allies; a quirky inventor, a giant-ant rider, a healer, a librarian's assistant, a Tar-tule rider, and the chief's playboy son.

But in the City of Bones, enemies & friends are not who they seem, and trusting the wrong person can be deadly. If Mila fails, she will never speak again and her bones will be added to the wasteland. This book includes a kick-ass female protagonist covered in tattoos, giant ants, first-person present-tense narration, magic, banter, lots of innuendoes, and cute boys kissing.

Genres: Fantasy Fiction, Dark Fantasy, Sci-Fantasy, Weird Fantasy, Upper YA Fantasy



Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1956042061

Published by Skull Gate Media

on 20th February, 2022

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 425

Published By: Skull Gate Media (@SkullgateMedia)

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NOTE: This novel began as a short story called “Speechless” and was originally published in Skull Gate Media’s anthology: Tales from the Year Between, Volume One: Achten Tan (Land of Dust and Bone). Whilst Skull Gate Media is an interesting new publishing company as it is a collective amongst the writers who co-own it together.

Notation about Cover Art and Design: The one observation which confused me about the book cover was the fact Mila on the cover looked a bit different than I visualised her in the story. Especially I was missing the artful way her braids had bones threaded through them and for being a gnome she looked far taller than I thought she would as well.

Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Ebook

About Debbie Iancu-Haddad

Debbie Iancu-Haddad

Debbie Iancu-Haddad is a Jewish Israeli author living in Meitar in the Negev Desert. Author of Speechless in Achten Tan a YA fantasy novel. And The Bone Master, forthcoming.

She spends her time taking part in Anthologies (seven to date with three more on the way), writing VSS on Twitter, and buying way too much stuff online. Her goal is to promote body positive characters and include characters dealing with physical challenges. #ownvoices

For her day job, she gives lectures on humor, laughter yoga workshops, and chocolate workshops, and sees how often she can make her two teenagers roll their eyes.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission. Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WyrdAndWonder
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Posted Tuesday, 31 May, 2022 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, #WyrdAndWonder, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Book Review (non-blog tour), Brothers and Sisters, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Content Note, Dark Arts (Dark Magic), Deaf Culture in Fiction, Death of a Sibling, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debut Novel, Desert Fantasy, Domestic Violence, Earthen Magic, Earthen Spirituality, Equality In Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Fantasy Romance, Fly in the Ointment, Good vs. Evil, Indie Author, Invisibility, Science Fantasy, Siblings, Speculative Fiction, Trauma | Abuse & Recovery, Traumatic Injury, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Upper YA Fantasy, Upper YA Fiction, Vulgarity in Literature, Weird Fantasy, Witches and Warlocks

Exploring #ForestFantasy this #WyrdAndWonder | “The Namer of Spirits” by Todd Mitchell

Posted Monday, 30 May, 2022 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review Year 5 badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I stumbled across one of my author’s newsletters which was mentioning the works of other writers who were going to be at the same event. Laura Resau is an author I have loved reading for many years now (well over a decade and a half!) and it was her newsletter which mentioned this story “The Namer of Spirits” by Todd Mitchell. I had been keenly hopeful I would discover a Forest Fantasy novel I hadn’t learnt of previously before or during Wyrd And Wonder this year and as I read about the premise behind this novel, I felt it was a wicked good fit for me to read!

I had planned to interview Mr Mitchell during Wyrd And Wonder – either as a fifth chat on Twitter or more traditionally on my blog, however, as my work life became a bit more complicated and my health took a few sidesteps as well as a result, I wasn’t able to firm together those plans. I opted instead to focus on reading the novel and sharing my ruminations during the event whilst I planned to re-connect with the author afterwards to see if perhaps I could still interview him about what I had read and the story he had written.

I was not obligated to post a review on its behalf. I am sharing my thoughts on behalf of this anthology for my own edification and a continued journey of sharing my readerly life on Jorie Loves A Story. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

NoteI received the Press Materials from the author Todd Mitchell – who kindly sent them to me at my request after I explained how I was going to read his novel during Wyrd And Wonder. He is my fifth and final #WyrdAndWonder guest authors this year – on the 31st of May – wherein we’ll be chatting on the tag #WyrdAndWonder as the previous four guests were conversing via #SatBookChat which is the tag for @SatBookChat, the chat I developed early-on as a book blogger.

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

It wasn’t until I was reading through my authors’ newsletters (which I receive by email) ahead of Wyrd And Wonder this year that I discovered The Namer of Spirits as forementioned. It was @LauraResau who had tipped my hat towards finding this novel and it led me into reading the story during the last weekend of the event whilst hosting a live interview with Mr Mitchell on our final day of Wyrd And Wonder which is the 31st of May.

Todd Mitchell Twitter Chat banner created by Jorie in Canva.

I was especially grateful to Ms Resau for including the news about an event they were both attending as otherwise I might not have discovered this story this year at all. And, that would have been a keen disappointment as from the first moment I started to read the story, I could tell it carried with it a lot of the themes we were hoping to uncover throughout Wyrd And Wonder this year. Especially about the spirits who live in the forest, forest communities and also, how a society would either live in harmony with the forest or against it; given different approaches in narratives and scopes of stories or series.

I am thankful I have a chance to both read and talk about the story on Jorie Loves A Story but also, speak directly with the author and talk about how he approached writing this narrative as much as what inspired it to be written. I am hopeful others might be drawn inside his creative Forest Fantasy world and take out the joys I had whilst reading it.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

Notation about Cover Art and Design: I was immediately drawn into the scene on the book cover but it wasn’t until I was reading the story itself did I fully understand what I was observing! It was one of those rare moments where you realised that the cover artist and the design of the cover was an equal match to the contents of the story! The large beast seen on the cover was an illwen and that is Ash standing in front of them. I won’t reveal what is happening as it is an important scene of the story but wow! The illustration of that scene is wicked fab and I also appreciated the imagery of the dao faro and mistcat on the back cover, too! Of course, the author’s photo also makes more sense once you’ve read the story, too! His photo and the cover art are clues about “The Namer of Spirits”!!

Exploring #ForestFantasy this #WyrdAndWonder | “The Namer of Spirits” by Todd MitchellThe Namer of Spirits
by Todd Mitchell
Source: Purchased | Personal Library

“A dangerous town carved out of unforgiving forest, a young girl who can name spirits and tame monsters, a race against time to save the natural world: The Namer of Spirits is what readers want and the world needs.” –Eliot Schrefer, New York Times bestselling author

In the frontier village of Last Hope, people dismiss twelve-year-old Ash Narro as a flighty child who claims to hear the true names of things. But when enraged forest spirits attack, Ash shows that the names she hears have power. After taming a destructive forest spirit, Ash teams up with Fen, a wild forest boy, and embarks on an unusual journey to save her village. In this steampunk eco-fantasy, the perils of deforestation and the power of friendship are explored through a fantastical adventure involving giant mistcats, tempestuous forest spirits, a supernatural puppy, and a girl with a special gift for shaping what things become.

Genres: Fantasy Fiction, Eco-Fantasy, Middle Grade Fantasy, Sci-Fantasy, Steampunk



Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1-945654-82-4

Published by Owl Hollow Press LLC

on 5th October, 2021

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 316

Published By: Owl Hollow Press, LLC (@owlhollowpress)

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Genre(s): Middle Grade | Fantasy | Adventure | Magic
Steampunk | Eco-Fantasy | Eco-Lit | Environmental Fantasy

Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Ebook

About Todd Mitchell

Todd Mitchell

Todd Mitchell is the author of several award-winning novels for young readers, teens, and adults including The Last Panther (Penguin Random House), The Traitor King (Scholastic), The Secret to Lying (Candlewick), and Backwards (Candlewick).

His two newest books came out in fall 2021 — one for writers, artists, and creators titled Breakthrough: How to Overcome Doubt, Fear, and Resistance to Be Your Ultimate Creative Self, and a Middle Grade novel that's been optioned for film/TV development titled The Namer of Spirits.

In addition to his books, he’s also written for comics, including A Flight of Angels (Vertigo, a YALSA Top 10 Pick for Teens) and Broken Saviors (an alien invasion comic available on ComiXology). Currently, Todd directs the Beginning Creative Writing Teaching Program at Colorado State University. You can visit him (and learn about his squirrel obsession) on his website.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission. Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WyrdAndWonder
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Posted Monday, 30 May, 2022 by jorielov in #WyrdAndWonder, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Book Review (non-blog tour), Content Note, Earthen Magic, Earthen Spirituality, Eco-Fantasy, Environmental Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction, Fly in the Ointment, Middle Grade Novel, Premonition-Precognitive Visions, Reincarnation, Science Fantasy, Speculative Fiction, Steampunk, Transfiguration, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event

A #SciFiSundays Anthology Spotlight | “Someone in Time” (Tales of Time Crossed Romances) edited by Jonathan Strahan

Posted Sunday, 29 May, 2022 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

Welcome to my tour stop for “Someone in Time”! I am a reader who appreciates finding Speculative Fiction anthologies – especially when they are curated anthologies which focus on a particular theme or subject inclusive to all the stories in a collection. I have the tendency of reading more Fantasy anthologies than Science Fiction which is why when I saw this collection was going on a blog tour – I was most excited! Especially as the concept behind the theme was the intriguing concept of time travelling or time shifting – one of my favourite subniches in literature to chase after as there are numerous ways in which time can become ‘bent’ into a story.

The trifecta of time which I regularly have featured on Jorie Loves A Story are the following: time slip, time shift and time travel narratives as each of them holds a different key of entrance for the reader. The trickiest ones of course are the time slip stories wherein your generally slipping in time between two distinctive timescapes whilst each of those eras hold their own secrets and their own timeline of the story as you move betwixt and between their parts. When it came to the concept for this collection – I was hoping the stories wouldn’t be as soul-crushing as “The Time Traveller’s Wife” but would instead be a bit more hopeful and inspiring.

I had fully planned to read through the collection this month but as the hours went forward these latter weeks of May, I realised I needed to push my review into June and spotlight the collection for the blog tour. Between work and my health, I was just stretched a bit thin and this past weekend I’ve been working through a low-grade migraine which hasn’t been the easiest either. Therefore enjoy the extract I’ve chosen to share today and return next month as I expand my thoughts into the collection of stories themselves and see where “Someone in Time” takes me as a reader. Meanwhile, if you are a ready reader of time narratives – I encourage you to share your favourite time bending stories with me and see if perhaps I’ve read or heard of some of them, too!

Whilst you might have noticed I’m focusing on Fantasy throughout the month as well – as I’m co-hosting @WyrdAndWonder. There will be loads of new content featuring those stories as well as we move into our final week and a half of the event. Everyone has been gracious providing content for everyone to enjoy this year across socially bookish channels and we’re all delighted to see the event grow into such a larger and expansive community; similar to how Sci Fi Month found its own wings to fly several years ago.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

A #SciFiSundays Anthology Spotlight | “Someone in Time” (Tales of Time Crossed Romances) edited by Jonathan StrahanSomeone in Time
Subtitle: Tales of Time Crossed Romance
by (Editor) Jonathan Strahan
Source: Publisher via Lola's Blog Tours

Even time travel can’t unravel love

Time-travel is a way for writers to play with history and imagine different futures – for better, or worse.

When romance is thrown into the mix, time-travel becomes a passionate tool, or heart-breaking weapon. A time agent in the 22nd century puts their whole mission at risk when they fall in love with the wrong person. No matter which part of history a man visits, he cannot not escape his ex. A woman is desperately in love with the time-space continuum, but it doesn’t love her back. As time passes and falls apart, a time-traveller must say goodbye to their soulmate.

With stories from best-selling and award-winning authors such as Seanan McGuire, Alix E. Harrow and Nina Allan, this anthology gives a taste for the rich treasure trove of stories we can imagine with love, loss and reunion across time and space. 

Edited by Jonathan Strahan and including stories by: Alix E. Harrow, Zen Cho, Seanan McGuire, Sarah Gailey, Jeffrey Ford, Nina Allan, Elizabeth Hand, Lavanya Lakshminarayan, Catherynne M. Valente, Sam J. Miller, Rowan Coleman, Margo Lanagan, Sameem Siddiqui, Theodora Goss, Carrie Vaughn, Ellen Klages

Genres: Anthology Collection of Short Stories and/or Essays, Short Story or Novella, Science Fiction, Time Travel Fiction



Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1786185099

Published by Rebellion Publishing

on 10th May, 2022

Format: Paperback Edition

Published by: Solaris Books
an imprint of Rebellion Publishing (@RebellionPub)

Converse on Twitter via: #SciFi, #ScienceFiction & #SomeoneInTime

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Posted Sunday, 29 May, 2022 by jorielov in #SciFiSundays, Blog Tour Host, Book | Novel Extract, Book Spotlight, Lola's Blog Tours, Science Fiction, Space Opera

A #SciFiSundays Book Spotlight | “Under Fortunate Stars” by Ren Hutchings

Posted Sunday, 22 May, 2022 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

#SciFiSundays banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

Welcome to my tour stop for “Under Fortunate Stars”! I have been toying with the idea of spending Sundays focusing on my love of Science Fiction as whenever November comes round for @SciFiMonth (ie. #SciFiMonth) I have the tendency of being unable to get into all the lovelies I want to read during that singular month. I felt expanding my focuses to be curated year-round whilst doing a concentration of SciFi during November might be the better route to take moving forward! Therefore, I’ll be either sharing reviews, features, interviews (such as this one!) or spotlights – or other such posts during my newly established #SciFiSundays showcases on Jorie Loves A Story.

This weekend, I had hoped to read and focus on the story ‘Under Fortunate Stars’ however, my copy from the publisher hasn’t yet arrived – though, I did recently find out there is an audiobook edition which released ahead of the hardcover this June. I will have to keep you posted on which edition of the story I read which is why I changed my tour stop from a review to a spotlight. I would have loved to have assembled an interview for you all to enjoy today however, my May was wrecked with a lot of difficult work days whilst my health suffered a bit as well. I’m thereby thankful there was an extract I could select and feature instead of being able to absorb myself into this world myself.

The reason I wanted to read or listen to “Under Fortunate Stars” was due to my previous readings of “The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet” (see also Post) and the expansively engrossing The Clan Chronicles by Julie E. Czerneda. (see also Reviews) I enjoy becoming invested in a story or series set inside a ship environment whilst also focusing on the characters who either have circumstances they have to overcome or have a unique situation happen to them and you get the joy of taking that journey alongside them.

Whilst you might have noticed I’m focusing on Fantasy throughout the month as well – as I’m co-hosting @WyrdAndWonder. There will be loads of new content featuring those stories as well as we move into our final week and a half of the event. Everyone has been gracious providing content for everyone to enjoy this year across socially bookish channels and we’re all delighted to see the event grow into such a larger and expansive community; similar to how Sci Fi Month found its own wings to fly several years ago.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

A #SciFiSundays Book Spotlight | “Under Fortunate Stars” by Ren HutchingsUnder Fortunate Stars
by Ren Hutchings
Source: Publisher via Lola's Blog Tours
Narrator: Ayesha Antoine, Alex Magliaro

Two Ships. One Chance To Save The Future.

Fleeing the final days of the generations-long war with the alien Felen, smuggler Jereth Keeven’s freighter the Jonah breaks down in a strange rift in deep space, with little chance of rescue—until they encounter the research vessel Gallion, which claims to be from 152 years in the future.

The Gallion’s chief engineer Uma Ozakka has always been fascinated with the past, especially the tale of the Fortunate Five, who ended the war with the Felen. When the Gallion rescues a run-down junk freighter, Ozakka is shocked to recognize the Five's legendary ship—and the Five's famed leader, Eldric Leesongronski, among the crew.

But nothing else about Leesongronski and his crewmates seems to match up with the historical record. With their ships running out of power in the rift, more than the lives of both crews may be at stake...

Genres: Science Fiction, Space Opera



Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ASIN: B09TCLRST7

on 7th June, 2022

Format: Hardcover Edition

Length: 15 hours and 13 minutes (unabridged)

Published by: Solaris Books
an imprint of Rebellion Publishing (@RebellionPub)

Converse on Twitter via: #SciFi, #ScienceFiction & #UnderFortunateStars

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Posted Sunday, 22 May, 2022 by jorielov in #SciFiSundays, Blog Tour Host, Book | Novel Extract, Book Spotlight, Lola's Blog Tours, Science Fiction, Space Opera