Who Reads Short Shorts? Cassie-la Gives the Run Down on S.G. Browne’s New Short Stories

SG Browne Short Story Covers

S.G. Browne is one of my instabuy authors, and has held a special place in my reading heart since I got my hands on his first novel Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament way back in 2009.

Not so fun fact: reviews for all of but his first tome exist here on Bibliomantics starting in 2011 when my writing skills were mediocre at best. What I’m saying is, don’t judge me too harshly if you choose to dig back into those.

Anyway, when Browne contacted me to review his latest three short stories I was all in, even more so when I saw their subject matter ranged from monster college to retired supervillains and kaiju.

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XOXO, Futuristic Gossip Girl: Cassie-la Falls For ‘The Thousandth Floor’ by Katharine McGee

Thousandth Floor Book CoverThe Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee
Format: ARC provided by HarperCollins through SuperSpaceChick
Release Date
: August 30, 2016
Genre
: Fiction, young adult, science fiction, drama, I need floating glow-in-the-dark alcohol bubbles and I need them now!
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Summary: The year is 2118, and New York City has been replaced by a giant thousand foot structure known as the Tower. In the 25 years since its creation, no one has fallen or jumped to their death. Until now. Set two months before this incident, The Thousandth Floor sets up a very compelling whodunnit, all while weaving an enthralling story of love and lust set in a futuristic world.

I generally don’t take much stock in blurb comparisons, but for once I was not lied to, The Thousandth Floor really is Gossip Girl meets Pretty Little Liars if they took place in the distant future (the year 2118 to be more precise) and featured way more diversity.

The Manhattan we know and some of us love is gone, instead replaced by a single building a thousand stories tall and miles wide. The underprivileged live on the lower floors (the lower you are the poorer), while the rich and powerful reside on the upper levels, making the phrase upper eschelon way more literal.

The story opens two months before the start of the narrative, with an unnamed female character falling to her death after a party on the top floor goes horribly wrong. Was she pushed? Did she jump? Was it a freak accident? It’s a mystery — a murder mystery that is!

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Through the Fire and the Flames: Cassie-la Carries On With ‘The Shadow Hour’ by Melissa Grey

The Shadow Hour Book CoverThe Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey
Format: ARC provided by the author through Delacorte Press
Release Date: July 12, 2016
Genre
: Fiction, fantasy, young adult, magic, dragons are still way sexier than birds
Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars

Summary: Now that the legendary firebird has been found, Echo and her Scooby Gang have another problem: the creation of a legendary creature made of shadows — the ying to the firebird’s yang — known as the kucedra. Can the Avicen and the Drakharin finally put their differences aside and work together, or will the rise of the kucedra mark the end of both their races?

Melissa Grey’s The Shadow Hour — the thrilling follow-up to The Girl at Midnight — continues the story of Echo, a runaway thief who is torn between two warring races of magical creatures: the feather-covered Avicen and the scale-laden Drakharin.

The story picks up right where The Girl at Midnight left off, with Echo and her gang dealing with their discovery of the firebird, the alleged key to ending the centuries long fight between the Avicen and the Drakharin.

Unfortunately for them, the rise of the firebird also means the creation of an equally ancient creature known as the kucedra. Where the firebird is a creature of flame, the kucedra is one of shadow, the evil to the firebird’s good. It also mean’s dragon in Albanian, so Grey is really playing with a lot of fun dichotomies in this book.

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I’m Friends With the Monster: Cassie-la Sinks Her Teeth Into ‘This Savage Song’ by Victoria Schwab

This Savage Song Victoria Schwab CoverThis Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Format: ARC provided by HarperCollins through GoodReads
Release Date: July 5, 2016
Genre
: Fiction, horror, young adult, action, monsters aren’t the real monsters (except when they definitely are)
Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars

Summary: All across the former United States and in the territory now known as Verity, monsters are real. August is one such monster, and he’s been tasked with infiltrating humanity, attending the Colton Academy in the North and getting close to Kate Harker, the daughter of his father’s enemy. But what happens when an unlikely friendship blooms between the two and they realize that more than just monsters can be monstrous?

This Savage Song is the latest incredibly inventive novel from the mind of Victoria Schwab, which means you can expect all of the world building and plenty of amazing characters!

Set in an alternate/possible slightly future version of America where monsters exist, This Savage Song (the first book in the Monsters of Verity duology) follows monster August Flynn who longs to be human, and Kate Harper, a girl who seeks to hide her own humanity.

Where Kate is an only child haunted by her dead mother and a distant father intent on sending her away, August is loved, adopted by Henry and Emily Flynn, who in addition to August have taken in two other monsters, the whimsical and alluring Isla and the poster boy for The Flynn Task Force, Leo. Did I mention Kate and August’s fathers are enemies forced into a tentative peace agreement? Because they definitely are.

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We Don’t Need No Water: Cassie-la Doesn’t Flame ‘The Fireman’ by Joe Hill

The Fireman Joe Hill CoverThe Fireman by Joe Hill
Format: DRC provided by William Morrow through Edelweiss
Release Date: May 17, 2016
Genre
: Fiction, horror, apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic, thriller, as usual humans are the real problem
Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars

Summary: Humanity is on its way out due to a disease called Draco Incendia Trychophyton which causes spontaneous combustion. With fires raging across the country and no known cure, Dragonscale is slowly destroying society. While Cremation Crews are trying to kill the infected and stop the disease from spreading, the Fireman is fighting back with the one thing that sets him apart: his ability to control the fire inside of him.

Joe Hill’s intriguing NOS4A2 follow-up has arrived!

The Fireman is set in a world where a contagious spore called Draco Incendia Trychophyton (AKA Dragonscale) is infecting humanity, marking their skin with beautiful yet deadly black bands flecked with gold scales. While pretty to look at, the disease ultimately causes the carrier to spontaneously combust.

At the center of Hill’s latest tome is Harper, one of the few actually kind and compassionate humans left. A nurse by trade, quirky Harper is known for singing lines from 1960s musicals, idolizing Mary Poppins and replacing curse words with Julie Andrews-isms.

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I’m Not Saying It’s Aliens: Cassie-la Makes Contact With ‘Sleeping Giants’ by Sylvain Neuvel

Sleeping Giants Book CoverSleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
Format: Galley provided by Ballantine Books through NetGalley
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Genre
: Fiction, science fiction, robots, I’m not saying it’s aliens … but it’s definitely aliens
Rating: 3.9 out of 5 stars

Summary: Seventeen years after 11-year-old Rose falls into the earth and is found cupped inside a giant metal hand, she heads up a top secret team to try and figure out the secrets of this mysterious artifact, whose carbon dating places it at 3,000 years old. In the vein of Illuminae — with less space stuff — Sleeping Giants is told through a collection of interviews, journal entries and other sources which finally answer the question: are we alone in the universe?

Not gonna lie, I almost gave up on Sleeping Giants. I’m not sure if I just wasn’t in the mood for science fiction or the format of the story threw me off, but after reading the first 100 pages, I almost DNFed this … But I’m really glad I didn’t.

So what got me to keep going aside from already spending time reading 1/3rd of the book? It was the origin story of how Neuvel went from self-publishing his novel to getting a movie deal with Sony in a mere month.

Also people really seem to love the story. And how could you not get engrossed in a tale involving ancient aliens and giant robots?

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Mutant and Proud: Cassie-la Teleports Into ‘These Vicious Masks’ by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas

These Vicious Masks Book CoverThese Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas
Format
: Galley provided by Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group through NetGalley
Release Date: February 9, 2016
Genre: Fiction, young adult, superheroes, supervillains, Jane Austen’s School for Gifted Youngsters
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Summary: Navigating society in Victorian England is hard enough for Evelyn, whose mother would love nothing more than to see her married off to an eligible bachelor, a goal Evelyn wants no part of. Keeping her reputation becomes difficult however when Evelyn’s sister Rose is kidnapped and Evelyn learns that they both are part of a group of individuals with specials powers. Even worse? She may be falling in love with one.

When I saw that These Vicious Masks — the first in a trilogy about people with super powers set in Victorian-era London — was dedicated to Calvin and Hobbes and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I knew I was in for a treat.

While the book is by no means a completely original concept but rather the mashing of two genres (described by the publisher as Jane Austen meets the X-Men) I found it to be a fun and enjoyable read, and sometimes that’s all I want out of my YA literature.

The story itself follows Evelyn, a strong-headed Elizabeth Bennet type who finally gets to escape the shackles of societal expectations and her mother’s constant attempts to have her married off when her sister Rose (a kind-hearted Jane Bennet type) is kidnapped.

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