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Snow White: An Islamic Tale is a beautiful and faithful retelling of the Snow White fairy tale, modified to be set in the Muslim world. The adjustments are made very thoughtfully and in most cases actually strengthen the story. Snow White is portrayed as a faithful Muslim girl who relies on the Qur'an to guide her behavior. This emphasis on religious virtue is very much in line with many of the original fairy tales, by the way. Her religious observances are included in the story, showing her praying, memorizing passages of the Qur'an, breaking her fast during Ramadan, and wearing a headscarf when she might be observed by a male outside her family. The evil stepmother is shown as being a vain creature with a djinn that lives in her mirror. The change I found most interesting was that instead of male dwarfs, Snow White finds a cottage inhabited by seven dwarven sisters-in-faith, who she lives with and learns from happily (instead of becoming their housekeeper!). At the end of the book, there is a daily prayer, Arabic vocabulary words, and an explanation of where in the Qur'an the quotes referenced are found. Highly recommended, both as a children's story and an exploration of how culture affects our touchstone stories.

Content note: the illustrations do include representations of people and animals, and magic is included in the story but clearly haram.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MZYF9WK/

cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
I gulped this book down in one sitting. It was delicious.

This story fits nicely into the "FBI procedural mystery with supernatural elements" category, and if that isn't a category, it should be, because I would like more please. It follows the "vampires as humans with additional abilities and drawbacks that can also make them go a bit around the bend and be serial murderers" idea of a vampire. The characters are engaging and well-drawn, especially given the shortness of the story. I want to spend more time with them, and I'm interested in seeing what happens with the relationships and the bigger picture problems.

Story: Nightshades by Melissa F. Olson
Length: Short novel
Published: July 2016
Publisher: Tor.com
Subgenre: Urban fantasy
Stand-alone: Yes, but has sequels.
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Just finished reading Reliquary by Sarah Fine. Top-notch urban fantasy with a "fiance has a secret life main character is just finding out about that changes everything" plot line. Readers looking for a HEA in this book will probably be disappointed, and there was some unexpected explicit BDSM at the end that was surprising but done well.

But! This cover! It's lovely, but I interpret it as maybe fantasy, maybe romance, but not specifically urban fantasy. Expectation mismatch.

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One of my resolutions (along with combing my hair in a reasonable time frame every morning) is to write reviews of what I read and like, so that I can remember these things later. Especially short stories, which I can't rate by simply clicking on a star rating on Goodreads.

Detroit Hammersmith, Zero-Gravity Toilet Repairman [Retired]
Suzanne Palmer

I enjoyed this story tremendously. A repairman who's seen it all sees something new. The story's lighthearted, heartwarming, and it scratches that itch for stories about ordinary working Joes on space stations.

Read if: You liked James White's Sector General books or that one episode in B5 with the repair guys.
Don't read if: You're looking for SF that breaks new ground.
Length: Novelette
First published: Analog, September 2016
Link*: https://www.amazon.com/Analog-Magazine-September-2016-Various/dp/B01J6BMCSQ
How'd I get it: A magazine giveaway in the SFWA suite at MidAmericon II.
Where'd I read it: In the sauna at the gym. I swear, I wasn't lightheaded. This is also how I discovered that the sauna heat will melt some magazine glue bindings.

* They don't have back issues available for purchase. Not even digital ones. Let people give you money!

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Abra Staffin-Wiebe

February 2019

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