What is Your Quest?


Today we welcome Dr. Anastasia Salter, assistant professor of digital media at the University of Central Florida. I met Dr. Salter recently at an academic symposium where she gave...

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The Outsider: Fighting monsters, King’s characters remind us what it is to be human


The Outsider by Stephen King The Outsider (2018) by Stephen King is a big book with a big, layered story. With great effort I’m going to hold my review to one or two aspects of...

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Exploration Blues


Welcome to another Expanded Universe column where I feature essays from authors and editors of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, as well as from established readers and reviewers....

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Great SFF Deals!


We’re always looking for money-saving deals on books, comics, and audiobooks and we bet you are, too. Let’s use this page to alert each other about great deals. Just leave a...

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Recent Posts

Thoughtful Thursday: Identify last month’s covers

Today’s covers all come from books we reviewed in September 2019. Once you identify a book cover, in the comment section list:

1. The number of the cover (1-16)
2. The author
3. The book title



Please identify just one cover that has not yet been identified correctly so that others will have a chance to play. If they're not all identified by next Thursday, you can come back and identify more.

Each of your correct entries enters you into a drawing to win a book of your choice from our stacks. Winners are notified in the comments, so make sure to check the notification box or remember to check back in about 10 days. If we don't choose a winner within 2 weeks, ple... Read More

Wayward: We are all just prisoners here

Wayward by Blake Crouch

Wayward (2013), the second book in Blake Crouch’s WAYWARD PINES trilogy, picks up right where book 1, Pines, left off. I'll avoid THE major spoiler for Pines, but minor ones are inevitable, and if there was ever a series where you absolutely need to read the books in order, this one is it. Ethan Burke is the newly-minted sheriff of the small town of Wayward Pines, Idaho (population 461), the prior sheriff having come to an eyebrow-raising end (after reading a few of the flashback scenes in Wayward, one becomes more sympathetic to the urge to dispose of former sheriff, Pope).

Having survived a life-and-death battle with The Powers That Be that control all aspect... Read More

Satan’s Blood: Earning its “S”

Satan’s Blood directed by Carlos Puerto

The death of Generalissimo Francisco Franco in November 1975 meant not only the end of a 39-year repressive regime for the people of Spain, and the ushering in of democracy, but the dawn of a new freedom in the cinematic arts, as well. With the effective ending, in 1977, of the strict censorship laws that had hamstrung filmmakers for decades, a new looseness was engendered. Films could now be released that contained nudity, sexual themes, and violent and horrific elements ... provided, of course, that the film was tagged with the "Clasificada S" label, that "S," of course, standing for "sex." Released in 1978, Escalofrio (which opened in the U.S. with the title Satan's Blood) was one of the first pictures out of the gate to take advantage of the new freedoms.

In the film, the viewer makes the acquaintance of two couples. Couple A, Andres and Ana (a lawyer with his four-months-pregnant wif... Read More

WWWednesday: October 16, 2019

Olga Tokarczuk. Image from Wikipedia



Nobel Prize for Literature:

The Nobel Prize for Literature Committee awarded two prizes, one for 2018 and one for 2019. Olga Tokarszuk and Peter Handke are the awardees for 2018 and 2019 respectively. Here is more information from the BBC.

Olga Tokarczuk’s work sounds like something I would like to read; it has elements of magical realism and the fantastical. Her most recent novel, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, was published in 2009. She has won many honors throughout Europe including the Man Booker Prize.

Peter Hand... Read More

Last Ones Left Alive: Bleak and painful

Last Ones Left Alive by Sarah Davis-Goff

Orpen is a young woman who lives with her mother and Maeve, her mother’s partner, on an island off the coast of Ireland. As she is growing up, as far as Orpen knows, they are the only humans left alive. Orpen wants to go to the mainland to see if she can find any other people, and to search for the legendary female paramilitary force that is rumored to be fighting the skrake, vicious zombie-like creatures that hunt and kill humans. Her mother and Maeve warn her against this, but finally Orpen finds the opportunity to set out on her quest. She will need all of the survival and fighting skills that her two mothers taught her.

As Orpen journeys through a bleak and desolate (but sometimes beautiful) landscape, she uses flashbacks to very gradually enlighten us about the world and why she began her quest. We also gradually become aware of the horrible origins of the skrake. We witness Orpen’... Read More

The Twilight People: Kalahati Tao, Kalahati Hayop

The Twilight People directed by Eddie Romero

The 1959 film Terror Is a Man was the very first horror picture to be made in the country of the Philippines. A very well done but uncredited reiteration of H. G. Wells' classic 1896 novel The Island of Dr. Moreau, the film was gorgeously shot in B&W, featured stylish direction by Geraldo de Leon and (again, an uncredited) Eddie Romero, as well as an intelligent script that was punctuated by interesting speculations on the nature of man and beast. Over the next 10 years, Romero worked at a fairly furious pace, eventually carving out for himself a place in the world's pantheon of great horror directors by coming out with his legendary Blood Island trilogy: Read More

The Queen’s Gambit: Short, fast, fun, and sexy

The Queen's Gambit by Jessie Mihalik

I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed The Queen's Gambit (2017), the first novella in Jessie Mihalik’s ROGUE QUEEN series. It’s about Samara, the queen of a nation that stayed independent in a war between two powerful galactic empires. But, without allies to trade with, the people of Queen Samara’s Rogue Coalition are practically starving.

To earn some money for her country, Samara decides to attempt to rescue emperor Valentin Kos from the Quint mercenaries who are holding him captive, and then to collect a reward from the Kos Empire for his safe return. Things are going as planned until Samara is sold out by her partner. Now she’s in just as much trouble as the emperor is…


The Queen's Gambit
is short,... Read More

La Nuit de la Morte (Night of Death): French toast

La Nuit de la Morte (Night of Death) directed by Raphael Delpard

OK, I'm gonna go out on a limb here, and make the assumption that any person who might be interested in reading a review of the 1980 French film La Nuit de la Morte! (Night of Death!) is already aware that it is very much a horror picture (as if that morbid title, capped with its exclamation mark, could possibly leave any doubt). And that's important, because any discussion of this seldom-mentioned rarity is almost impossible without divulging at least one key plot twist, which transpires around 20 minutes in. I was first alerted to the very existence of this Gallic obscurity by the excellent reference volume DVD Delirium 4, which describes the picture as "good, disreputable, down-and-dirty splatter with a unique French twist," and indeed, the film really might be a pleasant surprise for the jaded horror fan who is seeking out something different... Read More

Buried Heart: Forced to pick a side

Reposting to include Rebecca's new review.

Buried Heart by Kate Elliott

In Night Flower, Kiya and Esladas met and fell in love, beginning a journey that would, eventually, shake the city of Saryenia to its very foundation. In Court of Fives, their daughter Jessamy got her heart’s desire, the chance to train as a Court of Fives runner, at the cost of her family’s safety. In Poisoned Blade, Jes did everything she could to reunite her loved ones while rooting out royal corruption, but it wasn’t enough. In Bright Thrones, Jes’ twin Bettany... Read More

Handful of Stars: A Palmistry Guidebook and Hand-Printing Kit

Handful of Stars: A Palmistry Guidebook and Hand-Printing Kit by Helene Saucedo

October is here, Halloween parties are incipient, and that means group activities will be in order — spooky card games, spine-chilling board games, and, yes, palmistry kits. Helene Saucedo’s Handful of Stars: A Palmistry Guidebook and Hand-Printing Kit (2019) declares itself to be “everything you need to read and create a print of the hand,” and I was curious to see how well the kit actually met that challenge.

The guidebook is slim, covering the major steps of palm-reading and touching lightly on the history of palmistry, or chiromancy, as it was once known. While the lines on a person’s palm were once thought to contain such portentous information as the number of successful romances or the limit of a person’s life span, current palmistry seems to be more of a self-reflection or self-assessment t... Read More