Steven chats with Annie Wilder


I recently talked with Annie Wilder, author of three books dealing with true life paranormal experiences. Her first book, House of Spirits and Whispers, is about her experience...

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Midsummer Night: One of the most enchanting fantasies I’ve read in years


Readers’ average rating: Midsummer Night by Freda Warrington When you love a book as much as I do Freda Warrington’s Elfland, there’s always a little bit of fear mixed in...

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Arabella of Mars: Why A Girl?


David D. Levine is the author of novel Arabella of Mars (Tor 2016) (reviewed by Tadiana) and over fifty SF and fantasy stories. His story “Tk’Tk’Tk” won the...

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Our rating system


We realize that we’re not professional literature critics — we’re just a group of readers who love to read and write about speculative fiction — but we...

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Recent Posts

Thoughtful Thursday: Free Comic Book Day 2018 (Giveaway!)

Free Comic Book Day — FCBD — is always the first Saturday of May. To get your free comics on May 5, you’ll need to locate a local comic bookstore and, if in doubt, give them a call to see if they are participating. Chances are, if it’s an independent comic book store, they are offering free comics, because FCBD is designed to celebrate comics, to introduce comic books to new readers, to celebrate the unique independent comic book stores that sell them, and to support comic book stores by bringing in new customers in addition to the regular patrons.



If you are new to comics, FCBD is for you just as much as it is for those of us who can’t make it through a single day without reading comics. For me and others like me, it’s a day of celebration. But we also want to reach out to new readers.

So, if you have never been into a comic book store before, please ... Read More

Penric’s Fox: Another murder mystery for Penric

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Penric's Fox by Lois McMaster Bujold

Penric's Fox is the third (according to internal chronology) novella in Lois McMaster Bujold’s PENRIC AND DESDEMONA series, a spin-off from her well-decorated FIVE GODS trilogy. Each of these novellas is essentially a chapter in Penric's story and I assume that someday they'll be combined together in one volume.

This particular story takes place after the events of Penric and the Shaman, so I would recommend reading it after that story and before Penric’s Mission. While visiting the capital cit... Read More

The Lady of the Rivers: The protagonist lacks the magic of her ancestors

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The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

The Lady of the Rivers (2011) begins with the capture of a young French maiden. She wears a man's cap and breeches, and tells her captors that she is following the voices of angels. When our narrator, Jacquetta of Luxembourg, calls her Joan, it quickly becomes apparent that Gregory has opened her novel with the capture of the legendary Joan of Arc. Moments in history don't come much more momentous than this one, and it marks the first trial Jacquetta must overcome, in era full of intrigue, alchemy and political suspense.

Dramatic as the opening is, therein lies its problem: Jacquetta merely plays witness to the greater moments of history, and her role of passive observer continues throughout the novel. Whilst Joan of Arc awaits trial in a fifteen-year-old Jacquetta's household, she reads Joan's cards. Jacquetta is descen... Read More

WWWednesday: April 25, 2018

Awards:

The David Gemmel Award finalists are announced.

The nominations for the World Fantasy Award are now open. Thanks to File770.

Cons:

Avengers; Infinity War, photograph from marvel.com



Hopes for a shenanigan-free WorldCon in 2018 were dashed when a writer filed suit against the WorldCon76 Committee. He alleges that the con committee’s action in January, 2018 to limit his membership from attending to participat... Read More

Song of Blood & Stone: What if the author had loved the whole story?

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Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

Originally, L. Penelope published Song of Blood & Stone under her own publishing house, Heartspell. In 2016, it earned attention from the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO), where a team of prominent fantasy book bloggers evaluate 300 enlisted fantasy titles and review the very best of them. Song of Blood & Stone was so popular St. Martin’s Press picked it up and is now publishing it mainstream with a few changes.

This book is a self-made success. L. Penelope sent it out into a massive vat stuffed with dross and chaff and it rose organically out of obscurity because readers loved it. And I’m torn, because I want to champion it, too, but I'm sorry, I can’t do it.

So... Read More

Memory: Why Bujold is secretly revolutionary

Readers’ average rating:

Reposting to include Stuart's new review.

Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold

My copy of Memory looks like it was reread several dozen times and then shoved in the bottom of a backpack and schlepped a few hundred thousand miles (it was). It’s my favorite book in Lois McMaster Bujold’s VORKOSIGAN SAGA, which is a series made up of some of my favorite books. But it isn’t high literature or uber-intellectual science fiction or the kind of book that people call “genre bending.” The plot is pure, fast-paced, crime-solving fun, like the rest of the series. It’s just a cheap paperback.

But it moved me, and continues to move me. This review is my attempt to understand how and why. After some thought and another rereading, I’ve come to suspect that it’s a book built on tiny, imperfectly perfect human interactions. The meat of Memory isn’t... Read More

The Scarlet Plague: Jack London makes London Magazine

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The Scarlet Plague by Jack London

Editor's note: Because it's in the public domain, it's easy to find an inexpensive electronic copy of this book.

By the time Jack London released his post-apocalyptic novel The Scarlet Plague in 1912, the author was 36 years old — just four years shy of his premature passing in 1916 — and yet had already managed to cram in more incident and adventure into those three dozen years than most folks do in their lifetime. Since his birth in San Francisco in 1876, he had worked on a sealing schooner, done a stint as an oyster pirate, participated in the Klondike Gold Rush (in 1897), played the part of a war correspondent in the Russo-Japanese War (1904), operated a ranch, been married twice, and had released over 100 short stories... Read More

Kings of the Wyld: Getting the band back together

Readers’ average rating:

Reposting to include Tim's new review.

Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames

When Clay Cooper returns home from work to find his old friend, Gabriel, waiting on him, he knows something is wrong. He learns that Gabe's headstrong daughter has run off to be a mercenary and ended up in a city besieged by an overwhelming horde of monsters. Gabe is now desperate to get their "band," Saga, back together and go save her. Saga used to be the most famous mercenary band ever. Tales of Slowhand Clay, Golden Gabe, Arcandius Moog, Matrick Skulldrummer, and Ganelon are still told in the pubs throughout the kingdom to this day.

However, that was many years ago, and they're no longer the young men they used to be. Clay, in particular, has happily retired to a quiet life in the country with his wife and daughter. So, with great reluctance Clay turns his best friend down. But later, wh... Read More

Good Morning, Midnight: Your book club might enjoy this

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Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton

Lily Brooks-Dalton’s general fiction novel, Good Morning, Midnight (2017), is literary in nature but uses speculative elements to contemplate isolation, hope, despair and human connection. The book has beautiful prose, especially in some of the descriptions of the arctic, and interesting insights into human nature, but it was not a completely satisfying book for me. In a few places, the hand of the author can be seen forcing events in order to make the story work, and some of these tropes, particularly the literary ones, felt too familiar. Still, it’s worth checking out for the writing alone.

Good Morning, Midnight follows two characters who are about as far apart spacially as one can imagine. Augustine is an astronomer who has remained behind at an arctic observatory site... Read More

Mirror Dance: A fine metaphor

Readers’ average rating: Comment Reviews for this post are disabled. Please enable it first

Reposting to include Stuart's new review.

Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold

This is Marion's review of The Vor Game, Brothers in Arms, and Mirror Dance. Kat's comments about Mirror Dance are at the bottom.

Miles Vorkosigan is nearly a dwarf, with bones as brittle as fine porcelain, and he is a Vor, one of the elite, the son of the Imperial Regent. The Vor, and everyone on Barrayar for that matter, are terrified of mutation because of their history, and Miles looks like a mutation even though he isn’t one. During the middle books of this series, Miles finds a way to serve his planet while succeeding in space, where for the most part people judge achievement more than physical appearance.

Miles cannot esca... Read More