Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
If there is one genre in young adult fiction that has been egregiously overdone at this point, it’s… well, actually, can’t tell a lie, it’s paranormal romance. But a close runner-up is the “Teens with Powers” genre that’s rocketed to prominence in recent years, particularly after a certain book series involving young wizards and their magical school. The formula is generally much the same: there’s a secret society of magic-users who organize themselves in some sort of refuge from a dangerous world where they have an equally magical enemy. The inevitably teenage or tweenage protagonists are at first under pressure to simply conform and leave the problems to the adults, but must soon take matters into their own hands to indulge teenage hormones and face their nemeses in glorious magical combat. This isn’t to say it’s a bad formula (indeed, many auth... Read More
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Darknesses by L.E. Modesitt Jr
Note: We're rebooting this review, which was originally published in 2008, to include information about the just-released audio version.
First off, though this does stand as in independent story in what is called THE COREAN CHRONICLES, it will make a lot more sense to you and you'll be a lot more invested in the characters if you read the first book ahead of time. Darknesses returns to the same main character, Alucius, who remains as in the first a reluctant soldier caught up in battles and politics he'd rather not wage, preferring to set down his sword and his strange Talent and return home to be a herder with his new wife. This book roams further afield than the first book as Alucius is sent to various locales (helps to periodically check the map to keep all his travels and the stratagems behind them straigh... Read More
He Who Shapes by Roger Zelazny
In the mid to late ‘60s, the sci-fi world was Roger Zelazny’s oyster. Possessing an abundance of fresh ideas delivered with a deft hand, the author took the genre by storm — This Immortal, Lord of Light, and Creatures of Light and Darkness gained notable attention and won awards. Published amidst these unique novels was, however, a book of an entirely different range and frequency. More personal and cerebral than mythic or heroic, The Dream Master (1966) instead features Zelazny’s interests in the psyche, subconscious, and to a small degree, spiritualism. The novel is based on the novella He Who Shapes, which Zelazny would later state is his preferred version and is the subject of this review.
He Who Shapes is the story of Dr. Charles Rend... Read More
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 the keynote address and spoke about gamification of the classroom. Her career in digital media and game creation stems from her childhood love of reading and playing heroic fantasy. Her new book, which comes out in a couple of days, is about how technology is changing storytelling. We'll send an e-copy to one commenter (or you can choose a book from our stacks).
If you’d asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up twenty years ago, I probably would have answered Raistlin Majere. Former (and current DRAGONLANCE fans, try not to look at me too suspiciously. Raistlin ... Read More
Jala’s Mask by Mike & Rachel Grinti
I enjoy reading fantasy that stems from a different folkloric basis than the one I grew up in. Middle European, British, Native American and Asian fantasy tropes have been done a lot, so Jala’s Mask, by Mike & Rachel Grinti was a refreshing change.
Jala has grown up in a society similar in some ways to our Polynesian one. Her people can magically shape ships from the material that forms the reefs around their islands. They gather wealth by raiding the mainland. The Five Islands and One are ruled by a king and queen, but except for the One island, where sorcerers are exiled, each island is controlled by a particular family. Jala is part of the Bardo clan. The new king, Azi of the Kayet, is looking for a wife, and Jala’s father is sure she will be chosen. This seems unlikely, because Azi’s Kayet uncle doesn’t trust the Bardo, but Jala’... Read More
The Spider by Jennifer Estep
The Spider, the tenth book in Jennifer Estep’s ELEMENTAL ASSASSIN series is actually a prequel in which we learn about Gin’s life and training before she became the infamous assassin, The Spider. Readers who haven’t been following the series could read The Spider with no problem, but they’d be missing a lot of the Easter Eggs that Estep leaves for her fans.
The story starts when adult Gin (the one we know and maybe love) is talking to her boyfriend Owen at The Pork Pit. (Gin and Owen are back together, a reunion I missed since I haven’t yet read book nine because I don’t own an audio copy, my library doesn’t have it, and I’m not willing to buy it.) A box of blue roses arrives at The Pork Pit without a card, but Gin knows exactly who they’re from. The memory induces Gin to tell Owen about her trainin... Read More
Rise of the Terran Empire by Poul Anderson
Rise of the Terran Empire is the third in a series of seven books collecting all of Poul Anderson's writings in the Technic civilization setting. The stories are presented by internal chronology and in this book we have reached the boundary between the two eras Anderson set most of these stories in: the time of the Polesotechnic league (Nicolas van Rijn and David Falkayn) and the era of the Terran Empire (Dominic Flandry). The previous two books contained quite a few pieces of short fiction but this third tome includes two full novels with room left over for four shorter works. One of these, “Sargasso of Lost Starships,” originally published in Planet Stories, appears for the first time in book form, so if you are a completist this is a must have.
The collection opens with the 1977 novel Mirkheim. It features both Falkayn an... Read More
On this day in 1969, the first-ever computer-to-computer link was established on ARPANET, the precursor to Candy Crush . . . I mean, the Internet.
Jose Guadalupe Posada
Writing, Editing, and Publishing:
Just to remind everyone, National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, starts on November 1. For all you FanLitters out there with novels on the brain, this might be a good kick in the pants to get started. I’m going to do it; who’s with me? (And tell us about your writing projects in the comments, if you like!)
This New York Times article about Michel Faber reveals that his l... Read More
Deadly Sting by Jennifer Estep
Deadly Sting is the eighth book in Jennifer Estep’s ELEMENTAL ASSASSIN series. Anyone who has made it to this point in the series probably doesn’t care what I have to say about it, so I’ll make this short.
Gin and Owen are taking a break from each other after the events of the last book, Widow’s Web, so Gin accompanies Finn to a fancy party at an art museum on an island where Mab Monroe’s stuff will be on display for all the wealthy folks in Ashland to see. Soon after she arrives, she encounters two big problems. One is that she discovers Mab had a couple of Gin’s family’s runes in her possession! Gin wants them back. The other problem is that Owen is at the party with another woman. How distressing!
While Gin’s sulking in the bathroom, a group of giants murders a woman who looks like Gin and takes all... Read More
Hide Me Among the Graves by Tim Powers
Hide Me Among the Graves is Tim Power’s sequel, twenty-five years later, to The Stress of her Regard. I liked it better than its predecessor, but some of the same problems plagued this otherwise interesting read.
Instead of wandering all over Europe, Hide Me Among the Graves sticks pretty close to 1860s London, following the fortunes of a widowed veterinarian, John Crawford, and the artistic, poetic and strange Rossetti family, particularly Christina and her brother Gabriel Dante. Those pesky ageless vampiric creatures, the nephalim, are back to stir up trouble, and this time one of them wants to create an earth tremor that will destroy London.
When Christina Rossetti was fourteen, her father tricked her into awakening one of the nephalim, who took the shape of Christina’s uncle John Polidori. Pol... Read More