Favorite alternate histories


With all this talk about the effects that SOPA/PIPA would have on the internet, it got me thinking. Throughout history there are key moments that, had they happened differently,...

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The Darkness That Comes Before: Intelligent fantasy


Readers’ average rating: The Darkness That Comes Before by R. Scott Bakker I believe it warrants mentioning in the beginning of this review that I find myself in a position...

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Circus Love


E. Catherine Tobler has never run away to join the circus — but she thinks about doing so every day. Among others, her short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and...

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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

Sunday Status Update: May 27, 2018

Some great reads this week!

Jana: This week I didn't do much that I had planned to do, but still read some good books: Claire North's newest, 84K, which was eerie and scary and oh so very British, and Carolyn Turgeon's The Mermaid Handbook Read More

Lady Killer: Very funny, dark, hard to stop reading

Readers’ average rating: 

Lady Killer (Vols. 1 & 2) by Jamie S. Rich & Joelle Jones

Lady Killer is a very funny, though dark, story about the troubles a woman faces when she works out of the home, balancing job and family, in the early 1960s. The twist, however, is that Josie Schuller’s work is that of a contract killer in heels. The humor comes in because her family — husband, two daughters, and live-in mother-in-law — are all clueless. Well, except maybe for the mother-in-law who is beginning to suspect something is not quite right with her all-too-perfect looking daughter-in-law.

The story is funny because it has all the clichés of the suburban family from the time period: The father with his feet up on the table watching TV after work while the wife, looking her best, prepares dinner for a largely unthankful family. The boss and his wife come ... Read More

The Mermaid Handbook: An Alluring Treasury of Literature, Lore, Art, Recipes, and Projects

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The Mermaid Handbook by Carolyn Turgeon

Carolyn Turgeon has followed up 2017’s The Faerie Handbook with The Mermaid Handbook: An Alluring Treasury of Literature, Lore, Art, Recipes, and Projects (2018), a similarly-themed and -structured guide to mermaid folklore throughout history and around the world, along with stunningly-photographed examples of modern mermaid couture, particularly the bespoke mermaid tails available in a range of colors and styles. And if readers are interested in mermaid-themed cocktails, snacks, or tablescapes for parties, this beautifully-crafted book provides tips and recipes to get anyone started down the right path.

This collection is more about the half-woman, half-fish mermaid concept than anything else, so there’s little about m... Read More

Belgarath the Sorcerer & Polgara the Sorceress: Great companion pieces

Readers’ average rating:

Belgarath the Sorcerer & Polgara the Sorceress by David and Leigh Eddings

As a reviewer I find it a bit challenging to justify my review of these books; they are exactly what they say on the tin. If you like Belgarath and Polgara, you’ll like these books. If you don’t, you won’t. If you don’t know who they are, don’t read them (but you might consider THE BELGARIAD, which contains the background you would need).

If you’re like me and read book reviews just because, well, look! It’s something in print! Let’s read it! — please do read on and get a few of my thoughts. But the functional part of the review is already over.

As you might guess just from the titles, Belgarath the Sorcerer and Polgara the Sorce... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Identify last month’s covers

Today’s covers all come from books we reviewed in April 2018. 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, please ... Read More

Fearless: John Charming joins a fight club

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Fearless by Elliott James

Fearless is the third novel in Elliott JamesPAX ARCANA saga (following Charming and Daring). John and Sig are back together working to protect Kevin Kichida, a young man with some magical blood in his heritage who’s being hunted by a greedy ancestor.

The investigation leads John and his supernatural friends to a fight club where they go undercover (as fighters) to get close to their suspect. John acquires (or perhaps simply recognizes and practices) some new supernatural skills in t... Read More

The Two of Swords: Much to admire across the series

Reposting to include Nathan's review of the new format for THE TWO OF SWORDS.

Readers’ average rating:

The Two of Swords: Volumes One, Two, and Three by K. J. Parker

Reading any of K.J. Parker’s books will reveal that he is deeply skeptical of human nature, very much including the feelings and ideals that usually get the best press. He passed his witheringly critical eye over romantic love in the ENGINEER trilogy, platonic friendship in The Company, and in THE TWO OF SWORDS series, idealistic devotion to a cause and rationalism ... Read More

WWWednesday: May 23, 2018

This week’s word for Wednesday is courtesy of Dictionary.com, and it’s the noun gnashnab, which is a person who complains about everything.  It sounds like it would be the name of a Dickensian character, doesn’t it?

Sandhill crane near Lake Helen, Florida



Nebula Awards Announced:

The Nebula awards were announced on Saturday. N.K. Jemisin took home Best Novel for The Stone Sky; Martha Wells’s “All Systems Red” won Best Novella; Kelly Robson won with “A Human Stain” for best novelette and Rebecca Roanhorse’s “Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience ™” won for best short story.  Read More

Children of Blood and Bone: A familiar story raised up by its theme and setting

Readers’ average rating:

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Tomi Adeyemi’s debut novel, Children of Blood and Bone (2018) and the first of the LEGACY OF ORISHA series, is in many ways a typical debut YA novel that can feel a bit rote. On the other hand, its setting and stark presentation of theme make it stand out more than a little from the other such YA novels and add an importance to it that makes it well worth recommending.

Long ago in Orisha the maji wielded great power, but then the King (Saran) found a way to strip magic from them and commenced a great slaughter, though he did not kill those younger than thirteen (“diviners”, marked by their white hair) who had not yet come into their power (and now never would). Zélie is a diviner whose mother was murdered before her eyes when she was six. Since “The Raid,” Zélie’s people, r... Read More

Magic Breaks: Sins of the father

Readers’ average rating: 

Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

In Magic Breaks (2014), the seventh book in Ilona AndrewsKATE DANIELS urban fantasy series, the overarching plot lines of the series takes a lion-sized step forward, with a few major surprises along the way. *some spoilers for earlier books in the series*

Kate Daniels, her mate Curran, the Beast Lord of Atlanta's shapeshifter Pack, and their group have returned from their perilous trip to Europe, described in Magic Rises, where they ran into conflict with Hugh d’Ambray, the warlord of Roland. Roland is an ancient, immortal legend with nearly godlike magical powers, and Kate has been both hiding from him and planning his death... Read More