Justin chats with artist Emily Fiegenschuh


Recently I enjoyed chatting with Emily Fiegenschuh about her new book The Explorer’s Guide to Drawing Fantasy Creatures which provides step-by-step instructions and diagrams...

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The City and The Stars: Restless in a perfect future city


Readers’ average rating: The City and The Stars by Arthur C. Clarke The City and The Stars is a 1954 rewrite of Arthur C. Clarke’s first book Against the Fall of Night...

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Our Favorite Fools


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

Sunday Status Update: December 4, 2016

This week, Batman again.

Batman: Field report for November. Joker has now crossed major milestone, as he is now statistically leading cause of death for Gotham residents. Beginning to feel serious job-related stress as a result. One of the Green Lanterns asked me last week if it would be helpful if he simply pitched Joker at the sun and we never spoke of it again, but had to reject his offer. I continue to believe in Gotham, in its ability to one day stand on its own two feet and prosecute criminals according to the legal system. Saying so does not help Gotham in mean time, however, as everyone in city seems intent on demonizing me for not finishing him off. Graffiti on bat signal a week ago read "just kill the clown already. God." Meanwhile, Harley Quinn is statistically the 12th leading cause of death for Gotham residents, but the entire city continues to believe her to be some kind of adorable, puckish rogue ... Read More

The Sentinel: Near-classic horror thriller

Readers’ average rating:

The Sentinel by Jeffrey Konvitz

I’d never heard of Jeffrey Konvitz’s superb horror/thriller, The Sentinel (1974), until I saw it promoted on a couple of discount ebook newsletters I receive. The cover, while lacking any subtlety, sold me on the whole horror-wrapped-up-with religion angle. And while the image may be a bit over the top, The Sentinel slow boils its simple premise and bubbles with persistent and pounding tension.

The Sentinel is reminiscent of Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby, William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist, and to a lesser extent Read More

The Queen of Blood: A solid, dramatic opening to an epic fantasy series

Readers’ average rating:

Reposting to include Jana's new review.

The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst

The Queen of Blood (2016) is the first book in an epic fantasy series by Sarah Beth Durst, THE QUEENS OF RENTHIA. Durst seems to be able to write whatever she sets her mind to: YA, urban fantasy, or dark fairy tales. The Queen of Blood is a briskly-paced story that introduces us to an original fantasy world with some unusual magical powers.

Daleina lives with her parents and little sister in one of the “outer villages” in the great forests of the kingdom of Aratay. The forest is filled with nature spirits: air, water, ice, earth, fire and wood. These spirits are not friendly. Their instinct is to kill humans, but the powe... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: What’s the best book you read last month?

It's the first Thursday of the month. You know what that means, 'cause we do this on the first Thursday of every month! Time to report!

What is the best book you read in November 2016 and why did you love it? It doesn't have to be a newly published book, or even SFF. We just want to share some great reading material. Feel free to post a full review of the book here, or a link to the review on your blog, or just write a few sentences about why you thought it was awesome.

(And don't forget that we always have plenty more reading recommendations on our Fanlit Faves page and our 5-Star SFF page. And we've also got a constantly updating list of new and forthcoming releases.)

As always, one commenter will choose a ... Read More

Unquiet Land: A redemptive story of parental love

Readers’ average rating:

Unquiet Land by Sharon Shinn

In Unquiet Land, Sharon Shinn’s fourth book in her ELEMENTAL BLESSINGS fantasy series, the story returns to the country of Welce, the setting for the first two books in this series. Leah, who was introduced to readers in the third book, Jeweled Fire, lived in the country of Malinqua for five years, helping Darien Serlast, the ruler of Welce, by acting as a spy and, for the last few months of her stay, keeping an protective eye on the princess Corene, who was on an extended visit with the ruling family of Malinqua. More to the point, at the time Leah was running away from personal issues in her life: a lover who deserted her when she told him she was pregnant, and ... Read More

Children of Earth and Sky: Another masterwork from Guy Gavriel Kay

Readers’ average rating:

Reposting to include Tadiana's new review.

Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay

A new Guy Gavriel Kay novel is cause for great celebration and anticipation in our household, as he has authored some of our most beloved novels over the decades (by “our” I mean my wife, my fifteen-year-old son, and myself). A consummate storyteller and stylist (the two don’t always go hand in hand), his long-term consistency is remarkable, and his newest work, Children of Earth and Sky, finds him still at the top of his form.

One way to describe a Guy Gavriel Kay novel is that it’s a bit like peering at history as it unfolds at the bottom of a pool of water (think of the water as Kay’s artistic imagination) — you mostly recognize what you’re looking at, but thanks to the effects of refraction and distortion, it’s just a little off, bot... Read More

American Gods: Great premise that (we think) doesn’t quite deliver

Readers’ average rating:

Reposting to include Stuart's new review.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

This is a bad land for Gods... The old gods are ignored. The new gods are as quickly taken up as they are abandoned, cast aside for the next big thing. Either you've been forgotten, or you're scared you're going to be rendered obsolete, or maybe you're just getting tired of existing on the whims of people.

Shadow, just out of prison and with nothing to go home to, is hired to be Mr. Wednesday's bodyguard as he travels around America to warn all the other incarnations of gods, legends, and myths, that “a storm is coming.” There's going to be a battle between the old gods who were brought to melting pot America by their faithful followers generations ago, and the new gods of technology, convenience, and individuality.

That's the premise of Read More

WWWednesday; November 30, 2016

This week’s word for Wednesday is a phrase. ‘To turn your tippet’ meant ‘to entirely change your behavior or course in life’ in 16th century English. Thanks, as always, to Haggard Hawks.

Awards:

Margaret Hamilton, a software engineer for NASA whose software guided the first lunar landing, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the USA’s highest civilian honor, this month.

The group called the Sad Puppies seem to be arguing among themselves over this year’s Hugo Awards. The Sad Puppies have always stated that they are different from the Rabid Puppies, and one blogger thinks that Katie Paulk did not do enough to champion the Sad Puppies group’s choices ... Read More

The Fate of the Tearling: An explosive ending to our feisty heroine’s story

Readers’ average rating:

The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

With The Fate of the Tearling (2016), Erika Johansen concludes her QUEEN OF THE TEARLING trilogy, which began in 2014’s The Queen of the Tearling and continued in 2015’s The Invasion of the Tearling. Fans of this YA series have eagerly waited for answers to questions posed throughout the preceding books: What makes Queen Kelsea Glynn special, and why can she experience memories and lifetimes that aren’t her own? What is the significance of the magical blue sapphires she wears, and why does the Red Mort Que... Read More

The Witch of Lime Street: It’s society wife vs Houdini in this riveting nonfiction spiritualist duel

Readers’ average rating:

The Witch of Lime Street by David Jaher

Harry Houdini is still famous as a magician and an escape artist. The last few years of his life, though, he devoted large chunks of time to exposing and debunking fake “spiritualist mediums.” In The Witch of Lime Street, David Jaher takes a look at Houdini’s most famous spiritualist case: his two-year battle with the “Boston Back Bay Medium” who used the alias Margery.

Most people date the spiritualist movement in the USA from the 1840s, with the Fox sisters of Palmyra, New York. When the sisters were present, spectral rappings were heard, for which no source could be discovered until decades later when one of the sister ‘fessed up; (she could crack her toes the way some people crack their knuckles). In the interwar period of the twentieth century, spiritualism enjoyed a resurgence, and a power... Read More