Freda Warrington Talks Art, Aetherials, and Richard III


Freda Warrington is the author of numerous books, most recently the AETHERIAL TALES series: Elfland, Midsummer Night, and the newly released Grail of the Summer Stars (see my review...

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The Black Cauldron: Mystery, suspense, adventure, and intrigue


The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander The Black Cauldron is the second in Lloyd Alexander’s five-part Chronicles of Prydain, and possibly the most well known. When discussing...

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Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk


Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk Written by David Lindelof, Art by Leinil Francis Yu A little background for newcomers or fanboys/girls who have been away for a while: Marvel comic’s...

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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

The Forgotten Sisters: A wonderful story for girls AND BOYS

The Forgotten Sisters by Shannon Hale

I just adore Shannon Hale’s PRINCESS ACADEMY books for young readers. The Forgotten Sisters, released earlier this week, is the third and final installment. This review will contain spoilers for the previous books.

In book one, Princess Academy, the first school was built in Mount Eskel, an uneducated rural mining community. The purpose of the school was to educate marriageable young ladies so that the prince of their realm could choose a fitting bride. One of the potential princess wannabees, Miri, wasn’t chosen to be princess, but she learned subjects and skills that she used to better Mount Eskel’s economic situation. In the second book, Palace of Stone, Miri goes to the capital city for more education and ends up qu... Read More

Empire: A tense, can’t-put-it-down adventure

Empire by John Connolly & Jennifer Ridyard

(Warning, may contain spoilers for Conquest.)

Empire, by John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard, is filled with action, suspense, and characters we care about. It is YA but adults will enjoy it.

In Conquest, the first book of THE CHRONICLES OF THE INVADERS, Earth had been conquered by a technologically superior race, the Illyri. Syl, a young woman, was the first Illyrian born on Earth. Paul Kerr was a member of Earth’s Resistance movement. Fate threw these two unlikely lovers together, but their commitment goes beyond their feelings for each other. Paul and Syl uncovered a conspiracy by a parasitic alien race that is controlling many of the Illyrians. Now, in Empire, Read More

Across the Nightingale Floor: Fun, but oddly constructed

Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn

Lian Hearn’s Across the Nightingale Floor is one of those books that most adults reading YA want to like: the prose is good, the imagery lush, the themes serious and involving. It’s the kind of story we all like to imagine teenagers are actually reading, whenever they’re not gorging themselves on fatty comfort foods like the TWILIGHT series and its horde of imitators. My trouble with this novel, though, is not that it isn’t sufficiently adult and meaningful — it’s that it’s just…odd.

Now “odd” isn’t the most technical of terms, admittedly, so I’ll try to explain myself in more detail. Across the Nightingale Floor is about Tomasu (later known as Takeo), a young man whose pastoral life as a member of a peaceful tribe c... Read More

Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology: An examination of what defines the genre

Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology edited by Bruce Sterling

There are a handful of people who have/had their finger on the pulse of cyberpunk. Love him or hate him, Bruce Sterling has perhaps two. In 1986 he decided to pull together a collection of stories he felt were representative of the sub-genre. Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology is both broad in scope yet largely encompasses the idea of what the average sci-fi fan's expectations are for the form. Though Sterling’s agenda is his own, some stories will be immediately recognizable for their mood and voice, while others will require more thought toward determining just how they fit into the sub-genre, if at all. The following is a brief introduction to each.

"The Gernsback Continuum" by William Gib... 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. Time to report!

What is the best book you read in February 2015 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 book from Read More

The Magicians’ Guild: A simple but engaging story of class conflict

The Magicians’ Guild by Trudi Canavan

The first installment of Trudi Canavan’s THE BLACK MAGICIAN trilogy, The Magicians’ Guild is the story of a young girl, Sonea, who discovers that she possesses magical abilities. As a lower class street girl living in the slums of the imaginary city of Imardin with her aunt and uncle, Sonea’s life has been one of destitution and hatred of the city’s snobbish upper class. Every year, the magicians of Imardin hold a Purge, during which they sweep the streets of Imardin in an attempt to eliminate beggars and vagabonds. Unsurprisingly, the masses of Imardin have never been particularly taken up with the idea, so one day, Sonea, burning with loathing of the Magicians’ Guild, throws a rock at a thaumaturge. Protected by magical shields, the magicians of Imardin never expected to be in ... Read More

Black Sun Rising: Unique worldbuilding and science fantasy

Black Sun Rising by C.S. Friedman

Black Sun Rising is the first novel in C.S. Friedman’s popular COLDFIRE trilogy. I read Dominion, the prequel novella, a couple of years ago after reading (and loving) several of her science fiction novels. I admire Friedman’s worldbuilding and her writing style.

The COLDFIRE trilogy feels like traditional epic fantasy, but it would best be categorized as science fantasy because it takes place in the far future on Erna, a planet colonized by humans looking for a habitable world. When they got to this world, they discovered that natural laws work differently. Some force, which they call the “Fae,” feeds on human fears and uses those “vibes” (my word) to influence evolution. This means, for example, that creatures that aren’t r... Read More

Magi’i of Cyador: Excellent politics, worldbuilding, and familiar characters

Magi'i of Cyador by L.E. Modesitt Jr.

The nice things about L.E. Modesitt Jr.'s long-running RECLUCE series is that once you are familiar with the timeline you can reread them in pretty much any order you like. There are never more than two books with the same main character. Mind you, for the first read-through, publication order is still the best order to read them as Modesitt refines his Order/Chaos-based system of magic over time. Once in a while I reread one of these books; I call this my random RECLUCE rereads. All of the early RECLUCE books are written from the Black, Ordermage side of things. Starting from the 8th book onwards (The White Order) Modesitt changes the series around on the reader and writes four books with a focus on White (Chaos) oriented characters. These are some of th... Read More

WWWebsday: March 4, 2015

On this day in 1918, The USS Cyclops departs from Barbados and is never seen again, presumably lost with all hands in the Bermuda Triangle.

Peter Pan illustration, by Alice Bolingbroke Woodward (1907)

Writing, Editing, and Publishing:
A new SFF bookstore might be coming to Charlotte, NC, if it is funded by this Thursday via Kickstarter. Regis Murphy has a dream to open a bookstore and bar called "Worlds of Wonder," and it sounds pretty fabulous. He also makes a good case for why we need more indie bookstores, something I'm 100% on board with. Support this Kickstarter and help open a haven of nerddom or, as Murphy calls it, "a geek's dream hangout" in Charlotte.

In other bookstore news, Borderlands in San Francisco gained its r... Read More

Dragons at Crumbling Castle: Less fun than I expected

Dragons at Crumbling Castle: And Other Tales by Terry Pratchett

Dragons at Crumbling Castle is a collection of fourteen stories written by Terry Pratchett and illustrated by Mark Beech. Each page of the books is covered in wacky fonts or scribbles to emphasize certain words and phrases, and the lines of print are double-spaced to promote easy reading for young eyes. The entire book is clearly engineered for elementary school readers. The stories were written when Pratchett was a teenager, working for his local newspaper; Pratchett writes in the Introduction that he touched them up a little before publication, though much of the weakness of style and craft which are to be expected from such an immature writer still remain.

The tales themselves are enjoyable, I suppose, though I think I would have appreciated the silliness and r... Read More