Tim Scheidler

TIM SCHEIDLER, who's been with us since June 2011, holds a Master's Degree in Popular Literature from Trinity College Dublin. Tim enjoys many authors, but particularly loves J.R.R. Tolkien, Robin Hobb, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, and Susanna Clarke. When he’s not reading, Tim enjoys traveling, playing music, writing in any shape or form, and pretending he's an athlete.

Sunday Status Update: July 23, 2017

This week, Peter Pan goes to Oz.

Peter: This week, I flew to a place called Kansas, and there was a lot of wind in a sort of funnel shape. Never saw one of those in England (or Neverland), but it looked like fun, so I flew into it. It wasn't a very good idea, as it turns out, and I ended up somewhere called Oz. I apparently killed a witch on the way in, but she was wicked, so that was all right. Her sister got mad at me about it, but she was another wicked witch, so I killed her too, and crowed. Then some good witch got annoyed with me and said I oughtn't to just fly around stabbing people like that and I'd better follow the yellow brick road and stop being naughty. So asked her why she didn't want me killing wicked witches, and she got all huffy and said of course I could kill wicked witches, but only after I'd learned a lesson or seen a wizard or something. This Oz place is pre... Read More

Sunday Status Update: July 16, 2017

Character update on break until next week.

Marion: I’ve been mostly reading the work for my writers workshop the first weekend in August, and travel guides for Finland and Iceland, but I did manage to start a re-read of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. The other night on the News Hour they had a segment on “bots” who are being used on the phones at car dealerships, and it made me think about Frankenstein and his creature. In other news, did you know there was a Museum of Icelandic Witchcraft and Sorcery?

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Sunday Status Update: July 9, 2017

Character update on break this week.

Jana: This week I put reviews together for Sarah Beth Durst's The Reluctant Queen and Nicky Drayden's Read More

Every Heart a Doorway: Four takes on this Nebula winner

Readers’ average rating:

Reposting to include Tim's new review.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

It seems like there are many tales around today that strive to explain the ‘after’ in ‘happily ever after’, with varied results. Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway is one such story that had me riveted from the first. This novella appears to be the first in a plan for more stories in this world, and as an introduction it does an excellent job.

Every Heart a Doorway concerns the lives of those girls and boys (but mostly girls, as explained in the novella) who found passageways to other worlds and then came back again. These are your Alices and Dorothys, young people who found and were found by worlds that wanted them. Specifically,... Read More

Sunday Status Update: July 2, 2017

Captain America, in honor of an incipient Independence Day. Also the one that just happened.

Captain America: This week I saw fireworks going off, and I figured some good patriotic American was celebrating Independence Day a little early. I got the shield and went over. Turns out it was just Canada Day. It's embarrassing, but up to this moment I did not realize that there was a Canada Day. I asked the Canadians about it. "Well," they said, "it commemorates Canada's becoming its own country separate from Britain. Only July 1st isn't the actual day that it happened, and we're still part of the commonwealth. July 1st was actually dominion day, which was something different, but lately it's Canada Day."

"So you wanted your own Fourth of July, huh?"

"... yes."

Honestly, I didn't mind. They offered me beer, and Canadian beer is better beer. I'm sorry, my co... Read More

Sunday Status Update: June 25, 2017

This week Supergirl goes to Themyscira, home of Wonder Woman, and I go on way too long making fun of poor old silver age comic books.

Supergirl: This week I went to Themyscira, island of the Amazon warriors. It was fun and all, but the Amazon leading me around (she was called Artemis or something) seemed a little hazy on the actual details. She was eager to show me the training rounds where the Amazons learned to be the greatest warriors in the world, but then she started telling me about how they're pacifists and they sent Wonder Woman as an emissary to end the animal struggles of mere human beings. That didn't make sense to me.

"Wait," I said, "so... you were separated from humans for thousands of years."

"Uh huh."

"And you live in a pacifist utopia."

"That's right."

"And you're the best warriors in the world."

"We cer... Read More

Sunday Status Update: June 18, 2017

Red Sonja's path intersects with Father's Day.

Red Sonja: Today, a small-town widow hired me to find her son, who'd gone missing in the woods. She wasn't offering much, but pickings have been slimmer than usual lately. I eventually tracked the boy to a cave outside of town. He was just sitting there, looking in. Seemed like he'd been there a while. I asked him what he was doing, and he told me he was going to go into the ogre's cave and fetch his father's axe to lay on his grave. Apparently old dad had fought the ogre with some other men years ago, but it had gotten the better of them and he'd lost the axe. Now he was dead, and it was Day of Fatherhood or something like that. The boy wanted to go in and get it, but he was afraid. I suppose I should've dragged him back, but in the end I went in for him and came out with the axe.

"Is that it?" he said. "It's smaller than I thought."

... Read More

Sunday Status Update: June 11, 2017

Character update is on break again this week.



Bill: This week I read Victoria Schwab’s This Savage Song, a well-told YA book and am looking forward to starting book two, Our Dark Duet, which closes the duology, today. I also finished A World From Dust by Ben McFarland, a fascinating if sometimes dense look at how the rules of chemistry together with early geology directed evolution; and Digging in the Dark by Ben Johnson, a brief regional history of the grave robbing trade around Yorkshire England. In film the family went to see Wonder Woman and while I had a few issues, I though it well done and enjoyable. I’d put it in the middle of the pack of the Marvel films but it certainly blows away the last three DC movies, and Gal Godot was absolutely fantastic. A... Read More

Sunday Status Update: June 4, 2017

This week, Celeborn tries to find his inner masculinity.

Galadriel: This week, I discovered that Celeborn has ordered construction on a very fast personal boat for himself. I am told that it will be blood-red, dangerous, and covered in the latest apparatuses for hunting. I must admit to being a bit bemused by this turn of events, as Celeborn has never before had the slightest interest in boating or hunting. He's more of a needlepoint person, in fact. We elves do not age as do the other races, and so the concept of a mid-life crisis (at least as applied to an elf) has never really become a matter of great importance for me until now. I thought perhaps I should talk with Celeborn about it, but after an hour's conversation, all I got out of him was that he would no longer be wearing the traditional robes of Lorien, as they were effeminate and stifled his masculinity. When I pointed out that they... Read More

A Darker Shade of Magic: Well-executed, intriguing setting

Readers’ average rating:

Reposting to include Marion's new review.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

I was a big fan of V.E. Schwab’s 2013 novel Vicious, noting in my review how she had overcome the possible burden of overfamiliar concepts (it’s a folks-with-powers-who-have-some-gray-to-them kind of novel) with supremely polished execution. Well, she’s pretty much done the same with her newest novel, A Darker Shade of Magic, which takes many of the usual fantasy tropes and, again, just handles them all so smoothly that you simply don’t care much that you’ve seen them all before.

The basic concept is a nicely focused tweak of the multi-verse model, with a series of par... Read More

Sunday Status Update: May 28, 2017

Character update on break this week, due to unforeseen meteorological conditions in the western regions of Arnor.

 

Bill: This week I greatly enjoyed Tyrant’s Throne by Sebastien de Casetell, an excellent ending to a very fun and highly recommended quartet. Soleri, by Michael Johnston, was less enjoyable, an opening book that didn’t have me all that eager to await the second. Like Jana, I also just finished Ellen Klages’ Wicked Wonders. Unlike Jana, I did not adore (or even much like) it. I believe that means I’m outnumbered 2-1 on that one. In poetry, I read Attributed to the Harrow Painter by Nick Twernlow, which didn... Read More

Sunday Status Update: May 21, 2017

This week, Peter Pan confronts slightly changed attitudes toward death in children's fiction.

Peter: Children are wimpy these days. I met a few in the park this week, and I went ahead and told them all about my adventures. It was all going fine until I mentioned that I'd killed a pirate. So one of the boys said I hadn't, so I said I had, I really had. The rest of them acted like they didn't believe me, so I went ahead and explained how I stabbed him up under the ribs and he bled out a few minutes later. Then they all got pale and ran off. I don't understand it. In the old days, they would've just said "how ripping" and let me get on with the story.

Bill: This week I read the Vacation Guide to the Solar System, an engagingly informative non-fiction tour of our nearest planets in a unique form... Read More

Sunday Status Update: May 14, 2017

This week, Red Sonja gets into the hero business.

Red Sonja: This week I killed my first ogre. I didn't mean to. I sort of stumbled into it. I was just contracted for a draugr, but I got the wrong cemetery and when he saw me the ogre must have figured I was there for him. So he came running out screaming bloody murder. Ever seen an angry ogre up close? Ten feet of muscle and slime and bad disposition. I did what any sensible mercenary would do and turned right around, screaming bloody murder myself. Only I tripped over a headstone and fell over, and then when I tried to get my sword around, the ogre got tangled in my scabbard, and he fell over me, and broke his neck against a headstone. The villagers came up while I was going through his pockets and figured I'd done for him out of heroic valor or something, so they threw me a banquet. Sometimes things work out all right. Except for the ogre, obvio... Read More

Sunday Status Update: May 7, 2017

This week, Dracula changes with the times.

Dracula: This week, I once again encountered the infernal Van Helsing and his latest crew of mawkish do-gooders. This time, however, they did not find me unprepared! No indeed! For when I returned to my crypt near dawn and found them waiting, I did not despair. I had measures in place. The latest lantern-jawed English hero swaggered toward me with a cross as usual, and as usual I was forced to cower. But as I did, I reached into my coat. You should have seen the looks on their faces when I produced my pistol! They scattered like scared rabbits. Van Helsing himself put on a turn of speed frankly remarkable in a man his age. Most satisfying. Learn from my success, all ye creatures of the night! Vampiric powers are awesome and terrible, but they are at their best when supplemented by Messrs. Smith and Wesson.

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Red Sister: Magic nuns. Need we say more?

Readers’ average rating:

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

Mark Lawrence's previous six novels have been interesting and unique in their own ways, but have also formed part of a recognizable corner of the genre. That is, Lawrence's name often appears alongside those of Joe Abercrombie and R. Scott Bakker on lists with titles like "So You've Just Finished A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE — What Next?" This isn't to say that the books set in Lawrence's Broken Empire aped George R.R. Martin, only that they seemed to be riding the same swell of the zeitgeist, by which I of course mean medieval... Read More

Sunday Status Update: April 30, 2017

This week, we finally descend to scatological humor. I'm sorry.

Kvothe: I had a bad start to the day. I seem to have caught the disease going around the village, and I ended up stuck on the privy for most of the morning while Bast roamed around outside offering unhelpful suggestions and saying things like "Whew, Reshi, quick! Call the name of your wind! It's off its leash again!" I was about ready to throttle him.

Bill: In the lull between rough drafts and final papers, I managed to get a decent amount of reading done this week. I just finished Jeff VanderMeer’s Borne, a lovely, warm, and lyrical book that I’ll be highly recommending. I also finished two YA non-fiction works: 10 Rout... Read More

The Wheel of Osheim: A triumphant conclusion

Readers’ average rating:

The Wheel of Osheim by Mark Lawrence

There were times during the course of the trilogy when I really found myself wondering where THE RED QUEEN'S WAR was going. There were certainly elements that I was sure would get resolution — the ongoing specter of magical doom and the titular monarch's conflict with the Lady Blue being prominent amongst them — but I admit that I wondered whether the plot would coalesce around these elements or whether it would simply dangle from them. I'm happy to say that my fears were totally unwarranted. The Wheel of Osheim (2016) is not only the best book in the trilogy, it's probably my favorite Mark Lawrence novel to date. It's clever, funny, expertly crafted, and even exceeds its predecessors to demonstrate an elegant plot as well.
... Read More

The Liar’s Key: A fun second novel

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The Liar’s Key
by Mark Lawrence

For better or for worse, The Liar’s Key (2015) — the second novel in Mark Lawrence’s RED QUEEN’S WAR series — is in large part just a second helping of the first book. Readers who enjoyed Prince of Fools will probably find a lot to enjoy this time around as well. Those who might be reading this review in the hopes that I’ll tell them that this one is so much better will probably be disappointed.

Not to say that The Liar’s Key is a bad book by any means. Indeed, it’s rather a good one, filled with the same char... Read More

Sunday Status Update: April 23, 2017

This week, we swing at some low-hanging fruit again. Yep. Time for the obligatory Hobbiton pipe-weed joke.

Frodo: We've always been fond of our pipeweed here in the Shire, but lately it's been getting out of hand. Barrels of it are constantly being shipped out, the plants seem to be taking over every garden, and the smell of it gets into everything. I mean, really, people, can't we have some moderation? Now we have tourists coming through just to smoke our "Longbottom Leaf" and play bongo drums, because apparently Longbottom Leaf is illegal in Gondor for some reason. I suspect Gandalf's big mouth is the reason we have so many newcomers, but whenever I ask him about it he just giggles, puffs on his pipe, and ask if I have any snacks. Getting so tired of this.

Bill: This week I read two excellent books. Th... Read More

Sunday Status Update: April 16, 2017

This week, Batman confronts his worst nightmare.

Batman: This week there was no crime in Gotham City. None whatsoever. Must confess to a feeling of... emptiness. Strange. Lack of crime should feel like success. Spent the week wrapped in activities I had always imagined I would one day undertake in my retirement. I watched several films I had been meaning to see. I went with Alfred to the golf course, just as I was forever promising I eventually would. I even picked up my oboe for the first time in years. It was... it was...

It was terrible. When the new crime-free Gotham was revealed to be a fiendish mind control plot by the Scarecrow, I was inexpressibly relieved.

Bill: I’m moving into crunch time at the end of the term, as well as facing a play deadline, so not a lot of reading this week (or probably the next few). I did... Read More

Sunday Status Update: April 9, 2017

This week, Robin Hood addresses the fact that Hollywood has labored for nearly a century under the delusion that he is Ivanhoe.

Robin: New wanted posters this week. Always an exciting time. My bounty price went up again, and ah, how the glades rang with laughter when the men saw how highly the sheriff prizes us! But there were also some minor... issues. This time, you see, an accounting of my deeds was appended to the main poster, which would have been a merry thing, save that they were not in fact my deeds. My poster states that I am a crusading knight recently returned to England, that I have been wrongfully disinherited, that my childhood sweetheart and fair lady has been spirited away by a loathsome nobleman, and that I have made common cause with outlaws in order to rescue her and put the land to rights. Also that I am affiliated with King Richard somehow.

This is all ... Read More

Sunday Status Update: April 2, 2017

This week, Red Sonja performs the long-standing heroic duty of saving a princess.

Red Sonja: You don't run into a lot of fat princesses. I don't know why. It seems like it'd be the sort of life that would predispose a woman to putting on some extra weight, what with the pampering and the gourmet meals. But the princesses I've seen have all inclined toward the skinny side, if anything. They usually have lots of blonde ringlets, too, and big blue eyes. And they always seem to be looking beseechingly toward something in the middle distance, which gets very annoying when you're right in front of them waiting for instructions. This week, a king hired me to rescue his daughter, and sure enough, when I burst into the inner chamber covered in ogre guts, raw sewage, and what I'm pretty sure was unicorn puke (don't ask), there she was all wasp-waisted and golden-haired. She'd somehow contrived not to be messy, which w... Read More

Prince of Fools: A slick, well-crafted buddy adventure fantasy

Readers’ average rating:

Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence

Prince Jalan Kendeth is the black sheep of the family. A self-confessed untrustworthy scoundrel and coward who has taken every advantage of the life of luxury that comes with being royalty, he is perfectly content with his life as it is and has no plans to change or inclination for greater things. However, when he crosses paths with a courageous Viking named Snorri, Jal discovers that he may have been destined to stand against an undead evil. Snorri is returning north to rescue his family and, despite his unwillingness, Jal is bound by mystic forces to accompany him.

For those (like me) who are already die-hard Mark Lawrence fans, Prince of Fools, the first book in the RED QUEEN'S WAR series, is just what we expected — pure awesomeness and then some. But for those of you who found Jorg of Lawrence’s BROKEN EMPIRE TRILOGY Read More

Sunday Status Update: March 26, 2017

Character update will return next week.

 

Bill: This week I finished Tad William’s The Heart of What Was Lost, which I liked a bit more than Kat, and Scott Westerfeld’s fast moving and enjoyable (more for story than the visuals) YA graphic Spill Zone. Outside the genre I read Heretics: The Wondrous (and Dangerous) Beginnings of Modern Philosophy, by Steven and Ben Nadler, an engaging graphic introduction to Seventeenth Century figures such as Descartes, Hobbes, and others. I also finished Fleda Brown’s strong collection The Woods are On Fire: New and Selected Poems and Tracy Chevalier’s novel At the Edg... Read More

Sunday Status Update: March 19, 2017

This week, the Beast pitches what is basically a superhero revenge movie.

The Beast: This week, I kidnapped an old man and then performed a prisoner exchange for his daughter. It all seemed reasonable at the time, but I'm beginning to think it may not have been my finest moment. Only, honestly, how else am I going to spend time around a young woman? This curse seems designed to make me fail. I have to make a human woman fall in love with me while I'm a sort of bison/bear thing? What is that? What, I'm just supposed to happen on a woman who not only suits me personality-wise but is also into bestiality? It's absurd. I'm beginning to think I should just use my Beastly superpowers to track down this enchantress and make her lift the curse.

Actually, why haven't I thought of that before? It's not like it's just me who's suffering -- my entire staff was turned into doodads, and they didn't eve... Read More

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