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: October 8, 2017

This week, Dracula reflects on his big plans for the upcoming solstice.

Dracula: Ah, the solstice approaches! That night when the powers of the dead are greatest upon the earth, and the mortal man shall quake for fear of that which he knows not! This year, I have planned... I have... very well, I shall admit it, I have no plans. Four hundred years I have been doing this, and ah, such a headache. Every year, the lesser vampires come to me and they say "Master, surely this samhain shall be a bountiful harvest for our kind! What is your diabolical plan?" Four hundred years of diabolical plans. Four hundred years of bloody fountains and impaled corpses and plagues of wolves and innocents prostrated by iron nails upon unholy ground for the despair of mankind, and I am done. I am sick of it. I keep coming up with these things, year after year after year, and there is only so many times the shriek of a young mothe... Read More

Sunday Status Update: October 1, 2017

This week, Batman confronts his most terrifying foe yet: the specter of a slow month.

Batman: Field report for September: I dislike Septembers. I understand that this is selfish of me, because the reason is that there is statistically less crime in September. There is a detectable lull each year in between the warm weather of August and whatever horrors my enemies wish to unleash in Halloween season, and so September is just... sort of there. A few minor heists prevented, a handful of small-scale criminals brought to justice, a firm but brief explanation to Poison Ivy on the subject of the park's official borders. I must not be disappointed. I cannot be. I prefer to think of it as trepidation for what my enemies may unleash when the other shoe inevitably falls. Trepidation. Yes.

...thank God it's October.

Brad: Thi... Read More

Sunday Status Update: September 24, 2017

This week, Legolas and Gimli reach Randland.

Legolas: Journal Entry 4858307: This week, we arrived in another new country. I'm beginning to think we are the fools of fate in this one particular way, and we're doomed never to reach the Undying Lands. Nevertheless, Gimli and I dutifully got ashore at the harbor to resupply. The locals were Men, ordinary enough, save that they did not seem to know what their continent was called. "This is Andor!" said one, but as it turned out, that was only the name of the country. The word "Randland" was tossed around, but honestly nobody seemed to really know, which was most strange. Then somebody called the Dragon Reborn came down to see us, with a lot of pomp and melodrama. I can only assume they were speaking figuratively in regard to his name, because he didn't look a single thing like a dragon, or act much like one either. Most of the dragons I've he... Read More

Sunday Status Update: September 17, 2017

Character update will return next week.

Bill: This week I read two disappointing works: Horizon, the conclusion to Fran Wilde’s BONE CITY trilogy; and Cast No Shadow, a muddled graphic novel by Nik Tapalansky and Anissa Espinosa.  More enjoyable was Reed Tucker’s Slugfest: Inside the Epic, 50-year Battle between Marvel and DC, a generally entertaining look at the two major superhero comic companies’ interactions with one another.

Marion: I finished  Read More

Sunday Status Update: September 10, 2017

This week, Legolas and Gimli's misadventures continue, as they reach Cair Paravel on the shores of Narnia.

Legolas: Journal Entry 4858306: Still searching for the Undying Lands. Still trying not to let recriminations begin with too much force. This week, however, I truly believed that at last we had come to the end of our travails. I looked out the prow of a ship and beheld a green country and pale sands, and upon a high place before the sea there was a white palace with banners dancing in the gusts. This, it seemed to me, might be the fabled isle of Tol Eressea that stands as welcome to the elves. It was with glad hearts, then, that Gimli and I made for harbor. When we landed, however, we were greeted by a strange and motley assortment of peoples. There was a woman whose lower body was that of a horse, a man whose lower body was that of a goat, and a whole mess of others equally bizarre.... Read More

Red Sister: Magic nuns. Need we say more?

Readers’ average rating:

Reposting to include Kat's new review of the audiobook.

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 ... Read More

Sunday Status Update: September 3, 2017

Character update will return next week.

Bill:This week I read House of Names, Colm Toibin’s retelling of the Atreus myth and A Brief History of Everone Whoever Lived by Adam Rutherford, a look at what the genome can tell us about human history

Kat: I finished the audiobook version of Mark Lawrence’s Red Sister which I didn't like quite as well as Tim did, but that may be due to the narrator. Review coming soon. Now I'm back to MAGE WINDS tri... Read More

Wytchfire: Old-school epic fantasy

Readers’ average rating: 

Wytchfire by Michael Meyerhofer

Wytchfire, the first book in Michael Meyerhofer’s DRAGONKIN TRILOGY, is the image of a classic-style epic fantasy of the sort that hasn't seemed to show up as often since George R.R. Martin and Robin Hobb largely took over for Tolkien as guiding lights of the genre. It's a fun and lively story, but the reader's enjoyment may depend on how much s/he enjoys old-school epic fantasy and its associated tropes.

I happen to like old-school epic fantasy, so for me Wytchfire was a fun read (even slightly nostalgic, like revisiting the old neighborhood and f... Read More

Sunday Status Update: August 27, 2017

This week, Legolas and Gimli continue their misadventure-filled journey to the Undying Lands, after a storm blew them off-course last time.

Legolas: Journal Entry 4858304: We finally spotted land earlier today. It wasn't a particularly prepossessing sight, but at that point we were ready to try anywhere that might have fresh water. Besides, it was that or keep playing Gimli's asinine dwarven dice games. When we made land, I went ashore with some barrels while Gimli remained behind to watch the ship. I found a stream readily enough and filled the barrels, but when I returned to the beach I found that two things had occurred, one predictable and the other totally outlandish. First, Gimli had fallen asleep in the shade of a rocky outcropping. Second, hundreds of tiny people had attempted to tie him down with miniature ropes while he slept. They were industrious little folk, but they were hav... Read More

Sunday Status Update: August 20, 2017

This week, Legolas and Gimli run into a snag on their way to the Havens (spoilers).

Legolas: Journal Entry 4858299: This week, I at long last set off for the Grey Havens, accompanied by Gimli. It was an auspicious moment, many tearful farewells. Still, I was eager to take to the seas, for ever since I heard the sound of waves on shore, there has dwelt in my heart a terrible desire for the shining land beyond the waters. Gimli just wants to hit on Galadriel again. Anyway, our journey went smoothly the first few days, but last night, a terrible storm blew in. We were both of us up all night struggling with sails and tiller, and by the time the tempest blew itself out, we had no actual idea where we were. Now here we are floating along beneath a featureless sky, and for all I know we're headed right back toward Middle Earth. Also, waterlogged dwarf smells awful.

Read More

Sunday Status Update: August 13, 2017

This week, Supergirl again. Yeah, I dunno.

Supergirl: I spent this week in super speed. Did you know the super speed is something I can turn on and off? Bet you didn't. It is, though. You know that feeling where you focus in really hard on something, and time seems to slow down as you study it? It's like that, except, you know, actually happening. I did it for the whole week. Weirdest thing I've ever done. Do you know how creepy people look in slow motion? Do you know how hard it is to pay attention to what people are saying when they're taking like an hour to say it and their words sound like discordant whale song? How the Flash hasn't gone completely insane and murdered us all by now, I have no idea.

Brad: This week I've been enjoying on audio the newest collection of short stories by Read More

Wearing the Cape: Good fun, but pulls punches

Readers’ average rating:

Wearing the Cape
by Marion G. Harmon

Prose fiction has often seemed to have trouble dealing with the figure of the superhero. While the subgenre can boast many excellent graphic novels, and film and television adaptations have been successful, it has never really found its voice in a less visual medium. There have been some notable successes, but it feels as though the breakout work has yet to be written. Wearing the Cape (2011) is a pretty good try, though it does have its flaws.

First, though, let's talk about the fun central premise. As is standard for postmodern superhero stories, some sort of cataclysmic Event has taken place that has given a random segment of the population super powers. No one seems to know exactly how this has happened, and it ultimately doesn't much matter — comic books have come to life overnight, and so the result is far more engagin... Read More

Sunday Status Update: August 6, 2017

This week, Galadriel puts up with a visit from a peer.

Galadriel: This week, I hosted Thranduil of Mirkwood in Caras Galadhon, which was just as painful as ever. We all know that Lothlorien is far prettier than anything Thranduil has, but of course it would be rude to say so, and so we spend the entire week dancing around the issue as Thranduil makes awkward, bitter jokes about how his forest would probably look pretty good too if he had a super special magic ring (if I ever find out who told him I have one of the Three, I'll... well, let's be honest here, I'll probably do nothing, as it was almost certainly Celeborn, another born whiner on the subject). Finally sent him packing this morning, after an extremely awkward final feast during which he got drunk and started sobbing about how all the other woodland peoples tease him because a hobbit stole a bunch of his barrels once or so... 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 30, 2017

This week, Batman (and apologies for the lateness this week).

Batman: Field report for July: Broke Penguin's nose last Thursday. First time I have ever done so. Must admit to odd feeling of satisfaction. Have now broken the nose of every major supercriminal in Gotham city. Experiencing a sort of completionist's pride. Not sure what this implies about my psychological state. Alfred keeps suggesting I return to therapy, but I am unconvinced. Find myself talking about bats every time I see a Rorschach ink blot, which is clearly problematic.

Bill:This week I read James Morrow’s funny if a bit over long The Asylum of Dr. Caligari, Ben Loory’s  disappointing collection Tales of Falling and Flying, and the informative but flawed The P... Read More

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?

Read More

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

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: We like it

Readers’ average rating:

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 parallel Londons: Red London, a vibrant, colorful city where magic an... 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

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