Why You Should Read… Clive Barker


So we come to our fourth week of extolling the virtues about some of our favourite authors. Today we welcome Sharon Ring, from Dark Fiction Review. Sharon is on Twitter as @DFReview...

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The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories


The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer I haven’t actually read every page of The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories,...

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Fantastic Romantics, Byron Edition


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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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: January 10, 2021

Kat: I re-read the first two books in Brandon Mull’s FIVE KINGDOMS series for kids (Sky Raiders and The Rogue Knight). I read them years ago but I’m ready to read and review the final three books (which have been sitting on my phone for a long time), so I needed to give them a re-read in preparation. I’m now on book three, Crystal Keepers. I got some reviews done this week, too, so look for those... Read More

Blood Heir: The return of Julie, princess incognito (Blog Tour Review!)

Blood Heir by Ilona Andrews

This review is part of the Blood Heir blog tour (#BloodHeirKD).

Julie is returning home to Atlanta after a long eight-year absence. Kate Daniels’ adopted daughter is now twenty-six, and she’s been busy the past eight years: fighting with the Canaanite god Moloch, the Child Eater, stealing one of his eyes for herself after he ripped out one of hers, being remade inside and out by the magical eye, learning about ancient powers and civilizations from her adoptive relatives … and still pining for Derek, the shapeshifter wolf she’s had a crush on since she was thirteen. But now she’s moved on. For sure. Definitely.

But it’s not the hope of seeing Derek again that brings Julie (now going by Aurelia Ryder) back to Atlanta, or even of seeing Kate.... Read More

The Fires of Vengeance: Best served cold

The Fires of Vengeance by Evan Winter

The Rage of Dragons was a well-realized and propulsive debut for author Evan Winter, though the main character was such an Edgy Boi™ that he could probably have gone ice dancing without skates. Winter's gifts for pacing and his novel world-building nevertheless left me with a good impression, and when I saw that the sequel was available, I immediately purchased a copy. To be clear, there are relatively few series that I buy on release day anymore, so it says something about Winter's abilities that I felt instantly motivated to continue THE BURNING.

For the most part, The Fires of Vengeance (2020) is your typical fantasy sequel in that it's more of what worked the first time around while also clearly being a transition to the next Bi... Read More

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

It's the first Thursday of the month. Time to report!

What is the best book you read in December 2020 and why did you love it? It doesn't have to be a newly published book, or even SFF, or even fiction. 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.

As always, one commenter with a U.S. mailing address will choose a book from our stacks. Read More

Over the Woodward Wall: Follow the improbable brick road

Over the Woodward Wall by A. Deborah Baker

Over the Woodward Wall (2020) began its life as an imagined book, existing merely as a set of excerpts “quoted” at the end of certain chapters in Seanan McGuire’s Middlegame. But these excerpts were compelling enough that McGuire decided to use them as the building blocks for an actual fantasy series, using the pseudonym A. Deborah Baker (the alchemist credited with authoring this book in Middlegame).

Avery and Hepzibah (“Zib”) are two “very different, very ordinary” children who live on the same ordinary street but don't know each other at all. They’re as far apart as A and Z in their personalities: Zib is free-spirited and adventurous, ... Read More

WWWednesday: January 6, 2021

Wishing Tree in Portland, Oregon, from Atlas Obscura.



Happy 2021, everyone.  Congratulations on making it this far.

Conventions:

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society reported out on the findings of an investigation into the behavior of Eric Gasior, Vice Chair of the Virtual BaltiCon 54.

Giveaway:

One commenter will get the trade paperback version of Leigh Bardugo’s Ninth House.

Tech and Fun:

From Boston Dynamics, the famous dancing robots.



Books and Writing: Read More

The Somebody People: Better than its predecessor

The Somebody People by Bob Proehl

I wasn’t crazy about Bob Proehl’s The Nobody People. While the premise was intriguing (kids with supernatural powers being raised and trained in a boarding school without the public’s knowledge), the novel, for reasons I’ve described in my review, was not compelling. I struggled to finish it but, in the end, I was curious about where Proehl was going with the story. For that reason, I picked up the sequel, The Somebody People, and I’m happy to report that I found this story more entertaining than its predecessor.

Several years have passed since the events of The Nobody People. ... Read More

The Rage of Dragons: A classic style in new clothes

The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter

There's a vogue lately for fantasy inspired by cultures other than medieval western Europe or modern America, and to that I give a hearty cheer. To be clear, you'll hardly find a bigger lover of medieval Europe in particular than I am — I spent the last couple of weeks before Christmas grading papers on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, for example — but even I will admit that the neverending conga line of plucky yeomen rising up to shake wartorn kingdoms can sometimes get old. It's therefore nice to see new cultural ideas coming into play. That said, I have to wonder how far some of these stories are really straying from their predecessors in the genre. The Rage of Dragons (2019) is a good example: it features African-inspired names and themes, but it's also inescapably a story about a plucky yeoman rising up to shake a wartorn kingdom.

Still, Th... Read More

Catfishing on CatNet: A clowder of catastrophes, catalysts and catharsis

Reposting to include Tadiana's new review.

Catfishing on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer

In this worthy Nebula (Andre Norton Award) finalist by Naomi Kritzer we meet Steph, a girl who has spent most of her life on the run with her mother. According to her mom, Steph’s abusive father is extremely dangerous and, after spending a couple of years in jail for arson, he’s stalking them. Steph and her mom keep fleeing to small towns, trying to get lost, but eventually her mom gets nervous again and wants to move on. This means that Steph keeps starting at new schools and never has time to settle in and make friends. Her mom, anxious and paranoid, is not a good source of comfort or companionship.

Steph’s only source of stability is CatNet, a social media site where users are assigned by the site’s administrators to chat roo... Read More

The Fictional Man: Could have been more

The Fictional Man by Al Ewing

A number of times while reading The Fictional Man, by Al Ewing, I felt like I was on the edge of a great book. Like one of those clichéd oases in any stranded-in-the-desert movie, I could see it glimmering and hazy just at the edge of the horizon. But every time I thought I was nearly there, I was left with just more sand. Though that’s more than a little unfair. The Fictional Man is better than sand, but as tantalizing as it is it never got beyond decent for me.

Ewing sets the story in an LA not too different from our own — still filled with movie stars, sun, diners, loudly rude producers, corrupt agents, etc. What separates this world from our own is the creation of Fictionals in 1977 — clones created by the entertainment industry with the look and pre-programmed personality/mind of characters (already in existence or origin... Read More