A Feast of Sorrows: A sampler of delicious poison


A Feast of Sorrows by Angela Slatter Angela Slatter was one of those authors I’d always been meaning to read. I have one of her earlier collections, The Girl with No Hands, on my...

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The Best of Kage Baker: Please don’t ask me if you can borrow it


The Best of Kage Baker by Kage Baker The more I read Kage Baker, the more I love Kage Baker. Of the hundreds of speculative fiction authors I’ve read, I rank Kage Baker in the...

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Oryx and Crake: A scathing condemnation of the world we are creating


Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood In Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood details an apocalyptic plague, introduces a new species of creatures that have been genetically designed to...

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Harrowing the Dragon: A story collection by Patricia McKillip


Harrowing the Dragon by Patricia A. McKillip Patricia A. McKillip is the author of several wonderful books (my favourites being Alphabet of Thorn and Winter Rose) and is one of the...

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Recent Posts

Cytonic: A detour into an unknown dimension

Cytonic by Brandon Sanderson

Humanity has been on the losing end of a centuries-long war with the Superiority, the main organization of galactic races, for decades, trapped on a desolate planet called Detritus and fighting an ongoing war using outdated, small spacecraft to keep from being exterminated. In the second book in this series, Starsight, Spensa Nightshade, a young spaceship pilot who first distinguished herself in Skyward, found a way to leave Detritus and travel to Starsight, a massive alien space station where the galactic government is located. Spensa joined the alien space pilot training program at Starsight while spying on the Superiority to try to find a way for humanity to better fight their captors. She also discovered the hyperjumping capabilities ... Read More

The Hidden Palace: Double the golems and jinnis

Reposting to include Marion's new review.

The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker

In The Hidden Palace (2021) Helene Wecker returns to the richly-imagined world of The Golem and the Jinni, fin de siècle New York City, focusing on the Jewish and Syrian immigrant communities. Chava, an intelligent golem created by an evil-hearted genius, was set free by the unexpected death of her intended husband and master, left with the ability to hear the thoughts of all humans instead of just her master. The jinni Ahmad is released from the bottle that imprisoned him, but he is bound to tangible human form with no discernable way to remove the curse. Despite their opposite natures of earth and fire, golem and jinni are drawn together in a world where neither fits in, and both are hiding their true natures from t... Read More

Sunday Status Update: January 16, 2022

This week, Red Sonja.

Red Sonja: It is so damn cold. The kind of cold where you can step outside just for a moment and the snot starts freezing in your nose. Limping by on coin from a troll contract a while back, though I had a job convincing the burgomaster that I was me. Like he expected me to walk out of a blizzard in a chain-mail loincloth. Had to drop the rucksack right there in the square and dig the damn thing out before he'd believe me. Should have taken that caravan job with Conan a while back. He's probably snug inside an inn someplace, waiting for the snow to end. Nobody with sense is on the road right now. Even the troll seemed to think it was too damn brisk for this nonsense.

Bill: This week I read the excellent The Age of Ash by Read More

Twice Magic: A strong follow-up to the first story

Twice Magic by Cressida Cowell

The second book in Cressida Cowell's WIZARDS OF ONCE series does everything a good sequel should: expand the world, develop the characters, and deepen the story. As we discovered in The Wizards of Once, Ancient Britain is inhabited by two distinct races: the Wizards, who live among the magical creatures of the forest, and the Warriors, who are armed with iron weapons, the only metal that can repel magic.

In the first book, we met Xar and Wish, two young people who've grown up on each side of this conflict. Xar is the rather arrogant and vainglorious youngest son of the King Wizard, Encanzo, while Wish is the more introspective and sweet-natured daughter of Queen Sychorax, leader of the Warr... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday is on Winter Break

We'll be back soon!

Here are our current giveaways. Read More

Pan’s Garden: A stunning collection from “The Ghost Man”

Pan’s Garden by Algernon Blackwood

By the time the renowned British writer Algernon Blackwood released his first collection of short stories, The Empty House, in 1906, he was already 37 years old and had led a life as full of adventure and incident as anyone you might possibly name. He had already worked as a dairy farmer and hotel operator in Canada, gone prospecting for gold in Alaska, been a bartender, and worked as a NYC reporter for The Evening Sun, among other things; occupations that would go to make good material for his 1923 autobiography Episodes Before Thirty. As the new century got under way, Blackwood, long interested in Buddhism, philosophy and the supernatural, joined several occult societies, including The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. His love of nature compelled him... Read More

WWWednesday: January 12, 2022

Filippo Bernardini was arrested last week on charges of wire fraud. The Simon and Schuster employee may have impersonated agents, members of award juries and even famous authors to get his hands on pre-published manuscripts. I want to know what he planned to do with those manuscripts.

The Con Committee chair of ConFusion provides a long, blunt article about why ConFusion 2022 is going forward in-person. She provides two paragraphs on the precautions they are taking. This is a worthwhile read, letting us see how groups are grappling with the physical and fiscal realities of the pandemic. (Thanks to File 770.)

Glen S. ... Read More

Scarlet: A totally fresh take on Red Riding Hood

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet (2013) is the second novel in Marissa Meyer’s LUNAR CHRONICLES. You’ll want to read Cinder first. There will be some spoilers for that novel in this review.

In Cinder we met the titular cyborg, an orphan who lives with her hateful stepmother and two stepsisters in New Beijing. Cinder is the best mechanic in town, which is how she meets the young and handsome Prince Kai. He needs his personal robot fixed because, unbeknownst to Cinder, it may contain information about the whereabouts of Princess Selene, the rightful ruler of Luna, the human colony on the moon. Nobody knows if Princess Selene is alive but, if she is, Kai may be able to avoid a marria... Read More

The Sentence: A haunted bookshop is a window into America

The Sentence by Louise Erdrich

“sentence (n)1. A grammatical unit comprising a word or a group of words that is separate from any other grammatical construction, and usually consists of at least one subject with its predicate and contains a finite verb or verb phrase; for example, ‘The door is open’ and ‘Go!’ are sentences.”

I didn’t know what to expect from Louise Erdrich’s metafictional ghost story The Sentence (2021) and she still managed to surprise me. Starting with the title, Erdrich addresses a number of issues in this story, told mostly by Tookie, who works at a bookstore in Minneapolis, owned by a well-known writer named Louise. Tookie is being haunted by Flora, a (dead) customer.

Tookie served ten years of a different kind of sentence, a sixty-year sentence for m... Read More

The Amber Crown: Strong main-character work, but weak plot

The Amber Crown by Jacey Bedford

The Amber Crown (2022), by Jacey Bedford, contains several elements that tend to have me leaning away rather than into a book, including rape, implied rape, threatened rape, and some torture/horrid executions. I mention them upfront for the convenience of those who can tell already the book isn’t for them and so will stop reading the review now (I should note they aren’t egregiously gratuitous, mined for trauma [as characterization] rather than titillation; the book is far from torture porn). For those for whom those are not dealbreakers, Bedford delivers a solid work set against an interesting quasi-historical background but with a plot I found far less engaging than the characters. In the end, I can’t say the book’s strengths fully outweighed its weaknesses or my distaste for some of those aforementioned scenes, though one’s mileage will vary on that.

The book seems to ... Read More