Foundryside: Come for the action and characters, stay for the depth


Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett Bill: Robert Jackson Bennett hit the trifecta, as far as I was concerned, with his DIVINE CITIES trilogy. I placed each book pretty much...

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Star Wars: Kanan Vol. 1: The Last Padawan: Insight into a Star Wars favourite


Star Wars: Kanan Vol. 1: The Last Padawan by Greg Weisman The secret backstory of Kanan Jarrus, one of the main characters in the animated television show Star Wars Rebels, was ripe...

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The Eyes of the Overworld: Vance at his best


The Eyes of the Overworld by Jack Vance I’ve already said, numerous times, how much I love Jack Vance, so I’ll skip all that this time. You can read other reviews on this page...

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Howl’s Moving Castle: A book that’s easy to love


Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones Howl’s Moving Castle is a book that is very easy to love. Diana Wynne Jones is a consistently entertaining author, and her prose...

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Recent Posts

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.

Marion: I haven’t read much at all, and very little in genre. I finished An Old Man’s Game 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

Sunday Status Update: January 9, 2022

This week, I'm reviving a mothballed tradition that helps us out occasionally in lean times - the return of the character update.

Ayesha: Week 149,986. Still waiting eternally in holy Kor for my lost love Kallikrates to be reborn and find his way to me, yadda yadda. One of my priestesses asked me recently why it was that Kallikrates hadn't been reborn yet, and where his spirit was in the meantime. I was forced to admit that spirits don't actually wait in penalty boxes and Kallikrates is reborn someplace. He's just not quite right yet. See, I'm not holding out all this time for Kallikrates as a hound dog. I want my Kallikrates. My priestess pondered this a while and then asked if I'd still like Kallikrates if he was a woman. I said no, because I'm not into girls. She asked if I'd still like him if he was bald, and I said I couldn't fathom Kallikrates being bald. Wel... Read More

Resident Alien (Vol. 1): Welcome to Earth!: A murder mystery with an alien investigator

Resident Alien (Vol. 1): Welcome to Earth! By Peter Hogan (writer) and Steve Parkhouse (artist)

In Resident Alien, Dr. Harry Vanderspeigle is a ship-wrecked alien in a small town, acting as a general practitioner. He appears as a human to adults — only small children can see his alien appearance. So, he goes undetected. He’s a matter-of-fact, down-to-earth kind of guy, and this first volume (of six volumes so far) by Peter Hogan tells us the story of how he came to be a doctor in the first place.

When our story opens, he’s been living for two years in isolation in a cabin on the outskirts of town. He’s out on the lake in front of the cabin fishing one day when the police come to request his help, since they’ve heard he’s a doctor. When we first see him, we, as readers, can see him as an alien, but the police see only a man in a boat. The police chief, Mike, calls to the alien. When he gets to ... Read More