Four Quick Questions for Greg Van Eekhout


Greg Van Eekhout is known here on the site mostly for his DANIEL BLACKLAND series, beginning with California Bones (here are our reviews), but he also writes middle-grade...

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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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The Function of the Blade


A. J. Smith has been devising the worlds, histories and characters of THE LONG WAR CHRONICLES for more than a decade. He was born in Birmingham, UK, and works in secondary...

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Great SFF Deals!


We’re always looking for money-saving deals on books, comics, and audiobooks and we bet you are, too. Let’s use this page to alert each other about great deals. Just leave a...

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Recent Posts

Legendborn: YMMV

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Tracy Deonn’s Legendborn (2020), the first book in her LEGENDBORN CYCLE, wasn’t on my radar until I saw it on this year’s Locus Awards finalists list for Best Young Adult novel. I grabbed the audiobook and one of the YAs that lives in my house (Tali, my 18-year-old daughter) and we listened to Legendborn together as we worked a jigsaw puzzle. We agreed to give Legendborn a rating of 3.5 which is quite a bit lower than the book currently rates at both Amazon and GoodReads, so keep that in mind (YMMV). The bottom line is that we found the story entertaining and wanted to know what happened, but there were too many issues for us to fully endorse Legendborn.

Bree Matthews is a young black high school student who is smart and successful enough that she gets admitted, along with her bes... Read More

How to Mars: Solid but feels like a missed opportunity

How to Mars by David Ebenbach

In David Ebenbach’s How to Mars (2021), humans have made it to Mars, but not via the usual major government initiative. Instead, a group of six was sent as a reality TV show produced by Destination Mars, a corporation whose owner is “pretty eccentric.” Sadly, Mars turned out to be kind of dull (lots of rocks, no life, monotone color) and as the six scientists grew bored so did the audience, leading to the show’s cancellation after just one year. The novel though kicks off with a revelation sure to jump start ratings: despite a prohibition on sex, one of the group (Jenny) is pregnant. It’s a great premise, rich with potential for tension, drama, and an exploration of what it means to be human, especially with the added complication of Martian life, but unfortunately the novel doesn’t fully mine that potential, leaving it less than the sum of its parts.
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Thoughtful Thursday: Identify last month’s covers

Today’s covers all come from books or films we reviewed in May 2021. Once you identify a cover, in the comment section list:

1. The number of the cover (1-16)
2. The author/director
3. The book/film title



Please identify just one cover that has not yet been identified correctly so that others will have a chance to play. If they're not all identified by next Thursday at noon EST, you can come back and identify more.

Each of your correct entries enters you into a drawing to win a book of your choice from our stacks (if you're in the U.S.A.) or a $5 Amazon gift certificate (outside the U.S.A.). Winners are notified in the comments, so make sure to check the notification box and/or remember to check back in about 10 days. If we don't choose a winner within 2 ... Read More

SHORTS: Hugo and Locus Award finalists

This week's SHORTS column features some of the 2021 Locus and Hugo award finalists in the novelette and short story categories.



“Wait for Night” by Stephen Graham Jones (2020, free at Tor.com)

Chessup is a day laborer working as part of a crew outside of Boulder, Colorado, helping to clean up a creek that was filled with trash in the aftermath of a flood. At the end of the day, looking to borrow a battery from the crew’s bulldozer to jumpstart his old car, Chessup finds something very old tangled up in the roots of a tree that the bulldozer had pulled down.

With visions of selling his discovery to a pawnbroker for cash, Chessup sets about removing it from the tangle of tree roots. He’s about to leave when his co-worker Burned Dan, who wears a banda... Read More

The Ghost Tree: A well-rendered 1980s slasher that could have gone farther

The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry

After I read Christina Henry’s 2020 horror novel The Ghost Tree, I did a bit of research on the writer. It seems like she is well-known for retelling fairy tales, usually with a dark (or darker) twist than the original. The Ghost Tree is not a fairy tale, as far as I can tell, although it has some fairy-tale elements. It’s a 1980s-style slasher horror novel. By the way, that’s what I thought I was getting when I bought it, so there is no mislabeling going on here.

Lauren DeMucci, nearly fifteen, has weighty problems on her shoulders. The year before, her father was murdered in the woods near their house, his heart torn out. The town police haven’t made any progress on solving the murder. Lauren’s best friend since the second grade, Mi... Read More

WWWednesday: June 9, 2021

Happy pride



I have been out of town most of this week, so the column is short today.

The Nebula Awards were announced on Friday. Here is the list of winners. Network Effect by Martha Wells took Best Novel and Ring Shout by P. Djeli Clark took Best Novella.

Chris Salisbury muses on the power of night, and what we’ve lost ... Read More

Cemetery Boys: A heart-warming coming-of-age tale

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Yadriel’s Latinx community in East Los Angeles practices brujería. The men are brujos who escort ghosts to their final resting place and the women are brujas who have healing powers. But Yadriel’s large close family has not supported his desire to be a brujo because he is transgender. Their community has strict gender roles, they don’t see him as a boy, and they don’t think the brujo magic will work for him (though the women’s bruja magic definitely doesn’t work for Yadriel).

Yadriel is determined to prove not only that he is a boy, but that he can be a brujo, too. Only his cousin Maritza believes in him and is willing to help Yadriel become a brujo so, together, without the rest of their family, they perform the ceremony. When they accidentally summon the ghost of a handsome boy named Julian, and when another cousin, Miguel, dies unexpectedly, the teens, though grieved, finally ... Read More

The Blacktongue Thief: Has a true sense of history

The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman

The Blacktongue Thief (2021), by Christopher Buehlman, is a book that more than most will either win you over or not by virtue of its voice. More specifically, the bawdy, vulgar, romantic, scatological, jaded, at times lyrical (sometimes literally) voice of its thief narrator Kinch Na Shannack. For me, the voice was hit and miss, not in its execution, which was always consistent, but in my reaction to it. Sometimes I loved it, sometimes I didn’t care for it, but it mostly carried me smoothly along in a book that throughout my reading and at the end I felt I should have enjoyed a lot more, even with its four-star ranking.

Thanks to being in debt to the Takers Guild (i.e. the usual thieves guild of fantasy works), Kinch finds himself tasked with joining a quest ... Read More

The Universe Wreckers: Interplanetary House of Pancakes

The Universe Wreckers by Edmond Hamilton

I have long been amused by the nicknames that some of our finest purveyors of sci-fi, fantasy and horror have managed to acquire for themselves. For example, both Jules Verne and H. G. Wells have understandably been dubbed The Father of Science Fiction. The great H. P. Lovecraft, due to the place that he called home, is known as The Sage of Providence. E. E. Smith, due to the fact that he was also a food engineer, was known as Doc, and Isaac Asimov, thanks to his Ph.D. in chemistry, was lovingly referred to as Doc Ike. Read More

Sunday Status Update: June 6, 2021

Marion: I’m currently reading a small-town slasher horror novel called The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry. She does a nice job of setting and time period (1985). I also started dipping into a nonfiction book about the 1930s packhorse librarians in Kentucky, Down Cut Shin Creek. It’s got a bonus--it’s filled with photos of these resilient women!

Sandy: Moi? I am currently reading an early novel from one of my favorite authors, sci-fi Grand Master Jack Williamson. It is his 1931 offering entitled The Stone From the Green Star, and I must say that it has really sucked me right in pretty quickly. I hope to be able to share some thoughts about this one with you all very shortly….

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