Ruth Arnell (RETIRED)

RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit's staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

A Flight of Angels: A beautiful anthology

Reposting to include Rebecca's new review.

A Flight of Angels by Rebecca Guay (illustrator)

Stories by Holly Black, Bill Willingham, Alisa Kwitney, Louise Hawes and Todd Mitchell

An angel has fallen. Led by their insatiable curiosity, the hosts of fae have followed the descent of the white-winged creature and now gather around his still-breathing body to decide what to do with him. They decide to hold a trial, and present evidence in the form of stories about the deeds of angels to decide whether or not to let him live.

I am fairly new to reading graphic novels, so I do not know how original the conceit is of having multiple aut... Read More

The Blue Sword: Strong female lead, interesting moral conundrum

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

This, my friends, is how young adult fantasy is done. In The Blue Sword, Robin McKinley has created a world out of whole cloth and polished it until it shines. Or in this case, until it is a dusty desert full of horse riding warriors, a dwindling magic, demon barbarians invading from the north, and civilized white men invading from across the ocean. McKinley is a master of prose, and this book has stood the test of time for almost 25 years now.

The Blue Sword is the story of Harry Crewe — don’t you dare call her by her given name of Angharad — who, upon the death of her parents, is sent to live at a fort on the Homeland frontier with her brother who is in the colonial army. Unlike most of the colonists, Harry is fascinated by the desert, and when Corlath, the leader of the Free Hillfolk of Damar, comes to the Homeland fort to negotiate for a... Read More

White Cat: A YA series with an interesting magic system

White Cat by Holly Black

White Cat (2010), the first book in Holly Black's The Curse Workers series, focuses on Cassel, a teenage boy born into a family of workers. Working magic is illegal, which means anyone born with the gift — his entire family — either works for the mob or as a con artist. Except Cassel, that is, because Cassel doesn’t have a gift. What he does have is strange dreams that make him sleepwalk, and end up in the strangest places, like on top of the dorms at his boarding school. If only he could figure out what was causing these dreams, he knows he would be okay. But what’s causing the dreams is even scarier than what is in them.

White Cat is quintessential Holly Black. You have intriguing characters, razor sharp dialo... Read More

Archangel: A grand sweeping love story

Archangel by Sharon Shinn

Gabriel is about to become Archangel. He is required to lead the annual singing of the Gloria on the Plains of Sharon in just a few months with his wife, the angelica, at his side. There is just one problem: Gabriel isn’t married. Faced with this dilemma, he goes to the oracle to find out who he is supposed to marry, and is given the name of a woman, Rachel, but he has no idea where to find her. With the months slipping away before his voice raised in song is the only thing that can turn away the wrath of the god Jovah, he crisscrosses the land, and finally locates her — an Edori slave girl who has no intention of marrying an angel and spending her life in a different type of servitude. To make matters worse, the current Archangel, Raphael, seems less likely every day to peaceably hand over his position to Gabriel.

Archangel is an amazing book. Sharon Shinn h... Read More

Magic of Blood and Sea: Boundless freedom awaits on a wave-tossed ship

Magic of Blood and Sea by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Magic of Blood and Sea (2017) combines two of Cassandra Rose Clarke’s novels, The Assassin’s Curse (2012) and The Pirate’s Wish (2013), into one volume. Originally, these novels were published by Strange Chemistry, the YA branch of Angry Robot Books, but the imprint went defunct (as sometimes happens) and the publication rights to their various books were scattered to the four winds. In this particular case, Saga Press swooped in to save the day, and not only did The Assassin’s Curse and The Pirate’s Wish get a shiny new re-packaging, but two other books set in this universe — The... Read More

Wonders of the Invisible World: Intoxicatingly beautiful fragments

Wonders of the Invisible World by Patricia McKillip

I love Patricia McKillip’s writing, and was excited to hear she had a short story collection coming out. I really enjoy reading short stories because I think it’s a good measure of what a writer can do – distill down the essential elements of story to a concentrated core of who they are as a writer.

Upon opening the collection I was slightly disappointed to realize that these were all stories that had been previously published, many of which I had read before. However, it was an interesting experience for me to rediscover some of these stories for a second time, and to compare the effect of the stories I had read before to the ones I was reading for the first time.

I thought the first story, “Wonders of the Invisible World,” was the least effective story in the collection. While I understand why it was placed first — it gives the title ... Read More

The Graveyard Book: Even the dead characters seem alive

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Ignore the YA label slapped on this one if that gives you pause. Though that won’t be hard to do because The Graveyard Book opens with a hand in the darkness holding a knife wet with the blood of almost an entire family: father, mother, and older child. The knife lacks only the blood of the toddler son to finish its job. Luckily for the reader (and the boy) he escapes into a nearby cemetery where a mothering ghost convinces the cemetery community to protect him. Another reason to ignore the YA label, or better yet, to revel in it, is that Neil Gaiman’s YA-listed material is stronger than his adult work: tighter, more focused, more intense all around. All that holds true here and The Graveyard Book’s clarity and brevity, often seen as constraints in the category, only enhance the book’s impact.

Chapter One sets the premise, introduces the... Read More

The Windup Girl: Mixed opinions

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

My Body is Not My Own…

Having just finished Paolo Bacigalupi’s Hugo and Nebula award-winning novel, I’m left rather bereft at how to describe, let alone review, The Windup Girl. I am not a big reader of science-fiction or dystopian thrillers, which means that no obvious comparisons come to mind, and the setting and tone of the novel are so unique (to me at least) that they almost defy description.

Set in a future Thailand where genetically engineered “megodonts” (elephants) provide manual labor and “cheshires” (cats) prowl the streets, the world’s population struggles against a bevy of diseases brought on by all the genetic tampering that’s been going on. Oil has long since run out, Chinese refugees flood the cities, the seas are rising, and power now lies in the hands of “calorie co... Read More

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 replace humanity, and the villain is a mad scientist in love. What could be more “SFF” than Oryx and Crake?

Quite a lot, according to Margaret Atwood, who prefers to describe her novel as “speculative fiction” rather than “science fiction.” In interviews promoting Oryx and Crake, Atwood explained that everything that takes place in Oryx and Crake is based on trends that we can see today, as opposed to distant planets that have an allegorical connection to our lives. Atwood is “speculating” about where our society is headed. It’s a distinction that some readers may choose to reject, but it’s an approach that ... Read More

Dust: Immaculate plotting

Dust by Hugh Howey

I know I’ve retired from reviewing, but since I reviewed the first two volumes in the WOOL trilogy (the WOOL and SHIFT books) and there isn’t a review for this third one, I thought I would do a little guest review here for my friends at FanLit because nothing sucks more than the first two books in a trilogy being great and then the third one going right off the rails and exploding in a burst of unresolved plot lines and out of character behavior.

Let me just say, that fate has been avoided here. Dust by Hugh Howey is a sizeable story, taking its time to bring together all the different plot lines and hints it’s spent the first two volumes laying out and weaving them together into a satisfying conclusion. All the little things that have been scratching at the back of your head since the first book — why are the levels so far apart? — get answered. I h... Read More

WWWednesday: May 22, 2013

The things you should read edition:

“‘We Have Always Fought’: Challenging the ‘Women, Cattle and Slaves’ Narrative” by Kameron Hurley


10 Novels That Are More Action-Packed Than Most Summer Movies

The Nina Allen 101 Women to Read Meme

Read More

WWWednesday, May 15, 2013

For your daily dose of pretty: Many of you probably remember the series of painting of Disney princesses in historically accurate clothing. Well, the same talented artist, Claire Hummel has started doing the Disney villains, and look at her first offering. Maleficient. Gorgeous. Click through for a bigger image and to see the rest of the series.

Coulson lives. Coulson lives!! I'm pretty sure that this is the equivalent of the Marvel fandom pulling an "I believe in fairies!" moment. Also, here's the full trailer for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Which authors write the best action sequences?

The nominees for this year's ... Read More

WWWednesday: May 8, 2013

The very polarizing THOMAS COVENANT series by Stephen R. Donaldson is getting its final installment. Check out the recently released cover art (I think that's a John Jude Palencar cover, though it isn't credited) and read a chapter here.

If you haven't signed up for the Orbital Drop newsletter, you should. They send out an email once a month with their e-book of the month for sale. This month is Daniel Abraham's The Dragon's Path Read More

WWWednesday: April 24, 2013

Free YA audio books to listen to this summer including The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll.

A great video discussing the controversy surrounding Orson Scott Card and the reaction to him writing Superman comics. Basically, does it matter if the artist creating something you like is "a dick"?

Rachel Rostad's slam poem "To JK Rowling, from Cho Chang," discussing to... Read More

WWWednesday, April 17, 2013

The new teaser trailer for Catching Fire is out. I am loving that they don't show the arena at all. People who haven't read the books are going to be surprised!

Also, the final trailer for Star Trek: Into Darkness is out. MMMmmmm, such a pretty movie.

Are you behind on your reading? Well, here's something else to make you fall even further behind: A serialized novel where each chapter is a different fairy tale! "Tickling Butterflies is an epic fantasy made out of 128 separate fairy tales that can be read independently (supposedly) but together weave one epic fairy tale about its main character, from his birth to his (perhaps) death," according to Guy Hasson. You can dive in here. is offering up the first few chapters of ... Read More

WWWednesday, April 10, 2013

Smeagol sings Mad World.

Neil Gaiman is more influential than Kim Jong Un.

What happened to the third acorn? Warwick Davis on Willow.

A beautiful fantasy short illustrated film. Dragons and wizards and true love.

Portrait of the Book As Golem, a poem by Jane Yolen, in honor of National Poetry Month.

Science fiction and fantasy books kids should be reading in school, Read More

WWWednesday: April 3, 2013

Whaaaat? It's April already?

One more reason why libraries are awesome.

Rithmatist Sweepstakes. So looking forward to this book.

You can vote for the manliest of man covers over at Baen. Though one of the choices appears to be a feline. I think I'm opting for the Space BeeGee, myself.

An interview with Lady Trent, famed dragon naturalist.

Flying in Place is on sale as an e-book for $2.99. Our Terry says, "I have to give this one... Read More

WWWednesday: March 27, 2013

Would you like some beautiful art to start your week? Check out these blown glass spacecraft. Read More

WWWednesday: March 20, 2013

io9 is hosting a March Madness tournament to decide which TV science-fiction franchise is the  greatest.

Middle Earth is having their own March Madness. Will Frodo upset Sauron?

And if you have no idea what March Madness is all about, here's a video that explains it using Star Wars.

io9 also tells up about a project that generated reading lists based on your Hogwarts house, complete with photos of the bookshelves.

The women over at The Book Smugglers posted the results for their Read More

How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy: A manual by Orson Scott Card

How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy by Orson Scott Card

Orson Scott Card is an award-winning author of dozens of science fiction and fantasy books, including the Hugo and Nebula award winning Ender’s Game. So who else would you turn to for instruction on how to write a science fiction and fantasy novel? I’m working on a novel — isn’t everyone these days? — and picked up How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy for some instruction. I’m used to writing for an academic audience, so bridging the chasm between peer-reviewed journals and publicly read books is a big step for me. I have to say, though, that I’m not sure this book is really worth all the kudos it has in the writing community, and I think that’s mostly because it hasn’t been updated. The original publication date is 1990. Whole genres of fantasy have come out since 1990, not to mention the advent of the Internet and its revolutionary changes to t... Read More

WWWednesday: March 13, 2013

I've been gone for the last several weeks. Nothing exciting. It's just that I have depression, and when it gets particularly bad, I kind of go into survival mode and the things that aren't essential to my continuing function as an oxygen-processing organism get shelved for a bit. But things are getting better. So I'm venturing back into WWWednesday territory to say hello! I'm alive! and lots of cool things are happening out there in SF land. And thanks to Kat for giving me the time I needed to get back to healthier.

We've got new nerd trailers galore -- Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Doctor Who spring readily to mind.

If you're not watching Vikings on The History Channel you are totally missing out. It's only three episodes in,... Read More

The Cats of Tanglewood Forest: A beautiful book to read with a child

The Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles de Lint

From its charming dustcover to the muted two-page illustration at the end, The Cats of Tanglewood Forest is a beautiful book that I would love to read with, or to, a child. Charles de Lint and artist Charles Vess form a perfect collaboration here, with a wonderful, magical story for middle readers.

This novel is an expansion of de Lint’s novella, The Circle of Cats. De Lint uses as inspiration many of the Appalachian folk-tales, most prominently the strange old story about the King of the Cats, but stays close to his own roots, yarning about the old magic and new magic that imbues the American continent. Lillian is a little girl, an orphan, who lives with her aunt on a farm at the edge of the Tanglewood. Lillian plays in the woods; she scatters scratch for the wild birds after she’s fed the chickens, leaves saucers of milk for the feral cats ... Read More

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter: Beautifully written but disturbing

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke

“Cat, this is Finn. He’s going to be your tutor.”

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter
by Cassandra Rose Clarke is a beautifully written story. Clarke evokes a beautiful contrast between the wild gardens and streams Cat inhabits as a child under the watchful eye of her tutor, and the cold, sterile, unfeeling world she inhabits as an adult in contact with other humans. At its core, this is a romance between a human and a cyborg. Though an interesting examination of what it means to be human, and the role of sentience in humanity, I felt that the role of sexual desire in defining humanity was overplayed in this book.

Clarke is especially skilled in describing a world that has suffered through an ecological disaster and is slowly rebuilding itself. The politics of humans versus robots as the economy and societies restabilize were less intense and violent than ... Read More

WWWednesday: January 30, 2013

I don't have an source for this beautiful piece of art. If you know the artist, please let me know so I can credit it appropriately.

Ron Howard is in talks to direct a movie version of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book.

Alan Moore is most known for the graphic novel The WatchmenHere's a guide to reading a bit deeper into his repertoire.

Would you like a flying car?

Read More

Six-Gun Snow White: A beautifully told feminist fairy tale

Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente

C.S. Lewis once wrote his goddaughter, “Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” It seems an odd statement at first, that one is ever not the right age to read fairy tales, but I think there is something truthful about that assessment. We read fairy tales to our youngsters, to teach them the way of the world, to be wary of strangers, that dragons can be defeated if you are brave enough, to keep your word and to guard your tongue. But after a while, the children grow up enough to go out and fight their dragons and they have no time to sit and read. It is only after the fight, while the burn marks are scarring over and the weight of broken promises rests heavy upon their shoulders, that they have time to come back and read these stories again, and find for themselves a deeper meaning that they wouldn’t have understoo... Read More

Array ( [SERVER_SOFTWARE] => nginx/1.22.1 [REQUEST_URI] => /author/17106281207738735487/ [USER] => www-data [HOME] => /var/www [HTTP_CONNECTION] => Keep-Alive [HTTP_HOST] => [HTTP_ACCEPT_ENCODING] => br,gzip [HTTP_ACCEPT_LANGUAGE] => en-US,en;q=0.5 [HTTP_ACCEPT] => text/html,application/xhtml+xml,application/xml;q=0.9,*/*;q=0.8 [HTTP_USER_AGENT] => CCBot/2.0 ( [WPMUDEV_HOSTING_ENV] => production [WPMUDEV_HOSTED] => 1 [REDIRECT_STATUS] => 200 [SERVER_NAME] => [SERVER_PORT] => 443 [SERVER_ADDR] => [REMOTE_PORT] => 46398 [REMOTE_ADDR] => [GATEWAY_INTERFACE] => CGI/1.1 [HTTPS] => on [REQUEST_SCHEME] => https [SERVER_PROTOCOL] => HTTP/1.1 [DOCUMENT_ROOT] => /var/web/site/public_html [DOCUMENT_URI] => /index.php [SCRIPT_NAME] => /index.php [CONTENT_LENGTH] => [CONTENT_TYPE] => [REQUEST_METHOD] => GET [QUERY_STRING] => [SCRIPT_FILENAME] => /var/web/site/public_html/index.php [FCGI_ROLE] => RESPONDER [PHP_SELF] => /index.php [REQUEST_TIME_FLOAT] => 1675289148.6013 [REQUEST_TIME] => 1675289148 )