Guards! Guards!: A must-read Discworld novel


Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett Guards! Guards! is Terry Pratchett’s eighth Discworld novel and the first to feature the Anhk-Morpork City Watch. Guards! Guards! is among the...

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Dead Astronauts: A stellar work


Dead Astronauts by Jeff VanderMeer Jeff VanderMeer has been on a hell of a roll lately. His SOUTHERN REACH trilogy is on my personal list of best series in the past quarter-century,...

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Star Maker: The grandest vision of the universe


Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon Star Maker is perhaps the grandest and most awe-inspiring vision of the universe ever penned by a science fiction author, before the term even existed,...

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The Palace of Love: Three of Vance’s best supporting characters


The Palace of Love by Jack Vance Two down and three to go… In order to exact revenge on Viole Falushe, the third Demon Prince, Kirth Gersen must first discover who Mr. Falushe is,...

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Recent Posts

Fantastic Four: Full Circle: A psychedelic journey into the Negative Zone

Fantastic Four: Full Circle by Alex Ross (writing, art, and coloring), Josh Johnson (coloring), and Ariana Maher (lettering)

I just finished reading the recently released Fantastic Four: Full Circle, and though the story itself is not riveting, it is a perfect vehicle for the true point of the graphic novel — the art. And the story is an interesting sequel to the previous Stan Lee-Jack Kirby production, “This Man . . . This Monster,” Issue #51 of the original run on the Fantastic Four (which is available via Amazon’s Comixology services).

In Stan Lee’s Issue #51, with excellent art by Jack Kirby, the Thing is taken in by a kindly stranger who turns out to be a mad scientist who wishes to harm him and ultimately Reed Richards, the leader of the Fantastic Four. After putting knock-out drops in the Thing’s coffee, the stranger-scientist uses an invention of his to transform into the Thing (and at... Read More

The Witch and the Tsar: Solid, but a bit flat

The Witch and the Tsar by Olesya Salnikova Gilmore

“Solid” is the best description I can give for The Witch and the Tsar by Olesya Salnikova Gilmore, a debut novel that shows flashes of hitting its potential, particularly in its folkloric elements, but overall feels a bit flat and overlong.

A retelling of the Baba Yaga mythos, the story mostly takes place during the reign of Ivan the Terrible (1500s), though there are flashbacks to earlier times, thanks to the fact that the main character (who prefers Yaga to Baba Yaga) is immortal, daughter of a human and the Earth goddess Mokosh, dead now for some years. Since then Yaga has been alone, save for her wolf and owl, and quietly helping the people nearby, especially the women. What precipitates her re-entry into the world is a visit from Anastasia, whom Yaga had helped long ago and set her on the path to her current role as Tsarina (Ivan’s wife).
... Read More

Dark Sanctuary: Thanks, Karl!

Dark Sanctuary by H.B. Gregory

A very happy day it was for me – but a very unfortunate day for my bank account – when I first discovered the website for Ramble House books. Specializing in impossibly obscure sci-fi, horror, mystery and “weird menace” titles from the first half of the 20th century, the publisher has an overwhelming catalog of reasonably priced volumes that will surely make any fan of those genres salivate; books, for the most part, that are available nowhere else. I have already written here of Greye La Spina’s wonderful horror novel Invaders From the Dark (1925), only available from Ramble House, and now would like to tell you of a book that I recently read from the company’s Dancing Tuatara Press imprint that is even more of a rarity. The b... Read More

WWWednesday: September 14, 2022

In honor of my birthday, one commenter will get a copy of T. Kingfisher's southern gothic horror novel, The Twisted Ones In this column I discuss my reaction to a re-read of a classic 1990s fantasy novel.

Published in 1998, Someplace to be Flying is not the first entry in Charles de Lint’s NEWFORD series. It’s the fifth book in publishing order, with several earlier works being story collections. In my opinion, it’s a fine place to start the series and get introduced to de Lint’s fictional midwestern Canadian city (probably modeled on Ottawa) and his blend of folk magic, folk music and just folks. The mag... Read More

Rise of the Vicious Princess: A smartly written YA princess novel

Rise of the Vicious Princess by C.J. Redwine

I get a big kick out of reading books not specifically for my demographic. Actually, let me rephrase that. I enjoy reading books that I assume are not written for my demographic. I’m a guy, so stories about princesses are off the table. Perhaps you’re a girl and that John Wick in Space book is not supposed to be your cup of tea. I beg to differ, and love to step outside my comfort zone and read material that is not necessarily written with me in mind. It was under that assumption that I picked up Rise of the Vicious Princess by C.J. Redwine.

The story follows Charis Willowthorn (pronounced Kaw-Ris), the teenage princess of the Fantasy Medieval-ish realm called Calera. Calera is a fairly prosperous country that shares a war-torn continent with a few other kingdoms. They have fancy balls filled with courtesans and fancy folk of one kind or another. Court poli... Read More

Sunday Status Update: September 12, 2022

Marion: Right now I’m beta-reading a friend’s manuscript about a friendship between two women; one a resident of an assisted living facility and the other a volunteer there. I’m also more than halfway through Rosewater, Book One of the WORMWOOD trilogy by Tade Thompson, and wondering why I overlooked this one for so long!

Sandy: Moi? I am currently reading another top-notch supernatural horror novel that is available nowhere else today except Ramble House. The book in question this week is Walter S. Masterman’s Read More

Ithaca: An engrossing story

Ithaca by Claire North

Ithaca (2022), by Claire North, is another in a recent spate line of Greek myth retellings, with the source material here being The Odyssey and the House of Atreus storyline (Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, Electra, Orestes). North greatly narrows the focus here in setting, time, and plot, lasering in what was happening at the periphery or in the gaps of those epic tales, giving voice especially though not solely to the women on the edges of those stories. It’s a wonderfully voiced, thoughtful reimagining story and a strong entry point into a new series.

That fantastically wry and sharp voice belongs to Hera, who narrates the book from her godly perch, able to see all and transport herself wherever necessary. The bite in her voice makes itself known immediately, as when she describes Ithaca as “a thoroughly backwards wretched place” and labels Athena a “priggish little mad... Read More

WWWednesday: September 7, 2022

The Hugo winners were announced on September 4. Arkady Martine took home Best Novel for A Desolation Called Peace, Becky Chambers gathered up the Best Novella award for A Psalm for the Wild-Built, and Sarah Pinsker won Best Short Story for “Where Oaken Hearts do Gather. Best Series went to Seanan McGuire for THE WAYWARD CHILDREN, and Read More

The Final Girl Support Group: Good thriller if you are adept at suspending disbelief

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

The title of Grady Hendrix’s 2021 novel might make you think it’s a horror story in the slasher-movie style, and there are plenty of nods to horror here. Actually, the book is a thriller, and as a thriller it works pretty well. Hendrix intersperses the thriller with some dark, zany humor, trauma-fueled angst, and toxic sisterhood rants, but the story’s at its best when our main character, Lynette, is on the run from, well, everybody.

The Final Girl Support Group opens with Lynette preparing to attend that very group. Lynette has turned her LA slum-neighborhood apartment into a bunker. She does self-defense drills before setting out, hyper-vigilant, to attend the group she participates in every week with five other women, all in their late thirties, who survived not one but two bl... Read More

Sunday Status Update: September 4, 2022

Kat: I’m so busy at the beginning of a new academic year. I’m teaching an extra class this semester, a large freshmen-level general education course, so that’s taking a lot of my time. But since you heard from me last (it’s been a while), I’ve read Octavia Butler’s XENOGENESIS series (Dawn, Adulthood Rites, Imago), three of Terry Pratchett’s DISCWORLD Read More