Blog Archive

View My Stats
Monday, July 4, 2022

Book review: Clay's Ark (Patternmaster #3) by Octavia E. Butler


Book links: AmazonGoodreads

OCTAVIA E. BUTLER (1947–2006) was the renowned author of numerous ground-breaking novels, including Kindred, Wild Seed, and Parable of the Sower. Recipient of the Locus, Hugo and Nebula awards, and a PEN Lifetime Achievement Award for her body of work, in 1995 she became the first science-fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Fellowship ‘Genius Grant’. A pioneer of her genre, Octavia’s dystopian novels explore myriad themes of Black injustice, women’s rights, global warming and political disparity, and her work is taught in over two hundred colleges and universities nationwide.

Genre: Sci-fi First Published: 1984 Page count: 228 

SPFBO 8: The Second Reaping and Semi-Finalist Update (Jonathan's batch)

Hey folks! Here we are and it’s that time again.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater - Review


Buy Half a Soul HERE

OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: Olivia Atwater writes whimsical historical fantasy with a hint of satire. She lives in Montreal, Quebec with her fantastic, prose-inspiring husband and her two cats. When she told her second-grade history teacher that she wanted to work with history someday, she is fairly certain this isn't what either party had in mind. She has been, at various times, a historical re-enactor, a professional witch at a metaphysical supply store, a web developer, and a vending machine repairperson.

FORMAT/INFO: Half a Soul was published by Orbit Books on June 28th, 2022. It is 239 pages long, split over 19 chapters, a prologue, and an epilogue. It is told in third person from Dora's POV. It is available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: After an incident during her childhood, Theodora Ettings only possesses half of her soul. The result? Fleeting emotions don’t particularly register with her, leaving her prone to misreading social cues and to coming off as rather cold and aloof. Her relatives don’t particularly know what to do with her, only pray that her peculiarity doesn’t ruin her cousin’s chances of marriage. But during the height of the London season, Dora catches the eye of the Lord Sorcier, a figure as shunned as he is magically powerful. Dora and the Lord Sorcier end up entangled in the mystery of a strange curse that seems to be sweeping through London, and it may be that Dora’s unique circumstances might be the key to stopping the deadly affliction.

Half a Souls is the perfect beach read, a blend of regency drama and fantasy that is easily consumed in an afternoon or two. Heavy fantasy readers should know going in that this is a regency story first and a fantasy tale second. In other words, about 75% of the tale is balls, marriage dealings, courtship rituals, and investigating the misdeeds of impoverished work houses, while 25% of the book is magic spells and fae machinations. If this sounds like the perfect balance, congratulations! This story is definitely for you.

It’s also good to know that each entry in the Regency Faerie Tales series is a standalone book, loosely connected in the same universe. Half a Soul is a contained, complete arc, complete with a Happily Ever After, so pace yourself for a short but enjoyable adventure (especially as about 30 pages of the U.S. edition are actually a prequel novella). While personally I wish the fae and magical elements had been a bit more evenly spread throughout the story (they don’t truly appear until the final few chapters) that has as much to do with me as with the book itself. Due to my own penchant for going into books blind, I thought these books were a larger connected story and that this book was setting up a larger mystery; instead a nice tidy ending snuck up on me and everything was wrapped up much more quickly than anticipated!

That said, Half a Soul is exactly the light frothy tale you would hope for in a Pride and Prejudice-esque adventure. There is scandal and speculation over couples who dance more than twice together at a ball, there are courtship rituals that must be rigorously obeyed, and heaven forbid a man and a woman spend time alone together. All those social morays are delightfully sent up in a satirical scene towards the end of the book in a manner that had me chuckling.

I also really enjoyed how the author portrayed the lead character’s “half a soul” condition. Dora’s passion was essentially taken from her as a child, leaving her only capable of feeling emotions if they are deep and have a “long tail.” Momentary fear or embarrassment (“short tail” emotions) don’t affect her, even though she knows they should. Dora never comes across as dumb but as if viewing events from a long distance away.

CONCLUSION: Half a Soul is a wonderful escape, with witty ballroom banter and a dash of magic on top. I’m looking forward to the other two books in the series, especially since they’re all being released this summer!

Friday, July 1, 2022

SPFBO Semi-Finalist Interview: Kristin Gleeson, the author of Awakening The Gods

About Kristin Gleeson: USA Today Bestselling author, Kristin Gleeson is originally from Philadelphia but has lived in West Cork in Ireland for a number of years where she plays the harp and sings, in addition to painting the beautiful landscape around her. She holds a Masters in Library Science and a Ph.D. in history, and for a time was an administrator of a large archives, library and museum in America and also worked as a public librarian in America and Ireland. She is a B.R.A.G. medallion Honoree.

Myths and other folk tales have always fascinated her and she combined her love of these tales with her harp playing and performed as a professional harper/storyteller at events in Britain, America and Ireland.

Find Kristin online: Facebook, Twitter

Awakening the Gods links: Amazon, Goodreads

Thursday, June 30, 2022

LOCKLANDS by Robert Jackson Bennett - Review

Read Fantasy Book Critic's Review of Foundryside
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Review of Shorefall

OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: Robert Jackson Bennett is the author of American Elsewhere, The Troupe, The Company Man, Mr. Shivers, as well as The Divine Cities trilogy and The Founders Trilogy. The second installment of The Founders Trilogy, SHOREFALL, will be in stores April of 2020.

His work has received the Edgar Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the Phillip K. Dick Citation of Excellence, and he has been shortlisted for the World Fantasy, British Fantasy, and Locus Awards.

He lives in Austin with his family.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Book review: The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean (reviewed by Sharvani R.)

Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

AUTHOR INFO: Sunyi Dean (Sun yee) is an autistic SFF writer, living the inner-city life in North England with her two kids. When not reading, running, falling over in yoga, or rolling d20s, she sometimes escapes the city to wildswim in lonely dales.

Publisher: Tor Books (August 2, 2022) Page count: 304 p Cover design: 

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Book review: In Theory, It Works by Raymond St. Elmo


Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

AUTHOR INFO: Raymond St. Elmo is a programmer of artificial intelligences and virtual realities, who has no time for literary fabrications of fictitious characters and world-building. And yes, that was meant to be ironic.

A degree in Spanish Literature gave him a love of Magic Realism. Programming gave him a job. The job introduced him to artifical intelligence and virtual realities; as close to magic as reality is likely to get outside the covers of a book. And yes, that was meant to be cynical.

The author of several first-person comic-accounts of strange quests for mysterious manuscripts, mysterious girls in cloaks whose face appears SUDDENLY IN THE FLASH OF LIGHTNING. And yes, that was meant to be dramatic.

Publisher: Raymond St. Elmo (June 14 2022) Page Count: 323 Cover art: Virginia Mori


The Devil arrives in Theory. Instead of a small-town reality and small-minded people, she finds the world’s only upside-down skating rink. A soap bubble dragon monster. A romance and a touch of drama. 

Not to mention robot mice, cats, dogs, or an electric angel. 

In Theory, it Works is light, whimsical, and fun. Think of it as a low-stakes rural coming-of-age fantasy romance. Except that the coming-of-age arc will probably be more relatable to parents or readers who’ve already gone through their coming-of-age arcs in life :) It’s written with humor, love, and a touch of melancholy. 

The characters are charming and wholly relatable, even Marlon, the school bully. We get Marissa - a goth girl who loves black; Tyler - a shy and weird kid who speaks only to an imaginary hawk; Janine - a girl scout with a powerful roundhouse punch and a soft spot for boys who are broken; Reese and Jason - twins able to live in a moment. Marissa and Janine are interested in Tyler, who’s more interested in living in an imaginary world and stopping the Dragon. Jason is interested in Marissa, but she's not sure if she's interested in him. But fear not - it’s not a cheesy love triangle. Far from it. 

The adult protagonists, science teacher Ted Alva, and The Devil, Nichole K. Devlin, can’t resist one another, but the Devil may have ulterior motives. Ted loves teaching but budget constraints don't allow him to go full out. As a result, he encourages teens to create ideas of things but not things themselves. Nichole has corporate money but why would she invest it in a meaningless city like Theory? Well, here's the thing:

"The town of Theory has an improbable tendency to permit the improbable. Here, the Theory of the thing is sometimes the thing itself." 

Like most of St. Elmo’s books, In Theory, It Works is philosophical, humorous, and romantic. It’s full of quotable lines, intriguing thoughts, and metaphysical longings. It plays with narrative and contains stories within stories (including an exciting D&D session). The book touches on the darker side of the mentality of the little people (domestic violence, prejudice, parents on the brink of divorce), but with heart and gentle, humorous touches.

I'm a committed fan of St. Elmo's imaginative and unique writing. In Theory, It Works was a delight to read and think about. I found the story satisfying, intelligent, and the ending excellent and uplifting. Plenty here for fans of the whimsy.

Series (Texas Pentagraph) links: 


Thursday, June 23, 2022

Book review: Composite Creatures by Caroline Hardaker (Reviewed by Daniel P. Haeusser)

Official Author Website

Official Author Twitter

Order Composite Creatures HERE

AUTHOR INFO: Author. Poet. Novelist. Occasional librettist. Sporadic puppeteer. Caroline Hardaker lives in the north east of England and writes quite a lot of things. She earned her BA (English Literature) and MA (Cultural and Heritage Studies) from Newcastle University, and her main problem is limiting herself to one idea at once, or maybe two ideas, or three…

Publisher: Angry Robot (April 13, 2021) Page count: 400 Formats: paperback, eBook, and audio.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Graphic Novel review: Beasts of Burden by Evan Dorkin & Jill Thompson

Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

Evan Dorkin is an American comics artist and cartoonist. His best known works are the comic books Milk and Cheese and Dork. His comics often poke fun at fandom, even while making it clear that Dorkin is a fan himself.

Jill Thompson is an American comic book writer and illustrator. Probably best known for her work on Neil Gaiman's Sandman characters and her own Scary Godmother series, she has also worked on The Invisibles, Swamp Thing, Wonder Woman, and more recently, Beasts of Burden.

Publisher: Dark Horse (June 30, 2010) Page count: 180

Monday, June 20, 2022

SPFBO 8: The First Cull and Semi-Finalist Update

The time has come to make choices. Not always comfortable, not always happy for all concerned, but such is the nature of this competition. 


Click Here To Order “Cardinal Black” by Robert McCammon!!!

Order HERE


Click Here To Order “Cyber Mage” by Saad Z. Hossain

Order HERE


Click Here To Order “Miss  Percy's” by Quenby Olson!!!
Order HERE


Click Here To Order “The True Bastards” by Jonathan French!!!
Order HERE


Click Here To Order “Rumble In Woodhollow” by Jonathan Pembroke!!!
Order HERE


Click Here To Order “The Starless Crown” by James Rollins!!!
Order HERE