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Reviews from September 2020 (20)

Bird in a Cage

Kitty Peck and the Music Hall Murders  (Kitty Peck, volume 1)

By Kate Griffin II  

15 Sep, 2020

Special Requests


2013’s Kitty Peck and the Music Hall Murders is the first volume in Kate Griffin’s Kitty Peck series.

It’s 1880 and London. Seventeen-year-old orphan Kitty Peck makes her living working backstage in the Paradise theatre, one of the many enterprises owned by crime lord Lady Ginger. 

Kitty is summoned to an audience with her boss, an audience in which she is told that she owes a debt. Kitty’s brother Joey owed Lady Ginger (or so the crime boss says). Since Joey vanished two years earlier, Kitty will have to make good on the debt. 

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Bake Me a Cake as Fast as You Can

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking

By T. Kingfisher  

14 Sep, 2020

Special Requests


T. Kingfisher’s 2020 A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking is a standalone secondary-world fantasy.

Fourteen-year-old Mona opens up her aunt’s bakery in the wee hours of the morning and finds a murdered girl on the bakery floor. Mona alerts her aunt and the pair summon the police. This, as it turns out, is both the responsible thing to do and a decision that will greatly complicate Mona’s life.

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The Wonder of a Fairy Tale

A Dead God Dancing

By Ann Maxwell  

13 Sep, 2020

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


Ann Maxwell’s 1979 A Dead God Dancing is a science fiction novel set in her Concord universe.

The Concord takes a hand-off approach to pre-spaceflight cultures, monitoring from afar but not interfering. Tal-Lith will be an exception. The unfortunate planet is about to be scoured clear of life by its misbehaving sun. If the inhabitants are to be saved, the Concord must act now.

The impending deadline forces the Concord to use agents who are available if not suitable. Tov Ryth Lhar, Nevin lo Skewml, T’Mero Verial Silariaoen, Skandiri-Li, and Syza Zomal are dispatched to Tal-Lith to prepare its people for the coming evacuation.

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Turn Robber All on The Salt Sea

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea

By Maggie Tokuda-Hall  

11 Sep, 2020

Doing What the WFC Cannot Do


Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s 2020 The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea is a secondary universe fantasy. 

Lady Evelyn Hasegawa’s betrothal to wealthy officer Finn Callum promises financial security to her debt-ridden aristocratic parents. This is an arranged marriage; she’s never met her groom, who lives at a distant imperial outpost in the Floating Islands. Evelyn must take a long sea voyage to join him, a voyage from which she will almost certainly never return. 

⸮But this is a sacrifice her parents are willing to make.⸮ 

Evelyn and a casket full of worldly goods are sent off on the good ship Dove. She’s anxious, of course: a new land, an unknown husband. She would be even more anxious if she knew that Dove is captained by a complete villain and crewed by people who are just as bad.

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And My Eyes Won’t Close

A Primer to Han Song  (Exploring Dark Short Fiction, volume 5)

By Han Song Edited by Eric J. Guignard (Translated by Michael A. Arnzen & Nathaniel Isaacson)

9 Sep, 2020



2020’s A Primer to Han Song, illustrations by Michelle Prebich, is a collection edited by Eric J. Guignard. The short collection is the fifth in the Exploring Dark Short Fiction series. In addition to the stories written by Han Song, there is a commentary by Michael Arnzen, Ph.D.

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Not Sure Just What We Have in Store

Galileo, July 1979  (Galileo, volume 13)

 Edited by Charles C. Ryan 

6 Sep, 2020

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


Galileo, July 1979 was the thirteenth of sixteen published issues of Charles C. Ryan’s Galileo Magazine.

Galileo is not much mentioned these days, but a mere forty-one years ago it was one of my go-to SF magazines. I would have rated it higher than Bova’s Analog (much higher than Schmidt’s), but not as high as Baen’s Galaxy.

How does it stand up, you ask?

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A War in My Mind

The Bone Shard Daughter  (Drowning Empire, volume 1)

By Andrea Stewart  

4 Sep, 2020

Doing What the WFC Cannot Do


2020’s The Bone Shard Daughter is the first volume in Andrea Stewart’s projected Drowning Empire secondary-universe fantasy trilogy. It’s just published!

The Emperor protects his people from the Alanga, godlike beings who once plagued the Empire. All he asks is total obedience and a small token of his subjects’ gratitude. A trifle, really, just a small shard of skull bone, which grants the Emperor access to their life energy. He uses that to power the automatons through which he rules the Empire. Otherwise his subjects are free to pay their taxes and do as they are told until such time as they die from the side-effects of being used as a living battery. 

The Emperor is growing old and it isn’t clear what will happen when he dies.

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Where the Cold Wind Blows

The Honjin Murders  (Kosuke Kindaichi, volume 1)

By Seishi Yokomizo  (Translated by Louise Heal Kawai)

3 Sep, 2020


1 comment

Seishi Yokomizo’s 19461 The Honjin Murders is the first novel in the seventy-seven volume Kosuke Kindaichi detective series. The 2019 English translation is by Louise Heal Kawai.

Kenzo Ichiyanagi’s wedding will be remembered for decades. Not for the happy marriage that followed (it didn’t). Not for the Ichiyanagi clan’s misgivings about Katsuko, the bride-to-be. It will be remembered for the brutal deaths of groom and bride on their wedding night — that, and the fact that their dead bodies were found in a room from which egress appeared to be impossible. 

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Baby, Let Me Change Your Life

Amberlough  (Amberlough Dossier, volume 1)

By Lara Elena Donnelly  

2 Sep, 2020

Special Requests

1 comment

Lara Elena Donnelly’s 2017 Amberlough is the first volume in her Amberlough Dossier secondary-world science fiction dystopia. 

From one perspective, Amberlough City is a cosmopolitan, sophisticated city, home to great art and refined culture. From another point of view — that of the puritanical One State Party — it typifies all that is wrong with the loose four-nation confederation of Gedda, a polity where people are allowed to be unproductively flamboyant and egregiously non-conformist rather than serving their betters in approved ways. This must be stopped!

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