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Reviews from October 2023 (22)

No Angels Above


By J. G. Ballard  

17 Oct, 2023

Special Requests


J. G. Ballard’s 1975 High-Rise is a thrilling tale of modern lifestyles.

Recently divorced doctor and lecturer Robert Laing is persuaded by his sister to sell his Chelsea home and move into a very modern tower block. Forty floors tall, the edifice offers the inhabitants of its thousand apartments every amenity a late-20th century British person could want. If humans could build a modern-day urban Eden, it would look like Laing’s new home.

This modern-day Eden goes as well as the mythological Eden.

[Pet lovers may want to stop reading at this point.]

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All My Shadows

The Archive Undying  (Downworld, volume 1)

By Emma Mieko Candon  

13 Oct, 2023

Doing the WFC's Homework


2023’s The Archive Undying is the first volume in Emma Mieko Candon’s Downworld Sequence.

Sunai spends his life working hard, pursuing ill-conceived romantic entanglements, and concealing his secret: however hurt, he will heal. Sunai cannot be killed. This marks Sunai as someone valuable, someone worth enslaving.

But first: a word about dead gods.

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Fairy Tale Ending

The Hazel Wood  (Hazel Wood, volume 1)

By Melissa Albert  

12 Oct, 2023

Special Requests


2018’s The Hazel Wood is the first volume in Melissa Albert’s Hazel Wood young-adult fantasy series.

Plagued by bad luck, Alice and her mother Ella have spent years moving from temporary home to temporary home. Then a letter informs Ella that her mother, reclusive cult fantasy author Althea Proserpine, has died. A relieved Ella believes that this mean the end of bad luck.

Ella is very wrong.

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Nobody’s Fault

Usotoki Rhetoric, volume 3

By Ritsu Miyako  

11 Oct, 2023



Usotoki Rhetoric Volume 3 is the third tankōbon in Ritsu Miyako’s historical mystery manga series. Usotoki Rhetoric was published in Bessatsu Hana to Yume from June 26, 2012 to March 26, 20181.

Showa Era Detective Iwai Soma and assistant Urabe Kanoko board a train on a very important mission. That mission? Ducking out on the debts Soma cannot pay.

A chance encounter with Soma’s journalist sister Miyabe proves diverting. Miyabe has a genuine case, one for which her insolvent brother’s talents could be useful: the case of the doll murderer.

Is that a doll that murders? Or a doll that is murdered? The answer appears to be yes.

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Dear Liza

Hole in the Middle

By Kendra Fortmeyer  

10 Oct, 2023

Special Requests


Kendra Fortmeyer’s 2019 Hole in the Middle is a coming-of-age magical realist novel.

Seventeen-year-old Morgan Stone always wears bulky, concealing clothes and avoids social interactions that could require showing skin. This isn’t because Morgan is a modern-day puritan. It is because Morgan was born with a hole through her lower torso and she does not care to find out how others will react to this oddity.

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Nothing Can Save You

The Sky Walker  (The Avenger, volume 3)

By Paul Ernst  

8 Oct, 2023

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


Paul Ernst’s 1939 The Sky Walker is the third volume in the Avenger series. The Sky Walker was published under the Kenneth Robeson house name.

One day the glasses in Chicago’s Mike’s Bar begin to sing, then shatter for no obvious reason. The mysterious phenomenon is accompanied by a seemingly causeless droning from the sky.

Chicago is distracted from the mystery by real tragedy. A pavilion collapses, killing seventeen people. The cause appears clear: substandard steel used in the supports, no doubt thanks to a greedy contractor. 

But this is not the cause at all. Evil! Evil is the cause! It’s up to Richard the Avenger” Benson and the increasingly large staff of Justice, Inc to reveal what is really going on.

[Standard fair for its day” vocabulary choice warning]

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Open the Gate

If You Could See the Sun

By Ann Liang  

6 Oct, 2023

Doing the WFC's Homework


Ann Liang’s 2022 If You Could See the Sun is a stand-alone modern fantasy novel.

Sun Yan — Alice Sun in America — was born in China, raised in the United States, then returned with her homesick parents to China. Her successive dislocations have made sure that she’s an outsider everywhere. Sun is Chinese to Americans and American to the Chinese.

Sun stands out in a different way at the prestigious Airington International Boarding School. She is the only scholarship student in a student body otherwise made up of the children of the rich. Maintaining her scholarship demands top marks. Even so, her scholarship only covers half the 350,000 RMB1. Sun’s education places an onerous financial burden on her parents.

Her parents’ oblique suggestions that she consider other schools, including one back in the US, hint at the unpleasant truth. They cannot afford to keep sending Sun to Airington.

Fate hands Sun the means to earn her tuition, at the trifling cost of her soul.

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No Fortunate Son

The Will of the Many  (Hierarchy, volume 1)

By James Islington  

5 Oct, 2023

Special Requests


The Will of the Many is the first volume in James Islington’s Hierarchy series.

The Hierarchy, for all its flaws, is exceptionally good at conquering other nations. Former prince Vis can attest to this, as three years before the book opened, his native Suus was brutally crushed by the Hierarchy’s armies. To survive, Vis has hidden amongst his enemies, doing what he has to do to avoid death or worse.

Not only does the Hierarchy has worse” in abundance, they have based their economy on it.

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Blue Skies from Pain

Monster, volume 1

By Naoki Urasawa  

4 Oct, 2023



Monster, Volume 1 is the first tankōbon collecting Naoki Urasawa’s thriller manga series. Monster was published by in Big Comic Original between December 1994 and December 2001.

Second son Kenzo Tenma sought his medical fortunes in Düsseldorf, West Germany. Brilliant neurosurgeon Tenma caught the eye of Eisler Memorial Hospital Director Heinemann. Provided only that Tenma remain a superlative surgeon while obeying Heinemann’s every directive1, Tenma is ensured wealth, status, and the hand of Heinemann’s beautiful daughter Eva in marriage.

Too bad for Tenma that Tenma has a conscience. Too bad for the world.

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