Of the making of books there is no end.
Overmuch study maketh men mad.


If you're curious about my approach to "reviews," you might want to read this. If you're curious about me, I have a Website, and a blog about things Medieval and Celtic. I read a lot. I suppose you could say I am a professional reader; I have a Ph.D. in English from UCLA, with an emphasis on things Celtic, and literature before 1832. I serve as Webmaster and Managing Editor for The Green Man Review and volunteer as an Admin for Absolute Write.


My most recent books are about doing stuff with the iPad. Most of the books I review here are books I purchased, a family member purchased, or that I borrowed from a library. When a publisher or author provides a book or an e-arc or an ARC, I will state that in the review. I am not paid to review the books on this site. (I do occasionally serve as an outside reviewer for scholarly books being considered for publication by academic or scholarly presses).


I like ebooks. I like making ebooks. I like reading ebooks. I object, violently, to text dumps and poorly made ebooks, and will so note in reviews of books that have been badly produced by a publisher who thinks exporting a file from InDesign is all it takes. In general, I am not soliciting books for review. Please do not send me review books as attachments without conferring with me first, since your attachment will be automatically deleted by my server. I am no longer willing to review self-published books, unless you're an author I've previously reviewed, or you are publishing a backlist of previously commercially published books. You can contact me here.


If you purchase something after following an affiliate link on this site, I will receive a percentage of the price. This is my FTC disclosure, in case you wondered. In other words, I'm a mercenary hack.



Fran Wilde, Updraft

Updraft - Fran Wilde

I reviewed Updraft for The Green Man Review. Go there and read it if you want a review; this is more of a meditational commentary. There may be Spoilers here.



I noted in my review that there's some spiffy well-thought out world building, of the sort you'd expect from NIven, Cherryh or McCaffrey. That's absolutely true, and it comes with strong characterizations, too. But the other thing that really reminded me of Anne McCaffrey's Pern books, the earlier ones, or Cherryh's Morgaine novels is that though they're often labeled fantasy rather than SF, they're both really SF.

I'm not sure Updraft, and the sequels, which I'm looking forward to reading, is fantasy. There's no hand-waving here. There's a post-apocalyptic traumatized society, and there's a rational, believable and even evolutionarily not implausible zoology.

Whether Updraft is SF or fantasy, I don't really know.

But it is compulsively readable.

Karen Memory - Elizabeth Bear The Fifth Season - N.K. Jemisin, Robin Miles The Library at Mount Char - Scott Hawkins Ink and Bone: The Great Library - Rachel Caine Court of Fives - Kate Elliott Pacific Fire - Greg van Eekhout The Philosopher Kings - Jo Walton Updraft - Fran Wilde

2016 Hugo Eligible Books

This is a running list; I'll be adding to it as I go. 


The point of this is not only to keep track so I can vote, but to let others know what I'm considering so they can read them too. 


Bear, Elizabeth. Karen Memory. Tor. February, 2015. 

Bear is a super writer and an incredible story teller. I've been waiting for this book for a while. 


Caine, Rachel. Ink and Bone: The Great Library. NAL, July 2015.


Cherryh, C. J. Tracker: A Foreigner Novel. DAW. April, 2015.

Volume 16? I think? I love this series. In my head, it's one huge novel, but this book is eligible for 2016's Hugos. 


Elliot, Kate. Court of Fives. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, August 2015. (YA fantasy).


Hawkins, Scott. The Library at Mount Char. Crown. June, 2015.

Really really loved this; it's a complicated well-written book and it managed to surprise me. So far this is my front-runner for Best Novel.


Jemisin, N. K. The Fifth Season  (Vol. 1 of The Broken Earth). Orbit. August, 2015.


Novik, Naomi. Uprooted. Del Rey. May, 2015.


van Eekhout. Pacific Fire. Tor. January, 2015. Sequel to California Bones,which I really enjoyed. 


van Eekhout. Dragon Coast. Tor. September, 2015. Sequel to California Bones and Pacific Fire


Walton, Jo. The Philosopher Kings. Tor. June 2015. 

This is the sequel to the brilliant, absorbing and clever The Just City. Haven't read it yet, but it's on My List. 


Wilde, Fran. Updraft. Tor. September 2015. This is a first novel, and everyone I've talked to who has read it is wildly enthusiastic. 





C. J. Cherryh Gene Wars Books

ICover of C. J. Cherrhy's Hammerfall read both of these books (Hammerfall 2001) and Forge of Heaven (2004) when they came out, and hadn't really thought of them since. I didn't dislike either, but remember that large sections of Hammerfall were a bit of a slog at the time, because Cherryh so very feelingly described the environmental conditions faced by the characters. 


I noticed both books are available as ebooks via the public library and Overdrive, so have just re-read them both, back to back. 


First, reading them back to back is understandably much better than reading them three years apart; such is the nature of publishing. 


The basic plot line is that there are two factions at war, one of which heavily relies on genetic modification and nano tech biological symbiotes, and that faction earns the enmity of an a species that doesn't deal with aliens except via extermination. Caught in the middle is a small human colony, existing on a world after the aliens dropped a catastrophic planet-killer on the planet. A third party attempts to intercede on behalf of the human remnant population. Politics, cultural change, biology—all are important. 


These are interesting, complicated books, both like Cherryh, and a bit different.  I say that mentally thinking of a number of Cherryh's books I'd put in a category of good but different: Wave Without a Shore, Voyager in Night, especially).


I've been reading Cherryh since Mr. Kilpatrick the Latin teacher loaned me the serialized version of Faded Sun: Kesrith from Galaxy magazine. Her books shaped me-the-adult in ways that are profound.


I'm so very very glad she's still writing.

Among Others by Jo Walton

I'm re-reading Jo Walton's Among Others and it's just a fabulous as it was when I read the ARC.


Amazing book by an amazing author.


I'm also reading the collection of essays Jo Walton wrote for Tor. Com: What Makes This Book So Great. They're great companion pieces, not only because Walton wrote them, but because Among Others is about a character whose life is made better by the books she reads, and WMTBSG is about truly wonderful books.


I'm awfully tempted to by the hardcover of WMTBSG.



Barbara Hambly The Darwath Trilogy

I read these years ago in the 1980s when they first came out, and liked them very much. 


  • The Time of the Dark (1982)
  • The Walls of Air (1983)
  • The Armies of Daylight (1983)

I read them again as part of  checking out Oyster, and I'm delighted to say I still like them lots. I hadn't realized that she wrote two more Darwath novels:


  • Mother of Winter (1996; Locus award nominee 1997)
  • Icefalcon's Quest (1998)
  • I'm not sure how I missed them, since I've read most of her fantasy and SF books. I'm looking for them know. The Darwath re-read led me to re-read Hambly's Windrose Chronicles:
      • The Silent Tower (1986)
      • The Silicon Mage (1988)
      • Dog Wizard (1993; Locus Award nominee, 1994)
      • They too held up well (I'm pretty sure that Windrose's character has a tiny bit of homage to Tom Baker's Doctor Who) and again, there are two more related books:
      • Stranger at the Wedding/Sorcerer's Ward (1994)
        • My excuse is that I wasted an interminable amount of reading time in grad school. 

Impulse Steven Gould

Impulse - Steven Gould

Gould's Impulse features one of the best characterizations I've seen of a bright but believable teenage female in any genre, never mind in SF. 


This is thus far, my favorite of all of Gould's books. He's a solid writer—but this book has a lot of heart. 

Smart Salon article on GoodReads as Community

From "How Amazon and Goodreads Could Lose their Best Readers" by Laura Miller:


"This latest pang in Goodreads’ growing pains is more than just an instance of poor social network management. It raises broader issues about literary culture and conversations, how they happen and who owns and controls them. The vast majority of the content on Goodreads is generated by the site’s users. As Alf Aldavan, another protester, explained it to me, longtime Goodreads members “don’t feel like users or customers. They feel like contributors, because they are: library data and reviews content are their work, as well as the actual data GR sells. In a community of people contributing work/content for free, contributors have expectations of respect for that work. Top contributors’ reviews were removed and there were threats to close their account.” His statement is borne out in a 2012 Forbes article on the 25 top Goodreads reviewers; at least two of them have abandoned the site, while four others have been threatened with the deletion of their accounts."


My name is Lisa Spangenberg.


I'm a Medievalist, a Celticist, a technologist, and I write for money.


I came here from Good Reads. 


I love books.

Absolute Visions

Absolute Visions - MacAllister Stone, Alma Alexander, Dedria A. Humphries Barker, Sage Collins, Christian Crews, Shannon Fay, Victoria Horsham, Fatihah Iman, Deleyan Lee, Marina J. Lostetter, Suzanne Palmer, Derek Paterson, Candace Petrik, Peter Porterfield, T. Peter Porterfield, Puss in This is an anthology of SF/F/Spec Fic/Horror from the members of Absolute Write, especially the forums. There are familiar names here—Alma Alexander, and Suzanne Palmer, both of whom are familiar to SF/F fans. But the new names here are well-worth reading. I'm not going to list them all—but I will mention some of my favorites. Candace Petrik's "Gus" is downright chilling. I've read it several times, and it's a little more disturbing-in-a-good-way each time. Fatihah Iman's "Daughter of the Void" deals with cross-cultural issues in a era of space travel, and space-going families in a marvelous, thoughtful way, in a tale that's pure story. Clinton Lawrence in "The Winter Camp" takes an old fey trope and renders it rich and strange. I loved Deleyan Lee's "Alchemy of A Murder," an Urban Fantasy tale with a rich well-thought out world, that, while the story is complete in itself has me wanting a lot more. The cover illustration by Alessandra Kelley is lovely, with a lot of interesting details, and the ten black-and-white illustrations by other artists, including Puss in Boots, Shannon Tarvin, and Marina Lostetter are evocative. This is a anthology of writers and illustrators whole work I'll be following.

J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment

J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment - Michael D.C. Drout First, I should acknowledge responsibility for the entries on Devils, Druids, Fairies, Jones, Gwyn, Mythology, Celtic, Pseudonym: Bagpuize, K., Technological Subcultures: Reception of Tolkien, and Warwick. That said, you can find my complete review here.

Making Gay History

Making Gay History - Eric Marcus Making Gay History: The Half-Century Fight for Lesbian and Gay Equal Rights is a collection of interviews, beginning with the formation of the Mattachine Society and The Daughter’s of Bilitis, right through the era of Mcarthyism (when it was worse to be queer than communist), the sixties and Stonewall, the seventies and marches, with the people who were the principles in these historic events. The interviews are framed by editorial commentary to place the interviews in context. Interview subjects include a number of well-known figures like Randy Shilts, Elizabeth Birch, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Ellen DeGeneres, Randy Shilts, and others who were movers and shakers in terms of GLBT civil rights. I posted a review here.

Drama of the English Renaissance: Volume 2, The Stuart Period

Drama of the English Renaissance: Volume 2, the Stuart Period - Russell A. Fraser, Norman Rabkin Tourneur -- The Revenger's Tragedy Jonson -- Volpone Jonson -- Epicoene Jonson -- The Alchemist Jonson -- Bartholomew Fair Marston -- The Dutch Courtesan Chapman -- Bussy D'Ambois Chapman -- The Widow's Tears Dekker & Middleton -- The Roaring Girl Middleton -- A Chaste Maid in Cheapside Middleton & Rowley -- The Changeling Webster -- The Duchess of Malfi Webster -- The White Devil Beaumont -- The Knight of the Burning Pestle Beaumont & Fletcher -- A King and No King Fletcher -- The Wild-Goose Chase Ford -- Perkin Warbeck Ford -- 'Tis Pity She's a Whore Massinger -- A New Way to Pay Old Debts Massinger -- The Roman Actor Shirley -- Hyde Park

Drama of the English Renaissance: Volume 1, The Tudor Period

Drama of the English Renaissance: Volume 1, the Tudor Period - Russell A. Fraser, Norman Rabkin Heywood The Four PP Mr. S [anonymous] Gammer Gurton's Needle Preston Cambyses Sackville & Norton Gorboduc Gascoigne Supposes Lyly Gallathea Peele David and Bethsabe Kyd The Spanish Tragedy Marlowe Tamburlaine the Great, Part I Marlowe Tamburlaine the Great, Part II Marlowe The Jew of Malta Marlowe Doctor Faustus Marlowe Edward II Greene Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay Lodge & Greene A Looking Glass for London and England Anonymous Arden of Feversham Nashe Summer's Last Will and Testament Anonymous Mucedorus Dekker The Shoemaker's Holiday Heywood A Woman Killed with Kindness


Changeling - Delia Sherman

Club Dead (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood, Book 3)

Club Dead  - Charlaine Harris


Changeling - Delia Sherman

Currently reading

In Search of the Irish Dreamtime: Archaeology and Early Irish Literature
J.P. Mallory