Urban Fantasy Anthology: P. N. Elrod (ed.): “Dark and Stormy Knights” (c) 2010.

Rich with imagination and well-crafted urban fantasy stories about the paranormal:
Supernatural knights; vampires; shapeshifters; magic.
Twisty stories & unexpected endings.

Nine authors

Ilona Andrews; Jim Butcher; Shannon K. Butcher; Rachel Caine
P.N. Elrod; Deidre Knight; Vicki Pettersson; Lilith Saintcrow; Carrie Vaughn.

Summary of selected stories

Rachel Caine: “Even a Rabbit will Bite”

Lisel von Haffenburg-Martin has been a Dragonslayer for the last 742 years. A dragonslayer must have a quickness of mind and body. She is old, tired, and cranky. She lives in retirement in Phoenix.

There’s only one dragon, Karathrax, left in the world. He is a shapeshifter, clever, and extremely dangerous. And he is old, tired, and cranky. He has retired to a warm Egyptian desert.

Lisel is assigned to train a new Dragonslayer, a young woman, Ellen Cameron (chosen by the Pope!).



Shannon K Butcher: “The Beacon”

Ryder Ward inherits the ability to locate Beacons, humans that attract evil occult monsters, the Terraphages. He has killed 17 Beacons, all of them men.

He tracks a Beacon to a coffee shop in a small Minnesota town. The coffee shop’s owner, Jordan has a young daughter Anne.

And Anne is the Beacon for the Terraphages!
Ryder will have to kill the Terraphage.



Carrie Vaughn: “God’s Creatures”

Cormac is a hunter, like his father, and grandfather. He has the ability to track the undead and nonhuman.

A rancher contacts Cormac to track down the savage killer of his cattle.

Cormac finds telltale clues of a werewolf killer.
The werewolf’s tracks lead back into the nearby town of Lamar, to a Catholic church & its reform school for girls.



Ilona Andrews: “A Questionable Client”

Kate Daniels’ job with the Mercenary Guild involves fighting and killing monsters in a world where magic waves come and go.

She is assigned as a bodyguard to a high-profile client, Saiman, a shapeshifter.

Saiman has stolen, and swallowed, an acorn from the Russians, one which will grow into the World Oak Tree, according to Russian mythology. The Russians send monsters to retrieve the acorn.

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All the best for the days ahead. Notes re: my current & recent reading from Sci Fi, Fantasy, and Literary fiction.

Thanks very much to all who follow/like/visit my blog.


Continuing to read but I’m afraid the blogging is lagging, and my “to-read” list is expanding faster than I can read!

Reading — Sci Fi, Fantasy, and Literary fiction.
Spellbinding; richly imagined; complex characters; terrific novels!

Currently reading: Genevieve Cogman’s “The Invisible Library” (c) 2016. Sci fi & fantasy.

  • Completed readings:
  • Charles Stross: “The Atrocity Archives — Laundry Files Series, Book 1” (c) 2004. And book 6: “The Annihilation Score” (c) 2015. Sci fi & Fantasy.
  • Emily St. John Mandel’s “Station Eleven” (c) 2014; post-pandemic and apocalyptic novel with embedded sci fi novel “Station Eleven.”
  • Erin Morgenstern”s “The Starless Sea” (c) 2019. Literary fiction: an epic novel, of a vast subterranean library, in the Harbor on the shores of the Starless Sea. Stories within stories. A young man’s quest to understand himself and his story.

Notes about some of the novels:


Genevieve Cogman’s “The Invisible Library” ; (c) 2016. Invisible Library Series, Book 1.
Sci Fi & Fantasy about librarians, rare books; secret societies; alternate worlds, the paranormal, and weird technology.

Contemporary world: The Library is a shadowy organization that collects important or unique works of fiction from alternative worlds and stores them for posterity.
Irene is a bibliophile, has magical powers, and is a professional spy for the Library. Her assignments are to alternate worlds, of magic, vampires, supernatural creatures, and Fae, creatures capable of magic & chaos.



Sci Fi and Fantasy: Charles Stross: “The Laundry Files Series”
“The Atrocity Archives” (c) 2004. Book 1.
And “The Annihilation Score” (c) (2015). Book 6.

Lovecraftian horrors; the occult; magic, combining math with technology to summon alien entities from other universes; and to open wormholes in space-time.

The Laundry is a super-secret British intelligence agency, based in London, protecting the world from occult threats.

Bob Howard, a computer expert, is a spy for the Laundry. He is sent to Santa Cruz, California, to find Scottish professor Dominique “Mo” O’Brien. Her work in the area of philosophy, music, and quantum theory is about using music in the occult. That attracts the attention of the Laundry, the Black Chamber, which is the US equivalent of the Laundry; and of terrorists!

“The Annihilation Score” (c) (2015).
After her rescue from an alien entity, Dominique O’Brien or Mo also joins the Laundry as a spy. She and Bob Howard marry. Mo is a gifted violinist and the Laundry gives her an occult violin, Lecter, which can drive humans mad and destroy demons. Unfortunately, the violin attempts to kill Bob, and the couple must separate. Mo’s assignment is to investigate the sudden surge of people with supernatural skills. Her team includes two superintelligent Laundry operatives: Mhari Murphy,(a vampire after a viral infection) and Ramona Random (from the Blue Hades project and changing into a mermaid!). The violin is a character in its own right!




Sci Fi: Sage Walker: “The Man in the Tree” (c) 2017; Tim Pratt: The Wrong Stars (c) 2017.

Sage Walker: “The Man in the Tree” (c) 2017

Gripping science fiction mystery set in the 23rd century.
Aboard a generation ship: a complex web of human nature, crime, law, and justice.

The generation ship “Kybele” is a hollowed-out asteroid in near-Earth space, ready for its 200-year journey to a nearby star. The ship is home for 30,000 colonists, to start a new settlement in space as Earth struggles with ecological disasters.

The last shuttle to Earth is due to arrive soon, for contract workers to return to Earth; and for people who do not meet the requirements for the journey or the future colony.

The decision of who stays on the “Kybele” or not, is made by the ship’s CEOs of the Navigation Security Services; Biosystems; and System Supports; and by Helt Borresen.

Helt is a security officer and an Incident Analyst. His responsibilities include working with all the CEOs. His ability to work with different people, and to bring different people to work together is critical in resolving issues of conflicts, laws, and rules aboard the ship.

A navigation engineer Charles (Cash) Ryan is on a 3-year contract and is scheduled to return to Earth. Just before the last shuttle to Earth arrives, Ryan is found dead in a pine tree. A pine branch has pierced through him cutting a vital artery.

It is unclear whether Ryan’s death is murder or suicide, or accident. Ryan seems to have known very few people, beyond his coworkers. Ryan may have been thrown off the Tower platform into the pine forest below.

Elena Maury is observed to be the first person to emerge from the Tower elevator. A geneticist, physician and pathologist, she has been on board the ship for 10 years. She and Ryan had a long-ago affair when they were students at MIT.

Elena is a primary suspect in the murder of Ryan. Helt falls in love with Elena. He knows she must prove her innocence or she will be shipped back to Earth.

At the end of the novel: Helt becomes the first “Lawspeaker” on Kybele, reflecting differences in life on Earth vs. life on a generation ship on its way to a new world.

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Tim Pratt’s “The Wrong Stars” is Book 1 of “The Axiom Series.”

Tim Pratt: The Wrong Stars (c) 2017.

Very imaginative and fast-paced space opera.

Capt. Callie (Kalea) Machedo is an experienced and trained investigator, doing freelance contract security work for the Trans-Neptunian Authority. Her work includes investigating and recovering wrecked and abandoned spacecraft.

Callie is courageous, with a limitless curiosity about deep space, taking on unexpected challenges and dangers.

Her crew of five aboard the “White Raven”, a fast freighter, consists of:

Stephen Baros — The ship’s doctor & CEO.
The ship’s mind, an AI, called “Shall” by the crew. His “AI mind” is based on a scanned human mind as a template.
Ashok — engineer; augmented; cyborg.
Drake — pilot;
Janice – navigator; communications.

The Liars are an alien diaspora spread across the galaxy. Humanity has known the Liars for about 300 years. The Liars’ greatly advanced technology revives Earth from ecological catastrophes. The Liars are evasive and deceitful about the origins and development of their technology but it becomes the key to human expansion into deep space:
The Liars provide activators that open undetectable wormholes or bridgeheads in other dimensions. Bridgeheads allow extremely fast travel across vast spaces. And humans have now spread to 29 solar systems.

Callie and her crew find a wrecked spacecraft, “Anjou”, in the Trans Neptunian space. The ship is 500 years old -from the 22nd century with nuclear propulsion drives and predates Earth’s contacts with the Liars. One of the cryopods still has a crew member in it. Callie and her crew revive Dr. Elena Oh. She tells them of a horrific encounter with an immense alien structure beyond the solar system.

The Anjou’s hull, navigation system, and engines show strange modifications. The White Raven crew finds a new type of bridgehead generator aboard the Anjou: one that is self-activated and creates wormholes for very fast travel from anywhere to anywhere in space!

The Liars are terrified and flee from the trans-Neptunian space when they learn about the new type of bridgehead generator. Aboard the White Raven, a Liar stowaway, Lantern, tells Callie and her crew of a very grave danger: An ancient alien race, the Axioms, powerful, with incredibly advanced technology. The new bridgehead generator that Callie and her crew found is an Axiom technology.

The alien structure from which Elena and the Anjou barely escaped is an abandoned Axiom station. A long time ago, The Axioms enslaved the Liars, then suddenly vanished, abandoning their advanced tech and stations. Somehow, the Axioms are still able to exert control and kill, the Liars or anyone who “trespasses” into their space.

Callie is determined to find the Axioms. She and her crew, together with Elena and the Liar Lantern, head first for the Axiom Station, to rescue the Anjou crew.

Twists & turns escalate exponentially as Callie and her team enter the Axiom Station…

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Naomi Novik: “Uprooted” (c) 2015.

Naomi Novik: “Uprooted” (c) 2015.

Naomi Novik’s fantasy novel “Uprooted” draws on the Polish fairy tales from her childhood days; as well as East European & Polish culture & mythology.

The name of the principal character, Agnieszka, comes from one of Novik’s favorite Polish fairy tales, Agnieszka Skrawek Neiba ( Agnieszka “Piece of the Sky”).

“Uprooted” won the 2015 Nebula Award for Best Novel, the 2016 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, the 2016 Mythopoeic Award; and was nominated for the 2016 Hugo Award for Best Novel.

A spellbinding fantasy, richly imagined and complex characters, including the Wood!

Agnieszka is a young girl growing up in the village of Dvernik in the kingdom of Polnya, near the Wood, a magical, poisonous, and deadly forest.

Sarkan is a powerful immortal wizard, known as the Dragon, living in a tower in the local valley. He protects the local valley from the Wood.

When Agnieszka is 17, Sarkan chooses her to live at the tower for 10 ten years. She is puzzled but soon discovers from Sarkan that she has magical powers. She uses her magical powers differently from Sarkan but the two eventually learn to use their powers together.

The Wood’s ferocious, malevolent and deadly power over the villages, and between two rival kingdoms, Polnya and Rosya, is known to have existed for a long time. It seems to have the ability to think, plan, and poison people’s hearts.

Agnieszka and Sarkan search for the source of the Wood’s power, to destroy it.


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From my reading: (1) Colson Whitehead: “The Underground Railroad” (c) 2016; (2) S.J. Parris: “Heresy” Giordano Bruno Series (c) 2010.

Two fascinating historical fiction novels:
(1) Colson Whitehead: “The Underground Railroad” (c) 2016.

(2) S.J. Parris: “Heresy” Giordano Bruno Series (c) 2010. Book 1.



Colson Whitehead: “The Underground Railroad” (c) 2016.
Black American historical fiction:
Gripping and powerful historical fiction of slaves escaping to freedom:
the story of Cora and Caesar, two slaves in the 19th century, who escape from Georgia on the Underground Railroad.
In the novel, the Underground Railroad is a real underground tunnel with tracks, trains, and drivers, for slaves escaping to freedom.

2016 National Book Award
2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
The Arthur C. Clarke Award
& longlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize.




S.J. Parris: “Heresy” Giordano Bruno Series (c) 2010.

Mystery & thriller historical fiction.
The novel is set in England in 1583.

In the novel: In 1576 Giordano Bruno escapes from Italy and the Inquisition, for his beliefs of an infinite universe with many suns and stars. Pursued by the Inquisition, he becomes an itinerant teacher at universities across Europe. In 1583 King Henri of France sends Bruno to England.

Taken into the secret service of Queen Elizabeth, Bruno’s assignment is to track down Catholics at Oxford Unversity, suspected of plotting against the Queen and England.

Bruno is at Lincoln College for a debate. Very shortly after his arrival, he becomes involved in an investigation of a series of murders of known Catholics at Oxford University. Is the killer using Bruno to uncover a secret network of Catholics at Oxford?