December 2021

The first book in the historical mystery series about Holmes’ daughter.


Finnish publisher: Bazar

Publishing year: 2017

Format: Print

Finnish translator: Marja Helonen

Page count: 329

London 1914. John Watson Jr. is the first-person narrator. He’s the son of John Watson and also a doctor, although a pathologist. His dad helps investigate the murder. The elder Watson still lives at 221 B Baker Street and that’s where the story starts. Mary Harrelston comes to see him, looking for help because her brother has just died, and everyone thinks it’s a suicide. But Mary doesn’t think so. Watson and his son agree to look into it. Apparently, two people witnessed Mr. Harrelston’s plunge to death and their statements disagree. One is a gardner and one is a ten-year-old boy. The boy is the son of Joanna Blalock, a young widow.

Watson knows that Joanne is the daughter of Holmes and Irene Adler. He tells about her to his son but swears him to secrecy. They meet with Joanna, and the younger Watson is immediately smitten with her. She has incredible deductive powers and insists on helping with the case. The case turns out to be, as usual, far more than what you see at the first glance.

This book felt like fan fiction. The trio meets Scotland Yard’s Inspector Lestrade who is the son of the original Lestrade. He needs a little persuasion in letting Joanne join the investigation. They also need the help of Toby Two, descended from Holmes’ Toby and young Ms. Hudson is Dr. Watson’s housekeeper.

The plot is nicely twisted, but not too complicated. The mystery isn’t who murdered the man, but how and why and how can our heroes prove it. Joanne explains her deductions thoroughly, partly to convince the men around her. She reads a lot and has a very good memory. As a woman, she has a very limited choice of professions so she’s a nurse. Her ten-year-old son is the spitting image of young Holmes and is also very perceptive and makes excellent deductions. The younger Watson also praises Joanne’s looks all the time, in his thoughts, which can be a bit tiresome. There’s a romance between them.

It’s a light and easy mystery read if you don’t mind (or especially if you like) the many connections to the Holmes stories.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Today, the topic is Ten Best Books I read in 2021

Goodreads makes lists like these quite a bit easier. 🙂

This year I gave only four reads five stars, three of them books and one comic book:

1, Mary Robinette Kowal: The Relentless Moon

The third book in the Lady Astronaut of Mars series. Even though it had a different (first-person) narrator, I enjoyed this alternate reality very much.

2, T. Kingfisher: Swordheart

A funny fantasy romance between a widow in her thirties and a man bound to a magic sword. It was just what I needed this year.

3, Becky Chambers: To be Taught if Fortunate

What could space exploration be like if people could change physically to adjust to the alien planets?

I had a lot more four star reads and it was more difficult to choose among them, but here goes:

4, Dan Koboldt: Domesticating Dragons

Dragons built on computer models and the eggs done with 3D printers, so that (wealthy) people can have their own pet dragons. A really fun read.

5, Genevieve Cogman: The Secret Chapter

The sixth book in the delightful Invisible Library series was just as much fun as the previous books. This time spy and librarian Irene and her partner Kai are roped into a heist.

6, Mur Lafferty: Six Wakes

Six clones are the crew of a starship that is carrying thousands of people to colonize a new planet. But something has gone terribly wrong. The clones awake in new bodies. Someone has murdered them all.

7, Lois McMaster Bujold: Masquerade in Lodi

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Bujold’s Pen and Desdemona fantasy novellas and this one was no exception. This time our heroes search for a man who is possessed by a demon.

8, Jeffrey Lang: Immortal Coil

I planned to reread more Star Trek: TNG books this year but only managed one. It focused on Data and his life after he installed his emotion chip.

9, Gwyneth Gibby ed.: Fiction River Presents: Time Travelers

This is an excellent collection of eight time travel stories even though not all of them are told from the point of view of the traveler. The stories have quite a lot of variety including a couple of race against the clock -stories, mysteries through times, people wrestling with their emotions, and a sweet Christmas love story.

10, T.L. Heinrich: Fire&Ice

The second book in the superhero series set in the year 1963 in the fictional Metro City. Colleen has fire powers and at night she stalks the streets as a vigilante. She is also the daughter of a mob boss and another mob boss has targeted her mother.

Comics this year had a lot of rereads which I enjoyed a lot.

Modesty Blaise is always an enjoyable action/adventure read.

Exiles reread was great and I will continue it next year.

She-Hulk reread was also very enjoyable.

But the best were the two volumes of Black Cat.

The first book in the humorous fantasy romance series Saint of Steel.


Publication year: 2020

Format: Audio

Running time: 12 hours, 30 minutes
Narrator: Joel Richards

Stephen’s god, the Saint of Steel, died three years ago. The Saint had a handful of paladins and priests. On that day, some of them went berserk, killing and wounding people who happened to be near them at the time. The Saint’s paladins are berserkers and only the god’s grace keeps them from hurting people who don’t deserve it. Now, the god is gone. Luckily, Stephen was in the company of Dreaming God’s paladins who subdued him. The priests of the White Rat took the seven surviving paladins in.

Duty is the only thing that gets Stephen out of bed in the mornings. The Rat’s priests cared for them and now employ them as bodyguards and men-at-arms, since the church has none of its own. While coming back from escort duty to one of the Rat’s healers, Stephen comes across a woman running from the servants of the Hanged Mother. He helps her, but that means faking a sexual encounter with her long enough that the Hanged Mother’s fanatic followers leave. He likes her but doesn’t know her name or where she lives. Of course, being a broken paladin, Stephen thinks he can’t have love, or even lust, in his life.

Also, someone, or something, is killing people in the poorer areas. And when Stephen and the woman next meet, they witness an assassination.

Grace is a perfumer. She fled her previous master who was also her husband. He made her feel like no man ever wants her. He didn’t even end her apprenticeship so she’s technically not a craftswoman. But she has built a comfortable life for herself with her civette cat Tab and her best friend Marguerite, who is a spy. Grace must get perfume ingredients from graveyards so the Hanged Mother’s servants chase her. When the paladin saves her, she’s irritated but relieved.

Later, she appears in a royal reception, giving her perfume to the ruler’s guest, which is panic-inducing by itself but there’s also a high chance that someone will know who she is. Instead, she, Marquerite, and the paladin end up witnessing an assassination attempt.

This was a delightfully fun and funny read. I loved the cast of characters, especially the very pragmatic Bishop Beartongue of the Rat’s church and Istvan, one of the Saint’s other paladins. Istvhan has a wicked sense of humor and he’s also very practical. The paladins are hilarious together. Marguerite is also a wonderful character. She’s also very practical, as a spy should.

Stephen knits socks in his free time. He considers himself the solid, dependable one so the chance that he could break into an uncontrolled berserker fury makes him wary of life. Yet, he can’t stop thinking about the mysterious perfuremer.

Grace has never been able to rely on anyone else than herself and she’s always waiting for the other shoe to drop when her life feels ”too good”. Except that she trusts Marquerite. Yet, she can’t get the paladin out of her mind. His gingerbread smell especially intrigues her. Smells are very important to her. But she thinks no man can ever be interested in her.

The pace is quite leisurely. I think the biggest problem is that both Grace and Stephen want each other, but are convinced that the other doesn’t, so they think about each other quite a lot. I also didn’t care for the jealousy. Also, some of the characters were pretty predictable but I didn’t mind it. Still, I enjoyed the book a lot. The next book’s main character is Istvhan.


“Relief feels like happiness, if you don’t know the difference.”

“Rescue was bad. People who wanted you to be vulnerable and grateful tended to get very angry when you stopped being vulnerable and didn’t act grateful enough.”

“Normal people flirt. I think. Apparently we just exchange terrible life stories.”

“Having men want to rescue you was worlds different than simply having a female friend who had your back. If she needed a body buried, the only question Marguerite would ask was, ‘How deep?’”

Happy holidays to everyone who is celebrating! I hope you have a relaxing holiday.

Collects Exiles issues 5-11 from 2001-2002.


Writer: Judd Winick

Artist: Mike McKone, Jim Calafiore

Publisher: Marvel

Right after their traumatic second mission, our heroes are whisked away to their next task. In the Canadian woods, they meet the Alpha Flight, which is led by Wolverine and the Shaman is John Proudstar, an alternate version of Exiles’ Thunderbird. Their mission is to keep the Alpha Flight alive against a furious Hulk.

The third issue is one of the weird Marvel experiments: an issue without dialog. It works surprisingly well. Our heroes take a well-deserved rest in a hotel and we see their dreams. This was a neat idea, having a bit of a breather between intense storylines, letting us know the heroes better, and even getting in a bit of character development.

Issue eight starts with telling us that the team has been through adventures we don’t see and that they’ve become a solid team. Also, that Blink and Mimic are now a couple. I felt it was something of a cop-out, skipping a couple of years of adventures. But I can understand why Winnick (or Marvel editors) did that.

The last three issues are action-packed. The Exiles have arrived on an Earth which is under Skrull rule and has been for about a century. Humans have been enslaved and all superhumans are forced to fight each other in arenas for the amusement of Skrulls. When the story starts, the Exiles have been on this Earth for about a month. Thunderbird, Mimic, Nocturne, and Sunfire were captured very soon and are forced to fight. Blink and Morph have managed to stay free, but haven’t succeeded in freeing the others and they’re starting to get desperate. However, the Skrulls aren’t the biggest threat…

The final issue is also a stand-alone.

This was a great collection, offering a lot of action and strange alternate realities (which I love), but also character development and emotional moments. Winnick also starts to cast some doubt about just who the Timebroker is and why the Exiles are doing their jobs. Looking forward to the next one.

The first book in the Steampunk Red Riding Hood series.


Publication year: 2018

Publisher: Carter & Bradley Publishing

Format: ebook

Page count from Amazon: 124

In Victorian England, supernatural creatures live in secret. But the Queen has a secret society, the Red Capes, who defend her land and people from the threats of werewolves, vampires, and other creatures. The Red Capes report to a mysterious organization called the Rude Mechanicals. Clemeny Louvel, whose nickname is Little Red, is one of those agents. She loves her job, even though it’s dangerous and leaves her little time to sleep. She can always rely on her partner Quinn Briarwood to watch her back. She’s an orphan, raised by an old woman whom she calls grand-merè.

But now the unthinkable has happened. Two of London’s most powerful werewolf packs have joined forces and started kidnapping alchemists and professors. The packs are usually fighting each other so Clem and Quinn must quickly find out what is going on.

This was an exciting and fast-paced beginning to the series. Even though it’s set in Victorian London, it has many prominent female characters, including a professor and the chief of the Red Capes. So women aren’t as constricted in this fantasy world as they were in history. The werewolves are also a bit different than what I’ve come to expect.

The world-building was intriguing, but the shortness of the tale left the characters a little shallow. Quinn is happily married so there’s not going to be a romance between him and Clem. She is single and another romantic interest is dangled before her, someone she doesn’t trust, of course.

Clem is confident and a very capable agent. However, I don’t know why she’s an agent, just that she loves her dangerous job and is good at it.

Part of the Action Heroine bundle I bought from Storybundle 2018.

Collects Exiles issues 1-4 from 2001.


Writer: Judd Winick

Artist: Mike McKone

Publisher: Marvel

I love alternate realities and this series has lots of them. All the characters are from different alternate realities and they travel to other alternative realities trying to fix them. I read it when it originally came out and really enjoyed it. Still a very enjoyable read! The whole series is aimed at X-Men fans who already know the characters and the seminal storylines.

Six heroes: Blink from Age of Apocalypse, Nocturne who is the daughter of the Nightcrawler and the Scarlet Witch, Mimic who is a heroic X-Man and an Avenger, Warpath whom Apocalypse captured and made his Horseman, Morph who is a respected X-Man, and Magnus, son of Rogue and Magneto. At the end of the first adventure, the heroes are joined by Mariko Yashida who is Sunfire.

A strange little man Timebroker tells that they’ve been yanked from their home realities to right wrongs in other universes. If they don’t, ripples in time will change their own lives for the worse. But they can be wounded or die for real. The Timebroker gives them a device called Tallus which will tell them what to do. Blink wears it.

In the first story, our heroes are sent to a world where humans have overcome mutants with technology. The Tallus tells Blink to ”find their greatest teacher” and they set out to bust Professor Xavier from a maximum security prison.

The second story is a retelling of the Dark Phoenix saga! Our heroes appear on the Moonbase, just when the Shi’Ar transport the X-Men there. The Tallus tells the Exiles that Jean Grey must die. Almost all Exiles know and love Jean, so their mission will be hard.

The art is pretty 90s style. What I really disliked is that both Nocturne and Sunfire wear very little. Nocturne first appears wearing just panties and a very short shirt. She then wears a leather bikini as a ”uniform”. Mariko similarly wears a bikini. Meanwhile, the men are fully clothed. Sigh. Otherwise, the art is pretty good.

A stand-alone SF novella. It’s also the first book in a Monk and a Robot series.


Publisher: TOR

Publishing year: 2021

Format: Print

Page count: 147

Sibling Dex is a monk. One day they hear a recording of crickets and they can’t get it out of their mind. There are no crickets where they live. They become restless and decide that they want to become a tea monk, traveling from one settlement to another, giving people the chance to talk. But seeing it done, isn’t the same thing as doing it, as they realize on their first day.

Two years later, Dex has a regular route where the people love them and look forward to talking with them. But discontent and restlessness are growing inside again and Dex makes a decision to change their life again. Then they meet a robot for the first time. In fact, no human has met a robot after the fateful day of Awakening centuries ago, when robots became sentient and marched off to the wilderness. Dex wants solitude, but the robot, Splendid Speckled Mosscap, insists that it’s on a mission to find out what humans want. It wants to tag along and question Dex. Reluctantly, Dex agrees.

This isn’t an adventure story. It’s a more quiet tale. Dex is single-minded about their destination in the wilderness. While they like their job as a tea monk, when they’re not around other humans, they’re quiet and require their solitude. Mosscap is much chattier and Dex resents that. Still, they have wonderful conversations about their cultures, lives, and the meaning of life.

Once again, Chambers delivers a ”cozy” SF story with likable characters. This time, the humans learned from this mistake of enslaving the robots and have a built a society without AI or robots. (Personally, I’m a bit skeptical about that. I mean if our computers, smartphones, marketing AIs, and smartTVs and whatnot became self-aware would we really just let them go and designed something without AI? I hope so but…)

The world-building was good, although somewhat limited in such a short tale. I look forward to seeing more of the characters and the world.


“This had been the way of things since the Transition, when the people had redivided the surface of their moon. Fifty percent of Panga’s single continent was designated for human use; the rest was left to nature, and the ocean was barely touched at all. It was a crazy split, if you thought about it: half the land for a single species, half for the hundreds of thousands of others. But then, humans had a knack for throwing things out of balance. Finding a limit they’d stick to was victory enough.”

“You and I — we’re just atoms that arranged themselves the right way, and we can understand that about ourselves. Is that not amazing?”

“If we want change, or good fortune, or solace, we have to create it for ourselves.”

Ten short stories about different timelines. Part of Storybundle’s the Big Time Bundle I bought in 2020.


Publication year: 2020

Publisher: Thousand Faces Publishing

Format: ebook

Page count from Amazon: 160

The short stories are mostly SF (depending on how you categorize time travel) and a couple of fantasy stories. Almost all of them are written in the first person and start either in the middle of the action or right before it.

The Face of Trouble: The main character wakes up in a new body, once again. They hop from body to body without knowing who they are in or when, so that they can change the future. But this time, another body hopper is after them.

Forty Years Among the Elves: After driving for many hours, the main character stops to sleep. But first, he takes a walk around the trees. He feels that someone is watching. Someone is: a jaw-droppingly gorgeous man. The main character follows him further into the forest.

Frozen: The main character is a teenager who has just gotten a date with a girl he admires, so he drives rather recklessly. His car is about to slam into another car, when time freezes.

If You Kill Hitler…: When the news tells everyone that time travel is now possible, Willie doesn’t believe it will change anything for the normal people, just for the rich and powerful. But he’s a former soldier and what he did still haunts him.

No Shortcuts to Fame: Holland is the lead singer of a metal band climbing their way up to fame. He wakes at 4 AM staring at his own face. A second him standing next to his bed.

Reversing Ill Fortune: Tyler has had an abysmal year, culminating in a car accident where his girlfriend died. He desperately needs change. So he puts his trust in a booklet he found on the internet, goes to a secluded mountain, and starts the spell.

The Night of Absinthe and Regret: The main character made a stupid mistake and now he has a chance to fix it.

Trapped in Sepia: A red Corvette almost hits Kevin when he’s crossing the street. Everything slows down and he just manages to dodge. But then everything is sepia-toned. And people walk right through him.

The Side-Effect Staircase: The main character lives on the 12th floor of his building. He’s lived there for six months so he knows the staircase well. One day, the steps continue up and he can’t resist them.

Paradox. Lost.: A (black) scientist has invented time travel. Now, he’s drifting through time, trying to find back home.

These were all entertaining and fast-paced. My favorites are ”Face of Trouble” and ”Trapped in Sepia”. I think both have possibilities for further stories. The last one is very brief and I think it works best for people who have already read or watched many time travel stories.

Some of the stories have different theories about time travel. In some, you can make changes, in others you can’t, while some create alternate timelines instead of changing your own life. Some of the characters travel through time intentionally, others by accident. So, this was a good mix of stories.

Cross-over adventure for two of DC’s flagship teams.


Writers: David S. Goyer, Geoff Johns

Artists: Carlos Pacheco, Jesús Merino

Publisher: DC

Publication year: 2003

The Justice Society of America and the Justice League of America team up to fight villains and each other. The story starts with a lovely piece of art as Superman and the Sentinel are on the Moon, looking at the Earth from space.

JSA and JLA get together in JLA Watchtower on the Moon to enjoy Thanksgiving together. But Bedlam attacks a world hunger conference and specifically President Luthor and Vixen who is guarding him. JLA and JSA rush to the rescue. They overcome Bedlam quickly, but something isn’t right: Batman and Mr. Terrific come to blows over leadership differences and then many of the other heroes join the fight. Soon, some of our heroes are sent to Dr. Fate’s tower, others to Limbo, and the rest must figure out what’s going on.

This was quite a fun comic. These days it would probably have been a ten-issue maxi-series and I think the writers could pull that off. The writers juggled 13 JLA members and 16 JSA members, which wasn’t easy. Still, most heroes have their moments to shine and the team-ups have heroes from different teams, which is always fun. The pace is fast and there are a few jokes, too. However, I’m unhappy with how a couple of the heroes were handled, particularly Power Girl.

Pacheco’s art is gorgeous, even if he draws oversexualized women.

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