March 2023

The first book in the historical fantasy series the Shadow Histories.


Publication year: 2020

Format: Audio

Running time: 20 hours, 53 minutes
Narrator: Andrew Kingston

It is the Age of Enlightenment — of new and magical political movements, from Maximilien Robespierre calling for revolution in France to Toussaint L’Ouverture leading the slaves of Haiti in their fight for freedom, to the bold new Prime Minister William Pitt weighing the legalization of magic amongst commoners in Britain and abolition throughout its colonies overseas.

But amidst all of the upheaval of the early modern world, there is an unknown force inciting all of human civilization into violent conflict. And it will require the combined efforts of revolutionaries, magicians, and abolitionists to unmask this hidden enemy before the whole world falls to darkness and chaos.

The story follows three groups of people. In England, the young Prime Minister William Pitt, his friend and abolitionist William Wilberforce, and the people around them. They are working inside the system so that the commoners could use their magic. In France, Roberspierre and his friend Camille Desmoulins are working for the same goal. Roberspierre has mesmerizing powers himself and a mysterious benefactor encourages him to use them. In Jamaica, a girl was enslaved when she was six. She, and all the other slaves, are forcefully fed a drink that makes them helpless to resist mesmerizing magic and so they are easier to control. But little by little she starts to resist the drink and the magic.

This is a retelling of the French Revolution and the Saint Domingue slave rebellion with magic. The main characters are almost all real historical people. The events happened so if you know British and France history, you’ll know what will happen.

Magic is inborn. In both France and England, infants are tested for magic and if commoner children have a talent for it, they’re issued bracelets that prevent them from using magic. Nobles can use magic. There’s a mention of vampire wars when commoner soldiers used magic and now they’re forbidden to use it. The Knights Templar is the organization that tests for magic. They also arrest and imprison people who use it without permission.

The story is meticulously researched and magic is very well infused into the historical events. However, it’s not an adventure story. Instead, it focuses on the politics of the time. The story starts with the description of the little girl being enslaved. The slavery descriptions are brutal.

The magicians seem to have just one or two talents: mesmerizing, fire magic, weather magic, blood magic, shadow magic, etc.

This was a nice change of pace for me and I will probably read the next book, too.

Dean Wesley Smith has a Dean Wesley Smith Starter Kit Kickstarter project. It has nine books and one short story from different genres, all the first in a series:

  • — The Cold Poker Gang … Kill Game (novel) (mystery/detective)
  • — The Thunder Mountain Series … Thunder Mountain (novel) (time travel historical)
  • — The Seeders Universe … Against Time (novel) (science fiction)
  • — The Poker Boy Series … The Slots of Saturn (novel) (urban fantasy, superhero)
  • — The Bryant Street Series … “Bryant Street” (short story) (Twilight Zone)
  • — A Ghost of a Chance Series … The Poker Chip (novel) (urban fantasy)
  • — The Pakhet Jones Series … Big Eyes (novel) (urban fantasy)
  • — The Marble Grant Series … The First Year (novel) (urban fantasy)
  • — The Mary Jo Assassin Series … Death Takes a Partner (novel) (fantasy thriller)
  • — The Earth Protection League … Life of a Dream (novel) (space opera)

The pledges have awesome writing courses: Writing Mystery series, Writing Space Opera, Writing Historical Fiction, Writing Idea Fiction, and Monetizing Short stories. For readers, the pledges include several DSW series.

3 days left and it has reached the first stretch goal so we get an additional short story.

The Humble Bundle has Attack on Titan Forever: “This colossal collection features all 34 volumes of Hajime Isayama’s acclaimed series, along with No Regrets, Before the Fall, Junior High, and more.”

17 days left

Storybundle has the 2023 World SF Bundle curated by Lavie Tidhar.

For five dollars, the basic bundle has:

  • Unto the Godless What Little Remains by Mário Coelho
  • Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  • Ion Curtain by Anya Ow
  • Hadithi & the State of Black Speculative Fiction by Eugen Bacon and Milton Davis

With 20 dollars, the bundle has six more books:

  • Nova Hellas: Stories from Future Greece edited by Francesca T Barbini and Francesco Verso
  • The Love Machine & Other Contraptions by Nir Yaniv
  • & This is How to Stay Alive by Shingai Njeri Kagunda
  • And What Can We Offer You Tonight by Premee Mohamed
  • Of Dragons, Feasts and Murders by Aliette de Bodard
  • HebrewPunk by Lavie Tidhar (StoryBundle Exclusive)

17 days left.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Today, the topic is Books on my Spring TBR.

I’m currently reading:

1, The Mammoth Book of Steampunk, edited by Sean Wallace

This collection has 30 steampunk short stories.

2, A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians by H. G. Parry

Set in the 18th century this is an alternate universe book where magic is real.

After those two I’m not quite sure what I’m going to read but these are high on my TBR right now:

3, Collinding Worlds vol. 3 by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch

An SF short story collection with the theme of time.

4, When Worlds Collide edited by S.C. Butler and Joshua Palmatier

An SF and fantasy short story collection about cultures colliding.

5, A Dragon of a Different Color by Rachel Aaron

The fourth book in the fantasy series Heartstrikers where the main characters are dragons.

6, Last Dragon Standing by Rachel Aaron

The fifth and final book in the dragon series

7, Among Thieves by M. J. Kuhn

A fantasy book I bought last year from Audible’s sale. The main character is an assassin.

8, Gunpowder Alchemy by Jeannie Lin

A steampunk book set in 1842 China.

9, The Illusion of Murder by Carol McCleary

The second book in the historical mystery series centered on the first female journalist Nellie Bly.

10, Murder in the Marais by Phillip L. Wray

The second book in a Musketeer murder mystery series set in 1637 France.

Apex Publications has Robotic Ambitions: Tales of Mechanical Sentience Kickstarter project.

It’s already funded with 10 days left.

HumbleBundle has ElfQuest: The complete Dark Horse Collection. With 25 dollars, you get Complete ElfQuest volumes 1-7 (the original comics collected), Final Quest volumes 1-4, and Stargazer’s Hunt 1 and 2. With one dollar, you get the first volumes of the Complete ElfQuest and the Stargazer’s Hunt.

I’m a huge fan of the comic so I’m glad to see it offered here.

10 days left until it goes away.

Storybundle has The Underground Comic Bundle. The basic, 5-dollar bundle includes Gastrophobia 1, Vattu, and Weird Nothing. Four other comics are in the pricier bundle.

17 days left.


A stand-alone SF novella.

Format: ebook

Publisher: WMG Publishing

Page count from GoodReads: 118

Publishing year: 2011

In this world, Apollo 8 never returned to Earth. Astronauts Borman, Lovell, and Anders veered into an orbit around the Sun. But the doomed astronauts pleaded through radio that their sacrifice shouldn’t be in vain. So, the space mission continued and twenty years later, the US has a base on the Moon and sent probes to Mars and Venus.

Richard Johansenn was eight years old when the Apollo 8 tragedy happened. He dedicated his life to recovering the capsule and the bodies of the astronauts. Now, forty years later, he has built a billion-dollar company and spaceships capable of returning the capsule home.

This novella has great world-building. Richard insists on being on the ship when they attempt to capture Apollo 8, so it has great details about working in space. It’s a quiet tale about obsession but also of hope.

Top 5 Wednesday is a GoodReads group where people discuss different bookish topic each week.

Happy International Women’s Day! To honor today’s holidays, feature five books that have been written or co-written by female authors!

Some of my favorite books and series have been written by women. Today, I’m going to highlight writers I haven’t talked about much but whose books I’ve enjoyed.

1, Murder in the Place of Anubis by Lynda S. Robinson


Who has dared to desecrate the sacred place of embalming with a murdered corpse? Pharaoh Tutankhamun orders Lord Meren, his chief investigator, to find out quickly, before power-mad priests use the incident to undermine his royal authority.

Everyone is a suspect, for the body belongs to the notorious scribe Hormin, hated by all who knew him. However, Lord Meren is no mere courtier but the Eyes and Ears of the living god. In the terrifying Place of Anubis, where unquiet spirits dwell, in the sunstruck city of Thebes, where Hormin’s sons and his beautiful concubine plot, and in the royal court, where intrigues abound, Lord Meren hunts his quarry, peeling back the secrets of nobles and slaves in his quest for the truth.

But more important by far is Meren’s responsibility to protect the young Pharaoh from his enemies — who are no farther away than the length of a dagger . . . .

2, Inceptio by Alison Morton


New Yorker Karen Brown is caught in a tangle of hot foreign agents, vicious maniacs and tough families. Running for her life, she flees into the alien culture of Roma Nova, the mysterious last outpost of the Roman Empire in Europe. Apart from kidnapping, heartache and a close encounter with Latin grammar, she must contend with a fascinating but arrogant Praetorian special forces captain.

Plus a crazy killer wants to terminate her for a very personal reason.

Part action adventure, part military thriller, laced with romance and coming of age, this is Roman fiction brought into the 21st century through the lens of alternative history and driven by a female protagonist with heart and courage. If you enjoy thrillers and mystery books for women with twists, this is for you!

3, The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal


On a cold spring night in 1952, a huge meteorite fell to earth and obliterated much of the east coast of the United States, including Washington D.C. The ensuing climate cataclysm will soon render the earth inhospitable for humanity, as the last such meteorite did for the dinosaurs. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated effort to colonize space, and requires a much larger share of humanity to take part in the process.

Elma York’s experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’s attempts to put man on the moon, as a calculator. But with so many skilled and experienced women pilots and scientists involved with the program, it doesn’t take long before Elma begins to wonder why they can’t go into space, too.

Elma’s drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions of society may not stand a chance against her.

4, Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron


As the smallest dragon in the Heartstriker clan, Julius survives by a simple code: keep quiet, don’t cause trouble, and stay out of the way of bigger dragons. But this meek behavior doesn’t fly in a family of ambitious magical predators, and his mother, Bethesda the Heartstriker, has finally reached the end of her patience.

Now, sealed in human form and banished to the DFZ–a vertical metropolis built on the ruins of Old Detroit–Julius has one month to prove that he can be a ruthless dragon or kiss his true shape goodbye forever. But in a city of modern mages and vengeful spirits where dragons are considered monsters to be exterminated, he’s going to need some serious help to survive this test.

He only hopes humans are more trustworthy than dragons…

5, A Devil in the Details by K. A. Stewart


When it comes to demons, always read the fine print.

Jesse James Dawson was an ordinary guy (well, an ordinary guy with a black belt in karate) until one day he learned his brother had made a bargain with a demon. Jesse discovered there was only one way to save his brother: put up his own soul as collateral, and fight the demon to the death.

Jesse lived to free his brother – and became part of a loose organization of Champions who put their own souls on the line to help those who get in over their heads with demons. But now experienced Champions are losing battles at a much higher rate than usual. Someone has changed the game. And if Jesse can’t figure out the new rules, his next battle may be his last…

The first book in the Daisy Dalrymple cozy mystery series set in 1920s Britain.


Publication year: 1994

Format: Audio

Running time: 6 hours, 38 minutes
Narrators: Bernadette Dunne

The Honorable Daisy Dalrymple doesn’t want to rely on her family and so she works as a journalist and photographer for the Town and Country magazine. She’s sent to the Earl of Wentwater to write an article about his historical home. Daisy knows some of the people at the Earl’s court and the family welcomes her. However, she notices that something is off. The Earl’s beautiful new wife is the same age as the Earl’s daughter Marjorie. One of the male guests, lord Stephen, is hitting on the Earl’s wife. She seems to spur his advances but the Earl turns a blind eye. At the same time, Marjorie tries to seduce Stephen. Marjorie’s brother Wilfred seems uncountably hostile to his young stepmother.

A man is found dead. At first, everyone thinks it was an accident but Daisy notes something strange. When a dashing Scotland Yard chief inspector arrives on the scene, he agrees. She wants to write a mystery novel and is very interested in helping the chief inspector. He’s immediately attracted to her and agrees that he needs a secretary. He’s been warned that he needs to honor the Earl’s rank and investigate carefully.

This was mostly a fun and light listen. Unfortunately, the narrator isn’t British and that shows. The characters are somewhat stereotypical but entertaining. There’s a beginning of a romance between the inspector and Daisy but it doesn’t take over the story. Daisy is a plucky flapper and determined to make her own way in the world. The story is told from the POV of both Daisy and the inspector.

The solution was quite different than I expected and resulted in quite a convoluted ending. On the other hand, I didn’t guess the killer.

Storybundle has another very interesting SF bundle: The SFWA Space is Big Bundle :

The late, great, Douglas Adams wrote: “Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.” Perhaps the only thing bigger than space itself are the stories that take place within it, and in the latest bundle curated by SFWA, we have 15 great ones for you at one low price. We hope you’ll join us for this entertaining ride between the stars.

If you pay five dollars you get:

  • The Empyrean by Katherine Franklin
  • Shadows of Mars by I.O. Adler
  • Hometown Space Pirate by C.G. Harris
  • Hammer and Crucible by Cameron Cooper

If you pay twenty dollars or more you get 11 bonus books:

  • The Venus Cycle Omnibus by Ryan T. McFadden
  • The Signal Out of Space by Mike Jack Stoumbos
  • Goodbye to the Sun by Jonathan Nevair
  • Redshift Rendezvous by John E. Stith
  • Sounding Dark by Jo Graham
  • Skylark in the Fog by Helyna L. Clove
  • Redspace Rising by Brian Trent
  • Rattle Man by E.H. Gaskins
  • Brain For Rent (Hardly Used) by D.M. Pruden
  • Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro
  • Memory and Metaphor by Andrea Monticue

21 days until the offer expires.

A stand-alone spacestation murder mystery novella.


Format: ebook

Publisher: WMG Publishing

Page count from GoodReads: 120

Publishing year: 2012

Kris DeLake is Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s romance pen name. However, this novella has no romance.

Grissam Hunsaker runs a run-down, very remote space station that pretends to be a resort for the rich. However, very few people find the place. So, when Hunsaker gets the message that a passenger ship is coming in just sixteen minutes, he’s annoyed. The Vaadum Resort and Casino has minimum staff and it takes a lot longer to prepare for over twenty guests. But the Presidio was in trouble and needed a place to dock, fast. The passengers are shocked, not just by the fact that their ship had a fire, but also because someone has murdered two of them.

Susan Carmichael is on the run and doesn’t want anyone to know. She just wants to leave the station and continue her journey. But when one more of the passengers is killed, she realizes nobody is safe.

Richard Illykova is the ship’s newest employee and the lowest on the pecking order. He works on the ship to pay for his passage. But when people start to die, he must rely on his skills from his former work: as an assassin.

This was a fun, short murder mystery. The characters are interesting and very different from each other. The mystery kept me guessing.

This is apparently a prequel to her Assassins in Love series but can be read as a stand-alone.