Books

Reviews of both new release and older books from many different genres including science fiction, fantasy, horror, young adult, and nonfiction.

24 Romance Novels for Geeks of All Kinds

Summer is more than halfway over, but in no possible way is it winding down. There are many more weekends to spend at the cabin or hiding away inside air conditioning, whatever your preference is, and what’s the traditional kind of book to read by the pool? Romance novels, of course. “But Stephanie,” you might say. “I don’t want to read about a billionaire cattle rancher or whatever and his supermodel girlfriend!” Well, first, lay off my Harlequin Presents,...

A Minnesota Author Imagines Intergalactic Battles with a Cosmic Entity in Wolf of the Tesseract

Ever since playing Arkham Horror with my brother, I can’t get enough of the Cthulhu mythos. I was at Blizzard World ComiCon in February of this year, and Christopher Schmitz overheard me discussing with another creator about Cthulhu. He attracted my attention and sold me on his novel Wolf of the Tesseract. He gave me a guarantee that I would really enjoy reading his book if I was as obsessed with Cthulhu as I had mentioned earlier. Months passed as I prepared for...

Experience Unexpected Darkness in Neverland with Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook

Captain Hook is a bad guy. Peter Pan is a good guy. This is what we know, whether our education comes from Disney’s beloved Peter Pan of 1953; 1991’s Hook, in which the title character is played with dastardly relish by Dustin Hoffman; or J. M. Barrie’s plays and novels of the early 20th century, in which the character of Peter Pan was created. Regardless of the origin of our knowledge, this is what we all know. Or, should...

In Winter’s Kitchen Combines Homey Recipes and Midwestern Nostalgia

Six months after I moved from Seattle back to the Twin Cities, I was in a winter-induced funk. Every time I stepped outside into frigid, January air, I wanted to run screaming back to the misty Pacific Northwest, where winter is indeed dark, but at least I could leave my house without feeling like the wind was searing my lungs in half. I was deeply homesick for a home I hadn’t known long, but one that had left its...

Cyn Collins Chronicles the Birth of Punk and Indie Rock in Minneapolis

Before Prince put Minneapolis on the national music map with Purple Rain, and before the Replacements broke away from Twin/Tone Records to experience what a major label had to offer, the Minneapolis music scene was small, intimate, and building to explode. In Complicated Fun: The Birth of Minneapolis Punk and Indie Rock, 1974–1984, Cyn Collins documents space and time by exploring the memories of the misfits who were inspired by what they were hearing from England, Detroit, and New...

Minnesota Fans of Harry Dresden Will Love Pipe and Pestle

Imagine a book series with a broody Harry Dresden–like character roaming around Minneapolis and blending in with various supernatural creatures. Minnesota writer Joseph Weinberg has achieved this task by creating a story that’s refreshing and thrilling in Pipe and Pestle, the first of a series. Protagonist Sam Archer is employed at his mythical store, the Swain Paige, when the beautiful Ella Saint Claire stops by. She is interested in purchasing a very specific artifact from and wants Sam to purchase...

Tender Wings of Insult, or: How Not to Do a Gentle Parody

Dear Gentle Readers: In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I loathe and abhor Tender Wings of Desire. For those who are not au courant in the literary scene, Tender Wings of Desire is a historical romance novella, put out by KFC—yes, that KFC—in honor of Mother’s Day, dedicated to mothers everywhere. It was “written” by Colonel Sanders and stars that selfsame...

Sleeve Tattoos and Sage Salmon Come Together in Knives & Ink

If you are a chef or author of food-related things, the International Association of Culinary Professionals is a pretty big deal. The organization as it is now is a 1990 merger between the International Association of Cooking Professionals (which has been around for 40 years) and the Food Marketing Communicators organization. It has both hosted conferences and given awards in a number of categories over the years. They have seven main categories of awards on various aspects of food—impact on community,...

Local Music Writer Jim Walsh Talks Concert Memories, Prince, and Beauty in Many Forms

Jim Walsh is an artist who wears many creative hats. He’s a freelance journalist, author, songwriter, musician, husband, and father—and in the last few months, he’s released two new books, Bar Yarns and Manic-Depressive Mixtapes: Jim Walsh on Music From Minneapolis to the Outer Limits (November 2016) and Gold Experience: Following Prince in the ’90s (January 2017). Published by University of Minnesota Press, the books collect many of the columns, articles, and features he’s written as a Twin Cities...

The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories Are All Smoke and No Fire

I need to start this review with a confession: I am not an aficionado of the short-story format. That being said, I’ve seen my share of well curated anthologies. A good collection, to my mind, is bound together not simply by a single characteristic but by a larger uniting theme. Every piece in The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories—edited by Jared Shurin and Mahvesh Murad, and including stories by local favorite Neil Gaiman and 2016 CONvergence guest...
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