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Books Read in May, 2017 June 2, 2017

Posted by jkahane in book hut, reading hut, review.
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As is my standard usage of my blog space at or near the beginning of the month, I present the listing of my May, 2017 reads.

*****
Books Read in May, 2017

The Corporation Wars: Dissidence by Ken MacLeod

Tehanu by Ursula K. Le Guin (r)

The Island of Books by Dominique Fortier

Tales From the Loop by Simon Stalenhag (Artbook)

Tales From the Loop Roleplaying Game by Nils Hintze, Matt Forbeck, Nils Karlen and Bjorn Hellqvist (RPG)

Shipstar by Gregory Benford and Larry Niven

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (r)

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (r)

May, 2017 Locus

Strange Things Done by Elle Wild

Apocalyptic Fiction by Andrew Tate
*****

And those were my reads for the month of May. Given everything that was going on in May (what with CanGames and then being sick afterwards), I’m a little surprised that I actually read as much as I did last month. The books I enjoyed the most were:

Strange Things Done by Elle Wild – One of the most pleasant surprises of the year book-wise for me, this is the story of a female reporter who goes to Dawson City, Yukon (Canada) to be the editor of the local paper. With a secret of her own, she decides to find out who’s killing people in Dawson City, putting herself in danger. Set at the start of a brutal Yukon winter, it was nice to read a book that has the natural environment and the season as characters in their own right. There were plenty of plot twists here to keep the reader guessing, and truth is, I didn’t figure out who the killer was until the end. Recommended.

The Island of Books by Dominique Fortier – A lovely, interesting novel about the abbey on Mont Saint-Michel. An artist, in the fifteenth century, loses the love of his love, puts down his paint brush and, lost and grieving, moves to the monastery at Mont Saint-Michel. He lives amongst the monks, spending his time haunting the hallways until he is asked, despite being illiterate, to help make copies of old manuscripts in the library. The writing here is a fusion of history, mixed with fictional stories of a man who came to the abbey after the death of his lover and the story of a modern-day writer and her daughter as she tries to write this book. I loved the going back and forth between times, as well as the different places and people, but I suspect that some folks will be confused by this one. Still, I enjoyed it, and recommend it.

I pretty much enjoyed all the (other) books that I read in May, 2017, especially the re-read of Le Guin’s Tehanu, but these are the two that stood out for me.

Overall, I managed to read 9 novels, 1 RPGs and RPG products, 1 magazine, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels in May. This brings the year total for 2017 to a set of numbers that look like this: 46 books, 8 RPGs and RPG products, 10 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels.

Anyway, thoughts and comments are always welcome. 🙂

Books Read in April, 2017 May 3, 2017

Posted by jkahane in book hut, reading hut, Uncategorized.
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I meant to post this yesterday, but I got a bit busy with other things. Anyway, as is my standard usage of my blog space at or near the beginning of the month, I present the listing of my April, 2017 reads.

*****
Books Read in April, 2017

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

1984 by George Orwell (r)

The King’s Bastard by Rowena Cory Daniells

March, 2017 Locus

The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

April, 2017 Reader’s Digest

Behind the Throne by K.B. Wagers

Hwarhath Stories: Transgressive Tales by Aliens by Eleanor Arnason

Blood Song by Anthony Ryan

May, 2017 Reader’s Digest

Coriolis: Atlas Compendium by Martin Dunelind, Nils Karlen, Kosta Kostulas and Adam Palmquist (RPG)

April, 2017 Locus

The Wreck of the Marissa by M. Harold Page
*****

So that’s my reads for the month of April. I was actually quite suprised and pleased at the number of books that I read in the month, as I hadn’t thought that I’d read that much, but 8 books (not including the RPG stuff) was pretty good, and is about my normal consumption of books for the month. The books I enjoyed the most were:

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill – This book was a true marvel and wonder to read, and was a faerie tale for all ages (but is quite suitable for younger readers, and is a YA book after all). Ostensibly the story of Luna and her “mother”, the witch of the local (volcano area) woods, Xan, it’s a tale of a child growing up with a magic that she gained by happenstance, and is about growing up. The writing in this book is magical, faerie tale-like as already mentioned, but is also about the magical versus the mundane, and social organisation. There’s more to the story than this, of course, but to say more would spoil it for readers. An enchanting, delicious read. I highly recommend it to readers of all ages.

Behind the Throne by K.B. Wagers – Quick, sarcastic, and lethal, Hailimi Bristol doesn’t suffer fools gladly. She has made a name for herself in the galaxy as a gunrunner, for everything except what she was born to do: rule the Indranan Empire. That is, until two Trackers drag her back to her home planet to take her rightful place as the only remaining heir. Some may argue that this novel is a “chick” book, but to be honest, I enjoyed it a lot. While the Indranan Empire is largely influenced by Indian culture, the characters in the book are interesting, have personalities that are distinct, and the writing is relatively crisp with action sequences that I liked, but didn’t reduce the space opera feel, though it doesn’t actually live up to the blurb in that regard on the back cover. That said, an enjoyable read, and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

Hwarhath Stories: Transgressive Tales by Aliens by Eleanor Arnason – Eleanor Arnason is one of the finest writers of anthropological science fiction, on a par with Ursula K. Le Guin, and one of my favourite writers. This is a book of alien folk tales translated for humans, set in the same universe as Arnason’s Ring of Swords. These were all excellent tales of “transgressive” people who went outside of their society’s norms and behaved in a fashion that was shocking and disturbing. However, in a society where heterosexual sex is held solely for procreation and bartered between families, where romantic love and passion are strictly same sex only, where women rule families and men are kept only for their strength and ability to fight, well, the transgressions don’t seem that remarkable and thus the characters shine far more than just through their actions. Arnason’s alien world is incredibly well developed, and the stories are written true to form, sounding exactly how you would expect folk tales that have become legend, translated by humans for humans, to be. An excellent book in the author’s series, and definitely a collection of stories that I would recommend.

All the (other) books that I read in April, 2017 were pretty good, but the ones above are the stand-outs for the month for me.

Overall, I managed to read 8 novels, 1 RPGs and RPG products, 4 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels in April. This brings the year total for 2017 to a set of numbers that look like this: 37 books, 7 RPGs and RPG products, 9 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels.

Anyway, thoughts and comments are always welcome. 🙂

Books Read in March, 2017 April 3, 2017

Posted by jkahane in book hut, reading hut, review.
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As is my standard usage of my blog space at or near the beginning of the month, I present the listing of my March, 2017 reads.

*****
Books Read in March, 2017

Matilda by Roald Dahl

February, 2017 Locus

The Wretched of Muirwood by Jeff Wheeler

From the Gracchi to Nero by H.H. Scullard

Bowl of Heaven by Gregory Benford and Larry Niven (r)

March, 2017 Reader’s Digest

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (r)

Coriolis RPG Quickstart Set by Christian Granath, Tomas Harenstam, Nils Karlen, Kosta Kostulas, and Simon Stalenhag (RPG) (r)

Coriolis – The Third Horizon Roleplaying Game by Tomas Harenstam, Nils Karlen, Kosta Kostulas, and Christian Granath (RPG)

Twinmaker by Sean Williams

The Exile by C.T. Adams

Into the Forest by Jean Hegland
*****

So that’s my reads for the month of March. I was actually quite suprised and pleased at the number of books that I read in the month, as I’ve been so sick for most of the month and my head has not really wanted to read all that much. Obviously ready more books and material than I thought I had. The books I enjoyed the most were:

Coriolis – The Third Horizon Roleplaying Game by Tomas Harenstam, Nils Karlen, Kosta Kostulas, and Christian Granath – Not really a novel, but a roleplaying game, Coriolis uses the basis of the Arabian Nights in space and a simple game mechanic set to bring to life a science fantasy roleplaying game that has a lot of meat to its bone, with a well-detailed universe setting. If you’re going to CanGames 2017 here in Ottawa in just over 6 weeks or so, come and play the game with me! 🙂

The Wretched of Muirwood by Jeff Wheeler – The first book in the Legends of Muirwood series, the author paints an interesting picture centred around Lia, a thirteen-year-old girl with with no knowledge of her family and a pretty snarky attitude. Her lack of knowledge of her bloodlines, makes Lia one of the Wretched, the outcasts of the society that are taken care of by the abbeys. Lia’s ambition in life is to learn how to read, something that being a Wretched doesn’t afford her. This story is well written, has interesting characters (though Lia can be annoying at times!), and the plot moves along at a solid place. The author did a lot of research for the book (as noted in the Author Notes at the end). The religious and magic elements of this book are quite unique in a lot of ways, and the setting itself breathes and feels alive, having a feel of depth and history. A very strong novel, and one that I recommend highly.

Twinmaker by Sean Williams – I don’t know where to begin with this review. Well, okay, I guess I should start by saying that the book is actually called Jump, renamed Twinmaker for the U.S. (and Canadian) market. Simply put, this is a very clever, superbly written book, a rivetting adventure of epic proportions, and a disturbing future. The premise of the book is instant gratification. You can instantly transport yourself anywhere in the world. You can fabricate anything you want immediately through a “fabber”. Fun, free, sounds amazing… But if people are taken apart and put back together at their destination, how do we determine if they are unchanged through the process? What about the soul? And taking things further, what if you changed things about yourself using the d-mat? The protagonist of the novel, Clair, struggles with all these questions and more as she tries to save her best friend, Libby, from the devastating effects of Improvement. The set-up of this book has all the signs of a romance-centric novel with some dystopia thrown in, but very quickly morphs into something action-filled. I’m not going to give away any of the plot here, but will say that I was invested in the characters and their lives, and thought that the author’s writing was top notch. Looking forward to picking up the sequel from my To-Read Queue, for sure!

All the (other) books that I read in March, 2017 were very good, but the ones above are the stand-outs for the month for me.

Overall, I managed to read 8 novels, 2 RPGs and RPG products, 2 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels in March. This brings the year total for 2017 to a set of numbers that look like this: 29 books, 6 RPGs and RPG products, 5 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels.

Anyway, thoughts and comments are always welcome. 🙂

Book Stacks Arrived (and a CD) March 7, 2017

Posted by jkahane in book hut, music hut, personal, photos, reading hut.
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One of the things I’ve always said is that I’m quite likely to die with a stack of books that I won’t have read left behind.

Here’s proof of this. This load of books arrived in snail mail yesterday, Monday the 6th.

And here’s the second batch of books that was waiting at my door when I got home this afternoon. (There was also a Delta Goodrem CD with this package, but you can’t make that one out too well.)

I’m glad to have received the books, now just gotta find time to read them all. 🙂

Books Read in February, 2017 March 2, 2017

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As is my standard usage of my blog space at or near the beginning of the month, I present the listing of my February, 2017 reads.

*****
Books Read in February, 2017

Goldenhand by Garth Nix

The Annihilation Score by Charles Stross

Edge of Infinity edited by Jonathan Strahan

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

The Terranauts by T.C. Boyle

The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks

January/February, 2017 Reader’s Digest

The Perfume of Lust by Gaston Danville

The Queen’s Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler

Science Fiction for Scientists edited by Michael Brotherton
*****

And so February’s reads for the month drew to an end. I was quite pleased about the number of books and other stuff that I read in February, as it seemed to be a slow reading month for me, but I obviously read more than I thought I had. The books I enjoyed the most were:

Goldenhand by Garth Nix – The fifth book in the Old Kingdoms series, and a book that I was looking forward to. The previous book, Clariel, which came out last year was something of a disappointment to me for various reasons. On finishing Goldenhand, I was again a bit disappointed but had thoroughly enjoyed the book. For those who don’t want spoilers, I’ll just summarize here and say this is a book for the fans. If you love the Old Kingdom you should definitely read this book. But don’t go into it with too many expectations, because while the book was an enjoyable read, it’s not without its flaws, notably delivery of the plot, pacing, and the romantic elements. A good book, but one that could have been better.

The Annihilation Score by Charles Stross – This novel in the Laundry series of books changes the focus character from Bob (whose stories I love) to his now estranged wife, Dr. Maureen O’Brien (Mo) and her infernal violin. The story was fast-paced, the action intense, and Mo’s characterisation and that of her violin were excellent, but this one was full of bureaucracy and lacked the humour of the Bob novels. Still, a highly recommended read.

Edge of Infinity edited by Jonathan Strahan – The second volume in the Infinity Project anthologies, this volume looks at the next giant leap for humankind: the leap from our home world out into the Solar System. Thirteen excellent stories ranging from the eerie transformations in Pat Cadigan’s Hugo-award-winning “The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi” to the frontier spirit of Sandra McDonald and Stephen D. Covey’s “The Road to NPS,” and from the grandiose vision of Alastair Reynolds’ “Vainglory” to the workaday familiarity of Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s “Safety Tests,” these stories span the whole of the human condition in our race to colonise our nearest neighbours. Highly recommended.

The Queen’s Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler – The first book in the young adult Kingfountain series of young adult books, this is the story of a young boy thrown into the deep end of the pool. The book follows Owen as a young boy at the King’s palace as ransom to keep his father, a Duke, in check. At first, he is quite timid and struggling to adjust to life at the castle, knowing his life is in danger. His brother, who was the last ransom, was killed when his father disobeyed the King. He grows into himself and learns a lot from the Queen’s Poisoner, who has taken it upon herself to help him survive. This one was a page turner and kept me reading whenever I had a chance to get back to it. The characters around Owen are all interesting and well-thought out, and the nature of magic in Wheeler’s world is interesting and fascinating. I can’t wait to read the second book in the series.

All the other books that I read in February, 2017 were very good, but the ones above are the stand-outs for the month for me.

Overall, I managed to read 9 novels, 0 RPGs and RPG products, 1 magazine, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels in February. This brings the year total for 2017 to a set of numbers that look like this: 21 books, 4 RPGs and RPG products, 3 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels.

Anyway, thoughts and comments are always welcome. 🙂

Wednesday Morning Thoughts February 22, 2017

Posted by jkahane in book hut, curling (sport), doctor, gaming hut, health hut, ottawa, personal, sports hut, tv hut, weather, work.
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Shaping up to be a comfortable, almost spring-like day here in the Ottawa valley. Rather strange for a February, but I won’t complain about this if you readers don’t either. 🙂

Work has been somewhat tiring this morning, but part of that is attributable to the fact that a) I’ve still got this bug, whatever it is, though I suspect it’s bronchitis, and b) the fact that I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night as I kept waking up from the coughing. The good news is that I have my regularly scheduled doctor’s appointment for this afternoon, so hopefully he’ll be able to figure out and tell me what I’ve got, and then we’ll go from there.

I won’t be gaming this evening with the Wednesday night group, as tonight is their off week, so I’ll be able to just sit back, and perhaps do some reading or watch some more of the Scott Tournament of Hearts on TSN. Some curling, hot drink, and relaxing on the couch with a book – sounds just about right for me at the moment.

Book Reads in January, 2017 February 2, 2017

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2017. The new year. Another year to see what my reading for the year will be like.

Thus, as is my standard usage of my blog space at or near the beginning of the month, I present the listing of my January, 2017 reads.

*****
Books Read in January, 2017

Up the Line by Robert Silverberg (r?)

The Witches of New York by Ami McKay

Further: Beyond the Threshold by Chris Roberson

The Dark Shadows Companion edited by Kathryn Leigh Scott

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Further Information: A Gamemaster’s Treasury of Time by Chris Adams, David Fooden, Barbara Manui, et. al. (RPG) (r)

Europa’s Lost Expedition by Michael Carroll

Thousand Suns Roleplaying Game, 2nd Edition by James Maliszewski (RPG)

Thousand Suns Five Stars Sourcebook & Adventure by James Maliszewski (RPG)

Thousand Suns Starship Rules Supplement by Greg Videll (RPG)

Dungeonology by Matt Forbeck

December, 2016 Locus

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

Forsaken Skies by D. Nolan Clark

Knight’s Dawn by Kim Hunter (r)

January, 2017 Locus

The Black Prism by Brent Weeks
*****

And thus started my year of reading for 2017. I have to say that I was quite pleased at the number of books and other stuff that I read in January, as it seemed to be a slow reading month to start off the new year, though I obviously read more than I expected to. The books I enjoyed the most were:

Knight’s Dawn by Kim Hunter – The first book in the Red Pavilions series, this is the story of a knight or soldier who wakes up in territory unknown, his memory gone, but with signs of having been involved in a mighty battle – except that there hadn’t been a battle in that area for a hundred years. This story of the character who takes the name Soldier involves wizards, betrayal, battle, love, and friendship(s). Perhaps not as good as Gene Wolfe’s _Soldier of the Mists_ due to its more historical basis, there’s plenty to this first book in the trilogy with some mystery elements (who is Soldier, and where’s he from?) that hooked me the first time I read it, and make it one of the re-reads that I like.

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly – I have always been interested in the space sciences since I was a little boy, and was fascinated by the so-called space race. The author does a terrific job of telling the story of the African American female computer programmers and scientists involved in the U.S. Space Program from its early days. This is jot just a fascinating, true-to-life story, but it’s also an inspirational one. If you’ve read the book, go see the movie; if you’ve seen the movie but never read the book, do so. You won’t regret reading this superb book.

All the other books that I read in January, 2017 were very good, but the two above are the stand-outs for the month for me.

Overall, I managed to read 12 novels, 4 RPGs and RPG products, 2 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels in January. Since this is the start of the year, it brings the year total in 2017 to a set of numbers that look like this: 12 books, 4 RPGs and RPG products, 2 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels.

Anyway, thoughts and comments are always welcome. 🙂

Books Read in December, 2016 January 2, 2017

Posted by jkahane in book hut, reading hut.
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Since it is the new month of January (and it’s barely a couple of days old)… As is my standard usage of my blog space at or near the beginning of the month, I present the listing of my December, 2016 reads.

*****
Books Read in December, 2016

Under the Empyrean Sky by Chuck Wendig

Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds (r)

Continuum: Roleplaying in the Yet RPG by Chris Adams, David Fooden, and Barbara Manui (RPG) (r)

Memoirs of a Spacewoman by Naomi Mitchison

Fearsome Journeys: The New Solaris Book of Fantasy edited b Jonathan Strahan

The Elfish Gene: Dungeons, Dragons and Growing Up Strange by Mark Barrowcliffe

December, 2016 Reader’s Digest

Free Fall by Rick Mofina

The Devourers by Indra Das

The Desert of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones

Warm Worlds and Otherwise by James Tiptree Jr. (r?)
*****

December, 2016 was a good month in terms of reading, that seemed somewhat slow at times and fast at others, and there was a good variety of books that I read last month. somewhat slow at times and fast at others, with a wide variety of stuff read. Despie some of the hype about some of the books I read in December, 2016, nothing really stood out to me. The books I enjoyed the most were:

The Desert of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones – In 8th Century Baghdad, the Captain of the Jaffar’s Royal Guard, Asim, and the scholar Dabir are dispatched to uncover the mystery of a rune inscribed relic. This book is a fresh look at the sword & sorcery genre with an Arabian Nights feel that is also somewhat historical in feel (and has a gritty realism to it). The book is full of of vibrant, well-written, characters that draw the reader in, dastardly villains, and exotic and strange landscapes. There’s a very old-school vibe here that makes me think of Howard, Leiber (especially!), Moore, and the countless other sword & sorcery writers. I highly recommend this novel.

The Devourers by Indra Das – This novel is one of the books I’ve read this year that actually did live up to the hype. The book is a twist on Indian folklore that is actually a “werewolf” novel, but that term is something of a misnomer. Consider this book more of a shape-shifter book, mostly told through flashbacks and journal entries. Das’s work doesn’t shy away from difficult and hard topics, notably a rape which is the heart of the book in so many ways, but the book deals with many other topics and elements – including cultural issues, gender issues, among others. It does read a bit slow in some of the transcribed sections, but was a good read.

Overall, I managed to read 9 novels, 1 RPG and RPG product, 1 magazine, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels in December. This brings the 2016 year end totals up to the following: 113 books, 22 RPGs and RPG products, 23 magazines, 140 comics, and 1 graphic novel. The reading for the year was up by 6 books, a decent improvement, and was a good year’s worth of reading.

R.I.P. Carrie Fisher (1956 – 2016) December 27, 2016

Posted by jkahane in book hut, in memorium, movie hut, movies.
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Terribly sad news today in the movie, writing, and life biz.

Carrie Fisher, the actress world famous for her portrayal of Princess Leia Organa in the Star Wars films, and who later penned award-winning books that included touching on her battles with addiction, has died at age 60.

Star Wars Actress, Bestselling Author Carrie Fisher Dead at 60

Words cannot express my sentiments at the moment, but the death of Carrie Fisher has hit me relatively hard in some ways, especially in light of the deaths of various other artists this year (and the ones that have struck in December so far, George Michael just a day or so ago). When the first (well, actually the fourth) Star Wars movie came out, my 20-plus-year-old self fell in love with Princess Leia, and while I can’t say that I followed her film career all that much, I did enjoy some of the other films that she’s been in (you can see the film list in the link above).

One of my favourite lines from the actress is…

I don’t want my life to imitate art, I want my life to be art.” — Carrie Fisher

May the force be with you Princess Leia, Queen Leia Organa, General Organa… Carrie. You will be truly missed.

Rest In Peace, Carrie Fisher. *sigh*

I really hate 2016.

How I Spent My Christmas Day December 26, 2016

Posted by jkahane in book hut, coriolis rpg, food hut, gaming hut, health hut, holiday, housework, life, personal, reading hut, rpg hut, tv hut, writing & editing.
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Yesterday was Christmas Day. Being a single fellow, with little family left in the world, ’twas a day where I got to spend much of it on my own.

I woke up to find that my leg pain had diminished somewhat overnight, and that I was comfortably toasty in bed. I decided to lay in a bit longer, since there was no gaming for the day (and even if there had been, I wouldn’t be running it so there! 😛 ), and when I did get up, I headed upstairs for breakfast.

Had a nice breakfast of croissants and café au lait, and then went back to bed for a bit, and snoozed. Got up and jotted down an idea or two for a couple of Coriolis – The Third Horizon RPG scenarios, and then made some notes in the margins about them. Quite pleased with myself about this material, but we’ll see how it shapes up after the game actually comes out. I did a bit of reading before showering, and then had a relatively early lunch.

After lunch, I did a bit of vacuuming in the bedroom and the living room, and then relaxed and took another nap. Then it was time to watch the second disc of the 3rd season of Rizzoli & Isles, and rather enjoyed that.

I had myself a healthy meal for supper, consisting of roast chicken, a salad, some cooked snow peas, and lentils with cumin and onion. Yummy! For dessert, I had a couple of latkes (a Hanukkah tradition) with some apple sauce and drizzled honey. Even Yummier! 🙂 After cleaning the dishes away, I sat back and watched the evening’s new episode of The Librarians, followed by the Doctor Who Christmas special, “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”. It was a fun, light-hearted episode, that wasn’t Christmas-y at all, had a lot of nods to the superhero genre, and was a terrific Peter Capaldi outing.

I wrapped up the evening with my nightly insulin shot, and then went to bed and did some more reading before falling asleep.