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Books Read in November, 2017 December 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 November, 2017 reads.

*****
Books Read in November, 2017

The Golden Torc by Julian May (r)

Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell by David Yaffe

October, 2017 Locus

King of Swords by Eleanor Arnason (r)

The Blight of Muirwood by Jeff Wheeler

Roses and Rot by Kat Howard

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
*****

And those were my reads in the month of November. This was one of the slowest months of reading that I’ve had in a long time, to be honest, but there are good reasons for it. The fact of the matter is that it’s been very difficult for me to actually hold a book in my hands or to lean one against my hands over the past month due to the problems I’m having with my left shoulder/neck/arm and spine. So it was actually a half-decent number of reads given my condition.

The books I enjoyed the most were:

Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell by David Yaffe – I can’t say that I’m a fan of music biographies, but I’ve always enjoyed the music of Joni Mitchell, so I figured I’d gve this book a read. The author’s style is readable and pretty much straightforward, though it’s a bit over-written in a couple of places for my taste. David Yaffe knows his stuff and covers the entirety of Joni Mitchell’s life in interesting, but not overly extensive, detail. He has known Joni Mitchell personally for a long time, and having spoken with her extensively for this book as well as having spoken to a wide variety of people who’ve known her from childhood friends to musical collaborators, and has creative a genuine picture of a very talented, yet tough, very much her own self, and self-reliant, musician. I recommend this book.

The Blight of Muirwood by Jeff Wheeler – One of the biggest problems with trilogies is that the middle book seems to always be the weakest of the three. The Blight of Muirwood is an exception to this rule, as this sequel is a better book in various ways than the first book in the Legends of Muirwood series. Author Jeff Wheeler has written a book that both expands on the first book and also sets up a conclusion that doesn’t feel like so many cookie cutter fantasy books these days. It also serves to set up what the third book will be about rather well. Blight is also a more mature book than the first book, as the protagonists are fleshed out more deeply, and relationships are further explained as well as being expanded upon. There’s a lot of action in this book, and some rather great plot twists. Highly recommended.

Roses and Rot by Kat Howard – What can I say about this novel that does it justice? Imogen is a writer, her two years younger sister Marin is a ballet dancer, and both go to an artists’ colony called Melete, just north of Boston. They both have a hideous mother who fits the role of the wicked stepmother or witch. And Melete hides secrets of its own, secrets that a knowledgeable reader will figure out somewhat earlier than other readers. Because this book is all about relationships and the realm of the Fae. What’s really special is that first novel writer Kat Howard slyly introduces the faerie elements with an almost factual nature that fans of the Fae will expect in such a “real world” setting. When one encounters the Wild Hunt, for example, the reader understands them for what they are, and accepts them within the reality of the book as something unique, frightening, but very much in keeping with the world that the author has created. While I don’t think this book is for everyone, if you enjoy books about Faeries and the Fay, with mortals blundering through it at times, this book is for you.

Those were the highlight reads among the books this past month.

Overall, I managed to read 6 novels, 0 RPGs and RPG products, 1 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels in November. This brings the year total for 2017 to a set of numbers that look like this: 86 books, 20 RPGs and RPG products, 19 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels.

Anyway, thoughts and comments are always welcome. πŸ™‚

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Books Read in October, 2017 November 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 October, 2017 reads.

*****
Books Read in October, 2017

The Incorruptibles by John Hornor Jacobs

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury (r)

Heroic Works 3: The Molted Serpent by Michael Masberg (RPG)

Heroic Works 4: Kibakadabra by Dominic Hladek (RPG)

Heroic Works 5: The Thorwal Drum by Daniel Hebler (RPG)

September, 2017 Locus

Heroic Works 6: Emperor of Thieves by Annette Juretzki (RPG)

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

The Thief’s Daughter by Jeff Wheeler

Black Salamander by Marilyn Todd

The Storyteller’s Thesaurus: Fantasy, History & Horror by James M. Ward & Anne K. Brown

The Many-Coloured Land by Julian May (r)

November, 2017 Reader’s Digest
*****

And those were my reads in the month of October. While this was a decent month of reading (I always try to read around 10 books per month), it actually feels like I didn’t read all that many books this past month. Still, not half bad. πŸ™‚

The books I enjoyed the most were:

The Thief’s Daughter by Jeff Wheeler – The second book in the Kingfountain series by the author, this book is actually somewhat better than the first novel was. The children who were the focus of the first book have grown up, and now find themselves involved in the intrigues that that they have been caught up in. This is a terrific character book: the King is tragically flawed and Owen and Elysabeth are normal young adults with responsibilities and have parts to play of their own in the unfolding tragedy tat is playing out. The book’s end is heartbreaking, and I’m looking forward to the third book in the series when I get to it in my To Read Queue (TRQ). Highly recommended.

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz – This book appealed to me, in the end, because it’s a lovely whodunnit that gives the reader not one, but *two* stories with murders to solve in the same novel. And, of course, I’m a sucker for a good mystery! The novel contains a classic mystery within a contemporary mystery. I’m not going to give away any of the plot elements here, but will say that the book is interesting, engaging and funny at some points. The story is narrated mainly by Susan and set in London, whereas the ‘Magpie Murders’ manuscript takes place in a small English village.
If you’re a fan of classic mysteries such as those of Agatha Christie, then you will likely enjoy this novel; if you’re a fan of contemporary thrillers then you will also enjoy this novel because it contains both elements! The novel is almost 500 pages long, and while I feel that it could have been told more concisely, this story is a wonderful read.

The Incorruptibles by John Hornor Jacobs – What can I say about this novel? Hmmm… Take a couple of pinches of Westerns, add a pinch of Romans, a pinch of steampunk and a smattering of touches of various other genres and you sort of get the wonderfully imaginative new world that the author has created for the first book of a planned trilogy. This book is wonderfully imaginative save in one respect: with the strong echo of Westerns, it’s not hard to see which group of characters has the role of Indians – and in that displays some of the most clichéd derogatory stereotypes from the Western genre. Without the Western influence, having bad guys who mutilate the heads of opponents, abduct babies and the like would probably pass without notice, but with the Western influence, it’s hard to see these as other than caricatures of Native Americans which are best left in the past. The book is the first part of a trilogy, but in setting the scene for large parts of the book there isn’t that much of an overall plot driving events along to some degree. By the end of the book there certainly is, but overall the pacing didn’t seem right to me. The depth of the imagination found in this world is the real strength of the novel, and it is very refreshing in its originality, given the story of a “steam boat” heading into dangerous territory with a mix of politicians and “cowboys” on board. I’m looking forward to the sequel to this one for sure.

Those were the highlight reads among the books this past month, though I also enjoyed reading Black Salamander by Marilyn Todd and re-reading The Many-Coloured Land by Julian May and a couple of the other works found above.

Overall, I managed to read 7 novels, 1 RPGs and RPG products, 2 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels in October. This brings the year total for 2017 to a set of numbers that look like this: 80 books, 20 RPGs and RPG products, 18 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels.

Anyway, thoughts and comments are always welcome. πŸ™‚

Happy Birthday, Ursula K. Le Guin! October 21, 2017

Posted by jkahane in birthday, book hut, reading hut, science fiction & fantasy, writing & editing.
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Today is the birthday of one of my favourite writers of all-time, Ursula K. Le Guin.

Many of us who read science fiction and fantasy were likely influenced by her early writings, such as the Earthsea trilogy, and the Hainish series (including The Left Hand of Darkness), and I am staggered by the sheer amount of material that she has written over the years and which I have in my possession. And honoured to own.

While I began with Asimov, Tolkien, and some of the other great writers who dominated the late 1950s (as my dad felt that I should read the sf and f that was written during the decade of my birth and before), it was the words and prose of Le Guin’s writing that gave me my love of social science fiction, and introduced me to the social sciences in such a terrific fashion.

Happy Birthday, UKL!! May the Goddess bless you with health, happiness, prosperity, and the ability to keep us entertained with enjoyable, thought-provoking books and short stories for many years to come! πŸ™‚

Current Mood: awake awake
Current Music:Santana – “Black Magic Woman”

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Books Read in September, 2017 October 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 September, 2017 reads.

*****
Books Read in September, 2017

The Dying Ship by Nils Karlen and Kosta Kostulas (RPG)

The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron

TORG: The Cassandra Files by Christopher Kubasik (RPG) (r)

The Dark Eye Quick-Start Rules by Unknown (RPG)

Monsters by Matthew McFarland with Jonathan McFarland (RPG)

August, 2017 Locus

Imagining Urban Futures: Cities in Science Fiction and What We Might Learn From Them by Carl Abbott

Wizard’s Funeral by Kim Hunter (r)

September, 2017 Reader’s Digest

Non-Stop by Brian Aldiss (r)

Martians Abroad by Carrie Vaughn

The Cyberpapacy Sourcebook by Jim Bambra (RPG) (r)

Jail Bait by Marilyn Todd

The Dark Eye (Roleplaying Game) Core Rules by Alex Spohr and Jens Ullrich (RPG)

Heroic Works 1: Witch’s Dance by Dominic Hladek (RPG)

Heroic Works 2: A Goblin More or Less by Gudrun Schurer (RPG)
*****

And those were my reads in the month of September. This was a decent month of reading, though I did read a lot of roleplaying games and rpg material in the month, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I got read in September.

The books I enjoyed the most were:

The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron – I’ve always liked good historical work, usually the older the better. But with this novel, I have to say that I also enjoy pre-historic books. πŸ™‚ This novel bounces back and forth between the story of Girl, the book’s Neanderthal protagonist, and Rosamund Gale, an archaeologist excavating a groundbreaking site. While I love science, and there’s some accurate (as far as I know) stuff here, the author made me appreciate my Neanderthal ancestors, but I also felt like I was being given an insight of actual events from 40,000 years ago. The parallels between Girl and Rose made the story feel more real, as through Rose, Girl became real. This is a novel that has a captivating story, that I think a lot of people will enjoy. Recommended.

Martians Abroad by Carrie Vaughn – First up, the basics. Polly Newton has a straightforward personal career goal: she wants to become a starship pilot, preferably as an intergalactic pilot, and take advantage of the new M Class drives being developed. However, her immediate plans are interrupted when her mother, the Mars Colony One director, announces that Polly and her twin brother, Charles, have been enrolled at the prestigious Earth-based Galileo Academy. Polly, having been born and raised on Mars as the third generation, post-colonization, has never stepped foot off-planet so moving to Earth for three years is a dreadful prospect, even if it might help her chances of getting into a pilot training program.

This stand-alone novel reminded me a lot of the Robert Heinlein juveniles; this is a good thing, ’cause I enjoyed reading those books. Told from Polly’s first person point of view as she struggles to adapt to her new environment on Earth. I’ve read a lot of science fiction where people living on Earth have to adjust to life in space, other planets, asteroid mining colonies, etc., but this is was a neat book that takes that concept and spins it on its head. (A notable exception being Heinlein’s own Stranger in a Strange Land.) Polly must not only struggle with things we take for granted (such as the relatively high gravity of Earth, the concept of β€œoutdoors”, the vastness of the oceans, etc.) but she must also cope with the prejudices of fellow students and teachers who regard Polly and Charles as outsiders and lesser people. She’s an enjoyable character to read about, but the other main characters in the book are also fun to read about, and are more detailed than I expected them to be. While this is a stand-alone novel, it just screams for a sequel or two. I really hope that Carrie Vaughn considers writing more about Polly’s and Charles’s adventures. Highly recommended.

Those were the highlight reads among the books this past month, though I also enjoyed reading Jail Bait by Marilyn Todd and The Dark Eye (RPG) Core Rules book (that was a densely written work at 400+ pages) and the other books that I read this past month.

Overall, I managed to read 6 novels, 6 RPGs and RPG products, 2 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels in September. This brings the year total for 2017 to a set of numbers that look like this: 73 books, 19 RPGs and RPG products, 64 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels.

Anyway, thoughts and comments are always welcome. πŸ™‚

It’s H.G. Wells’s Birthday September 21, 2017

Posted by jkahane in birthday, book hut, history, reading hut, science hut.
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For those who are unaware of such things or just plain don’t necessarily care about them, today is H.G. Wells‘s birthday. Well, would have been, if he were still alive.

An outspoken socialist and pacifist, Wells is considered one of the two “Fathers of Science Fiction” (the other being Jules Verne). He led a remarkable life, wrote some fascinating books that were and still are considered science fiction romances, but had other claims to fame as well.

While I first read Asimov’s Foundation as my introduction to science fiction when I was 9 or so, it was Wells’s The Time Machine that may well have cemented my love of the genre, and taught me that “modern” sf in 1965 or thereabouts had predecessors that were just as important to read and know about.

Rest well, George Herbert Wells. You earned it.

GenCon 2017, The Loot! September 6, 2017

Posted by jkahane in board games, book hut, conventions, gaming hut, gencon, personal, photos, reading hut, roleplaying games, rpg hut.
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Finally, as promised, here are some thoughts with lots of photos of the stuff that I bought down at GenCon Indy (what is affectionately called “the loot”). Lots of photos in this one. πŸ™‚ To read the report on my final thoughts of GenCon 2017, check out this journal entry.

September 4th, 2017

In terms of the stuff that I bought at GenCon, well… I went down to GenCon hoping to find certain products in the Exhibit Hall. I’ve not posted an overview photo of all the stuff that I purchased in Indy, because that wouldn’t do it justice, to be honest. So let’s start in on this stuff…

One of the first things I wanted to pick up at GenCon 2017 was a new set of dice to use with the Coriolis – The Third Horizon RPG. I was looking for something Arabian Nights themed or something with a scarab on them (since the game uses scarabs in a very interesting way in the rulebook and the various supplements). I was pretty pleased with these six-sided beauties. And the scarab glows in the dark!


6-sided scarab dice

Something else that I wanted to pick up at GenCon, well, I needed to since I was going to be running “The Dying Ship” scenario for Coriolis – The Third Horizon there twice, was the adventure itself and Fria Ligan/Free League Publishing kindly agreed to supply me with a rulebook and GM Screen for my use as well, through the good folks at Modiphius Entertainment. Here’s a photo of that game material.

14_gencon2017_the_darkness_is_coming.jpg
The Dying Ship adventure


The Coriolis – The Third Horizon stuff gifted me

As mentioned, I went by the Ulisses Spiele NA booth in the hopes of finding some material for the Torg Eternity RPG, but they had nothing available on the Thursday, though I was told that some dice and some t-shirts would be in on the Friday and Saturday. However, the other thing I went looking for at the convention was The Dark Eye RPG, since it actually sounded very cool and I’d heard some good things about it. The lovely Mhàire Stritter at the Ulisses Spiele NA booth told me some of the strengths and weaknesses of The Dark Eye RPG, and I was sold on the game, and bought a whole stack of stuff.


The Dark Eye RPG haul of books

For those interested, I’ve got the Quick-Start Rules, the Core Rules, the GM Screen (with the Inns and Taverns book), the Aventuria Almanac, the Aventuria Bestiary, Arivor’s Doom (scenario), The White Lake (scenario), Witch’s Dance and The Thorwal Drum (both Heroic Works scenarios), and several issues of the Aventurian Herald (not pictured). So much The Dark Eye goodness, but there were other things there at the booth I would have picked up if I’d been more up on my game knowledge of what was available. *sigh*

As it turned out, the folks at Ulisses Spiele NA got the Torg Eternity dice and the new t-shirt both on the Friday, so I was able to pick up a set of the dice (one to a customer) and the t-shirt. They’re both beautiful.

22_gencon2017_crowds_outside_the_exhibit_hall.jpg
Torg Eternity dice set


Torg Eternity t-shirt, front


Torg Eternity t-shirt, back

I also bought a whole bunch of old TORG supplements, as these will give me some additional material to use when running the new Torg Eternity RPG. I was rather pleased to have picked these up, though I worried that the weight would get me in the suitcases, though I needn’t have worried about that.


Old TORG RPG supplements

The filk band (at least I still think of them that way) Water Street Bridge was performing live at the convention, in one of the ICC hallways, and I saw some of their performance there and picked up three of their CDs. Wish I’d picked up the rest.


Three Water Street Bridge CDs

Over at the Stronghold Games booth, I managed to snag a copy of Terraforming Mars and also the supplement for the game, Hellas & Elysium. Lovely stuff.


Terraforming Mars and Hellas & Elysium

Phil Foglio was in the the Exhibit Hall selling stuff in the Author’s area, and I picked up a couple of books from him, the Myth Adventures graphic novel and the first volume of Girl Genius. He was kind enough to sign them for me.


Phil Foglio’s Myth Adventures and Girl Genius, Volume 1

Over at the Third Eye Games booth, I spoke for a bit with Eloy Lasanta, and also picked up the Pip System Core Rules and the Mermaid Adventures game (which uses the same rules). Both of the copies are signed.


Pip System and Mermaid Adventures from Third Eye Games

Also in the Author’s area of the Exhibit Hall, I stopped by Doug Bedwell’s booth and picked up a copy of his humourous sf novel, Robot Captain.


Robot Captain by Doug Bedwell

I also picked up a couple of dice bags that I couldn’t resist, and these will be holding my current gaming dice and some other stuff.


New dice bags and dice purchases

I also picked up a batch of t-shirts and several buttons at GenCon 50 but am not posting pics of them for various reasons.

For the most part, none of the purchases were actually impulse buys, other than a couple of t-shirts, the Phil Foglio books, and maybe one of the dice bags. Overall, I was pretty pleased with my purchases at GenCon 2017 though there were a few things that I wanted to purchase and/or forgot to purchase that I had wanted. But no use crying over spilt milk, as they say. My real regret here was that the folks from Fria Ligan/Free League Publishing (makers of Mutant: Year Zero, Coriolis – The Third Horizon and Tales From the Loop) weren’t at the convention this year, so I didn’t get to see them and the fact that there was no Torg Eternity merchandise (other than the dice and t-shirts) available at the convention. No real mock-ups of the game rulebook, though I did see one that Darrell Hayhurst brought to the Ulisses Spiele NA booth to show to people. And I should have picked up a couple of the other things available for The Dark Eye RPG, but didn’t know better. I did ship the initial purchase of The Dark Eye game materials home via FedEx, at what I feel was exorbitant prices, but if I’d waited another day, I could easy have shipped more stuff (though I’m glad I didn’t, given what the charges for the stuff that I did ship home cost).

And that’s it. The last post about GenCon 2017.

Time to get down to some of the reading of all this loot that I got down there. πŸ™‚

As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.

Books Read in August, 2017 September 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 August, 2017 reads.

*****
Books Read in August, 2017

Crashland by Sean Williams

Camino Island by John Grisham

TORG: The Possibility Chalice by Douglas Kaufman (RPG) (r)

July/August, 2017 Reader’s Digest

The Tinker King by Tiffany Trent

Lexicon by Max Barry

The Nile Empire Sourcebook by Ray Winninger (RPG) (r)

Hothouse by Brian Aldiss (r)

The Sisters by Claire Douglas

TORG: The Forever City by C.J. Tramontana (RPG) (r)
*****

And those were my reads in the month of August. This was another of the slow months of reading, to be honest, as I didn’t read during GenCon Indy at all, but I’m not really sure what accounts for it. Part of it was the shoulder problems I’m (still) having, as I’ve not been able to really hold books, especially hardcovers, at the moment, but still…

The books I enjoyed the most were:

Crashland by Sean Williams – Sean Williams’s sequel to Twinmaker, this is the middle book in the trilogy. While I thought the first book could have served as a stand-alone work and worried that this book would be a let-down, it was anything but. I’m not going to go into the plot here, as that would involve a ton of spoilers, but I will say that Crashland kept me tense and on the edge of my seat the whole way through. The world that Williams has created is very complex, though at times it can be difficult to understand, but we’re nicely guided with relative ease through the various groups of people that emerge politically in this sequel. The novel isn’t about politics at all, there’s a small twinkle here and there that raises interesting points about governance and how society would work under one government. Like the first novel, Crashland raises a lot of interesting philosophical questions, building on ones previously raised. The protagonist, Clair, grows as a character, as she observes herself. Highly recommended.

Lexicon by Max Barry – Oh, dear, where to start? This is one of the most brilliant books I’ve ever read, to be honest, but the story can be somewhat overwhelming for the reader in its complexities but… The central premise of Lexicon is that words are not simply signs for communication; they are containers of meaning that have a neurological effect on people’s brains. Gifted and specially-trained individuals, called “poets”, learn to size people up psychologically and then utter the specific “words” that cause an individual to drop all defenses and become utterly persuadable and manipulable. Great power can be derived from this ability, and power corrupts… The book’s story unfolds in a dual narrative fashion. One thread follows Wil and Tom as they are chased by an unknown organization bent on destroying Wil (the pun on “free will-y” is there, right?) because of his peculiar immunity to the poets’ powers. The second follows a 16-year-old runaway girl named Emily who is recruited and sent to a special school to train to become a poet (and has elements of both the Harry Potter stories and Lev Grossman’s The Magicians). Of course, the two threads intertwine and collide, in a hard, bad way, but this is handled in a very clever and satisfying way. I was quite taken by this book, but perhaps am biased due to my love of languages and linguistics. Still, I recommend this novel.

Anyway, those were the highlight book reads of August for me, though I did enjoy the other books that I read this past month as well.

Overall, I managed to read 6 novels, 3 RPGs and RPG products, 1 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels in August. This brings the year total for 2017 to a set of numbers that look like this: 67 books, 13 RPGs and RPG products, 14 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels.

Anyway, thoughts and comments are always welcome. πŸ™‚

R.I.P. Brian Aldiss (1925-2017) August 22, 2017

Posted by jkahane in book hut, in memorium, reading hut, science fiction & fantasy.
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I came home yesterday from GenCon Indy 2017, and learned during the day that author Brian Aldiss had died.

Author Brian Aldiss Dies at the Age of 92

I discovered Brian Aldiss’s writing in 1967 or so, when I was 15, the first novel of his that I read being Hothouse (1962), and soon started to devour as much of his work as I could find over the years. He was a master of the genre, writing many intriguing books and lots of shorter fiction that was just…tremendous.

His loss is a terrible and sad one for the science fiction, fantasy, and horror community.

Rest In Peace, oh Grandmaster of the SFWA.

Books Read in July, 2017 August 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 July, 2017 reads.

*****
Books Read in July, 2017

June, 2017 Locus

A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger

S.P.Q.R. VIII: The River God’s Vengeance by John Maddox Roberts

Farmer in the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein (r)

TORG: The Destiny Map by Christopher Kubasik (RPG) (r)

Clariel by Garth Nix

TORG: The Living Land by Christopher Kubasik (RPG) (r)

The Bear by Claire Cameron

July, 2017 Locus
*****

And those were my reads in the month of July. This was one of the slowest months of reading I’ve had in some years, and I’m not really sure what accounts for it. Part of it was the shoulder problems I’m having, as I’ve not been able to really hold books, especially hardcovers, at the moment, but still…

The books I enjoyed the most were:

S.P.Q.R. VIII: The River God’s Vengeance by John Maddox Roberts – The eighth book in the series, this book sees Decius Metellus serving as aedile, the super-expensive position in charge of basically running Rome through public contracts and the like. When sewers are clogging and an apartment building collapses after building regulations are flouted, the two plots come to an interesting conclusion (see the book’s title). This book features the attention to detail of everyday life in ancient Rome I’ve come to expect from Roberts’s writing. It’s not clear until the end of this one whether justice will prevail. Excellent writing, and decent characters make this a novel that I highly recommend.

A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger – This simply marvellous book set in Chaucer’s London is a story of betrayal, murder, royal intrigue, mystery, and dangerous politics swirling around the existence of a prophetic book that foretells the deaths of England’s kings. The author uses a mix of real historical figures and a dose of imagination, making for a fantastic plot that’s mysterious without being unnecessarily withholding. It effectively builds suspense and the twists and revelations feel natural. What makes the book stand out is its cast of characters. The main character John Gower (yes *that* John Gower, poet and close friend of Geoffrey Chaucer, who is also a prominent character here) acts to bring (and tie) the supporting cast together, and he makes for an excellent character himself. I look forward to whatever the author writes in future, and to further John Gower tales. Recommended.

The Bear by Claire Cameron – This is a very powerful, highly suspenseful story narrated by a young girl who must fend for herself and her little brother Alex (“Stick”) after a brutal bear attack. Their parents do not fare well at all. The author makes a bold choice, having Anna narrate the entire story, and the execution is extremely well done. Her thoughts were perfectly scattered for a kid who hasn’t developed filters yet, but still focused on what you would expect would be important for a kid (Mommy, Daddy, her teddy bear, being hungry). To be honest, there were some missing opportunity for the kids to be kids, but I didn’t really notice them too much as I was seriously dragged into this one and was so scared for the kids. While it’s a relatively short book at 208 pages, I recommend this one as well.

Anyway, those were the highlight book reads of July for me, though I did enjoy the other books that I read this past month as well.

Overall, I managed to read 5 novels, 2 RPGs and RPG products, 2 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels in July. This brings the year total for 2017 to a set of numbers that look like this: 61 books, 10 RPGs and RPG products, 13 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels.

Anyway, thoughts and comments are always welcome. πŸ™‚

Books Read in June, 2017 July 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 June, 2017 reads.

*****
Books Read in June, 2017

Fire Watch by Connie Willis (r)

Broadchurch: The Official Novel by Erin Kelly

June, 2017 Reader’s Digest

Echo by Jack McDevitt

The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey

The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley

Creating Life: The Art of World Building 1 by Randy Ellefson

Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan

Shadowbahn by Steve Erickson
*****

And those were my reads in the month of June. Given everything that was going on in June (primarily health-wise), I’m a little surprised at the sheer amount of stuff that I read in the month. More surprising than anything else, I didn’t read any roleplaying games or rpg supplements at all, other than the stuff I was editing (and that doesn’t count). The books I enjoyed the most were:

Broadchurch: The Official Novel by Erin Kelly – This book is the official novel of the 1st series of the Broadchurch tv series, and is well-written and well-told. What surprised me about this was some of the background scenes and “in the head of the character” scenes that shed a lot of light on some of the goings on in. A really nice book, with relatively short chapters. Entertaining. And worth the read if you’re a Broadchurch fan.

Echo by Jack McDevitt – The fifth book in the Alex Benedict series by the author, this tale about the antiquities dealer and his assistant/point-of-view character is somewhat darker than the previous works. When Alex is called by a local woman to pick up a tablet she’s had in front of her house for years, the mystery begins as Alex believes it has unknown, alien writing. However, when the item is taken before Alex’s people can get to it, the real story begins. Who took it? Why did they take it? Does it contain alien writing? If so, whose? All of these questions are answered by the end of the novel quite satisfyingly, but the book causes both Alex and Chase Kolpath to question their business and several moral issues surrounding the events of the novel. Highly enjoyable book in the series, and I recommend these books to everyone.

Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan – This YA novel is one that shows that one should never underestimate the power of language and the importance of the written word. This first novel is the story of a brave girl named Raisa, a descendant of the Learned Ones, and the recollection of Sotia, Goddess of Wisdom, who was wrongfully imprisoned by her brethren who feared her steadfastness to always do the right thing. Without going into the plot, I will say that this novel has a lot of things going for it, from the very clean writing to the fact that the author’s protagonist, Raisa, doesn’t talk down too much to the reader. While a few of the relationships between characters felt a little forced, Raisa’s romance with Prince Mati doesn’t, and the bond that forms between them carries much of the novel. Coupled with the rebellion in the Kingdom that creates most of the conflict in this novel, and some of the secrets revealed about various characters, this novel was highly enjoyable. I adored the unique amount of research and the depth of exploration in verbal and written language, and the story/history of the Goddess Sotia at the beginning of every chapter. This is definitely a “must read” book in my opinion, and was one of the highlights of the year so far.

These were the highlight book reads of June for me, though I did enjoy the other books that I read this past month as well.

Overall, I managed to read 10 novels, 0 RPGs and RPG products, 1 magazine, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels in June. This brings the year total for 2017 to a set of numbers that look like this: 56 books, 8 RPGs and RPG products, 11 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels.

Anyway, thoughts and comments are always welcome. πŸ™‚