drcpunk (drcpunk) wrote,

Recent Reading

2. Dorothy Dunnett: The Ringed Castle: The fifth Lymond book. I liked it, and there's not a lot I can say without spoilers.

3. K. J. Charles: Think of England + Song for a Viking: I'm a fan of Charles's books. M/M romance/mystery, with a short piece set near the end of the novel.

4. K. J. Charles: Wanted, A Gentleman: Shorter work, different period, lots of fun.

5. Alarums & Excursions #495

6. Borderline by Mishell Baker: Urban fantasy, recommended by Seanan McGuire, and very good. Very different from a lot of what's out there. It moves faster, deals with mental and physical disabilities, and has worldbuilding I like.

7. My American Duchess by Eloise James: I tend to assume I don't like romance. Or at least, I tend to assume that I don't like straight romance, both in terms of which way the characters swing and in terms of genre mixing. I decided to test that theory, as I'd heard the author speak, along with other authors I knew and liked or had heard of and wanted to try. And I was fascinated by what she told us about pineapples.

Thus far, however, I'm correct about my own tastes. The pineapple bits were delightful, but on the whole, this book didn't do it for me. I've a very different book by a completely different author, and I'm going to test the theory again. I may like that one better because the blurb indicates a bit more genre mixing.

8. Checkmate by Dorothy Dunnett: The sixth and final Lymond book. I'm currently mixed on this one, but I am going to have to reread the series before I know for sure what I think. Also, there was an online essay about a key scene near the end that made an excellent point I'd not considered. I suspect I'll still be a bit mixed, but probably more positive, as this is what happened with the second and third books in the series. (The first, fourth, and fifth I liked on the first read.)

9. Necropolis by Jordan L. Hawk
10. Bloodlines by Jordan L. Hawk
The fourth and fifth in the Whyborne & Griffin series, m/m romance, Lovecraftian. I don't enjoy these as much as I enjoy Charles's books, as Charles tends to write highly, highly competent characters who know themselves fairly well, and I'm a sucker for that sort of thing. But, I love the changes Hawk is ringing on Lovecraft, and here, especially in Bloodlines, the shoe I have been waiting to drop finally drops with a very satisfying THUNK. There's a lot less of the annoying "nope, can't possibly really love me" that annoyed me in the first three books (especially after the first one) and a lot more consideration of how $%(^*&ing dangerous dabbling in the occult in a Lovecraftian setting is. There was one annoying bit, where I wondered just why the adversaries in question were so thoughtful as to announce "Hey, here's what we're doing and where, and don't get in our way", but otherwise, these are fun.

11. Alarums & Exursions #496

12. Monstress, Vol. 1 by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda: Very good, and... I don't think I can say anything without spoilering.

13. Makt Myrkanna: Powers of Darkness: This is the English translation of the Icelandic translation of Dracula, which is... somewhat different from Stoker's original. I gather that Stoker knew there were changes, and was fine with this -- and I think some of the changes came from Stoker's notes. The first half, with Harker in Translyvania, is stronger than the second half, which is a pity because the second half reads like an outline, and I'd very much have liked to see that fleshed out. Worth a read, and definitely fodder for GMs running The Dracula Dossier for Night's Black Agents.

14. An Unseen Attraction by K. J. Charles: The first on her Sins of the City series, and I correctly figured something out for the arc as a whole and am smug about that.

15. Dead in L. A. by Lou Harper: M/M, psychic powers, two stories, fun read, fairly light.

16. One-Sided Bargains by Mike Carey et alia: Three good, creepy tales.

17. The King in Yellow graphic novel by Robert Chambers and I. N. J. Culbard: Comic book stringing together some of Chambers's stories from The King in Yellow. Solid.

18. Fate of Cthulhu Alpha: While there are some things that need to be ironed out, this was a fun read and a fun playtest. I had two different groups to test two different things, and may continue to run for one of the groups once we figure out when we're all available. The idea is that the PCs are in the present to fix the future. The group I may continue to run for... well, yeah, fixing the future's important because fate of humanity and all, but we realized that that was kind of the B-plot, or at least, the excuse for the convoluted relationship drama. We also realized we could skip years between missions and took full advantages of that.

19. The Glass Republic by Tom Pollard: The second in his Skyscraper Throne trilogy, and very, very good. Urban fantasy where the teenage heroine of book one is a minor character and the PoC girl who is her best friend is the heroine. It's got a Neverwhere vibe, but goes to different places. I have the third on hand and need to read it.

20. Lucifer: Father Lucifer by Holly Black and Lee Garbett and Antonio Fabela: Volume 2 of Holly Black's run on Lucifer, and very good. Not surprising, as I've been a fan of her work for years.

21. Bloody Mary Vol. 6: Manga about vampires, humans that know about them, and twisted relationship politics. Very much up my alley.

22. Alarums & Excursions 497

23. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson: Graphic novel. Very, very good.

24. Rocks Fall Everyone Dies by Lindsay Ribar: YA fantasy taking the premise that the protagonist can steal things like memories and emotions, and faces squarely how monstrous the results of that would be.

25. The Theory of the Grain of Sand by Benoit Peeters and Francois Schuiten: Graphic novel, very strangs.

26. Patricia McKillip: Kingfisher: It's McKillip. It's excellent. She has a talent for mixing the numinous and the everyday, and I fell in love with the princess hopping on one foot as she quickly changes clothing for a ritual.

27. The Ninth Buddha by Daniel Easterman (Denis MacEoin): I suspect I'd have enjoyed this more if I hadn't encountered some of the facets of Tibetan culture in other works. I read this as inspiration for RPG scenarios, and it works fine on that level. As a novel, it's fairly dark and not my usual preference.

28. Mysteries of the Raj by Michael Dauman with Bill Barton and with assistance from Jason Williams: A monograph for Call of Cthulhu, neither the best nor the worst, and giving me enough to fake it for a few sessions.

29. Delilah Dirk and the King's Shilling, graphic novel, by Tony Cliff: I think this is the second Delilah Dirk novel, fun and swashbuckly.

30. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
31. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
32. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
The first three parts of the Raven Cycle, which had me, I am told, making all kinds of noises as I was reading it. Very much my sort of thing, urban fantasy that feels like the kind of RPG campaign I want to run or play in or both at once.

33. Will Do Magic for Small Change by Andrea Hairston: I need to read the book that came before this, but if I hadn't remembered there was one, that would have been fine for the purposes of reading and understanding this one. It is as messy as life, and I like the blend of magic and realism. (There are too many urban fantasies out there that have me scratching my head and asking, "But, if you can do that with magic, why haven't you solved more problems with it?)

34. Alarums & Excursions #498

35. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater: The fourth book in the Raven Cycle. I loved it, of course. I also loved this review / analysis of the books.

36. Rockalypse: Fate / FAE RPG, light, fun read.

37. Left Hand of Justice by Jess Faraday: Good read, leaves room for a sequel.

38. Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Book 1, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, illo'd Brian Stelfreeze: I'm not sure I followed all of what was going on, but I'm glad I read it. It also reprints the first appearance of Black Panther, which is historically interesting.

39. Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines
40. Codex Born by Jim C. Hines
41. Unbound by Jim C. Hines
The first three of Hines's Magic ex Libris books. An interesting look at what follows if one can pull items out of their books. Ponce de Leon is probably my favorite character here.

42. Los Nephilim by T. Frohock: Three novellas set in Spain shortly before the Spanish Civil War, about conflict between angels, demons, and nephilim. I liked these a lot, and I'm hoping for more.

43. Alarums & Excursions #499

44. Revisionary by Jim C. Hines: The fourth Magic ex Libris book.

45. Devils & Realist #12: Manga about a descendent of King Solomon who's supposed to decide who the next ruler of Hell will be. A surprising amount of history, occult and real world, informs the plot.

46. Monsterhearts 2nd ed. by Avery Alder: Streamlining and updating Monsterhearts by trying to cut everything away that isn't the statue. Makes space for asexual characters, although, as was pointed out to me, this is more about safe space for players (which I'm very much in favor of) than about any deep exploration of asexuality (which I'd like to see added, and am trying to figure out what mechanics, if any, would be needed).

47. Na'Akua by Clayton Smith: While very much male-centered, and while I really wish the protagonist's academic background came into play more than once and somewhat superficially at that, this was a good read and ensured that when I watched Moana, I understood who Maui was and why he and his fishhook were such a big deal. There's likely to be a sequel to Na'Akua, and I'm interested.

48. Agents of Dreamland by Caitlin R. Kiernan: Interesting, but very short, and I'm wondering if I'm missing something here (not words, but what she's getting at).

49. Harriet the Invicible by Ursula K. Vernon: The first book about Harriet the Hamster, a princess who notes that it cannot be unprincesslike to fight ogres and go cliff diving, as she does it, and she is a princess, so, by definition...

50. Headspace by Mark Richardson et alia: Cyberpunk game Powered by the Apocalypse doing some very interesting things. It's assumed characters will succeed, so the question is what the cost is. Also, everyone's linked up with everyone else, which solves the Hacker problem and focuses the game on the characters' emotional baggage, both of which are things I like. And there are countdown clock mechanics I'm trying to adapt outside this game (although, as the author noted, I also need to look at Blades in the Dark).

51. An Unnatural Vice by K. J. Charles: The second of K. J. Charles's Sins of the City books and very much me-bait. I was into stage magic and read up on it, and on Houdini (and when I start to forget that erasure is a real thing, remind me that I'd never heard of Black Herman until I playtested one of the scenarios from Tales of the Sleepless City -- he should have been right up there with Houdini in my heroes list). So, while the author doesn't reveal all of the con man medium's tricks, and certainly doesn't reveal any at once, I had a blast picking up on them, saying, "Wait a minute -- that's got to be how he -- yep!" and yelling, "There! Right there! That's where he got you! Right there!" Also, I got confirmation that the guess I'd made about the overall plot arc for the series was correct, so smug cookies all the way, and I want the third one already.

52. Bloody Mary #7

53. Alarums & Excursions #500: This gaming apa has been around over forty years. I've been privileged to be a part of it since the 190s.

54. Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal: A good supernatural mystery set during WWI in a world where the British have trained their soldiers to make one final report -- after death.

55. Of Mice and Magic by Ursula K. Vernon: The second Harriet the Hamster book. Delightful.

56. The Just City by Jo Walton: The first of her Philosopher Kings trilogy where Athena agrees to allow people who, over the centuries, have dreamed of making Plato's Republic real. The cracks in the ideal show up refreshingly early, and I also began to understand why anyone would want to make this real in the first place.

57. Fearful Symmetries Alpha Playtest for Trail of Cthulhu: Take the idea of leylines a la The Old Straight Track or the Raven Quartet, add in William Blake, and pour in a dollop of the Lovecraftian mythos and you get a very strange game. I want to see a later draft of this, as there are some key concepts I very much like, but which are a bit bumpy at the moment. But, bumps and all, I've rarely seen a group click that fast, everyone on the same page, knowing what we were aiming for.

58. Alarums & Excursions #501

59. The Philosopher Kings by Jo Walton
60. Necessity by Jo Walton
The 2nd and 3rd of the Philosopher Kings trilogy. The second was much like the first, developing logically out of it. Then, I read the third and hit a particular poem written by a particular character and had to stop to gasp for air as the accumulated weight of what Walton had been doing hit me all at once. It's the sort of thing that builds -- reading just the third book wouldn't have done it.

The trilogy is looking at the question of what a Just City is, what is needed to have one -- and how one avoids that which is anathema to that which is just. It looks at how one pursues excellence. It looks at what we owe each other, whether human, divine, or something else.

It's not my metaphor. There's a reason I did my dissertation on modern Arthuriana. But, in the hands of a good writer, which Walton unquestionably is, that doesn't matter. It's an examination of the same questions of how to live a good life.

61. Monsterhearts 2 and Monsterhearts Diary by Avery Alder: This is mostly a reread, as I had the hard copy and the diary on top of that.

62. Ratpunzel by Ursula K. Vernon
63. Giant Trouble by Ursula K. Vernon
The 3rd and 4th Harriet the Hamster books. I gather that there will be more and am very much looking forward to them.

64. This Spectred Isle by K. J. Charles: Set in the same secret history as The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal, which is excellent.

65. Buffalo Soldiers by Maruice Broaddus: I read this in Helsinki and donated to whoever was collecting books for charity. I enjoyed it while I was reading it, as it is, among other things, about stories and their importance, and it'll probably make more sense to me after I read more of his fiction set in that world.

66. Alarums & Excursions #502

67. Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys: Flipping Lovecraft's fiction sideways, starting with the premise that the people of Innsmouth did not commit atrocities, but still suffered the fate they did in "Shadow Over Innsmouth" -- and that those few who survived that long were joined in their imprisonment by the Japanese who were interned during WWII. The heroine is one of the few survivors of her people, and she is again recruited by the FBI agent who convinced her to look into a certain matter in "Litany of Earth". I liked this better than Litany and am looking forward to more.

68. Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire. I liked Every Heart a Doorway. This is better. (And one would hope so, as it means she's still growing as a writer!) I could also feel it affecting my writing style in a pbem, which is no bad thing. Also, it doesn't read like anything else I've read of hers, and I think that's marvelous. Varying one's authorial voice is hard.

69. Pre-Alpha Draft of Vampire 5th edition and playtest scenario: I read this too late to send in feedback. I've read discussions online about issues with certain dark elements and inaccuracies where Berlin is concerned. What I want to know is did someone catch a continuity issue where one character sheet describes the character's relationship to another, but the second character sheet makes absolutely no mention of it. That said, I like the shape of the scenario, even if the details do need work, and I think I like the streamlining of the system. I'm not sure about weaving things into past events that many players have no firsthand experience with. I know that's very common for World of Darkness, but I still don't like it.

70. Magic for Nothing by Seanan McGuire: The fifth InCryptid book, and the first from Antimony's point of view. It moves fast, and generally nowhere near where I expect it to go. It also does the nasty and oh so necessary trick of humanizing people that readers, as well as Antimony, have gotten used to thinking of as the Enemy. This doesn't make them right, but it does make the series stronger.

71. Providence written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Jacen Burroughs: This a brilliant tour de force, although I do have issues with it, particularly in the way it ties into Neonomicon, which feels like an add on. I know it's not, that Moore knew exactly where he was going from the beginning. And I have no idea how many folks are likely to read Providence without reading what's come before.

Tags: #12, #495, #496, #498, #499, #500, #501, #502, #7
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