What books are you currently reading?


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Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:

Compton McKenzie's "Whisky galore".

I've been meaning to read this for years, but you know how it is.

Haven't read it, but liked the movie.

It was a good movie. I gather there are differences between the book and film, but it's been years since I saw the film and I've only just started the book so I can't say for certain.

Currently reading Christie Wilcox' Venomous, which, despite having the title of a noir thriller, is a non-fiction look at actual venomous creatures. So far it's a little drier than I anticpated (it has a good deal of discussion dealing with the fiddly bits of how venom and antivenom work and not as much as I would like about the animals themselves), but it's short enough that I'll likely finish it sometime tomorrow.

Finished up Hamilton and Jefferson: The Rivalry That Forged a Nation. It's...what it is: a dual biography that doesn't really concern itself too much with their differences until it's more than halfway done. It's helpful to me because most of what I've read about Hamilton has been in the recent hagiographic wave and Ferling is definitely not part of that. He admits right out that he's a Jefferson partisan who warmed to Hamilton a little while studying the guy but remains in Camp TJ. The Hamilton half of the book seemed relatively fair.

The Jefferson half is probably overgenerous. Ferling mentions slavery only begrudgingly. He never inquires as to how it is that the Republicans ended up with such a marked Southern bent or much into why the Federalists didn't do well in the section, a missed opportunity that I didn't expect in such a recent book. Ferling doesn't go full Founders Chic in fluffing either subject as the greatest of great men, but his treatment of them (more Jefferson than Hamilton) as more in the mode of disinterested philosopher statesmen is disappointingly traditional. Much of the book felt like a greatly expanded but not substantively different version of the high school survey on the 1790s. That made it kind of a slog.

Since I've finished that, I decided to finally take that brief break I've promised myself for about five months and read fiction:The Lies of Locke Lamora. It's funny so far, though the skipping around the timeline got me a little confused at first.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I finished Book umpteen of the Sandman Slim series, Kill Society by Richard Kadrey. It was OK,

it was kind of disappointing that none of his friends from LA were in it. But it's kind of cool they didn't reset the status quo, either.

I've started Book 4 of the Ketty Jay series by Chris Wooding, The Ace of Skulls. So far, so good.

As a new school year begins for me (I teach high school English), I'm reading Dreamsongs, a collection of short pieces by George R.R. Martin. I picked it up because it included Sandkings, which I remember reading umptee-ump years ago and being amazed.

I'm nearly done reading Great LEGO Sets: A Visual History (DK Publishing), which I found for $1 at a recent friends of the library sale. Serious walk down nostalgia lane--esp. since I got to build a few of the featured sets when I worked for a LEGO Store a few years back.

I also found Life of Pi, which I've only just barely started.

The Exchange

Finished Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5 by Brandon Sanderson) and started on Rise Of Empire (Ryira Revelations #2 by Michael J. Sullivan).

Rise Of Empire thoughts:
For the past decade or so, Sanderson has been focusing his writing on the Stormlight Archive series, where rumor has it he displays his absolute best (I'm waiting until at least book 4 is published before I hop in on that train, though). However, Sanderson being himself, this did not stop him from publishing about a dozen other books during that period. He uses these smaller writing projects to refresh himself when the Big One gets to be a bit too much.

Sadly, this means that the quality of these books suffers. I really am starting to miss the books that Sanderson is serious about writing, as everything I've read from him lately felt rushed and casual. While intricate magic systems and clever plots remain a strong point, their execution just isn't as incredible as what I know he's capable of. The writing itself - while never exactly a strong point for him - feels so uncooked it is almost amateurish. Weird mid-paragraph tonal shifts, issues with character voice and even some specific passages that are written like bad fanfiction.

Shadows Of Self had some potential. It expands on the ideas and setting introduced in Alloy Of Law and sets the stage for a broader conflict more strongly tied to the Mistborn (and possibly Cosmere) mythology. B8t while the story had a potential to be a good combination of character exploration and fast paced action that ends with a seriously painful punch to my emotions, I found that the rushed feeling of it all just reduced the impact of what was going on. I was just kind of mildly curious to see where things are going next for most of the book.

Even if the reading experience was disappointing and made me yearn to read something Sanderson really put his heart and soul into again, I did overall like the story and for the most part the good outweighed the bad. I'll certainly be reading the rest of the series.

My reading was interrupted by various out-of-town visitors, transgender equality rallies and building for anti-fascist mobilizations in Boston, so, alas, I am still stuck in the middle of Genovese's discussion of the slave family in Roll, Jordan, Roll. At this rate, I fear I may not ever be able to finish another book again.

Unrelated, I recently re-watched Ran and promptly took King Lear out of the library so I don't have to put any unnecessary wear and tear on the illustrated complete works my grammie gave me when I was but a wee little gobbo.

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Reading Robert E. Howard's collected Breckinridge Elkins stories. I'm impressed and amazed. It's as if Howard knew exactly what a lot of people would think of Conan after the (posthumous) movies and comics: musclebound barbarian with no grasp of the supernatural stuff he gets into, but wins anyway -- and preemptively set out to parody that to the maximum extent possible. I'm having to keep reminding myself that this is the same person who wrote the relentlessly grim Solomon Kane stories, because the humor is pervasive, often slapstick, and generally over the top.

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Samnell wrote:
Since I've finished that, I decided to finally take that brief break I've promised myself for about five months and read fiction:The Lies of Locke Lamora. It's funny so far, though the skipping around the timeline got me a little confused at first.

Finished it. The second quarter got a bit slow, but the back half really picked up. Started The Wages of Whiteness, basically the book that invented whiteness studies, a few days ago. I think it's about equal parts the one book break from history and that it's much closer to my wheelhouse than the previous two histories, but I'm really digging it. Second day I'm back to my two chapter a day standard and I'll probably finish the thing tomorrow. They're shorter chapters in a shortish book, but I'll take what I can get.

Went into the antique store for my semiannual book crawl. Came out $20 lighter and six books heavier. The first is a paper copy of At the Hands of Persons Unknown, which I was really disappointed with as an ebook. Picked up out of morbid curiosity and found the citations that let me down on the digital copy. Those were worth three bucks. Also got the first volume of Remini's Jackson hagiography, which I'll get to eventually.

Lincoln and the Decision for War, which was one of those hot new histories in 2014ish.

Confederate Reckoning, a leading book in the endless-internal-dissension argument about the Confederacy.

Black Society in Spanish Florida, which absurdly excites me because everyone tends to take a glance at Spanish Florida and shrug it off despite knowing the situation there is really important for colonial South Carolina and Georgia.

Jefferson Davis, a late Seventies biogrpahy of the dude. Davis is one of those guys who attracts wildly different takes and I have no idea how this one holds up. I basically impulse bought it.

And that's where it all went wrong. The guy at the antique store has opinions about Confederate monuments and started to bend my ear about how if we lived in the South that book would be burned by now. You want to play? Fine. It turned out he did not want to play it, but I got him worked up enough that something green and vile flew from his mouth at me. Landed on his glass counter top. (Related: I haven't eaten any food since.) After about two minutes and maybe six sentences back and forth he said there was no point in talking to me about it. I smiled, just a touch viciously, and told him this stuff is literally what I study.

In slightly-related news I've taken charge of the youtube archive of the AskHistorians podcast, which has been fallow for about six months and is years behind. So if anybody wants a roughly daily stream of new content for the next month or so, it's here. Latest episode is about four natural disasters in Alaska. My two as guest will be up in around 40 days. I'm working through the back catalog, so it will eventually catch up and then be about biweekly.

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Most recently:

'Nana' by Emile Zola.
'Issola' and 'Jhegaala' by Steven Brust
'Peasant Uprisings in France, Russia and China' by A Frenchman.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I just finished Kij Johnson's novella "The Dream-Quest of Vellick Boe." Highly recommended for Lovecraft fans who are aware of his more problematic aspects. The author managed, IMO, to respect Lovecraft's imagination and creativity while using a middle-aged woman protagonist to engage with HPL's sexism (which, in his grudging defense, wasn't quite as out of place and extreme as his racism). My wife hasn't read any of the source material; I'll be interested in her reaction to it if she has some time to read it.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
John Woodford wrote:
I just finished Kij Johnson's novella "The Dream-Quest of Vellick Boe."

Vellitt, not Vellick. Not sure where I got that particular braino.

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Wages of Whiteness is all done. It was good for clarifying and expanding on a lot of stuff I already kind of knew, which is the ideal experience for reading a seminal work. Surprisingly interesting stuff about blackface.

I have most of a week (maybe more) before another seminal work gets to me so I'm spending it on The Slave Ship: A Human History. It's specifically a history of the thing, rather than a general slave trade history, but so far there's a huge amount of overlap. The main issue I have is that it's a little disjointed. The lion's share of the chapters to date are series of vignettes that illustrate points, without a lot of connective tissue. They're all really interesting, but not quite fitting together for me.

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"Bayard Rustin: the invisible activist" by Walter Naegel, Jacqueline Houtman and Michael G. Long.
It's short, only 150-odd pages of fairly large text with plenty of pictures, but it did a good job of painting a picture of a remarkable gentleman of uncommon ability, perseverance, courage and dedication to a good cause.

Finished Life of Pi. Curious to see the movie now.

I'm currently reading a couple new RPG acquisitions (Over the Edge and Starfinder), and nibbling at The Last Oracle, by James Rollins, whenever I need a break from huge blocks of RPG prose. (I love gaming books, but I wish more of them were as fun to read as the Buffy and Angel RPGs.)

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Mr. Comrade and his new girlfriend took a weekend trip to Montreal, so I declared this weekend a vacation weekend for the whole branch and got up to the "Roast Pig is a Wonderful Delicacy, Especially When Stolen" chapter of Roll, Jordan, Roll.

After finishing King Lear, I decided that reading plays was such a breeze I was gonna keep doing it. There was a performance of The Trojan Women in Lowell last week (? the week before?) that I didn't go to, but Mr. Comrade did and gave a rave review, so Euripides it is. (Bonus because the copy of the Bantam Ten Plays I've got repeats three of the plays in the Penguin Medea and Three Other Plays that I've already read, so it's like I'm almost halfway through the book already.)

Our ally and comrade, Professor Bob, just shared this interview of Margaret Atwood by Junot Diaz about Drake and, though I still haven't watched or read The Handmaid's Tale, I'll link it anyway.

More on Professor Bob: He was the dude who organized the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act symposium a couple years back that reached its crescendo when I got to meet former SNCC activists Judy Richardson (most famed for her work on "Eyes on the Prize") and Charles Cobb (author of "That Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed"). This coming spring, he is hosting everyone's favorite red diaper baby American historian, Eric Foner, so Comrade Sam, if you want an autograph, let me know.

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Finished up The Slave Ship: A Human History. It was really good, but the presentation got a bit disjointed sometimes. A few too many vignettes and not enough bridging and integration in some of the middle chapters. The final stuff on the Brooks was great. You may not have heard of it, but you have seen the Brooks. The drawing of all the slaves slotted in like lumber is of it and that's in about every textbook. It's the image of a slave ship.

White Over Black arrived yesterday, exactly on cue. Ordered used, expected one of the typical academic paperbacks: a little chunky and nondescript. I got...the Pelican edition from 1969. It's the same format as a fiction paperback, complete with their trade dress and a $2.95 price printed on the cover. It's actually kind of adorable. I've never had an original Penguin/Pelican (the main line is Penguin, Pelican is the non-fiction imprint) in my hands before. I can see how people get attached to the things. The format is a little awkward to read non-fiction in; tiny margins and thick text don't go together well, especially when trying to be mindful of the spine.

The thing about the density, though? This thing is dense and it's not the kind of BS dense you get sometimes where academics are just terrible writers or desperately tapdancing over how they're not really sure about something. When Winthrop Jordan sits down with you, he crams more into a sentence than a lot of authors do in paragraphs. Pretty sure my two chapter a day plan is right out for this one and I couldn't be happier. Jordan is thorough to the point where sometimes you have to stop and reread a little to catch the fine distinctions he's making. The slavery studies guy I used to know would always reference him and then recommend laypeople get the mid-Seventies abridgment instead and now I know why.

I am not one of those filthy casuals.

They're all good distinctions. The first chapter largely hinges on the distinctions between Englishness, blackness, heathenry, Christianity, and savagery. All of them mean different things in different ways at different times and indifferent settings...and he runs the permutations.

Thus the English in the 1500s (and maybe into the middle 1600s, but not in the West Indies) have an idea of blackness which has strong negative associations, but those don't immediately apply to black people lock, stock, and barrel. Englishmen called villains black-hearted and thought of black sins long before they had any sustained encounter with sub-Saharan Africans; they get how metaphors work.

Yet blackness is a big marker of visual distinction with a negative payload that intersects with heathenry, because West Africans are not Christian and that is not good. But they are also savages, to English minds, which is the opposite of being English in a different way. Heathenry is less significant a variable when regarding West Africans than it is with regard to Native Americans, though it does matter for both. So does savagery, but savagery becomes a more important characteristic for Africans. (I'm also skipping a fair bit of squicky stuff about stereotyped understandings of sexuality because ew.)

Jordan attributes the distinction in large part to the fact that Englishmen went to live on land where they expected to share space with Native Americans and might Christianize them. Further they conceptualized them as nations from an early stage, whereas West Africans are de-nationalized and subordinated so it helps, conceptually, to focus on them more as savage (unEnglish) whereas conversion is more sought (if still sporadically and nothing like the Spanish try) among Native Americans.

All those moving parts aren't even a full chapter. The second one goes into detail as miuntely as possible about the development of de facto slavery in the English New World.

Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:

Our ally and comrade, Professor Bob, just shared this interview of Margaret Atwood by Junot Diaz about Drake and, though I still haven't watched or read The Handmaid's Tale, I'll link it anyway.

And then I'll promptly forget to link it for four days.

Make Margaret Atwood Fiction Again

Finally, after two months, finished Roll, Jordan, Roll. I quite enjoyed reading it and will now have to purchase another copy (hopefully, used) as it has disintegrated into three different pieces.

I renewed Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things from the library so many times during the past two months, I gave up and returned it and then ran across a copy for three or four bucks at ye olde usede bookstore, so I'll probably start that up next.

Completely unrelated, I didn't have much internet access over the past month and only recently learned that a former comrade passed away from a heart attack at the end of July. We had briefly been in the same organization back in 1995-6, and I only got reacquainted with him two springs ago, so that was sad. From the FB memorials I learned that he had become a literature professor at my semi-alma mater and had written at least one published novel and another called The Chagall Position which never saw the light of day. Further internet searches revealed that he was a bit of a figure on the Boston literary scene:

His novel on Goodreads

Blurb in some literay quarterly about him communing with the ghost of Dostoyevsky and smoking

Interviewed by Boston's alt weekly about "Cultural Districts" and gentrification (second half of the interview)

I'm not sure if he was the creator of the next exhibit, or just a participant, but someone on his FB page related how he would go to area bookstores and insert the following bookmarks into best sellers:

Anti-Epiphany Bookmarks (Revised edition)

Either way, rest in peace, Ed, and [Clenched fist salute]

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Samnell wrote:
It's actually kind of adorable. I've never had an original Penguin/Pelican (the main line is Penguin, Pelican is the non-fiction imprint)

Don't forget the Puffin line. It's for the kids!

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[Clenched fist salute]

PS Link for Comrade and other goblins: Socialist Juggalos gear up to fight...

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

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A hard copy of Station Eleven arrived at the library just as I finished the third volume of the Chronicles of Alsea, so I've switched gears to mostly reading that, reserving the fourth volume of the Chronicles for kindle/insomnia reading.

Saved for the future: Newsflesh 3.2: How Green This Land, How Blue This Sea (conservationists fighting zombie wildlife in Australia!)

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Fergie wrote:

[Clenched fist salute]

PS Link for Comrade and other goblins: Socialist Juggalos gear up to fight...

"2011 me: magnets...how do they work? lol

2017 me: our juggalo comrades are a strong & necessary flank in the fight against fascism"

My one and only post that featured the ICP quoted that same lyric.

Back to books, my white privilege was recently briefly triggered, but I got over it.


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Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:
Finally, after two months, finished Roll, Jordan, Roll. I quite enjoyed reading it and will now have to purchase another copy (hopefully, used) as it has disintegrated into three different pieces.

Welcome to the I read Roll, Jordan, Roll and all I got was a Bunch of Good Information, Some Valuable Insights, and Dubious Ideas About Paternalism Club! We're still working on the name. :)

Recently finished:

Sign of the Labrys, by Margaret St. Clair, 1963.

An odd post-apocalyptic political struggle with a hefty dollop of Wicca thrown in. It wasn't bad, but it left me ... bemused? Yes, I think that's the word for it. Bemused.

The Cold Eye, Laura Ann Gilman. Sequel to Silver on the Road.

Very middle-book-ish. It felt to me as though the heroine's personal development required a return home to work out her relationship with her boss, but evidently that's being saved for the third book.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.

Very good! Well deserving of its 2017 Newberry medal. It is clearly pitched at children -- mostly in the 9-12 range, I'd say. The author gave her villains believable motivations that touched on the darker, grittier aspects of human behavior; but kindness and light were on equal display. I appreciated the author's evident respect for her young audience's ability to process psychological complexity.

The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin, sequel to The Fifth Season and the Obelisk Gate.

Although the book was good, I wish I had taken the time to go back and read the first two before diving in, mostly because I had forgotten a lot of the details about the supporting characters. Still, a vividly imagined world with a suitably shattering conclusion to the plotlines laid out in the first two.

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

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Tinalles wrote:
The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin, sequel to The Fifth Season and the Obelisk Gate.

Aha, THAT was the series I meant to recommend to a friend who enjoys disaster fiction, but left off my list. Thanks for the reminder! ^_^

Dark Archive

I sometimes randomly grab books on the 'if you liked X, you might like Y' recommend lists.

My latest random reads were Stephen Baxter's Proxima and Coalescent.

Very different books, but, darn, he's a pretty good sci-fi writer, for someone I'd never heard of!

Coalescent is set in the present day, but there's some weirdness under the surface, and I wouldn't want to spoil it, but he goes all Neal Stephenson and explores an extrapolation of a scientific theory to a pretty shocking extreme.

Proxima follows a character through some cryo-sleep time-shifts and transport-lags as he's shuffled through space as a colonist and such, so it has some things in common with Forever War, or Armor, or similar sci-fi books where the character is sort of time-travelling into the future, and his entire world / society / etc. has changed while he was in transit, making him a permanent 'stranger in a strange land.'

Both are parts of series, but I was buying them on impulse and didn't want to get the whole series in case they turned out to be clunkers. (Which is what I did with the Charles Stross 'Laundry' series mentioned a page or so up, which I regretted since, while I loved the premise, I kind of hated the repetitive writing style.)

While I liked the books, I didn't *love* them, so I'm not burning to run out and buy everything he's ever written, as was the case with authors like Peter Hamilton or Alaister Reynolds or David Brin or Roger Zelazny.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I just finished Ace of Skulls by Chris Wooding, the final tale of the Ketty Jay. It was a good conclusion, but to be honest, I was getting kind of sick of some characters. I plan on really getting into the whole series in its own thread.

I'm going to re-read American Gods by Neil Gaiman next.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Most of my library is now present where I reside (I think there are a few extra boxes left at the parents), which I means in unpacking I am running across books I haven't read in years or never even got around to reading (the perils of used book store trips).

Right now I am re-reading the Dark Descent, which was the first big multistory adult horror anthology I ever read, a book I picked up at borders sometime in high school. It's been a pleasant reread overall. Some of the short stories I encountered in that book stuck with me to this very day (This is where I first encountered Michael Shea's awesome "The Autopsy" and the creepy M.R. James "The Ash Tree")

I do find it a bit dated in amusing ways. Turns out this book was far older than I thought it was (the copyright was 1987, so it was already a decade old at least when I bought it). The Introduction spends a lot of time talking about the major shift of horror going from mostly short fiction to novel form, trumpeting a new dawn of longer form horror lit while short fiction would fall to the wayside. In the 80's, what with the success of Stephen King and a few other authors, that must have seen like the straightforward interpretation of how things were going, but then the horror novel market bottomed out after the 80's, and it seems like short fiction has returned to be dominate the market. Paranormal Romance/Urban Fiction seems to have almost entirely supplanted the shelf space for long form horror, with the exception of a few authors, including King.

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'The Return of Fu Manchu', by Sax Rohmer, where Nayland Smith and Dr. Petrie save the White Race by consistently failing to stop Fu from murdering people with poisoned baboons, cats, spiders, beautiful Arab women, etc. Now with added anti-Semitism!

A load of old crap, really, but pacy and intense all the same.

Stories like those are guilty pleasures of mine.

I'm now blowing through 1984: Spring - A Choice of Futures, a collection of essays and speeches by Arthur C. Clarke. The first two sections deal with (natch) space travel and our ability to destroy ourselves with nuclear weapons.

He seems to be a secular humanist of the first order, seeing the advancement of the human race through science as an inevitability, as long as we could keep politics from mucking it all up. His positivity is refreshing, even as, 30 years later, you see that some of his predictions haven't come nearly to the point where he imagined them.

I finished The Last Oracle, which was actually more fun than I expected. It goes onto the list of books to steal from if I ever try my hand at a secret history/conspiracy-type game.

I've read a bit over 2/3 of the Starfinder Core Rulebook, leaving just the rest of the tactical rules and most of the spells, so it was time for a longish break. My copy of The Book of the Righteous (for 5E) has finally arrived, so I've started that. It's mostly fluff, with just a little crunch, so a nice change of pace from Starfinder. I have plans for one or more blog posts about BotR, so am a bit more invested in it from that perspective.

Shortly before school started, we made our kids give their rooms a thorough cleaning, including culling any toys and books they no longer want. One of the books I picked out of their discards was Stuart Little, by E.B. White, which I had never read before. It was sadly disappointing compared to Charlotte's Web, which actually has a real plot and resolution, so it will go back in the pile of stuff to donate.

I also have a couple issues of Smithsonian to catch up on when I need breaks from the gaming books, as well as a few of Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody mysteries, which I found in a library book sale.

Most of the way through "The dark side o the Earth", a collection of short stories by Alfred Bester. Enjoyable.

The Exchange

Finished listening to "The Emperor's Blades" (The Unhewn Throne #1 by Brian Stavely), which was decent. I actually wanted to start on Sevenevs by Neal Stephenson next, but ran into an amusing problem. At almost 40 hours long, the audio files is too large for my admittadly limited smartphone storage. I'm aiming to buy a micro-SSD for the purpose, but it might take me some time to get around to it.

The Emperor's Blades thoughts:

This may very well be the most aggressively mediocre book I've ever read. There really is nothing terribly wrong with it - it tells an interesting enough story in a world that has just enough of a twist to not be completely derivative. The characters are nothing special, but sympathetic and and never boring (except for the female P.O.V - more on that later). The writing is perfectly acceptable, if a bit on the workmanlike end of things, but it never achieved much beyond conveying clearly what was happening. The pacing was every slightly off. I could call all the twists a page before the characters figured them out, which is honestly perfect - it means the are possible to deduce but not obvious. By the end, I wanted to know what happens next.

my only major-ish quibble is with the the princess character. She had maybe 5% of the page count so expecting serious depth from her chapters is maybe unfair. But given that all she does is fail at politics, get the hots for a friendly gentleman and solve a clunky and obvious plot , I feel that all her chapters were needless in this book. Assuming she has a greater role to play later, she should have just been introduced in the sequel when she has something substantial to contribute to the narrative.

Also, people in this world need to stop being surprised that legal systems that can be exploited by magic are exploited by magic.

So I did enjoy the book, and it certainly helped alleviate the boredom during a week of night duty, but by the end a certain hollowness took over me. I found myself wondering what exactly is the point of reading something so unremarkable. I almost wished it had been less competent so that I would have more faults to hang on to. This was just... ok. I wonder if I'm getting old.

Grand Lodge

I just finished The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet, which is a great book for Starfinder inspiration.

Listless jumping from book intro to book intro until I settled down for a The Weird of the White Wolf re-read.

After that, started Tariq Ali's new bio of Lenin.

Two Facebook friends publicly wondered why Ali wasted a chapter on Lenin's lovelife. Mr. Comrade said it was the best chapter in the book. We'll see.

Just barely started Inferno, a SW novel by Christie Golden. Bought entirely on the strength of her Ravenloft novels.

'Unfinished Tales' by JRR Tolkein.

The Exchange

Starting "The Underground Railroad," by Colson Whitehead, and "Princes of the Apocalypse," which is D&D 5e's Ferun update to the Temple of Elemental Evil.

Tim Emrick wrote:
I also have a couple issues of Smithsonian to catch up on when I need breaks from the gaming books, as well as a few of Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody mysteries, which I found in a library book sale.

I've started The Crocodile on the Sandbank, which is the very first Amelia Peabody novel. I've read a handful of other books in the series, but not in any kind of order, so it's good to finally see how it all started!

I just began The Gathering Storm, the first of the final trilogy of The Wheel of Time books. I had forgotten how engrossing the writing could be (even with Brandon Sanderson completing the writing; in fact, he may have improved it). Although finishing the story will certainly take a while, I'm looking forward to it.

Another biography of Stalin, this time by Edvard Radzinsky, which isn't very good.

The Exchange

I finished The Underground Railroad. I really liked it. It reminded me of Orwell a bit - lots of allusion and allegory (well, I'm not sure allegory is quite the word for it, but close enough).

I'm reading "The Song of Achilles," and Brandon Sanderson's "Steelheart." I really like them both.

"The Song of Achilles" is art.

Bring Warm Clothes - a collection of letters and photographs from Minnesota history.

Making Minnesota - a history of Minnesota

The Latehomecomer - the story of a Hmong family immigrating to Minnesota

A Good Time for the Truth - a history of race in Minnesota

First and third were assigned by the class, added the other two for more context. Technically I should be reading other assigned textbooks, but I'm doing just fine in my psychology and oceanography class without reading.

"The Gospel according to the Peanuts".
Pretty dull and preachy and the only interesting thing about it was the actual Peanuts comics sprinkled throughout. Maybe Schultz was just very subtle about things but I felt the author here was really stretching the content of the comic to make his point work. That point being how the whole series is basically just Christianity in a nutshell.

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