#19 – Sanctuary – Edited by Robert Lynn Asprin

#19 – Sanctuary – Edited by Robert Lynn Asprin

Well.  I owe you guys a buttload of book logs.  A buttload.  To start off, my apologies.  I have been having a hard time since last September.  I hadn’t realized I was having such a hard time until I began to have rages so sudden and so debilitating that during these fits my vision tunneled down into a black hole.  Finally, with some gentle encouragement from my hubby I went to the doctor… my lovely lovely Nurse Practitioner who remembers me, remembers when my dog suddenly died and knew that I had not been myself since.  So after a chat and an examine in which she declared officially that I had entered The Change, my daily meds were changed and new ones added.  That was several months ago and I am now beginning to feel like my old self again.  I am reading again (something I had stopped altogether… probably the very first warning sign for me) and I am creating again.  I have also taken a part-time job… which I love… as it is working with fabrics and crafts.

So.  I’m sitting in my living room thinking about reading something.  Some show was on the television, I couldn’t tell you which, but it got me to thinking about old favorite books which got me to looking at the shelves in the living room… and this lovely caught my eye…

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That spineless, dust jacketless tome is a Science Fiction Book Club (of the 80’s variety) edition.  It is actually merged into our library from my beloved Beardface’s collection.  It was read to death by him and his high school game geek buddies… and then by me.

Sanctuary is a rats-nest-lair-of-a-city where thieves, assassins, smugglers and thugs make a home.  This certainly can make for difficult neighbors.  But it can also  make for very loyal neighbors.    I read this book when I was first starting to play Dungeons and Dragons.  My first character was a thief so of course.. an entire series revolving around a city where thieves rule was right down my alley.  Kinda.  Sorta.  Not really.  I remember loving some of the characters.  I remember being horrified by others.  But time and numerous other stories fade the details to colorful memories of indistinct blurs.  Reading it again as an adult I am horrified by much of the book.  I enjoyed reading it again, but having lived in the world for real, I was aghast at the way some of the writers treated women (yes, yes… time it was written, fantasy setting…. I get all that…)  But some of the stories made me physically uncomfortable.  Also… the horrifying character I remember gets hardly any real story time at all and I find myself wondering how he horrified me so.  On the other side, one of the characters I loved is really a dick and I can see him for what he is now…. and then… another character that confused me and I don’t remember any details about him at all is really a woman…  yeah.  I missed so much when I was reading as a teen.  It really makes me wonder.  Last year I re-read Dune, by James Herbert… in high school it was the most boring thing I had ever read… as an adult… wow.  The detail, the fascinating culture…  just… wow.

So anyway.  It was an interesting read and I’m glad I picked it up.  I also decided the poor thing needed a new cover… and since I have the knowledge and the skill decided I would make it one.  The act of seeking sanctuary is discussed a little within the book itself and it lead me to doing a little online research, which I found quite interesting.. but most interesting of all were the bits on the sanctuary knockers on the church doors… something I’d wondered about…. why have knockers on doors that are never locked?…

Well.  I found me a picture I really liked, found me some purple silk from my stash and picked up some funky brass/gold looking fabric at the store and set to work doing a little applique.  Long story short… and I won’t regale you of the trials and tribulations… or the step by step photography of the work in progress… I made a new cover for the book.

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A sanctuary knocker….

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My sanctuary cover knocker….  but… the book still doesn’t have a new cover because after doing the applique… and after carefully picking it off because I put it on wrong way up…  I cut the fabric wrong way around and the knocker will not sit where it belongs on the cover.  So.  I’ve set it aside and will carefully cut the silk around the knocker and applique it back onto another piece of the purple silk… thank goodness I have a little more… but this time I will measure more carefully and measure twice.  Grrr…

In short… fun read.  Still give it 3 of 5.

 

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#18 – The Death of Dulgath, Michael J. Sullivan (Riyria Chronicles… the missed one)

#18 – The Death of Dulgath, Michael J. Sullivan (Riyria Chronicles… the missed one)

So.  Somehow I missed this third book in the early adventures of Hadrian and Royce.  Don’t know how I did it but I cannot tell you how glad I am that there is another one.  Although I really love the fact that this author is truly protective on these beloved characters and is careful to not overdo or over-write them, I truly cannot get enough of their adventures.

I’ve slowed down some in my reading of late.  I don’t know why,  but it happens sometimes.  Recently I have been restless.  I am a fiber artist and design geeky/historical cross stitch samplers for fun and profit, but that bit of creativity has been on the lulled side as well… mostly my fingers have been busy with crochet hooks and a whole lot of no thinking… of which I have become tired of.  I miss the things I love and I have begun to take daily steps toward a better routine…

In the meanwhile I’m slow… but, this time I think it was no real loss, it was nice to lazily work my way through this story… almost savored even.  I almost think this particular installation of the duo was my favorite.  I’m not sure why.  Can’t put my finger on it, but there was a lovely amount of character growth and a very interesting elven encounter which gives you an really good peek into their by-gone world and does a lot to set up the other trilogy.

So this is a short entry, but, at least there is an entry.  My apologies… but it will get better.  Honest.

I’m going to leave you with this recommendation… if you like fantasy stories, read these.  This author has the right mix of everything… humor,  horror, love, secrets, character and more character.  Just.  Yeah.  If you miss this series don’t blame me…. it won’t be my fault and will totally be your loss.

 

# 17 – Kings of the Wyld – Nicholas Eames

# 17 – Kings of the Wyld – Nicholas Eames

I discovered this book through Barnes and Noble’s Science Fiction and Fantasy blog.  It was described as being about aged adventurers.  Which is of interest to me, as I am also an aged adventurer.  I have often pondered what it would be like and in truth have taken to creating older characters because I just don’t have the interest in playing the 20 something’s just starting their lives anymore.

Okay.  A little about me time.  My name is April and I am a pencil and paper table top roleplaying gamer.  I’ve been one since 1979 when I “tricked” the tall, skinny, pimply faced geek in my art class into inviting me to play.  Little did I know that the denizens of the gaming world at that time would have welcomed me with open arms for many different reasons…two of which were my breasts.  You see, I’d seen the group of guys playing this game on the bus during an honor roll field trip (yeah.. geeks AND nerds) and I wanted in on it BAD.  But, I was too shy or uncertain of myself to just ask to play.  I thought and thought and decided that if I played too I could approach them with common ground, instead of just being a silly girl who wanted in on their fun.  So I asked for the Dungeons and Dragons game for Christmas… and low and behold, on Christmas morning there was a box full of the things you need to play, rule booklet, adventure pamphlet, character sheets and soft plastic chewable dice.  I spent the rest of the holiday break pouring over everything and I convinced my dad to create a character and play with me.  My dad really was awesome and I think he really loved the idea of the imagination play.  But.  When it came to melee we just couldn’t seem to wrap our heads around the rules.  So, finally, back in school… and then almost an entire year to work my courage up and realize the geek chieftain was sitting next to me in art class later, I asked him (knowing full well) what was in that funny brown bag he ALWAYS carried.  D and D you say?… Wow.  I have that game, but I can’t figure out the melee…. Oh come play with us!  We’ll help you figure it out!  We play Friday after school in Mr. B’s room! … and I was IN… and I was hooked for life.

That geek chieftain and I are celebrating our 32nd wedding anniversary (going on 39) this year.  Needless to say, we are now said aged adventurers and I find myself wondering where all the fantasy stories about older people are?  .. and then BAM!  BnN blog points me to a treasure.

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My favorite view of this man…  no longer so skinny or so pimply, but still a huge geek and an amazing useless fact hoarding nerd.  Oh… and I believe I forgot to mention that we raised two gaming geek boys who have found two gaming geek chicas to liven up their lives!

My youngest, DeForest with his pixie Kristen… and my oldest, Hans with his Zelda queen Olivia…  Yes they are cosplaying and yes they are gaming… at their parent’s table, with their parents.  Can’t ask for more than that!

But anyway.  I digress.  Back to the book…

What if groups of heroes acted like, and were treated like rock stars?  What if the members of an adventuring band had qualities and weapons that matched their role and instruments?  Within the Kings of the Wyld you will find a lead singer who wields a sword and charm with equal skill, a guitar man with an axe, a drummer with two knives and the ever-present, quiet, unassuming, stalwart bass man whose “weapon” of choice is a shield, and a wizard… well… I’m not sure what instrument player the wizard represents unless he is key or soundboards, with a bag of holding that he pulls the most amazing and quirky devices from.  This book will break your heart on one page and have you snorting coffee, laughing out loud or groaning at the puns on the next.  The author dances a fine line and does a fabulous job of not falling into the abyss of trite.  Indeed, many of the quotes heard uttered are from popular sources and at one point I began to wonder if Mr. Eames had been given a challenge list by his friends to see how many he could actually include.  I would say Mr. Eames won the bet and used the entire list, which does nothing to detract from the depth of the story or the heart of the characters.  In truth it reminded me of so many gaming sessions over the years where one could have heard “Fritz!  They killed Fritz!”… or “It is known”… or “I’ll be back” (full horrible Arnie accent and all) echoing through the house from the game room.  As I read I found myself putting the book down and reminiscing about past characters and their exploits.

This is a great read.  Humor, heroes, heart.  How can you go wrong?

I’m looking forward to the next installment in his “band” series, where he promises to move on to the next generation of heroes hoping to make a name for themselves like the rock stars of old.

5 of 5 Mr. Eames, and a shout out to my older gamer friends, telling them this is a “must read”!

…and just for giggles, since this book does make one giggle… here is a photo of my beloved GM way back in the day…

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#7, 9, 11, 13, 15 – The Riyria Saga – Michael J. Sullivan

#7, 9, 11, 13, 15 – The Riyria Saga – Michael J. Sullivan

Okay!  Finally!  I can tell you all about the series I have been reading… because, sadly, it is completed!  Such a mix of emotions coming to the end of a good read.  You want to see how it winds up, but you don’t want it to end!  Which is why I read it the way I did.  One book at a time and another book in-between each.  I’ve learned that although I love to be immersed in a series, I can get bored, no matter how good it is, book after book and the details start to get muddled and my eyes glaze over.  To counteract that I mix it up a bit!  I actually read the first volume in the epic several years ago when I was only reading self published authors.  (we had to downsize and put everything in storage, so to keep from buying paper books I treated myself to an e-reader and my first year with it was spent exploring only self published authors… found some treasures, read a load of crap… but it was an interesting experiment)  It had been my intent to go further and buy more of the books, but apparently I got sidetracked until I read about the author and his series in the Barnes and Noble Sci-Fi/Fantasy blog.  So back into the series I dove.

These books are a buttload of fun.  Seriously.  You laugh out loud, you shout, you rail at the clouds, you sigh and you cry.  Some of the plot devices are predictable and you know from the beginning where it is going to go, but there are some that have lovely twists that I didn’t see until the reveal.  The characters have depth, are flawed, make mistakes, stick to their own code of conduct and generally are people you’d love to know in real life…  Well…  one definitely wants to be careful with Royce…  Loved them.  Really, really loved them and will recommend them right up there with Patrick Rothfuss… and these are better because the story is complete… not left hanging and hanging and hanging… but… that is a story for another day.

Also.  I wanted to show you this really cool pillow my hubby found a year or so ago at a thrift store.  At first I thought it was verra cool, but then stopped using it and didn’t really care.  Actually gave it away to my son, who left it here when he returned home… and all that to tell you this…  I’m not so thrilled about the trade format popularity of paperbacks these days.  I have a hard time holding the books comfortably so I found myself propping the books on my lap with a pillow… then I remembered this little pillow… and now my son cannot have it.  I take it back.  Mine.  It has become my favorite thing.  Here…

Just a little pyramid pillow with a tassel.  Brilliant!  Here it is in use…

The first image shows the flat side up, the second two show the pointy side up.  I like that as you get into the middle of the larger books they just stay open without any stress on the spine!  Is awesomeness!

So.  In case you want one for yourself…  they can be found HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

# 12 – Holder of Lightening, S. L. Farrel

# 12 – Holder of Lightening, S. L. Farrel

So this one has been on my shelf for a while.  Decided to forgo the stacks of new acquisitions and headed down into the bookcave to see what might catch my eye.  Bookcave you ask?  Why yes.  April has a bookcave… where else do you keep your hoard if you are a book dragon?  Okay.  Yes.  There are book shelves in every room… but…  this room is the most specialistest of all…

See?… I love me my bookcave.  It is also the game cave… what you don’t see at the other end of the room is the 8 foot long gaming table and computer desk.  Yes.  We live rich fantasy lives. 😀

I really liked the sound of the back cover blurb.  Loved the idea of a strong female lead, loved the idea of a story steeped in celtic myth… little did I know, however, that the story would almost be lost in the unending parade of unpronounceable celtic names…. both people, place, and thing.  Now.  I don’t know about you, but as an old hand at reading fantasy and science fiction I am the queen of suspending disbelief and I can easily assign  weird names  easier alternatives while not losing the flavor the name is meant to imbue, either otherworldly or oldie timey or completely made up elven.  I am, after all, a 5 time reader of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and never got bogged down in those names or the verbosity.  But this one.  This one tested me, my imagination, AND my patience.

Which I didn’t like.

It gave me pause, and I did consider giving up, but I was already 2/3rds of the way through and was engaged with the characters and quite interested in how it would end… so…  I stopped for a bit and thought about why this book in particular was giving me so much trouble.  I came to decide that it wasn’t necessarily that there were so many in a single paragraph (and there were often 3-5) but that because there were so many, I felt obliged and in fact it was necessary to try to sound them out because there were too many to attribute to “oh him”… and “that thing”… and… it really hit home that when I read, I vocalize the words in my head, and because I didn’t know how to pronounce so many words and names I began to feel silly… and dumb.  I hate when things and people make me feel dumb.

And then there were the magic battles.  Now, I’m not a huge fan of military fiction, although an all time favorite sci-fi author is William Dietz… I don’t mind battles and combat and war even, so long as it isn’t handled down to the crazy details only military historians and lead pushers are interested in.  I know that conflict happens, and I don’t mind reading about them… but something about these battles annoyed me.  The magic is very powerful nad seems to be the answer to everything, but also the cause of all problems.  I don’t know why, but I dreaded turning the page to discover that magic combat was about to ensue.

Having said all that, I did get to the end of the book cheering characters on, mourning the loss of others and being thoroughly fascinated by the mythos of this world.  I had told several people after I’d finished that I would not be looking for the second one in the series.  I think now that was an untruth.  I have added it to my book list and will watch for it in the second-hand stores and might even order it next time I’m shopping on-line.  I guess, despite the difficulties I had, the author did a fine job of grabbing my interest, pulling at my heart-strings and telling a fine tale.  I’ve given this one a 3, but a hopeful for the future 3.

 

#4 – The Buntline Special – National Reading Day Popcorn Read!

#4 – The Buntline Special – National Reading Day Popcorn Read!

So today was National Reading Day.  I had things to do in the morning, but once all my chores were done I settled in to enjoy a lovely popcorn book by Mike Resnick.  Now, I’m not a huge weird west fan, but I do enjoy playing the RPG Deadlands which is set in the “weird west”.  It’s fun.  It’s cooky.  It’s deadly.  Gunslingers, cowboys, Native Americans, steam, clockwork, magic, weird science.  It’s awesome when you get a group of people together who don’t take themselves too seriously, but jump into a genre with both feet.

My favorite character is Lonesome Chapman.  She has become known as The Whispering Widow.  She was married to a Texas Ranger and together her and her husband were hanged by Pinkertons… as it turns out she was only partially hanged having been saved by her husband’s super smart horse.  However, her larynx is crushed and she can speak at a whisper, anything louder and it is a croak.  I love her.  She is so much fun.  But… I digress.  She is nowhere to be found in this book.

Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp and John Ringo are however.  It’s a bit of alternate fantastical history that kinda sorta tells a story about the OK Corral… kinda sorta… it has Edison and Buntline in it working together to create really nifty gizmos.  In short it was a whole lot of fun.  No thought needed.  Just sit back and enjoy the wild bronc ride!

My favorite bit, I think were the appendixes, appendisese, appendix?… there are three.  The first one tells you about an alternate history where the US stretches from coast to coast, not stopping at the Mississippi as in this story.   The second is an actual bonefide article from a said alternate history’s newspaper.  It’s a hoot.  Don’t forget to read them!

So.  I hope you all had a lovely National Reading Day.  I hope you got a chance to actually DO some reading.  I would love to hear about what you are reading now!  Drop me a line in the comments!

 

#2b – “The Iron Ghost” by Jen Williams

#2b – “The Iron Ghost” by Jen Williams

I read the first book in this series, “The Copper Promise” this past fall.  I spent the first quarter of the book feeling like I had missed a book.  I kept stopping to check to make sure I hadn’t begun a series in the middle.  It was maddening, but eventually I settled into the writing style, got invested in the characters and totally forgot to wonder what I had missed.  Until the end.  At which point I went online and pre-ordered the second one… which came just as I was digging in to Salem’s Lot.  I almost put Mr. Barlow’s adventures down to jump into this one, but, I was too afraid of retribution from the creepy blood sucker.

These two books are stand alone, but follow the adventures of three heroes.  Two of the main characters have a history that predates the beginning of the first book, but that’s okay.  The author gives you tidbits as you go along, almost like she is gently reminding you of what you read at the beginning of the series, without there having been a beginning book. There are events that happened between the two tales.  Those that are important are relayed well, those that don’t add to the tale are touched on to fill the gap but not dwelled upon.  The stories told in these two volumes are tidbits of time in the lives of the characters.  Sure there are more mundane things attentended to.  Other jobs that the sell swords did, just, none of them were quite the story that these two were.   I totally get why the author picked these tales to tell.

One of the things I adored about these books is that they read very much like many of our table top rpg session would read if someone were to put them into story form.  Not all choices were good ones.  Not all outcomes were beneficial, but they carried on, they held to their purpose and they made a difference in their little pocket of the universes.  Now.  Some of you might know that my hubby and I met over Dungeons and Dragons in the 70’s.  Yes.  I know.  I’m old.  Our love of role playing has been our entertainment since we first got together.  Some people go bowling, we have game night.  We have spanned the genres leaving D&D for other pastures, some of our favorites over the years are Powers & Perils, Role Master, Shadow Run, EarthDawn and now we are in love with the Savage Worlds system and are currently enjoying forays into Victorian era monster hunting.  Not all our game sessions are exciting.  Not all our game sessions go well.  But, if you were to piece together and cleverly narrate the good bits, this is the sort of story you would come up with.

I thoroughly enjoyed them.  The characters are real, fallable and have hearts.  The magic in this world is different and creative and although it is very powerful, it isn’t common.  The creatures are just plain cool and the demon you meet is a nasty piece of work just like a demon should be.

I give it a 4 simply because I’m told I give too many books 5’s and these did make me crazy wondering what book I had missed previously.  Nice job Jen Williams.  You have a new fan.

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