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What are you Reading? Jumentous July 2019 edition

July is here, and reading is a perfectly fine summer activity.

I am still working my way through Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra: A Life. Digging it so far.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad day
I enjoyed Marion Harmon's Wearing the Cape superhero series. I'm not into vampires, so I skipped the side-book Bite Me: The Big Easy. But I was looking for something ebook so I grabbed it on Kindle lending library.

So far it has a lot of the "oh, supernaturals in New Orleans" and less of the deconstructing the tropes that the main series has. But I'm still early.
 

Richards

Adventurer
I got a lot of reading done this week. First of all, I finished Stone of Tymora merely out of sheer, rugged determination; it had a marginally interesting plot but the main character was very much a Mary Sue (he's 12-14 years old over the course of the book yet holds his own in fights with practiced swordsmen and it's amazing how no matter where he goes there are people there - usually who he's never met before - willing to bend over backwards to aid him on his stupid quest). I also got tired of the constant name-dropping of him running into characters the author's father (it was written by R. A. Salvatore and his son Geno) had already established in previous novels. All in all, I'm glad it's over with. The ending hints at a sequel, fleshing out one of the other characters, but I'm not in the least bit interested.

As a palate cleanser, I read (devoured, really, over the course of a 24-hour period) a book written by an actual adult: Acts of Nature by Jonathon King, a 277-page paperback dealing with a PI and his policewoman girlfriend relaxing for a week "off the grid" at his cabin deep in the Florida Everglades. But then a hurricane veers off course and tears their place up and they have to deal with finding a way back to civilization while dealing with a life-threatening injury, a trio of airboat looters stealing whatever they can from the damaged buildings in the area after the hurricane's passed, and hit men out protecting an illegal operation in the area. It was a fast-paced read and thoroughly enjoyable. Apparently he's written previous books (or at least one) with the same two characters; I may try to hunt it/them down.

I'm now starting The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid, a thriller dealing with a man who profiles serial killers who, quite naturally, finds himself being hunted by the guy he's trying to find, all while trying to stop him from continuing his killing spree. I'm only a few chapters in but it's already very good.

Johnathan
 

Janx

Adventurer
I just finished Sword of Summer.


Spoiler: I think Chase's VH friends seemed too easily won. One breakfast and they're willing to break rules and die for him.
 
Finished A Wrinkle in Time today. Enjoyed it, definitely, though I imagine it would’ve had more impact had I read it when I was younger. Written in the 60s, during the Cold War, parts of it would have come across differently, too.

I also finished Moorcock’s Dragon in the Sword, the conclusion of the Erekose trilogy. Good stuff, though I’d still rank the Elric and Hawkmoon series above it.

Next up is The Summer Dragon, by D&D artist Todd Lockwood. Got it as a prize for donating to Worldbuilders, so I’m pretty excited to give it a try.
 

Janx

Adventurer
I am now reading Angel Descending, a cyperpunkish kind of story about a person with amnesia and a Cyberspace outage and wirewitches.
 

Fenris-77

Explorer
I'm currently rereading Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim series, which I often do when there's one book in a series that's new and it's been a while since I've read the series. Great urban fantasy.

Other than that my reading has actually been a steady diet of non-D&D RPGs. I'm in design mode, so I'm on the hunt for nifty mechanics to liberate and adapt. Call it a summer project. So far in the last couple of weeks I've been back through Fate, 13th Age, Urban Shadows, Trail of Cthulhu, octaNe, Numenera, Kids on Bikes, Unknown Armies, Mage and some scattered Pathfinder. I think my wife is planning an intervention.;)
 

Kramodlog

Adventurer
Reading Luna: New Moon by Ian MacDonald. I'm having trouble getting into this sci-fi. Too many names and characters, not enough plot.
 

Richards

Adventurer
Despite my 12-year-old nephew's ability to read 500+ page books on his own, he still likes it when I read to him at bedtime. So we just finished Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars - the first in the John Carter of Mars / "Barsoom" series - and have moved on to The Gods of Mars. We read one chapter a night.

Johnathan
 

Richards

Adventurer
As for my personal reading, I started The Empty Chair by Jeffery Deaver the other day. I was really, really hoping it would be good, as I took a chance and bought eight of his novels (and one short story collection) at a library book sale based on the fact that the back cover blurbs seemed interesting. (I'd never heard of him before and had never read anything of his.) So if this first book of his (and by that I mean the earliest-published of the ones I picked up) was no good, it would be a poor indicator of the quality of my purchases.

Fortunately, this is quite good. It's apparently not the first book of his to feature the main character, a quadriplegic profiler with a red-haired female NYC detective (I keep picturing her as a taller Dana Scully) as his hands and eyes in the field and a full-time male nurse taking care of him. This novel features them trying to track down two young women taken by a crazy teen in South Carolina with an unhealthy obsession with insects, hopefully before he has a chance to kill them.

Johnathan
 
I finished reading Todd Lockwood’s The Summer Dragon. It was really good. Far better than I would’ve expected for the first novel from a painter. I was absolutely riveted to the end.

Next up is a dive into the past, with Gardner Fox’s Kothar: Barbarian Swordsman. Been craving some more Appendix N reading as of late.
 

Richards

Adventurer
I finished The Empty Chair last night - it was so very good: twists and turns abounded throughout the book, to the point where you start to second guess yourself while reading through it at what can be taken at face value and what might be intentionally leading you astray. Jeffery Deaver excels at throwing you curve balls when you least expect it.

And it turns out I missed one of his books in my pile when I was sorting them by year of publication, because the next one of his I bought is Shallow Graves, written several years before The Empty Chair (and originally under a pseudonym). But it all turned out fine, as I enjoyed that first book so much I think I would pick up anything of his sight unseen and be pretty assured of a good read. I'll start Shallow Graves tonight; it features completely different characters so I won't have read anything "out of order."

Johnathan
 

Richards

Adventurer
I'm now reading Bloody River Blues by Jeffery Deaver, starring the same protagonist - a location scout for movies named John Pellam - as in Shallow Graves, so reading them back-to-back is kind of cool. Apparently there are a few more in this series as well, which I may have to hunt up.

Johnathan
 
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mrrockitt

Explorer
Just finished 'The Blade Itself' by Joe Abercrombie.
Bit of a slow start but great character development and a sharp sense of humour in the book.
I guess I might describe it as being a bit of a cross between GOT and the Dark Wheel series. Lots of political intrigue and back-stabbing in a very cynical, low magic world.
Just starting the second book...
 

Mallus

Hero
I recently finished Moorcock's The Jewel in the Skull, Dorian Hawkmoon book 1. Haven't touched it since high school, but plucked it off the stack after hearing the BBC is adapting it for television. It's no Elric or Corum, but the setting is cool.

Also reading Max Gladstone's Empress of Forever. It starts well; the world's smartest & most successful tech entrepreneur going on the run, believing the government is about to arrest her. Then almost immediately morphs into gonzo space opera. Unsure of where it's going (except for a super-obvious plot point), but the writing is a pleasing combination of 'excellent' and 'fun'. In that regard it reminds me of the Expanse novels.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad day
Rereading Marion Harmon's Wearing the Cape series. Decent plots, enjoyable and snarky characters, okay twists, and some deconstruction of superheros in a world where they are only around for the past decade and comics and everything did exist beforehand.

This was triggered by borrowing the one side-book from the Kindle lending library - I'm not into vampires so hadn't picked it up previously. When I needed something to read when not near my TBR pile I borrowed it, read it (still not a large fan), but it inspired me to read the others.

I'm on book 5 (plus side book and short story), but book 6 is coming up and it's the one I have the most reservations about. Crossovers are a common superhero trope, with alternate dimensions barely less so. And I liked seeing alternate history version of the main universe. But it started and ended with a crossover with characters used with permissions from another author whom I was unfamiliar. I've now read a bit of them, but I still find them a jarring addition that doesn't quite fit the tonality of the rest of the series.

That said, I still have fun with the Wearing the Cape series, hence the rereading. Superhero is not one of my normal genres. I think "Soon I Will Be Invincible" by Austin Gross is my only other reread superhero book. (A wonderful yet inconsistant book with periods of awful, and a fantastic deconstruction of what it means to be a superhero and a supervillian.) I couldn't even get through the second Wild Cards book. "Those Explosions Weren't My Fault" also had a bit of a good take on supers for their setting, but it involved vampires again and I don't like other-genre stories with vampires mixed in. (I don't like straight vampire stories that much either: not into horror and much of the current urban fantasy treats vamps as romance objects. Anita Blake and all of your kind, I'm looking at you.)

If people have superhero suggestions, especially ones that don't just assume the classic tropes but either have their own, or go into the "why" of them, please recommend.
 

carrot

Villager
If people have superhero suggestions, especially ones that don't just assume the classic tropes but either have their own, or go into the "why" of them, please recommend.
I quite enjoyed Drew Hayes Super Powereds series.
 
I quite like the Hawkmoon series. Probably my favorite of Moorcock's works after the Elric saga (though there is something to the melancholy of Erekose, too).

I finished reading Kothar and the Magic Sword. Decent stuff, though not, great (it lacks the vividness of R.E. Howard, and the weirdness of Lin Carter). It's entertaining and moves at a solid clip nonetheless. And the second tale within it is one of the clearest antecedents to a dungeon crawl.

I also finished Richard Sharpe Shaver's "I Remember Lemuria!" While this is no great work of pulp literature, it’s got weirdness in spades. All the moreso since Shaver believed this to a real account of his past life, and spent his life researching and finding “evidence” of it. Also, it's the source for both the Derro and Marilith demons.

I'm in an Appendix N mood, so next up is Margaret St. Clair's Sign of the Labrys.

I recently finished Moorcock's The Jewel in the Skull, Dorian Hawkmoon book 1. Haven't touched it since high school, but plucked it off the stack after hearing the BBC is adapting it for television. It's no Elric or Corum, but the setting is cool.
 
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