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Things I’ve read

Hey, it’s time for a few things I’ve read and enjoyed recently!

First up, the paired novellas The Red Threads of Fortune and The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang. This pair of novellas can, I gather, be read in whatever order you like, but if you’ve got a thing about reading stories in story-chronological order, start with Black Tides. This is some excellent fantasy. Each volume centers on one of a pair of twins, children of a powerful ruler who gave birth to them in order to pay a debt to the Grand Monastery. They both learn to manipulate the Slack, the force that underlies all nature, but one, Mokoya, can see the future. Sometimes. Oh, also, Mokoya rides a dinosaur. You want to read these. Seriously.

I also scored an advance copy of John Hodgman’s Vacationland. This is autobiographical, and if you enjoy Hodgman’s humor, you’ll enjoy this. I do, and I did. It’s also, in places, quite sincere and not particularly funny, intentionally so. It’s out today, I think. Oh, and if you listen to podcasts but you’re not listening to Judge John Hodgman, you might find it an excellent addition to your regular lineup. Judge John Hodgman always manages to give clear-sighted and compassionate verdicts, despite holding incorrect opinions in the matter of the sandwichness of hot dogs.

When I’m in the middle of a project, I often want something to read that’s fairly light and definitely not the sort of thing I’m working on. I find that often classics work–Jane Austen is particularly helpful to me at such times–but historical romances often work nicely. I’d seen a few folks mention enjoying Spectered Isle by K.J. Charles, and it was a whole five bucks, so I figured I’d give it a go. I enjoyed it! It’s set in England in the 1920s, and, well,

Archaeologist Saul Lazenby has been all but unemployable since his disgrace during the War. Now he scrapes a living working for a rich eccentric who believes in magic. Saul knows it’s a lot of nonsense…except that he begins to find himself in increasingly strange and frightening situations. And at every turn he runs into the sardonic, mysterious Randolph Glyde.

Randolph is the last of an ancient line of arcanists, commanding deep secrets and extraordinary powers as he struggles to fulfil his family duties in a war-torn world. He knows there’s something odd going on with the haunted-looking man who keeps turning up in all the wrong places. The only question for Randolph is whether Saul is victim or villain.

Saul hasn’t trusted anyone in a long time. But as the supernatural threat grows, along with the desire between them, he’ll need to believe in evasive, enraging, devastatingly attractive Randolph. Because he may be the only man who can save Saul’s life—or his soul.

It was a really enjoyable read! And there appear to be others in the same series, or universe, or whatever, so I might very well pick one of them up next time I need an entertaining break.

Books I’ve Read

Some books I’ve recently read and enjoyed! As always, none of this comes close to anything like a review, because reviewing isn’t a thing I’m good at.

Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw

Dr. Greta Helsing (yes, she’s related) specializes in treating London’s supernatural denizens–people whose safety might be at risk if most Londoners knew they existed, and who might not get any sort of healthcare otherwise. It’s not going to make her rich, and it’s difficult enough with her small practice to care for vampires, mummies, ghouls, and…other sorts of creatures, without someone going around trying to kill her patients.

I thoroughly enjoyed this, and am looking forward to the next installment. You can read the first chapter here.

Ack Ack Macaque by Gareth Powell

It took me way too long to read this, but that gives you some idea of how out of control my TBR stack is. Back in 2014 I was absolutely tickled when Ack Ack Macaque tied with Ancillary Justice for the Best Novel BSFA, and I was really glad to be able to meet Gareth in person at Worldcon later that year. Now I’ve finally read this! It was a lot of fun. In the wake of WW2, France and Britain have unified–look, just go with it, ok?–and a hundred years later there are nuclear powered airships, and actual monkey Ack Ack Macaque is the central character of an amazingly popular online multiplayer game. In the non-game real world, murders and skulduggery are happening and the very survival of everyone on Earth is at stake. This book is great fun, a quick, compelling read. I’m putting the sequels on my ever-growing TBR pile.

The Course of Honour by Avoliot

Okay, this one is kind of a bonus. As in, it’s free! You can click that link and find the Download button (up there in the righthand corner) and nab a copy in your favorite ebook format. Or, you know, you can read a chapter right here on your screen, and then click on to the next at whatever pace.

I want to thank Liz Bourke for tweeting about this, because I wouldn’t have known about it otherwise, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I’ve said before that I’m not much for category romance (though I do enjoy them now and again), but the fact is I’m a sucker for a good Arranged Marriage/Fake Marriage plot. And this was a good one! Jainan was married to Prince Taam of Iskat–a marriage arranged for political reasons, and when Taam suddenly dies [ahem] accidentally, the Emperor of Iskat declares that party-loving Prince Kiem will step up. And…look, I’ll just paste in the “additional tags” here, so you’ll see what you’re getting into:

Romance, Slow Burn, Arranged Marriage, Pining, past abusive relationship, space princes, Court Politics, Emotional Hurt/Comfort

Space princes. I mean. Seriously. Give it a look, and maybe leave some kudos if you like it.