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Books Received, September 11 — September 17

18 Sep, 2021

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The Liar’s Knot by M. A. Carrick

Trust is the thread that binds us … and the rope that hangs us. In Nadezra, peace is as tenuous as a single thread. The ruthless House Indestor has been destroyed, but darkness still weaves through the city’s filthy back alleys and jewel-bright gardens, seen by those who know where to look. Derossi Vargo has always known. He has sacrificed more than anyone imagines to carve himself a position of power among the nobility, hiding a will of steel behind a velvet smile. He’ll be damned if he lets anyone threaten what he’s built. Grey Serrado knows all too well. Bent under the yoke of too many burdens, he fights to protect the city’s most vulnerable. Sooner or later, that fight will demand more than he can give. And Ren, daughter of no clan, knows best of all. Caught in a knot of lies, torn between her heritage and her aristocratic masquerade, she relies on her gift for reading pattern to survive. And it shows her the web of corruption that traps her city. But all three have yet to discover just how far that web stretches. And in the end, it will take more than knives to cut themselves free… 

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Books Received, September 4 — September 10

11 Sep, 2021

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Giving the Devil His Due by Rebecca Brewer

Edited by Rebecca Brewer, formerly of Ace/Roc (Penguin Random House), this anthology will feature major names and rising stars in Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror today including Angela Yuriko Smith, Christina Henry, Dana Cameron, Errick Nunnally, Hillary Monahan, Jason Sanford, Kaaron Warren, Kelley Armstrong, Kenesha Williams, Leanna Renee Hieber, Lee Murray, Linda D. Addison, Nicholas Kaufmann, Nisi Shawl, Peter Tieryas, and Stephen Graham Jones.

These sixteen authors will take readers on an unforgettable journey to alternative worlds where men who abuse and murder women and girls meet their comeuppance in uncanny ways. These sixteen stories will make you think about the importance of justice for the victims of gender-based violence, how rare this justice is in our own world, and why we need to end violence against women once and for all. 

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August 2021 in Review

31 Aug, 2021

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August 2021

22 works reviewed. 11 by women (50%), 10 by men (45%), 1 by a non-binary author (5%), 0 by authors whose gender is unknown (0%), and 9 by POC (41%)

Year to Date

172 works reviewed. 93.5 by women (54%), 71.5 by men (42%), 4 by non-binary authors (2%), 3 by authors whose gender is unknown (2%), and 70 by POC (41%).

Grand Total to Date

1920 works reviewed. 1076 by women (56%), 801 by men (42%), 25 by non-binary authors (1%), 18 by authors whose genders are unknown (1%), and 549.75 by POC (29%).

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Books Received, August 21 — August 27

28 Aug, 2021

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Glimmer by Marjorie B. Kellogg

This new cli-fi epic chronicles a future NYC wracked by climate change and follows the individuals who must make the most of what remains to survive. It’s 2110, the Earth’s glaciers have melted, and there’s no climate fix in sight. As refugees stream inland from the inundated coasts, social structures and national economies are stressed to the point of fracture. Food production falters. Pandemics rage. Rising sea level and devastating superstorms have flooded much of Manhattan and wrecked its infrastructure. Its residents have mostly fled, but a few die-hards have bet their survival on the hope that digging in and staying local is a safer strategy. As the weather worsens, can a damaged population of poor folk, artists, misfits, and loners work out their differences in time to create a sustainable long-term society? In a lawless city, where the well-armed rich have appropriated the high ground, can an ex-priest find a middle road between non-violence and all-out war? The lives of his downtown band of leftovers will depend on it. Sheltering among them, a young girl named Glimmer struggles to regain a past lost to trauma. As her memory returns, she finds she must choose who and how to be, and who and what to believe in, even if it means giving up a love she has only recently found herself able to embrace. 

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Roleplaying Games I Might Someday Play 8: Trudvang Chronicles by Theodore Bergqvist, Magnus Malmberg, Anders Jacobsson and others

23 Aug, 2021

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Trudvang Chronicles draws on Norse and Celtic myth. My interest in it has to do with the game’s lineage, which I understand to reach back to Drakar och Demoner. Drakar och Demoner began as the Swedish version of Basic Roleplaying, a system in which I have a great interest. Trudvang Chronicles is the English translation of the 7th edition, Drakar och Demoner Trudvang. I gather the changes over the seven editions have been … dramatic. No idea how much, if any, relation the current edition has to BRP roots but it could be fun finding out.

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Books Received, August 14 — August 20

21 Aug, 2021

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The Fall of Babel by Josiah Bancroft

The incredible final book in the word of mouth phenomenon fantasy series that began with Senlin Ascends. The Books of Babel” are something you hope to see perhaps once a decade — future classics, which may be remembered long after the series concludes.” (Los Angeles Times) As Marat’s siege engine bores through the Tower, erupting inside ringdoms and leaving chaos in its wake, Senlin can do nothing but observe the mayhem from inside the belly of the beast. Caught in a charade, Senlin desperately tries to sabotage the rampaging Hod King, even as Marat’s objective grows increasingly clear. The leader of the zealots is bound for the Sphinx’s lair and the unimaginable power it contains. In the city under glass at the Tower’s summit, Adam discovers a utopia where everyone inexplicably knows the details of his past. As Adam unravels the mystery of his fame, he soon discovers the crowning ringdom conceals a much darker secret. Aboard the State of Art, Edith and her crew adjust to the reality that Voleta has awoken from death changed. She seems to share more in common with the Red Hand now than her former self. While Edith wars for the soul of the young woman, a greater crisis looms: They will have to face Marat on unequal footing and with Senlin caught in the crossfire. And when the Bridge of Babel is finally opened, and the Brick Layer’s true ambition revealed, neither they nor the Tower will ever be the same again. 

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Books Received, August 7 — August 13

14 Aug, 2021

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The Beholden by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Orphaned as young women, Celestia and Izara De Malena find themselves land rich but destitute, with only a failing rainforest acreage, Celestia’s perfect manners, and Izara’s nascent magic to their aristocratic names. With the last of their money running out, they enact a dangerous plan — using a spell she doesn’t fully understand, Izara summons the Lady of the Seraphine and demands a favor: a husband for Celestia, one rich enough to enable the De Malena sisters to keep their land. But a favor from the river goddess always comes at a cost … Now, five years later, rumors of war and disease are spreading, Celestia’s husband has been called away on a secret mission for the Emperor, and the Lady of the Seraphine is back to collect her due. Izara will be forced to leave the academy where she has been studying to become a mage; Celestia will be pulled from her now-flourishing farm while newly pregnant with her first child. Together, they must repay their debt to the Lady — embarking on a mission that will put them on a collision course with Celestia’s husband, the Emperor, and a god even more powerful than the Lady of the Seraphine. Gorgeous, compelling, and utterly captivating, The Beholden follows Celestia and Izara as they journey from the lush rainforest to a frozen desert on an impossible quest to find a god who doesn’t want to be found and prevent the end of the world. 

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Roleplaying Games I Might Someday Try 7: Coriolis: the Third Horizon by Tomas Härenstam and team

9 Aug, 2021

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A perk of having bought into Fria Ligan’s Twilight 2000 project was a discount on other Fria Ligan games. Consequently, I picked up a number of their core rule sets1, of which Coriolis was one. 

Coriolis is an SFRPG, apparently inspired by the Arabian Nights. The game mechanics are similar enough to FL’s Alien that having read one gives a huge boost to learning this version of the rules. It’s a game of comparatively low-powered, fragile people in a setting filled with intrigue and forgotten mysteries which if examined correctly will reduce one’s PC to pink mist.

As one would expect from FL, the rulebook is an impressive-looking tome. The illustrations are a giant step up from what was considered acceptable when I got into RPGs 40 years ago. My only gripe2would be that white print on a black background is hard for me to read. 

1: And discovered DHL’s delightful habit of charging exorbitant administration fees for paying small amounts of duty. 

2: Plus DHL’s delightful habit of charging exorbitant administration fees for paying small amounts of duty. 

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