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Books Received, January 16 — January 22

23 Jan, 2021

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For fans of Black Mirror and The Handmaid’s Tale, a mother desperately tries to keep her family together in a society where parenting standards are strictly monitored. The world is suffering an infertility crisis, the last natural birth was over twenty years ago and now the only way to conceive is through a painful fertility treatment. Any children born are strictly monitored, and if you are deemed an unfit parent then your child is extracted. After witnessing so many struggling to conceive – and then keep – their babies, Kit thought she didn’t want children. But then she meets Thomas and they have a baby girl, Mimi. Soon the small mistakes build up and suddenly Kit is faced with the possibility of losing her daughter, and she is forced to ask herself how far she will go to keep her family together. 

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Books Received, January 9 — January 15

16 Jan, 2021

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Unwise deals. Blaster fights. High adventure among the stars.
Welcome to the world of Scum and Villainy.

Scum and Villainy is a Forged in the Dark game about a spaceship crew trying to make ends meet under the iron-fisted rule of the Galactic Hegemony.

Work with the members of your crew to thrive despite powerful criminal syndicates, warring noble families, dangerous aliens, and strange mystics. Explore the ruins of lost civilizations for fun and profit. Can your motley crew hold it together long enough to strike it big and insure your fame across the sector?

Scum and Villainy is a stand-alone RPG based on the Forged in the Dark game engine. In this book, you’ll find:

  • A clear gameplay structure that puts the focus on the criminal undertakings of the crew. A session of play consists of a job followed by recovery, downtime projects, and advancement.
  • Ship character sheets” that allow for XP spends, upgrades, and leveling up alongside your characters.
  • Crew advancement opportunities to reflect the change from a ragtag group barely flying in the black to a reputed crew that has built a name across the sector.
  • Forged in the Dark tools to help keep the focus on the action of the job rather than the extensive planning needed to make it happen.
  • Character and ship types to help create a unique and interesting crew at light speed.

May your ship fly true, and may your blasters never jam.

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Books Received, January 2 — January 8

9 Jan, 2021

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At the sudden death of her grandfather, Ona’s pain drives her to mystical Luenah — a place of infinite possibilities. There, she discovers she is an Eri, chosen to accomplish a special purpose on earth, and is handed a box in exchange for what she desires the most.

Burdened by her quest, Ona learns that dreams carry a hefty price, and no one is who they seem. As evil looms, she must unmask the villain and save the one she loves, even at the risk of losing everything she holds dear.

Set against the backdrop of two warring towns, The Place Beyond Her Dreams delivers life lessons using a powerful fable. This coming-of-age fantasy takes the reader on the path to self-discovery and demonstrates the transformation one must go through to realize and eventually occupy their purpose. 

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December 2020 and 2020 in general in Review

31 Dec, 2020

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General comments

I wanted to review at least 100 works by POC. So close! 

Assuming I review the same number of books in 2021 as I did in 2020 (which, granted, given 2021’s zombie apocalypse, World Wars III through X, alien invasion, and that thing we will agree never to mention could be tricky), I should hit review 2000 for the site in the last week of December 2021. I should think about what book I want that to be. But I probably won’t. 

December 2020

22 works reviewed. 12 by women (55%), 9 by men (41%), 1 by a non-binary author (5%) and 7 works by POC (32%)

Year to Date

256 works reviewed. 139 by women (54%), 105.5 by men (41%), 8 by non-binary authors (3%), 3.5 by unknown (1%), and 99.5 by POC (39%).

Grand Total to Date
1748 works reviewed. 982.5 by women (56%), 730.5 by men (42%), 21 by non-binary authors (1%), 14 by gender unknown (1%), 479.75 by POC (27%)

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Merry Space Christmas!

25 Dec, 2020

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Thanks to my editor Karen Lofstrom for descrambling my prose and my web person Adrienne L. Travis for giving me a place to post them.

Thank you to my audience of six plus years! Thank you to all my patrons, on Patreon and here. And a big thanks to creators everywhere, without whom writing reviews would be difficult.

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Book Received, Jólabókaflóðið 2020!

24 Dec, 2020

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(What is Jólabókaflóðið?)

This book is fast, furious, compelling, and angry as hell. — Seanan McGuire, New York Times bestselling author The Boys meets My Year of Rest and Relaxation in this smart, imaginative, and evocative novel of love, betrayal, revenge, and redemption, told with razor-sharp wit and affection, in which a young woman discovers the greatest superpower – for good or ill – is a properly executed spreadsheet. Anna does boring things for terrible people because even criminals need office help and she needs a job. Working for a monster lurking beneath the surface of the world isn’t glamorous. But is it really worse than working for an oil conglomerate or an insurance company? In this economy? As a temp, she’s just a cog in the machine. But when she finally gets a promising assignment, everything goes very wrong, and an encounter with the so-called hero” leaves her badly injured. And, to her horror, compared to the other bodies strewn about, she’s the lucky one.So, of course, then she gets laid off.With no money and no mobility, with only her anger and internet research acumen, she discovers her suffering at the hands of a hero is far from unique. When people start listening to the story that her data tells, she realizes she might not be as powerless as she thinks.Because the key to everything is data: knowing how to collate it, how to manipulate it, and how to weaponize it. By tallying up the human cost these caped forces of nature wreak upon the world, she discovers that the line between good and evil is mostly marketing. And with social media and viral videos, she can control that appearance.It’s not too long before she’s employed once more, this time by one of the worst villains on earth. As she becomes an increasingly valuable lieutenant, she might just save the world.A sharp, witty, modern debut, Hench explores the individual cost of justice through a fascinating mix of Millennial office politics, heroism measured through data science, body horror, and a profound misunderstanding of quantum mechanics. –Jennifer Estep, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Crown of Shards series 

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Books Received, December 12 — December 18

19 Dec, 2020

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After her escape pod is found drifting through debris nearly two decades after the end of the Redelki Wars, Melin is woken from cryosleep to find a galaxy where she no longer belongs. The galaxy has moved on from the horrors she experienced, the experiences that transformed her into a hero while she slept, but she hasn’t.

Alone, broken in mind and body, Melin is slowly pulled to the planet of her ancestors. She just wants a fresh start. A chance to end the dreams plaguing her sleep. A chance for answers. For new beginnings. For a life lived in oblivion where no one knows her name or what she did.

But Satura is a planet at war. And there are no fresh starts for heroes.

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Books Received, December 5 — December 11

12 Dec, 2020

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The job was routine, the money fair. Then the damn company diverted you to answer a distress call from a ship that disappeared almost 80 years ago — a derelict carrying something bizarre, twisted, and alien. What the ship’s frozen crew brought back with them was bad enough — what they themselves were turning into was a bloody nightmare. Add to that an annoying sensor ghost shadowing you in the void, and your stress level is shot.

It’s all a bit much.

You don’t get paid enough to deal with monsters. But hold your breath, count to three, and play your cards right with this one, and you just might walk away very rich. Oh, who am I kidding?
You’re all going to die.

This is a starter set for the official ALIEN tabletop roleplaying game — a universe of body horror and corporate brinkmanship, where synthetic people play god while space truckers and marines play host to newborn ghoulish creatures. It’s a harsh and unforgiving universe and you are nothing if not expendable.

Stay alive if you can.

This set contains everything you need to start playing:

  • A 104-page rulebook with a fast and effective ruleset designed specifically to support the core themes of ALIEN: horror and action in the cold darkness of space.
  • The 48-page complete scenario Chariot of the Gods by sci-fi novelist Andrew E.C. Gaska, taking you on a thrilling, terror-filled ride into deep space where no one can hear you scream. Chariot of the Gods is designed for 3 – 5 players plus the GM.
  • Five pre-generated characters to play.
  • A huge full-color, double-sided map, with one side depicting chartered space in the year 2183 and the other floor plans for the Chariot of the Gods scenario.
  • 84 game markers for keeping track of characters, motion tracker pings, and more.
  • 56 custom cards for weapons, personal agendas, and initiative in combat.

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