Book a Day – Soumission

Book a Day I read because of my reading club – August 2018

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Michel Houellebecq is a controversial and award-winning French novelist. Translated to English title of this book is Submission. It was our book club pick for December 2016. It was not exactly a happy holiday book. Back then our country was in the middle of EU migrant crisis. This book was published only one year earlier – 2015. I like to coddle myself with books and this is not something I would ever picked out on my own.  Here are my thoughts on the book and reading experience from my Monthly reading review – December 2016

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This thought provoking book was merciless in taking out the theme everyone was trying to handle very carefully. While some hated the author and his work others were inspired to heavy nationalist movements all across EU countries. The book club discussion was heated and we talked a lot about what we have seen and heard in news and in real life.

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This book was hard to read for me since the original is published in French and I was none to pleased with translations I could find. It was frustrating to read bad translations in a book where wording matters and where each word holds a heavy dose of satire mixed with real life possibilities. We agreed that fear and ignorance are the worst possible reactions and those can be remedied with a little effort. The world felt especially heavy place at that time and it reflected in our book club meeting as well.

 

Book a Day – Middlesex

Book a Day I read because of my reading club – August 2018

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Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides was one of the first big books I had to read for the book club. This was back at the start of 2015. Here is my original review for the book:

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides – Book review

It was my first book by this author and I was not familiar with all the awards and honors this book received. In fact in choosing books to read I never really much thought about books that won awards like Pulitzer or Nobel prize.

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I remember feeling very satisfied and good about myself after reading this book. It felt complete from start to finish. The theme was more than intriguing and now that I think on it our group discussion would be probably a bit more heated today. I rarely ever go back and read books again but somewhere in the future I think reading this book again could have potential benefits with the course the public opinion in the world is heading.

This book is an excellent reminder on why I joined the book club in the first place – To discover new books and friends I can talk about books with. After thinking on all the books I had to read for the book club this one comes somewhere in top three for sure!

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Monthly reading review – April 2018

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Monthly reading review – March 2018

This March I have read:

Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse ★

If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino ★★★

Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson #9) by Patricia Briggs ★★★★★

Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson #10) by Patricia Briggs ★★★★★

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1. How many books you’ve read last month? Are you happy with the amount you read?

This April I’ve read only four books. I had plans to read more but life intervened and I was suddenly busy with projects to the point of falling dead asleep before squeezing some reading in.

2. What was the best of all the books you’ve read in April? Any scenes or characters that made a lasting impression?

Quantity of the books read aside, I’m very happy with the books I have read! Mercy Thompson books series was a total blast and I loved every second I spent reading it! Silence Fallen was especially fun to read and I enjoyed Prague in the book!

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3. Were there any not so good books for you last month? What made it hard or not enjoyable to read?

One of the books I had to read for my book club was Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse. I did not like it. I did not understand the point. It was exhausting and boring to the point of putting me to sleep after 10 pages into a reading session…

4. How did the books you were reading last month fit in your reading plans if you had any?

I just barely managed to read both books for my book club reading and indulged with a joker for my TBR Jar Draw in April. There were more books I planned to read in April but some other projects kept interfering. This left me with few new books I still need to finish.

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5. Any updates on the series you are reading or are you starting any new series?

With the books I read in April the Mercy Thompson series is now up to date. The new Alpha & Omega books just came out and I will need to look out for the paperback edition in a few months. There are still very many book series I should get on to and finish up from these I already own.

6. Would you like to recommend any books or authors you’ve been reading this last month?

Patricia Briggs continues to amaze me with her characters and action packed plots. Her dosage of humor in the books is just right and her dosage of romance is down to earth yet dream worthy. I am so glad to have read and bought her books!

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Final thoughts on April reading

While I am extremely happy with the books I’ve read in April I am left with some new unfinished books that add to my reading pile from before. Even though my reading plans were not finalized in full I feel good about the books I did read. It seems that the smaller number of books I’ve read had given me more incentive to post reviews on the books I did read.

If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino ★★★ REVIEW

I’ve let a lot of time pass before I got to reading Mercy Thompson book series and I got confused with the reading order and the last book I’ve read. I’ve made a review on my reading experience with reading both Fire Touched and Silence Fallen to explain how it all happened.

Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson #9) by Patricia Briggs ★★★★★

Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson #10) by Patricia Briggs ★★★★★

joined REVIEW 

I will have to make a post on all the books I have to finish up soon since they are kinda pilling up and it just might be the incentive I need to read up on them all.

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Silence Fallen – Book Review

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Finished reading

Silence Fallen

(Mercy Thompson #10)

by Patricia Briggs

★★★★★

Expectation

This is actually the last book I’ve bought this year. It somehow slipped my radar for I’m not really sure how long did I have it on the shelf. On my TBR Jar Draw among my choices for April was also a Joker option – pick any unread book from my shelf and read it! I was actually surprised to see this book on the shelf and a while has passed since I read any books from Mercy Thompson universe (counting both Mercy Thompson AND Alpha & Omega series). I loved reading Patricia Briggs books and remembered how much I enjoyed them. I gladly picked up Silence Fallen to read!

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Summary

Once I started reading this book I got so immersed into the story, the characters and the urban fantasy setting. Imagine my surprise when some of the characters did not exactly ring a bell…

It took me one hundred and fifty pages to look up my Goodreads and check when was the last time I’ve read one of the books from Mercy Thompson series…

I was reading the wrong book!

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I realized I have not read one other book in the series Fire Touched which is number nine in the series and is directly before Silence Fallen. And at this point I was completely hooked in with the action packed plot and I was beside myself with suspense!

So I got to put Silence Fallen down for a while and got down to read Fire Touched. Now when all the characters were completely familiar and I started to piece things together I was in for the ride on Fire Touched!

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Finished reading

Fire Touched

(Mercy Thompson #9)

by Patricia Briggs

★★★★★

Expectation

When I started reading this book I was a bit crazed and jumpy because of the mistake I made picking a book from the series out of order. It might not seem such a big deal but again I was glad for my TBR Jar Draw ongoing project that makes me read more books from my own bookshelves. I got a bit of spoiler from Silence Fallen on some characters and I must admit that I was not hyped about reading this book as much I was for reading the next one.

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Summary

Again I was surprised to read about Mercy and Adam relationship. Out of all the fictional couples Mercy and Adam are by far most fantastic in a way they have a relationship so well balanced and great it belongs with out of this world supernatural elements of the book series. They are inspiring to read about!

It was good to see the dynamics of the pack and family life at work trough out the book. Some of the issues Mercy had to deal with in this book were much more close to me and I was impressed on how the author dealt with those issues.

What I loved about this book was the update on the Fey politics and meeting up with some new and some old favorites. I can’t say much more and keep this review spoiler free but I can throw few hidden hints here and there.

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Conclusion

In the end I loved this book so much and was happy to have another waiting on me to continue reading the book series. It left a feel good impact on me when I finished reading which was one of my favorite things about reading book series. Not to mention the excitement I get finishing a book and getting into another one at fast pace!

Summary – continuation from Silence Fallen

Jumping from the ending of the Fire Touched back into the fray of Silence Fallen gave me a rush! From an ending of one book to the middle of action of another book. I loved Mercy travelling trough Europe. Prague adventures were awesome to read about. I loved how the book series progresses we learn more about different new creatures and how things work and get an update on some of the older characters and past events.

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Conclusion

This one kept me up long into the morning!  I loved it for its action and intelligent humor. This wild ride trough two books had me looking up for the next one. So now I’m impatiently waiting on an opportunity to buy the next one. Hopefully it wont take me so long to get to reading it that I forget how much I enjoy these characters and stories! Absolutely a favorite!

Dr. Who references were much appreciated ❤

 

Science fiction classics

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Later this month I will be having a presentation on the topic of science fiction classics. This will be a part of World Book Night promotion this year and I will be doing a demonstration and a short quiz afterwards at my former high school.

My goal was to pick out and present ten works of science fiction to the high school children. Trough my inquiry in the school library I have found out that the library does not hold many speculative fiction books if any at all. This and the fact that gymnasium high school I am to have my presentation in has an otherwise diverse and full learning programme for the children has given me incentive to make my presentation brief and as interesting as possible for young adults with more important things to worry about.

As I was going trough many top lists of most influential science fiction books all across the Internet I had few titles I already held high in regard and was looking to fill in my top ten list with most interesting titles and authors I could find.

This is where my troubles began…

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As an avid reader and lover of out of this world literature in general I had certain favorites and then there were many influential authors and works that I have yet to read. Picking out just ten became a problem since I wanted to cover a genre where diversity is sometimes the focus point and the only limits were those set by the authors imagination.

After much deliberation I set on these ten titles:

Foundation (Foundation  #1) by Isaac Asimov

Dune (Dune #1) by Frank Herbert

Dangerous Visions by Harlan Ellison

Ender’s Game (Ender’s Saga #1) by Orson Scott Card

1984  by George Orwell

Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy #1) by Douglas Adams

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Blade Runner #1) by Philip K. Dick

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein

I have yet to put these titles in order. While some have certain themes and motives in common I think I’ve covered the basics. There were some other titles I wanted to include but the lack of time needed for my presentation and inability to acquire the actual book copies for a little show and tell during the presentation were also deciding factors.

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World Book Night was first celebrated in 2011. This year World Book Night falls on UNESCOs  International Day of the Book and the birth and death date of William Shakespeare – Monday April 23.

Do you have any plans for World Book Night? What do you think on my ten science fiction picks?

Three Slices – Book Review

Three-Slices

Finished reading

Three Slices

by

Kevin Hearne, Delilah S. Dawson and Chuck Wendig

★★★★

Expectation

I was going trough the list of short stories I missed reading for Iron Druid Chronicles after one of my friends asked for reading recommendation. Naturally I turned to Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles. I found a few short stories and novellas I have not read yet and this one stood out as an interesting one. I gave up on reading the short stories in order since they are not so easy for me to come by. I was actually surprised to see that the story A Prelude to War is almost on point for book 7. which is the next book I need to read for this series. I have heard for Delilah S. Swanson and her Blud series and even put it on my TBR some years back. I have never read anything of it though. This is my first Chuck Wendig story and I had no idea what to expect.

Summary

These three stories have in common the theme of tyromancy. Tyromancy is the art of divination and telling ones future using cheese hence the apt title Three Slices. While each story is set in its own universe the cheese part is what connects them in a quirky way.

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A Prelude to War

by Kevin Hearne

★★★★

This story was relatively easy for me to get into. It is divided into two segments. One follows Atticus the main character of the series in his exploits to recruit the help of someone he used to know and to get better insight for dealing with his enemies. The other part of this story follows Granuaille on her training to be a druid. While Atticus was one of my most liked parts of the Iron Druid Chronicles I did prefer Granuaille and her way of dealing with druid business and foes. I suspect the part with Atticus has more meaning to the main story of the book series and will have to read on to find out.

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Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys

by Delilah S. Dawson

★★★★

Second story  in this collection presented a bit of a challenge to get into. As a short story from a fully developed and fantastically rich world it brought out an array of new creatures and a world that follows its own rules. Since I knew nothing about any of it the first part of this story had me going slowly to try to understand dynamics of the creatures and the rules they abide by. I knew there was a vampire type creatures of some kind in the center of it all and that’s about it. I like the main character Criminy Stain and his sense of flair. The character itself is very strongly portrayed and driven. In retrospect the story was full of macabre and strange but it was all very nicely put together and I did not mind the brutality of some parts. Its a very dark story set in a dark world with some dark characters. I ended up liking it.

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Interlude: Swallow

by Chuck Wendig

★★

This author and her characters I knew the least about. From the very start it read more like a mystery thriller than anything else. While the story Delilah S. Swanson before it had more macabre elements this one was much more scary for me. The way it was written did not help either. The story was put together by little chapters out of order. The way they continue is that they turn forward in time and back in time in the most intense parts of the plot. I had no love for this and did not like it all that much.

Conclusion

While all three stories have a character that uses cheese to tell future in some way there was a distinct commonality in the title of the second story – Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys which refers to a polish saying with general meaning Not my problem, I don’t care. In each story there was a moment of betrayal and the motive of the betrayer had certain carefree elements – nothing personal, I was just worrying about my own stuff. This three story collection was entertaining to read and I found it to be informative for future reading.

The beautiful illustrations were made by Galen Dara and are part of the book. Aside the cover illustration each story has one and I like them as much I like the stories.

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Sweet Ruin – Book Review

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Finished reading

Sweet Ruin

(Immortals After Dark, #16)

by Kresley Cole

★★★★

Expectation

As I have already mentioned my motivation while buying this book was largely due too being a long time fan of the series. This book is one of the more recent additions to my collection from this summer. I actually started reading it only because I am really looking forward to the book Shadow’s Seduction that is the next one in the Immortals After Dark book series. I had no particular expectations and I really wanted to be done with it so I could continue with the Shadow’s Seduction and the second book from the Dacian storyline.

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Summary

Again I feel compelled to clarify a bit on the progress of the book series I am reading. Immortals After Dark started out back in 2006. with a first book A Hunger Like No Other. I am very glad that it was not the first book from the series I’ve read since I did not think that much of it after did read it. For me the first was actually a prequel story Warlord Wants Forever. I still find it that it perfectly summarises the tone and the theme of the whole book series. And the premise which is neatly tucked in packages of steamy and fantastical books with highly eroticized characters is strong and simple:

There is someone for everyone

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Trought the books in this series a long line of fantastical characters  of all kinds come to life. And for all of them there is that special someone who is made to be their other half. There is something endearingly comforting in this underlying theme of each of seventeen books so far. The characters and the mythology of the worlds that these characters come from is rich and impressive. While most of the creatures have some root in known myths some are more original than others. At the begining of each book there are few quotes from the “Book of Lore” and they are usually a little snippets that provide information on the type of characters that will be focused on in the book ahead.

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While I have some characters that I love more than others most of the characters and their love stories have some part to play in the bigger background plot that spans trough each book and builds on the mythos of the Immortals After Dark universe. Some books end on a cliffhanger and some provide a bit more subtle transition from one pair of characters to the next.

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The steamy scenes of all pairings are definitely mature in content and the amount of swear words trough the books is high. Some scenes are downright porn. Yet with all things considered there is something lovable about these books. I enjoy the badass female characters that are fearless and downright unstoppable when it matters the most. Humor is tinged with sarcasm and action is out of this  literally world.

Conclusion

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. When I started reading it I did not care much for the characters but by the end of the book I grew fond of the main characters. The story was filled with sexual tension. There were some crude moments in there but it all fit quite nicely. The story added to the backstory of the series and it was interesting to read the scenes from different perspectives. I love how intricately the characters grow trough the books and enjoy when they reappear from book to book.

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The Hidden Oracle – Book Review

Finished reading

The Hidden Oracle

(The Trials of Apollo, #1)

by Rick Riordan

★★★★

Expectation

At first I wanted to read the new book from the Magnus Chase book series The Ship of the Dead. But then while I was settling in for a comfortable afternoon of reading I started noticing how much what happened at the end of the book The Hammer of Thor is actually in sync with things that are happening in The Trials of Apollo book series. This left me with having to close the book and put it back on the shelf AND in its place I took The Hidden Oracle and started with a new book series. I planned reading it anyway and I’m even buying them along with Magnus Chase books. I was a bit more interested in Norse mythology. I fully intended to learn what was happening with the characters from The Heroes of Olympus book series from which I only got a few glimpses of Annabeth of since she is related to Magnus. The last line in The Hammer of Thor left me more than giddy! All hype aside The Hidden Oracle was kinda a means to an end – finally getting to reading the last Magnus Chase book and having  a grasp on all the subplots and many characters in this mythic universe.

Summary

I am mostly out of the loop on other people reactions and comments of Rick Riordan’s book series until I finish reading them. This way I avoid spoilers since I usually don’t get to buy the books as soon as they come out. For all those who are not familiar with these books a few sentences of caution: Starting with the Percy Jackson book series the author has created the intricate collection of book series and characters who live in the same world and sometimes appear and visit each other. Percy has five books and two heartbreaking movies – heartbreaking since the plot was so messed up and different than the books in the first movie that they barely managed to scrape up enough ties and make a second movie. After the Percy Jackson five books series comes The Heroes of Olympus book series that introduces the Roman deities to the  original Greek ones. Somewhere along those lines is a separate trilogy Kane Chronicles that deals with Egyptian mythology. There are a few short stories and novellas where Percy and Anabeth meet Carter and Sadie. Otherwise the Kane Chronicles are not mentioned much. After Heroes of Olympus comes Magnus Chase book series and shortly after the first Magnus book come in The Trials of Apollo.

Now after that not so short introduction let’s get down to the actual book The Hidden Oracle. I had certain issues with grasping the character of Apollo. The plot was very easy to follow and the scenes were easy to imagine. Rick Riordan has a way of making scenes in his books easy to picture as a movie or a TV series scenes. The introductory “Fall of Apollo” was a great start of the book. Making the beautiful god Apollo mortal acne troubled teen was a punishment indeed.

I like how the story of this book builds on the books and characters from the previous books. Apollo is a likable character but I found Meg very interesting as well. I hopped along on getting to know more details on some historical figures and learning about the new bad guys.

Some might consider this next part a spoiler so be aware that I will bring out some characters from other books that drop by in The Hidden Oracle.

Reading about fan favorites like Nico and Percy and even Chiron was great. It gave me a serious craving to watch the Percy movies again even though they seriously suck in comparison to the books. Don’t get me wrong movies are kinda okay for someone who did not read the books and I can even enjoy them but thinking on how much better they could have been chafes a little…

While reading The Heroes of Olympus I grew rather fond of the character Leo Valdez and I was glad to see him come back to the story center.

Conclusion

I was a tad bit apprehensive about reading this book since I’ve grown quite fond of Percy Jackson and Magnus Chase book series. The witty banter and the slightly sarcastic humor was there but the appeal that Percy and Magnus hold for me was not really there for some reason. I liked this book and will continue with the storyline and the next book but I still love Magnus and Percy better!

RPG novelizations

 

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I enjoy playing RPG games both pen and paper versions or in the form of video games. RPG (Role Playing Games) usually have a lot of background stories and interesting characters. Sometimes a certain character can bring out the whole RPG universe. One of the most prominent characters that do so is most definitely drow elf ranger Drizzt Do’Urden. He is one of the most important figures from Forgotten Realms universe. Here I must confess that the only book I’ve read from the whole 20+ The Legend of Drizzt books is the first one – Homeland. While I enjoyed finding out more about the character and his beginnings in the Underdark city Menzoberranzan ruled by unusually cruel matriarchal society, what stopped me from continuing with this book series was a fact that it was PG rated in accordance with American market demands. I have an issue with violence in books being ignored and sexual situations censored to the point of removing them altogether. I find it hypocritical and that ruins my reading mode.

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Trough the years I’ve taken an interest in some RPG novelization editions from the games I play.  Some I even started collecting with the desire to read some time in the future. As it happens with many books I buy the time passes and the books are left unread. Here are some of the books I’ve managed to collect that drive their inspiration from different pen and paper RPG settings.

 

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Elminster: The Making of a Mage

(Forgotten Realms: Elminster, #1)

by Ed Greenwood

I got really interested in this book series while I was playing Dungeons and Dragons Online video game. It was one of the expansions from the game where the character Elminster was introduced as narrator. I remember how the gaming experience soared and how awesome I felt while playing the game. Originally Elminster is one of the most popular characters from Forgotten Realms universe. He is not as known as Drizzt since he is usually depicted as an old mage. I have first three books and the fifth one from this series. I use the fact that I’m missing the fourth book as to why I haven’t started reading them yet…

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Sigvald

(Warhammer Heroes #4)

by Darius Hinks

While I’ve never played the actual Warhammer pen and paper or video game RPGs, I got interested in this universe while playing board game Chaos in the Old World. The mythology of this quite brutal setting made an impression on me so much that when I discovered this book in a bookstore by chance I just grabbed it and decided to buy it. The main character is aptly named Prince Sigvald the Magnificent. The warring theme is not one of my favorite but I am interested on how it all pans out.  Moral ambiguity and the intriguing main character are still looking at me from the shelf and patiently waiting to start with the reading…

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Amber and Ashes

(Dragonlance: The Dark Disciple #1)

by Margaret Weis

Back when I was a student I was working in a game store. Among many things they sold there were some fantasy books as well. This was one of my first RPG book purchases. It is also the only such book I own in hardcover. For some reason Dragonlance was never one of my favorite settings. I actually bought this book since it seemed interesting way to get myself more familiarized with Dragonlance. What sealed the deal for me was a slightly vampiric themed innuendo. This book series is a trilogy and I own the first and the third book. I remember reading the first but I’m unsure how far I’ve read trough. The fact that I can’t seem to find affordable second book in hardcover is another excuse not to finish the first book…

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I, Strahd: The Memoirs of a Vampire

(Ravenloft #7)

by P.N. Elrod

Strahd von Zarovich is one of the main protagonists in the Ravenloft universe. Ravenloft is a part of the Dungeons and Dragons setting with a bit of a macabre horror spin on things. It comes off as Dark Ages world with vampires, ghouls, lords and lieges array of characters. It is also one of my favorite settings to play RPG pen and paper campaign. I was delighted to hear it will be implemented into Dungeons and Dragons Online MMO video game this December. It made me interested in DDO again. This book is the only novelization I have from the book series that counts something over twenty books in total. I bought this book earlier this year on sale.

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While I enjoy good RPG games I realized that I am more than a little behind on reading the novelizations I own. This, naturally doesn’t mean that I don’t have some other novelizations on my wishlist! I would love to get my hands on some of the World of Darkness novels since I’m a huge fan of the RPG world and the vampire theme in general.

If you have some recommendations for RPG novelizations like those above please send them my way 🙂 In the meantime enjoy this picture of my RPG books!

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Short story collections

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While reading my TBR Jar Draw from September I was reminded how much I enjoy reading short stories. Almost instant gratification that comes from finishing a short story is very motivating for me and helps with my reading goals. Reading short stories introduces me to new and exciting authors and helps me find new and enjoyable reading material.

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Sometimes short stories come from authors that have a longer book series and are a wonderful way to highlight some interesting character that would not get enough page time otherwise. There are some of my favorite book series that were based on a short story that evolved into a spin off and a full fledged book series on their own. Most notable example of this is the story Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs that came out in On the Prowl collection along with stories by three other authors. I immediately loved the story and characters. Later on Alpha and Omega became a favorite book series of mine. It has five books so far and is going along nicely.

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I have a few unread short story collections I want to read. After Many Bloody Returns I am extra motivated to read at least one of them by the end of the year. Most of the stories are urban fantasy and offer a wide choice of authors. Here are my choices for short story collections:

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Naked City: Tales of Urban Fantasy

edited by Ellen Datlow

This is a collection of twenty short stories from some really interesting authors. Some of the authors are already favorites and some are completely new. The most prominent author of this collection has to be Jim Butcher with his short story from the Dresden Files book series. I love the cover artwork by Dan Dos Santos – he makes covers for Patricia Briggs book series as well.  The number of stories and page count over 500 ensures me to have enough wonderful reading material for quite some time. Looks very inviting!

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Carniepunk

by Rachel Caine and various authors

Another urban fantasy collection with a twist. This short story collection offers fourteen stories by different authors. From all the authors I’ve read only Kevin Hearne and his Iron Druid Chronicles book series. This offers a great choice for October reading since the themes revolve around carnivals and macabre.

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The Eternal Kiss: 13 Vampire Tales of Blood and Desire

edited by Trisha Telep

This story collection with vampire theme reminded me of the time when I started collection vampire themed books and stories in general. Of the authors I’ve read before there is Cassandra Clare. Most other authors I’ve heard nice things about and I’m interested to try them out.