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.

The Frog Prince – Book Review

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Finished reading

The Frog Prince

by Elle Lothlorien

★★

Expectation

I had high hopes few years back when I first found out about this Kindle freebie from some friends at Shelfari (still miss Shelfari). It is one of the first Kindle freebies that I downloaded in general. For some reason I thought this story as a part of a magical fantastical universe since the author did some other fairy tale retelling like Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. Pulling this title for my October TBR Jar Draw was a surprise as well since I thought all my TBR Jar Draw titles were physical  copies only.

Summary

The initial surprise effect got me into reading. First half of the book I felt like I was missing something. I kept waiting for some fantastic element to lift up the book as a whole. I found much of this book to be chaotic. The main character was highly unusual in its quirky composition. Character as a whole seemed forced in the cliche of many seen before funny traits. the problem was that there were so many quirky things that it was hard to keep up with them all. For this reason the character seemed off and I as a reader had problems with connecting with her.

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What kept me giving this book more chances was the expectation of the fairy tale elements. When reading fantastic literature I try to keep an open mind and figure out the authors ideas and world building in general. The fantastic elements never came though. The story introduced a royal family Habsburg Lorraine heir and the most fantastic thing that happened is Austrians voting back their monarchy to something like that of Great Britain.

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Conclusion

While the first half of the book was chaotic the second seemed a bit more composed although this might be due to the plot and character familiarity. There were so many missed opportunities for this book to be amazing and informative. I even held back at “curtain down” love scenes. The more I think about it the more I’m inclined to lover the rating even further just for all the unused potential in the story.

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TBR Jar Draw October 2017

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I was glad for finishing my September TBR Jar Draw in record time. It made me feel proud of myself. Also I enjoyed my reading quite a bit. I realized the more books I finish reading the more inclined I am to read more. Works the other way around as well …

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In September I’ve finished reading Many Bloody Returns edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner. I’ve made a review on each of the thirteen stories from this collection. You can read my thoughts HERE.

The two draws I have not read are going back in the jar:

# Necroscope (Necroscope #1) by Brian Lumley

#  Naamah’s Kiss (Naamah Trilogy, #1) by Jacqueline Carey

My three new TBR Jar draws are as follows:

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1 # Belladonna (Ephemera #2) by Anne Bishop

This is one of those second books in the series I’m not much fond of. I bought first two book years ago. I wanted to try something from the author Anne Bishop. I’ve heard some nice things on few of her books. Sadly this one did not thrill me and I still have issues with remembering what was the deal with these books about. I’m not sure what to do with it :/

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2 # The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu

I bought this book years ago out of curiosity. I’m still curious about it. I’m expecting a bit more complex writing style from it since it is written thousand years ago. I’m not too thrilled about reading it right now because of it.

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3 # The Frog Prince by Elle Lothlorien

This one actually surprised me when I pulled it out of the jar. I thought I put all the physical books I own in the TBR Jar. This is one of the first Kindle freebies I downloaded few years back. It caught me off guard so much that i’m leaning toward reading it! The frog on the cover is kinda confusing though…

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Again I was surprised with what I pulled out of my TBR Jar. This October I was a bit more apprehensive on the titles I’ve drawn. I will probably go with the Kindle freebie this time simply for the easier reading before bed time.

 

 

Monthly reading review – September 2017

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Monthly reading review – September 2017

This September I have read:

The Marriage Wager by Jane Ashford ★★★★

Interview with the Vampire (The Vampire Chronicles, #1) by Anne Rice ★★★

Off Limits by J.L. Paul ★★

The Pursuit of Marriage (Effingtons, #8) by Victoria Alexander ★★

A Mercy by Toni Morrison ★★★

Many Bloody Returns edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner ★★★★

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

September showed progress in the number of books read. I’ve read six books and have few left over that I’m still reading trough to October. I’m happy to see an improvement from August.

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

Many Bloody Returns was a very enjoyable read. The many short stories gave me some new authors to look out for.

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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?

Off Limits and The Pursuit of Marriage were kinda predictable and boring. Both were romance books and while Off Limits was a contemporary in theme, I’m seriously thinking to give some time off from reading historical romance books. The Pursuit of Marriage had all the cliche plot twists from any given historical romance and while not necessarily bad, I simply did not like it. Off Limits was intriguing and engaging at first but failed to deliver after the initial character introduction.

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

I’m glad I’m moving along nicely with both TBR Jar Draw again and book club assignment readings. Soon I will be posting another TBR Jar Draw.

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

That long started Interview with the Vampire (The Vampire Chronicles, #1) is finally finished and while I’m not yet ready to jump to the second book in the series I am happy with this series. In the meantime I’ve been wondering on finally reading some last books of a few favorite UF book series that are waiting for me on the shelf.

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

This month I’m recommending exploring new authors with short stories collections. Once again I am glad for some book club books I would never read on my own. This venture out of my comfort zone helps me get perspective on my reading and meet fascinating authors from all genres.

Final thoughts on September reading

The number of books I’m reading monthly is slowly but steadily climbing. I’m especially pleased with the books I read from the TBR Jar Draw project. I started the TBR Jar Draw to help get the number of books I own and have not read yet under control. Some of the titles I draw randomly are a such a nice surprise that the whole thing makes me want to read more than one out of the three books I draw out. Lately the idea of reading the books I own has become more and more appealing.

Bookish Board Games Wishlist

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In July I made a post with some board games I own that have a bookish theme You can find that post HERE. Recently I’ve discovered few more bookish board games I got my eyes set on! I’ve already put them on the wishlist and have watched many tutorial videos. So far I did not have a chance to see them up close but I’m hoping that will change this October when we travel to Essen Spiel 2017 in Germany. It is the largest board game fair in Europe and I think in the world as well. Here are the two new bookish board games I’ve got my eyes set on!

Sator Arepo Tenet Opera Rotas / Sator Arepo Tenet Opera Rotas: Malleus Maleficarum

In this game there is a hidden library with many forbidden and dangerous books and tomes. Naturally this special library is placed over the bottomless pit. In this game players are acting as library acolytes and each is tasked to keep watch over four damned bookish volumes. Every book in the library must be properly placed to ensure that the chaos and the evil is contained from ever escaping the library. The library is a fiddly place and the corridors and narrow passageways keep spinning and moving.

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The original game Sator Arepo Tenet Opera Rotas was published in 2008. and the second edition which includes a whole game plus the expansion for the game Malleus Maleficarum was published 2015. What I love about the game are puzzle abstract type of play and a fact I get to play a librarian on the hunt for books! It has a bit of a dark theme and background for sure but I really like the whole package especially since the box of the game itself is designed to look like an old tome!

There is even an special deluxe edition where the whole game is one leather bound volume and many players take to themselves to paint and decorate the game pieces.

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For more info check the Board Game Geek websites HERE and HERE

Ex Libris

In this game each player is a book aficionado living in a small gnomish village. The Mayor has just announced an opening for a position of a Grand Librarian. The winner of this dream job and flattering title is the player who makes the most impressive library. There are plenty of types of players to choose from and each has a special assistant –  from ghosts and cats to gleatinous cubes and other weird creatures.

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What I love most about this game is the effort the designers made when they designed book cards. Each is different and holds funny and endearing unique book titles. The alphabetical rules apply and each player has special powers and goals. From what I’ve seen I could just browse through the components and have fun!

This is a fairly new game that came out only recently. I do hope I will get the chance to buy this one at Essen Spiel 2017!

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or more info check the Board Game Geek website HERE!

If you find any other bookish board games please let me know!

Many Bloody Returns – Book Review

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Finished reading

Many Bloody Returns

edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner

★★

Expectation

This is was my TBR Jar Draw for September. I was looking forward to it and reading some good short stories. I like reading short story collections because they introduce me to some new authors and ideas.

Summary

There were all together thirteen stories in this collection and what made me squeal was a dedication before the stories in the book. This gave me some extra enthusiasm for reading the stories. I went and wrote a few thoughts on each story.

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1. Dracula Night by Charlaine Harris ****

I very much enjoyed this story. It reminded me how much I loved reading Sookie Stackhouse book series. The funny and quirky dialogue was delightful. And offcourse Eric <3.

2. The Mournful Cry of Owls by Christopher Golden ***

This story had a YA feel to it. The timeline placing, the cultural tidbits and the actual supernatural creature in question were different than expected. It was more baffling than anything else.The mystic and pensive feel to it just did not work for me. And the owls I just cant perceive as anything but cute nocturnal animals.

3. I was a Teenage Vampire by Bill Crider ****

This author was completely unfamiliar to me before. At first this felt like a story for much younger audience and since the true age of the narrator character is somewhere around middle school it kinda fit. I was nicely surprised by the vampire of the story. It was a truly intriguing portrayal and I loved its subtle creepiness.

4. Twilight by Kelley Armstrong ***

This was so far the heaviest story. It was interesting and thought provoking but also kinda depressing for a short story. I expected more from a well renown author.

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5. It’s My Birthday, Too by Jim Butcher *****

I never read The Dresden Files and have only watched a few episodes of the TV show that did not last long. I loved this story. It had meat to the plot and characters were quite lovable. Everything about this story made me want to learn more about the characters and had me wondering about them. I had reservations about starting yet another UF book series but this one sure is intriguing.

6. Grave-Robbed by P.N. Elrond ****

I have not read anything from this author before but I have few other books and collections edited by her. This was an unexpected surprise. While the vampire of the story made me wonder quite a bit the setting and the general feel to this story was overwhelmingly positive.

7. The First Day of The Rest of Your Life by Rachel Caine ****

I loved this teasing introduction to Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampires series. I enjoyed the dramatic background and intriguing hints on characters in the story. I will definitely give these a chance when I get some other books series to a close.

8. The Witch and the Wicked by Jeanne C. Stein ***

This story seemed quite silly. The main character is kinda depressing and the plot was kinda far fetched. I did not know should I laugh or pay more attention. The vampires in this story bugged me. It was just not my kind of story it seems. This author was completely new to me and I have no desire to read more from her.

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9. Blood Wrapped by Tanya Huff ****

I have not read this author but I am familiar to her characters Henry Fitzroy and Vicki Nellson from the TV adaptation. I kinda like the TV show. This story is very much different from what I remember. This short story was interesting to read but I was annoyed with „What would Vicki think?“ that the characters kept asking themselves. Other than that I really enjoyed the story.

10. The Wish by Carolyn Haines ***

This author was new to me. The story was probably the shortest one in the whole collection. It was kinda morbid and nostalgic. The descriptions were depressing and ominous. I had to start reading it twice and force myself to concentrate since this short story already had a slow start and it took a few pages for anything other than setting descriptions to actually start. I’m still not sure what the author was talking about. The only thing I like in this story except the ever present madness is the actual vampire of the story.

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11. Fire and Ice and Linguini for Two by Tate Hallaway ***

This story was rich in interesting new creatures and mythology. Author was new to me and some ideas were intriguing. There was something kinda off with the characters though and it made me not like them all that much. The characters were not compelling enough for me to be believable.

12. Vampire Hours by Elaine Viets ***

A new author and a bit different story. There was something intriguing in the main character. Vampire of the story seemed sappy and kinda off. I’m not sure how I feel about this story though. The vampire bit seemed almost fairytale in quality. There were some interesting points in this story but the vampire part seemed forced.

13. How Stella Got Her Grave Back by Toni L.P. Kelner ****

What I did not like from the start was a title of this story. It made me think it was going to be another „girl power“ story like the one that came before it. I’m so glad I was wrong. The characters were lovable and the story was interesting. Vampires of the story were somewhat different than expected but they fit in nicely with the story. Strangely I did not mind many of the „curtain down“ love scenes that normally annoy me. I enjoyed this story.

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Conclusion

I’ve had this short story collection for almost a decade now and I’m glad I’ve finally read it. I am happy with the stories I’ve read. Most of the stories were good and better with only a few that just did not sit well with me. When it comes to vampires I can be quite picky. In the end it was a few little things that made me not love the story. I’m happy with the different vampire types the different stories brought out. I liked the action packed and funny stories more.