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My February Reading Log

The Jade Temptress by Jeannie Lin is the second of her historical romance mysteries set in Tang Dynasty China. The heroine Mingyu, a highly trained courtesan, discovers one of her highest-ranking clients spectacularly dead and must work with big, rough-hewn Constable Kaifeng to solve the mystery and maintain her reputation. She always has to walk a very narrow path socially, and in addition was accused of murder by him in the previous novel, so their relationship is somewhat fraught (he briefly questioned her using painful methods we in the modern day would call torture). Meanwhile, Kaifeng has a political enemy who wants him out of his job. The mystery is not the primary focus, and though I enjoyed the romance as these two guarded people open up to each other, just the historical detail alone makes these books worth reading; Lin is terrific about telling you a lot about the period in an unobtrusive, integral way.

Drinking Gourd by Barbara Hambly is the fourteenth Benjamin January mystery, which starts off with a minstrel show. Unable to find orchestral work in New Orleans, Ben and Hannibal are touring with a circus, but soon have to hurry to Vicksburg, Mississippi, with Ben posing as Hannibal’s enslaved valet. This installment is mostly about the Underground Railroad and the complexities of how it might have operated, but of course there is also a murder, and negotiating the conservative society of Vicksburg, and avoiding a familiar face from the past, and of course serious peril for both Ben and Hannibal. Also, I am now stuck on the song referenced in the title.

Sharp End: The Fighting Man in World War II by John Ellis is a 1980 book; I have the 1990 edition, which features some additional information at the end. If you are researching the life of an infantryman in the WWII Allied Armies (the English-speaking ones), this is a terrific resource. The author uses both statistics and frequent quotes from soldiers and occasionally journalists to illuminate the range of dangers and quotidian suffering of being on the front lines, including chapters about morale and the difficulties of obtaining rest or relaxation. I haven’t read a huge amount about WWII yet, but what I have read has been mostly on this level; I find individual stories and in-depth examinations more fascinating and enlightening than discussions of big-picture strategy. Now I want to read more about WWII, but I have a substantial WWI TBR as well, and WWI remains my primary interest for now.

English Sexualities, 1700-1800 by Tim Hitchcock concisely summarizes a whole range of research into the sex lives of people during this period as well as theories about how changes occurred. The book discusses major primary sources and their value, and provides a most excellent bibliography.

the bones of this land by Kat Heatherington is a poetry chapbook. I found the poems very accessible to me with their themes of loss and grief and nostalgia. This was the first time I’d read poetry on my phone, but I plan to do it again, so I can have mindful moments while I’m out in the world.

Slow and Splendored by alby_mangroves and eyres is a melancholy but sweet post-Avengers: Endgame Captain America story with themes of aging and love and doing what you can do. Also Buster the cat. I didn’t think I needed this story, but apparently I did. It has a happy ending, if you’re worried, a happier one than I had expected. Recommended.

an irrevocable condition by layersofsilence is about Bucky Barnes caretaking himself a family in his Romanian apartment building. Soothing and sweet.

Save Me by Brumeier, a Gothic AU of Stargate: Atlantis in which novelist Rodney McKay, who’s had writer’s block for ten years, inherits a mansion stuffed to the gills with Stuff. John Sheppard is the ex-Air Force, mysterious caretaker. It was a lot of fun.

My January Reading Log

Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson is a lowkey romance that takes place just before and during World War One. The hero is a surgeon of working-class Scottish origins, the heroine is an aristocratic-class woman who becomes an ambulance driver against her parents’ wishes. Spoiler: her brother is not killed, he is the hero of a sequel. This author knows her stuff up down and sideways, and if you want to see how to write about World War One, read it, OMG. There are details of a surgeon’s duties at a Casualty Clearing Station, and details of how to perform ambulance maintenance. I drooled (not literally) over the nerdtastic bits like that. Also, the romance was realistic and satisfying.

The Escape by Mary Balogh is fourth in the “Survivor’s Club” series about (mostly) army officers who were damaged by the Napoleonic Wars. This one pairs the widow of a self-centered, adulterous officer with a former career officer whose legs were so badly injured he walks with two crutches. He’s desperately in search of something to keep himself busy, and she’s desperate to escape from her dead husband’s oppressive family. They help each other, they find what they need even though it is nothing they ever expected, and they were fun to read about together.

Reparations by Saras_Girl is first in an AU/sequel series in which Harry Potter becomes a Healer and Draco Malfoy specializes in magical addictions treatment. The first story takes place at St. Mungo’s and features several original characters plus Ron, Hermione, and Ginny; there’s a mystery plot which I figured out but was still interesting, and a Harry/Draco romance. What I liked best about this was that I could see Harry taking this path; I have never understood why so many stories have him working as an Auror after the end of the canon series, when I feel it’s more interesting if he has realized there are other paths to defeat the Dark than constantly fighting criminals.

Excultus by Mottlemoth is truly amazing, and I will attempt to recommend it without major spoilers. Set in a futuristic Mystrade slash AU of Sherlock, it features Mycroft Holmes and Greg Lestrade as Scotland Yard detectives trying to track down a murderous vampire cult. The cool part of the worldbuilding is that the vampires, and a host of other “supernatural” creatures, are genetically engineered humans, an idea which I adore and am finding thematically resonant. A violent murder near the beginning turns out to be a vampire kill, but there’s more danger to come, involving the return of a secretive, supremacist cult. The romance plot, entangled in the mystery, is emotionally intense and gets a bit schmoopy, especially when personal secrets are involved; though it’s well written I was far more interested in the mystery plot twists and the lives of the many original characters. Highly recommended.

family means no one gets left behind or forgotten by cosmicocean is a lovely Captain America adopts a bunch of LGBTQIA kids and they live happily ever after story if you need it, and I did.

My December Reading Log

Favours Exchanged (Clorinda Cathcart’s Circle Book 5) by L.A. Hall continues to add to the original series, but in a way that is more for continuing readers than for new ones. I loved getting more about Maurice, and more Clorinda.

An Unacceptable Offer by Mary Balogh is an early Regency by one of my favorite romance authors. What I found interesting was the initial scene, which involved two men discussing the Season and the Marriage Mart in a way that was clearly an infodump for readers who knew nothing of either; this is something that became far less necessary as Regencies became a Thing and vast swathes of the genre were set in that time period. So far as the romance between the characters went, the heroine was convinced her feelings were unrequited, and the hero had to realize that he actually did have feelings for her. They probably should have talked honestly with each other a bit earlier on. The secondary romance was brief but delightful.

Hid from Our Eyes: A Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Mystery by Julia Spencer-Fleming is ninth in a series of which I had previously read only the first book. A lot has happened, continuity-wise, since that first book, but I was able to follow very easily. The mystery involved three murders, or possible-murders, spaced out by decades, and involving some of the same police officers. The structure thus had numerous flashbacks, and I was impressed by how smoothly the author integrated them into the story, and how well it flowed among the different time periods. Recommended for that alone.

Good Man Friday by Barbara Hambly is number twelve in a series I’ve been following since its inception. I’ve been hoarding books in this series for quite a while and finally decided now was the time! So I’m be catching up a bit and it is glorious. This one takes place in the Washington, D.C. during Andrew Jackson’s administration, before the Capitol Building had its dome and when many of its streets went nowhere. Ostensibly a story of a missing person, there is of course a murder as well, one that I found upsetting, but also weirdly inevitable. Hambly builds a strong picture of the black community and the dangers they faced in this place and time, while also dropping in a few historical personage cameos (or slightly more than cameos). All historical mystery series, in my opinion, have to match up to this one.

The Countess Conspiracy (The Brothers Sinister Book 3) by Courtney Milan is my favorite of the series so far. I won’t reveal why, because I think it’s best unspoiled. Just know that the romance is absolutely beautiful and yes, they talk to each other about what stands in their way and how they can resolve it, and yes, they belong together.

Crimson Angel by Barbara Hambly is thirteenth in the Benjamin January series and, like several previous books, takes some of the characters out of New Orleans, this time to Cuba and Haiti. That doesn’t count as a spoiler, because the sections of the book are named for places. I did figure out the Big Secret ahead of the characters, but there was enough other stuff going on that my insight in no way spoiled the story. I especially enjoyed seeing how the differences between Rose’s and Ben’s upbringing affected their adult selves, and seeing more of Ben’s thoughts about his Catholic faith.

The Prisoner of Limnos by Lois McMaster Bujold is the sixth Penric and Desdemona novella, which mainly deals with how a potential romantic partner deals with the idea of Penric and Desdemona being a package deal.

A Death at the Dionysus Club by Melissa Scott and Amy Griswold is the second and last Mathey and Lynes supernatural mystery, and I wish there were more; I haven’t heard that there will be. Mathey and Lynes deal with mundane new relationship issues while trying to solve two separate mysteries, which turn out to be linked.

The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl by Theodora Goss finishes off the trilogy, which is a good thing, I think, because it felt cluttered now that there are so many characters to keep track of. That said, I still love the conceit of female “monsters” joining together, and I love the meta-commentary of the characters sprinkled throughout the book. And I love all the female mentors.

My 2020 Arisia Schedule

I will be attending Arisia 2020 January 17-20, 2019, in Boston, Massachusetts.

My schedule is as follows:

Saturday, 5:30 pm, Marina 3
“Diversity in History”

A.J. Odasso [moderator], Sol Eidan Houser, Diana Hsu, Victoria Janssen, Sioban Krzywicki
The perennial refrain: “but having gay people/women/people of color in this fantasy story would be historically inaccurate!” Panelists will challenge whitewashed assumptions about American and European history, and what kinds of people did and did not exist in “the past” (spoiler alert: they pretty much all existed) and discuss their favorite facts and stories about black people in the Renaissance, queer folks in the 17th century, women in the Age of Sail, and more.

Sunday, 11:30 am, Marina 1
“Captain Marvel Has Nothing to Prove to You”

Heather Urbanski [moderator], Christopher K. Davis, Lyndsay Ely, Victoria Janssen, Jennifer Pelland
February’s Captain Marvel was the culmination of two years of the typical online calls for boycotts and attempts to influence its reviews negatively when a tentpole franchise doesn’t have a white man in the lead; it nevertheless found considerable success, if its box office and an internet full of pictures of fans dressed as Carol Danvers is anything to go by. As the first MCU release with a woman as the sole title character, we’ll talk about what worked and what could come next.

Sunday, 7:00 pm, Faneuil
“Fanfiction from Fandom to Fandom”

Cassandra Lease [moderator], Lisa Batya Feld, Victoria Janssen, A.J. Odasso, Shoshanna Traum
We’ll discuss the ways that fanfic writing styles can differ based on the medium of their source material – movies, TV shows, books, comics, podcasts, and more. We’ll talk about when writers try to emulate the style choice of the original work, and how fandoms can arrive at signature styles all on their own.

My November Reading Log

Connections in Death by J.D. Robb is 48th in the Eve Dallas series of futuristic mysteries, and yet I bought it and read it and enjoyed it. Formulaic books are great for when I only have tiny bits of time over the course of a few days in which I can read, so I don’t lose track of the story. Familiar plot progression, familiar characters, and a certain outcome are satisfying. This one had gang violence as one of the crimes that needed to be addressed, and great progress has been made by the end of the episode, I mean book, but I really mean episode, because this series is very like a long-running and popular television cop show.

Sing for the Coming of the Longest Night by Katherine Fabian and Iona Datt Sharma was recommended to me by a friend. It’s set in contemporary London if London had magic and magicians. A quirky magician has gone missing, and his two partners, who don’t know each other well, have to work together to find him and save him from peril; in the process they get to know and appreciate each other. The female partner, who is Indian, is married to another woman and they have two small children; the non-binary partner has two non-binary friends. The magician character, as you might imagine, doesn’t have many lines, but you learn about him through the eyes of his partners. A fun read.

I pre-order the Benjamin January mysteries in hardcover these days, then hoard them; but I decided I’d been hoarding long enough and wanted to catch up, at least a bit. Ran Away by Barbara Hambly is roughly split into two linked stories; for the first time, we get to see Ben solve a mystery during his past in Paris, when he was married to the dressmaker Ayasha, then flash forward to a possibly related crime in New Orleans. We’ve previously only gotten glimpses of his time in Paris, mostly linked to Ben’s sorrow and grief at Ayasha’s death in a cholera epidemic. What I particularly loved about Hambly’s approach to this book is that narrative choice is actually a character choice; Ben hasn’t been able to fully remember Ayasha and their life together because of how traumatically it ended, and in this novel he’s able to come more to terms with her death. We also see that Ben is the sort of person who gathers people around him; he and Ayasha had a trusted network of friends in Paris, just as Ben later accumulated a new group of trusted friends in New Orleans. History-wise, we learn a bit about Ottoman Empire politics, through two characters with differing thoughts on allying with Europeans.

The Affair of the Mysterious Letter by Alexis Hall is a Doyle/Lovecraft mashup and homage. Captain John Wyndham needs a roommate, and ends up with consulting sorceress Shaharazad Haas. Co-tenant required. Rent reasonable to the point of arousing suspicion. Tolerance for blasphemies against nature an advantage. No laundry service.

This bit made me literally laugh out loud: Just as I was beginning to contemplate the opportunities my unexpected successes had placed before me I was struck down by an extratemporal jezail, a fiendish weapon whose bullets displace themselves in time and space, meaning the injuries they cause recur unpredictably. Although I am quite well most of the time I shall, on occasion, be afflicted with a stabbing pain in my shoulder or my leg or, most peculiarly, by the recollection of such a pain in the distant past, long before I had even thought of going to war. Such a condition made me unfit for military service. (Fans of Sherlock Holmes know that John Watson’s wound is described in different stories as being in different places.)

I was familiar with Hall from the Kate Kane paranormal noir series (which I need to catch up on, one of these days). If you like meta, and dry humor, and pastiche, you will very likely like this book.

The Killer in the Choir by Simon Brett is a relatively straightforward English mystery set in the town of Feathering. It was nineteenth in the series, but though it was my first, it was self-contained and easy to follow. I picked it up because it had choir in the title. It was good enough that I kept reading, not enough that I would necessarily read more in the series unless I felt like an undemanding, old-fashioned mystery. Which is sometimes what one wants.

Louise’s Crossing (A Louise Pearlie Mystery Book 7) by Sarah R. Shaber was more to my taste. The first-person narrator is a young widow working for the OSS during World War Two. She’s been transferred from the D.C. office to London as OSS is ramping up for the Allied invasion of Europe. Almost the whole story takes place on the Liberty Ship on which she makes the crossing. On the good side, it shows some awareness of racism and historical attitudes. The murderer and their motive is not a huge surprise to me, but I don’t necessarily need a mystery to be terribly mysterious. I liked the narrative voice and setting enough that I’d be willing to read another in this series.

Favours Exchanged (Clorinda Cathcart’s Circle Book 5) by L.A. Hall continues to add to the original series, but in a way that is more for continuing readers than for new ones. I loved getting more about Maurice, and more Clorinda.

An Unacceptable Offer by Mary Balogh is an early Regency by one of my favorite romance authors. What I found interesting was the initial scene, which involved two men discussing the Season and the Marriage Mart in a way that was clearly an infodump for readers who knew nothing of either; this is something that became far less necessary as Regencies became a Thing and vast swathes of the genre were set in that time period. So far as the romance between the characters went, the heroine was convinced her feelings were unrequited, and the hero had to realize that he actually did have feelings for her. They probably should have talked honestly with each other a bit earlier on. The secondary romance was brief but delightful.

three white horses by magdaliny is angstful and emotionally satisfying, exploring how Steve Rogers mourns for Bucky Barnes. With a happy ending.

the way a traveler knows a traveler by thedoubteriswise is a story about the building friendship between Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanov, which incorporates a little comics canon into the MCU. I really liked the characterization.

My October Reading Log

The Forbidden Stars by Tim Pratt is third in the Axiom space opera series. Like the previous books, it is banter-tastic, and has a lot of clever solutions to life-threatening problems as Our Heroes try to rescue colonists who’ve been lost for a hundred years without dooming the rest of humanity in the process. I didn’t like it as much as the first book, when everything was delightfully new, but I did think it was a satisfying end to the trilogy. CW: major character death.

The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite is delightful. It’s a mainstream female/female historical romance about an astronomer and the widow of an astronomer, who has a pursuit of her own which I felt deeply. What I particularly found compelling about the book is that both protagonists have passions at which they are skilled, but they don’t achieve true fulfilment in pursuit of those passions until they find support in each other. Also, there’s a background community of women, both in their pasts and in their present. It perhaps gets a little too tidy at the end, and I was mildly annoyed by a Big Misunderstanding, but I did not mind, really, because the rest of the book was so excellent, and the Misunderstanding did not drag on for too long. Highly recommended.

Grave Importance by Vivian Shaw finishes off the Greta Helsing books, very satisfactorily, though I wish there would be more than three because I find the worldbuilding so entertaining. Greta gets to travel to France to substitute as director of an exclusive mummy clinic; weird symptoms some of them are experiencing turn out to be symptoms of a much bigger problem that’s been going on for all three books. I don’t want to spoil any more, since the book is so new, but Shaw definitely goes for it full-bore. I loved it.

I re-read The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner because I had an extra copy, and it was on top of a pile of giveaways, easily in sight, and it tempted me. I realized, while reading, that I’d read it when it came out and not since then; ditto with the rest of the series. That might have to change when the new one comes out! The second read, since I knew basically where things were going, was much more illuminating than the first because I could see how Turner delicately set everything up, revealing new interpretations of events at carefully gauged moments. So amazing. So delightful.

The Art of Theft by Sherry Thomas is fourth in the “Lady Sherlock” mystery series, currently one of the few series that I love enough to pre-order. Rather than a close AU of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, in my opinion it’s a Secret History, in which the main players are women; there’s also an element of Remington Steele. Charlotte Holmes is the detective, aided by former actress Mrs. Watson; Charlotte’s sister Livia is becoming the chronicler of the male stand-in Sherlock. Charlotte’s love interest Ash is the brother of a Mycroftian figure. There is a Moriarty, as well. In this volume, a powerful Indian ruler, who’s recently passed her throne to her son, needs their help; at the same time, Mrs. Watson reviews their past romantic relationship and realizes how little she understood of her Indian lover’s views on the colonialism under which her country suffers. Livia’s romance progresses and suffers setbacks; Charlotte’s romance is in abeyance, with Ash, still awaiting his divorce, always unsure of her true feelings for him.

Tendu by kristophine is an Avengers ballet AU, featuring a slow burn romance between Natasha Romanov and Pepper Potts, with secondary Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes, as they try to avoid adverse publicity that might harm the company. Tony Stark, a dancer turned inventor after an injury, starts a new company with a selection of “under-utilized” dancers, who are all outsides to the traditional ballet world expectations in one way or another, and has to fight off attempts by his former manager Obadiah Stane to torpedo him in various ways. I don’t know a huge amount about ballet companies, so I loved all of those worldbuilding details, for instance that Balanchine apparently sucked rocks with his insistence on waiflike female dancers.

If you’re looking for humor, your ass, it haunts me by bazzystar is a farcial wonder featuring a haunted purple chair that Bucky finds on the street in Brooklyn.

Healing Rules by jenrose is actually unfinished, though it felt finished to me. It’s a Check Please! story from this series I mentioned before about using love and money to make a terrible situation much better. I mention it here because the story includes house-buying, which I’ve encountered four or five times in my fanfiction reading in recent weeks. Is it some weird thing where I’m attracting House Pr0n because I’m looking for a house, or is this a major theme in fanfiction that I’ve somehow missed all these years? How is House Pr0n linked to Found Family, and is it a component of Curtain Fic or the reverse? Enquiring minds want to know.

to win back what you lost by magdaliny is a post-Winter Soldier MCU series in which Bucky Barnes chooses a new direction for his life, one that helps people. It also has some great dialogue with his therapist. I was reading this series while riding Amtrak and the Metro, and in tiny increments of free time during CapClave weekend, and I was always glad to come back to it. Hope comes out of terrible circumstances; a good thing for me to remember.

Like pretty much everyone right now, I highly recommend Demonology and the Tri-Phasic Model of Trauma: An Integrative Approach by Nnm, a Good Omens story about Crowley and his therapist after the world ends. I especially admired the prose style, but the original character pov (Aubrey Thyme, the therapist) is also brilliant.

Love of a Particular Kind by Laura Kaye plays delightfully with Omegaverse tropes but makes humans descended from birds, so the characters have all sorts of hilarious mating rituals and other clever worldbuilding bits. Other than that, it’s a sweet romance between Hawkeye and Coulson in a pre-Avengers S.H.I.E.L.D. setting, with Black Widow as the third member of their Flock. Then the last section is a lengthy consummation of the bond, in which we learn with immense gratitude that the bird people do not have a single cloaca, but are humanlike in genital shape, with bonus additional structures and self-lubrication. I trusted the author, and went with it, and had fun reading.

Monstress Volume 3: Haven introduces a new location and new allies who might not exactly be allies, and complicates the plot quite a bit. Volume 4 just arrived. At some point I will have to read the whole thing in one go, because I am starting to lose details that are no doubt significant because of the time that passes between my reading of each volume. The art remains gorgeous, and I continue to love the proliferation of female characters.

My 2019 Philcon Schedule

I’ll be attending Philcon this weekend, November 8-10, in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Here’s my program schedule.

Saturday, November 9, 11:00 AM, Plaza 4
“AUs You Didn’t Know You Needed”
Chris Bell, Aaron Feldman, Victoria Janssen, Robert C. Roman [moderator]
Obi-Wan as a serial killer? A roundtable discussion of fandom’s best—or at least, most entertaining–fusions, crossovers, and world remixes.

Saturday, November 9, 12:00 PM, Crystal Ballroom Three
“Ending Literary Snobbery”
Ellen Asher, Marilyn ‘Mattie’ Brahen, Victoria Janssen, Linda J. Lee, Susan Schwartz [moderator]
For genres that ostensibly exist to push boundaries and imagine beyond the horizon, there’s a surprisingly large number of people who take pride in not only limiting what kinds of stories they read but the very formats in which they are willing to read them. A discussion of how elitism harms science fiction and fantasy communities.

Saturday, November 9, 6:00 PM, Plaza 3
“The Best Science Fiction You Missed Last Year”
Victoria Janssen [moderator], Chris Kreuter, David Walton
It’s easy enough to look up who was nominated for a Hugo or a Nebula, but what else came out that is well worth picking up a copy?

Sunday, November 10, 11:00 AM, Plaza 2
“The Star Trek Novels”
Keith R.A. DeCandido, Glenn Hauman, Victoria Janssen, Elyse Rosenstein, Susan Schwartz [moderator], Steve H. Wilson
How much of what we consider canon for the Trek universe comes from the tie-in books and novelizations of the media, rather than the shows and films?

My 2019 Capclave Schedule

I’ll be at CapClave in Rockville, Maryland this weekend, October 18-20, 2019. You can find me on the following panels.

Friday, 6:00 pm, Monroe
Economics of SF/Fantasy Worlds
A world is made up of many entwined parts. People need basic things to flourish. Where do they come from? How can you have a thriving city in the middle of a desert? If you can make gold, does it have value? How do you put a price tag on magic? Which books get it right and wrong?
Victoria Janssen, L. Penelope, Michelle D. Sonnier [moderator], Michael Swanwick

Saturday, 10:00 am, Monroe
Like the Work but Hate the Author
Can we separate a writer from his/her works? How does learning that an author has expressed racism/sexism/anti-Semitism/anti-gay attitudes affect how we see his/her works? Should we hold up pre-modern authors to modern morality?
Victoria Janssen, Will MacIntosh, Don Sakers [moderator], Jon Skovron

Saturday, 11:00 am, Truman
Genre Elements in Mainstream Works
We are continually seeing sf/fantasy elements in books not published/labeled as sf/fantasy. Why? How much from a genre is needed before a book moves from mainstream to genre? Or does it depend on the author? Why are mainstream authors stealing from sf/fantasy? Are ghosts (Beloved, Lincoln in the Bardo) no longer considered genre?
Beth Brenner, Kelly F. Dwyer [moderator], Victoria Janssen, Will McIntosh, A.C. Wise

My September Reading Log

I read a lengthy anonymous review book this month, so my other reading was a bit sparse!

A Dream Defiant by Susanna Fraser is a short historical romance that I’ve been meaning to read for literally years. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, it features a black British soldier, Elijah, and a white cook, Rose, whose husband is killed unexpectedly. Of course Elijah has long harbored a crush on Rose, and of course Rose admires Elijah, because there is not a lot of wordcount in this story. I liked the thoughtful resolution in which they return to England and figure out how they’re going to fit into the village where she was born, and with her dead husband’s family.

How to Be a Superhero by turningterrific used the recent James Bond movies as canon for a lighthearted Bond/Q romance that involves World of Warcraft and Q’s small nephew. It was really sweet, which I did not expect from the previous couple of times I’d stuck my toe into this fandom, via a friend’s recommendations.

Laid Bare by sixbeforelunch is a Star Trek: the Next Generation story focusing on Counselor Troi, as she tries to figure out a mental issue that is plaguing the ship’s Vulcan population. I enjoyed this a lot, both the mystery itself and how the daily business of a ship’s counselor was described. TW for Original Character death and child endangerment.

Something Like This by emmagrant01 is an epic Check Please! novel with excellent original characters and a couple of romances and parental relationships and hockey. Star NHL rookie Jack Zimmerman’s anxiety is realistically treated in the way it affects his hockey, his feelings for his college friend Eric Bittle, and everything else. Highly recommended.
If you have never read the comic, here is the link: Check Please! It’s a fun and easy read. Plus there is a lot of good fanfiction.

The Kinder Thing by stele3 is a Captain America and Bucky plotty slash story with a twist I had not seen before! Ever! It involves time travel, and post-Endgame Cap with nineteen-year-old Bucky. I will not spoil it further, because I found the twists delightful.

The Violet Hour by breathedout is a Sherlock slash casefic AU set in the 1920s. Holmes and Watson meet several members of the Bloomsbury crowd including Lytton Strachey, John Maynard Keynes, and Vanessa Bell. Watson’s war was of course World War One. I would happily read more set in this world.

My August Reading Log

The Rape of Belgium: The Untold Story of World War I by Larry Zuckerman was a slog, but not because it’s a bad book. It was a slog because it’s difficult to read about so much pure, unadulterated fuckery being done to people. Worse is the postwar mess of trying to get reparations or at least acknowledgment. For those who don’t have a lot of knowledge about World War One, Germany decided to invade neutral Belgium for a quick route to France. They then proceeded to occupy Belgium (and northern France) and confiscate resources on a terrifying scale for their war effort. By “confiscate” I mean they demanded locals hand over everything from animals to mattresses, carried off all the equipment from factories to Germany, and took Belgian nationals to Germany as workers against their will, while justifying their actions right and left. I had read about these events before from the point of view of occupied people; this book, in contrast, was an overview that detailed the rage-inducing goings-on among governments and government leaders. It was far, far too much like current politics for my liking. I know politics are always like this. I wish they weren’t. I bought this book in 2010 and only this year sat down to read it.

If you’d like more about the occupation of Belgium and Northern France in WWI, I highly recommend The Long Silence: Civilian Life under the German Occupation of Northern France, 1914-1918 by Helen McPhail and French Women and the First World War: War Stories of the Home Front by Margaret H. Darrow.

The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan took me a while because I loathe plots where potential social humiliation of heroine by hero is in play, but it didn’t happen and I got past that. I wanted it to not-happen sooner, no matter how realistic the reasons for considering this action were. Not my favorite of this series for that reason, but had some good stuff in the latter parts.

Hither Page by Cat Sebastian is a murder mystery and male/male romance set in England, just after World War Two, and I am definitely willing to read a second book, though I am wondering if this is going to be one of those tiny villages that become rife with murders.

Two Weddings & Several Revelations by L.A Hall is the next Comfortable Courtesan book, and it went by in a flash; I am loving hearing about what the Next Generation are up to, as if they are real people.

Air Logic by Laurie J. Marks is the long-awaited conclusion to the Elemental Logic series, which came out this year and which I saved for vacation time so I could immerse myself. I found it very delicious and satisfying, and was first surprised and then gratified by the epilogue. Garland the cook remains my favorite character. I decided this is my Howarts Houses/Elemental Logic matchup: Earth is Huffflepuff, Water is Slytherin, Fire is Gryffindor, and Air is Ravenclaw.

Rise of the Black Panther by Evan Narcisse did a great job, I feel, of taking a lot of previous comics canon and updating and compressing it. It starts with World War II and Captain America’s visit to Wakanda, progressing through T’Challa’s grandfather and father before getting to his own ascension to the throne. Recommended especially if you haven’t read a lot previously about this character.

Wakanda Forever by Nnedi Okorafor sends the Dora Milaje to New York after Nakia/Malice, where they encounter Spiderman. I am not fond of that storyline (from previous BP canon), but I think it was somewhat improved here. The rest of the volume had short stories from previous writers of Black Panther, which I really enjoyed.

Black Panther Book 7: The Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda Part 2 by Ta-Nehisi Coates thickens the plot as the rebels try to regain their memories, and a deity is loose in the body of the emperor’s daughter.

Jessica Jones Vol. 1: Uncaged! by Brian Michael Bendis underwhelmed me because it felt like they were trying to recapture the grim tone of Alias even though the character had moved on. Jessica is undercover and doesn’t tell Luke, which precipitates a rupture; however, I didn’t believe in the excuse. It was nice to see a bit of Jessica’s female friendships. There was a fair amount of Plot dealing with the events of Civil War II and the new Secret Wars, which I haven’t read and am not really interested in, so your mileage may vary.

Hermione Granger’s Hogwarts Crammer for Delinquents on the Run by waspabi is an alternate universe in which Harry Potter is not found by wizardkind until he’s an older teenager, when Hermione, Ron, Neville, Luna, Ginny, and Draco whisk him away and begin teaching him magic. He’s at first extremely dubious, but even having evil wizards after him is better than his life before. What I particularly admire about this story is the way changes from canon are imparted gradually, in bits and pieces, never info-dumped. It ends with Hermione’s group meeting up with the Order of the Phoenix. Bonus non-white Harry and Hermione. Recommended.

I had read this story before, probably when it was new in May 2017, but somehow failed to bookmark it or remember that I had done so. I was a little way in before I realized!