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!

About Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen [she, her] currently writes cozy space opera for Kalikoi. The novella series A Place of Refuge begins with Finding Refuge: Telepathic warrior Talia Avi, genius engineer Miki Boudreaux, and augmented soldier Faigin Balfour fought the fascist Federated Colonies for ten years, following the charismatic dissenter Jon Churchill. Then Jon disappeared, Talia was thought dead, and Miki and Faigin struggled to take Jon’s place and stay alive. When the FC is unexpectedly upended, Talia is reunited with her friends and they are given sanctuary on the enigmatic planet Refuge. The trio of former guerillas strive to recover from lifetimes of trauma, build new lives on a planet with endless horizons, and forge tender new connections with each other.
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