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.

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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