My August Reading Log

The School at the Chalet by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer is first in a long series of British girls’ school stories set in the Tyrol in Austria; the Chalet School is explicitly British, in that the Austrian students strive to follow the traditions of English school stories such as playing pranks, celebrating the headmistress’ birthday, and playing cricket. Originally published in 1925, there’s not really any mention of World War One, but a fair amount of colonialism in India plays into the story indirectly. The story begins with the twins Dick and Madge, in their early twenties, trying to figure out how to survive economically in England sans parents or guardian, while bringing up their much-younger sister Josephine, called Joey, whose health is poor. They own their house and furniture, and have a small income from investment. Dick is in the Army, and will shortly return to India. Madge decides to open a school as living expenses in Austria are much cheaper, and they have visited a likely place. The rest of the story primarily focuses on Joey and the other students. Grizel and Juliet have the most problems, both due to absent parents; Grizel was dumped on her grandmother after her mother’s death, then reunited with her father after his second marriage…without telling the new wife he had a daughter, so it did not play out well. Juliet is raised by feckless parents in India, and is taught that she should look down on the “natives,” which causes her to act out against the non-English speakers. They cause plot conflict! Both of these characters end up having a nasty shock and being nicer people afterwards. The students’ adventures are fun and I enjoyed both plot and characterization, even though I was mainly in it for the 1920s flavor.

Desperation in Death by J. D. Robb is the fifty-fifth (!) novel in her Eve Dallas mystery series. The fifty-eighth is scheduled to release in January; I’m a little behind because I am reading these in library e-books. Eve and Roarke have a mild disagreement about how to take care of each other when Eve is swept into investigating a murder that reveals the existence of a massive human trafficking operation, one which brings back trauma from her childhood. Meanwhile, there’s a new police character, who works in the Special Victims Unit, and the reappearance of some minor characters from previous books in the series. I continue to read these because they are predictable, and the characters are familiar, and sometimes that is exactly what I need.

some things you just can’t speak about (wherever they come from, they’ll never run out) by raven (singlecrow) is a Deep Space Nine/M.A.S.H. fusion, with characters from the sitcom running a hospital ship during the Dominion War, near the Bajoran wormhole; though we see the station, the DS9 characters from the show are not shown (if they exist in this AU). This was great. It’s from BJ Hunnicutt’s point of view starting from when he’s essentially drafted, only to arrive while the ship’s under attack. Colonel Potter is a woman and Hawkeye Pierce is non-binary and half-Betazoid, both of which turned out really great. Did I mention this story was great? Well, it is.

Shrinkyclinks Hijinks by follow_the_sun is a lengthy MCU alternate universe series focusing on Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes that starts just before The Avengers movie and ends several movies later. In this AU, Bucky Barnes was born in the modern day and meets de-serumed Steve Rogers, who’s left S.H.I.E.L.D. behind, when they end up in the same hospital room. Bucky is already friends with Sam Wilson and Clint Barton from his time in the army, and gained his prosthetic arm from the mysterious governmental “Winter Soldier” program. Many events from the Marvel movies take a different path when Bucky is asked to join the Avengers initiative along with Tony Stark, whose trip to Afghanistan led to Bucky’s arm being amputated. There’s a Steve/Bucky romance with a ton of great banter and a not-unexpected twist to the events of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” which leads to a much better outcome for subsequent Avengers movies. Though a few spots hewed a little too closely to canon, in my opinion, I enjoyed this a lot, especially when the story made more logical and characterization sense than the movie events.

Clarity of Purpose by Face_of_Poe ties together the Andor tv series with the Star Wars movie Rogue One by speculating how different, isolated segments of the rebellion were able to find each other and work together. It’s not overly long but it’s a lot of fun seeing the early stages of Cassian Andor’s relationship with the droid K-2SO.

A hit, a very palpable hit by shem is an alternate universe of Pride and Prejudice with some original characters, including one of Mr. Bennet’s widowed sisters, named Clara Sutton, and various Darcy relatives. The plot focuses on Kitty, who is sent to keep her aunt Clara company and ends up enjoying a season in London. The author’s note reads “This work was first published at the Derbyshire Writers Guild in 2004-05. The story was written in installments not as a complete work. No editing or changes have been made to the text since.” There are some typos throughout for that reason, but overall I found this undemanding story very soothing.

The Peter Tingle by igrockspock is a very sweet and poignant Spiderman/Yelena Belova story with excellent dialogue; it’s set after the end of Spiderman: No Way Home and the end of the Hawkeye miniseries.

Post Haste by roboticonography is an epistolary alternate universe story in which Bucky Barnes doesn’t die, Agent Carter’s brother doesn’t die, and Captain America is not frozen in the ice…so the result is a wedding for Steve and Peggy that involves Shenanigans.

Nikki Vorsoisson and the Vorkosigan Legacy by nimblermortal follows Miles Vorgkosigan’s stepson Nikki to jump pilot summer camp, where he attempts to be just an ordinary kid and learns some excellent lessons. The pov was excellent in this.

The Prole Office by dptullos explores an Imperial Security department early in the Vorkosigan series; canon characters appear incidentally, but it’s mostly an original spy story.

Things by raven (singlecrow) is an alternate Star Trek universe in which everyone has a daemon, as in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series. During the Dominion War, a suspicious officer puts Odo on trial because he does not have a daemon. Yes, there are deliberate echoes of ST: tNG’s “Measure of a Man.” This story has a dreaminess about it as it moves from past to present, showing all the different ways in which people are people. My only complaint was wanting a lot more Sisko.

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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