My December Reading Log

Bookshops and Bonedust by Travis Baldree is a prequel to Legends and Lattes, set early in orc narrator Viv’s career as a mercenary. When she’s sidelined in a small town by a leg wound, boredom leads her to make new friends and try new experiences in a way that will influence her later in life, after she retires and opens a coffee shop. So, basically, it’s very similar to Legends and Lattes, and if you liked that one, you will very likely enjoy this one as well. I actually liked it a bit better because of the deft commentary on genre books and reading and what those things do for us as people. It was soothing and hopeful. Recommended.

Far from the Light of Heaven by Tade Thompson is a murder mystery set on a spaceship that starts out slow and then grows steadily weirder. I enjoyed it a lot, mostly because it didn’t follow patterns I expected. The worldbuilding includes interstellar travel, but no massive empires, only isolated habitats and colony worlds that rely on AI pilots and sentient “artificials” who are often in humanoid form. There’s an underlying theme of the harm capitalism can cause, and the results of unchecked power attained without compassion. Content warning for a bit of gore and being trapped on a spaceship you can’t trust.

My TBR Challenge book for December was Coming Home for Christmas by Carla Kelly.

The Good Neighbors by author Holly Black and artist Ted Naifeh is a series of three short young adult graphic novels: Kin, Kith, and Kind. The art is black and white and very Goth-y in style, which suits a creepy, atmospheric story of dark Faerie intruding on the mortal world. When the first installment opens, teenaged Rue’s mother has been missing for several weeks and her father is in a stupor of depression; Rue’s shocked when he’s accused of murdering one of his students as well as her mother, a mystery which is not entirely solved until much later. Rue sometimes sees strange beings invisible to others; of course it turns out she has faerie blood, and with her boyfriend and two other closest friends, is soon caught up in trying to prevent an incursion of immortals. As usual with Black, the teenagers are vividly realistic with complex problems resonating with the supernatural plotline.

New Lands for the Living by SassySnowperson is an alternate universe for the original Star Wars series, branching off from a disastrous future in which the First Order causes a devastating famine. Poe Dameron is sent back through time via something something The Force, and ends up meeting Luke Skywalker, aged 18, on Tatooine. In order to obtain legal documents, despite Poe’s misgivings, they get married. Luke is willing to consummate the marriage; Poe, much older and with secrets about the future, is not, at least not until Luke is older. This story is a combination of arranged marriage pining and fixit fic, with added interest from Poe discovering though he’s lost the life he had, a new life with new choices lies ahead. It was sweet and hopeful, and showed how the changes Poe made resonate down the years.

to ask about loyalty by tasara_bokka is a Vorkosiverse story from Ivan Vorpatril’s point of view, set in the period just before Miles and Ekaterin’s wedding. I really liked how the author showed Ivan’s loyalty and love for his family as well as his honed social skills, for which he doesn’t seem to get much credit while in the shadow of others. I always enjoy seeing exploration of how a secondary character might have reacted to major plot events, when we didn’t see it in canon. This writer has stories in Russian as well as English, some of which might tie into this one, but I’m not sure.

Sure On This Shining Night by Ellidfics is an Avengers story using mostly comics canon about Superhero Registration (Civil War) with a lot of cross-gender casting; nobody dies, though one character is at risk of it throughout. The thing I loved most was how the author reworked the history of a woman Captain America to fit into what that might have been like historically. Also, there’s a Nero Wolfe series Easter Egg that made me grin. Content warning for creepy Hydra breeding program business that does not come to fruition, but has some scary moments.

Order of Operations by Beckala is another story in which nobody dies, though at first it appears the Avengers are wiped out. A newly-freed Winter Soldier is sent to protect Darcy Lewis; he starts to evade his Hydra programming while they’re on the run. This story is a romance more than an action story, a sort of arranged marriage except it’s Hydra programming and Darcy’s scruples keeping them apart, at least at first. There are quite a few romantic sex scenes. I enjoyed how Darcy uses computer and shooting skills taught to her by her Avengers friends to take part in bringing down Hydra, and how Bucky uses his training for violence to keep them safe.

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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