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[Review] THIRSTY SWORD LESBIANS Beta Playtest

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If 7th Sea is a game of "What Would Errol Flynn Do?", Thirsty Sword Lesbians is "What Would Julie d'Aubigny Do?"

Confession, my first reaction to the the play test materials was "this is a game of 'What Would a Sapphic Errol Flynn Do?"  And then I remembered there was someone from history that was THE perfect fit for this game.  The swashbuckling high adventure ideals and the structure of the game built around relationships and story brought to mind the much popular game by John Wick... but for me in a much more comprehensible and to the heart package.

Thirsty Sword Lesbians is a rolepaying game for telling queer stories with friends. If you love angsty disaster lesbians with swords, you have come to the right place.

In this book, you’ll find:
Flirting, sword-fighting, and zingers in a system designed for both narrative drama and player safety.An innovative take on the Powered by the Apocalypse family of games.Nine character types, each focusing on …

[Book Review] Dune

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Dune (Deluxe Edition) / Frank Herbert

Dune is one of those books I don't know where to start.  There's little about this book that was idle creation, the first novel alone containing deep and deliberate lore, born in part out of the author's own work and study in ecology and environmentalism.  I have not read more than this first book, so I do not know if the story later loses its way, it's depth, or if it loses sight of the consequences of Paul's own actions.  But I am in awe as I periodically learn more and more about the book's genesis, depth, and impact on the genre.

That is not to say the book without flaw, the coding of Baron Harkonnen for example.  More that it's a significant body of work, and that flaws should be part of any higher or academic discussion of the novel.  I say academic b/c I would totally take a literature class that unpackaged Dune.

54 years after it's initial publication, it's not an unknown novel, and most things I could s…

[Book Review] Rosemary and Rue

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Rosemary and Rue (October Daye #1)/ Seanan McGuire

Previously reviewed:
Once Broken FaithThe Brightest FellNight and SilenceThe Unkindest Tide Wow.  10th Anniversary edition.  You've come a long way, Toby.

It's easy to forget that once Toby was not the first to run into danger, someone who was, to the best of her knowledge, so breakable and mortal.  At one point, she found the threat and then called in others to deal with it.

This is Toby before she came into herself, recovering from her life being stolen from her and being dumped out of time and out of place.  This is before she discovers the truth of her heritage or takes on a squire.  This is before she builds her network of allies and friends that becomes her family.

Toby is very different than the woman we've come to know and love, but the seeds are all there.

In some series, going back to the beginning, to the author's first book, can be a jarring reminder of how much the author has grown in their storytelling alo…

[Book Review] Fallen

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Fallen (Alex Verus #10) / Benedict Jacka

It's always a little awkward to jump into a series so far in, but I was looking for something new and I'm a fan of Urban Fantasy.  Cover blurb from Jim Butcher didn't hurt either.

Ten books in, there's a lot of action and history already past.  However, while I'm certain I've missed some finer points overall at no point did I feel lost.

The voice of the book falls into what I've come to expect as a standard tone for British Urban Fantasy, and should appeal to fans of Paul Cornell's London Falling or Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series.  Comparing to series at large, it have the edge of sardonic humor that fans of The Laundry Files, The Dresden Files, or October Daye are used to, with the story staying to a slightly more serious tone.

What will be familiar is the urgent pressure of the situation Alex Verus finds himself in, trying to succeed against a stacked deck.  Or protagonists build themselves teams…

[Book Review] The Unkindest Tide

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The Unkindest Tide (October Daye #12) / Seanan McGuire

Previously reviewed:
Once Broken FaithThe Brightest FellNight and Silence I start this review like I did the last one... Oh, Toby.
We're solidly in what in my head can be classified as "Phase 2" of the series.  I have no clue if this is true, but we're several books past a tipping point as it were, we're seeing debts come due, and Toby is operating solidly in a heavier weight class than before.  Not that it makes the summons she must heed any easier.  It would appear that no good deed goes unpunished, and no one holds a grudge or stirs up trouble quite like the immortal.
The Luidaeg told the Selkies that she was coming to collect on a blood debt long due, told Toby that it would be her skills that would bring it to pass.... and when blood and magic and promises are knotted together, there is no escape.
Once Faire had the Roane, the Luidaeg's children, until mortals were tempted to immortality and killed the…

[Book Review] Fire Season

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Fire Season (Eric Carter #4) / Stephen Blackmoore

Soooo... I love me some Urban Fantasy.  I enjoy Paranormal Romance, but it's not my main bag, and sometimes it can be difficult to find a Urban Fantasy series I like that aren't Romance.  I did a Reader's Advisory video for it two years ago (Urban Legends: Urban Fantasy that's not Paranormal Romance).

Eric Carter would be a good contemporary to Harry Dresden (The Dresden Files) and James Stark (Sandman Slim).  Or maybe they'd all kill each other in a giant fireball, I'm not really sure... but I am considering to see if there's any fanfiction involving them in combination on AO3 now...

Where the series stands out is the styling of the magic and the mythologies it pulls its inspirations from.  Dresden and Stark for example, are mages or wizards that throw around power, exerting their will and using it to shape forces in the world around them in their series.  Carter, however, is a necromancer... which comes wi…

[Book Review] Storm Cursed

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Storm Cursed (Mercy Thompson #11) / Patricia Briggs

Previously reviewed:
Fire TouchedSilence Fallen"Zombie Miniature Goats"

Apparently they are blood thirsty, adorable, and a bit ineffective

I suppose I should have actually started the review with something more substantive to the story.  But, sorry, not sorry, I'm too delighted at the Zombie Miniature Goats.

Storm Cursed could perhaps be summarized as "no good deed goes unpunished."  Neither good nor necessary mean easy, and that is definitely something that the protagonists face again and again through the story.  The threat, like it so often is, comes from outside, is larger than life, and implacable.  Yet, how it impacts everyone involved is deeply intimate.

Advance Reader Copy courtesy of Ace (Penguin RandomHouse) in exchange for an honest review; changes may exist between galley and the final edition.

[Book Review] That Ain't Witchcraft

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That Ain't Witchcraft (InCryptid #8) / Seanan McGuire

Previously reviewed
Chaos Choreography (InCryptid #5)Magic for Nothing (InCryptid #6)Tricks for Free (InCryptid #7) Now on the run not only from the Covenant but attempting to avoid the notice of some unscrupulous mages, Antimony Price and her friends have left Lowryland far behind and found a place to recuperate in New Gravesend, Maine.

Of course, even with the aid of a jink, nothing ever stays simple with a Price around.  Annie made a deal with the Crossroads to save her friends, and they want to call in that debt.  It seems they're feeling a little threatened by a new friend Annie makes in New Gravesend...

Well, seven books in, I think no one is surprised when someone in this family responds poorly to being pressured into something they disagree with.  Nor at their ability to find allies and opportunities in unexpected places.

This time they're all up against something no one can escape.  The Crossroads are everywher…

[Book Review] The Beast's Heart

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The Beast's Heart / Leife Shallcross
"A tale as old as time" probably is going through your head right now. I don't blame you.

Shallcross gives us a familiar fairy tale with the point of view switched, the tale of the titular Beast and his journey towards redemption.  
In the glut of the YA/New Adult market for ever steamier fairy tale retellings, this romance is shockingly, and if I'm being honest, refreshingly, chaste.  Don't get me wrong, I love a good steamy read, but at the same time they were starting to feel a bit too formulaic.  So, that was nice.
I definitely enjoy the reversed point of view, and the showcase of the Beast's struggle to regain and retain his humanity.  The growth of Isabeau's sisters is perhaps my favorite part, seeing the much sidelined siblings shine as people and the place they take as family in the entire narrative.
Detracting from everything, the story feels almost too... convenient?  The curse itself was levied not becaus…

[Book Review] Crowded, Volume 1

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Crowded (Volume 1) / Christopher Sebela

There's an app for that.

There's an app for everything.

Crowd funding at it's finest and most chaotic, and if we live in a world where someone can get a fifty thousand dollars to make potato salad it's not a far reach to imagine people would pile on contributions to a hitman campaign.

Bright, colorful, and engaging.  The first issue drops us into the action and starts to show us who the characters might be, but not who they are yet.  Fun pace and well seasoned with chaos, but not so much that you get lost.

I look forward to more.

Advance Reader Copy courtesy of Image Comics in exchange for an honest review; changes may exist between galley and the final edition.