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I am a MONSTER for keeping secrets from you

Dear Reader,

What. A. Week.

24611882I read two amazing books this week, one of which won’t come out for months and months (also known as January) so I have to keep it under wraps.

But the other one was my book for the week, new from Stephen R Donaldson. The King’s Justice is actually a pair of novellas (the other being ‘The Auger’s Gambit’), which is like getting a two for one on Mike’n’Ike’s! Seriously, so amazing!!

The first story, ‘The King’s Justice’, was by far my favorite. The world felt richer, and the characters more vibrant to me. I really liked the pacing as well, it never felt too rushed, but methodical, which fit the character, marvelous.

‘The Auger’s Gambit’ was, for me, a bit of a miss. The main character lacked a little in motivation, and I never felt the world-building nearly as much. However, the prose, as always with Donaldson, is superb and worth your time.

.

Also Read


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OH my god! even better than the first book! Quickly becoming one of my favoritest writers, and a milieu that I can’t get enough of. So amazing.

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey-

One of those books I go back to over and over. Perfectly balanced world and characters, and epic in the most amazing way. I adore all the books in the series, but I do go back to Dart more than the others.

‘The Collectors’ by Phillip Pullman

A short story in the ‘His Dark Materials’ universe, I really enjoyed it’s blend of mystery and knowing winks at the reader.

Forgotten Gem

360280The Wars of Light and Shadow series by Janny Wurts
Pick up The Curse of the Mistwraith and fall into the most criminally under-read epic fantasy I can think of. This is large scale fantasy done right, with much of the pacing and brilliant characterization that you remember from the ‘Empire’ trilogy she wrote with Raymond Feist, and a lot of world-building beyond that which is all her own. Seriously, give this a try.

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What I saw when I used my Magic Eightball(TM) last night

Dearest Reader this week I’m not going to be talking about what I’m currently reading (possibly because I threw it across the room it utter horror at the terrible prose, and shrieked until the cats hid, those cowards), instead, I’m going to talk about what I will be reading, and what you will be reading, the first quarter of 2016. Yes, it’s time to use my Magic Eightball(TM) to cast myself forward to the future. And this is what see (please note, this list is not complete, but it is fairly comprehensive for releases from the major houses.)
There are some books on this list I’m very excited for, and I’ve added in some notes about them below. Which ones are you excited for?

January

This Census Taker by China Miéville 01/05
A new China Mieville novella (plus a new full novel coming later in the year!!), seriously, I am quivering with happiness. I love China’s weird take on things. Sometimes just weird for the sake of weird. I can’t wait!
Truthwitch (The Witchlands, #1) by Susan Dennard 01/05
Drake by Peter McLean 01/05

The People in the Castle by Joan Aiken 01/12
The Drowning Eyes by Emily Foster 01/12
Ancestral Machines by Michael Cobley 01/12
The Killing Jar by Jennifer Bosworth 01/12
Jen Bosworth is awesome, and I have an ARC of the Killing Jar that I keep staring at, impatient to read it. But I’m saving it til the Great Dearth of December, when no new books will be coming, and sadness reigns until January. I’ll need this then.

Medusa’s Web by Tim Powers 01/19
Patchwerk by David Tallerman 01/19
The Pagan Night (The Hallowed War #1) by Tim Akers 01/19

The Beauty of Destruction by Gavin Smith 01/21

Bands of Mourning (Mistborn, #6) by Brandon Sanderson 01/26
Were you paying any attention last week? Because if so, you KNOW how much I am looking forward to this book! ‘Shadows of Self’ really packed a punch, and I can barely wait for ‘Bands of Mourning’ to see where Sanderson will be taking us next. I’d also like to point out, there are six new books from Sanderson coming in 2016. SIX. NEW. BOOKS.
Lustlocked by Matt Wallace 01/26
Night Study (Soulfinders, #2) by Maria V. Snyder 01/26
City of Blades (The Divine Cities, #2) by Robert Jackson Bennett 01/26
‘City of Stairs’ was my favorite book of 2014, and I have been waiting in agony (AGONY I TELL YOU) ever since for ‘City of Blades’. I have extremely high hopes and expectations for this one, and can’t wait to see where Bennett takes us next (there is one more book to come in this world after ‘Blades’, and then expect me to go into full mourning for at least a year).
Graveyard (Mutant Files #3) by William C Dietz. 01/26
Staked (Iron Druid #8) by Kevin Hearne 01/26
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders 01/26
The Brimstone Deception (SPI Files, #3) by Lisa Shearin 01/26

February

Kingfisher by Patricia A. McKillip 02/02
Patricia McKillip is the finest novelist you almost certainly aren’t reading. Seriously, even the people who loved and rave about her Riddlemaster Trilogy have rarely continued on reading her other books. Which is a shame since she has rarely written anything that isn’t brilliant. So I am very excited to read her first new novel since 2010.
Chains of the Heretic (Bloodsounder’s Arc #3) by Jeff Salyards 02/02
Dreaming Death by J. Kathleen Cheney 02/02
The Custodian of Marvels (The Fall of the Gas-lit Empire #3) by Rod Duncan 02/02
Games Wizards Play by Diane Duane 02/02
Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold 02/02
A new Miles Vorkosigan book from Lois McMaster Bujold? Need I say more?
The Best of Bova by Ben Bova 02/02
Poseidon’s Wake by Alastair Reynolds 02/02
The Alchemy of Chaos (Maradaine, #2) by Marshall Ryan Maresca 02/02
Grave Visions (Alex Craft, #4) by Kalayna Price 02/02
Revisionary (Magic Ex Libris #4) by Jim C. Hines 02/02

Morning Star (Red Rising Trilogy, #3) by Pierce Brown 02/09
The conclusion of Pierce’s well-loved series. Why he wasn’t on the Campbell award ballot this last year, I have no idea, but this series is great!
Fathoms by Jack Cady 02/09
A Collapse of Horses by Brian Evenson 02/09

Bluescreen by Dan Wells 02/16
Dan Wells has two new books out this year, and I’m not sure if I’m more excited for this, or the next John Cleaver book later in the year. Either way, I get a double dose of Wells Fabulousness, and I’m thrilled.
Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff 02/16
Fall of Light (The Kharkanas Trilogy, #2) by Steven Erikson 02/16
The much delayed second book in the Kharkanas trilogy looks to finally be dropping, and I’m very excited to see where Erikson takes this book.
Calamity (Reckoners, #3) by Brandon Sanderson 02/16

The Medusa Chronicles by Alastair Reynolds & Stephen Baxter 02/18

A Gathering of Shadows (A Darker Shade of Magic, #2) by V.E. Schwab 02/23
I read ‘A Darker Shade of Magic’ and absolutely fell in love with the millieu. I can’t wait to see what book two has in store for me!
Genrenauts by Michael R Underwood 02/23
Good Girls by Glen Hirshberg 02/23

Those Below (The Empty Throne #2) by Daniel Polansky 02/25
The Silver Tide by Jen Williams 02/25

March

The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home (Fairyland, #5) by Catherynne M. Valente 03/01
The final volume of Valente’s Fairyland books, and I can’t wait to see both how she wraps this all together, and to see where she goes next in her writing.
The Last Days of Magic: A Novel by Mark Tompkins 03/01
Chaos Choreography (InCryptid #5) by Seanan McGuire 03/01
Quantum Night by Robert J. Sawyer 03/01
Arkwright by Allen Steele 03/01
The Brotherhood of the Wheel by R. S. Belcher 03/01

The Spider’s War (The Dagger and the Coin, #5) by Daniel Abraham 03/08
As fine writer as Daniel is in science fiction (as half of the writing team that is James SA Corey), I really love his fantasy writing. His ‘Shadow in Summer’ was as fine a first novel as I have ever read, and the rest of the Long Price Quartet was very fine. I look forward to what he does after this, though I’ll be a little sad to see him close out another world.
The Cold Between by Elizabeth Bonesteel 03/08
Marked in Flesh (The Others, #4) by Anne Bishop 03/08
Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson, #9) by Patricia Briggs 03/08
Forest of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal 03/08
I read an early draft version of this novella as it was being written, and it was already feeling like something very very special. I can’t wait to read the final draft and see how it has changed and grown.
The Keeper of the Mist by Rachel Neumeier 03/08
The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu 03/08
‘The Paper Menagerie’ is one of those stories that people either love or hate, and I admit, I am in the former category. It is, in my opinion, one of the finest pieces of genre writing in the last decade. I have read a few other short pieces from Ken Liu, and I have found him to be consistently wonderful. I look forward to reading the other pieces I had missed.

The Last Mortal Bond (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, #3) by Brian Staveley 03/15
Pieces of Hate by Tim Lebbon 03/15
The Winged Histories: a novel by Sofia Samatar 03/15

Into Everywhere by Paul McAuley 03/17

Transgalactic by James Gunn 03/22
Shadow and Flame (The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga) by Gail Z Martin. 03/22

Javelin Rain by Myke Cole 03/29
The Mortal Tally (Bring Down Heaven #2) by Sam Sykes 03/29

Downfall of the Gods by K. J. Parker 03/31

Forgotten Gem:

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I can barely believe that ‘The Book of Knights’ came out in 1998. It seems like I just read it for the first time yesterday. It’s a fabulous story that reminds me a great deal of John Connolly’s ‘The Book of Lost Things’ or a Patricia McKillip novel in it’s language and sense of the fairy tale-esque. Yves Meynard has been widely published in his native French, but has only a few gems available in English so far, and this is by far my favorite. If you can track down a copy, it is well worth your time. Don’t rush! Read this slowly and savor the language and the glorious story.

Addendum

Midnight Taxi Tango by Daniel José Older 01/05
City of Light by Keri Arthur 01/05
Path of Gods by Snorri Kristjansson 01/06
Goldenfire by A.F.E. Smith 01/14
No Good Deed by Auston Habershaw 01/19
Roadside Magic by Lilith Saintcrow 01/26
Daughter of Blood by Helen Lowe 01/26
Harmony Black by Craig Schaefer 02/01
A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly 02/02
Winterwood by Jacey Bedford
Dragon Hunters by Marc Turner 02/09
A Song for No Man’s Land by Andy Remic 02/09
The Guns of Ivrea by Clifford Beal 02/09
The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky 02/16
The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle 02/16
Down Station by Simon Morden 02/18
Borderline by Mishell Baker 03/01
Black City Saint by Richard A. Knaak 03/01
Monstrous Little Voices: Five New Stories from Shakespeare’s Fantastic World edited by Emma Newman 03/08
Snakewood by Adrian Selby 03/15
The Second Death by Teresa Frohock 03/29

Updated on 10/16 with additional information from Simon Ellberger, thanks Simon!

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How Secret Immortal Servants, Wily Shapechangers, and the Wonderful Powers of Really Pure Water in 18th Century France Filled Up My Week

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Dearest Reader, it feels like it’s been so long since our last little talk. I FINALLY got to the new Brandon Sanderson book Shadows of Self, which has been eying me suggestively for weeks. And it did not disappoint in the least.

Now, I have to acknowledge having a rocky history with the Mistborn world, as I loathe both Kelsier and Vin (for very different reasons) in The Final Empire and so I never finished the series. I, of course, know the broad strokes of how the trilogy finished, but I feel it is only fair to warn you that there are details I may have missed.

I also want to clarify that it is not a failing on Brandon’s part that I don’t like either character. In fact, I look at it as a sign he successfully made them real characters. If they had been Mary Sues or cardboard cutouts, I wouldn’t have responded so strongly.

Shadows of Self starts out with some of the best humor writing Brandon has done. His earlier weakness in writing banter has really solidified in this book to moments of genuine delight, before the book gets more serious. The characters he’d written in Alloy of Law get enriched, and newer characters start to develop as well.

To avoid spoilers, I’ll just say that both fans of the Mistborn world, as well as fans of the greater Cosmere mythos will find plenty to chew on in the background of the story, and readers who have just started with Alloy of Law will not find themselves bogged down or confused. It takes a remarkably deft hand to manage both at the same time.

For the Brandon Sanderson fans, this book won’t need me to convince them to try it; for those of you who aren’t fans, pick up his Hugo-winning The Emperors Soul or Alloy of Law and give him a try.

Also read

The Song of Mavin Manyshaped by Sheri Tepper
The first of Tepper’s Mavin Trilogy, this one is a fun story that moves fast. I think this is probably my 10th or so reading. Always fun.

The Search of Mavin Manyshaped by Sheri Tepper
The third of the Mavin trilogy, this one begins to develop the bigger story that she later really explored in the Jinian trilogy, which is where the story really reaches her best writing in the True Game novels, and where a lot of the payoff for the first two trilogies comes together.

In Midnight’s Silence by T Frohock
My buddy Joel told me to read this quick novella, which I really enjoyed. I think fans of ‘The House of Shattered Wings’ and Storm Constantine will get a lovely dose of dark angel lore in this one.

Vision of Light by Judith Merkle Riley
I revisit Riley’s books on a regular basis, and below I’ve actually picked a different book by her as my Forgotten Gem.

Conversion by Katherine Howe
I’m still reading this, but really enjoying Howes mixing of modern and historic storyline, though in a much different way than she did with ‘The Physik Book of Deliverance Dane’.

Forgotten Gem

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Dear Reader, you know when you start to read a book, and you just know from the beginning that you’ll love it? That’s how I felt when I read The Oracle Glass by Judith Merkle Riley for the first time. A dash of unexplained magic heightens the intrigue in this delightful romp through 18th century Paris, where we meet the delightfully precocious Genevieve Pasquier, and learn how she rose to become the remarkable society fortune teller known as the Marquise de Morville, and the desire for revenge that drove her.

My first appearance in the world gave little hint of the splendor that I was to attain as the Marquise de Morville. At the very least, there should have been a comet or a display of Saint Elmo’s fire. I have, of course, remedied this defect in my official biography, adding as well a thunderstorm and an earthquake. In the narrative before you, however, the truth will have to suffice.
-from The Oracle Glass

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When I Say the Devil’s in the Details, I Really Mean He’s in the Bar Being Scandalous

silver

Oh dearest reader. I have a long and torrid history with this weeks book (I’m sure you’re not surprised that I have a torrid history, are you?), going clear back to 2011. You see, Laura Anne was a guest reader at one of the SFWA Reader Series, and she read a chapter from a work in progress, the bones and broad outline of which are still very much a part of the first chapter of Silver on the Road. I was immediately taken in by the voice, and the idea of The Devil’s West (which I had erroniously thought was going to be like the Lucifer graphic novels where Lucifer runs a piano bar) instead of the much much cooler world she had actually created. Though I was a little saddened that (spoiler) there wasn’t a single scene of the Devil playing piano. Alas.

Since then, I have been waiting (and dear Reader, you wouldn’t recognize me for how patient I’ve been!) for the book to be finished and out in the world. When the envelope with my advance copy arrived, I didn’t tear it open, and put a ‘DO NOT DISTURB ON PAIN OF A MOST HORRIBLE DEATH’ sign on my front door, and call in sick to work until I was done, for which I have not received nearly enough appreciation from my coworkers for not abandoning them.

So, now that I’ve explained all of that, let me tell you about the book. First, just go buy it. Seriously, this book is great. It’s like, part western, part new weird, but without China Mieville’s over-the-top new weird. The Devil’s West constantly finds new ways to take the familiar and make it strange, but all in ways that make sense for the world Laura Anne is building for you. So yeah, my elevator pitch is ‘it’s China Mieville meets Zane Grey’s old west, with story prompts from Charles de Lint.’ So yeah, there’s something here for everyone. And yet, it’s so organically put together. I’ve read other book’s by Gilman, but I really felt like Silver on the Road was a leveling up of her writing and world-building.

I like that the characters never have to act stupid for the sake of keeping things from the reader, and the resolution flows seamlessly from the world she has built. There’s no instance deus ex machina (or Lucifer ex machina either) in here either, which is a great thing to see and no one who has all the answers. Things are complicated, good can be done in the name of evil, and evil in the name of good, and the right thing is rarely the easy thing.

Forgotten Gems

Ghosts in the Snow cover

Dearest Reader, I know what you think of me. You think I only like fun and happy stories with some adventure, and to be fair, I do love those things. But I also like dark, dark stories full of horror pain and death. And to prove that, since this is the month for horror and things that go bump in the night, I’m going to talk about my favorite dark fantasy.

Several years ago I saw a particularly interesting cover in Powell’s, and the back of the book intrigued me, because I loved the CSI meets high fantasy idea, and the first few pages were intriguing. So I took Ghost in the Snow home with me (AFTER paying for it, who are you mistaking me for?) and fell into the dark dark imagination of Tamara Siler Jones. If you like grimdark or horror, there’s plenty for you in this book, and you should pick it up. I won’t be giving away spoilers to tell you the second book is even darker. Enjoy! I’m going to leave you some new releases to check out for October below, while I dive back into the delicious new Brandon Sanderson. See you in a week lovely Readers!

October Releases

It’s a new month, so here’s a list of some forthcoming books you should go preorder RIGHT NOW!

10/06
Martin, George R. R. • Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
Gilman, Laura Anne • Silver on the Road
Leckie, Ann • Ancillary Mercy
Hurley, Kameron • The Empire Ascendant
Sanderson, Brandon • Shadows of Self
Riordan, Rick • The Sword of Summer
Bear, Greg • Killing Titan
Huff, Tanya • An Ancient Peace
10/13
Gwynne, John • Ruin
Donaldson, Stephen R. • The King’s Justice
Nix, Garth • Newt’s Emerald
10/20
Wolfe, Gene • A Borrowed Man
10/27
Mitchell, David • Slade House

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I like how even French authors think that fallen angels would want to hang out in Paris, cause that makes sense to me after I visited there

House-of-Shattered-Wings-2

 

Review

Dear Reader, first, some full disclosure. While I was at Worldcon this year, I went to the r/Fantasy ‘Drinks with Authors’ event (which is awesome, and if you ever go to a Worldcon, I can’t recommend it enough) where I ended up sitting at a table with Kate Elliott, Gail Carriger, Wesley Chu (before he announced his candidacy for President after winning the Campbell Award) and the author of my book this week, Alliette de Bodard.

I would like to say that I was dazzlingly witty and charming beyond words, but dear Reader, I was tired, so I’m sure that my conversation was rather similar to the conversation skills of a drunken army private. However, I have met the author in question, which you should know. I didn’t tell you I had met Kate Elliott which is a shocking lack of journalistic integrity or something. In fact, from now on, let’s just assume I’ve met all of these authors at a swanky party where I dazzled them with my charm, good looks, and slyly subversive conversation. Yes, that’s how I want to be remembered.

In fact, from now on, let’s just assume I’ve met all of these authors at a swanky party where I dazzled them with my charm, good looks, and slyly subversive conversation.

Anyway, that was a very long aside. Let’s get back to the book.

My feelings about The House of Shattered Wings are complex. Partially because I adore a good Gothic novel (I’m sure you’re not surprised) and in some ways, this book is fabulously Gothic. It’s like a post-apocalyptic Gothic murder mystery, and how can you not LOVE that? But there’s more to the book than that.

It’s like a post-apocalyptic Gothic murder mystery, and how can you not LOVE that?

This is a case of a book that almost always works, and I think that most of the blame for where it doesn’t actually lay with the editor, as there are places where I had to go back a paragraph because it wasn’t clear, or the narrative jumped and wasn’t clear, which can be rather frustrating. But when it’s working, especially the ENTIRE middle half of the book, oh my, it’s riveting; de Bodards style is fantastic, and her ear for dialogue and human motivation is fabulous.

The last part of the book was, for me, the best and worst parts of it. I adore that she gave me an ending I could never have anticipated, but that flowed PERFECTLY from what had come before. However, there are several things that are never explained, and a few motivations that are never clear. I didn’t see anything saying this will be a series, but if so, this makes sense. If not, I am just left feeling like the book is unfinished.

Do I recommend it? Dear Reader, did you read the part where I said ‘post-apocalyptic Gothic murder mystery’? How can you not read this? I mean really, priorities! In more seriousness, while it’s not a perfect book, it’s absolutely delightful, and has a delightful cast of wonderfully complex characters.

The House of Shattered Wings can be purchased at Amazon or your favorite book retailer.

Also Read


I took a little rereading time this week and read both Dragonsong and Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey. Which are the type of comfort reading I just adore.

I also reread about half of Lies of Locke Lamora, but stopped before, you know, that part.

Forgotten Gem

longrun

I’m going to branch out here, and recommend a scifi book. I know, I don’t ever talk about it, but I do love a good scifi book every now and then. And there are few scifi books I love more than Daniel Keys Moran’s The Long Run. It’s one of those books that has everything. Tight plotting, great characters, and a heist. Cause seriously, who doesn’t love a heist? I love this book so much that my email address for many many years has included the name of the main character.

It’s been out of print for over a decade, but it’s now available as an eBook, and honestly, it’s well worth buying a Kindle just to read it. It’s technically the second book in his Continuing Time series, reading the first one ‘Emerald Eyes’ isn’t needed to enjoy this one thoroughly.

And now dear Reader, I am off to start Laura Anne Gilmans Silver on the Road which I have been waiting for YEARS to read (actual years, she read a snippet at a SFWA Readers event a couple of years ago and I’ve been dying to read the book. The book comes out on October 6th, but I’ll have my (spoiler free of course) review up for you all next Friday.

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or, How I Almost Lost My Soul to the Evil Wiles of the Jinn of Abandoned Books

two years eight months

Dear reader, it turns out I am a failure. Please don’t tell my mother. I have been struggling to read Salman Rushdie’s new book, Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty Eight Nights (Also known as how long it might have taken me to read this book) and finally I have given up and moved onto Aliette de Bodard’s The House of Shattered Wings which has been eyeing me in a seductive fashion for several weeks now.

I want to clarify, I’m not saying that it’s a bad book, I’m saying that it wasn’t for me. There’s a style to it that just turned me off. But the writing itself was good, and the story-line interesting. But this has me thinking about other books that I have bounced off of while trying to read, and what it is that caused it. Some of them I can pinpoint, and some of them are a complete mystery to me.

For example (I know this is the part you’ve been waiting for, where I name names. Shame on you scandalmongers!) I adore Brandon Sanderson. I have been a fan since I first read Elantris. However, It took me two tries to read Mistborn, because I loathe Kelsior, and am only slightly more fond of Vin. Seriously, for very different reasons they both make me cranky. But this is not a failing of Sanderson’s writing. It may in fact be a sign of success. After all, he wrote characters real enough that I had a deep reaction to them, even if it was just the urge to smack Kelsior until his smugness wore off.

Another book I bounced off of more recently was Kai Ashante Wilson’s The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, but for a very different reason. The prose was stunning, and the main character was wonderfully imagined. But the use of very modern language really caught me off guard. I will say that I don’t think this is the last time I will attempt it, and knowing what to expect will, I think, offset my previous problem with diving in.

Forgotten Gem:

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For everyone there are books that you can look at and say ‘this is what made me love fantasy’. Among those books for me is Dave Duncan’s superb ‘A Man of His Word’ series, which starts with Magic Casement. There’s a wealth of fantasy cliches here, such as a willful princess, and a heroic stable-boy, as well as kings, and witches, as well as a rather motley group of sorcerers all trying to hide a powerful secret about the nature of their power.

But ‘A Man of His Word’ rises above the cliches. There are consequences to willful and impetuous actions, and a very human evil to be fought, and not always where you expect it.

With that, I am off, dear reader, to dive back into The House of Shattered Wings. Don’t disturb me please, because I can only write about not reading a book once, and now I’ve used that up. However I’d like to point out that so far in this whole post, I haven’t used the all-caps A SINGLE TIME. Oh thank goodness, I feel better having gotten that out there. Ta ta for now!

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