Literary New To You March 2020 => Books you read this month
Andy Howell
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
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Bookish types love nothing more than a bibliography, especially book lists generated by like-minded (or not so like-minded) readers.

Please share what you've been reading with your fellow gamers!
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1. Board Game: The Amazing Adventures of Doctor Dolittle 3D Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: The Amazing Adventures of Doctor Dolittle 3D Game
Tyco Mycetes Bass
United States
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All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot

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I read more than one book of this series when they first became popular. Now I’ve started for the second time.

Many people originally thought this was an autobiography; and it is based on real experiences. However, the author’s real name is James Alfred “Alf” Wight (not Wright), and only some of the incidents happened to him personally. The other things are incidents he heard about from other veterinarians. He took care to disguise the real people involved in several ways. (a) He set it in an imaginary town; (b) he of course changed names; and (c) he set all the events in an earlier time than his own career, even if it actually happened later.

There are two aspects of this I still remembered after so long. First, the wealthy woman who tried very hard to spoil her little dog, treating him as a member of the family able to write letters, give gifts, have parties, etc. I didn’t remember it was a Pomeranian named Tricki. Second, the cow with a twisted uterus, where the farmers had to roll the cow on the ground while he held the calf inside her to keep it from twisting.

One reason the books were so popular is that the author (or the author in combination with his editor) was a good writer. He wrote this as a series of very short chapters, and made sure that something interesting or funny happened in each one.

Beginning Operations by James White

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This is an “omnibus” edition of the first three books in the author’s “Sector General” series, about a large space station which is a hospital that treats beings of many different intelligent races. I started to read it because I confused it with Alan E. Nourse’s “Star Surgeon” which I first read as a pre-teen and enjoyed very much. But I found this a worthwhile read in its own right.

The first book is a collection of short stories and novelettes with which he began the series, and in which his protagonist starts his career. The second book features a war fought against the station, which is ill-prepared. Since the series continues afterward, it isn’t a spoiler to say it survives. But I found the way it survived to be somewhat “deus ex machina”. The third book is about the first encounters with a particular very unusual species (which must be saying something as there are already so many in the book to begin with).

There were two books I started this month and didn't finish:

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton.

In this book, a man loops through a period of a couple of days, from the viewpoint of several different people. He is told he must solve a murder mystery or he cannot escape the loop. It is set in the Sherlock Holmes era, but without any actual detective as any of the characters. I like time travel and time loops, so thought I would like it. But it is much more a murder mystery and much less science fiction, so I didn't get very far in before noping out of it. It's apparently popular among fans of mystery, though.

Catseye by Andre Norton.

I have liked some of Andre Norton's science fiction novels before, so I tried this one. It is about a young man who discovers he can sense the emotions or fragments of thought of certain animals, and he is being employed by a sort of high-end pet dealer when he discovers this. But something shady is going on. I got about halfway through this, and lost interest. Sorry.
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2. Board Game: Cerberus: The Proxima Centauri Campaign [Average Rating:6.17 Overall Rank:13796]
Board Game: Cerberus: The Proxima Centauri Campaign
Pete K
United States
Arizona
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I continued reading the work of Gene Wolfe in March, completing two collections that I consider genre masterpieces:

The Fifth Head of Cerberus (1972) is a collection of three interrelated novellas, marketed as a single novel. I first read this book around 15 years ago, and it mostly went over my head at the time. This time, I gave it a more careful reading and consciously tried to resolve its many puzzles. The book is structural: due to careful placement of events and construction of points-of-view, the confusing events of one story can be understood by comparison with the corresponding events in the other stories.

Gene Wolfe's Book of Days (1981) is a collection of Wolfe's stories, mostly written during the time he was working as an editor of a trade publication. I've already mentioned some stories last month, but these pieces are also essential:
-- "Forlesen" is the life of a corporate middle manager, compressed into a single day.
-- "Many Mansions" is an interesting parallel story to The Fifth Head of Cerberus. Whereas the events of T5HoC are primarily driven by male characters, the events of this story are driven by female characters (even the aliens).

I also read Michael Swanwick's award-winning Stations of the Tide (1991), which doesn't explicitly acknowledge Gene Wolfe, but certainly seems inspired by The Fifth Head of Cerberus. It's fine, especially in the way it ends, but I'm still haven't been won over by 1990s SF.

Kurt Vonnegut's The Sirens of Titan (1959) is considered one of his classic works, particularly by SF fans. Like a lot of people, I binged on Vonnegut in my late teens for a time. The book was a nice reminder of why I got into Vonnegut, and also why I stopped.

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3. Board Game: Archmage Origins [Average Rating:5.62 Overall Rank:16192]
Board Game: Archmage Origins
Jake Blomquist
United States
Vestal
New York
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This past month I got into the Earthsea books, and I read the first three. I have very little experience with fantasy fiction, but I loved everything about these. It's exactly what I want out of fantasy, it almost has a mythological feel. And the magic has just the right amount of mystery and and weight behind it. And it does really feel like there's a serious philosophy to the book as well, it's not just some pulpy adventure book. Not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just not to my taste.

I'm about half way through the fourth book. I've heard that it's reasonable to think of the series as two trilogies, which makes sense since the fourth book is definitely a big departure from the first three. I'm definitely enjoying it and looking forward to see where it takes things. And I have the other two ready to go. Pictured above is the collection I have of the first four books.

This has gotten me more into the idea of reading fantasy, and has me excited for the potential. But I know Le Guin is a particular writer, I have already read and enjoyed The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of Darkness, I guess I need to find more of her books as well.
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4. Board Game: Paris [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:8126]
Board Game: Paris
Ivan
Russia
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Ernest Hemingway - A Moveable Feast

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The autobiographical novel about life in Paris with a bit of a sad ending.


in Russian:

Хемингуэй Эрнест - Праздник, который всегда с тобой

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Автобиографический роман про жизнь в Париже с немного грустной концовкой.
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5. RPG Item: The Book of Skelos [Average Rating:6.67 Unranked]
RPG Item: The Book of Skelos
Hello everybody,

first time posting something on this list.

I've only (re-)read one book in march, but it is an outstanding one. Karl Edward Wagner - Gods in Darkness.

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It contains the three novels of Kane - "Darkness Weaves", "Bloodstone" and "Dark Crusade". The first time I read this book it blew me away. I'm late to Wagner and discovered him via HP Lovecraft and Wagner's story "Sticks".

Every time I read this book I prefer one of the stories over the two others. Don't ask me why, I can't tell you. This time it was "Darkness Weaves". The way it sucks you into the story and how Kane is described is just incredible.

I know Wagner didn't like his Kane stories to be called Sword & Sorcery and he preferred to call them Gothic, but if someone would ask me how to describe them I would tell them it's lovecraftian sword & sorcery. I'm sorry Karl.

This is one of my favorite books and Kane one of my favorite characters. Truly inspiring in many ways and not just a (very) good read. There is nothing like this out there.

If you ever have the chance to read one of these stories don't hesitate!
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6. Board Game: Sunflower Valley [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:4656]
Board Game: Sunflower Valley
Kirk Groeneweg
United States
Clear Lake
Iowa
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I only completed two books in March.

I continued my reading of the Scarpetta series, this time finishing up Scarpetta by Patricia Cornwell. This series still holds my interest after many years. I still have quite a few books to go. This one finds the team in New York trying to find out the killer of a little person while also dealing with bad press from a website slandering Scarpetta.

Then for a lighter fair, I read Valley of the Sun by Louis L'Amour. This is a collection of short stories. Generally I'm not a big fan of his short stories because they are just over too quick. This was a nice collection of stories and many of them talked about a similar place or people, so they felt a little connected.
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7. Board Game: Charge of the Light Brigade [Average Rating:5.83 Unranked]
Board Game: Charge of the Light Brigade
Ryan Olson
United States
Auburn
Kansas
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I started re-reading the Dresden Files novels, so I'll likely not be posting as much in here in the future, like next month because the Sword and Laser group is reading How to Lose the Time War, which I read earlier this year. But I did read some new stuff in March along with Grave Peril by Jim Butcher.

The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley- Pretty brutal military sci-fi novel, which is a genre I'm not a huge fan of, but I really liked this one. Some interesting ideas here.

The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders- This was well written and some neat world building, but something fell a little flat for me. It wasn't bad, but wasn't great either.

Black Widow & the Marvel Girls- Ugh, this was a poor collection of comics. It seemed like they just randomly decided to throw a bunch of Black Widow books together.

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8. Board Game: Wingspan [Average Rating:8.11 Overall Rank:20]
Board Game: Wingspan
Anne Skelding
United States
Connecticut
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- Beautiful. Even the ugly parts are beautiful.
- Friendship and found family are always good.
- Good characters, including non-humans.
- Interesting magic. Very subtle, except occasionally when it's not.
- Overall tone: wistful. Not sad, not even bittersweet really, but full of a certain longing.

Recommended.


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This is a weird one. The first third of the book, NOTHING HAPPENS. Two stars, maybe three if I'm being generous. But once things kick off, boy do they kick off!



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Moseying my way through the comics to tide me over until season 4 comes out. Hopefully sometime soon, though I haven't heard anything about it. *sigh*
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9. RPG Item: Erebor: The Lonely Mountain [Average Rating:8.40 Overall Rank:1962]
RPG Item: Erebor: The Lonely Mountain
Chris McDermott
United Kingdom
Belfast
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Only 1 book for me in March.

Manhattan in Reverse - Peter F. Hamilton

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This is a superb collection of short stories from Peter F. Hamilton. One of them is about a murder in Oxford in the 1800s and it follows the investigator over the centuries as he refuses to let the murderer get away it. It's set in an alternate Earth where some members of society in the great families are incredibly long-lived. I would easily have read a series set in this world.

The other stories were very good too and there was even one about investigator Paula Myo from his excellent Commonwealth Saga.
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