Thursday, October 27, 2022

Knot of Shadows by Lois McMaster Bujold

As I have mentioned before on the blog, I was late to the Lois McMaster Bujold party and only discovered her when she was nominated for Best Series for the Vorkosigan saga. I think it was the Baen book covers that turned me off. But I’m on board now! 

She definitely deserve the best series Hugo award for the Vorkosigan Books, and also deserved it equally for the World of the Five Gods series. I have not read any of the novels in that series yet, but once I started reading the Penric and Desdemona novellas, I couldn’t stop. I was hooked instantly and binged my way through the series. Thankfully, Ms. Bujold is still writing more Penric stories. 

I was thrilled to get a copy of this new Penric novella - the first and so far only new book since her novel length entry, Assassins of Thassalon.  Thank you, Subterranean Press, for the eARC. As usual for a subterranean press edition, there is a new cover with gorgeous cover art. This book was a joy, like all the Penric stories are, and my only complaint is that after the recent novel, this novella felt more like a snack than a meal. It would not be the best place to start with the series, but if you’ve read any of the others before, you will really enjoy this one.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022


I first encountered Elliott Kalan when his podcast, the Flophouse, did a bonus episode in conjunction with The Greatest Generation to review Star Trek V. I fell in love with him as a podcaster when I listened to I, Podius, the I, Claudius rewatch podcast he did with John Hodgman. After that I started listening to the Flophouse regularly, and I realized that he was the writer of Spider-Man and the X-men, which was hilarious. So when I heard him talking about Maniac of New York on the podcast, I decided to try it, even though horror is NOT my genre. 

But I needn’t have worried - the writing is so good that I forgot to be scared. Kalan creates a very realistic view of how our world would react to a Jason Voorhees-like serial killer on the loose in Manhattan. 

I was very happy when NetGalley and the publisher gave me an eARC of volume 2 in exchange for an honest review. 

Volume 2 ratchets up the tension and the action in quite believable ways. I was hoping for more progress on the whole museum plot thread from book one, but that’s a minor quibble. The ending? I did NOT expect that. I can’t wait for volume 3. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

How To Defend Your Lair by Keith Ammann


I discovered Keith Ammann like most people, I assume - through his website. Reading his incredibly thoughtful and thought/provoking analysis of Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons monster tactics really opened me up to a new way of thinking about how to be a Dungeon Master. My DMing got much better and I really enjoyed reading what he had to say. 

So when I saw his new book, How to Defend Your Lair, available on NetGalley, I requested an eARC. 

Frustratingly, his new book is not really for me. As a Dungeon Master, I use mostly official D&D adventures (what they used to call modules when I was a kid). I’m not creating my own worlds and adventures- I prefer to have that done for me. I’ll change things up, of course, but I’m not usually making things up from scratch. 

This book is much more designed for the DMs out there that are making up their entire adventures. And it mostly seems to do a good job, I guess? But a lot of it feels like filler to me, and dull filler at that. But I’m sure this book will be great for the right audience.