Books Read in March, 2021
The Emerald Circus by Jane Yolen
Jackals: Bronze Age Fantasy Roleplaying by John-Matthew DeFoggi (RPG)
The Secrets of Vesuvius by Caroline Lawrence
Between A Rock and A Royal by Sylvie Stewart
January/February, 2021 Reader's Digest
Lola Benko, Treasure Hunter by Beth McMullen
The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Hanrahan (r)
The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith
Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh
DragonQuest Roleplaying Game, 2nd Edition by Eric Goldberg, Gerard C. Klug, et. al. (RPG) (r)
And that was my reading for March, 2021. This was a pretty good month of reading for me, both in terms of the quality of the books read and the quantity of books read. Getting back to reading for the sheer joy of it, rather than reading what I felt had to be read, made for a nice change in March. Regardless, my bookcases are stacked with a pretty large To Read Queue (TRQ) still. The books I enjoyed the most were:
The Secrets of Vesuvius by Caroline Lawrence - The second book in the Roman Mysteries young adult series by the author. Flavia, Jonathan, Lupus, and Nubia - friends and detectives - sail to the Bay of Naples to spend the summer with Flavia's uncle, who lives near Pompeii. There they uncover a riddle that may lead them to great treasure. Meanwhile, tremors shake the ground, animals behave strangely, and people dream of impending doom. One of the worst natural disasters of all time is about to happen: the eruption of Mount Vesuvius! This second book in the series is just as entertaining, if not more so, than the first book, and deals quite vividly with the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D.. The book continues developing the four protagonists of the series, and also includes a few real people - most notably the Elder Pliny who died during the eruption. While the mystery that Flavia and her friends try to figure out is intriguing, it's pretty secondary to the setting in this one, and I will say that one can easily take the end of this book not so much as a cliffhanger, but as an indicator of what the third book may be about. Highly recommended children and adults of all reading ages.
Between A Rock and A Royal by Sylvie Stewart - Two foreign princes, one local girl in a serious jam, and a '65 Mustang headed for Georgia. What could go wrong? LEO: My brother likes to think he's the clever one, and I usually let him. He's the crown prince, after all. But he's cocked things up royally this time, pardon the pun. It will take some quick thinking and a heavy dose of luck, but I'll pull us out of it. Even if it means putting my trust in a stranger... a tempting stranger who carries a wrench and an attitude. RUBY: I knew before I even agreed that this would be a bad idea. But given my circumstances, I had little choice but to take these rich country-club rejects up on their offer. A ride in exchange for the money my uncle and I owe. How bad could it be? I'm sure I'll survive and hopefully fix my problems in the process, but my heart might not be so lucky. This is the first book in the Kings of Carolina series, and... What can I say about this book? The book is a romantic comedy, and... Twin princes on the run for adventure trying to avoid their security while making the most of their impulsive ride. One lady mechanic who could play tour guide and help her family. Trouble was just one quick fling that wasn't enough especially when it ends in misunderstanding and no proper goodbyes. The story has a somewhat slow start to it, but once it gets going, it really gets *going*! The characters are well portrayed, and the plot of the story feels a bit thin in places, but I laughed a lot as I read this book and really felt for the three protagonists of the story. The book ends on a cliffhanger, which I haven't read yet, but that's for another month when I need it. That said, I recommend this book for the sheer fun of it.
The Emerald Circus by Jane Yolen - Enter the Emerald Circus and be astonished by the transformations of your favorite tales. Ringmaster and internationally bestselling author Jane Yolen spins modern fantasy classics in tales that go well beyond Wonderland and Oz, down the rabbit hole and back again. Where is Wendy? Leading a labour strike against the Lost Boys, of course! It's time to go back to — and beyond — the treasured tales you thought you knew: The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and many more. A girl blown away from Kansas returns as a sophisticate with unusual gymnastic abilities. A talented apprentice, forging her first sword, is suddenly left to the mercies of Merlin. Alice's infamous nemesis has jaws and claws, but also lacks the essential: a sense of humor. Witty and bold, and unexpected, these tales go well beyond the rabbit hole and back again. I really don't want to spoil any of these stories for potential readers, so all I'll say about the book is this: Jane Yolen is a consummate storyteller, and these are all wonderfully vivid stories, riffs on faerie tales and legends, and pretty much every one of the sixteen stories here was delightful. There's an additional section at the back that gives information on some of the author's inspirations as well. Highly recommended.
The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith - The first book in the Hell's Library series. What a great cast of heroes and villains this story has! Normally, one would expect the heroes to be from heaven and the villains from hell. However, this designation is murky in this case. The protagonist of this novel is Claire, head librarian of Hell's library, a depository of unwritten books, unfinished books abandoned by their authors. She is assisted by a tattoo-adorned muse name Brevity. The library's staff has been recently increased by a demon of entropy named Leto, a former guilt-ridden adolescent boy. Finally, assisting the library staff on their adventure are Andras, former Archduke of Satan's realm, Claire's colleague and current curator of the arcane artifacts wing of the library, and Hero, an escaped character from one of the library's books. Aligned against these characters are Uriel, an archangel also known as the Face of God, especially now since God has distanced himself from humanity and the heavenly host, and Ramiel, a fallen angel known as the Thunder of God, punished for his insurrection by being assigned to purgatory located outside of the gates of heaven. Both the agents from heaven and hell are in a struggle to recover a missing artifact, a codex created by Satan and embodied with his paranormal essence. Several of the characters have individual motives for finding the book. The story is a pretty good one, the characters coming to life quite nicely during the course of the book, and while the plot itself seems to derivative of several other stories I've read in my life, the author does a good job weaving all the threads together and gives the reader a tale that entertains and keeps the reader face first in the book. I recommend this book, but I don't think it's for everyone, so read at your own risk.
Overall, I managed to read 7 novels, 2 RPGs and RPG products, 1 magazine, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels in March. This brings the year total in 2021 to a set of numbers that look like this: 17 books, 2 RPGs and RPG products, 4 magazines, 37 comics, and 0 graphic novels.
Anyway, thoughts and comments are always welcome. :)