November 2019 Month-in-Review

November was my first full month across the blogs after making the changes I talked about last month.  The stress reduction during another very busy month was nice, even if I blogging slowed down even more than I had planned.

The formatting of these posts will change a bit.  They will be simpler, with fewer links and a reduced focus on blogging stats.

My reading slowed down a bit in November, with only six books finished, but I did manage to keep Mount TBR even.  If I can finish eight books in November, it will be my strongest reading year in the last four years.  My main focus will be finishing off my 2019 Bookish Resolutions.

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Review of Sabbath by Nick Mamatas

An ARC of Nick Mamatas’ Sabbath was an unexpected arrival at the house a couple of weeks ago (a consolation prize for not getting a Warrior of the Altaii ARC, perhaps?).  The cover blurb bills it as “the blood-splattered epic the current year deserves” . . . which sounds like a threat, really.  But I couldn’t pass on a sword and sorcery book compared to Highlander.

After a bit of a rocky start, Sabbath pleasantly surprised me.  It wasn’t just a fun read; it was one with some real depth.

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October 2019 Month-in-Review and Blog Update

For the last year and a half I have published at least three posts each week across both blogs—a Music Monday post at Hillbilly Highways on Monday, a speculative fiction post at Every Day Should Be Tuesdays on Tuesdays, and a country noir or hillbilly studies post at Hillbilly Highways on Wednesdays.  Not to mention the occasional Throwback Thursday post at Every Day Should Be Tuesday and New Music Friday post at Hillbilly Highways.  It’s fun, but it’s also a grind.  All while I have been getting continually busier professionally and personally, bringing a tiny human into the world and twice having to drop everything for a week and head down those hillbilly highways on short notice to tend to a family emergency.

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Review of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead: Typhoon by Wes Chu

I have long been a fan of the comics and watcher of the show, but I haven’t yet dived into any of The Walking Dead novels.  But with an impending trip to China and a good experience with Chu’s Lives of Tao books, Typhoon was the perfect book to start with.  Chu takes the action across the Pacific, telling a story set after the zombie apocalypse hit China.  If you think walkers are bad, wait until there are 700 million of them.

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SF: Harlan County Horrors, edited by Mari Adkins

Hillbilly Highways

Over the course of a life hard lived, the minder and the town and the mountain became as one, and no one ever left Harlan alive.

Country noir fits easily with horror.  What is scarier than a long, dark shaft in an abandoned coal mine?  Might our greed for the black stuff cause us to dig too deep?  Might the violence on the surface go beyond the natural into the supernatural?

I was delighted to learn that Apex released a collection of short horror stories set in Harlan County, Kentucky (originally famous for the coal mine labor strife featured in Harlan County, USA and more recently famous as the setting for neo-Western Justified).

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Review of Steel Crow Saga by Paul Krueger

I almost bailed early on Steel Crow Saga.  It didn’t wind up blowing on me, but it did grow on me.  I’m glad I didn’t bail.

Steel Crow Saga is sort of a secondary world, fantasy version of the Asia theater of WWII.  An awkward, info dumpy prologue threw me off a bit.  The prologue is set in the middle of fantasy Philippines’ (the Sanbu Islands) occupation by fantasy Imperial Japan (Tomoda).  By the time the first chapter opens, Sambuna and the other occupied countries have thrown off their Tomodanese shackles and are figuring out what the new world order will look like.  Much of the information dumped in the prologue, then, isn’t relevant, and much less information is given in the first chapter.  It becomes apparent later why Krueger did what he did, but I still have to think that it could have been done in a better way.

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Robert Jordan’s Warrior of the Altaii Foreshadows The Wheel of Time More Than His Conan Pastiches

Decades ago James Oliver Rigney Jr. wrote a book.  That book allowed him to break into the publishing industry.  He sold it several times.  It established his working relationship with Harriet McDougal, who would become his wife.  It led to his first published book, The Fallon’s Blood (as Reagan O’Neal).  It led to a gig writing (eventually seven) Conan pastiches for Tor, this time as Robert Jordan, the pseudonym he would make famous.  It also heavily foreshadows themes and elements from The Wheel of Time, his landmark work of epic fantasy.  It was not, however, published before his death.

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