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Call of Cthulhu Keeper's Screen (Call of Cthulhu RPG)Call of Cthulhu Keeper's Screen by Les Brooks
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not too bad if you are a creative GM who wants to work on things.

I picked up this supplement a long time ago. I never ran the scenario, but instead just used the rules for the occasional Cthulhu game. As the years went by I used the Chaosium system less and less and forgot about it.

I am now running a Cthulhu game using the GURPS system and I needed something small to supplement my game. I won't spoil any of the adventure called "A Restoration of Evil" for possible players here, but I will say its a decent low level start. If you are running it at a convention it will work well out of the box. If its for a campaign you will need to fill in a lot of things.

Now that the the rules are very outdated, I wouldn't pick it up for anything unless you could get it used for $0.50.

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Hoarfrost

May. 5th, 2017 05:37 am
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Hoarfrost (Whyborne & Griffin, #6)Hoarfrost by Jordan L. Hawk
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is for the audible book version only.

The series just gets better as Ms. Hawk builds the world.

The sixth book of the series is going even better. The gang as we will call them now heads up to Alaska to help Griffon's newly reconnected brother Joe at the ruins uncovered. The book takes a new tact with writing from Griffon's perspective almost half the time. I wasn't sure at first but actually it works out pretty well. I am looking forward to Christine getting the same full treatment, which I am sure is going to happen.

The plot itself is also just gets better. Things come back to haunt Whyborne from prior books, more character development and personality is revealed and new enemies and allies are made.

The only thing that disappointed me about this book was the lack of Christine. She is in it, but unlike the previous book she has a fairly minor role. I do like Griffon's larger role, but I am not sure if I prefer him to Christine. I suspect the series will become an ensemble cast eventually. It seems like the best way to keep going with the most plots.

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GURPS Basic Set: CharactersGURPS Basic Set: Characters by Steve Jackson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A definite must have for gaming groups!

I have ran tabletop roleplaying games for decades (since approximately 1984). Everything from Dungeons and Dragons Basic set (in the box), Battletech, Shadowrun, White Wolf, and a dozen other systems (that maybe I will do reviews on someday).

I have recently reread the book this year for a new campaign I am running and I am reminded why I use it. Because you can recreate any world you want with these rules. The fact that you can modify the setting, genre, realism level of the game, makes it the best choice.

Pros: A variety of settings are provided in supplements and sourcebooks with constant updating of different worlds and even additional advanced rules, equipment and ideas. You want gritty realism, or cinematic campaign you have it. Do you want a combination of Cthulhu and Shadowrun? What about Fantasy and Werewolf? You can do it all.

Cons: In all fairness this is not an easy system to learn. It is prohibitively complicated for new players or GMs, and even those with lots of experience will still struggle a bit. The rules can bog down the game so you will have to learn to cut the things you don't want to deal with. This is why I can't give it a 5 star and only a 4 star.

Overall it is my favorite systems and with patience you can convert any other game system into GURPS (my most recent one was converting Mechwarrior/Battletech into GURPS and it was better than the original system because of more RP character options).



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Necropolis (Whyborne & Griffin)Necropolis by Jordan L. Hawk
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is for the Audio Book only!

As I started the fourth book in the series I had pretty high hopes, and Jordan Hawk cleared that goal with some room to spare.

In order to avoid spoilers all I will say is you get a glimpse of the dirty, dusty and rough desert. You see Whyborne grapple with the "horrors" of living in a tent. You get a bit more background on Griffon (there can never be enough background). You get some good sex scenes. Finally you get a lot more background on Christine.

I wasn't sure how I felt about Christine when this all started. I wasn't sure if she was going to fit into the stereotypical woman with gay guy best friends. However she has been flushed out and given a pretty cool backstory. I look forward to more about her now as well.

Oh, on a down note, Christine sounds like a catty gay guy sometimes when the narrator reads her part. I am not sure if its on purpose or maybe just something I am hearing, but that was the only negative.

If you liked the first three, definitely you want to read this.

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Stormhaven (Whyborne & Griffin, #3)Stormhaven by Jordan L. Hawk
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For the audiobook only!

I have to say Jordan Hawk is just getting better, and so is the narrator. Originally some of the words spoken and written were a bit boxy and didn't quite gel with me. I do take some ownership of that as part of it was undoubtably me getting used to a new author.

However in this third book Jordan Hawk takes us deeper into who Griffin is, where he comes from and what torments him on more than a cursory level. We get to meet people who are close to him, and explore his fears more in depth. I thought this was fantastic.

We also dig a bit deeper into Whyborne, his family and some inkling of what may be coming for him. Along with that we had Christine also involved, this time she felt even more part of the group. I no longer really think of them as a duo, but a trio. They each have something they bring to the party.

Jordan expanded their own ability as well. The sex scenes were never bad, but they are feeling smoother in this. The plot is a bit tighter and we are getting connections between stories. It is a good start for world building.

The last part is that the narrator has gotten more comfortable themselves with reading it. The sex scenes were ok, a little off. However, the biggest issue was accents. It seems like they have laid off of them and that has made all the difference.

Overall a great book, it is coming together and I am looking forward to Necropolis.

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Threshold (Whyborne & Griffin, #2)Threshold by Jordan L. Hawk

Audio Version Only!

I am back again and I had a better time this go around. Still a 1890s gay romance, supernatural horror, lovecraftian story. This time the listening was a lot easier, two days instead of two weeks. I am not sure if I was in a better mood, or maybe Jordan's universe just clicked into place easier this time.

This review won't be as long. This time we see more of Griffon's backstory. Get to meet an important person to him, and learn more about his childhood. Of course the story is still about Whyborne, so don't worry there are plenty of awkward moments and explicit sex.

Once again, the only negative I had was the narrator didn't stay in his lane. This time it wasn't an Irish accent (except, maybe there was a sentence or so when the characters were joking, but quick and pretty painless). This time is was "professional" women. It wasn't as cringeworthy as the Irish accent, but still enough to make me wince.

However, I wanted to note that the narrator does absolutely fine with Christine, so not sure why the difference.

As a follow up to Christine, she proves to be even more of a badass in a couple of moments then initially suspected. Already I would love a few books of her adventures when she goes to digs. I do know there are 6 more books to read that are already out, so maybe I will get my wish.

I definitely recommend this book to everyone.


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Widdershins (Whyborne & Griffin, #1)Widdershins by Jordan L. Hawk

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Audio Version Only!

This is a first for me. I have never read a gay urban supernatural fiction centered romance located in the 1890s Lovecraftian Universe. To be honest this is my first gay romance, and it was pretty darn good.

That seems at first an almost bizarre combination, but it is great. I absolutely enjoyed this book and I am thankful my husband pushed me to read it. Don't worry I won't spoil the book, but I just had to comment on how much I did like it.

The story itself is great, I love the romance that develops in the book. The main character is very much in the same vein as Randolph Carter in Lovecraft's stories, in fact this book could very well take place in Lovecraft. The big difference is Jordan writes better.

The story is full of the horror we expect, the small towns, underground passages and things man shouldn't read. The big difference is there is no inherent racism or sexism directed at others in a hurtful way. The prejudices in the book are appropriate for the time and are written carefully to make it clear the author is telling a story of the time period, not that people in the real world are the monsters. Lovecraft was problematic at the best. This book avoids his pitfalls and shows the pains a homosexual man and a woman trying to push into the male dominated fields handle being professors at a university.

Oh, and the sex scenes (and there are some pretty explicit ones) are pretty good.

The only flaw in the entire setup isn't Jordan, its the narrator. He is pretty good overall, however he cannot affect an accent to save his life. He doesn't need to either, he is fine just reading the book like he does for most of it. However, the Irish accents and the women's voices are cringeworthy.

Once again, he was great overall, just stay in your lane sir, stay in your lane.

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Rat Queens, Vol. 2: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N'rygothRat Queens, Vol. 2: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N'rygoth by Kurtis J. Wiebe

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If anything this book is better than Volume 1. The first book had a lot of standard tropes that were changed up by female leads. This time we get more in depth history on the ladies, including Vi's previous life as a woman who's father is trying to marry her off, thus giving us the struggles she is going through by leaving her people.

It follows up with Dee and her strangely compelling Lovecraftian type family background roots, and follows up with Hannah's birth father.

I won't go into any of the specific details of the story, no spoilers here really. However I want to say the story just gets better. The relationships of the group are just solidified and I was sad when the story ended.

I can't recommend enough reading this series... Oh, and Betty is still fantastic.

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Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass & SorceryRat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


First, I need to say I love Betty! Absolutely favorite character in this volume.

I have heard about this for a long time. Some of my friends online talked and talked and talked. Others disliked it a lot. I can tell you from my experience that it is an awesome story and I love the Rat Queens.

It makes it crystal clear by reading this how misogynistic our fantasy stories are. The objections I have heard to the story are more to do with the people not liking it is about women, strong women, not just passive healers.

The artwork is pretty good, the characterization is great and the time flew by while I read it. The only con to reading this is that the artist was caught beating his female significant other, which really puts a strain on supporting this series. I don't know if I would have read the series (both Volume 1 and 2 which will probably have the same review) if I had heard about the artist first, just because I won't support that.

I have heard the third volume is a different artist and that the writer fired the illustrator. Hopefully it maintains its story and interest along with not supporting abusive people.



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The Normans: From Raiders to KingsThe Normans: From Raiders to Kings by Lars Brownworth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is for the audiobook only.

Mr. Brownworth's book is compelling and the quality of the sound is good. I have been listening to a lot of other books with not nearly the quality. He obviously did a lot of research and I always appreciate that.

I give it four stars because the information is interesting and presented in a way that I didn't get bored with it. The disadvantage for the author is I have read a lot about the Normans, and his book didn't bring a lot of new information to me. However, like I said I don't want to bring the rating down to far because I am already familiar with the subject, after all it is a history book, not fiction.

I say get it if you like that part of history. It was a nice listen.

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Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing FieldsHitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields by Wendy Lower
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

THIS IS FOR THE AUDIBLE VERSION!!!

There really isn't much of a spoiler for this book. It covers how Nazi women followed the men into the eastern front of World War II and engaged in mass murder. Wendy Lower does a great job of giving examples of women who were married to SS officers, nurses, and even receptionists who not only participated tangentially by guarding camps, but also handled the orders for the final solution and even gave direct orders to murder Jews specifically.

The good thing about the book is that it doesn't present this in a vacuum by just talking about the women. Ms. Lower goes into detail on the culture and politics of the Third Reich at the time. The expectations of women, and in some cases how the women went against certain expectations.

Some of the specific stories are not of the faint of heart. These just aren't only angels of "mercy" who put patients who were Jewish, handicapped or outspoken and went contrary to the cultural norms to death with lethal injections. Some of the stories include women shooting, strangling or even in one recorded case picking a child up and bashing their head into a wall.

The book isn't about shock writing though, things are handled a lot better than that last paragraph :). I recommend it as a good reading for the an unusual aspect of the Final Solution and the massacre of not just Jews but the rest of the unwanted in the Third Reich (including German soldiers themselves considered too injured or too damaged by PTSD).

The only con I have found is the lack of specific sources. This very well could be because it is an audible book and you can't just footnote and refer to the back of the book. I have not seen her written version so I can't talk about it. I can say enough of what she says matches up with what I have studied in the past makes me think at least in the broad strokes I can rely on her writing.

Horrible subject, but good writing.

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The Taken

Jan. 23rd, 2017 07:09 am
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The Taken (Celestial Blues, #1)The Taken by Vicki Pettersson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I am not impressed with the story, the writing or the setting. It wasn’t the worst book I have consumed, but it isn’t even in the average. I will avoid spoilers.

1. The writing style: This by far was the worst part of the whole thing. The way Vicki Pettersson wrote the book was the single hardest thing to get used to. It is a “noir” story, meaning it falls back on the old gumshoe type of writing such as “the dame walked into the door and had looks that could kill”.

Now, that can be interesting to a point, but the entire book was written using very halting language, terms and frankly an incredibly sexist viewpoint. I hadn’t expected it to be like that at all. I specifically chose it because the author was a woman and at no point would I have imagined that someone who is on the other side of misogyny would write like that. Now, as a side note, I realize that I had a gender bias going in, thinking a woman wouldn’t do it, and I was proven wrong as well.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy supernatural noir/urban fantasy settings. Take Jim Butcher and the Dresden Files. That is a supernatural noire novel without relying on the trapings and clichés of the old novels. I just couldn’t get into the ham fisted writing style of the book itself, this probably influenced my other two issues.

2. The story: Sadly, the story isn’t imaginative at all, especially for a noire setting. The fact that Griff is a “centurion” doesn’t change it. The main female character is only a two dimensional attractive woman who is always the scrappy investigative reporter. The villians all are “evil” to be evil and there is no shades of grey.

Worst of all the book is over 400 pages and has too many plots that try and interweave. Maybe if the author had focused on a single plot it would have felt like a story, as it was none of the character changed over the book (if they did, it was a decline of detail and character drive and not any actual change). It wasn’t even a good romance story (and I love me some good romance).

3. The Setting: This is probably the area I have the least problem with. The story of a human elevated to a “centurion” to help lead people from violent death to the afterlife isn’t a bad setting. Las Vegas is never a bad place to be, and the “alien” of the Pure is something I haven’t seen before in this type of writing.

The part I don’t like is that it is purely a Christian angel/afterlife sort of thing. With other supernatural/urban fantasy noire like Dresden you get a taste of other cultures and other people. It isn’t centered as a white world. This is just a recent discovery of mine as I am white and male and before a few years ago I didn’t realize that everything was aimed at my demographic. It would be nice to see more cultural influences in this world. I probably would have like the setting more if the storyline and the writing style weren’t so difficult.

Overall I would recommend that you only take the time for this if you are stuck at an airport, or in a place where there aren’t other options. I don’t think Ms. Pettersson is a bad author herself, but this foray needed more editing, more focus and a lot more time to cook before it was released.


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Locke & Key (Locke & Key #1-6)Locke & Key by Joe Hill

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

THIS IS FOR THE AUDIBLE AUDIO PLAY/BOOK ONLY!

To be perfectly honest I couldn't get into it. Listening to the audio play (is that what it is considered?) wasn't a lot of fun. The sound was echoey and not nearly as professional as other audio books I have listend.

I have read audio books that are read by a cast and those have been fine, but this is more like a play you are listening to and because you don't hear them talking about the action itself but just the sounds of the action (like a gunshot instead of them talking about raising the gun and firing) I found I couldn't get into it.

Also, even though there are some actors doing the parts, I just didn't really like any of their performance. I won't be listening to any more in this series. I wouldn't even recommend trying it. It isn't that the story idea is bad, but the way the performance works it just isn't for me.

I did give it two stars because the plot was interesting, maybe if you read it it will come out better.

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Skin Game

Jan. 21st, 2017 06:37 pm
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Skin Game (The Dresden Files, #15)Skin Game by Jim Butcher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Much like his other books this is enjoyable and goes by very quickly. I listened to it on audiobook so I got to hear James Marsters read it and that is half the fun. Don't get me wrong, John Glover was good on the book he did, but when I think Harry Dresden, I think of "Spike" aka James Marsters voice.

I don't want to spoil anything, but I just want to reiterate I like it. You meet new characters, along with the old. Its nice to see that maybe... just maybe Harry might be coming back to some form or normality (well at least normality for him).

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The Civil War Battlefield GuideThe Civil War Battlefield Guide by Frances H. Kennedy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is an excellent resource of every single battle in the American Civil War. It is not an in depth detail, rather a basic guide for all 350+ battles. It helped me find other sources for the battles as well so I could produce my American Civil War Battles youtube spots.

Definitely recommend for the American civil war history buff!

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I have been very fortunate, this year in January I started reading in earnest again. I am traveling a lot and work has reached a point that I can listen to audio books. Before this I was listening to podcasts but I want to go back to reading some books.

I use Goodreads, however because you can never tell about a site if you will lose everything I will also post here. If you want to see my Good Reads profile here: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/1570983-lucky

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