Once upon a time VI


I saw this movie a couple of weeks ago. It’s a re imagining of the Snow White fairy tale and aimed at a younger audience. It’s also a comedy rather than a drama.

I enjoyed it. The tale starts with the evil Queen and she says that this is her story, but of course it isn’t. The Queen is portrayed, traditionally, as vain and selfish. She extorts taxes from her poor subjects to finance her balls. The enchanted mirror isn’t just a mirror but a gateway to a magical realm where the Queen talks with the magical creature in the mirror. She isn’t a sorceress but asks the mirror to do all the magical things in the movie. She also either doesn’t understand the costs or doesn’t really know much about them. Unfortunately, all this made her a shallow character.

Snow White starts as a meek and down trodden girl whom the Queen doesn’t allow to leave her room even during Snow’s birthday. It takes outside prodding for her to leave her room and see what the Queen has done to Snow’s country. However, once she has taken her fate to her hands, I rather enjoyed her. Especially after she meets the dwarfs. However, it felt strange that she grew into such a decisive woman in such a short time.

The dwarfs were probably the funniest people in the movie. I won’t spoil them but they aren’t miners. The masked ball was also very funny. Most of the characters dressed up as various Alice in Wonderland characters with the Queen as the Red Queen, of course, and her long suffering senechalk as the white rabbit. Snow had a swan costume, though.

The ending was extremely convenient but perhaps that’s to be expected with a comedy and a fairy tale movie. Still, I quite enjoyed this one and I’m looking forward to the Snow White and the Huntsman which should be aimed at an adult audience.

The fifth book in the Detective Inspector Chen series set in Singapore Three.

Publication year: 2010
Format: print
Page count: 317 plus a short story The Lesson
Publisher: Morrigan Books

Omi is a young Japanese warrior who comes from a line of warriors. He has been charged with the slaying of the Iron Khan, a cruel and bloodthirsty warrior and a magican who plans to rule the world with his ifriits. He’s also immortal and ancient. Omi is just one man but he’s doing his best with the help of his grandfather’s ghost.

The new Emperor of Heaven, Mhara, has called Detective Inspector Chen to Heaven. The Book of Heaven, one of the most ancient sentient beings in the universe and its creator, is missing. The Book is capable of rewriting the world, so Mhara wants it back and wants to know how it could have gone. The only way seems to be that the Book itself wanted to leave which isn’t reassuring.

Meanwhile, Chen’s demon wife Inari and her familiar the Earth spirit badger are entertaining the Celestial Warrior Miss Qi in Chen’s house boat. Unfortunately, the trio is caught up in a strange typhoon that whisks them away from Earth and to the Sea of Night which is between Heaven and Earth. And the former Empress of Heaven, who is now quite insane and very powerful, is imprisoned there.

Zhu Irzh and his fiancée Jhai Tserai are visiting Vrumchi and then later the Gobi Desert. Zhu Irzh is a demon from the Chinese Hell and Jhai is a tiger demoness from an Indian Hell. Jhai is also extremely rich and the head of her own company. She’s come to scout locations for her new chemical plant. The plant will likely poison the earth around it but when it’s built in a desert, it won’t bother anyone, right? Their evening at the hotel is interrupted when a reanimated mummy attacks. Later, Zhu Irzh wanders out to the desert and stumbles upon a village. There he meets a ghost of a Russian philopher, magican, and painter, Nicholas Roerich.

The plot takes our heroes to an epic journey though time and alternate history.

Like the other Chen books, the Iron Khan has several plot lines and point-of-view characters. Many of the secondary characters are quite quirky. Roerich is a calm and rational man who reminds Zhu Irzh of Chen. Roerich acts as a sort of quide to the demon. Zhu Irzh himself muses about how much he has changed recentely; developing a conscience and wanting to stay loyal to Jhai. He thinks it’s part of growing up. Inari has also grown less timid over time. She and Miss Qi make up quite an effective team in this book. Even though they are kidnapped several times, they don’t wait for anyone else to rescue them. The cast of characters has grown to very large but the book doesn’t feel crowded to me and the new characters fit in well.

This time the main villain, the Khan, isn’t a point-of-view character and that’s probably a good thing because he seems to be quite psychotic. However, he also remains a rather distant character.

The universe went through a major change in the previous book, the Shadow Pavilion, and it’s still changing. Mhara, the new Emperor of Heaven, wants Heaven to have more contact with Earth and to help people. Mhara’s father decreed that everyone in Heaven must agree with his opinions and Mhara reversed that command. Some of Heaven’s denizens aren’t happy about either of these changes; now they have to have their own opinion and make their own decisions. This can be quite a chore for those who aren’t used to it. It’s likely that we will see more about this in the next book.

This book also expands the universe, again. The plot sends the characters through space and time, and into the steppes. I really enjoy this expansions and changes in both the characters and the world. It’s a very good continuation to the series. A few historical people show up in the book. And a floating mythical city!

Oh and Inari is pregnant. Human/demon pregnancies are apparently not common at all and can be dangerous, too. There are a few tantalizing clues about their child-to-be. Apparently, it will be a warrior in a great war and possibly a reincarnation of a former foe. Inari isn’t happy about it.

The first book in the Iron Druid Chronicles.

Publication year: 2011
Format: Audio
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Narrator: Luke Daniels
Running Time: 8 hrs and 07 minutes

Atticus O’Sullivan manages an occult bookshop and herb shop in Arizona. He’s around two thousand years old and the last druid alive so he’s made quite a lot of enemies and friends over the years. So, when five fairies attack him, and the Morrigan shows up to warn him that he’s in grave danger, Atticus isn’t really surprised. Aenghus Óg, the Celtic god of love, has found Atticus.

Hounded is a very fun book. It has a plethora of old gods and spirits, magic, and a funny sidekick who is actually funny. There are lots of reference to pop culture, modern fantasy books and movies and songs.

I really enjoyed Oberon, Atticus’ Irish wolfhound. Atticus speaks with him mind to mind and Oberon feels very much like a dog: talking about sausages and wanting to mate. When Atticus tells Oberon about his time with Ghengis Khan, Oberon really likes it and starts to refer to “what would Ghengis Khan do”. Funny!

Atticus has a a lot of supernatural contacts both in town and elsewhere. He has a deal with the Morrigan so that she doesn’t take his soul. Of course, she isn’t the only death god around… I rather liked her portrayal here; she’s bloodthirsty and kills humans when they annoy her. Atticus has two lawyers: one of them is a vampire (and a viking) and the other is a werewolf. And Atticus’ next door neighbor is quite a tough old lady.

That said, the book has some faults, too. Despite his supposed age, Atticus doesn’t actually come across as old or wise. He feels very much like a modern man who is just as self-absorbed as any teenager. For someone who has managed to stay alive for two thousand years, he doesn’t seem to have learned much. I found it a bit baffling that so many goddesses are attracted to him. Also, Atticus is so powerful that there’s isn’t any real tension in the book.

The first six chapters are available for free here: http://www.scribd.com/RHPG/d/52589128-HOUNDED-by-Kevin-Hearne-Excerpt

First in the Winterlands fantasy series but can be read as a stand-alone.

Publication year: 1985
Format: print
Page count: 341
Publisher: Del Ray

Jenny Waynest is a mage, a healer, a midwife, the mistress of Lord John Aversin, and the mother of their two sons. John is Dragonsbane, the only living man, or woman for that matter, who has slain a dragon. He is lord in the small town of Alyn Hold and is charged with keeping the local people safe from raiders, robbers, the Whisperers, and the cannibalistic Meerwinks. He doesn’t get any support from the king of Belmarie, though.

Then the King sends a messager to summon John because a dragon has destroyed the Deep of Ylferdun where the gnomes live and has a lair there now. The Black Dragon is supposed to be a lot larger than the one John has killed and he’s reluctant to go. But when young Gareth promises him guards and gold to protect the people of Winterlands, he agrees to leave and Jenny goes with him. However, Jenny notices that Gareth looks guilty and refuses to meets John’s eyes so she suspect that something strange is going on.

However, Jenny and John soon realize that the dragon might be less deadly problem that the court politics. The King seems to be under the thumb of his mistress Zyerne who is a very powerful mage. Her malicious influence runs through the court. The humans also loath the gnomes and blame them for all their troubles. The courtiers see John and Jenny as amusements and northern barbarians.

Dragonsbane was probably a revolutionary epic fantasy novel in 1985 when it was published. The main character and her lover are parents and in their thirties, and yet on a quest to slay a dragon. John is still quite a quirky hero; he’s more a scholar than a fighter: he loves to read and hoards books when he can. He quotes from famious texts although he doesn’t necessarily remember exactly whose text he’s quoting. He wears glasses and is very practical about dragonkilling using poison and sneak attacks when possible. He also trusts Jenny and isn’t out to “protect” the “fragile” “beauty”. He also understands that Jenny’s first priority is magic, not him nor even their sons. Fantasy tends to have very romantic view about (romantic) love so this especially makes John stand out. He’s also a cheerful fellow.

Jenny suspects that if she hadn’t stayed with John she could have become a far more powerful mage. This thought haunts her still, especially now when John is heading to such terrible danger. She knows that her powers are limited. She also wonders if her old mentor had been too old to teach her properly. When she encounters Zyerne who is so much more powerful than she, she’s jealous but at the same time she’s afraid of Zyerne’s callousness and cruelty. Jenny doesn’t want to be like that. Like John, Jenny is very practical and living in Winterlands has taught her to be silent and adapt in order to survive. In a way, Jenny is a reluctant heroine; she goes with John willingly enough and is ready to help him when necessary but when she realizes that she needs to do much more, she does it even when she has doubts.

Gareth comes to the Winterlands as a young man with his head full of ballads whom he collects. He has a rude awakening to reality. John isn’t the shining (and rich) nobleman Gareth is expecting and dragons can’t be killed the way that the ballads claim.

Much of the plot centers on political intigue but the dragon has a large part as well and there are pretty intense fight scenes. However, Jenny’s character development is more central to the book.

The dragon is a very interesting character. At times, he was perhaps a bit too human but most of the time his priorities were very different from humans’. It’s mentioned in the book that nobody knows from where dragons come from.

The first book in the Disillusionists trilogy with a definite comic book tone.

Publication year: 2010
Format: Audio
Publisher: Audible
Narrator: Rebecca Wisocky
Running Time: 11 hrs and 50 minutes

Justine Jones is sure that she will die of vein star syndrome, just like her mother. She spends much of her time concentrating about her various head aches, waiting for death. Unfortunately, this tends to drive away her friends and boyfriends. Currently, she manages a fashion shop and dates the wonderful Cubby who just might be able to offer Justine the normal life she craves for, if she can keep her neurosis from driving him away.

Then Justine meets Sterling Packard who is very handsome and Justine is quite taken with him until he offers her a place in his crime fighting group called the Disillusionists. If Justine joins, she will also get rid of her hyprocondria, although temporarily. Of course, Justine can’t resist. She meets the rest of the group and makes friends, feels very attacked to Packard – and then she finds out the group’s dark secrets. After that, it’s very hard to know just who the good guys are.

Justine is a pretty standard heroine, except for the neurosis. She wants to have a normal life and at first she tries to get it through her boyfriend. But she also wants to help people. She wants to do the right thing but she’s thrust into situations where it’s very hard to know what the right thing is. Fortunately, when she’s agonizing or angsting over her medical condition, it’s written in a very humorous way.

The book has clear comic book tone. The world has people with superpowers. They are called Highcaps and they have what I would call psionic powers, in other words their powers aren’t physical, such as telekineses or medical intuitionist. Some people don’t believe that they even exist and most people are afraid of them. Some of the characters’ names are almost out of a comic book. The Disillusionists think of themselves are heroes. Their leader Packard allows them to project their own fear or neurosis to another. The Disillusionists believe that projecting fear to bad guys will open the bad guys’ eyes to their own awfulness and reform them. Crime victims pay to Packard to disillusion a man or a woman who has wronged them in some way. In order to get close to their target, the Disillusionists go undercover and interact with the target to increase his or her fear.

The Disillusionists are pretty interesting group. They all have their own neurosis and fears, and that colors their personalities. Packard is pretty arrogant and charismatic from the start, and he’s clearly scheming something. I especially liked it that Justine got female friends, and male friends, during the book and not just a harem of adoring men. Then there’s the police chief Otto Schansez who likes opera, dresses fashionably… and is hetero.

Unfortunately, I didn’t really care for the romance angle. Justine starts with a boyfriend and is attracted to two other men, too. Both of them are essential to the plot and, frankly, poor Cubby pales in comparison to the others. Justine also drools over the both men a bit too much. There’s also quite a lot of descriptions of clothing and fashions which aren’t interesting to me.

For a comic book style book, Mind Games doesn’t have much violence. However, like the name implies there are a lot of twists and turns, and Justine finds it hard to know who to trust.

Mind Games is written in first person and present tense. However, I didn’t much notice this while listening. I really enjoyed Wisocky’s narration. She does a Russian accent for Shelby.

This was a fun new series and I will continue with it.

The first book in the Elemental Assassin series.

Publication year: 2010
Format: Audio
Publisher: Audible
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang
Running Time: 11 hrs and 59 minutes

As the Spider, Gin Blanco is the most feared assassin east of the Mississippi. She’s also an Earth and Ice elemental but she doesn’t use her magic to kill or to give herself an edge in a fight. Instead, she can feel the vibrations in the stone around her. The people and actions have infused themselves into the stone so Gin can feel a place’s history. She uses stealth and knives to do her job.

The story starts with a routine assassination, as much as any job can be said to be routine. Gin has been paid to kill Asylum’s resident psychologist, Evelyn Edwards. In order to do that, Gin infiltrates the Asylum as a woman who has become crazy because of magic use.

After she completes her mission, she returns home. Gin’s original family was killed when she was thirteen and afterwards she had to live on the streets. But she did make a few friends who are now the only people she cares about. Fletcher Lane is Gin’s father figure and her handler. Fletcher has a new job for Gin which would pay so much that Gin could retire on it, if she wanted to. Gin takes the job but her client double crosses her, the client’s minions torture and kill Fletcher, and torture his son Finn whom Gin manages to rescue. Gin swears revenge.

Like all good guy assassins, Gin takes only victims who are rapists, abusers, or otherwise bad people. She also won’t kill kids or pets or anyone she considers an innocent. Her cover identity is as a waitress in the Pork Pit which is owned by Fletcher. Gin also loves cooking and reading, although we don’t see her doing much reading this time. She insists that all emotions are a weakness but she’s very loyal to Fletcher, Finn, and all her other friends. She’s also lusting after Detective Donovan whose partner she killed earlier.

Gin is pretty nonchalant about killing which is usual for an assassin protagonist but not usual for a female character. Most of the time she’s an efficient killer and very good at using disguises. Her years on the streets have hardened her. She’s very confident with her (hetero)sexuality.

Unfortunately, the book has a lot of repetition. Every time there’s a chance that Gin mentions her eyes or hair, their color is also mentioned; gray eyes and bleached blond hair. When an enemy makes a mistake Gin always thinks “Sloppy. Sloppy. Sloppy.” (But not when she makes a mistake, such as drooling over a detective so hard that she’s taken by surprise in the middle of an assassination.) I also had trouble believing that assassins really know each others “secret” assassin identities. The book is written in first person but Gin describes her own expressions a lot. There are also some contradictions. Gin mentions that the reason why elementals aren’t ruling everyone is because of guns. Yet, she thinks that guns jam too easily and uses knives and crossbows instead.

Gin lusts after detective Donovan Cain, a lot. I’m hesitant to call him a potential romance partner; rather he’s an object of lust. Gin clearly doesn’t give a rat’s ass that Donovan is very uncomfortable with her. Gin has killed Cain’s partner, who was a rapist, pedophile, and all around bad guy, and she knows that if Cain finds out that Gin is an assassin and his partner’s killer, Donovan would come after her in a heartbeat. So, no tender feelings there from either side.

The book doesn’t end in a cliffhanger but the ending introduces a new plot line to keep the reader returning.

The world-building is interesting with lots of magic. Dwarfs, giants, and vampires are ordinary sights on Ashlund’s streets. Vampires even work as a street whores. Lots of humans can use elemental magic but they can still be homeless or become crazy. It took me awhile to realize that the elementals are just humans, and other people, with magic, and not spirits. Ashlund is throughly corrupt, in fact it reminded me of Gotham without Batman’s influence. The most notable person in the city is the fire elemental Mab Monroe who runs the underworld, and therefore the city.

I rather liked the secondary characters. Finn is a womanizing tech wizard and as such wasn’t really original. However, the dwarf sisters were great. Sofia is a cook/cleaner of murder scenes and she dresses like a goth, and her sister JoJo is a healer, and a beauty salon owner.

I haven’t listened to Fortgang before. Her throaty female voice is very good for Gin but unfortunately she makes breathless voices for many of the males, especially the main love interest. It’s pretty strange to listen to the dialog with Fortgang’s breathless, seductive voice and the hear a tag “he growled”.

The first chapter is available for free on the author’s web site: http://www.jenniferestep.com/excerpts-short-stories/spiders-bite/

A stand alone fantasy book.

Publication year: 2000
Format: print
Page count: 354
Publisher: ACE

Spindle’s End starts (mostly) with the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. However, unlike in the Disney version, the princess is one of the main characters and there’s no handsome prince to save the day.

The unnamed country where the story takes place is very thick with magic. Very thick. Things can spontaneously change into something else without any warning. Water is especially dangerous because it’s so malleable and fish are almost unheard of. However, most of the people in this country are ordinary although they have a habit of asking things to stay themselves. Fairies are humans who use magic openly. They create charms and cast spells to help people.

When the country’s queen finally has a child, the king and queen invite a representative of every village in the country to the infant princess’ naming day. Originally, they wanted to invite everyone, but this wasn’t practical, so a messager goes to every village with enchanted straws to choose a person randomly.

Katriona is the representative of her village, the Foggy Bottom. She’s 16, and lives with her Aunt who is the most powerful fairy in the village and also a sensible and clear headed woman. Katriona is convinced that she’s not a fairy, though. She walks for several weeks to the capital. During the celebration, she meets a strange man who gives her a very powerful amulet and when a wicked fairy Pernicia arrives uninvited and casts a deadly spell on the infant princess, Katriona alone has the strength to move and she does her best to protect the baby. However, it isn’t enough and the queen’s personal fairy charges Katriona with the care and protection of the little princess until the fairy, Sigil, can send word that it’s safe for the baby to return. Then Sigil teleports the baby and Katriona outside the city, and Katriona begins the long trek back home.

Katriona has the gift of speaking with animals and so she can ask the animals, both wild and domesticated, to help the baby during the journey. Otherwise, there would have been no milk for the baby. Finally, they reach Foggy Bottom and Katriona and Aunt start to wait. And wait.

Meanwhile, the whole country is an uproar: people are afraid of the curse and it’s said that the princess has been taken to safety while the royal army looks for Pernicia. Also, the king demands that there will be no more spindle ends with sharp points in the whole country. A whole industry develops around beautifully carved spindle ends.

While Katriona and Aunt wait for word from the royal fairy, the princess is named Rosie and she grows in the small village as one of the village girls. Rosie is able to talk with animals and makes friends with many of them.

This is a charming re-imagining of the fairy tale. Many of the elements of the story are there but told differently. For example, there are fairy godmothers who give gifts to the little princess but they don’t really work the way they are supposed to. For example, Rosie gets golden hair which twists into ringlets, and white, flawless skin, and blue eyes, but they don’t actually make her pretty. Pernicia’s curse says that she can kill the princess any time before her 21st birthday, not just on that day. Also, in many fairy tales the main character is a man, usually the youngest son. However, Spindle’s End is centered on women.

The main POV character for the first half of the book is Katriona who struggles with her duty to the princess which seems enormous to her, in her young age. Later, the main POV shifts to Rosie when she grows up. There are also brief passages with other POV characters.

The main theme of the book is love; love of family. The queen loves her absent child desperately and longs to see her again. Katriona and Aunt love their adopted little princess and do everything they can to protect her. Katriona is in love with the local wheelwright’s apprentice but they are too poor to marry. Fortunately, there’s not much angst about it. Later, other romantic loves enter the story and there is some angst over them and some misunderstandings as well which I didn’t really care for, but they don’t overwhelm the story and feel rather natural (except for the blighted misunderstanding). However, love of family is seen as the strong bond that can unite people against evil and not having it, like one unfortunate secondary character, can make you miserable and yearn for affection from other people.

Magic is another strong part of the book. Most people don’t have much magic of their own except for babies; some babies produce so much magic that they have to be sent away to fairies for a few years so that their strong magic can be handled without permanent damage. There a few funny stories about it. Magic is also described as willful and not wanting to be handled; not at all like science. Not surprisingly, there’s strong rivalry between village fairies, who are usually women, and the Academy trained magicians, who are usually men. Priests struggle in the middle. Also, the popular opinion is the the royal family should be free of magic and so the reigning monarch’s spouse is mostly chosen for her (or his) lack of magic.

This isn’t an action oriented story at all. It’s very much a growing up story first for Katriona and then for Rosie. Some things might seem a bit too convenient, especially the ending. Of course, that is the nature of fairy tales.

A novella set into the same world as “Dragon’s Tooth” but before it.

Publication year: 2010
Format: ebook, pdf
Page count: 29
Publisher: WMG Publishing, Smashwords edition

Tara Miller is the best magical troubleshooter the Abracadabra Inc. has. She has a strong work ethic and is overworked because of it. When the manager of Le Petit Chatêau calls her and tells her he might have an Assassin’s Dagger on his hands, Tara has no choice but to get on the first train, abandoning her first good night’s sleep in three weeks. The dangerous dagger had been left to the magic shop with a refund demand – for a purchase which had been apparently made 150 years ago.

The dagger could be real or a fake, and it if it’s real it could be one of three different daggers. Tara has to find out just what she’s dealing with without triggering the item’s lethal powers and that’s a challenge by itself. However, when she gets to town, she finds out that the store’s manager is strangely reluctant to help her and hasn’t been following Abracadabra’s guidelines. Abracadabra owns the store and wants it to be aboveboard and accessible even to people who don’t believe in magic.

Tara is the same, efficient and competent character as in the “Dragon’s Tooth”, and I really enjoyed seeing her in action. She’s careful with magical things she doesn’t know much about and even though she’s very good at her job, she doesn’t allow it to make her arrogant or overconfident.

The story has a very limited cast of characters: mostly just Tara and Chartier, the store’s manager. However, Tara has a large network of people whose expertize she can rely on when needed. This was a good way to show a glimpse of the magical world around the characters and it also fits her profession.

The world is our modern world but with working magic which seems to be hidden from the mundane folk. Unlike in many other fantasy stories set in the modern day, the magic and the technology aren’t struggling against each other, and Tara uses laptops and smartphones as easily as anyone else.

Another great, tightly plotted short story which has a dash of humor, too.

Carl from the Stainless Steel Droppings is hosting the annual Once Upon a Time challenge for reading all things fantasy, mythology, folklore, and fairy tales:

Wednesday, March 21st begins the sixth annual Once Upon a Time Challenge. This is a reading and viewing event that encompasses four broad categories: Fairy Tale, Folklore, Fantasy and Mythology, including the seemingly countless sub-genres and blending of genres that fall within this spectrum. The challenge continues through Tuesday, June 19th and allows for very minor (1 book only) participation as well as more immersion depending on your reading/viewing whims.

I’ll be taking part in Quest the First: Read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time categories. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology… or your five books might be a combination from the four genres.

And Quest on the Screen: Stories are not just limited to the printed page. Many entertaining, moving, profound or simply fun stories are told in the realm of television and film. To participate in this quest simply let us know about the films and/or television shows that you feel fit into the definitions of fantasy, fairy tales, folklore or mythology that you are enjoying during the challenge.

And Short Story Quest: This quest involves the reading of one or more short stories that fit within at least one of the four genres during the course of any weekend, or weekends, during the challenge. Ideally you would post about your short story readings on Sundays or Mondays, but this is not strictly necessary.

I was tempted to take on Quest the Second (Read at least one book from each of the four categories) but I’m unsure about differences between the categories. Would, for example, a Robin Hood book be folklore? I don’t think it’s mythology because the stories don’t (usually) have supernatural elements. I have a tendency to put all fiction books into fantasy when they have mythological or fairy tale aspects. Is steampunk fantasy? It’s usually lumped in with science fiction.

Read:
1, Robin McKinley: Spindle’s End
2, Jennifer Estep: Spider’s Bite
3, Carolyn Crane: Mind Games
4, Barbara Hambly: Dragonsbane
5, Kevin Hearne: Hounded
6, Liz Williams: The Iron Khan
7, Robin McKinley: Sunshine
8, Jack Vance: The Dying Earth
9, Elizabeth A. Lynn: Watchtower
10, Tanya Huff: Blood Price
11, Tanya Huff: Blood Trail
12, Neil Gaiman: Neverwhere
13, Carolyn Crane: Double Cross
14, Karin Lowachee: The Gaslight Dogs

Short story collections:
Fritz Leiber: Swords in the Mist
DB Jackson: A Spell of Vengeance

Watched:
Mirror, Mirror

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