January 16th, 2008

there!, Hello

Update, Return and Reading List

So, as readers of hntrpyanfar's livejournal are aware, we are returned from the funeral in Michigan.

All told, the trip was event free. The flight out left on time and arrived early (believe it or not), and the rental car pick up was hassle free. For both of these, I am eternally indebted to hntrpyanfar, who was my head and rock. The viewing and funeral were both actually pleasant affairs, full of fond remembrances of my grampa as he was (a funny, smart, and, all right, cheap guy). Of course, after all of this (starting on Monday), the knives would be coming out as his Last Will and Testament gets contested... We'll see what happens with that. Bad blood, there...

My folks are still big TV watchers, while Trista and I are not. Therefore, I have a few more books to add to the completed reading list:

2008 Books I've read list:
2) Now You Are One of Us by Asa Nonami. (2007, Vertical Publishing)
A translation of a Japanese horror novel released by Vertical (the folks who brought Koji Suzuki's Ring trilogy to America), this one is a non supernatural exploration of a veeeeery strange family, as seen from the perspective of the young woman who marries into it. At turns paranoid, eerie, and odd the book is a treat for fans of suspense or real world based horrors (with not a drop of blood spilled). I received this book to read for Horror Reader, and the review will be up soon.

3) D1: The Crown of the Kobold King by Nicholas Logue (2007, Paizo Publishing).
Yes, this is a Dungeons and Dragons (3.5 edition) module for 2nd Level characters, 32 pages long and full color throughout. The bulk of the module details a dungeon delve to rescue some missing children from the clutches of the titular beasty and his numerous minions (who are holed up inside an abandoned, desecrated dwarven temple). The adventure itself seems fun, if somewhat usual, with familiar encounters, a new, rather cool creature called the Forge Spawn (an angry spirit that recalls some of the beasties envisioned by Clive Barker in his Hellraiser phase). The main adversary, as might be guessed from the title is the kobold, often the most scrawny, ineffectual race of lizard/dragon-like humanoids in the Dungeons and Dragons universe (4 hit points, classically speaking, which makes them are the laughing stock of the monster world; even lowly goblins can have 7 hp). Here, we find them with a bit of meat on their bones (the new edition of DnD allows all monsters to be bolstered) and this makes an actually challenging and interesting opponent from this overlooked race. However, the real strength of the adventure has nothing to do with the adventure. The appendix features a What Happens to the Rescued Kids section, which details possibilities for each of the kids. Not all of them face happy futures. Realistic consequences of exposure to nastiness in DnD, you ask? Why yes. Even better than this, however, is the very bare bones evocation of the town these kids disappeared from, complete with no less than four Factions, a dozen locations, and several key personalities. No stat blocks, just personalities! I've been a fan of Paizo Publishing for years. Their run on Dungeon and Dragon magazines have been quite good, and the Gamemastery line of modules offers some good stuff (if a little pricey).

4) The Illustrated Salem's Lot by Stephen King (2005, Doubleday).
A nice hardcover edition of the novel that could be described as Dracula meets Peyton Place. I've recently taken up the desire to read King's novels from first to most recent, in order. At the end of last year, I read Carrie aloud to hntrpyanfar and found that I rather responded to it (in a way I had not fifteen years ago). Salem's Lot is a wicked piece of fiction, both a gripping and toothsome (ahem) vampire novel, as well as a cutting piece of social satire about small towns in particular and America in general. Published the year I was born, it still works, evoking the town of Jerusalem's Lot as a character all its own (in some ways more chilling than the vampires that come to destroy it). This edition includes an all new author's introduction and afterward (the latter of which offers some delightful insight into the necessary role of "trash fiction" in a readers' life), half a dozen beautiful and creepy photographs, a pair of short stories (the post novel story "One for the Road," and the historical piece/prequel "Jerusalem's Lot", both of which are also found in King's first collection, Night Shift), as well as a fifty page section called "Deleted Scenes," which incorporates material taken from the early drafts of the novel and provides some fascinating insight into the novel... I can see why some of this stuff was removed (for thematic, not quality reasons), but it still makes for interesting reading.

Currently reading: Dark Hollow by Brian Keene.