Playing with Fire: the Weird Tales of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

by Arthur Conan Doyle

It turns out the creator of Sherlock Holmes was kind of obsessed with the supernatural. But it doesn’t really work—at least not in these stories.

They don’t read like fantasy so much as a collection of “accounts” meant to persuade the reader that the supernatural is real. But Doyle’s supernatural elements are too vague and unrealistic while also being underwhelming.

I’m a big fan of Sherlock Holmes, but I guess I think Doyle should have stuck to detective stories.

The Golden Enclaves

by Naomi Novik

El is basically goth Harry Potter, and in the third Scholomance book she has to solve the mystery of her boyfriend, the Scholomance itself, and the wizards’ enclaves in the void. Meanwhile, someone is destroying enclaves …

I still love these books. I don’t know if there will be a fourth one, but if there is I’ll read it!

We Go Where They Go: The Story of Anti-Racist Action

by Kristin Schwartz, Lady, Michael Staudenmaier & Shannon Clay

In the late 1980s a Minneapolis skinhead crew, the Baldies, decided to kick neo-nazi skinheads—boneheads—out of the Uptown punk scene.

Soon after, the Baldies started Anti-Racist Action, which grew into a loose organization of hundreds of chapters and thousands of nationwide activists who fought nazis, the KKK, anti-abortion extremists, and racist cops—in the streets or wherever they went.

We Go Where They Go is an insider history of ARA, from the Baldies through September 11th, after which the ARA all but faded from existence. Plus lessons to be learned by today’s anti-fascist activists, should it get organized into a movement.

It’s also a compelling read. I plowed through it in just a few sittings.

(Pro tip: get your copy directly from PM Press and you’ll also get a handful of cool stickers, pins, and magnets.)

While you are waiting for your copy of We Go Where They Go, this is a great documentary about the Baldies, from the Twin Cities PBS station, TPT:

The Alleluia Files

by Sharon Shinn

When religion encounters technology, people die. As you’d expect when humans are involved.

Shinn pretty much wrapped up the mystery of Samaria in the previous two books, so in this book the focus is almost entirely on how the two couples at the center of the story meet, fall in love, and save the planet. A lot like the previous book, actually, minus the mystery. It’s pretty predictable, except for the “plot twists” that are just a bit too convenient to be believable.

This wasn’t the best book in the series. If you want to keep going, it looks like the next books start jumping around in the timeline, which could present some interesting opportunities. Or just serve as excuses for more romance. If you read them, let me know.

The Empress of Time

by Kylie Lee Baker

The Japanese goddess of death suffers from a crippling inferiority complex. And the British goddess of death is coming to kill her and take her crown.

I didn’t like Ren as much in this book. She’s one of those protagonists who keeps making the same obvious mistakes over and over again, ostensibly because she has issues but definitely also because the story needs to end with her personal transformation. It’s frustrating to read. But hey, real people are sometimes like that, and it’s just as frustrating to be around them.

I still liked it.