Thank you to everyone who contributed! If you would like to be included in the May round up, please post in the What Are We Reading forum topic or send me a message through the forum.


Tulip: The Country Club Murders series by Julie Mulhern.  This is a cozy mystery set in 1970s Kansas City, MO. There are 14 books and I am really enjoying them.  The period details are great and really highlight why feminism was and is necessary.

Westernsloper: ATM I am reading Mojos pirate book. What I have listened to over the past six or seven months: Primal Blue Print, Keto Continuum, The Carnivore Code, Lies My Doctor Told Me, Super Gut, Keto for Life and the latest audio book was Carnivore Cure. (Mark Sisson’s books are full of good info but holy fuck I want to face punch the asshat who reads them)

Animal: Aside from just having finished this month’s issue of Fur Fish & Game, I’m working my way through The Oxford Book of Military Anecdotes, at the recommendation of our own Swiss Servator.  Also re-reading some sections of Wild and Woolly: An Encyclopedia of the Old West, by Dennis McLoughlin.

Trshmnster the Terrible: The Rooted Life by Justin Rhodes. He and his family are permaculture based homesteaders in Asheville, NC. I’m only partway though so far, but it’s a condensed version of the principles and tactics he teaches on his YouTube channel. I like how he evangelizes for his lifestyle in equal measures with explaining how to do it. He explains the why alongside the how. The book itself is beautiful. Lots of well shot photos from his homestead interspersed throughout. If I could be half as successful at homesteading and half as contented as he is, I’d consider my life goals fulfilled.

Hayeksplosives: The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome, by Susan Baker Wise (2007)

I’ve read lots of near eastern and European history, so the fact that this book also touches on Persia, India, and China was part of its appeal. She has a Medieval one and a Renaissance one, so I will be reading those too.

Praise from the United States Naval Academy: “This succinctly formatted yet very informative and easily digested historical reference covers the rise and fall of all major ancient civilizations in Europe, Egypt. the Middle East, India and China with just the right amount of detail for those of us who are not pursuing PhDs in ancient history. It is basically two college classes in one easy-to-read book.”

Pisstoffnick: Still chugging through Cache Lake Country: Or, Life in the North Woods by John J. Rowlands. Started listening to Michael Malice read his book The New Right.  I don’t particularly like his voice, and he tries doing an Ayn Rand voice whenever he reads a quote from her (it’s a bad impersonation and annoying).  Content wise it is interesting with the typical Malice puns and wit (that I do enjoy).

Fourscore: Friends Divided  John Adams and Thomas Jefferson by Gordon Wood. After starting out as Revolutionary friends a party rift divided these two until their friendship was re-ignited as the years went by.

I’ve just started but should be a good read of the differences these two great men had, both politically and personally.

DEG: I finished The Two in Hiding by Ru Emerson – Book two in a series.  It’s OK.  The protagonists seem to be having too easy of a time.

I’m currently reading One Land, One Duke by Ru Emerson – Book three in the series. And,  The Savage Coast – An AD&D supplement which I forgot I had.  Around the time Wizards of the Coast bought TSR, there was a decision (passive voice because I can’t remember if it was before or after the acquisition) to move the Mystara setting from D&D into 2nd Edition AD&D.  Sometime after the acquisition Wizards of the Coast decided to revamp the D&D/AD&D product line, and terminate D&D and all Mystara supplements.  This supplement was in the works.  Wizards of the Coast released a bunch of supplements about the Savage Coast (introduced in module X9, “The Savage Coast” in the 80s) for 2nd Edition AD&D in PDF form.  I downloaded the PDFs, then printed them all out.  I put the printouts in a box before I moved to New England, and forgot about them.  I found the printouts and started reading them.  Either I’m missing a supplement, or in the haste to release this supplement it wasn’t properly proofread.  It seems things are being introduced and mentioned out of order.

UnCivilServant: This month, I was in dire need of new content. Being a chronic contrarian, any recommendation from an outside source would make me less willing to try a piece of media. The more it is pushed or talked about, the stronger my resistance to engaging with it. I also had no interest of picking through the woke minefield that western media has become. So, I decided to pick up a stack of material I had never heard of from a fairly reliably non-woke source – Manga. My criteria for selection was that I pick up Issue #1 of a title I hadn’t heard before but whose blurb sounded interesting, even if odd. Actually, I seem to have gravitated towards titles that were more on the odd side.

I was debating writing up a whole article where I rambled on about the storytelling, but realized I don’t have the time. So, in no particular order, April’s titles are:

A Gentle Noble’s Vacation Recommendation : 0/5

There is apparently a whole subgenre of ‘person dropped randomly into another world with no idea how they got there’. Usually their goal is to get home, but the title nobleman of this work doesn’t care, deciding to treat it as a vacation until anyone who cares back home finds a way to recall him. He doesn’t spend a whole lot of time even thinking it over, promptly becoming a licensed adventurer on a whim. The ‘adventurer’s guild’ handing out RPG-like quests appears to be another subgenre as we’ll run into it in another title. Anyway, there are less than three pages of adventuring across the whole first volume, so instead we’re stuck with the main characters… who annoy the crap out of me. The title character’s emotional range is stuck on ‘fake happy’ while his hired associate is the overused ‘overskilled loner’ archetype. Neither one demonstrated a character flaw – or even a character trait beyond being too perfect. The whole volume felt like it was drifting towards a romance plot between the main characters. While the androgynous art style means Gil might actually have been short for Gillian without needing to change the character design, I don’t care enough about the characters to check out the second book. Besides, I was looking for fantasy adventuring. I only got three pages of that, and it was too easily handled by the main characters.

I do not recommend.

The Yakuza’s Guide to Babysitting : 5/5

The most grounded in reality of the volumes, this one appears to be set in current-day Japan, with no indications it’s got any fantastical or supernatural elements. The main character is a Yakuza enforcer with a tendency to go overboard, and hurt people, even when it’s not necessary. We are introduced to him covered in blood splatter from a guy he visited to collect a debt from – whom they were specifically supposed to just talk to. This has Yakuza Boss unhappy with the main character, who gives him one opportunity to avoid being killed for his past fuckups. That is to watch Boss’ daughter, but her needs first, and take responsibility for his actions. This is very much outside his wheelhouse, but not wanting to die, he accepts the obligation. The daughter is very young grade school-age and very shy, saying little most of the time. She is presented very believably for that age range, for example, unable to understand what a coma is, and that her mother has been in one for the past few years. This coma is why the Boss needs someone to babysit the daughter.

Most of these ‘tough guy suddenly in a parental role’ stories don’t resonate with me because they rely on the fish out of water element for the comedy. Here, the fish out of water elements provide the heartwarming, while the banter between Yakuza types provide the humor. This formulation worked a lot better for me, and I heartily recommend this one to any member of the Glibertariat.

Level 1 Demon Lord and One Room Hero : 3/5

The first page of the work has a defeated demon lord swearing his revenge upon the leader of the party that just beat him. Page two has him proclaiming his rebirth… while appearing no bigger than a child. Evidently, cutting down the post-defeat dormancy period to a mere ten years stunted his growth and limited how much power he got back. But a longer dormancy would risk not being able to do anything to the hero that defeated him. Well, he finds that it hasn’t been fame and fortune for said hero, Max. Poor Max lives in a one-room efficiency apartment in the fantasy kingdom that amounts to ‘modern japan plus magic’. They have computers, smart phones, and ‘mana plants’, the last of which do not appear on the page in this volume. The once idealistic Max has been beaten down by scandal and circumstance until he is just going through the motions of life. Quite unhappy at how far his nemesis has fallen, and how little revenge is even possible, the pint-sized demon lord takes it on himself to build up Max back into a worthy opponent, even if Max doesn’t want to.

The humor is definitely more crude than other titles I’ve looked at this month, with far more adult elements. We also get a decent amount of character development woven in between the comedy bits. We also find out that consorting with demons is treason in this kingdom, probably because they’re only ten years out from having driven off

the demon lord’s hordes. Still, it’s readable, depending on tastes in comedy. Its not my kind of humor, which is why I’m not endorsing it.

Hello World : ?/5

Spoilers ahead.

Though Hello World turned out to be the complete story, this one kinda confused me. The blurb sells it as a time-travel story where the main character’s future self from 2037 comes back to 2027 to help his younger self save the girlfriend he hasn’t made yet from being killed by a lightening strike (and ensuring that they get together). Then we find out it’s a quantum simulation of 2027 Kyoto, and the future self has hooked into the computer. The whole scheme triggers the simulation’s autorepair algorithms, which hound the characters for the rest of the book. Then we find out future girlfriend’s body is still alive, she was instead rendered brain dead by the lightning strike and future self wants to copy the mental pattern out of the simulation to rebuild her brain. Only reading at that detail destroys the simulation copy because quantum. This sets off a cascade failure that collapses the original simulation, triggering a reboot.

Why there would be a massively expensive project to simulate 2027 Kyoto with self-aware occupants who are then not allowed to take actions other than those historically performed – never addressed.

Well, future girlfriend wakes up, and future self rejoices, though she doesn’t seem to regard him as the same as past self. Plot twist – autorepair algorithms start climbing through the windows of the hospital room. The future was just another layer of simulation. Past self arrives, having steered his way through the collapse of the simulation within a simulation to this new layer, and has a plan to get himself and the girlfriend into the rebooted subsimulation. But they have to avoid the autorepair algorithms and reach a particular spot. There, future self concludes that he is the error the algorithms need to repair, and tries to hold them off while past self and girlfriend run off to the rebooted sub-simulation. Future self gets impaled pretty badly before finally talking past self into leaving him. Past self and girlfriend enter rebooted subsimulation, girlfriend reverting to her younger form to match the time frame. Future self dies.

Last plot twist, Future self wakes up to a group cheer of ‘we did it’ from a team that includes future girlfriend (now wearing glasses) on a moon base (no explanation given) as apparently he was in a coma/braindead/whatever.

Quite frankly, from a storytelling perspective, Hello World is kinda a mess. Some elements are interesting, while others make no goddamn sense. Also, the supposedly happy ending for past self and past girlfriend of escaping into the rebooted simulation is immediately undermined by future self’s happy ending – where the luna base team is liable to shut down the simulation having successfully rebuilt his mind. The number of items that really needed to be explained but were simply glossed over is too high. While the action and pacing were good enough that I was able to finish the story, I think I would have preferred the time travel plot I was sold in the blurb.

The Strange Adventure of a Broke Mercenary : 1/5

Another book in the ‘adventurer’s guild hands out RPG-like quests’ subgenre of fantasy adventure, this one follows a mercenary whose company was wiped out in a catastrophic defeat (though some others may have survived, none are confirmed). So he has to find work with only his combat skillset. He gets an adventurer’s permit and while looking over solo quests gets recruited by a party of inexperienced adventurers on their way to fight goblins. We get some short backstory from the other members, but more from the title character. Fair enough. We learn that the party lead is inexperienced to the point of recklessness and the mercenary has the superpower of being the only person with common sense. Brash overconfidence leads them into a goblin trap, the party gets swarmed, mercenary picks up now-paralyzed cleric and flees deeper into the lair to escape the ambushers. Thus, abandoning the overwhelmed party, presumably to their deaths. We get another backstory dump from cleric girl, before they find the entrance into a ruin from the ancient empire, stumble onto another adventuring party and agree to team up until they find a way out. The other party got lost because infighting led them to fall down a pit from a higher level.

I breezed through the synopsis because this one annoyed me. Not in a constant way like the Vacationing Nobleman, but by discarding the first party so off-handedly. Cluelessly inexperienced party leader was somewhat endearing, and a nice contrast to the grounded mercenary. I was looking forward to his arc of overcoming his recklessness (or harnessing it) and other growth as a character. Apparently, instead he was just a filler so that Mercenary and cleric girl could team up. I don’t give a Skaven’s tail about Mercenary and cleric girl, and the half-party wipe tells me not to get invested in these new characters either.

I do not recommend.

Bonus –

The Greatest Demon Lord is Reborn as a Typical Nobody : -5/5

This one turned out to be prose, and godawful prose at that. It was painfully bad to try to read, lacking necessary scene setting, character establishment, worldbuilding, description, organic exposition, or clarity. I have seen better writing shat out by fanfiction sites. I could not force myself to finish this volume.