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This one’s late. It’s late and I’m not particularly happy with it. Largely that comes from this being non-fiction and that not really being my cup of tea reviews wise. I broke my own rule and remembered why I had it. This one’s from the nice folks at First Second, here’s Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World. Enjoy!

Brazen cover

While I mostly enjoyed it, I am probably not the target audience for Penelope Bagieu’s Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World. That’s not a complaint. Brazen is a cool jumping off point for looking more into the women mentioned in it but, given that it is split into twenty-seven sections, there’s not a lot of deep going into any given story. It’s also a bit of a mixed bag on the women included. Several I understood completely, a few I didn’t quite get.

In large part, Brazen feels like it could be a really good source for a middle school history class to pull from. There’s enough information to catch interest in the women featured and enough to get started. I would have liked to have seen a bibliography or an index at the end. I feel like having the sources included could have made this even better in regards to finding out more.

The writing is simple and straight forward which works well with the short sections. The art has a nifty sketchy quality while also having a fair degree of detail. The overall effect is quite functional and makes for an enjoyable read.

That’s ultimately a big chunk of what decided it for me. I enjoyed reading Brazen and I know that a younger me would have enjoyed it more. Not citing her sources somewhere in the book does lose some points for me. So, I’m giving Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World a four out of five.


House Keeping 3/13/18

So, Spring Forward happened. Luckily my phone auto reset the clock for it. Unluckily I’d already set my alarm for an hour earlier than I usually do because my old phone was always a week or so behind. It was a great morning.

I can’t complain too much though. Hopefully the weather will get to where it is regularly warm enough that I can put my sage and basil out without killing either of them.

On to book related things though! It turns out that I messed up a little last week with my scheduling. There was a book that I’d meant to post but then wires got crossed and I got tired and fun stuff all around. But it means there’s going to be two reviews this week. One on Wednesday as standard and the other on either Friday or Saturday, depending on how work goes.

I’ve also got another reminder about that Second Star Books giveaway. I’m super excited for it and want to pass that excitement on to you all. So, here’s the link again.

And in other news, I am once again trying to work up some extra content for around here. Who knows if it’ll pan out, certainly not me, but for whatever reason I’m feeling really excited to try something these past few days. I don’t know what it is, but I want to see how far I can take it.

Then, of course, the standard stuff. If you like what I’m doing here you can leave a like or a comment. If you really like what I’m doing here, you can also help support my caffeine addiction and buy me a coffee. That’s it for now. Enjoy!

I mentioned this back during the house keeping post this week, but I wanted to go a little more in on it and on Second Star Books itself. Reiterating things a little to start, just in case anyone missed it.

Second Star Books Header

Second Star Books is opening shop come April and I figure it would be pretty cool to tell you all a little more about them. Each box contains a hard cover book from a debut YA author, that’s the focus of the box. Then there will also be a second book that is themed similarly to the first and an 8 oz. candle crafted to go with both books. Each box will also contain other related goodies.

I’m really excited by the idea of being introduced to a new author each month, especially given my tendency to lock into a set of authors and not really try anyone new. More than that, I dig that Second Star Books is going to donate a book for every box sold to kids in need. They will be working with both established literary charities and underprivileged schools. That’s something I definitely plan on throwing in behind Second Star for.

Really cool, right? This is where I tell you about the giveaway part. The folks behind Second Star Books are also super excited about the monthly box starting up and they want to share that with bookish types all over. Running until the box goes live on the first of April they have a giveaway, one lucky human will win a lifetime subscription to Second Star Books. That’s right, not a month free or an x month subscription free, but a lifetime subscription. If that sounds as awesome to you all as it does to me, I’ve got the link for you here.

Good luck!

I’m late again. I dozed off after work and slept longer than I should have. But I’m fairly happy with how this turned out all the same. This book makes me think quite a bit of some of the old horror comics I grew up reading but more overtly funny. This one’s from netGalley, here’s Dead Jack and the Pandemonium Device. Enjoy!

Dead Jack and the Pandemonium Device cover

Dead Jack is the best zombie detective in ShadowShade, possibly all of Pandemonium. It doesn’t hurt that he’s the only one around. It also doesn’t hurt that he’ll do anything for fairy dust. No job is too big as long as the price is right, possibly right up to saving all of Pandemonium. That is, if he can survive leprechauns with a grudge, a mad bat-god, and his own ideas.

So, James Aquilone’s Dead Jack and the Pandemonium Device is kind of an odd critter of a book. I’m left feeling simultaneously like I have very little to say about it and just wanting to throw all the words possible at it. It’s a detective story with very little detective work. The protagonist is terrible but still likeable. The side characters don’t show up much but they work so well when they do. It’s pretty great.

Our protagonist, Dead Jack, is the embodiment of everything I tend to dislike about noir detective style protagonists. He’s a jerk, he can’t function without his addiction of choice, he stubbornly refuses to believe that his companions could accomplish anything without him around, he should be the worst. But it’s all played in this sort of humorous subversion of tropes way. He’s addicted to fairy dust, both for the high and as a means of suppressing his zombie hunger, and thinks about it pretty regularly. It is in fact the entire reason he takes the case, but it doesn’t become something he waxes on about for pages at a time. We’re given mentions of him wanting fairy dust or of noticing the effects of it on other characters, but it’s for the purpose of telling us about the scene or the world. Jack is terrible to his homunculus partner, Oswald, but Oswald gives as good as he gets and the story never tries to convince the reader that Jack is in the right when he’s being a jerk. That wins both the character and the writing a lot of points from me.

Tied into that, Jack seems to be the least competent character in the book. But we are seeing things from his ridiculous self-aggrandizing point of view in such a way that it’s funny rather than annoying. This is a character who actually thinks that he’s an amazing detective, but the story itself doesn’t agree so there’s a nice balance there.

There’s a lot of that actually. Dead Jack has a tragic back story somewhere along the lines, but he doesn’t seem to remember most of it. We get some bits of it that serve to rattle Jack and tease more, but nothing that takes pages at a time. The reader is sort of dropped into the middle of Pandemonium and expected to keep up. It’s a world very different from our own, but its Jack’s home so he doesn’t go much into the specific differences. That allows the reader to build their own conclusions on specifics while keeping the pace fairly quick.

Dead Jack and the Pandemonium Device is a very quick read but very tightly plotted for how short it is. There isn’t a ton of time taken to flesh out the world that isn’t also being used to move the story forward or introduce a near immediately important concept. It takes good advantage of slower scenes to set up ideas for later without grinding to a halt.

This was a really enjoyable read and I am definitely going to be looking for the next one when it comes out. Dead Jack and the Pandemonium Device gets a five out of five from me. If you enjoy off beat detective stories or just need a way to spend a couple days, it’s worth giving a shot.

House Keeping 3/6/18

You know, I just realized that the month and day multiply into the year today. It’s a bit of a random thought, but it amuses me greatly.

Anyway, I’m going to post more about this later in the week, but I wanted to let you all know about it now while it’s fresh in my mind. There’s a new monthly book box starting up soon, Second Star Books. To celebrate they’re doing a fantastic giveaway leading up to April first when they officially open their doors. One lucky human will receive a lifetime subscription to Second Star Books. That’s one book by a new author, a second book that matches the theme of the first, a candle chosen to go with, and some awesome swag related to the theme for the month. You can enter through this link.

Aside from that, I don’t have a lot to go into. Review will be up tomorrow. The book itself has me wondering a bit about what makes me enjoy one example of a character type versus another. I’ll want to dig into that at some point, but that’s a for later thing.

Standard stuff, if you enjoy what I’m doing here leave a like or a comment or, if you really like what I’m doing, you can feed my caffeine addiction and buy me a coffee. I’ll see you all tomorrow. Enjoy!

Thank you all for being patient with me this week. It’s been kind of a rough one, but I think I’ve got a hold on it again. This week’s book is from the folks at This is Myke Cole’s The Armored Saint. Enjoy!

The Armored Saint cover

The Writ teaches that wizardry is foul in the eyes of the Emperor, that it reaches to hell itself to give its user profane powers not meant for mortal man. The Writ teaches that a wizard must be stoned to prevent them tearing a portal open and allowing devils into the world once more. The Order is to be called if wizardry is suspected, to protect the people and knit the damage before it can be worsened. This, Heloise knows by heart. The Order demands obedience, subservience, a bended knee from the villagers who serve it more than it serves them. Heloise had never realized this until a brother of the Order abused her father’s tools and materials, wasting valuable paper just because he could. She had never had reason to question until the Order rounded up her village to help knit the neighboring town, a slaughter worse than any brigands could have visited. The Writ says that the Order is to be trusted and relied upon, they have proven that they cannot be.

Myke Cole’s The Armored Saint is a dark fantasy novella that, in a number of ways, I really wish had been expanded on more.  The world building is fairly solid, though I feel like it could have been worked in more. I largely enjoyed the characters and would have wanted to see more of them outside of the main story conflict.

So, let’s start with the world building. We get a fair amount about the religion of the setting and about the Order and how much of a threat they are, particularly to small out of the way villages like the one Heloise lives in. The Order as a threat and as corrupt is shown fantastically well right from the beginning. There’s enough on the day to day workings of the village and the expectations people live with under the Writ that the society feels functional if also very much like the fantasy novel version of things. Wizardry though, wizardry doesn’t get dug into much given that it is a dangerous forbidden thing and, at least theoretically, the entire reason the Order is hanging around. There are a number of reasons I’d have like to see more with it. It feels like wizardry should play a fairly large role in the rest of the trilogy and setting it up here would make sense. Wizardry also serves more as a thing that we are told more about than shown though, so I’m a little frustrated there. As a side note, more time could have been given to how Heloise’s actions affect other characters or other characters reactions to her going against the Order.

I have similar feelings with the characters. There’s this really well worked out little knot of people who get a fair amount of work and Heloise gets a good amount of development. But then we have the antagonist who exists to be antagonistic and does nothing to suggest he is anything but a flat villain. Since the antagonist is also our face character for the Order that means that the entire group is cast in a flat light of villainy. It wouldn’t be an easy fix, but having an eye towards what people outside of our little knot of characters thinks could have been great. The ranger could have been great for filling in more of the world and allowed the reader to see more of what people think regarding outsiders.

There is a really interesting thing in The Armored Saint, world building wise. While the Order is show as flatly antagonistic and more out to pursue their own wants than actually protecting the people the Writ itself is shown repeatedly as a source of comfort for a number of characters. It sort of keeps the whole thing from sliding into “religion is evil” territory by allowing the common folk to keep their faith in the face of an obviously corrupt and morally bankrupt church militia. It makes for an interesting sort of situational foil.

Related to a lot of this, I wasn’t a fan of the ending. It felt poorly supported and sort of out of nowhere. More page space as a generality would have been helpful leading up to it, particularly given that a lot of it could easily have been more lead into early on. This feels more than anything like a set up book with the ending tacked on because it needed one and the stakes needed to be higher for the next book. The set up itself is good, the world building generally works really well. I’m invested in finding out more about the setting and I want to see where this goes from here. But the end feels like it should have been done sometime during the next book and given time to percolate and build.

At the end of the day it does come down to the fact that I do really look forward to reading the second book. The Armored Saint was solid but ultimately affected by its nature as a novella instead of a full on novel. So, I feel like it earned a four out of five.

Review Postponement

Hey all, like the title says, this week’s review is going to be late. It already is, but still, more so. I’d had a massive headache yesterday and wound up going to bed more or less immediately after work and then today my head is full of cotton.

I have a lot to talk about with this book and don’t want to do a half effort review just to get it out on time, so I’m going to see if I can work some stuff out tomorrow and then I’ll post it some time Saturday.  That should let me work out what I want to say without just rambling about a topic and a half for the entire run of the review.

Sorry about the delay.

House Keeping 2/27/18

I am, once again, back to a place where I can try and get a little a head of things. I’m starting to figure I sabotage myself when I hit points like this, but it’s always worth a shot. Flying by the seat of my pants isn’t any fun when I’m trying to write well.

General stuff, I think I’m going to postpone the “unlikable characters” article until I’ve finished one of the books I’m reading now. That’s going to take some time, but that was going to be the case anyway. I’m still wanting to write the articles, but keep cycling around with what I’m saying. It is a little frustrating, but work eats most of my time.

The sci-fi/fantasy HumbleBundle bundle ends tomorrow. So, if you want to try out a ton of new books and support a really cool charity, Worldbuilders, the link is here and last call is coming up.

I feel like I say the same basic things here each week, give or take an apology for being late. It’s got to get boring, but I’m not entirely sure of what else I want to and can do reliably on a weekly basis. Things to think on.

And that leaves us here, if you like what I’m doing leave a like or comment. Or, you can feed my caffeine addiction and buy me a Ko-Fi.

I’m cutting it close on this one too, but I’ve been really excited to do my review of this issue. It might be my favorite yet. So, without further ado, here’s Ghostbusters: Answer the Call: What Dreams May Come issue 3. Enjoy!

Issue 3 What Dreams May Come cover

Knowing they would lose, the Ghostbusters fought the Schrechgespenst. They measured everything they had against him to try and save their city and the world. They fell short, were trapped in their own worst nightmares. When he’d had enough of their fear, he let them go. They weren’t even enough of a threat to keep trapped.

Three comics in and we’ve hit the point where our heroines start building back to fight the monster. It starts at as close to rock bottom as we’ve seen the team. They lost so completely that the bad guy just turned them loose and they’re still shaken from their personal nightmares. It’s expected at this point in the arc, but there’s a brilliance to the fact that it’s Erin trying to rally the other Ghostbusters. Erin, who’s terrified of being not enough, of being judged and found wanting, of so many things, is the one trying to get the rest of the team back into the fight. Likewise it works fantastically that Holtzmann, the one who couldn’t be kept down by putting a guy in a coma or her only prototype being run over by a train, is the most flattened by this.

I’m really enjoying the character work here. It feels like a good continuation of the characters from the movie without leaving them stagnant feeling.  They also don’t just get broken down to the nervous one, the mad scientist, the everywoman, and the true believer, which I appreciate greatly. Even Kevin is entertaining here.

Things of course are quickly worked out because it is way too soon to give up and the team gets back to it. Holtzmann has a gadget to work on. Abby, Patty, and Erin go back to researching Dr. Kreuger. It makes for really good set up as the What Dreams May Come arc heads into its second half. And it does that without ditching the humor that the last two comics have had.

The art has, of course stayed fantastic. Valentina Pinto’s work on the colors is especially good. Her work boosts the feel of both the action scenes and the creepy bits. Even if I wasn’t as into the story as I am, it would be worth the cover cost for the art.

So, yeah, volume three maintains the good bits of the arc so far while also promising more to come. I’m excited and super ready for the next issue. Ghostbusters: Answer the Call: What Dreams May Come issue three earns a five out of five. If you haven’t read it yet, this one’s worth tracking down.

I am cutting it so, so close here. As it turns out I might not be as over being sick as I’d thought and I’ve been more than kind of exhausted all day. It’s all good though. I really want to talk about spoiler-y bits for this one, but this isn’t the place for it. So, here’s Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Twisted Ones. Enjoy!

FNaF The Twisted Ones cover

It’s been a year since they went back to Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria. It’s been a year since a serial killer in a rabbit suit nearly killed them all. Time has passed and Charlie’s friends have moved on with their lives. Her friends have, but recently a body has been found with disturbingly familiar injuries. Sometimes the past doesn’t want to stay buried. The restaurant has been closed for years but evil is open for business.

Starting out a year after The Silver Eyes, Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Twisted Ones gives us a lot of possibilities but has a tendency towards not following through on them. There’s some really cool set up for character study with Charlie taking robotics courses and working towards building what seems like a learning artificial intelligence. There were threads that could have easily taken that to showing our heroine as a mirror to both her father and also William Afton, the villain.  Or more could have been done with the connection she felt with her long lost, most likely long dead, twin Sammy. The murder plot could have done with more focus as long as the authors focused in on one thread for any length of time.

The Twisted Ones did a number of things that I had wanted from the first book. It maintains the cheesy horror movie feel of the first book while also feeling much less anchored to the games, both good things. The cast not knowing just what is causing these new animatronics to hunt people and needing to figure that out was a cool concept.  The cast is a lot smaller, so everyone gets more screen time. It’s a lot of possibilities that were improvements but could have been more.

More page time doesn’t necessarily mean more development. That might have actually taken a slide. We still focus mostly on Charlie and what’s going on with her now that she’s been back to Freddy’s and remembered her twin. She’s into robotics, which worries her friend and roommate Jessica, because she doesn’t want Charlie to fall down the same rabbit hole her father or Afton did. She might be into returning love interest John, but there’s also a missing twin and killer robots, so maybe not. John is definitely into her, but also there’s killer robots and she might be more interested in what’s going on with them than dating. Or class. Or really anything else at the moment. What I’m saying is that Charlie wound up a bit flat and, as a consequence, so did a lot of The Twisted Ones’ run time. I did appreciate the other characters’ reactions to Charlie’s actions throughout, those rang a lot more true.

The thing is, I didn’t dislike The Twisted Ones. It wasn’t the best book I’ve read recently and it was really easy to get tired of due to feeling really padded and monotonous. But the cheese was so real, it was like a B-movie when it’s all over. I’m left more interested in the third book in the series due to having ideas about how Scott Cawthon and Kira Breed-Wrisley are going to make it work. Plus, it had a really excellent final line.

So, all told, this isn’t a good book, but it was also entertaining enough that I’m interested in the next one. The characters are a little flat, particularly our heroine, but I’m invested enough to want to see what happens to them. So I’m giving Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Twisted Ones a three out of five.