Archive for April, 2018


Ah, this is finally going up. I feel like I’ve been sitting on this for years and it’s a little ridiculous. I’m going to see if I can get the Crossing Over issue one review posted today or tomorrow as well. We’ll see how that goes, either way, enjoy!

Issue 4 What Dreams May Come cover

So, we’re into the fourth issue of What Dreams May Come and it’s leading into how exactly the Ghostbusters are going to stop whatever Schrecky’s up to. They need a big shared memory, something kind of traumatizing, and a little bit buried. So it can’t be Rowan’s apocalypse, that’s too new. Something shared and buried though, Erin and Abby might have that, Abby and Holtz might, but not all four of them. Right?

This is the first one that I have something of an issue with. The shared memory that the issue centers around is entertaining but it is kind of too easy feeling.  It feels too convenient, which sort of make sense this is the second to last issue in the arc so they do need to tie things up. But it seems to contradict Erin and Abby having grown up in Michigan. Plus, I find myself way more interested in Holtzmann’s nightmare/breakfast machine and just how inserting memories into Abby’s head made her love soup so much. I do hope we see more of that in the future.

I like the idea that the buried connection that the memory makes could allow the Ghostbusters to find each other in Kreuger’s nightmare space and avoid him enough to fight back. That said, I wish there was time left for the buried connections to be separated between the characters rather than one big inciting incident. Without that I find myself wondering just what kind of memory Holtzmann would have used and how implanting a memory would even work.

That said, I’m still excited to see how this ends, the final confrontation with Dr. Kreuger is bound to be awesome and I’m all for it. The art remains awesome, the designs for the younger versions of the Ghostbusters were solid and I continue to be super impressed by how expressive the art is.

It feels like I got really repetitive on this one, and I know I was a little hard on the thing I wasn’t a fan of. I know that’s in large part because I want to see this keep going and I’m kind of worry nitpicking and being picky about background stuff.  That said, I did still have a ton of fun reading this one, so I’m giving Ghostbusters: Answer the Call: What Dreams May Come issue 4 a four out of five.

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I’m going to get back to schedule at some point. It might be the point where I’ve caught up with my to read list, but someday it’s going to happen. This one was a wish granted by netGalley. Here’s Jeff Noon’s The Body Library. Enjoy!

The Body Library cover

In a city where everything is stories and stories are everything, what happens when the plot shifts a little? When an infection of ideas has the potential to overturn the balance of fictional how strange can a murder case be? How strange can anything be when words flow just under the skin? It a city where stories are everything and everything is stories, what do a dead man’s whispers mean? Once upon a time a man called Nyquist followed a job right into trouble.

The Body Library is, in more ways than anything else, a story about stories. Yes, it’s still a detective story and there is still a case to be solved, but neither of those feel like the core of the book. I’m not sure that Jeff Noon meant for the mystery bits  to be as overshadowed by the story about a story bits, I haven’t read the previous Nyquist novel so this may just be part of his writing style. The nature of the book also makes it somewhat hard to dig into without spoiling it, so this one might be a little thin on details.

A big part of the story here is focused in on Melville 5, an abandoned apartment building and home to all manner of strange folk. More importantly, it’s something of a flux zone where the strangeness of Storyville is eclipsed by something more, by pages with shifting words and trees with ink flowing through their leaves. This is fascinating to me, this sort of space where reality is kind of separated from itself, just slightly tilted.

There’s a lot of slightly tilted reality to go around here. Storyville itself is a town built on tales where each person’s individual story is quite important and monitored to ensure that it doesn’t interfere with anyone else’s story. There’s a great feel to it when Nyquist is going through the city chasing a lead, just being shown the various areas of this sprawling city of words. Different parts of the city are known for different kinds of stories which feels interesting and I would like to see more of it. The city is probably my favorite part of The Body Library.

The flipside to my enjoyment of the city is the characters. There’s a flatness to the characters, I’m not sure if it’s something of the writing style or if it’s something of Nyquist as a focus character but it felt off.  Tied up in all the story elements of the book, the characters can feel less like characters and more like character sketches. Things don’t ring right emotionally. This is especially noticeably when it comes to Zelda. Nyquist has this whole thing towards her, this significance for her that doesn’t really get built up in any satisfying way but that is a driving force throughout the run of the book. The thing is, of course, that it’s a driving force I have a hard time buying into and so it feels forced.

There were some definite issues with the flow of the story. It’s worse towards the end than early on, but I think that sort of ties into the characters issue. Things feel like they could have been set up more solidly. Ideas crop up here and there, but the frame work can feel like it’s missing in places. The connections aren’t there.

Ultimately, I think I like the background elements and workings of The Body Library more than I like the actual story. There is a lot there that’s already solid, that would have been really well done, if it had been better set up. Would I read Jeff Noon again? Probably. While I had issues with some parts of the book I quite enjoyed others and would like to see what the background work in his previous Nyquist book is like. Because of that, I’m giving the body library a three out of five with the note that it only loses out on a four because of the flow issues towards the end.

House Keeping 4/24/18

So, the week of being sick did not afford me as much time to get things done as I’d hoped for. Not terribly surprising all things considered. But still, all will be well. I’ve sort of got my voice back, so I’m headed back to retail world. Here’s hoping I don’t worry anyone.

I’ve got a review planned for tomorrow, it needs writing but I’ve finished reading the book itself. It might be a twisty thing of a review, since the book itself is something of a twisty thing. I’m looking forward to digging into my thoughts on it.

Also, my Unicorn Crate arrived yesterday, so I’ll have something on that going up later in the week. It’s pretty nice, I’d definitely buy another one sometime.

General things, comic reviews are still incoming. They kind of got pushed to the side again. I’m going to have to just sit down and get them done sometime soon, since the last What Dreams May Come issue is coming in soon. Kind of sad for that, though I am hoping that the team working on the Ghostbusters: Answer the Call comic is kept on for a full on going comic of the Answer the Call team. That would be pretty awesome.

Then, of course, standard stuff. If you like what I’m doing here feel free to leave a like or comment. And if you really like what I’m doing here you can feed my caffeine addiction by buying me a ko-fi. Someday I’ll even manage to spell caffeine right the first time.

Later than I’d planned for, but this is one that I’ve been looking forward to finishing. It’s been a book that I’d been meaning to read since before its release but didn’t get the chance to really dig into until this week. Here’s Edgar Cantero’s Meddling Kids. Enjoy!

Meddling Kids cover

Back in 1977 the kids of the Blyton Summer Detective Club had their last big case, some guy in a mask was hunting around in a supposed haunted house and the Blyton Summer Detective Club decided to stop him. They succeeded, really, they did. But maybe they saw a little more than they were meant to. A lot more than they were meant to. They solved the case, but what they saw broke them a little and they went their separate ways. The tomboy, wanted in two states. The brain, turned biologist, turned alcoholic. The golden boy, a star on film and in person, burned out before his time. The horror geek who turned himself over to an asylum, the only one who still talks to the golden boy even if he wishes he didn’t.  But the case wasn’t finished, not by a long shot. And that’s going to drag them back to the town where summer lived. The Blyton Hills, where their last big case was never fully solved, where everything went wrong, where just maybe they can put it back together again and put the past to rest. Put the past to rest and maybe save the world while they’re at it.

Edgar Cantero’s Meddling Kids is a deeply interesting beast of a book combining a number of takes on its own prose and some distinctly strange ideas that I want to see more of. This is, from title to composition to set up a fond reflection of those other meddling kids and their Great Dane. It isn’t a one to one thing, certainly, but the familiarity from that reflection allows for a certain degree of comfort with the less Saturday morning cartoon aspects. Lovecraftian strangeness and all that.

That’s actually a really good starting point here, Meddling Kids is sort of Lovecraft by way of Scooby Doo. It’s a lot softer than most of the Lovecraft based stuff I’ve read, more comedy than pure horror. But it plays with the wrongnesses worked into the fabric of reality that make up the horror of a lot of that sort of style of horror deals with. The writing will sort of break from standard prose into stage directions and lines and then snap back, characters interact with the narrative in non-standard ways. Kerrie, the resident brain, has hair that’s almost a character of its own. It reacts to things and has feelings, and somehow that’s done frankly enough in the writing to work. Similarly Tim, the Weimaraner, is given a ton of human reactions and is textually treated as being as self aware as the rest of the cast. Even buildings get in on the act. This all makes for some really nifty double take moments. It can also be a bit distracting when you first start reading, so there is that.

As far as the story goes, it feels very much like a comedy horror detective story. It is, in fact, shaped like itself. That isn’t a bad thing by any stretch, but I do feel like it shines the most when the characters have reached Blyton Hills and are poking at the things they hadn’t had the chance or awareness to investigate in the past. The points where things they’d talked about or experienced as kids come back up in the story, how safe a room had always felt or wanting to ride a mine cart, are really strong points for the characters and they feel good. This reads best when the focus is squarely on the characters, when it’s a bunch of former teen detectives trying to go back to what was and get down to the bottom of what is. It stays there too. The reader gets to see Andy being grumpy and aggressive and trying to keep the team going. We get Nate trying to keep it together as things get weirder and weirder and the dead guy won’t stop talking to him. I do wish we has seen more of the dead guy, I feel like Peter could have been a bigger presence throughout.

The setting is also great. Like I mentioned before, buildings become almost characters, reacting to the characters approach, muttering, and the like. The town of Blyton Hills is a town dying a slow death, but not ready to let go. There’s still people and drama and the issue with that old mansion. The choice to have the book take place in 1990 also works well with a lot of standard horror tropes. The technology we rely so readily upon just isn’t there, so they’re cut off in a lot of ways. There is no just grabbing a cell phone to call for back up, because they weren’t nearly as common. Likewise, the research needed has to be done by hand because the internet wasn’t as big or readily accessible. It also sort of slots the story into this sort of timeless place that doesn’t feel quite real, technology is seldom specifically brought up so the reader can sort of let things slide as they will. Blyton Hills itself has that sort of not real feeling so many fading towns get, it meshes well with the cast being comparatively small, but we’re also treated to the protagonists noting how empty the place feels. It makes for a pretty fantastic level of low key creepiness.

Meddling Kids is definitely a book that I hope gets a follow up. The handful of things I wasn’t a fan of pale in comparison to the things that work. This gets a five out of five from me. And I’m probably going to go looking for more of Edgar Cantero’s work.

House Keeping 4/17/18

Guess who’s full on sick? It’s me. I have to have picked up something over the weekend. Good news is it seems to be on its way out. Bad news is it hasn’t quite finished packing yet. Either way.

That said, my review is likely to be late again. It shouldn’t be too late, probably just until Thursday.

Semi standard stuff, my Unicorn Crate is out for shipment, so that should be arriving soon. I’m pretty excited to see what they do with their boxes. I’ll likely do something with that when it arrives.

Comic reviews are still incoming, I am still desperately behind on those but might work on them some tomorrow while I’m resting. It’s going to be a long quiet day, hopefully I’ll get a number of things done.

And, of course, if you like what I’m doing here feel free to leave a comment or a like. If you really like what I’m doing here, you can always enable my caffeine addiction and buy me a ko-fi. It’s essentially a three dollar donation to the “Lauren would really rather not be quite this worried about being sick” fund. Either way, more content incoming soon. Enjoy!

Up Date

Hey all, I’ve been a bit sick the last couple of days, so I haven’t gotten around to posting this like I’d meant to.

Second Star Books has their website up and running and May’s box is available to subscribe to now. You can find it here.

Since this is their first month in business quantities are limited. Enjoy!

Wayfarer: AV494

I am really excited to bring this one to you all, mostly because I was excited to read it. Something about checking out new sci-fi does that for me, I think it might be down to how well done the first chapter was on this one. This one’s thanks to the nice folks at Curiosity Quill Press for providing a review copy. Here’s Matthew S. Cox’s Wayfarer: AV494. Enjoy!

Wayfarer AV494 cover

An expedition to planet AV-494 could make Kerys Loring’s career, especially after her bosses took all the credit on the last one. She’s desperate enough to be cheap and experienced enough to know what she’s looking for. She’s everything Avasar Biotechnology is looking for. It’s clear they were right to hire her when she quickly makes a fantastic discovery, one that could change everything. A discovery that does change everything, seemingly unleashing a curse upon the station and driving everyone in it to violence. Kerys will have to find the truth if she wants to survive, though even then it might not be enough.

Wayfarer: AV494 is a solid piece of sci-fi with awesome character work. Matthew S. Cox did a really good job with his setting and, more than just that, with making the station feel both familiar and new. Wayfarer: AV494 is also very much a zombie story and hits a lot of notes familiar to that brand of horror.

That’s actually where my only minor qualms with the book come from. The characters surrounding Kerys are legitimately enjoyable, so seeing them succumb to the hate plague infecting the station is jarring and wrong and it works so fantastically. But then there’s the point where background characters start dropping like flies and these well built, likeable characters are part of that. It got to a point where I kind of stopped caring for a bit because it seemed so completely hopeless. There were a couple of spots of hope along the way and I know that sort of hopelessness is kind of a hallmark of this particular sub-genre, but it did get a little tiring.

Past that I really liked the way the characters, Kerys’ abusive ex aside, were handled. The other xenoarchaeologists Kerys works with, the various military personnel she works with, and Annapurna, the head of the xenobotany team, all wind up with solid if brief characterization that leaves them feeling very human. The way the xenoarchaeology team talks to each other as they work, the joking and such, feels organic. Some of the best work with the infection early on came from them because they were themselves, just a little wrong, where as the unnamed back ground characters were just suddenly ready to fight any and everyone. Which brings up the abusive ex, Will, since we’re shown his behavior through how he acts towards Kerys, most of his positive attributes are more informed than anything. He isn’t really played off of anyone, which makes him feel less solidly a character rather than others with less over all page time but more interactions outside of just Kerys and how she reacts to them. I’m entirely sure that this was on purpose, but it did wind up feeling a bit overdone and made it somewhat difficult to believe that other characters would be as taken with him as Kerys thinks they could be.

The setting works really well here, leaving our protagonist trapped while everyone around her goes mad. If she leaves, then she has a vastly limited air supply and nowhere to go that would be any help. The station itself is nearly a character, starting clean and orderly and well run before devolving into messes and murders and the chaos of people falling apart. The weather outside builds as Kerys’ emotions run high, leaving the station feeling somehow even less safe. Places that are briefly seen towards the beginning get a second run through after the infection sets in, showing how the stations inhabitants affect their surroundings. The changes in some of these areas a just as startling as the changes in the people living in them and it’s fantastic.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. There were a couple of things that lost me a little, but nothing really big. I could have done with a little less hopelessness at times, but I would definitely read another book by Matthew S. Cox. So, yeah, Wayfarer: AV494 gets a four out of five.

House Keeping 4/10/18

It’s been pretty quiet since I posted last week, so that’s good. I still need to catch up on my comic reviews, since I’m now two weeks behind on that, but I’m lined up to be caught up on my book reviews in a few weeks. That is to say, I’ve still got two books from March to catch up on and a number of ebooks that are either already out or coming really soon. There is no catching up, there is only trying. But I’m going to keep trying until the universe gives up and lets me get caught up anyway. Because I have apparently decided to be a comic book character.

Aside from that, yeah, I’m generally starting to feel a lot better. Not sure why, but I’m going to run with it as long as it lasts.

So, the website for Second Star Books website isn’t up just yet, so I’m not able to link it. That said, I’m going to go ahead and share the theme for their first book with you all.

May Theme Announcement

I’m planning on putting my money where my mouth is and ordering a box. It’ll be fun to see what all is included.

That’s about it. I’m planning on having a review up tomorrow some time and then the review for What Dreams May Come issue four later in the week. As always, if you like what I’m doing here, you can leave a like or a comment. If you really like what I’m doing, you can support my caffiene addiction and buy me a ko-fi. Enjoy your evening folks!

Devil’s Demise

So, this has been a time and a half coming, hasn’t it? I’m not planning on this being my review for the week, but I did want to get it up since I feel like I’ve been dragging my feet on it. I was sent a copy of this one by Authoright for review. This is Devil’s Demise. Enjoy!

Devils Demise cover

A killer stalks the streets of Edinburgh seeking a twisted revenge on beautiful women. Successful beautiful women. He gets off on their fear, on the power he has over them and the pain he can inflict. He’s untouchable. That is, he’s untouchable until one of his victims survives.

Lee Cockburn’s Devil’s Demise is a frustrating book for me. This is distinctly a first book, with all the pitfalls those tend to have, but it’s a first book that I had really wanted to like. There were a number of solid ideas here and I feel like the characters could have been interesting given more space to interact, but then the writing itself didn’t support them.

A lot of my issues with the writing come from the odd sort of third person omniscient thing going on. It is all tell and no show to the point that our introductions to the major characters are more or less just lists of traits and how other people react to them. After being told so much how evil and terrible the antagonist was, the serial killer who had committed multiple on page rapes, it started to feel more than a bit like Cockburn didn’t trust her audience to understand but that she also didn’t know how to get it across better. Likewise, being told how good and honest and hardworking the protagonist was without being shown much at all of her doing her job, I started to not believe it, she complains about her boss and worries about her maybe girlfriend a lot though. This continues throughout the book, we get told how bad the protagonist feels about failing to catch the killer or how she and her maybe girlfriend are just so into each other or how terrible and glory hogging the boss character is. It’s distracting and leaves me feeling very little for the characters except mild annoyance.

It’s also all very declarative. The characters don’t so much speak as they declare things at each other. When a situation is meant to have humor, it gets noted that that’s just the sort of gallows humor police all have.  This is, again, very repetitive. It ties into how everything is told to the reader while also making the characters feel less human because the way they communicate is just off.

The book also has a weirdly huge focus on all the sex these characters are having. It feels like if you cut out all the sex scenes the book would be a third its total length, half if you removed the consensual sex scenes. I’m probably exaggerating somewhat but this is a book that interrupted itself multiple times, completely breaking tension, to show characters having sex. The sex scenes themselves wound up feeling repetitive and emotionless and half the time I had trouble figuring out just what characters were doing. Though, again, that feeds into the book being so reliant on telling the reader everything. If the action isn’t being shown, then it is going to feel stilted.

That’s really as far as I can get into the writing without going into spoiler territory. As I’ve said before, this was a book I really wanted to like. The concept of a serial killer driven to punish successful women by his own feelings of not being given the respect he deserves is an interesting one for me. Mission driven serial killers are terrifying. I liked the idea of one of his victims surviving and becoming the focus of his hunt, because a single victim could give the reader more time to get to know them and identify. We did get a fair amount of time with the victim, but we spent a lot more with the killer and that just felt weird for me. I feel like stepping back from the killer, leaving him more in the shadows and more a mystery would have been a benefit to the book. I really didn’t want to know how hard he got every time he thought about hurting women.

Ultimately, I’m left disappointed by Devil’s Demise. It’s a book I wanted to like and it had a number of ideas that could have been good. Unfortunately, the writing and the repetition of descriptions and opinions wrecked it for me. I feel like Cockburn could be a solid writer with more practice and the benefit of a second pass with an editor. I wouldn’t read the next book in this series, but might try out one after she has had more practice. Devil’s Demise gets a two out of five from me.

So, this is a little late going out, but my review for The Night Dahlia was meant to be part of a blog tour. Until now, I haven’t had the chance to post up where the other stops on the tour can be found, so I wanted to fix that. Check these out and enjoy!

The Night Dahlia cover

Mon. March 26  Books, Bones, & Buffy

Tues. March 27 From the Shadows

Wed. March 28  Just a World Away

Thurs. March 29 The Qwillery

Fri. March 30 Through Raspberry Colored Glasses

Mon. April 2 The BiblioSanctum

Tues. April 3 The Speculative Herald

Wed. April 4 Tympest Books

Thurs. April 5 Fantasy Book Critic

Fri. April 6 Horror Talk