Category: Rating


Monday again, and that means I get to talk about dice. This set has a kind of funky name and a gloriously glimery aesthetic, it’s Dice Envy’s Happy Birthday, Katie! dice set. Enjoy!

Happy Birthday Katie 1

My adoration of sparkly things is, at this point, well beyond well documented. I like dice with colorful glitter in them. I like dice with nifty inclusions in them. I like dice with interesting color combinations. These have all of the above. The Happy Birthday, Katie! dice set are split between one side that has clear blue acrylic and star shaped confetti and the other side that is absolutely packed with purple micro glitter. The pairing really shouldn’t work together, but the effect is really fun.

The inking is, per standard, well done. I didn’t see any thin parts or over filled places and the silver ink is readily visible regardless of which side of the dice comes up.

Happy Birthday Katie 3

Rolling the dice feels nice. There don’t seem to be any places where the confetti sticks out. Despite having what seems like two very different sets of inclusions, none of the dice in my set have major bubbles visible. The d10 did have a few very small ones, but that does not seem to have effected how it rolls just based on my testing. None of the other dice showed favorite sides either.

Happy Birthday Katie 2

Which brings me to this bit.This is a dice set that makes me think about the Jem and the Holograms comics and the fun of sharing terrible 80’s video clips with my friends. It’s bright and happy looking and rolls well. The part of me that says good enough is good enough gives the Happy Birthday, Katie! dice set a five out of five. But, given that there were bubbles on the d10, regardless of how minor, I’m going to bump it down to a four out of five and suggest giving your set a look over and a few test rolls for these.

As to what sort of character I would use these for, I’m split between wanting to just roll up one of the Holograms as a bard and wanting to use the incredibly sparkly dice for just the dourest basic fighter I can work up. The more I think the more I lean towards the bard, never played one before so I might as well give it a try.

Not going to lie, I’ve been wanting to find a good time to talk about this set since my Aunt got them for me for Christmas. Chessex’s Lab Dice continue to interest me as a concept, so I’m likely to keep talking about them any time I get my hands on a set. Let’s talk about dice!

Nebula Spring Lab 1

The Nebula Spring White Lab Dice have a clear base with various greens and yellows swirled in, giving each set a fair variety of colors between the dice. There is enough cross over between the colors that none of the dice feel out of place though. I quite like the effect of it, there’s something that feels organic in the differences. The effect also meant that the glow in the dark inclusions didn’t feel like distractions so much as just another part of the overall pattern.

Which reminds me. The Nebula line of Chessex dice glow in the dark, but in little fragmented bits rather than the whole dice or the inking glowing. It’s a really cool effect that leaves the set looking like little star fields when the lights are out. It’s something I’ve found myself keeping an eye out for since finding my first set of Nebula dice.

Nebula Spring Lab 2

There were a few places where the inking was thin or not fully filled in. Which is an easy enough fix, though one that I admit I’ve gotten used to not needing to deal with. That said, the white ink is nicely visible against both the clear parts and the various greens and yellows. It works nicely.

The glow in the dark inclusions do not seem to throw off the dice’s balance in any meaningful way. They all roll nicely and seem reasonably random, I did not notice any of them having favorite numbers anyway. And, of course, they feel nice in hand.

And we come to the ending. I like this set of dice a lot, from the look of them to the glowing to the very concept of the Lab Dice. There are places where the inking isn’t as well done as it could be, but it isn’t anything distracting or difficult to fix. So, the Nebula Spring White Lab Dice get a five out of five from me. They aren’t perfect, but they make me happy and that makes up for it.

As to what kind of character I would want to use these for, it almost has to be a druid. Or maybe a fae bloodline sorcerer. I definitely lean towards druid for these, possibly gnomish due to the glow in the dark effects. It’s just that little bit out of what you’d otherwise expect that it feels right for that.

Lich Slap

Working on my grand return by talking about shiny math rocks. These guys are from Dice Envy, the Lich Slap set. I have grabby hands for sparkly blue dice, so on to the review!

Lich Slap 1

The Lich Slap set of dice follows the same combination of a solid color acrylic and an acrylic colored with micro glitter as the Vibe Check set. In this case, blue with purple micro glitter. The blend works really well here, the blue being clear allows the glitter to peak through even on sides where it isn’t directly present. The effect isn’t subtle in the least, which is the exact opposite of a problem. The couple of dice in the set that are mostly purple rather than mostly blue still feel like they belong to the same set as the mostly blue dice.

The inking is, as usual, well done. The white shows up nicely against both the blue and the purple glitter, leaving it nice and visible on the table. There also weren’t any thin spots that I noticed or places where the ink went over.

Lich Slap 2

Per usual for acrylic dice the Lich Slap set feel nice in hand and roll well. They feel satisfying to roll, both as a unit and as single dice. I didn’t see any evidence of bubbles or voids, and the dice don’t seem to have favorite sides.

Lich Slap 3

It does feel increasingly like this part could be safely left out. But I quite like this set of dice. They look nice, they feel nice, and they roll nicely. I would very much like to see more dice like this, the colors are complementary and blend nicely. So Dice Envy’s Lich Slap dice set gets a five out of five from me.

I have a bit of a hard time deciding what kind of character I would use these for. Possibly some kind of sorcerous rogue or, if I went with the idea I’d had to re-ink them in a copper or brass color, an artificer of some stripe. It’s fun to consider.

So, both of my current game nights are running World of Darkness campaigns I was hoping to review a set of d10s. By a strange stroke of luck, I had forgotten that my set of Schubert’s Sherbet dice was a d10 set. Unfortunately there aren’t going to be full d10 sets of Ice Cream Dice, because that’s a bit niche, but it still gives a good feel for the dice’s quality. Let’s go!

Schubert's Sherbet 1

The colors on these dice are nice and vibrant with only a few spots of bleed through, few of which are noticeable from any distance. I love how well the colors work together, if it was just that bold magenta and the sort of soft minty green it would feel jarring. But then the yellow is bright enough to hold up next to the magenta without being so bright that it over powers the green. I really wish I had gotten better pictures of these dice to show that off. The manufacturer was not joking when they called these glossy. I am sure that part of this is just a matter of my camera, while the dice do have a lovely shine they aren’t nearly that reflective in real life.

The inking on these is also really nice. My set didn’t have any noticeable thin spots and the white shows up nicely against all three colors without affecting the aesthetic of the set too much.

Schubert's Sherbet 2

Having used these in game I can say for certain that they feel satisfying to roll. I’m sure that part of it is just how much I enjoy World of Darkness, but there is something that just feels great about rolling a handful of d10. They don’t seem to have any preferred sides, so I got about as many success rolls as would be statistically expected.

Schubert's Sherbet 3

I like the Schubert’s Sherbet set really well. The colors are vibrant. They feel nice. And there’s just something about them, possibly more that I’m getting to use them right off in a fairly non-standard game, that makes me happy. Ice Cream Dice’s Schubert’s Sherbet dice get a five out of five from me.

I’m actually using my set for a sort of prequel version of one of the NPCs from the Birmingham Saga, Raven the witch/Mage/a quest giver of some importance/the spider shifter’s grumpy goth girlfriend. She’s far from home, far from her friends, and generally a grumpy little ray of moonlight. So, not necessarily what I’d usually call a perfect fit for the dice, but I like the contrast between the character and the dice I’m using and it feels a little like an in character reflection of the person under the persona.

Vibe Check Dice

I am later on this than I would have liked to be. Things have been wild recently and I do not know when they will slow down. But I’m doing what I can as I can. Today though, I’m here to talk about dice. Specifically Dice Envy’s Vibe Check dice because I like sparkly things. Also, Dice Envy has a coupon active right now, FEBRUARYCURSE, that will net you 25% off your next order. But on to the dice!

Vibe Check 1

So, Vibe Check is definitely a set of dice where what you get can vary greatly from the display set pictured on the site. The set there has a much more even split of the sparkly peach color and the yellow-green. This is, for people who are me, kind of a cool example of how the acrylic pouring process works. But I also think that the colors work much better either blended more evenly or dominated by the sparkles. That said, I am certain that if my set had been mostly the yellow-green with a largely peachy d20 I would be saying the same thing in reverse.

Vibe Check 2

As ever, I am a massive fan of sparkly things and the peach works really nicely here. Also, while the gold ink does work better with the peach it is nicely visible on the yellow-green as well. That isn’t as obvious as I would like in these pictures, but it is nicely visible. No obvious thin spots. Just all around well inked.

The Vibe Check dice set also, as expected for acrylic dice, feel nice in the hand and roll well. There don’t seem to be any bubbles in my set, since the dice don’t seem to have favorite sides. Yeah, just in general these are enjoyable to roll.

Vibe Check 3

I am at a bit of a stand still on how to rate this set. With exception to the d20 having such a wildly different blend of the two colors I really like the look of the Vibe Check set that I got. It isn’t quite what was advertised, but that is somewhat to be expected when a set is a blend of two acrylics. That’s the thing I keep coming back to. I think this set, rather than the Vibe Check dice as a whole, gets a four out of five from me. If Dice Envy added these to the al a carte dice and I was able to order a d20 that might better match the rest of the set it would probably bump up to a full five out of five. I’ll just have to wait and see on that though.

The Con Season

I’m running behind here, not unexpected but still. Errands got a little away from me. This is one that has me thinking of plans for October and wanting to watch a bunch of horror movies. Needless to say, I had a lot of fun with this one, so here’s Adam Cesare’s The Con Season. Enjoy!

The Con Season cover

Camp Blood Con offers a seriously unique experience. Three day, six iconic horror actors, one terrifying slasher out to slaughter them all. Be one of the lucky gore hounds to join in on the inaugural year for this fully immersive fan experience!

Starting into Adam Cesare’s The Con Season: A Novel of Survival, I expected a certain degree of attention paid to horror movie tropes. Maybe Cesare would spend some time developing his characters in such a way that the reader looked forward to their gruesome fates. Perhaps he would play with the expected tropes so that the turns were fun to look for while still feeling fresh. I did not know what I expected exactly, but I had a lot of fun with the story.

The time spent on set up here feels like it paid off well. The reader is introduced to several of the more important characters and given enough to start figuring where they fit in the horror movie aspect of the plot itself. Meanwhile, bits and pieces of Camp Blood Con’s framework are introduced, enough to tease but it also enough to give a read on the antagonists. It takes a fair amount of the page space given, but I find that it feeds into the more active part of the book well enough. The buildup ends just as it was starting to wear out its welcome, giving a good jumping off point for the pay off.

I am stepping lightly here to avoid spoilers, but the actual con portion of the story is a lot of fun. The slasher is unveiled to the reader and the con goers. The atmosphere develops this delightfully creepy edge as the horror lurches into full view and the characters stumble to the realization that this is all too real. I find myself wanting to just talk and talk about this section because I enjoyed so much.

Which brings me to the end here. I read the entirety of The Con Season over the course of a long work day. And I admit, I want a sequel that winds up being oddly derivative and not quite as good, just like one of the movies Cesare clearly knows so well. It has been two weeks since I read The Con Season and I still want to tell all of my co-workers about it. It gets a five out of five from me. I am definitely going to be looking at Adam Cesare’s other work.

The Brilliant Death

Later posting this than I wanted to be. We started working on characters for my Saturday night game and that took longer than I expected it to. This one I actually won a review copy of through BookishFirst. Here’s Amy Rose Capetta’s The Brilliant Death. Enjoy!

The Brillian Death cover

Teodora DiSangro is her father’s secret weapon. A streghe just like out of the stories, able to turn her family’s enemies into music boxes and other trinkets. Family is everything to her. So when Vinalia’s new ruler, the Capo, sends toxic letters to the heads of all five families, killing all of them but her father. The Capo demanding that all five families send their heirs to his court might give Teo the chance she needs to find a cure if she can find a way to become the DiSangro heir, the son the Capo is expecting to arrive. For that, she will need to find a way to not only trust the streghe who delivered the toxic letter to her father but also convince them to teach her how to change her form like they do. As she grows to know the other streghe and uncovers the layers and layers of secrets in the Capo’s court will she be able to complete her mission and leave, or will Teo become trapped in a web of deception and danger?

Amy Rose Capetta’s The Brilliant Death is a book that feels a bit unbalanced in its content. The lore is lush and feels fairly deep, the myths that get talked about feel real to the world. There’s a weight to Teodora’s feelings and Cielo’s studied carelessness that works well. But then there are places where it feels like things could have been worked in much better earlier on to avoid stretches of what feels like over much exposition.  I am going to stay away from talking about the genderfluid  aspects of the protagonists. It seems well written, but that is from an outside perspective so I do not really feel qualified to talk too much about it.

The first segment of the book is all set up. The reader is introduced to Teo, her family, her life, her home, and her magic. It shows her frustrations with what seems like her inevitable lot in life as contrasted with how very much she loves her father and her family. The exposition here feels well done. There’s a degree of wonder shot through with frustration and grief when she realizes that Cielo is another streghe in addition to having been the one to deliver the letter that nearly killed her father. Characters feel rounded and like they have their own stories going on, they wind up being easy to get interested in. Even if one Teo’s brothers is cartoonishly cruel and the start to Teo and Ceilo’s mutual attraction feels a little rushed, the first half of The Brilliant Death is pretty fantastic.

It is around the end of the first half that the book started to lose me. Teodora learns how to shift into a male version of herself, to better pass herself off as the DiSangro heir, and is introduced to the other four houses heirs and the Capo’s court and all its intricacies. And the story hits a wall. This part might largely be due to events that drastically cut my time for reading, but the book became very easy to put down once Teo and Cielo reached the capital and their mission properly began. It felt like being pulled back to the start of the book, there were several new characters who needed to be introduced all at once and Teo had never been to the Capo’s court so that had to be expanded on. But the new characters and the court felt so much less fleshed out than the characters and places from the first half. It was like pausing in the middle of a book and starting another book from much earlier in the author’s career.

I confess, in addition to the slowdown in the middle of the book, The Brilliant Death also suffers from an ending that disappointed me greatly even as I saw it coming. It felt very much like Capetta didn’t want to tie any of her major plot threads up. The end felt less like the protagonists heading off into another story than them running away to the sequel. Which is a shame because it could have had a good ending that still offered room for a next book to exist and felt like a complete story had been told in this book rather than the first in a series. There was so much introduced right before the end and no page space for it. That took me way more out of the reading experience than the loss of momentum from entering the Capo’s court did, that had a clear purpose and provided character introductions the reader needed at least. This just leaves me with a disappointed shrug and a vague disinterest in the next one because now I don’t trust her to tie up any of her important plot threads there either.

So that brings me here. The Brilliant Death is by no means a bad book and I quite like the ideas present in the setting, but I feel like it could have been written more smoothly. I feel like my major complaints are ultimately forgivable in light of how much I enjoyed the first half of the book. And while I am left with no plans to go out and buy the second book, I would likely read it if it was gifted to me. I will likely take another look at Capetta’s work on another series too, I think she is capable of writing something really good. For now though, The Brilliant Death gets a three out of five.

I’ve been wanting to get to talking about the dice from Ice Cream Dice’s Kickstarter last year for a while now. Just getting around to that now, but I have several of these to cover and I think I want to sprinkle them in over the next couple months.

Orange Dream 1

I had to change where I usually take my pictures for this set because the gloss on them was so high that I was losing a lot of the color in my usual location. I doubt that I would have gone for the matte option even realizing how bright the shine would be.

The orange in these is really nice, bright and satiny. The white blends well with it, though it also blends well enough with the ink on some sides that I’ll want to re-ink them at some point. I really like the look of these though.

Orange Dream 2

Per usual with acrylic dice, the Orange Dream set feels nice in had and is enjoyable to roll. They do feel a little more plastic-y than some other acrylic sets I have, I think that might be down to the high polish. I haven’t tested this set as much as some others, but the seem to roll with as much randomness as any other set I’ve had.

Orange Dream 3

I am very much a fan of the Orange Dream dice. The colors work great together. They roll nicely. And I already have a character that I plan to use them with. The set does lose a little for how close the inking is to the white of the dice, but they aren’t as hard to read as a couple of other sets that I want to re-ink. And I admit, I’m being a bit more generous with this set than I have been with others because of how excited I am to finally be getting the chance to play with the dice from this Kickstarter. Ice Cream Dice’s Orange Dream dice get a five out of five from me.

I think this book might have kicked off my recent reading streak. I enjoyed it a great deal and very much appreciate Entangled Teen’s providing me with a copy for review. Here’s Pintip Dunn’s Malice. Enjoy!

Malice cover

In a shattering flash of electricity Alice was visited by a voice claiming to be from the future. A voice that would go on to inform her that one of the students at her school is the creator of a virus that, in her time, has killed all but a third of the human population. A voice that charges her with finding out who this person is and stopping them before it is too late. But the voice’s orders often feel contradictory or nonsensical and Alice finds herself questioning if following its orders is really the best way to save the future. Is there anything that she can do to save the future outside of the voice’s orders? And why is it so insistent that she avoid one specific boy?

There is a lot to recommend Pintip Dunn’s Malice. The concept is interesting, the idea of a sort of indirect time travel and the implications of that fascinate me. So does the way the story was laid out, with Alice being pulled in different directions by the voice and her own feelings and fears, but it does so while laying out a solid path to who the virus maker might be and building layers of characterization for most of the cast.

The characters for the most part felt like characters. They felt like they existed for more reasons that to support the romance sub plot between Alice and Bandit and, more importantly, most of them felt like they could have been the protagonists of the book if it had been written from a different angle. Even the nameless background students feel like they could have been characters. Alice notes people interacting in the background as part of describing her surroundings. The only real exceptions here have their reasons for being comparatively out of focus, though there were a couple of characters that I found myself wishing we had seen more of.

The plot is well laid out, a reader can pretty easily catch on to where things are going. Though enough unexpected happens that the book never gets boring. Even the romance subplot is well done, it feels like Alice is actually getting to know Bandit rather than just them suddenly being in love. It fits well with the plot too, supporting and complementing it rather well.

One of the only things I have a real complaint with is how the confrontation with the virus maker was handled. It felt rushed in an odd way, almost like Dunn only had so many pages she was allowed and was running out of them. There was all this set up baked in for the virus maker, right up to the climax where the virus maker sounded both heartbreakingly young and so far gone that it sort of made the rest of the ending not work for me. It was not the worst ending that I have ever read by any means, but I would have liked for it to have been given a little more space to settle in.

I had a lot of fun with Malice. There were moments when I wanted Alice to go ahead and figure out what was going on so that we could get into the fighting back part. There were moments where something clicked and I just knew where things were moving. It was a book that I was willing to go with the flow on and see how things fell into place. The writing was well plotted and, while Malice is vehemently a standalone book, I find myself looking forward to what Dunn writes next. So, this earns a four out of five from me.

 

Vespertine Dice

Got a lot of excitement tonight, I’ve been given a coupon code by Dice Envy to share with you all. It’ll get you free shipping on your order, just type in Tympest10 at checkout. I suggest checking out the Vespertine dice that are featured here but they have a lot of sets to check out. Regardless, enjoy!

Vespertine 1

I am, as ever, a fan of interesting dice so a set of smokey grey dice with sparkly gold flake and micro glitter sprinkled through is definitely a set that I wanted to check out. The balance of the grey and gold are really nice together and the purple micro glitter complements both well. On the sides with a great deal  of gold flake the darker purple inking stands out well and looks really nice. It’s all together a nice looking set of dice.

There is a bit of an issue with visibility on the set though. With the acrylic and the inking both being as dark as they are, especially when set on a table, and the visual confusion caused by the gold flake and micro glitter they are a bit difficult to read at any distance.

Vespertine 2

Now before I go too far with the inking, it is well done. There weren’t any thin spots that I saw or places where the paint went over the edges of the numbers. The color itself is quite nice and, as much as I love the purple used for it, I think I want to try re-inking them in a lighter shade of it. Save the overall aesthetic but also increase the readability.

As can be expected of acrylic dice these feel nice in hand and roll well. Despite the gold flake inclusions there do not seem to be any bubbles in my set. They seem well balanced, none of the dice have favorite numbers as far as I’ve seen.

Vespertine 3

It’s really easy to think of this as a sort of sister set to the Celestine dice I talked about a couple of weeks ago. Both feature a clear colored resin and gold flake as major parts of the design, and of course that means that both have the same visibility issue in common. That’s a pretty easy fix though and one that I’m excited to try out. Plus I really enjoy the aesthetic of the set and have found myself using them for my online game regardless of readability. So, all told the Vespertine dice set earns a four out of five from me.