Tag Archive: Tympest Books


So, I’m running super late this week. I’ve been sick for a good chunk of it, admittedly, but that’s still no good. I swear, we’re getting fall pollen and summer heat around here.

I should have a review for you all tomorrow. It’s about half way done now, so it’s just a matter of figuring out what I’m actually trying to say with it, getting that down, and polishing it a bit. Nothing big. Right?

That aside, I’m really excited to have won an advance copy of Amy Rose Capetta’s The Brilliant Death through BookishFirst. So that’s a review that’s going to be headed your way in the near future. I’ve read the first few chapters and look forward to seeing where it goes from there.

Beyond that, I’ve got something coming up next month that should be entertaining. A couple of things that should be entertaining if I play it right. That’s for then, though I’m hoping to pull some fun into what’s left of this month too.

Standard closer. If you like what I’m doing here feel free to leave a comment or a like. I thrive on encouragement. And, of course, if you really like what I’m doing you can feed my caffeine addiction and buy me a ko-fi. Anything from the ko-fi fund is currently going towards a replacement video camera so that I can try getting the ball rolling on video ideas. In any case, have a great rest of the week!

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This one was a bit difficult to get written. I enjoyed it a great deal, but didn’t have a ton to say about it. That said, this one’s thanks to the awesome folks at First Second. Here’s Hope Larson’s All Summer Long. Enjoy!

All Summer Long cover

Bina and Austin have been friends forever and with summer vacation starting she’s excited to get started on their yearly Summer Fun Index. At least, she’s excited until finding out he’s headed to soccer camp instead. There’s a waiting list and he’s super excited, but that leaves Bina alone for a month with nothing to do. She practices her guitar and watches way too much tv, but the summer doesn’t really get started until she finds herself hanging out with Austin’s older sister Charlie. When Austin comes home, he’s acting weird and distant and embarrassed. They’ve been friends forever, but are Bina and Austin growing apart or just growing up?

All Summer Long is an interesting slice of life, a school summer vacation from the middle of middle school. The time where things start changing super quickly and the people you’ve always known start growing into new versions of themselves. It’s a nifty coming of age story with a focus on music that makes me want to look up the bands mentioned.

All Summer Long is comparatively short, hitting the high notes of the summer rather than the entirety of it. Though, in a lot of ways that feels a lot like my memories of summer vacation. Bina’s friends are all away, her best friend isn’t texting her back, and her parents want her to do homework instead of watching tv. She’s in for a boring one until she starts hanging out with Charlie and listening to the Steep Street album Austin lent her before he left. She’s got family stuff happening, but happy family stuff, with her older brother and his husband adopting a baby. It’s coming of age stuff, and most of it’s cute. The parts that aren’t are the kind of arguments that come from growing pains, for all the characters involved.

I don’t have much more to say about this one. I enjoyed it a lot and, like a lot of First Second books, think it would be a great fit for a middle school library. Hope Larson did really good work here, this is something I’ve read multiple times leading up to reviewing it. I give All Summer Long a five out of five.

House Keeping 8/7/18

So, there’s not really a lot for me to talk about here this week. Knock on wood, but work stuff has slowed down a little, so I’m not just coming home ready to pass out or ignore everything.

Review is coming up tomorrow. I’m still planning on having the Second Star July box review up some time soon, hopefully later in the week. I kind of fumbled that one last week, but I still want to talk about it.

As to anything else, I’ve got a couple reviews that I need to finish that I’m hoping to get out soon. I’m stalled out on both of them because I’ve got a fair amount to say about both, but one I’m not sure where to start with one and the other I’m trying to dodge spoilers on. That second one leaves me with not a lot to talk about, it’s got me going in circles.

Standard stuff. If you like what I’m doing here feel free to leave a comment or a like. Tell me of your bookish feelings. And, of course, if you really like what I’m doing, you can feed my caffeine habit and buy me a ko-fi. A generous individual did so here recently, so now I’m on my way to that replacement video camera. Either way, have a great day and enjoy what’s left of the summer.

Guest Post: D. S. Smith

Alright, I’ve mentioned this blog tour before, but today’s the day my post goes live. This one’s about the inspiration behind Unparalleled. Enjoy!

Unparalleled coverThe inspiration for writing Unparalleled came to me during a visit to the zoo. I had been toying with the idea of writing a science fiction novel after reading other works in this genre. I was especially impressed by Michael Crichton’s novel, Timeline. In this story, a group of scientists are sent back in time to medieval France.

 

I loved the way Crichton crafted this story, using a combination science and technology with history and malevolence to create a gripping tale of conflict and wonder. As I strolled around the zoo, head buzzing with ideas for a tale of my own, I came across the tiger enclosure. A group of people gathered at the fence watching a keeper throw meat to one of the animals. The tiger did not seem interested in the scraps being thrown, but it did seem very interested in the source of food.

 

I marveled at the fact that the keeper and the tiger were only separated by a chain fence and a moat circling the enclosure. I imagined the carnage that would take place if the fence were to suddenly disappear, or what would happen if someone was dragged from the past, like a character from Timeline, materializing at the other side of the fence, face to face with one of these magnificent yet lethal beasts. The idea for a story started to take form and that night I wrote the prologue for Unparalleled.

 

Unfortunately, life got in the way of writing and the first few hand written pages of what was to become my first published novel were shoved into a shoebox and stored in the loft.

 

Ten years past before the creative juices started to flow again and the story progressed beyond the prologue. I had just finished reading ‘The Time Travelers Wife’ by Audrey Niffenegger. I enjoyed the way she used science fiction to create a love story with a modern day twist of Shakespearian conflict. I decided to use a similar method, not so much to create a love story but to try to place every day characters with real emotions into extraordinary situations. Situations that make them question everything they have ever understood about their existence and the world they live in.

 

Unparalleled is as much about the human condition as it is about the science fiction. It turned out to be a very different story to the one I thought of all those years ago. The whole novel stems from the original prologue which gained its own momentum as one idea lead to another. I hope the pace of the novel keeps the reader interested while the underlying plot, based on real science, leaves them wondering, what if…….

DSSmith Author pic

You can find Unparalleled here or here.

Going up a little late, not terrible though. I admit, I spent most of the day in line at the book store and hunting down a novel I’ve been massively looking forward to. That’s for later though. This time I’ve got Leander Watts’ Meet Me in the Strange for you, courtesy of netGalley. Enjoy!

Meet Me in the Strange cover

Davi’s life is comfortable, if uneventful. Uneventful, at least until that Django Conn show and Anna Z. Uneventful, until the gorgeous girl and all her talk talk talking about the alien drift and other dimensions. Uneventful, until Anna Z.’s brother comes hunting for her and they make a run for it, following Django Conn and all the glister and glam that follows the man and his music.

There is a level of oddity I expect from a book titled Meet Me in the Strange. Even more so when it features a rock star/ possible otherworldly being as a major part of the story. Leander Watts presents something a bit beyond the expected level of odd, though enjoyable so.

This is a book that thrives on its setting and the interactions between Davi and Anna Z., or rather how taken with Anna Z. Davi is. She does most of the talking between the two of them, and it paints these fantastic jumbles of ideas and thoughts. Frankenstein’s monsters and souls from the way way out there, the evolution and change of humanity and a sort of mutation of the soul, it’s got this fantastic patter to it that dances along to an almost hypnotizing beat. She’s out there and disconnected, but then it works.

Then there’s the setting. There’s this whole retro-future deal where they’re talking about recent space visits and Davi’s buying music on records, but then instead of feeling set in the past it feels like the future as seen by the 80’s. The Angelus hotel is stately and elegant and a historic throwback that draws in all manner of fancy visitors. Anna Z. talks about classic horror movies and old stories in relation to Homo Lux and the alien drift. But then there’s this bright energy with the glam-boys and glister-girls and the teen speak used. It’s unfamiliar, but feels right from a words perspective. Like, I really enjoyed the slang as part of the world building because even when I didn’t get it, it felt right.

If I have an issue with the book though, it’s that the plot is really not present for most of the run of the book. The antagonist takes awhile to show up and we’re told how much of a threat he is and shown how scared of him Anna Z. is and then not a lot happens with him. When I said that the book thrives on its setting and character interactions, that’s almost all it has. This wasn’t a major problem for me because of how much I enjoyed everything else. But it is the weakest part of the book.

So, in a lot of ways Meet Me in the Strange makes me think of Ziggy Stardust era David Bowie, just with the way it feels. It’s spacey and odd and a ton of fun. It says, at times, quite a lot but also very little. The chapters are short and it feels a bit like eating chips, you just want to keep going. I actually really want to listen to some of the music from the book’s world, to catch the kind of wild brilliance that Davi and Anna Z. hear. It gets a four out of five from me. The weakness of the plot is the only thing keeping it from getting the full five.

I ran a bit late with this one. The nice folks at Scribe Stash were kind enough to supply me with a box for review in July. They’ve got a really good selection of customization options including the colors you want included and genre preferences. I went with cool colors and YA horror.

July Box1

I do really like that the name I gave them for customized items was stamped on the box. That is just super cool to me and it’s a nice touch that I haven’t seen before.

July Box2

Digging into the box itself there’s a new release novel, Now You See Her by Lisa Leighton and Laura Stropki, it sounds really cool from the blurb so I’m definitely looking forward to checking it out. There’s also a rather nice notebook, it’s pages are unlined and they feel fantastic. The paper feels top tier and I’m going to be looking for a project for this note book in the near future.

July Box3

But then we get to the rest of the scribe aspect of the box. Beyond that notebook, the rest of the box is a bit underwhelming. None of it really fits together beyond the color scheme and none of it, aside from the bookmarks, is anything I couldn’t find shopping around town. The book marks were a fun touch.

While you do get your money’s worth here, the writing implements and second writing pad leave me with the impression that Scribe Stash goes too hard on letting customers customize their boxes, so they stretch themselves super thin to have new release books for each choice and stuff for each color combination. It leaves it feeling scattered because, to account for any choice combination, they can’t have any sort of box theme to tie everything together. They can’t really have anything that ties specifically to any one of the books either. This isn’t something I expected myself to say walking into this, but I think that cutting back on options and having a cohesive monthly theme would let Scribe Stash have across the board higher quality items and let them dig into nifty things that they couldn’t while having to juggle so many combinations of items.

I think that I like the box better in concept than in practice, but I do very much like the idea of what they’re doing and hope that they continue doing well.

House Keeping 7/31/18

We’re at the end of the month and it feels super weird to realize that the year is nearly two thirds of the way gone already. It’s been wild like that I guess.

Been having a bit of trouble with the Scribe Stash review. It’ll be up either tonight or tomorrow, but I’m not super happy with how late I am on getting it out. By the same token, the review for the July Second Star Books box is going to be later in the week.

On the note of things being late. I’m part of a blog tour for D.S. Smith’s Unparalleled. Due to unforeseen circumstances, my stop on the tour is postponed until this Friday, but I’ll have a guest post from the author that day. Plus, the other stops are worth giving a look. The tour listings are below.

Unparalleled Banner2-2

I’ll have the book review of the week up tomorrow. I’ve got outlines for some other things I want to play around with, but nothing solid at the moment. And I’ve figured out how to crochet an angry potato, more on that eventually.

Standard things, if you like what I’m doing feel free to leave a comment or a like. I’m always interested in seeing what people enjoy here. And, if you really like what I’m doing, you can feed my caffeine addiction and buy me a ko-fi. Anything from that is currently going towards a video camera to replace the one that no longer work so that I can make good on some of the things I’ve mentioned in the past. In any case, have a good week and enjoy!

So, it took a little longer than to the end of the night. But , it turns out I had a bit more to say than I’d thought. Worse things have happened. I spent two weeks tracking down a copy of the second book in this series, here is Sarah Kuhn’s Heroine Complex. Enjoy!

Heroine Complex cover

Aveda Jupiter is San Francisco’s super heroine, stopping demonic invasions as they crop up throughout the city. She’s brilliant at it and fantastic with the crowds. Unfortunately she’s also brilliantly difficult to work with, at least for anyone except her assistant Evie Tanaka. Unfortunately for Evie posing as Aveda Jupiter, being her while the real Aveda is out of commission, is much more difficult than just working for her. Stopping the incoming demonic invasion might just be easy by comparison.

Sarah Kuhn’s Heroine Complex was a total impulse pick for me while I was visiting my folks awhile back. The cover was cool and the blurb sounded fun. It kind of reminded me of some of the stuff I read back in high school. Plus, I just like the concept of the sidekick having to take on super hero level stuff and, through that, becoming a hero in her own right.

I liked Evie a lot, she opens up as the book progresses and lets herself have her feelings instead of keeping them locked back. Evie starts out so afraid of her feelings, afraid of what could happen if she felt strongly enough to trigger her powers. She’s afraid of the damage she could do if she lost control again. But then she’s forced to play the hero and the love interest is brought in and her feelings for him grow. She learns to not be afraid of them or of herself, which is a plot line that I enjoy greatly. It feeds into that character coming into her own, thing that I tend to enjoy so much.

I do wish less had been as reliant on the love interest, Nate, as it felt like it was. The book starts with Evie and Nate being almost at odds. He’s this big grump who serves as the team’s physician and demon researcher, he doesn’t do his share of chores around the HQ, and he’s inflexible in his methods. At least until Evie as Aveda needs a body guard/date to an event and it’s revealed that he looks really good in a suit. Then long moments are given over to Evie and Nate having couple moments and he becomes Evie’s rock. It interrupts the story and, since I’m not really here for the romance, drags more than a little. Admittedly, my issues here are almost entirely to do with how much page space the romance takes up rather than with Nate himself. He’s a solid character and it was nice to see him come out of his shell a little as he and Evie got closer.

The romance was mentioned in the blurb, so I expected it, but it felt fairly sudden and out of nowhere.  They were at odds and then they weren’t. He was an off putting grump and then he wasn’t. The turnaround is fast and I find myself wishing that there had been more of a slow burn thing going on. I also find myself wishing that it had eaten less of the page count just on its own, that more had been done make it feel like a break from the plot that gave Evie a much needed break from being something she wasn’t. It could have given a great view into her growth rather than feeling like the reason for it. This is one of the things that reminds me a lot of the stuff I was reading a decade ago and it’s the only bit I feel like I could have done without.

The flipside to the romance, something that I really enjoyed quite a bit, was Evie’s history with Aveda. This friendship that they’d had since they were grade schoolers that had kept solid for years and years through being social outsiders and the initial demon portal, through Evie’s power erupting horribly and Annie’s rise to super heroism and reinvention as Aveda Jupiter. It’s a friendship that’s gone a bit sour with Aveda’s whole super heroine diva thing and the way she tends to steamroll Evie’s thoughts and feelings on issues. Evie’s there to deal with Aveda’s temper tantrums and to guide her into better moods when things aren’t going her way, but then there doesn’t seem to be a ton she gets out of it aside from a pay check and fulfilling a sense of loyalty to her oldest friend. It was nice to see that have to change as Evie continued to stand in for Aveda and the public loved her and her power. It was nice to see how their relationship changed and strengthened as the plot rolled on.

That’s really where I land on this one. Heroine Complex was a fun nostalgic read for me. The characters were awesome and, while I could have done with less of the romance aspect, I’m definitely reading the other two books in the series. I want to spend more time with these characters, to see them grow and continue to come into their own. I want to see what Sarah Kuhn does going forward and how a world with demon portals and super heroines continues to develop. I’m giving Heroine Complex a four out of five and noting that the second book is already on my desk waiting for its chance to be read.

House Keeping 7/25/18

Day late and a dollar short here, but that’s the way things have been going lately. I had a migraine yesterday so bad I slept for more than 24 hours, I’m still shaking off the last of it. Work weirdness I think. Things could be worse though. Not going to say how , I have seen enough horror movies to know better.

Going to have a review up later tonight. It’s part way done, I just need to finish it and give it a go over for obvious mistakes.

I’ve also been sent a Scribe Stash box for review this month, it arrived earlier in the week, so I’m planning on having that review done for late this week or early next week. I’m excited for it. Scribe Stash does a monthly book box, but then also includes pens and journals and a large array of customization options. I’m really excited to check out those aspects of it.

Now, lest I get too buried in plans for the future, what’s going on in the now? Not a ton. I’m still working through the mass of review copies I’ve been sent. That’s kind of in a holding pattern at the moment. I’m still not doing as well on reviews as I would like to but I’m going to keep working on that. I need to do my review for this month’s Second Star Books box, that might be next week though. I’m hoping to have it done by the end of the month, though it might be a couple days into August before the review goes up.

Standard stuff, if you like what I’m doing here feel free to leave a comment or a like. Let me know if there’s anything I could be doing better and what you enjoy. If you really like what I’m doing here, you can feed my caffeine addiction and buy me a ko-fi. Any money from that is going to go towards a replacement camera for doing box openings for the monthly book box and potential videos related to my reviews. Fun stuff potentially.

 

This was later than planned, still working on fixing that. I’ve been looking forward to this one for a long time. Thanks to  James Aquilone, here is Dead Jack and the Soul Catcher. Enjoy!

Dead Jack and the Soul Catcher cover

Dead Jack, the best zombie detective in Shadow Shade, saved Pandemonium from certain destruction. It was totally him. The cost was high though, Oswald hasn’t woken up since her took the blast from the Pandemonium Device exploding. Without Oswald there Jack’s fallen off the wagon, spending his days in a haze of dust and Devil Boy. He hasn’t had a case in weeks. Lucky for Jack an old army buddy from his living days, Garry, has tracked him down with the promise of finding their souls. Just, get someone to translate the diary Garry stole, find the alchemist who has their souls, and dodge the neo-Nazis that want to use his sidekick to wipe out Pandemonium. Nothing difficult for the best zombie detective in Shadow Shade. Right?

Dead Jack and the Soul Catcher follows a book that I enjoyed a great deal, removes a big chunk of what I liked about it, and still leaves me waiting for the next book. The last book gave us a noir style detective with all the tropes associated, but then never tried to make him right or to present his behavior as correct. Dead Jack is a massive jerk, and that’s great because he gets called on it. Here though, Oswald is out of the picture so that element of humanization is absent. Instead we get more of Dead Jack the character instead of Dead Jack the plot device, we get into his history as he’s forced to deal with feelings and memories and a lot of things that he generally doesn’t.

A lot of Jack’s memories tie into his time in World War 2, particularly dealing with his death and the horrific experiments visited upon him. The way he became Dead Jack. This works pretty fantastically to show the reader more about the man Jack had been, especially when that man and the zombie we know don’t line up quite right. That’s a fantastic draw for me. Tie it in with Dead Jack seeming to soften up to his companions a little and I’m excited to see where his characterization goes from here.

Now, the group of neo-Nazis who had been experimenting on him follow Garry into the story. They’re after the diary and him again, but more than that, they want Oswald as part of a plan to steal all the souls in Pandemonium. They are the biggest threat of the book, bigger than dark elf prison guards or giant spiders or the devil himself. They have the ability to potentially bring Pandemonium to its knees. They’re weirdly obsessed with their uniforms and how nice they are. The book manages to strike a balance between making it clear that they’re fanboys for the original Nazis and that that is ridiculous and making it clear that they are an actual threat to Pandemonium and very dangerous. It also makes it incredibly satisfying when they get punched.

Much like Dead Jack and the Pandemonium Device this isn’t a super serious book and it plays with familiar tropes. I enjoy it all the more for that. This was a fun read, it maintains the quality of the first book, and it leaves me impatient for the next one. So, yeah, Dead Jack and the Soul Catcher gets a five out of five. If James Aquilone keeps this up he’s going to wind up one of my favorite authors.