Review of “Magic to the Bone” by Annie Bellett

The Twenty Sided Sorceress #7

29558243.jpgBellet, Annie. Magic to the Bone. Doomed Muse Press, 2016.

Content advisory: scattered F-bombs, some violence, and innuendo. (if you are a long time reader of this blog, you should be used to that.)

 

Holy crap on a cracker it is boss fight time, but before we get to that let’s talk about what we know beforehand and what is going on with the characters. (scattered spoilers ahead) First off we left our girl Jade Crow in the hands of her father. A Dragon, whatever the hell that means, to basically level up her character. She needs formal training badly. Her friends, the paper characters, are all back at the druid-ranch playing catch-me-if-you-can with Samir’s bodyguards and hired mercenaries. Her ex-boyfriend, the biggest jerkface on the planet, is about to try and make himself a god. He wants to bring back the era of high magic and gods and get rid of all of us puny mortals. Grand plans, but Jade can’t let that happen because of..reasons. We also know that the story arc is coming to head like a giant magical pimple. Most of Jade’s power derives from something deep down into her bones. This is generally glossed over in the first few books, she basically bounces around like she is a magical bubble. Now we know though that deep in her bones is the magic answer to her problems. I am going to try and not give too much away. But it rhymes with pragon. Plot wise it is almost a bit Deus ex machinea for me. She seems very much like an overpowered character in a beginning level. It is anti-climatic and rushed as hell.  Annie Bellet does try to set limitations on her training and power, but they are fuzzy and useless. The guidelines for being a sorceress have always been a bit mutable in this series, but this is ridiculous. What is the point of having the main character so overpowered that it really doesn’t matter? The boss fight that we have waited six books for is over so quickly and easily. There is no drama, at that point, you are really just going through the motions.

Now that I have almost finished this series, inexplicably there is another book, we can talk about how it feels overall. As far as a series goes, it feels a bit uneven. Some books were wow! Others, especially book seven left me feeling very flat. It was way too rushed to be enjoyable. To much has been taken for granted and the build-up really lost steam. What was the point of having all these subsidiary characters if they serve no purpose in the finale? They did nothing to offer anything to the story except a place for the main character to quip off of. It is really disappointing because the first novels were so exciting. One thing that the writer did do well kept to the very serviceable plot device of novice building and growing, discovering something badass about herself, and then killing the big baddy. I can think of a handful of series off the top of my head that does just that. Sookie Stackhouse, The Hallows, Illona Andrews, and even to some extent Dresden Files. It works as a plot device even though it isn’t refreshing.

I know that it sounds like I didn’t wholly like the book, that’s not true. I did like the book and in extension the entire series. Save for the eighth book. I am not even sure what I am supposed to do with that unless the author plans on another story arc. I liked the series, even if it was uneven and ended oddly. It is fun and a quick read. It allows you a couple of hours of fun. It is worth it.

 

Review of “Hunting Season” by Annie Bellet

The Twenty Sided Sorceress – Book 4

23303229.jpgBellet, Annie. Hunting Season. Doomed Muse Press, 2014.

Content advisory: scattered F-bombs, some violence, and innuendo. (if you are a long time reader of this blog, you should be used to that.)

Yaaaassss. Queen. Slay all day. This series keeps getting better and better. Jade Crow is just killing it. (pun intended)

This book has more of all the fun stuff. More magic, more gore, more action and definitely more backstory. We are learning a bit about her past and that maybe

‘”We fight with what we have,” he murmured. “Not what we wish to have.
“Okay, Obi-Wan.” I nipped his chin and settled into his arms.
“I am not quoting Star Wars,” he said, glaring down at me in mock annoyance.
“No, but you sound wise for your years.”
“Protect you, I will,” he said. “Love you, I do.”‘”

there is something special about her. Ya. I know, not exactly the most original plot device. But, you know what that is ok. It is a plot device because it is useful. Bellet is not slamming us over the head with the fact that there is something unknown about Jade. There just is. Deal with it and we will find out in due time.

Also, I have to say that I totally dig all the gaming and pop culture references. On one hand, it gives a subtle nod to those of us out there who appreciate geekdom, on the other hand, it might make it so this book doesn’t have the longevity for reading that other series might have. It is one of the reasons I enjoyed “Ready Player One” so much. I am a child of the eighties and totally got the references. It was a roller coaster in pop culture awesomeness.

Also. Unicorns. My head just exploded a little.

Go ahead start at book 1, I’ll wait.

Review of “Pack of Lies” by Anne Bellett

23365287.jpgBellet, Annie. Pack of Lies. Doomed Muse Press, 2014.

 

Content advisory: scattered F-bombs, some violence, and innuendo. (if you are a long time reader of this blog, you should be used to that.)

 

Let’s hear it for independent publishers and let’s hear it for writers who get better and not worse from book to book. I thought the first book in this series was serviceable. Decent. Fun, but obviously Anne Bellett was snuggling in, and getting comfy with these characters. Book three is an entirely different and better offering than the first two books in the series. She is happy with the personalities she has created and they just keep getting better and better. The love angle is also a whole lot more enjoyable to read and more believable. He is not some cardboard cutout but is evolving into a more fleshed out person.  Less of a go-to hot guy and more of a person with feelings and personality.

As far as the story goes, I think Anne Bellett excels at both pushing the main story forward inches at a time while having a contained separate story arc for each book. This is no exception.

“Recovering from a broken heart and coming to terms with her family history, all sorceress Jade Crow wants is to resume running her comic book store and gaming with her friends. With a town full of strange wolf shifters, a hundred-and-fifty-year-old peace accord hanging in the balance, and the Justice who broke her heart back in her life, Jade’s plans go out the proverbial window.

Wolves are killing wolves, innocent human lives are caught in the crossfire, and not everyone in town is who they appear to be. As the bodies stack up and the doubts build, Jade and her friends race to find the true killer. “

Talk about exciting action. Wolves, 150-year-old peace accord, and a weird baddy to deal with; this story really had it all. I totally dug it.  Plus it was short and mighty. Perfect for winding a couple hours in the afternoon away. Check it out.

Thank You Mr. Rogers

32106This post will be a mite more serious than my usual lighter fare. I haven’t written anything this week because I wanted to write about this thing that happened to me, and I didn’t have the words. I think I might have some words now, but it might be that I will never know exactly what to say.

Recently while driving home from my almost daily coffee run, Starbucks makes a lot of money off of me, I came across a dead body. At least I think he was dead. I was too scared to actually check for a pulse. But, he certainly looked like he had passed into the beyond, and his chest wasn’t moving.

Not where you think I was going with this.

A man lying in the middle of the sidewalk, face down behind a grocery store. He had a box of Venezia wine and a 24 pack of beers next to him like they came tumbling from his arms as he fell. Before I am asked, he wasn’t homeless, not that that matters in the slightest. He wasn’t just some dude deciding that a nap in the middle of a cold sidewalk sounded awesome. He was a man lying down in the middle of the sidewalk. Face down, and not moving. The part that bothered me so

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

much, is not that he was dead but that people were walking around him seemingly unconcerned about this person. He was a non-entity that did not exist in their world. That bothers me. As in existential crisis bothers me. Have we as a society become so inured to horrible things that someone who is dead is not given a second thought? We care about Kim Kardashian, couldn’t we care a little about the guy on the sidewalk.  I was stunned by what I was witnessing.

Mr. Rogers came to my mind and offered me comfort. All was not as bleak as it seemed. Mr. Rogers said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” So I did.  I looked for the helpers, and then I endeavored to become one. There was a man across the street, who I had originally not seen,  on his phone calling 911. I asked him what he was doing. His reply was, “trying to get him some help.” He was a helper.

What can I do?  how can I be a helper in this situation? The only thing I did the only thing I could think of, I went and got a blanket out of my car and threw it over the man. Not over his face, but around him.  It was a cold damp day, if he was alive, maybe a blanket would keep him a little warmer. When I got close to him, his chest wasn’t moving. Maybe the breathing was imperceptible, and it was there but I couldn’t see it. I hope so. There wasn’t much else I could do for this man. The paramedics were coming, so I left him the blanket and got back in my car. When I got home, I sat in the car for a long time trying to process what I had just seen and later I talked to my mom about the whole thing.  She said that I did a good thing, and I was a good person by giving him the blanket. Did I? I feel like I did the absolute minimum that a person should do. I felt bad, and cowardly that I did not do more. I still do. But what could I have done?

Later on that afternoon, I drove by where the man was laying out of morbid curiosity. Was there a chalk outline to be found like out of a detective novel? There wasn’t. There was nothing. Like he was never there.

Here I am writing this blog, not sure how I feel about the whole situation, but I do feel better for having written something. I will always endeavor to try and be the helper. Even if it is scary, it often is. Thank you, Mr. Rogers for helping me that day. Your lessons go on and on.