Review of Justice Calling (The Twenty-Sided Sorceress #1)

Review of Justice Calling of the Twenty Sided Sorcery series. Written by Anne Billet

 

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Image Courtesy of Goodreads.com

Bellet, Annie. Justice Calling. CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 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.)

“Justice Calling,”  is an absolute treat for lovers of Urban Fantasy with strong female characters. A la Mercy Thompson, Kitty Norville, and my favorite Rachel Morgan. Holla at “The Hallows!”  It is an exciting, albeit too short romp through a new world created by Anne Billet. The protagonist is fun, saucy, and not at all annoying. Something that I have missed in the last few Urban Fantasy novels I have read as of late

 

The summary is as follows:

Gamer. Nerd. Sorceress.

Jade Crow lives a quiet life running her comic book and game store in Wylde, Idaho. After twenty-five years fleeing from a powerful sorcerer who wants to eat her heart and take her powers, quiet suits her just fine. Surrounded by friends who are even less human than she is, Jade figures she’s finally safe.

As long as she doesn’t use her magic.

When dark powers threaten her friends’ lives, a sexy shape-shifter enforcer shows up. He’s the shifter world’s judge, jury, and executioner rolled into one, and he thinks Jade is to blame. To clear her name, save her friends, and stop the villain, she’ll have to use her wits… and her sorceress powers.

Except Jade knows that as soon as she does, a far deadlier nemesis awaits.

Justice Calling is the first book in The Twenty-Sided Sorceress urban fantasy series. Readers who enjoyed The Dresden Files or The Iron Druid Chronicles will likely enjoy this series.

Jade Crow, Sorcerous, shop owner, and gamer finds herself in a pickle of a situation. Does she stay or does she run? Does she out herself, and possibly bring ruin upon her future? Can she do all that she needs to do, and not use magic? I think if you are a fan of the Mercy Thompson Series or the world of Kate Daniels this might be a good series for you. Although definitely not as well developed as those worlds, is has the bones of a great series. Good plot points, fun characters, and I have to admit I absolutely love the gamer bent. Me being a gigantic geek myself, I can relate to her quite a bit. I hope that in her later books the author can flesh out the characters a lot more and give us more to read but, great start! Also, Jade has a very cool superpower. She knows every language. That is a superpower for a total geek. I love it!

Things that I don’t dig. Why is it that every Urban Fantasy with a female character needs to have some sort of love angle? No really. C’mon. Not all ladies need to have a love interest. Nor do those ladies need to be saved by the said love interest. Although, props to Anne Billet for letting this lady do the saving. Don’t get me wrong though, I enjoy a good romance now and again, but this particular possible love interest seemed a bit shoehorned. Yes, he is hot, yes he has rippling muscles, yes he turns into a (sexy?) white tiger? Blah blah blah. I think it would have been much more of a compelling character if he was a just a plain normal looking guy. A guy with a particular skill set that led him to the job he is now in (I don’t want to give away to much).  He doesn’t need to speak like a combination of Dolph Lundgren and Daniel Craig to be compelling. At least that’s how I picture him. It makes him much more relatable. How many guys like Daniel Craig have you met in your life? Also, to some extent, there isn’t much of a story. This is more like an introduction to the characters. Which I really like and a very quick problem that they need to overcome. That is fine for me for a start of a series.

Do yourself a favor, read the novella. It is good light fun. Not a barn burner or anything. I don’t think anyone will be getting a Jade Crow tattoos like Twilight and Dresden. But its fun and saucy and thankfully not sugar-coated crap. Read up.

 

 

 

Camping is Crap – Sorta

ee0a857b7172a61aab4ebe47d7bfcf59Well no, it really isn’t crap. Maybe you could liken camping to cold french fries that you warm up in the microwave. It is supposed to be satisfying, but they are never really as good as you expect it to be and it will probably leave you with a stomach ache and/or the runs. Also, isn’t camping supposed to bring you all sorts of enlightenment? Get out into nature and experience a oneness. Let me set the scene. Last minute, “why the hell not” decision to camp on a Friday night. insert an inadequately prepared family of 4 with neurotic dogs. Grandmother, husband, me and a 14-month-old baby. Here is what I learned on my last camping trip.

  1. Setting up a tent on a hillside where you sleep at a 45-degree angle could be classified as a weird sort of psychological torture. Constantly sliding down a hill while sleeping makes you dream you are going to slip-n-slide to hell or the world is covered in lube.
  2. Never camp with a 30-year-old tent. I am still coughing out the shredded plastic fibers. The only upside is the calming pea green color. Why did folks in the early eighties think pea green was the color du jour?
  3. Only camp with your toddler if absolutely necessary. If there is a cliff, river, or patch of poison something your toddler will run at it full speed. Which means as a parent you will have to hold your screaming toddler.  The whole time. (see the previous comment about being inadequately prepared) My kid weighed thirty pounds. I hated everyone after hour 3.
  4. Never camp with my dog. My dog hates other dogs. He tries to simultaneously shred them to pieces and run away scared. The dog had to remain on a leash for the entirety of camping outing. Thus, the dog made a circular track around the tree while he tried to maim every foreign thing he saw. This included wildlife, trees, stumps, the stars, me after awhile. It was all a crazy fever dream for him. This got annoying at 2 am. For the extent of the trip; I hated my dog.
  5. Mosquitos were invented by the devil to taunt me.  If only they sucked fat instead of blood. (see number 6) Ever read the book, “Thinner?” That would be me.  They will hassle no one else. I swatted mosquitos away and prayed for a firestorm. The other members of my camping party told me it was all in my head. I wanted to push them in the aforementioned poison-something bush.
  6. I ended up eating only chips because it was both too dark to see and I was too tired to give a damn. Actually, this wasn’t all that bad.
  7. Fire is beautiful and the thought of roasting smores by the campsite is great until your toddler wants to play with the shiny bright thing.
  8. Raccoons are jerk faces.

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I want to like camping. I used to love it when I was a kid, but now it seems like it lacks all the things I want in my daily life; toilets, showers, hot food, no bugs. I end up feeling like, “what fresh hell is nature bringing me now?” I’ll camp if it is not torture so my kid can eat a s’more. But future self will need a fabulous RV or tasteful beekeeper suit. I can look out at nature and flip off all the bugs.

Review of ARC Herding Cats (Sarah’s Scribbles #3) by Sarah Andersen

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Image courtesy of goodreads.com

I received this as an advanced copy from Netgalley.com for an honest review.

I swear, Sarah Anderson’s strips are pixelated joy. Each one speaks to me in a different way, and I found myself nodding enthusiastically as I read them and/or laughing my ass off. She speaks to my inner animal lover and my inner anxiety and angst fueled woman. I liked this so much, I want to get some of strips printed out and hang them on the wall so moments when I am losing my mind, or having crazy anxiety due to my period and I can look up at the picture and go “ahhhh. Yes. I am not alone in this insanity.” I haven’t read the first two books in the series which is so very exciting because that means I get to experience them for the first time and look forward to all the joy. I would definitely recommend this book to any adult reader. I find some of her strips speak specifically to being a woman, but even then male readers will get a chuckle. Readdddd itttt.

Poke around the Shanghai Tunnels they said..

I want to tell you a little story about an experience I had when I first moved to portland. I went on a haunted ghost tour of downtown portland found here.

I did this for a variety of reasons:

  1. It was cheap entertainment for the evening.
  2. Gave me an opportunity to walk around like a tourist.
  3. Also, gave me a chance to hang out with my very cool friend Jessica.
  4. I like dark stories when they involve architecture and secret compartments.
  5. Even better if they feature some sort of dastardly secret society hell bent on kidnapping you and using you for nefarious purposes.
  6. I can use these stories later to not-impress family and friends when they come to town to visit me.
  7. I do believe in ghosts.
  8. I do believe that alcohol can make the above mentioned points even better.

The evening started off mild and wet. I met up with my friend Jessica and ghost hunting partner at a local bar downtown called Oldtown Brewing. This bar is renown for its excellent beer, excellent pizza and haunted and terrifying past.

“Old Town Pizza sits in what used to be called the Old North End, a section of the city with a rather questionable reputation. Despite the upstanding clientele of the Merchant Hotel, even it was known for offering one of the oldest professions in the world: prostitution. As legend goes, one of the young “working women” was Nina, sold into this life by a thriving white slavery market. In an effort to clean up the neighborhood, traveling missionaries convinced Nina to share information in exchange for freeing her from a fate she did not choose. Nina cooperated but soon afterward was found dead in the hotel, now Old Town Pizza. Thrown down the elevator shaft, Nina is reported to have never left the building. Could it be Nina who carved her name in the brick of the old elevator shaft, now the backdrop of a cozy booth in the rear of the restaurant?” https://www.otbrewing.com/haunted-past

The beer was good though, plus they had karaoke. Bad karaoke can make you wish you were dead, so that was close enough for me. I did not meet Nina, there was no hovering over my pizza while karaoke played, but I did hear a neat story told by a great storyteller.

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Entrance to the tunnel proper
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Entrance to the bowels of hell. No really just stairs to the basement.
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The weird tunnel is in the back that just leads off.
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Where we had our story time. No seance this time. 
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Old AF stairs that lead down into the basement. 

 

After our food, beer, and story where concluded. We headed down single file to the back of the restaurant and filtered through a series of hallways and stairs that lead down into the dusty and dimly lit basement. The room looked old by the wood lathe used on the walls. It smelled dusty, moldy, but with the never mistaken smell of rising pizza dough.  You can tell that it had not been used as a busy space in years except by GHOSTS! haha no really, it was pretty well not used. In the corner of the basement was a dark and cordoned off hallway that lead.. well..it led away into darkness.  I am not trying to be all mystical or scary movie-ish. It literally led out into the darkness around the corner. It was a weird hallway. We were not allowed to follow the hallway into the great beyond. My inner goonie was screaming. Apparently it is dangerous to walk around pitch black tunnels in the middle of the night that may or may not be used for slave trade and/or drug running. They could get sued. All I heard was blah blah you are ruining my fun.

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The tour continued around downtown from there. It is a walking tour after all. The guide walked and pointed and the tour group nodded sagely and occasionally took pictures. I know we visited the Bensen Hotel, which is a marvel of wood and crystal and makes me feel both very fancy and underdressed at the same time. Apparently it is said to be haunted by the ghost of the previous owner, Mr. Bensen. No freaky apparitions of men from the 1930’s wearing expensive suits were seen. I did however have another drink.

A little bit of trivia, “The Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell died in his hotel room at the Benson Hotel on November 12, 2008 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benson_Hotel)”

I hive-fived his ghost while washing my hands in the ladies loo.

 

 

 

ARC – Jimmy’s Bastards Vol. 1 by Garth Ennis, Mike Marts (Editor), Dave Johnson (Artist), Russ Braun (Colorist), John Kalisz (Cover Art), Rob Steen (Letterer)

 

I was supplied with an ARC of this novel from netgalley.com for a honest review.

Well jesus-riding-a-pogo-stick.. that is a weird take on James Bond mythos.

First lets talk about what is completely awesome about this story. It is offensive (in a good way), ribald, crazy, and exceptionally well drawn. The writing is comedic and dirty but still very smart. Typical of Ennis’s books, of which I am a huge fan. Specifically It reminds me a lot of the style of “The Boys.” Gratuitous sex and violence.

What I found to be not so hot was stories pacing. It didn’t seem to get anywhere till the very last part of the book. The rest of it was some lead up and a lot of dick jokes, Eh I really think Garth Ennis could have done better in that department.

All in all I would recommend this series to readers after they have read some of Ennis’s better work: Preacher and The Boys specifically. He really shines in those and the characters are spectacularly put together. Also this has to be said, you really should not read this book if you are not an adult and even then it’s iffy. I felt like I needed a shower to wash some mental grime off from reading some of his other stories, and this story is not an exception. However for this series there is more story to be written maybe it will get pulled together in one glorious climax (he he). We shall see where it goes.

 

ARC of Peanut Butter and Jelly (A Narwhal and Jelly Book #3) by Ben Clanton

I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley and I am new to the series. But, oh man this book has made me a believer. It is just adorable. Not adorable in the annoying cutesy – fart way, but adorable in an uncluttered and visually appealing way with great characters. I bet this series launches a lot of memes for adults and  yet it still retains a silly and approachability for young readers. I enjoyed the lighthearted tone, the graphics, and occasional interesting science fact thrown in. (Good for trivia night as an adult.)

Did you know that Humpback whales work together and make bubble nets to catch fish?

I would highly recommend this novel to the 2nd-5th grade reader and an adult who enjoys lighthearted fun.

As a side note, I can definitely empathize with Narwhal’s obsession with his new favorite food. I too find myself feeling like Narwhal. You may now call me Madam Von Peanut.

 

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Image curtesy of goodreads

Let’s Talk Graphic Novels

I know a whole lot about a few things, not that it has done me a whole lot of good being able to quote and/or extemporize on the glories of early american science fiction or why “Galapagos” by Kurt Vonnegut is so relevant today. I could teach a class on Science Fiction and Fantasy. This makes me either really annoying, and irritating when talking about books or absolutely fascinating because I am so picky. I am going with fascinating here. Don’t burst my bubble. I am wicked smaht in this one thing.

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I started to get bored. I thought to my self, “self why don’t you branch out and learn something new.” Get wicked smaht in another branch of the literature tree.  I thought graphic novels. Yay! Then I thought. LISTS! ALL THE BOOK LISTS! I can lord my love of the highlighter and crossing stuff off with reading cool books. SCORE! Then I looked around and made sure no one else was looking and gave myself the highest of fives.

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Of Course I have a list semi-prepared, because what is life if you don’t have direction and they aren’t picture books. Get that crap out of your head. I have included the first thirty off of my list because typing is hard. I actually have 100 on the list.  You can find a full list here. According to goodreads I have read a cool 60 of the 100.

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/210.Best_Graphic_Novels

  1. Watchman by Alan Moore (Mr. Moore tends to be on here a lot.)
  2. The Complete Maus (Maus, #1-2) by Art Spiegelman  
  3. V for Vendetta by Alan Moore
  4. The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi 
  5. Preludes & Nocturnes (The Sandman, #1) by Neil Gaiman (God you are beautiful Neil)
  6. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (The Dark Knight Saga, #1)
    by Frank Miller
  7. Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore
  8. Saga, Vol. 1 (Saga, #1) by Brian K. Vaughan (My favorite I think)
  9. Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1: Unmanned (Y: The Last Man, #1) 
    by Brian K. Vaughan 
  10. Blankets 
    by Craig Thompson 
  11. Batman: Year One
    by Frank Miller
  12. Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile 
    by Bill Willingham 
  13. The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye 
    by Robert Kirkman 
  14. Scott Pilgrim, Volume 1: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life 
    by Bryan Lee O’Malley 
  15. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic 
    by Alison Bechdel 
  16. Bone: The Complete Edition 
    by Jeff Smith 
  17. Sin City, Vol. 1: The Hard Goodbye (Sin City, #1) 
    by Frank Miller 
  18. Batman: The Long Halloween
    by Jeph Loeb
  19. Preacher, Volume 1: Gone to Texas 
    by Garth Ennis 
  20. Ghost World
    by Daniel Clowes
  21. Death Note, Vol. 1: Boredom (Death Note, #1)
    by Tsugumi Ohba
  22. Transmetropolitan, Vol. 1: Back on the Street (Transmetropolitan, #1) 
    by Warren Ellis
  23. From Hell
    by Alan Moore
  24. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1 
    by Alan Moore
  25. The Arrival 
    by Shaun Tan 
  26. Batman: Arkham Asylum – A Serious House on Serious Earth
    by Grant Morrison
  27. Black Hole 
    by Charles Burns 
  28. American Born Chinese 
    by Gene Luen Yang (Goodreads Author) 
  29. Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft 
    by Joe Hill (Goodreads Author) 
  30. Hellboy, Vol. 1: Seed of Destruction (Hellboy, #1) 
    by Mike Mignola 

I don’t tend to read the first book in a series, because no fun. I try to read the whole thing. Some are better than others like any piece of literature. I love this particular list because it runs the gamut in terms of story type. Autobiographical to high fantasy.

I also want to make sure I say it out loud that I don’t actually believe I will be any kind of expert on graphic novels after finishing this list. Seriously. It’s a place to start and a direction to take.