Book Review

House of Teeth – Book Review

Book Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5 stars)
Audio Book Rating: ★★★☆☆ (4/5 Stars)
Total Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.25/5 stars)

Most people avoid the swamps. But not the Lemarchands. This is where they have lived for centuries in a house filled with abnormalities and secrets. When Henry goes to visit his uncle and cousin in the Louisiana Swampland, he learns the depths of the Lemarchands secrets. Not only do they have this cool house, but he is a rootcrafter like his relatives before him, tasked to help protect the swamp from unknown beasts and the malicious Cavalier. But after he encounters an odd alligator like beast in the swamp, and his Uncle Jamison gets cursed, he and his cousin, Ren, are tasked to uncover the plot afoot…before it is too late.

A fun story that takes us into the heart of the Louisiana Bayou, the idea of rootcrafting is a unique premise that isn’t often explored. The idea that you can take an ability, a history, or a vision from touching tooth is really interesting! Henry, as the protagonist, uncovers this ability, but while rootcrafters have been in the area for years…with his arrival, the swamp beings to change.

It’s a typical story seen in middle-grade: a twelve-year-old boy discovers he has secret powers, and after being shipped off somewhere against his will (although, Henry is quite excited to spend time with his uncle and cousin), he discovers how to unlock these abilities. There’s nothing revolutionary, but it’s unique setting and magic, entwined with the swamplands, makes it enjoyable on its own.

I have two major hang ups with the story. And while these are my personal hang ups, I don’t think it will hinder children’s enjoyment of the book. For one thing, it was the timeline: Henry arrives in the swamp, a day later his uncle goes missing, and then he learns and becomes pretty proficient in rootcrafting over the course of a few days. This took his cousin, Ren, YEARS to learn. And speaking of Ren, I wish she was more than a resource of information. She has distinguished characteristics – she’s tough, a virtuoso, and a chemist – but when it came to the ultimate battle, she was just sort of…there. She’s two years older than Henry, and while she does get him out of sticky situations, she is reduced to merely an observing role by the end of the book. While this is Henry’s story, and often a protagonist takes central stage, I think showing a bit more about Ren would have helped formalize their relationship more.

Yet, House of Teeth is still a fun book! Children will enjoy, as will parents, and the audio book narrator does a great job giving each character a unique voice. If you need something to entertain a few hours, I recommend checking it out. It’s definitely worth the time.

What’s it about?

There’s more to the swamplands than meets the teeth. In this supernatural tale of magic and mysticism, Henry Lemarchand grew up in Philadelphia knowing very little of his family—his father disappeared when he was young, leaving behind only a strange pouch of animal teeth. When he is sent to the Louisiana bayou to spend the summer with his eccentric uncle and cousin in their decaying ancestral mansion, Henry learns about his family’s supernatural legacy—he is part of a long line of rootcrafters, folks who can absorb the powers and memories of anyone whose teeth they touch. In delving into his family’s strange legends, Henry soon discovers that some secrets bite back, especially in the swamplands. This tale of identity awareness and the need for belonging, is set in a world where everything is not as it seems.

Book Review

The War of the Worlds – Book Review

Book Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5 stars)
Audio Book Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5 Stars)
Total Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5 stars)

The Martians have arrived, and they will take no prisoners. No one is safe. It’s best to run.

That is the premise of The War of the Worlds by HG Wells. To an extent, the story seems familiar: an alien invasion, people fleeing, and all seems hopeless. But this is one of the first alien invasion stories, which has given way to so many more of our favorite tales today. It is not necessarily what you expect though. The tale is not told from the perspective of a grand scientist or a war general or some genius kid in a basement. This is told from the perspective of a man impacted the same way as everyone else: he forced to flee his home, survive by any means, and live in shambles until the invasion ends.

In a way, it is almost like reading a report of what happened, or a memoir. This is a man account of an invasion, similar to the recollection of a civilian caught amid the terror of a war. It’s a quest for survival, while other more talented men search for answers. In the end, there is no grand explosion like in the movie Independence Day or a negotiation like in Star Trek. No. Instead, we witness what could actually happen: disease saving the day.

Due to when the story was written, it can get wordy, which I sometimes found myself zoning out during certain parts of the story. Granted, this might also be due to the narrator or my own ability to focus (as is sometimes the case with audio books). The story meanders, which if you’re writing a recollection of your own life is often the case, and due to the narrator’s point-of-view, sometimes we’re removed from the action.

Yet, The War of the Worlds is still a book that deserves recognition. While today the idea may lack creativity, you have to remember that this was the first book to ever consider a martian invasion. Besides, this is the book that inspired Orson Welles’s radio production that supposedly tricked some listeners into believing there was a Martian invasion. It might seem foolish now, but in a time before television, such vivid descriptions might set people on edge.

While I give this book 3-stars, I don’t know if it is because of the narrator or the time period it was written that puts it back. Primarily, the winding narration got a little cumbersome. Still, that being said, I am so glad I read this book. It puts my favorite sci-fi books into perspective.

What’s it about?

First published by H. G. Wells in 1898, The War of the Worlds is the granddaddy of all alien invasion stories. The novel begins ominously, as the lone voice of a narrator intones, “No one would have believed in the last years of the 19th century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s.”

Things then progress from a series of seemingly mundane reports about odd atmospheric disturbances taking place on Mars to the arrival of Martians just outside of London. At first, the Martians seem laughable, hardly able to move in Earth’s comparatively heavy gravity, even enough to raise themselves out of the pit created when their spaceship landed. But soon the Martians reveal their true nature as death machines 100 feet tall rise up from the pit and begin laying waste to the surrounding land. Wells quickly moves the story from the countryside to the evacuation of London itself and the loss of all hope as England’s military suffers defeat after defeat.

With horror, the narrator describes how the Martians suck the blood from living humans for sustenance and how it’s clear that man is not being conquered so much as corralled.

Book Review

Notorious RBG – Book Review

Book Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5 stars)
Audio Book Performance: ★★★☆☆ (3/5 Stars)
Total Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5 stars)

On September 18th, 2020, I opened Facebook to discover the terrible news: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had passed away. Champion of women’s rights, feminist icon, and notorious for her dissents, the United States lost one of its most noble justices. While I was mourning with many others across the nation, for both this amazing woman and for the uncertain future of the supreme court, I realized I didn’t know that much about her. Yes, I knew she was a leading force in the feminist movement and a powerhouse on the Supreme Court, but what adversary did she face? Why was she so strong? So I scoured the internet and found this book, Notorious RBG.

And notorious she is.

This book was fast read (or listen in my case) detailing RBG’s life in a way that would make her proud. I fell more in love with this woman as I learned about her life: a Jewish Woman from Brooklyn, born the same year as my grandmother, she went through many struggles that to me, a millennial, see as a product of the past. Women couldn’t open a bank account without their husband? No maternity leave? While today we still face issues regarding equal pay and the right body autonomy, it’s amazing the hurdles RBG had to overcome. This book gives only glimpse of what she had to deal with, read more like a newspaper report than a novel, but that’s okay. For someone who just wants to dabble in RBG’s life, this is enough to get a feel for this woman.

RBG was more than just the hardworking, nocturnal justice who refused to step back. She was an advocate, a loving partner and mother, an opera enthusiast, and calculated and well thought out individual. She really did do 20 push ups a day, according to her trainer, and while people asked her to step down, she said it wasn’t time. RBG fought the stereotypes placed against women, and even though she is gone, her work is far from over.

RBG has empowered a generation of women to rise up.

Sure, some people on both sides of the political aisle might not agree with her politics. The right might call her a radical feminist, or the left might consider her too compromising. But you have to admire the way she tackled law: educate others but force their opinion. Forcing an opinion ultimately brings backlash, as she detailed with Roe v. Wade. Everything must be done with precision for RBG, that is what made her dissents even more striking and detailed.

As this book was written before Donald Trump’s election in 2016, I do wonder how RBG’s opinions changed. Did she regret not stepping down during Obama’s presidency? (Probably not.) Did she fear for our country and her legacy? (I would imagine so.) But did she fight? (Absolutely.)

I intend to keep learning about RBG and other women who have helped make my life today possible. This won’t be the last book about Ruth Bader Ginsburg I’ll read.

What’s it about?

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg never asked for fame—she has only tried to make the world a little better and a little freer.

But nearly a half-century into her career, something funny happened to the octogenarian: she won the internet. Across America, people who weren’t even born when Ginsburg first made her name as a feminist pioneer are tattooing themselves with her face, setting her famously searing dissents to music, and making viral videos in tribute.

Notorious RBG, inspired by the Tumblr that amused the Justice herself and brought to you by its founder and an award-winning feminist journalist, is more than just a love letter. It draws on intimate access to Ginsburg’s family members, close friends, colleagues, and clerks, as well an interview with the Justice herself. An original hybrid of reported narrative, annotated dissents, rare archival photos and documents, and illustrations, the book tells a never-before-told story of an unusual and transformative woman who transcends generational divides. As the country struggles with the unfinished business of gender equality and civil rights, Ginsburg stands as a testament to how far we can come with a little chutzpah.

Book Review

Knit One, Girl Two – Book Review

Book Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 / 5 stars)

Clara Ziegler is trying to come up with a new color combination for her custom yarn dyes that she sells. When she pasts by a local gallery hosting wildlife painting by Danielle Solomon, inspiration strikes. But what Clara expect is how captivating Danielle is as well, with similar interests and passions as her. But can Clara find the courage to ask Danielle out?

In an adorable slice of life story, Shira Glassman takes us through a moment of time we’ve all experienced: a crush blossoming out of nowhere, and a girl trying her best to either hide it or take the next step. The story is straight forward, adorable, and realistic. It’s not like Danielle knocked Clara off her feet: these are two LGBTQ women who find themselves drawn to one and other by similar interests as well as looks. Their similar interest: color.

As a Jewish Girl based in Florida, with a knitting hobby, I saw myself in part of this story. I am not a Lesbian like Clara, but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t relatable. The jokes about Jewish food, as well as the mind numbing element of garter stitches, left me giggling. And even without being a part of the LGBTQ+ community, Clara and Danielle’s early romance was adorable and relatable.

Yet, as with any short story, something is left to be desired. While the romance meandered at just the right pace, giving the reader a chance to get to know Clara and Danielle, part of me would have loved to really get to know their background and family more. But that is what happens often with a short story; some things have to be left out.

The story was absolutely adorable though. It isn’t common to see a cute romance about two Jewish women, which made it all the better.

So, if you have 45 minutes, definitely check it out! It’s worth it.

What’s it about?

Small-batch independent yarn dyer Clara Ziegler is eager to brainstorm new color combinations–if only she could come up with ideas she likes as much as last time! When she sees Danielle Solomon’s paintings of Florida wildlife by chance at a neighborhood gallery, she finds her source of inspiration. Outspoken, passionate, and complicated, Danielle herself soon proves even more captivating than her artwork…

Fluffy Jewish f/f contemporary set in the author’s childhood home of South Florida.

Book Review

The Dragon Squisher – Book Review

Book Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5/5 stars)
Audio Book Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5 Stars)
Total Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5/5 stars)

Sometimes the tales we love aren’t quite what they seem, and sometimes the heroes is actually a little bit of a cuss-hole. That’s the case with 14-year-old Nigel, digger of latrines, shoveler of poop, and single greatest threat to Esteria…due to his ability to just mess things up all the time. Yet when he and his best friend Lance are tasked with finding a magical (or possibly mythical) relic, they are sent on a voyage that might be impossible. Can they, with the help of a gork named Eldrack, find this relic…and stop the return of the pernicious Lord Smoron? Or will they make more of a mess of the impending situation?

In an epic voyage that makes fun of classics such as The Lord of the Rings, we adventure with Nigel through Esteria, discovering how magic can both be convenient and quite annoying. Nigel is an arrogant young man, as are many 14-year-old boys, focused on girls and having a bit of fun. This is the crux of his problem though: he doesn’t think, and ends up creating a his own problems. Compared to many other stories where the hero is influenced by outside elements, such as Frodo being put on a quest in The Lord of the Rings, it is a breath of fresh air to read a story so influenced by a character’s mistakes. Each piece of the stories comes together like a puzzle, and slowly the reader will begin to see how one choice Nigel makes impacts everything through the narrative. In a way, Nigel is in control of his own destiny, especially as magic begins to reemerge in a blanket of chaos.

Yet Nigel’s arrogance serves as his downfall to the reader as well. Since he tells the story, often we are stuck listening to his distorted view. He’s annoying, although he holds to his convictions. Overall, this is a testament to the author able to write a 14-year-old boy so accurately. I was convinced through the entire story that a 14-year-old was telling me it. Yet, being a 14-year-old also takes away from some of the other characters. As a first person narrative, we see Nigel’s perspective on his friends. Lance is well developed, holding onto the gallivant knight persona throughout the story, but Eldrack, the one woman in their party, suffers from it. She is displayed as being tough and angry most of the time, with no nuance to her character. Most of the time, Nigel is self reflective. How can he help his friends? How can he stop this? The rest of the party is along for the ride, providing some help along the way, cracking jokes, but not much else. In addition, my feelings are uncertain about Lance’s story line. On one hand, I am happy to see a gay main character…but, the fact that it is based in discrimination as well being served as a slight joke, makes me uncomfortable. I think readers will have to decide how this makes them feel overall.

With all that being said, this is a fun read! Nigel and his friends are ridiculous, and the entire world they live in is hysterical. Instead of magical rings gifted to all, you have magical panties, magic cuff-links, and magical amulets. Their legendary hero is a half-ling named Elbo, the dragons smell like poo, and giant slugs are one Nigel’s main foes. I think everyone will have a roaring good time listening to this. Because that’s the point: it’s fun!

Yet, as a side note, even though this book is classified as middle-grade, I would not recommend it to anyone under the age of twelve. Some parts of it, especially in the military academy, are dark. There is mention of war, death, and torture that might make some children uncomfortable. While none of it is graphic, it definitely isn’t going to be a story for the younger children.

Still, if you want a fun, silly novel, check out The Dragon Squisher. You’ll be smiling all the way through.

What’s it about?

“Before I can begin my tale, you need to know about the king’s panties.” 

So begins the epic adventure of 14-year-old Nigel, digger of latrines, shoveler of poop, and the single greatest threat to all the humans, elves, and halflings of Esteria. 

Nigel needs to escape from military school. Who can blame him? After all, the king just declared war on the gorks, and he’s pretty sure his latrine-digging skills aren’t going to be much good on the front lines. 

Problem is, Nigel’s escape efforts have a way of backfiring, taking him further from home, and destroying, well, pretty much everything that gets in his way. By the time he and his arch-frenemy are banished from the kingdom and sent on an impossible quest for a (probably bogus) magical artifact, the humans of Esteria find themselves longing for the good old days when they were merely being annihilated by Lord Smoron. 

Book one of the Nigel Chronicles, The Dragon Squisher tell the story of how Nigel, his too-perfect comrade Lance Hightower, and Eldrack, a female gork prisoner with a well-earned grudge against humans, usher in a new era of chaos and magic.

Book Review

The Mythical Universe: The Beginning – Book Review

Book Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3 / 5 stars)

Aria has always been a skeptic. Vampires? Nah. Aliens? Absolutely not. Werewolves? That’s a joke. But after leaving an abusive relationship, her twin brother ropes her into becoming a paranormal investigator. At least it pays the bills, right? But as she begins investigating supernatural activity, her live begins to unravel. Lights appear in the sky reminiscent of UFOs, and her new crush, Tyler, radiates this odd energy that she cannot ignore. But, as she begins to unravel Tyler’s secrets, she discovers an entire mythical universe that is far more vast than she ever imagined.

A fun, fast paced read, Mythical Universe: The Beginning, takes us on a long, winding journey through a world where everything we consider a myth is real. Aria is a relatable character, being placed in a situation most of us can understand: one without choice. Her mind is utterly blown by everything that happens, making her question what she knew about the world in the first place. In away, her life unfolds like the TV show Supernatural, with so much more out there than she knows what to do with it. But rather than fighting demons and monsters, she is thrown head first into all of it…because it is where she belongs.

I had fun reading this book! Aria is a believable character who you root for from the beginning. While some of what she goes through is unbelievable…isn’t that the point of fantasy? Suspend disbelief and be taken into a world where you wildest dreams exist: vampires, fairies, time travelers, shifters, and more! Doesn’t the world need a little bit more magic like that? But, while all of these unbelievable creatures vie for power, we also take time to see a strong young woman grow. While her life seems laid out for her by a higher power, towards the end of the book, Aria takes on her own destiny. She knows what she stands for, and being stubborn, she won’t let some ancient deity get in her way.

My biggest hang up with the book was pacing. I think it would have benefited being a bit longer, giving us a chance to explore Aria’s emotions more, as well as get to really experience all the places she travels. We hop from California, to Spain, to Mars, to Faeries, to Vampires, and to the City of Gods so quickly, that we only get a brief look at what these worlds are like…as well as Aria and her friends’ own amazement. While Aria is often struck by disbelief, not all of it stays. While I understand overtime she accepts how strange her life has become, I would have loved to spend a bit more time exploring her internal conflict earlier on in the story. In addition, this would have helped her relationships appear more organic. (Although, Aria and Tyler are absolutely adorable and I only want the best for them!)

As a side note: during this book I realized, that personally I enjoy descriptions and moments of reflection. Many people like these fast paced books, where the plot moves quickly. While I hate for a plot to be too slow, it’s also important to get a chance to breathe and absorb where the story is going. This is a personal taste more than anything, and is never a reflection of the author in any way shape or form.

That being said, I did have a lot of fun with this book and cannot wait to read the second book in the series, Mythical Universe: The Showdown. I look forward to seeing Aria come into her own strength, as well as all the mythic people and creatures she encounters next.

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What’s it about?

Fresh out of an abusive relationship, Aria moves in with her twin brother, Alex, ready for a new start. He offers her a job working with him as a paranormal investigator, which she reluctantly agrees to. Aria is a skeptic of anything she cannot see with her eyes. Alex, on the other hand, has always been a believer in anything and everything paranormal. When Aria and Alex go to California to help investigate a large building where strange things are happening she has no idea how her world is going to be turned upside down. When they arrive, she meets Tyler, one of the biggest mysteries she never saw coming. He’s a tall and sexy man, but her attraction to him is more than that. She can’t explain why she can feel the energy pulsing from him. During the investigation, things start to unfold and very quickly, Aria comes to realize she isn’t who she thought she was. She may not even be human. Together with Tyler and Alex, she goes on a pursuit to find out the truth. Traveling through planets and dimensions, meeting creatures she only thought existed in fantasy stories, she will have to question everything she ever believed. When she finds out the truth what will that mean for her and Alex? And what about Tyler? How does he fit in with all of this? The Mythical Universe: The Beginning is an action-packed story full of time traveling, hybrids, aliens, vampires, fairies and so much more.

Book Review

The Messengers – Book Review

Book Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5 stars)
Audio Book Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5 Stars)
Total Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5/5 stars)

The galaxy has been at war for decades. When Zane, a messenger, comes head-to-head with a refugee, he talks just a little too much, getting himself into more trouble than he anticipated. A young man confused by his duties in a war and plague ravaged society, he inadvertently gets a scientist from the opposing side captured. Little does he know that she is a geneticist that sees DNA as something as more than a puzzle: but a messenger itself.

Meanwhile, a seemingly normal mission to deliver a package causes a soldier and a pilot to disclose more about their pasts than they intend. Could their pasts be the key to the future?

While the fates of these individuals do not transform the galaxy, this short audible production, reminiscent of a playwright script, takes us on a simple voyage, asking the single question: how do we carry our pasts? Does it matter what is in our blood, or are we defined by our actions?

While this short play-like story is not revolutionary, it’s fun to listen to as a whole. I got a feel of the different characters, their universe, and their conflict in the one hour listen. Would it have been as good on paper? I’m not sure. But even with only dialogue and sound-effects to tell the story, it was enough to understand the overall conflict and dilemma. Was all the dialogue realistic? Not necessarily. But as is with any play on paper, sometimes you need more dialogue to explain what is going on.

I don’t think this needed to be longer in order to tell its tale. While there is much more in this universe to be explored, the goal of this story was simple: show us the past and how it relays into the future, and the conflicts that coincide with it.

This might not be for everyone, but as a sci-fi lover, I thought it did a fantastic job. If you want a quick listen on audible, I encourage you to check it out. I had fun with it at least.

What’s it about?

A mysterious plague ushers in an intergalactic war that ravages the galaxy for decades. A soldier and a pilot are tasked to deliver a package. A messenger and a refugee decide to work together on a dying alien planet. A love letter is lost that could be the key to a new future. A dark comedy about the messages we carry in our bones.

Book Review

The Magic Misfits: The Fourth Suit – Book Review

Book Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5 stars)
Audio Book Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5 Stars)
Total Rating: ★★★★★ (4.5/5 stars)

The Magic Misfits are back in their final act, but will they take a bow at the end? After a tumultuous summer with the nefarious Kalagan stirring up chaos, ultimately resulting in the destruction of Vernon’s Magic Shop, the Magic Misfits have been forced to meet in the shadows. This time, we take a journey through Ridley’s eyes, as she tries to thwart Kalagan’s plans one last time as well as mend the ties between her friends and her family. In a fun, high-stakes finale, filled with the magic of friendship and transformative word, embark on the Magic Misfits’ finale as they question everything they know.

Throughout the entire series, we have seen Ridley as the hard-headed, tough-as-nails, loyal friend. Now, in the finale, we get to see her in full; she is terrified of losing her friends and family, particularly to herself. She is constantly battling her inner turmoil, trying to mediate her personality, while also holding to her convictions. Children need to see this: not every hero is perfect. As truths unravel in Mineral Wells, that made even more pertinent. Things aren’t always as they seem. While many things seemed to come together by coincidence, Kalagan’s influence has been there throughout the whole story, playing each piece, one at a time, to bring our misfits together.

But even those we trust might not be trustworthy. Ridley knows this, and even if the truth hurts, she’ll stop at nothing to make sure her friends understand. Without Ridley, the Misfits might not have taken a final bow. They might have succumbed to Kalagan’s influence.

But they also could never act alone. Neil Patrick Harris has painted this group as equals; no matter their strengths and weaknesses, without each other, Kalagan might have won. While Kalagan is cunning, with multiple twists up his sleeves (one of which I anticipated, but the other I did not), he cannot win against such a close and important group of magical children.

In a satisfying conclusion to the series, we see all these pieces come together. Each child gets the chance to shine. But I think what is even more important about this book is Ridley. The fact that she is in a wheelchair is never seen as an inconvenience or an annoyance to her or her friends. She is strong, smart, and resourceful. There are important accommodations made by her friends, but never as a burden. Children need this…and adults do too: no one is a burden.

In fact, Ridley’s insecurities come more from her behavior. Is she too harsh? Too mean? Is she going to end up like her workaholic mother? What is left unsaid is more important than what is said, proving one heavy point: Ridley is a child just like any other.

Ultimately, this story is about trust. Everyone keeps secrets, but a secret should never cause someone to be misdirected. If a secret is such a burden, you lay the grounds to be manipulated by a man such as Kalagan. In the end, if you want your friendships to thrive, have trust in each other. It’s essential.

The Fourth Suit is a satisfying conclusion to a fun, but also heartwarming, story about a group of magical misfits. I highly recommend, whether young or old, you take a journey with the group. I am sure Carter, Laila, Theo, Ridley, Izzy, and Ollie would be happy to have you.

What’s it about?

Ridley Larsen is everything you want in a friend. She’s tough as nails, she’s fiercely loyal, and she’s smart as a whip. But she can be a harsh critic, which has put her position with the Magic Misfits on the rocks, even as the threat of the group’s longtime enemy Kalagan looms large. Ever since his recent appearance in Mineral Wells, the kids know that a showdown with the vicious magician is imminent.

They must first deal with a series of odd instances and random attacks, though, all of which they use to bring themselves closer to discovering where Kalagan may be hiding, and the nature of his true identity. But can Ridley finally master her temper and put her essential magical skills to good use? She’ll do anything to protect her friends, and when the time comes, she’ll find that the Magic Misfits are strongest when they all work together.

Join the Magic Misfits as they discover adventure, friendship, and more than a few hidden secrets in this finale of the unique and surprising series. Whether you’re a long-time expert at illusion or simply a new fan of stage magic, hold on to your top hat

Book Review

Dead Jack & The Pandemonium Device- Book Review

Book Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5 stars)
Audio Book Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5 stars)
Total Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5 stars)

Life shouldn’t be hard for dead guy, but for Jack the only thing that seems to make him happy is pixie dust. He’ll stop at nothing to get some to, taking on odd detective jobs, such as searching for a Goblin Queen’s missing cats. Little does he expect that the search for cats unveils a plot by a former acquaintance to destroy Pandemonium and return to the “real” world.

In a story reminiscent of many adult cartoons – such as Rick & Morty and Futurama – Dead Jack takes on an almost cartoonish, but still fantastical and creepy, approach to a dimension filled dead and undead creatures alike. With the help his homonculus partner, Oswald, as well as from a half-pixie witch and an insane bat god, Jack inevitably is forced to save the day. The characters are fun, unique, and ultimately charming in their odd ways, even if Jack can be petty.

A straightforward story with interesting characters is always the type to keep me engaged. It might not be for everyone, since it does start with Jack behead a leprechaun after a disagreement. He is a zombie (addicted to pixie dust) after all. Dark and twisted in the best ways, you’ll want see where Jack’s antics take him next. Overall, it’s fun, and that’s what matters.

I do wish we could have spent more time with Oswald and some of the other characters. To an extent, Jack as our narrator is one of the more normal and less interesting characters. That probably why he makes a good narrator though. He’s zombie, but he’s fundamentally human at heart. Even though he claims his soul is gone, to an extent, I think he has more soul than anyone else. He just hides it under an exterior of nonchalance.

The story of the Pandemonium Device wraps up nicely, but with enough of a cliffhanger that readers will be back for more. Is his dear little buddy okay? Will he find his soul? Will the Leprechauns get their revenge?

I guess I’ll find out in the next book.

What’s it about?

Dead Jack and the Pandemonium Device kicks off a wild and irreverent fantasy / horror series following the exploits of a zombie detective and his homunculus frenemy. In the fast-paced novel, the drug-addicted zombie detective and his shapeshifting sidekick battle and outsmart supernatural creatures, from tough-guy leprechauns to sex-obsessed shark women and insane bat gods, in a hellish, alternate New York City of the 1940s.

Book Review

The Cthulhu Casebooks: Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadow – Book Review

Book Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5 stars)
Audio Book Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5 stars)
Total Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5 stars)

Everyone knows the story of Sherlock Holmes. The original story, A Study in Scarlet, has paved the way for this notable detective to influence ever element of popular culture. But, even John Watson lies. At the end of his days, Watson has decided to tell us the truth. There is more to Sherlock Holmes than being a witty detective. He had stretched the truth and changed the stories to suit a better narrative, for the truth is much darker. Upon meeting Sherlock Holmes by pure chance in a pub, rather than introduced by a friend as he so claimed (although the friend is still to blame), Watson and Holmes embark on a journey that takes them to the world of Eldritch Gods, the Necronomicon, and deaths that defy humanity.

Sherlock Holmes answers the call of Cthulhu in James Lovegrove’s retelling of Sherlock Holmes. In a tale told in the same format as the original Sherlock Holmes stories, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, this first part of The Cthulhu Casebooks feels as if it comes right out of the original narrative. Even if you don’t know every Sherlock Holmes story, or only have a small knowledge of HP Lovecraft’s work, you’ll be able to follow along with this adventure. The Old Gods are real, and they are haunting London as shadows, taking lives and stumping even the notorious Sherlock Holmes.

While Lovegrove stays true to the original characters, the retelling did grow a little cumbersome. It spent time recounting details, as is customary with Sherlock Holmes’s stories, and I found myself losing focus on certain passages that went into the deep details of the Old Gods. This is of course expected in a story that combines two author’s work: the author is forced to find a balance between telling the readers enough without confusing them.

As per expected, Moriarty becomes the villain, as is with every Sherlock Holme’s tale. To Sherlock, the answers always come easily, and as is per usual with any Sherlock Holmes tale, he always has a cunning way out of every situation. To some extent though, Sherlock facing these Old Gods seemed almost too intense and bizarre, even for him.

Finally, it can’t go unsaid that since the story tries to stay loyal to its source material, there are instances of racism and prejudiced dotted throughout the story. While the author attempts to rectify this in a preface, taking the role of a fictional author from our time who came into possession of the manuscripts, it is important to be aware of these faults. Yes, it keeps them close to the source material, but could they have been handled better? Possibly.

With all that being said, it was an entertaining read. I’ll probably pick up the next book eventually, more so out of curiosity of how Sherlock Holmes deals with these perplexing foes. It’s just not at the very top of my to-read list.

What’s it about?

In the stews of London’s East End, an outbreak of insanity sees ordinary men and women reduced to gibbering, incoherent wrecks; a mysterious creeping fog hides terrifying apparitions within that rob the wits of all who see them and even inspire suicide.

Sherlock Holmes, in the infancy of his detecting career, deduces a connection between these sinister “shadows” and an Oriental drug lord who is bent on expanding his criminal empire. Yet there are even more sinister forces at work, as the great detective faces a challenge so fearsome and deadly that his career may be over almost as soon as it has begun.