“Wytches” by Scott Snyder

Yes, this is another comic book/graphic novel. I do believe as well that it is a stand-alone. I saw it when it was still in comic issues and thought it looked super cool, so when the graphic novel came out I grabbed it right away. It would technically continue on, but I think it works perfectly as a stand-alone.

The comic is about the Rooks family – Charlie, Lucy, and Sailor. They recently moved to a new town – your standard fresh start from trauma. Lucy was in a car accident leaving her paralyzed from the waist down, and Sailor was bullied until the bully was attacked by …something in the trees.

Because of the story, a single volume graphic novel works. You feel fulfilled at the end, and while the BROADER story is obviously not cleared up, this small section of story is. It feels like it is part of a wider world, a grander story, and the way they left the Rooks, it is possible to carry on the story, but they also didn’t HAVE to.

Since it IS a small story, pretty much anything I say is spoilers.

Sailor was drawn out to the woods by a girl who had been bullying her for a while, with the intention of beating her or killing her (the girl brought a gun, and you only do that with one thing in mind). But something in the woods takes the bully, dragging her into a tree. She had hit Sailor in the head with the butt of her gun before the was attacked, so the police passed off Sailors story as a hallucination from a concussion. Cause naturally, who would believe monsters in the trees dragged her into a tree.

After the move Sailor is attacked in her bedroom, but a twisted and horrifying version of her bully.

This was my second read through because the first I remember feeling confused and couldn’t really remember the story now. The second read through reminded me of why I was confused, but also since I had a VAGUE memory of what happened, I was able to piece things together.

Because the story is kind of the middle of the Rooks story, you are following them, but also flashbacks to explain why things are happening in the story now. Even though this is a horror story about scary witches that eat children, it also holds themes of substance abuse, mental health, family ties, careful what you wish for, corruption, greed, and how far would you go to protect the ones you love? A lot of these I didn’t really pick up the first time through. The second time I noticed much more. Charlie is a comic artist, but he wrote the book as a way to overcome the horrible path he was down, to remind himself that he had great things in his life and didn’t want to lose that. But, because they are covering all of these views, sometimes the story gets lost in itself. When you go from current time, to a flashback, then to a panel of the “comic”, then back to the regular story, it does get a little confusing.

Also, the comic Charlie is writing reflects the themes of the rest of the book, which I also did not notice the first time. It kind of gives away the ending of the book, which I didn’t notice until the second time through. Which I did think was pretty interesting.

I love stories that grow the more you read them. I think that would be my only complaint of the book, is you really need to read it more than once to truly get it. I actually liked it more on my second read through, so there is that.

It is a great story, heart-breaking and heart-warming, scary (I also have a very skewed view of Horror so this might be more scary than I realized. I grew up reading and watching horror so not much scares me. If you are sensitive to horror PLEASE be wary of my recommendations.) and not reliant on media and pop culture references. They make a loose mention of Hansel and Gretel, which was fitting, so it didn’t seem out of place. If you are looking for a quick scary read about a father doing everything he can to protection his family, I recommend this one!

“The Wise man’s fear” by Patrick Rothfuss

This is the second book in the Kingkiller chronicles, the first being “The Name of the Wind”. Kvothe’s adventures continue …and I learned in this book it’s not pronounced “Ka-Vo-Thee”, the e is silent.

I loved Name of the Wind, I remember I couldn’t put the book down. Now, while this book is still incredible, it’s taking me forever because I sit it down after only a few pages. I’m having the same problem I had with “Bladerunner/Do androids dream of electric sheep” …I can sum up Bladerunner in one sentence “man kills androids to afford goat”. The first 400 (give or take) pages of The Wise man’s fear can be summed up as “Kvothe does increasingly stupid things to afford school tuition”. Granted, it’s a 1000 page book, but it was relatively boring to get through the first bit.

Let me reel it back in for a minute. The story continues with Kote, Kvothe’s modern persona, telling his story to a Chronicler. The way the story is told is interesting because it has the “Interview with a Vampire” vibe of the main story stopping because of things like customers coming in. I will always remember in Interview when the story stopped because the tape on the recording device had run out and Louis stopped the story to mention it. I have always found that method of writing quite interesting, it lets the author time jump without having to do “flashbacks” or just straight up confusing the reader. This method gives the reader a cue so our brains can immediately go “oh okay, we are here now!” and skip the momentary “wtf is going on?”. Plus, the story is in Kvothe’s point of view, while the other is not because it is also following the chronicler and Bast, Kote’s companion. Diana Gabaldon did this method too when she started introducing other people’s points of view, once again, training the readers brains that alternate perspectives = alternate voice. And it would be a real shame to miss anything with Bast, he is a mass of chaos and an absolute delight. As for the story Kote is telling, he’s still at the Archanist school, excelling at this, playing his lute every night at the bar he gets room and board in for a bit of extra money, making stupid decisions that end up pushing him further into dismay, courting a wonderful flighty girl named Denna, and cultivating the hatred of another student – Ambrose.

This rivalry kind of carries the main story, Ambrose belongs to a rich and powerful family who has all the money and power available to him to ruin Kvothes life …Kvothe has …his wit. Seems like an uneven battle, but never underestimate any creative and driven mind. While his attempts to get at Ambrose don’t always work, he makes sure he can’t be traced back to the event. Ambrose is the same, but while Kvothe covers his tracks, Ambrose hires people. Hire people to stab Kvothe in an alleyway? Check. Buy a bar and have the new “owner” refuse to let Kvothe play there? Check. Pay a distraught woman to slip poison into Kvothe’s drink? Check. Spread rumors so he can’t get a Patron? Check. And finally, the break the monotony of “Kvothe raises money for school”, spread rumors about malfeasance (the dangerous use of magic) and drag Kvothe to court.

In the first 400 pages Kvothe does his school work, tries to find a Patron (basically, person who pays you to do a certain task, kind of a boss but more personal), and does his best to find out more about the Chandrian. Unfortunately, he has exhausted the library at the school, and without a Patron, can’t get into the religious libraries or large personal libraries of other nobles. With a Patron he could get a letter of reference, especially if his Patron is high ranking enough, and every library everywhere would be open to him.

After the court case, where Kvothe is found innocent (guilty would have been a death penalty) several people (friends and teachers) recommend he take a semester or so off school to let the controversy calm down. Even Ambrose took time away, even though nothing could be traced back to him, logically everyone knew he was somehow involved.

While wandering the district, a friend who was looking for a Patron for Kvothe found a prospect – a rich man (equivalent to a King) is looking for a clever youth to live with him and help him. Only catch, is it’s in Severen, while rich and beautiful, is a little backwater in its view of “magic”. Once there, Kvothe has to navigate and entire new set of rules, both personal, cultural, and in dealing with Nobility. From stopping a plot to kill his Patron, to helping him woo a suitor. Kvothe’s story does not stop there.

Out of the school the story does pick up, I will give it that, its just trying to get past the school stuff.

The book is incredibly well written, fun, and for the most part fast paced. While the 1000pages might be daunting, if you are looking for good fantasy without too many dungeons or dragons, this is it. Yes, this book is about magic, but Rothfuss’ approach to it makes it almost scientific, so no throwing fireballs here.

“Serpentine” by Laurell K Hamilton

This is her newest book in the Anita Blake series, by now we are over 20 books in so it seems redundant to say spoilers? I did a general review of the series waaaaaaaay back in the day so if you want to read that first, go ahead. I know, “why review a book so deep in a series without reviewing every book beforehand?” First – I started reading Anita Blake loooooong before I even met my co-writer Asteria (who will be back eventually, the apocalypse sucks and she works in a Hospital), so the memory of those early books is pretty much gone. Second – It’s the apocalypse and STUFF in general is just hard to come by. So, unfortunately, I’ll be reviewing like, 5 authors. I updated my Kobo and lost the ability to upload books onto it. I can only get books through the company that bought Kobo. So I have no way of reading a bunch of books that were sent to me. I keep meaning to look for an ereader for my phone or tablet, but neither of those things connect to my computer so I still don’t know how I’d get them onto those devices. So yeah, you get reviews for whatever books I have around the house.

That out of the way I have some super sad news. I think …I think …I think I’m falling out of love with the Anita Blake series. I’ve always loved the fast paced murder mystery with a heavy heaping of supernatural, and Anita’s sharp wit, determination, and the fact she isn’t really like your standard heroine. Little warning is she never shies away from sexuality. It’s not a taboo, they talk about poly relationships and how those work, most of the characters are LGBTQ, so it’s nice to see all of these topics approached without taboo or shame (well, for the most part, it is sometimes brought up to create BS tension).

But now …Hamilton always has a few duds, books that maybe didn’t have a great idea to begin with but, hey, publishers right? But this one …the book is HUGE (well, 400+ pages isn’t truly huge but bigger than a vast majority of her books), and I was literally 200 pages in and turned to my Husband and went “Nothing is happening …200 pages and nothing has happened!” How the hell do you have a plot about PEOPLE’S LIMBS LITERALLY TURNING INTO SNAKES and in 200 pages nothing has happened?

I’ve always had my complaints about her writing. You all know how much I HATE Girl-hate, it’s 2021, time to grow out of that 90s BS. But I also complain about the fact Anita feels the need to explain everything, even if she has a thought about something, she immediately turns it into a 5 page explanation (even when the two sentence explanation works). This books seemed to take everything I hate about the series, and just leans into it. 200 pages and Anita had changed scenes twice because every step she takes they have to stop and talk about emotional things, someone gets pissed, and they have to explain more. I wanted to count, but I didn’t think of it until half way through but I need to count every time Anita says some variant of “what did you just say?” In a page and a half she had said it 4 times, creating conflict that wasn’t there and leading to more emotional talking. Talking about emotions is great, the fact Hamilton has Anita openly talking about therapy, and the fact EVERYONE, doesn’t matter their age, race, whatever, goes to therapy. I love that. But she doesn’t need to stop and have a 2 chapter emotional talk when Anita is trying to have sex with her partners.

Sex. Speaking of. Spoilers? Anita, through everything she has been through with Jean-Claude, has become a succubus. She is still TECHNICALLY human, not vampire, so she doesn’t feed on blood, but sexual energy. So she needs to have someone around all the time that she can have sex with. It’s called the “Ardeur” (I think I spelled that right?) and if she does not feed it she starts draining her animals to call. An animal to call is a Were-Beast that is psychically linked to their Master Vampire, and since Anita is kind of a Vampire she gets an animal too. Most Vampires have ONE animal breed, but Anita has them all. Anita sits on the fringe of Mary Sue, but even though she is naturally powerful she has had to FIGHT for everything. So I will give her that.

One of the big drama’s in this book is Anita isn’t having enough sex with her lovers and they are becoming jealous of her work. I see this a lot, hell, in my own life. It makes me so mad, people work to have a better life, food, a roof, and some work to help other people. My husband is out of town for 2 months to cut trees along the rail line so trains have better vision at crossings (meaning they can see if people are there). I complained in the whole “I’ll miss you” thing, but I didn’t stop him, I wasn’t truly mad at him, just selfishly sad cause I miss him. But some of the guys he works with have partners that bitch and complain and give them ultimatums when they have to leave for work or do extra work (one guy has to be home every other weekend or else he loses rights to his kids). I literally don’t understand. So the fact this ended up in the book just pissed me off (cause the book already contained nothing but all the things I hate about the series). Nathaniel is pissy, Micah is pissy, Jean-Claude is barely in it. It’s childish. I think that’s what bothers me the most – every situation is approached with a childish attitude. Every person approaches a situation with “it’s my way or the highway and if I don’t get my way I will throw a tantrum”. It’s tiring to read.

Let’s move onto my favorite topic …Girl Hate. The Irony of this book is Anita quotes feminism things and talks about equality and whatever, yet EVERY SINGLE WOMAN in these books is a raging bitch only out to steal Anita’s men. Literally that’s their only purpose (even her female guards hate her). They are all rude and cruel to Anita even if they don’t know her. And as soon as they find out the attractive men are dating Anita, they do everything they can to steal them. Only to prove how much these men love Anita, of course. But Jesus Christ, it is an old method of building tension and frankly, pardon my language, I’m fucking tired of it. Women are already portrayed horribly in the media (the amount of catty bitchy women in media vs the amount of actually catty bitchy women in real life is VASTLY different, like 100 – 1), we don’t need a female author to perpetuate this shit in the guise of making her Protagonist better. There are other ways to do it, so just fucking stop.

With that off my chest (my husband could hear my grumbling every night and asked “This is going to be a really angry review isn’t it?” he knows me too well), onto the actual story.

Micah, out of town on a Were-Beast job (he runs a coalition to assist Were-Beasts), calls Anita for help. He can’t find an answer and the family he is trying to help finally allowed him to seek outside assistance. They are not were-snakes, the family believes there is some kind of curse placed on them. When they get older (triggered by puberty kind of thing), limbs will randomly erupt into a nest of snakes. Micah showed Anita pictures of people with snake clusters sticking out of sleeves, or legs. Not a typical lycanthrope. They don’t bond with those snakes the way a Were bonds with their animal, they don’t control the change, but if the snakes are cut off the arm will grow back, like a Were-Beast. They are pulled in with the task of finding the root and curing this apparent “curse”.

Now for my next problem. Most of these books are Crime first, Anita bullshit second …but this books flips it. Edward (AKA: Ted Forrester) is getting married and everyone is invited. It also happens to be in the same area as the snake curse family so it was perfect. The beginning of the book was getting ready to head for the wedding, and then the wedding and hotel where the Girl Hate can run rampant.

And more random plots crammed into the end of the book (her last Merry Gentry book did the same)! A girl goes missing, Edwards step-son gets stabbed with a fountain pen, and suddenly Anita’s crew is looking suspicious and dangerous.

I hate how much this book bothered me, she is one of my favorite authors. Before I could ignore this stuff because it was overshadowed by the really cool mystery. This book flipped it, and like I said, highlighted everything I hated about the books. It’s hard to ignore it and skim through when that’s all there is.

I also learned I missed a book before hand so there are a few things they bring up that I don’t understand. One good thing about the series is you CAN miss a book because she explains everything so well (sometimes too well) and each story is kind of it’s own element, so you can enjoy the story even if you don’t know the history of the characters. That’s the only thing you’ll miss, is the growth of the characters and why Anita is so powerful.

There is character growth …sort of. Anita mentions her therapy and trying to conquer her anger and learning to talk more, which is awesome, so there is that. Other characters grow and change in response to Anita’s growth.

Unfortunately, I can’t think of anything else I liked about this book. I will still keep reading Laurell K Hamilton because I do adore her, but if I get too many of these I might not be able to go on. I did not enjoy reading this. There were a few parts that got really good and felt like more of the first books, but that vast majority of it was a drag to get through. And when my partner can hear me grumbling about it, you know it’s bad.

“I hate fairy land” by Scottie Young

I do not have this in graphic novel form, I have it in original comic. I stumbled across it at my LCS and I just HAD to read it. The colours were eye-bleedingly bright but there was just something OFF about the art. It was cute, but there was just something “ick” about the art. Kind of like Ren and Stimpy, where the art is fine but there is just something gross about it. And I love that style. The crooked-tooth grin in the cutsey girl with green pigtails. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this series, as I wasn’t very familiar with Scottie Young.

Before I get too deep into the artist side of this and completely lose the point, I will jump into the story aspect. A young girl is pulled into the world of fairy and to return home must find the lost key. Remember that ick factor I was talking about? This is where it comes in. This sweet girl took on the quest in her hopes of returning home …and ended up on a fluffing quest of bull sugaring proportions. The land of sugar and fairy twisted Gertrude, while keeping her trapped in her child body. So we end up with the delight of a murdering, swearing (mother fluffers!), drinking, witty, powerful …6-year-old …with pig tails. Each failed quest sends Gertrude deeper into the world of fairy with her smoking fly companion. New maps send her to new areas, making her the most feared force in all the lands.

Oh, and the ruler of fairy, who pulled her into the world and gave her the quest, is tired of her destroying everything and is now trying to kill her. So there is that too.

The art style and the story are SO jarring, I think that’s what makes it amazing. I love dark, twisted stories, and watching a little girl in green pigtails and a pink dress carve and smash her way through a bright coloured magical world is bloody hilarious.

I recommend this series (which is also out in graphic novel), but it’s definitely something for a specific crowd. There is a lot of blood and gore, the “swearing” is just cute words used as if they were swears (except the few special covers released called “I fucking hate fairy land” …yeah, I have those), and the only colours that exist are in the highlighter perspective. Take a trip to your local comicbook store, grab the first volume, and take a look!

“Autumn: The City” by David Moody

Christmas Eve in the middle of a pandemic. Everything definitely hits differently. So naturally, I picked up a zombie book to read. But, because of the nature of our world right now I feel like I should put some kind of trigger warning? I think I said the same thing in the last review.

This book continues on from the last, but this time we meet new characters. Donna, who showed up to work early only to have her coworkers walk into the building to immediately die around her. Her reaction was probably what most people would do in the given situation – she grabbed supplies and locked herself in her office. The office with the lights still on attracted another survivor, who survived the bus he was commuting on careening into a building after the driver spasmed and died. Their stories start back from the beginning, but we don’t have to sit through a whole book of stuff building. The dead bodies started to twitch, and then walk, and then evolve. Their eyes now tracked the survivors, their shuffling done with more intent.

Most of the survivors in the books just want to hide in their safe rooms and do nothing, the other half want to party. Sound familiar?

Another thing the survivors learned was if you shuffle and keep with the group speed and don’t make sudden movements, you can follow the hordes safely. Not exactly safe for sanity, but safe in a way. Many survivors had to adapt this tactic to make it to a larger group that had taken over a school.

The zombies react to the smallest noise, and now seem to actively pursue them, instead of just happening across them in their trundling path. So the smallest noises of life – walking, breathing, talking, whispering – drew the zombies in. Best place to find survivors is to look for the biggest group of shuffling dead.

Normally I’d be flying through the series, but I do have to periodically stop, just simply because it gets a little too real. And the way people react in this book makes them almost unlikable, but since living through an actual world-wide pandemic …you start to see much more unlikable behavior. No one jumps up to be the hero, most people just want to keep to themselves, and the ones that do cluster together talk about nothing but the pandemic and deaths. They assist one another, but only to benefit themselves and as soon as their lives are endangered they withdraw. Which, yeah, a little too familiar.

This book was a great look at how people react to trauma, because everyone in the book reacted differently. And it has zombies. Zombies are always good. But, remember not to push yourself if you are not comfortable with post-apocalyptic/pandemic media. We are in a strange time right now and if you can lower your stress, do so. Watch Disney, wear the fluffy pajamas, or, if you want to jump into a great zombie horror definitely check this book. Still the slow burn, but he gives you enough questions that you NEED to keep reading.

“Queen of Shadows” by Sarah J. Maas

I’m sorry this review wasn’t posted yesterday. I was laid up with a migraine again (either injection induced, weather fluctuation induced, or just a general ‘fuck you’ from my Fibro) so there was absolutely no way I was writing anything.

This is becoming a familiar title because I absolutely LOVE this series. I remember the first book was good, but could have been better, and it’s like she used the first book to feel out the characters and scenarios she was creating, and then just barreled on ahead. Plot wise, she might be a little predictable, but when it comes to the characters and what happens to them, she’s not quite as predictable.

This is book Four of the series, and takes place back in Adarlan with Aelin’s return. Aelin is Celaena’s real name – Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen.

To summarize up her history, her family was murdered by the King of Adarlan, and she was left in a frozen river to die. From there she was found by the King of Assassins Arobynn. He took her family amulet, and trained her to be the assassin she is today. In the last book she learned that amulet was actually a piece she needed to defeat the King and his plans.

His plans so far are to raise an army of Valg demons and Princes to take over the world. Through special black collars and rings, they can force these Valg into human bodies, as long as the bodies have ties to magic. The King locked magic away, and even though people can’t USE their magic, that doesn’t mean it’s not locked somewhere deep inside them. One thing that shocked me in the last book, was he clamped a collar on his son Dorian. The collars are needed to hold the Valg Princes (rings are the minor Valg), and with Dorian’s magic abilities strong enough to overpower whatever dampens them in the country, he was a prime choice. I should have expected it, but I just figured with him being a main character and a previous love interest, he was safe from anything too bad. I was wrong.

The first book started standard typical, girl has a crush on pretty Prince, but starts to fall for the rugged Captain of the Guard who is training her. It was so cliche I just kind of rolled my eyes. But Maas crushed those relationships. Aelin and Dorian became more like siblings; Chaol and Aelin went from lovers, to enemies, to barely tolerating one another. The triangle that YA loves so much was set up, and then smashed to pieces and that was when I was starting to realize this book series wasn’t as predictable as I was expecting. Aelin was sent by the King to assassinate another Royal family and that was where she met Rowan. She left him there because magic still existed in that area and he was far from the King (aka safe), as she went back to find Arobynn.

Another thing I found interesting is in the first book, it was rife with girl-hate, which we all know is my least favorite thing. Book four throws that narrative out the window. Girls are saving girls just because they need saving, girls are being friends with girls even if they have the same history with a boy, girls are mending broken relationships of the past and becoming stronger friends …and I am here for this shit! I love seeing the “girls hating girls for plot” BS thrown out. I’m so tired of it. Once upon a time (and probably still) people believed women couldn’t truly have friends because they were too catty. Only men could forge true friendships. That girl-hate perpetuated by mass media just reinforced the narrative. So to see it turned and showing true and beautiful friendships either starting or being mended between women is amazing!

The last two books have been telling more of the story through different points of view, one of them being Manon Blackbeak. Wing Leader of the Kings Wyvern army. In this book her story and Aelin’s story finally meet. I love Manon and everything about her and her 13. They are ruthless, cruel, cold, and strong. She is basically ice to Aelin’s fire (yes, I am aware of how corny that sounds, but I can’t think of a better analogy). But through Manon we get to see a different side of the King’s plan that Aelin doesn’t. It rounds out the story and drives up the terror of what he plans to do. Building an army is one thing …what he is doing to the witches is something completely different. And what is Manon’s Grandmother, who is the High Witch of all the clans, making for him?

I can rave forever about these stupid books, I love them that much. No they’re not the most amazing book ever written, but they are well written, interesting, fast-paced, with enough weird stuff mixed in to keep it interesting.

“Rat Queens Vol.1: Sass and Sorcery” by Kurtis J. Wiebe

Another comic review! I decided to start reviewing comics in the off weeks of novels, to keep the blog a little more active until the others have the chance to come back. So, the next comic is another one of my absolute favorites!

Rat Queens is about a group of Warriors for hire …but, the catch, they’re all women.

Fantasy has always been a boys league, and any women in the genre have had to fight tooth and nail for their positions (Look up Gail Simone). This has created the fangirl phenomenon. You know the one, where women battle so hard for their place somewhere that they change the entire fandom. A lot of people snide and chirp and claim “SJWs ruining another thing”, but everything should be inclusive, and not just to white skin with a penis.

Some companies have realized that “fangirls” are a tidal wave of force and will forge a path no matter what. To survive, they had jumped into that tidal wave. One such company is Image. They have printed many of my FAVORITE comics, which I hope to slowly start talking about on this blog! The comic industry is booming because of women. Women want all the genres that are typically aimed at men, they’re just tired of the male gaze. Rat Queens is definitely written with those women in mind.

I wish to thank Image wholeheartedly for Rat Queens. The women are a clusterfuck of body types, personality types, species, and skin colours. There is Betty, the Smidgen (basically a hobbit-type species that masters stealing) who drinks does drugs with the best of them; Dee, an Atheist Cleric (yep) whose parents believe in a giant flying squid monster (yep); Hannah, the Elven mage (who is covered in tattoos and curses about as much as I do, and in a very similar fashion); and Violet, the ginger Dwarven fighter.

The girls all have very vibrant personalities (they aren’t cookie-cutter bimbo’s, or cookie cutter “I’m not like other girls”), rich back stories that are slowly revealed throughout the story, and aren’t shoved into stereotypical roles. They are monster hunters for hire, where even in things like the Witcher that’s a mans gig. And the girls are good at it. After a giant bar fight, all the Monster Hunting groups are sent out on missions. Our girls get to clear out goblins from a cave. Instead of goblins they meet an assassin. But they aren’t the only ones. Most of the groups sent out, never made it back. If they even made it out of the tavern.

On top of the great story, the art is outstanding! And the colours are so bright and vivid! Some comics run into the issue with colour palettes and their panels becoming muddy and hard to see. With computers now it doesn’t happen as much, and the artist Roc Upchurch (I hope it’s Roc and not ROC, the names are only written in caps) uses the full colour spectrum.

If you’re looking for a raunchy female led fantasy story, do not pass this one up!

“Blood Lines” by Tanya Huff

This week is book three in the Blood Ties series. I do believe I mentioned last time (or in an Instagram post?) that my books are getting LOW, so you will be getting series relatively back-to-back. Well, wouldn’t you believe that 2 days after I started this book my Husband took me to a bookstore for my birthday (masks and social distancing, and I usually leave my house once a week for my doctors and that’s it …so that was a special thing for my birthday). So now I will have a few different titles, but sadly all parts of series I have started. Most of the books I was looking for weren’t in, and with the pandemic I don’t like being in buildings for long periods of time or touching things.

Back to the task, book?, at hand. Continuing on with Vicki’s story as she is brought in by her old police partner (and semi-romantic partner) Mike Celluci after he is forcefully removed from a strange case. The case being a sarcophagus that was found over seas. The British museums didn’t want some random “empty” sarcophagus because they were already overworked with vaults of artifacts they would never have time to analyze. So the artifact made it’s way here to the Royal Ontario Museum, more casually known as the ROM.

We went there a few years ago and sadly missed the Egyptian Exhibit, this was obviously MANY years after the book came out, but I still found it kind of funny. We also missed the Viking exhibit as well for that matter …and they had Canadian actors from the show on their final day, which my husband couldn’t get time off for us to go see. Sigh.

Inside this oddly marked and still sealed sarcophagus was a completely intact, and incredibly odd mummy.

Here is where the police come in. A janitor and the doctor that brought the mummy over were found dead, and suddenly no one remembers that there was a mummy at all. Chalking up the deaths to “heart attacks”, the police are pulled off the case. But since Celluci’s recent indoctrination into the supernatural, he isn’t willing to take the case at face value.

What would a thousands-year-old mummy want with Toronto? And why has Henry (yep, he’s in this too) been having dreams about sunrise since the mummy showed up?

Quick fun read, definitely a product of it’s time while being progressive (I was alive in the 90s, this book is progressive!). Being from the area it’s fun to hear places and streets I’m familiar with, most books in this genre take place in the states so I have nothing to go off of. This series is great if you’re looking for a supernatural mystery series with a kick ass, and disabled, female lead.

“Shadow Kiss” by Richelle Mead

I know, I don’t usually post series this close together but the book situation in my house is a little dire. So you may be getting similar books back to back for a little while.

So, yes, I’ve been reading Vampire Academy practically back to back. Book three, “Shadow Kiss” continues on the story of Rose and Lissa, and their relationships and diving further into what being “shadow-kissed” means. A bit of a spoiler if you haven’t read the reviews or the books, but when the girls were younger, Lissa’s entire family was killed in a car crash. Rose was also in that car crash, and died. But Lissa, in the midst of panic and despair, brought her back from the dead. This created a bond between the girls, more than “friends”. Rose can slip in and out of Lissa’s mind, she can sense her emotions and energy, and in this book, she learns that she can pull out the depression from Lissa that Spirit magic creates. The girls do more research in this book, about Lord Vladimir and his guardian Anna. Anna drew out Vladimir’s “insanity” after every time he used spirit, and it drove her to commit suicide. This series doesn’t shy away from depression, suicide, and therapy. I will give it credit for that.

While that is a sub-plot of the book that has so far been carried through the first three books, it is not the main story. After the last book with Moroi and Dhampir wanting to fight together against the Strigoi, that has continued through the students creating a division of power. Rose noticed that some students were showing up covered in wounds, and refusing to explain how a third degree burn came from falling down the stairs.

With this new threat from among the student body, the Guardians final test where they shadow a Moroi while senior Guardians pretend to be Strigoi and “attack” the Moroi, the trial of Lissa’s Uncle (and the “bad guy” from book 1), and lastly Rose seeing ghosts, the book is constantly moving.

While I do enjoy these books, this one hit the ick factor for me a little too hard. In the bast two books, Rose was developing a crush and somewhat of a relationship with her much older Guardian Trainer Dimitri. She’s 17 (on the verge of turning 18 – but still), and he’s about 25 or so? So in legal terms, that’s statutory rape, which was even brought up during the trial (Victor trying to throw shade just to mess with Rose and Dimitri). I understand the point of it, this idea is in every piece of media ever. The guy falling in love with her for her “maturity” and whatever, doesn’t make it less icky. In this book they finally have sex and realize they want a relationship, and he’s in love with her, blah-blah …it’s also called grooming. And still icky. I’m probably part of a minority that has an issue with this, but a little while ago in the twittersphere many people (especially artists I adore) were talking about how superiors coerced them into relationships, they talked about the manipulation and grooming that happened in all these fields, and how commonplace it is. Even some YouTubers I enjoyed were revealed to be groomers. So I have no tolerance for that kind of thing. It really soured me for the book so while I enjoyed the story, I couldn’t forgive it for that.

The series is still a great quick brainless read if like me, you can’t resist a decently written vampire story.

“Saga: Vol.1” by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

As you may notice with the picture and title, this is not a novel in the familiar sense. It is in fact, a Graphic Novel. After all the discourse lately over the legitimacy of comics as both art and reading, I decided to pad out some of the book reviews with my favorite comics.

Working at the book store, whenever there was a parent whose child refused to read, I led them to the graphic novels. Some children feel intimidated by large blocks of text, even if there is a big picture on the page beside it. So, to compensate, I got them to read graphic novels. The other thing I promoted about comics is it is a visual teacher. Books will TELL you how the character is feeling, comics have to show you. You have to read in their eyes and expression what they are feeling, you have to look to the environment to enhance the story, not be told what is there. It builds emotions, and the ability to identify emotions. And it was a gateway because a lot of graphic novels have regular novel counterparts, so when they strengthen their ability to read, they can upgrade to that or a similar genre.

I won’t get into the art aspect of it because we will be here forever. Let it just suffice to say that YES, it’s hard making comics (I have my own on the go – it’s a nightmare even WITH the computer), NO, computers don’t make it easier.

I’ve always read comics, but I’m not a superhero fan. We may have a few Spiderman and Deadpool comics kicking around, but the ones my money go to are the fantasy and sci-fi genres. One in particular is titled as “the comic for people who don’t like comics”. I saw ads for it through publishing companies I’m following and LOVED the art, so I immediately went on the hunt for Saga, volume one.

Taking place on another planet (well, several planets) in the middle of the war between wings and horns, orchestrated by the machines. Let me clarify – society is split between humanoids with wings (higher class) and humanoids with horns (low class), which may seem foolish but let’s be real, our society fights over colour. The machines, humanoids with computer heads, are the royals that control the wings.

In the middle of the war, a winged one with an obsession with romance novels and no interest in fighting in the war – Alana, meets and falls in love with a horned one named Marko. Sounds like your standard Romeo and Juliet, only they didn’t poison themselves and die …they had a baby. The comic opens up with Alana giving birth, narrated by the baby herself. This baby is part of both words, having both horns and wings, and her parents are now public enemy #1.

The comic follows their life, trying to flee to survive and protect their baby. Through worlds and people, doing everything they need to to survive. The comic is brutal, sexual, and filthy. It pushes what is means to be “human”.

There was an interesting line in the series that I have thought about for years. The opposite of love may be hate, but the opposite of war isn’t love …it’s sex. That’s basically the series.

I love this series and wait on baited breath for every issue. It is available in comic form, but I started with the graphic novels, so that is how I will continue. Even if you don’t like comics, this is the type of story that can reach out to anyone. Give it a chance, you might just like it.