American Gods—An Unusual Journey

American Gods by Neil Gaiman book cover
American Gods by Neil Gaiman

American Gods, by Neil Gaiman, follows Shadow after he gets out of jail and comes to work for someone who calls himself Wednesday as he tries to rally the old gods for a war against the new.

1—The Gods

We meet gods from many pantheons during the course of Shadow’s journey with Wednesday. Wednesday himself is Odin, from the old Norse pantheon. There’s Mr. Nancy, Anansi, from Africa. And Kali from India. Some of my favorite are Mr Ibis and Mr Jaquel—Thoth and Anubis—and Bast and Horus from Egypt. Easter herself makes an appearance. Czernobog and the Zoryas. And then of course there’s the hall of forgotten gods that Shadow dreams about. Continue reading “American Gods—An Unusual Journey”

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R. L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour: the Series—Atmospheric

R. L. Stine's The Haunting Hour The Series
R. L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour The Series

R. L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour is a kids’ show, a horror anthology series that clocks in at two seasons.

1—Dark

The thing this series does best is atmosphere. It’s always genuinely creepy. They do a lot with such a short time frame—less than half an hour (though there are a few two-parters). It’s a short story format, sometimes focusing on plot, sometimes focusing on character, but always with that mood. Continue reading “R. L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour: the Series—Atmospheric”

Castlevania Season One—Just A Beginning

Castlevania season one
Castlevania season one

Castlevania season one is a Netflix original animated series. It’s horror and there is gore but the story so far is intriguing.

1—No, Really, Just A Beginning

At just four episodes long, this season is short. The first episode is taken up with Dracula and why he unleashes demon hoards upon the world. The rest of it is mainly Trevor Belmont coming to terms with what happened to his family and deciding he actually does want to protect people. Continue reading “Castlevania Season One—Just A Beginning”

The Doctor Blake Mysteries Season One—Not Bad

The Doctor Blake Mysteries
The Doctor Blake Mysteries

Available on Netflix, The Doctor Blake Mysteries is a little dark but not gruesome. It follows war veteran Dr Lucien Blake as he returns to his home town of Ballarat in Australia and takes up his father’s practice and his place as police surgeon.

1—Dr Blake

Lucien likes to stir things up. Our introduction to him is when he takes a nude painting into his stuffy men’s club and hangs it above the bar. Taking place in what I think is the ‘50s, Lucien has some rather liberal attitudes that don’t always go down well with his colleagues and fellow townsmen. Continue reading “The Doctor Blake Mysteries Season One—Not Bad”

Hexes and Hemlines—Things Start Getting Complicated

Hexes and Hemlines book cover
Hexes and Hemlines

Hexes and Hemlines, by Juliet Blackwell, is a cozy mystery told in the first-person perspective of a witch who acts as the detective. Not part of the San Francisco Police Department—though she was asked to unofficially consult on this case, Lilly Ivory owns and operates a vintage clothing store.

1—Accidentally Breaking Things

When Lilly is called to weigh in on a murder victim surrounded by bad luck symbols—a broken mirror, a ladder in front of a doorway, black cat, etc—it sets off a series of events in the magical community. Apparently she’s broken some decades old pact between witches and Satanists not to get into each others’ business. As the murder victim was the son of the head of the Church of Satan, Lilly finds herself in deep trouble, trouble that will extend out to her friends. Continue reading “Hexes and Hemlines—Things Start Getting Complicated”

A Cast-Off Coven—Demons, Ghosts, and Art School

A Cast Off Coven by Juliet Blackwell book cover
A Cast Off Coven by Juliet Blackwell

A Cast-Off Coven, by Juliet Blackwell, is the second in the Witchcraft Mystery series (I’ve read but not reviewed the first in the series, Secondhand Spirits—I liked it). It’s a cozy mystery set in San Francisco starring Lilly Ivory, witch and vintage-clothing store owner.

1—Murder in the Bell Tower

Lilly is called in to kick the ghost out of the school’s haunted bell tower—at least that’s her job until finding rich scumbag and patron of the art school Jerry Becker dead at the base of said bell tower. Now in addition to the ghost, Lilly has to deal with a murder. And then she finds out there’s a demon in the third-floor closet. Continue reading “A Cast-Off Coven—Demons, Ghosts, and Art School”

Right Hand Magic—City of Wonders

Right Hand Magic by Nancy A. Collins book cover
Right Hand Magic by Nancy A. Collins

Right Hand Magic by Nancy A. Collins is an urban fantasy told in the first person perspective of Tate, a human welder-artist.

1—Golgotham

After moving to New York’s magical district, Golgotham, Tate is immersed in the magical subculture. In Golgotham, there are no cars—centaurs pull carriages and satyrs pull rickshaws. Leprechauns have their own bars. And six-fingered, neon-haired Kymeran sorcerers work their magic, for a price. Continue reading “Right Hand Magic—City of Wonders”

Goblin Quest—An Unusual Adventure

Goblin Quest by Jim C. Hines book cover
Goblin Quest by Jim C. Hines

Goblin Quest is a semi-parodic adventure novel by Jim C. Hines. The goblin Jig gets taken captive by adventurers to be their guide in their quest to retrieve the Rod of Creation. The problem is that Jig doesn’t know where it is.

1—Poking Fun at Adventuring

When I say that Goblin Quest is semi-parodic, I mean that it pokes fun of the absurdities of adventure novels and Dungeons & Dragons type quests, but also that it fully works as an adventure. There’s a Necromancer, a Dragon, and plenty of monsters—though as the story is told from the point of view of one of “monsters” the term becomes a subject of debate, if only in Jig’s mind. Continue reading “Goblin Quest—An Unusual Adventure”

Tangential Links

It’s been a very busy week and I haven’t finished my book yet, so here are some sites you might enjoy.

1—Tea and Jeopardy

A podcast hosted by Emma Newman who, with her politely evil butler Latimer, interviews authors, illustrators, agents, and all kinds of people over tea and cake. After which, the guests find themselves in some form of peril they must creatively escape.

Each week finds Emma and Latimer in a tea lair as well, and since acquiring their time machine, this can be anywhen as well as anywhere.

2—Lit Brick

“Sequential Comedies of Literature” as it says in the subtitle. John S. Troutman reads classics from the Norton Anthology and draws comics about whatever comes into his head. Hilarious, amusing, pick your adjective.

3—Writing Excuses

Another podcast, this one by a set of authors. Brandon Sanderson, Howard Taylor (who writes and illustrates the webcomic Schlock Mercenary), Dan Wells, and Mary Robinette Kowal (who also narrates audiobooks) talk about writing and everything to do with it. A must listen for writers, especially their series of podcasts on elemental genres.

4—XKCD

Stick figures and diagrams have never been so entertaining. Written and drawn by Randall Munroe, who manages to explain complex things with simple words in a way that I actually understand what he’s talking about but don’t feel talked down to. Some comics are just silliness. Either way, read the hover text, it’s always funny.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)—Mostly Funny, Sometimes Sad

Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson the bloggess book cover
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson

Let’s Pretend this Never Happened is the memoir of Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess. It’s an irreverent and delightful, at least to me, look into a life even weirder than my own. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is Jenny’s first book and contains stories of her childhood, youth, and some from adulthood. It is, like her second book, a look at all the fucked up in life and finding the humor in it.

1—Things You Shouldn’t Laugh At But Will Anyway

Things like Stanley, the Magical Talking Squirrel (I won’t spoil the surprise on that story), or getting your arm stuck up a cow’s vagina (it makes sense in context). Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is made of these moments. Moments of extremely awkward conversation at parties, or the results of taking too much laxative. They’re funny because Jenny invites us to laugh with her about them. Continue reading “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)—Mostly Funny, Sometimes Sad”