Some of The UnBook Reporter’s Favorite Anthologies

These are just some of the anthologies I’ve enjoyed over the years.

1—The Chicks in Chainmail Series

Edited by Esther Friesner, I believe this series is still ongoing. Humorous tales of damsels who refuse to be in distress, warrior women who want equality with their male fellows, and just generally to have more sensible armor than a chainmail bikini. Lots of fun.

2—Witches, Vampires, and Werewolves, Oh My

Witch Way to the Mall, Fangs for the Mammaries, and Strip Mauled are also edited by Esther Friesner. Also humorous, this set of set of anthologies focuses on witches, vampires, and werewolves respectively.

3—Anything by Martin H. Greenberg

Some of the books I have that he’s co-edited are A Girl’s Guide to Guns and Monsters, the Catfantastic series, Warrior Princesses, and Wizards, Inc. I’m sure there are more in my collection but some of my books are still in boxes from the move.

Rat Queens Volumes 1 & 2—Damsels who Cause Distress

Rat Queens volume one Sass and Sorcery

Rat Queens The Far Reaching Tentacles of N'Rygoth
The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth

Rat Queens is a comic by Kurtis J Wiebe with art by Roc Upchurch and later Stjepan Sejic, and published by Image Comics. It follows the adventures of the titular group in and around the town of Palisade. Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery, and volume 2: the Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth comprise a full story arc which is why I’m reviewing them together. Plenty of fights, some nudity and sex, and lots of cursing—in both senses of the word—Rat Queens is great fun but not for kids.

1—The Characters

The world of Rat Queens has a D&D RPG flavor to it, medieval-ish look with lots of magic, and lots of humor. The back of Sass and Sorcery describes the Rat Queens as “Hannah, the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Smidgen Thief.” Hannah, the leader of the group, is the most violent of the bunch, with Violet a close second. But whereas Violet is more professional about it, Hannah is definitely having too much fun. The most tactful, prudent, and introverted of the Rat Queens is Dee, who actually saves some of her earnings instead of spending it all on booze and drugs, and stays sober during parties. And Betty, who brings drugs and candy for dinner, and also plucks out eyeballs—not as a hobby, just the once…that we’re shown, anyway. Continue reading “Rat Queens Volumes 1 & 2—Damsels who Cause Distress”

Miss Peregrin’s Home for Peculiar Children—Enchanting and Visceral

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a unique YA (young adult) novel as part of the tale is the vintage photographs scattered throughout the book.

1—A Peculiar Tale

I wasn’t certain what to expect when I opened Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children but what I got was subtle magic threaded through with both wonder and unease, punctuated by brutal violence. The story opens with Jacob finding his grandfather brutally killed and from there the story is a journey of discovery—equally a mystery and an adventure—about who his grandfather really was.

Continue reading “Miss Peregrin’s Home for Peculiar Children—Enchanting and Visceral”

Imprudence—The Spotted Custard Returns

Imprudence by Gail Carriger book cover
Imprudence by Gail Carriger

Imprudence, the second outing of The Custard Protocol series by Gail Carriger, is a fun supernatural steampunk adventure with a dash of romance. I love Ms Carrger’s turns of phrase and wit as well as her plotting, and I was not disappointed by this latest novel.

1—The Adventure

We are again following Rue and her crew, this time to Egypt. Rue (short for Prudence, which is also the title of the first book) needs to transport her parents there, into the zone of effect of the God-breaker Plague before her father, a werewolf, goes mad from Alpha’s curse. Of course that isn’t the only complication. Rue’s navigator and head engineer are in a academic snit—a snit which naturally leads to fisticuffs—over who published what discovery without crediting the other. And of course there’s the attacks of unknown source on Rue’s ship. And did I forget to mention the quest to find a lost pride of werelionesses? Continue reading “Imprudence—The Spotted Custard Returns”

Alice Through the Looking Glass—Adventure on the High Sea of Time

Alice Through the Looking Glass movie poster
Alice Through the Looking Glass

Alice Through the Looking Glass is a solid adventure, beautiful to look at and fun to watch as Alice travels through time into Underland’s past. The movie can be taken as fluff or something a little deeper, depending on how much you want to think about it.

1—Headstrong and Heartstrong

The whole movie is driven by Alice, by her decisions and desires. She wants to save her friend, enough to risk her life and all of Underland—though it’s debatable how much damage she realizes is done by her theft of the Chronosphere, at least at the beginning. But even once she does know, Alice is determined to finish her mission and save her friend the Hatter, who’s gone madder than usual. Though Alice doesn’t save the Mad Hatter’s family, she does learn their fate—as Time suggested, she learns from the past, even though she cannot change it. Continue reading “Alice Through the Looking Glass—Adventure on the High Sea of Time”

Jupiter Ascending—A Comfortable Plateau

Jupiter Ascending movie

Jupiter Ascending is a space opera movie about the genetic reincarnation of the galactic Empress-CEO and all the trouble that this causes, both for the titular Jupiter and for her previous incarnation’s children.

1—A Damsel with Agency

Jupiter presents an interesting dichotomy in that she manages to both get damseled a lot and still maintain agency. Jupiter’s decisions and actions have impact on the story, they matter—she’s not just a plot device being tossed from one situation to the next. She also spends a good portion of the movie falling to her death and needing rescue. Not Jupiter’s fault—no one expects space aliens to start fighting over them and kidnap them. And in the last fall, Jup catches herself. Continue reading “Jupiter Ascending—A Comfortable Plateau”

Howl’s Moving Castle—A Deserved Classic

It’s been a long time since I read Diana Wynne Jones’s YA novel Howl’s Moving Castle, long enough that reading it again was almost like reading it for the first time. I don’t remember what I thought of it that first time, other than that I liked it, but I know I noticed a lot more this time around. So here’s some of what I noticed.

1—A Contradictory Heroine

Sophie Hatter has a unique voice, somehow both whimsical and matter of fact. She’s a contradictory character—stern and commanding, yet withdrawing. One of the most striking things about Sophie is how little she values herself, even while doing extraordinary things. Sophie spends the majority of the book hiding not only in a frumpy grey dress, but in a frumpy old body—she’d been cursed, but perpetuated the curse by her own desire. And yet, when cursed, Sophie uses now being an old woman as an excuse to herself to go get the life she wants. Continue reading “Howl’s Moving Castle—A Deserved Classic”

Some of the Un-Book Reporter’s Favorite Heroines

I find myself drawn to stories of girls and women who are clever and brave, and who make their own path. Likely because I seek and struggle to embody those qualities myself. This will be a short post, as I could go on forever if I don’t limit myself. So here are a handful of my favorite book heroines, in no particular order.

Aly—Daughter of the Lioness

All of the heroines in Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books fit the bill but Alinanne of Pirate’s Swoop most embodies cleverness. Aly is a quintessential guile hero, trained from the cradle in spycraft and chosen by a Trickster god. Said Trickster sweeps Aly off to the Kyprian Isles to be the last piece in a centuries-old game which is about to culminate in bloody rebellion. It isn’t easy to manipulate allies and enemies alike, much less from the position of slave girl, but Aly has her own tricks and games to play. Continue reading “Some of the Un-Book Reporter’s Favorite Heroines”

No Hero—A Cosmic Horror-Comedy

book cover for No Hero by Jonathan Wood
No Hero, by Jonathan Wood

I liked the premise of No Hero—a British cop thinks he’s hunting a serial killer and gets drafted into the top secret MI37 in order to fight eldritch abominations. The newly minted Agent Wallace copes with this new frightening reality by asking himself “What would Kurt Russell do?” Jonathan Wood, the author of No Hero, has a lot of fun playing with both action movie tropes and cosmic horror tropes, and I enjoyed going along for the ride.

1—Sparkly Magic

In the world of No Hero magic is powered by electricity, “the universal lubricant” and mages cast spells with the aid of batteries and metallic tattoos—or copper wire implanted beneath the skin, in one case. It’s also a world of psychics and oracles, and Dreamers—reality warping gods in formal attire. And then there’s the Progeny—parasitic mini-versions of the above-mentioned eldritch abominations. They exist for one purpose, to bring their “parents”, the Feeders, through to our reality so that they can devour it. But first they’ve got to get through the Dreamers and, unfortunately for the world, they’ve recently found a weakness. Continue reading “No Hero—A Cosmic Horror-Comedy”

Second Chance—SciFi, Crime-Fighting, and Family Dysfunction

image for Second Chance, Season 1
Second Chance, Season One

What I like about Second Chance is that it isn’t just They Fight Crime! tacked onto a scifi premise. The show actually uses its premise. Otto Goodwin is a genius who’s figured out how to bring people with a certain gene back from the dead. He goal is to use his first success’s blood to save his twin sister from a rare incurable form of cancer. Said first success is Jimmy Pritchard, a former King County, Washington sheriff who has family of his own to take care of. Not the consequence-less fluff I’ve come to expect from similarly billed shows in the past.

1—The Future May be Here but Family Still Comes First

Second Chance revolves around two families—The Pritchard clan & the Goodwin twins, Otto and Mary. Otto is a genuine genius in I don’t know how many fields. Besides the bio-engineering marvel of raising the dead, he’s the brains behind Lookinglass, a tech company to rival Apple and Microsoft—I don’t actually know if they’re actually business rivals as those companies aren’t mentioned in-show. Mary is the face of the company, brilliant in her own right, but her whole life is Otto. Since the deaths of their parents when the twins were children, Mary became mother to Otto. Mary has also taken on the role of wife in a sense—hostess and public face to Otto’s recluse. Needless to say, this leaves Mary’s personal life a little lacking. Continue reading “Second Chance—SciFi, Crime-Fighting, and Family Dysfunction”