The Finishing School Series—Stylish Steampunk Espionage

Manner and Mutiny: Finishing School, Book the Fourth by Gail Carriger
Manners & Mutiny, Finishing School Book the Fourth

I just finished reading Manners and Mutiny, the fourth and final book in Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series, which charts the education of Sophronia through her years aboard a floating school for young women intelligencers (spies). Set in the same world as Gail’s The Parasol Protectorate series and the Custard Protocol series, and before either, Finishing School is a YA (young adult) series every bit as wickedly intelligent and fun as her adult novels.

1—Manners Made Interesting

When fourteen-year-old tomboy Sophronia Temminnick learns she’s being sent away to finishing school, she’s horrified. But the lessons at Madamoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality are far from ordinary. Flower arranging is done with as much care to concealment as to beauty. Perfume is used for blinding the eyes as well as enticing the nose. And when choosing a dress, one must consider the event, the current styles, and if the fabric will show bloodstains. Continue reading “The Finishing School Series—Stylish Steampunk Espionage”

The Un-Book Reporter’s Pet Peeves

spoiler dragon, beware
The Spoiler Dragon hates badly used tropes.

I’ve got two weeks of finals this semester, and I’ve been having some health issues. Nothing that can’t be fixed, but I just can’t get into the frame of mind for a story analysis this week. So here, in no particular order, are some of my most-hated pet peeves.

1—Serial Killer Nemesis

I’m so sick of this trope, mostly this is due to over-exposure. I’ve seen it in multiple shows—mostly crime shows—but some others too. Bones, in particular, had one every freaking season. I finally had enough and stopped watching. Some shows, even ones I’d heard good things about, I refused to even start watching. This same problem can be found in book series—again, mostly the crime genres—and likewise I’ve refused to read some because of it. Continue reading “The Un-Book Reporter’s Pet Peeves”

Burn Notice—Part One—Explosive Series

Burn Notice tv series
Burn Notice

Burn Notice is a snarky spy-thriller series about Michael Weston, a blacklisted spy trapped in Miami who helps out hapless citizens while he tries to figure out who ruined his life, and why. When the show originally aired, I followed it through the end of season four. I’ve lost my faith that TV series’s will actually have a proper ending, so I’ve taken to quitting them at points where I figure I’ve gotten as close to an actual end as I’ll get. My mom kept watching though, and she told me the series does actually get an ending to the story, so I’ve started watching from the beginning on Netflix. So here’s my thoughts on the series up through the end of season four. I’ll do a second part when I’ve watched the last three seasons.

1—Why Michael Won’t Kill

Of course, there’s the obvious reason—for Michael to stay a Hero, killing isn’t allowed. At least not for a show that isn’t dark as pitch in tone. The Hero has to maintain audience sympathy. But re-watching, I’ve noticed there’s an actual character motive for this too. Especially when it would be safer and easier for all involved to just blow someone’s head off. Continue reading “Burn Notice—Part One—Explosive Series”

Libriomancer—Another Kick Ass Librarian

Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines
Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines

The world needs more ass-kicking librarians and this novel by Jim C. Hines delivers. The first book in the Magic ex Libris series, Libriomancer is the first-person perspective adventure of Isaac Vainio, a disgraced and exiled Porter. He used a Martian death ray to burn down a house and barn and the people in it, so now he’s a librarian, stuck cataloging books and their dangers/uses for other active Porters. At least for the first few pages. Continue reading “Libriomancer—Another Kick Ass Librarian”

Doll Bones—A YA Novel Creepier Than Most Adult Horror

Doll Bones cover image
Doll Bones by Holly Black

One of my favorite things about Young Adult novels is that they often aren’t as bound to tropes as adult books are…adult in the sense of for adults, not in the sense of X-rated. Just to be clear. Anyways. Doll Bones by Holly Black, who also cowrote the Spiderwick Chronicles, is creepy as fuck—um, hell. Creepy as hell. So let’s start with that.

1—Quiet Dread and the Unquiet Dead

Ms Black creates a pervasive sense of unquiet through this novel, starting on page one. Zach, our viewpoint character, and his two best friends Poppy and Alice, live in a slowly dying small town. Each of their lives are out of their control—a fact not just of childhood but observed in those of the adults around them. The fear of growing up to be just as weary and beaten down as the adults in their lives underlies the more overt horror of the Queen—a doll that seems all too alive.

Continue reading “Doll Bones—A YA Novel Creepier Than Most Adult Horror”

The Librarians—Bookworms Kick Ass

librarians
The Librarians

A spin-off of TNT’s three Librarian movies, The Librarians is a fun, mostly light-hearted adventure series. I say mostly, because while there’s no gore or heavy-handed drama here that only serves to make the deep moments stand out. But we’ll start with the fun stuff!

1—Fun Premise

The first couple episodes are spent on the set up, which is nice since there’s a lot to introduce and I hate it when introductions get rushed or flow like molasses. For a series with five main characters, and a sinister cabal as the reoccurring villains, two episodes is perfect. The Serpent Brotherhood start murdering all the people who tried out to the Librarian last time but didn’t make the cut. So our hero, Flynn, along with his new Guardian, goes off to locate and protect the survivors who will later become Librarians-in-training. The succeed in that but fail in preventing the Serpent Brotherhood from returning magic to the world, and loose the Library in the process. So the trainees are working out of the Annex while Flynn tries to bring the Library back from inter-dimensional limbo. Did I mention this is just in the first two episodes? Continue reading “The Librarians—Bookworms Kick Ass”

Snow White and the Huntsman — An OK Movie That was Almost Great

snowhitehunts
Snow White and the Huntsman

This was a pretty good movie with lots of cool things in it but it left me disappointed because it was so close to being a great movie. It’s hard to pin down exactly what needed to be done to push it over. Lots of little things rather than any one big thing. I feel like Snow White and the Hunstman was trying to be Lord of the Rings, an epic instead of a fairytale. But I’d still watch it again, if only for the idea fodder.

1—The Evil Queen is A Large Ham

This is not actually a complaint. I like over the top villains. They’re just so much fun. And the special effects are set to match—beautiful, all of them. From the fractal knights to Ravenna turning into a flock of crows and then them all crashing to the floor in this big puddle of tar she has to pull herself out of. And don’t get me started on the Queen’s costumes. Bird skulls have never looked so fashionable.

Continue reading “Snow White and the Huntsman — An OK Movie That was Almost Great”

Killjoys — SyFy’s Greatest Scifi Show Yet

killjoys
The Killjoys

The first season of Killjoys ended a month ago and I still can’t stop thinking about it. Most shows take a few episodes to find their footing but Killjoys runs full tilt from scene one. This show achieves the perfect trifecta—plotting, character, and world. We’ll start with that last one.

1—A Fully Realized World and its Moons

I cannot say enough about the world-building in Killjoys. We get plopped down right into the middle of the Quad, with it’s class distinctions, complex politics, intriguing religion, and the RAC and its eponymous Killjoys right in the middle of it. There’s no info-dumping or stops to explain, we just get swept along with the pieces and players in their intricate dance. There’s a tapestry of history we only catch teasing glimpses of but it’s never so little as to leave the audience feeling lost—at least I wasn’t, but I’m used to picking things up from context. And that context surrounds the stories and characters of Killjoys. Continue reading “Killjoys — SyFy’s Greatest Scifi Show Yet”