Wednesday, April 26, 2017

C2E2 2017

Hi everyone! I've been a bit behind on reading and reviewing lately because I had to get ready to go back to Wisconsin for C2E2 in Chicago. There are two big comic cons in Chicago every year: C2E2, which is a ReedPop con, and Chicago Comic-Con, which is a Wizard World event. I've never done the latter--it's out in the western suburbs and I am quite partial to downtown events. Also, it's usually in August and I could never get off of work.

I already had my weekend pass and plans with my little brother to attend before I took a new job and moved, so I really wanted to come back and attend the con. Unfortunately, that meant I only got one day there instead of three, but we made it count.

And now for pictures, because why not?

Various Arrows.

Ooh! My brother and I went to see a panel with FitzSimmons from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. They were both unbelievably adorable.

The K-2SO was fabulous

Of course.

There was another Maui there who had inked the tattoos onto his body with paint, but I didn't get his picture.


Patty cake with t-rex!


They've captured a Resistance pilot!

These were just too clever. 


My brother is way more into the Spidey areas of the Marvelverse than I am. I guess that's Gwenom and ... others. I've never liked Spider-Man.

Kylo Ren peruses the pink kitty artwork with a feminist agenda.

I'm hoping to be able to go to DragonCon too, but that depends on a lot of things. Hopefully C2E2 2018 is in my future as well!

P.S. If you happen to recognize yourself as one of the cosplayers in a photo, let me know so I can credit you for your awesomeness!!!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Want by Cindy Pon

"How do you live breathing this every day?" she asked in a weak voice.

"We don't have to live for very long," I replied.

She dropped her handkerchief and stared at me with red-rimmed eyes. "That's not funny," she said.

I smiled. "I wasn't trying to be."

*Jedi hand wave*

You want to read Want.

Rats. It's not that simple, is it? The Force has a strong effect on the weak-minded, but you are not weak-minded. May I then attempt to convince you to read Cindy Pon's absolutely fantastic near-future sci-fi set in Taiwan?

(Except for all you guys who heard "Cindy Pon" and immediately bought the book.  You're all good. But please stay and read my review anyway?)

Monday, April 17, 2017

Under the Harrow

Although the popularity of books like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train have flooded the market with twisty psychological thrillers featuring one of my favorite literary devices--the unreliable narrator--this popularity also floods the market with ho-hum or even oh-no novels attempting to create another flash in the pan.

That's my rather polite way of saying that Under the Harrow was not a good book, and certainly doesn't deserve the comparisons being slung around. Psychological thrillers aren't exactly spring chickens when it comes to their identity as a sub-genre, but they have received a fun, clever, and well-written makeover in the past few years. Unfortunately, James Patterson continues to word-vomit thrillers all over the New York Times Best-Seller List every two months, but this new(ish) crop of writers like Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins, Ruth Ware, and pretty much every Scandinavian writer out there present well-written books that have a distinctive style and memorable characters. Riding their coattails are books with good ideas but lackluster execution. Under the Harrow is one of the latter.

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Woman in Cabin 10

Right. I have been attempting to write a coherent yet snappy review of this book for a few days now. I have utterly failed. I am sorry.

So here are the salient points:

The Woman in Cabin 10 will appeal to those readers who enjoyed Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, but it is not the same book. While those books depended on the slow revelation that the narrator was not all she or he seemed to be, The Woman in Cabin 10 makes it quite clear that Lo's perception of reality is skewed by various factors. Thus, the tension in the story comes, not from figuring out that Lo is an unreliable narrator, but from figuring out when she is lying (either to herself or to the reader) and when she is telling the truth. It's a delicate teasing of reality from fever dream.

Fans of locked-room murder mysteries will enjoy this quite a lot (I am one such fan, ergo, I enjoyed it). Instead of a sprawling British estate or fusty hotel room, we have a tasteless if expensively furnished yacht headed to Trondheim. Lo (Laura) Blacklock works for a smallish travel magazine and snagged the gig because her boss is pregnant and not up to traveling by boat. She and select members media have been invited aboard the maiden voyage of the Aurora, owned by young Lord Bullmer. It's hard to be mad at Richard Bullmer for being rich, famous, and handsome, though: his young, pretty wife is dying of cancer. She, too, is aboard the vessel, but wan and tired from her latest bout of chemotherapy.

Rounding out the requisite cast of idiosyncratic characters are a handsome photographer, a buffoonish Australian naturalist, and a catty (or is she?) older travel writer. And then there's the woman in the cabin next to Lo. When she realizes she forgot her mascara (seriously, if you wear makeup but forget your mascara, it is most definitely A Big Problem), Lo decides to ask a favor from her next door neighbor. The occupant of the cabin is young and pretty, but her rock band t-shirt and attitude don't really fit the vibe of the rest of the party. Lo doesn't see her at dinner, but is awakened in the middle of the night by a thud. Running to her balcony, she sees a woman pushed overboard from cabin 10, and blood smeared on the veranda. But when she returns with the ship's security officer (who I swear was based on Stellan SkarsgĂ„rd -at least, that's how I cast him in my mind's eye), there's nothing. No blood, no trace of an occupant, and no one on the register for cabin 10.

What follows is an excellent study in gaslighting. As readers, we know that Lo is being manipulated, but we also know that she doesn't know. Or are we being manipulated along with her? My brain!

I only have one complaint as to an unresolved plot point, but it's spoilery, so scroll down with me.


even further

keep going


The person who was supposed to occupy cabin 10 stayed home because of a violent home invasion. At the beginning of the novel, Lo's flat is burgled and she is threatened by a masked figure who locks her into her room with no form of communication. We are supposed to draw a parallel between the missing expert and Lo, but since the murderer only needed cabin 10 to be empty, why would he also send an attacker to the person in cabin 9? We never find out who attacked Lo in her flat. Was it truly an isolated attack?

All things considered, this is an excellent thriller. I need to go back and read Ware's debut novel, and hopefully she'll have another novel out relatively soon. But not James Patterson soon.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Special Ones

I think that a reader cannot help falling in love with a book. I may have an irrational affection for a particular title that, in other situations or other times in my life, I would have merely liked or perhaps even actively disliked. I therefore present you with The Special Ones by Em Bailey. It may not be perfect, but it's certainly psychologically gripping and positively dripping with atmosphere.