The Destroyer of Worlds feels like a “middle installment” in every sense of the phrase. On the one hand, it offers a very welcome return to the world of Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country. On display once again is this startlingly haunting marriage of Lovecraftian horror and Jim Crow-era racism. While not quite as scary as the first book, it still offers a fast-paced, thrilling ride through some classic, pulpy sci-fi tropes. And getting to spend more time with these characters is a delight, too, especially those characters that didn’t get quite as much focus in the first book (like Hippolyta and Ruby).Continue reading
REVIEW: Dark Horse Comics’ “Norse Mythology Volume 3”
Everything ends. And everything begins again. At least, that’s how Ragnarok goes in Norse Mythology Volume 3, the final volume in Dark Horse Comics’ adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology. While the first two volumes follow the (mostly) light-hearted, irreverent misadventures of the Norse gods, Norse Mythology Volume 3 takes a turn toward the dark side, showcasing the end of everything and the rebirth of things anew. Adaptor P. Craig Russell once again brings Gaiman’s text to life beautifully, aided by artwork from David Rubín, Colleen Doran, and Galen Showman. And, truth be told, Norse Mythology Volume 3 is easily the highlight of the entire series.Continue reading
QUICKIE REVIEW: “The Diary of River Song: Friend of the Family”
This is an absolutely gorgeous listen. There’s simply no other way to describe it. It’s the kind of story that’s so good it makes you wonder why they haven’t been doing stories like this the whole time. It’s like River was made for this story. A multi-generational mystery exploring the depths of love, loss, familial drama, and hope in the face of all of that. It’s funny, it’s adventurous, it’s touching, and it’s heartbreaking. One of the behind-the-scenes interviews suggests this story’s like “This is Us” with time travel, and that’s an incredibly accurate statement.Continue reading
January 2023 Book Roundup
In any given month, there’s a lot of stuff I read or watch that I don’t feel the need to review in full. So, in lieu of reviews, I’ve decided to do little monthly recaps of what I’ve read, complete with smaller, mini-reviews of each title. So, without further adieu, here’s a look back at the month of January.Continue reading
REVIEW: “How to Sell a Haunted House” by Grady Hendrix
What is a haunted house story if not a story about grief? Ghosts serve as stand-ins for anything from unresolved family trauma to untold horrors from past generations. And that’s what makes ghost stories so much fun. It’s not about the ghosts, themselves, but about what they represent for those being haunted. Grady Hendrix’s How to Sell a Haunted House understands that idea perfectly. One-part traditional haunted house story, one-part rumination on inherited grief and trauma, and one-part campy horror delight, How to Sell a Haunted House is a bombastically confident, deeply emotional, and wholly unpredictable joyride. It doesn’t necessarily give you what the synopsis implies, but it’s an undeniably wild ride from start to finish. (4.5 out of 5 wands)Continue reading
REVIEW: “They Set the Fire” by Daniel Kraus
Both of the previous entries in Daniel Kraus’s The Teddies Saga have easily ranked among my favorite reads of the past few years. They’ve consistently delivered a great mixture of adventure, mystique, and horror. But as any reader knows, an ending can often make or break a story. So, there was a lot riding on They Set the Fire, the final entry in The Teddies Saga. But I’m happy to say that They Set the Fire is as perfect an ending as you can hope for. By far the most horrific entry in the series, They Set the Fire pushes the boundaries of what’s appropriate for middle-grade novels about as far as it can, but it never strays too far from what makes the genre work. It’s a scary, action-packed, and deeply emotional read. But it’s also one that brings the series’ overarching storyline to a very satisfying conclusion.Continue reading
REVIEW: “Three Miles Down” by Harry Turtledove
There’s a saying that often gets trotted out anytime a movie, TV show, or book spends all its time laying the groundwork for a sequel it never gets – never save your best ideas for the sequel. If you’ve got a good idea, use it now. It’s a saying that could easily apply to any number of recent projects. And it’s one that definitely applies to Harry Turtledove’s new novel, Three Miles Down. Set during the 1970s, Three Miles Down is one-part political thriller and one-part First-Contact science fiction romp. Unfortunately, the book features very little political intrigue and even less “First Contact”. Instead, Three Miles Down reads like the prelude to an as-yet-unannounced sequel. And that’s a pretty big bummer considering how solid the premise is.Continue reading
REVIEW: “Upgrade” by Blake Crouch
Stop me if you’ve heard this before. A dystopian future wrecked by climate change and other semi-apocalyptic events. An overreaching police force enforcing questionable laws. And an officer who quickly finds himself turning into the very thing he’s been hunting. If you immediately thought of a dozen different sci-fi books and movies, that’s completely understandable. Despite how fun a read Blake Crouch’s new novel, Upgrade, is, I wouldn’t call it very original. However, what it lacks in originality, it more than makes up for with intricately plotted twists and turns and plenty of thrilling action sequences. Upgrade reads like the literary equivalent of a summer blockbuster movie in the best way possible. It’s a compulsive read from start to finish and a perfect book for a summer vacation.Continue reading
REVIEW: “Ghost Hunters Adventure Club and the Express Train to Nowhere”
To be frank, I nearly quit reading Ghost Hunters Adventure Club and the Express Train to Nowhere several times. Having read the first book when it came out, I knew that the whole gimmick was that it’s not supposed to be good. But there’s only so long a book can rest on those laurels before it needs to try something else. And to the book’s credit, it does come close to doing just that, crafting a meta-narrative that almost takes things in an intriguing direction. But it doesn’t quite pull it off. To be honest, the only reason I ended up finishing the book was that it moved at such a breakneck pace that it was fairly easy to just get caught up in the story and let it wash over me. But that’s definitely not a ringing endorsement.
NOTE: A review copy of Ghost Hunters Adventure Club and the Express Train to Nowhere was provided by Permuted Press. All opinions in this review are my honest reactions.
“Ghost Hunters Adventure Club and the Express Train to Nowhere”
Written by Cecil H.H. Mills
This is a story about three idiot wannabe detectives: J.J. and Valentine Watts and their new friend Trudi de la Rosa. Again, they’re idiots, but in a fun way where they go on adventures and occasionally use swear words. In this book, they’re riding a train on official Ghost Hunters Adventure Club business when an old friend from the past shows up to ruin everything. It’s up to our three young adventurers to solve the mystery of the Express Train to Nowhere before they’re locked away forever for a crime they didn’t even commit.
REVIEW: Keeping Company with Sondheim
Nominated for nine Tony Awards, Marianne Elliott’s revival of Stephen Sondheim’s classic musical, Company, is the talk of the town. Elliott’s production reimagines the show’s main character, Bobby, as a 35-year-old woman (Bobbie, played by Katrina Lenk), bringing an entirely new dynamic to this beloved show. And PBS’s new documentary, Keeping Company with Sondheim, takes viewers behind the scenes of this innovative revival. Featuring loads of footage from various productions of the musical and a host of interviews with the cast and creative team of the current revival, Keeping Company with Sondheim delivers an intriguing glimpse at the creation of this production as well as an emotional love letter to the late, great Stephen Sondheim. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll be wowed by all the talent on display.Continue reading