Review of “These Vicious Masks” by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas

Review of “These Vicious Masks” by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas A review by Amanda.

Miss Evelyn Wyndham and her sister, Rose, are from a respectable family, expected to marry well and live as society dictates. Rose would rather continue her nursing and try to achieve her impossible dream of becoming a doctor. Evelyn wants her sister to be happy, while avoiding the subject of marriage altogether. Not even her trusted, clever friend Mr.Kent can change her mind. The sisters encounter the mysterious, brooding Sebastian Braddock at a party and everything starts to fall apart. Rose vanishes from home that very night and the evidence suggests that she left unwillingly. Evelyn is convinced that Sebastian knows more than he’s admitting. After confronting Mr. Braddock, Evelyn initially dismisses his insane theory that Rose was taken because her skills as a nurse come from a supernatural ability to heal. She enlists Mr. Kent’s help and leaves her home on Rose’s trail, where she only finds more questions and unlikely answers.

Evelyn is headstrong, clever, witty, and sarcastic, all of which made me adore her from the first page. Her repartee with Mr. Kent had me laughing out loud, and her obvious love for Rose added more depth to form a well-rounded heroine. She flouted society’s standards for women of her station, but without the naivete that tends to go along with it. Romance had its place in this story, but it was woven into the story at natural places. The search for Rose and the supernatural elements took priority and kept me on my toes the entire time. The authors did a wonderful job of making me care about Evelyn and Rose above all else. There were plot twists that I saw coming, and several that I didn’t. The ending was a complete surprise and set up a sequel quite nicely! I am looking forward to reading more from these authors and I hope to read more of Evelyn’s adventures soon.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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Review: “Alice Takes Back Wonderland” by David D. Hammons

Review of "Alice Takes Back Wonderland” by David D. Hammons A review by Amanda.

Alice’s adventure in Wonderland was real, although the story by Lewis Carroll got some things wrong. For instance, Alice was not from 19th England, but 21st century Missouri. When she returns to her family, spewing tales of talking white rabbits, a murderous queen, and a disappearing cat, her parents send her to therapy and she is prescribed medication to stop her “hallucinations”. After a while, even Alice begins to think that she imagined the entire thing. One day, though, she’s late to take her pills, and the white rabbit from her dreams comes to bring her back to Wonderland.

Things have changed drastically in the ten years since she left Wonderland. The Ace of Spades is in charge, the Cheshire Cat is dead, and many of the inhabitants of Wonderland have had their “wonder” removed. Ace has seen what Alice’s world is like – full of logic and reason, not madness and silliness – and he wants to remake Wonderland in the same image. The White Rabbit has brought Alice back to convince Ace that her reality is not all that it’s cracked up to be. When that doesn’t work, an old friend sends Alice on a mission to other worlds, other fairy tales, to raise an army and save the wonder of Wonderland.

Alice Takes Back Wonderland is a hodge-podge of classic tales. Alice meets several characters from stories that she recognizes as fairy tales from her own world, not realizing at first that she is one as well. It’s not only fairy tales either; other well-known people from famous stories and events find their way into this book, such as Hercules and Davy Crockett, albeit not exactly as readers will remember them. Fans of the ABC show Once Upon A Time will appreciate the combination of stories and the overlap of characters, but others may find it to be overwhelming. Several of my favorite tales were mentioned, like Peter Pan and Pinocchio, and I loved the differences between the familiar stories and this one. This appears to be a standalone novel, with no sequel in sight. If you are a devout defender of the classics, this book may not be for you. I do recommend this book to those who are fans of updated retellings.

 

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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Review: “Green Hornet #1: Bully Pulpit” by Mark Waid and Daniel Indro

Green Hornet, Bully Pulpit by Mark Waid and Daniel Indro

 A review by Courtney.

This volume came in a Comic Bento Box that I had to order because it was curated by Gail Simone. Gail is one of my favorite comic writers so I had to buy the box. I also wanted to try reading a comic with a male protagonist who has a male bestie to interact with. In the Green Hornet movie, I particularly enjoyed the banter between Green Hornet and Cato and was hoping something similar would be present in the comic as well.

Green Hornet starts off the volume by showing us that his alter ego, Brett Reid, is capable of controlling the city by the newspaper stories he chooses to print. Brett is the publisher of the newspaper the Daily Sentinel, one of the most respected newspapers in the city. Brett is able to alter stories and the way things are running in the city by appearing as the Green Hornet and witnessing the events first hand that he chooses to write about. Brett’s goal is to have Green Hornet appear as a criminal mastermind to the head gangsters of the city so he can maintain control easier. Cato serves as Brett’s trusted bodyguard/chauffeur until Cato believes that Brett is crossing too many of the wrong lines to maintain his control.

I wanted to like this book, I really did, especially when I found out that there were supposed to be pulp fiction-y noir vibes about it. Noir films are some of my favorite and occasionally I would get those vibes from the book during one of Brett’s long internal monologues; it wasn’t often enough to keep my interest. I was also hoping for chummy witty dialogue between Brett and Cato and that was missing as well. I wanted to know more about the relationship between Cato and Brett and I never got it. Occasionally I was drawn into the story, but I never really felt like I cared about any of the characters enough to want to know what would happen to them next.

The art in this book was okay, but nothing amazing. If the book had been in black and white with pops of green color, that could have helped give it the noir feel they were going for; but they didn’t.

My rating: 2/5 stars.

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Review: “Enter the Janitor” by Josh Vogt

Enter the Janitor (The Cleaners Book 1) by Josh Vogt

 A review by Hannah.

The Cleaners are a supernatural sanitation company that keeps reality tidy, in a war between Purity and Corruption. Their soldiers are janitors, maids, window washers, and maintenance men. Their weapons are mops, feather dusters, and scrub brushes. Their armor, jumpsuits and rubber gloves. Now there is an imbalance between Purity and Corruption that threatens the world as we know it.

Dani is a college student with a history of mysophobia, a.k.a germophobia. Sadly, she chooses to brave the ladies’ room at her school’s library on the wrong day. She winds up in the crossfire between an elderly janitor and a muck-monster. During the battle she discovers her latent magical ability, simultaneously flooding and burning the building down in self defense.

Ben, the janitor from the bathroom battle, knows that there is an imbalance, but his superiors are not taking the threat seriously. Now he has to train the Cleaners’ newest employee (Dani) while trying to track down the source of the imbalance. Together they will face old enemies, a cult that wants to cleanse all life from the world, and the occasional toilet in need of scrubbing.

I started this book almost certain that I would end up hating Dani. She is young and painfully arrogant. Two chapters later, I knew I was wrong. She is also brave, compassionate, and hilarious. Give her a bottle of hand sanitizer and watch her take over the world, one snarky comment at a time. Ben is the quintessential grumpy old man. He is a seasoned veteran, stubborn, a secret softy and very creative in his cursing. He is a very easy character to like, flaws and all.

I loved this book. I also loved the sequel Maids of Wrath. What I don’t like is waiting for the next book in the series. The characters feel real, the story has momentum, and things get messy.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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“Sleeping With the Fishes” by Mary Janice Davidson

Sleeping With The Fishes by Mary Janice Davidson

 A review by Vanessa.

Dr. Fredrika Bimm is an unusual employee of the New England Aquarium. Everyone thinks she has blue hair, even though she knows it’s really actually green. Her eyes are the color of Brussels sprouts. She is super cranky to everyone except her best friend Jonas. Oh, and she can talk to the fishes that she is responsible for feeding because she’s a mermaid. Only her parents and her best friend know that she is a human-mermaid half breed and she much prefers it that way. After all she has enough problems to deal with. Her mother’s apparent fling with a merman is not a new concept for her. She’s much more concerned about the fishes going on hunger strike, and the tall, dark, and handsomely intense new Dr. Thomas Pearson who has just arrived at the NEA. Fred is more than happy to keep her head down and do her work, while avoiding her annoyingly efficient boss Dr. Barb. But things in Fred’s life get suddenly very complicated when Artur, the High Prince of the Black Sea shows up at her parents’ house.

He is a merman of course, and in his human form he is incredibly tall and absolutely beautiful, with ruby red hair and eyes. He also happens to be annoyingly infuriating, as he has come to demand Fred’s help in figuring out who or what is polluting the waters of the Boston Harbor. Fred is not ready for the amorous attentions of the Prince. In an attempt to divert him, she decides to enlist the help of the new Dr. Thomas who has come to the NEA to research the same polluted water problem. When Thomas accidentally catches Fred in her mermaid form, he is all too happy to help out and act on some romantic intentions of his own. Despite Fred’s frequent protests, she suddenly has two male admirers on her hands. So Fred, Thomas, and Artur, with Jonas tagging along, embark on a mission to find out what is happening to Boston Harbor; while Fred tries to hold on to her secret, and her heart.

One of my favorite authors, Mary Janice Davidson, has laid out a wonderful and sharp witted twist on the mermaid legend. Fred is so much more than the classically beautiful, curious, and innocent waif who wanders from the ocean in search of her handsome love. In fact, if anyone suggested that to her, she might likely slug them. She is sarcastic and highly flawed, but entirely likable and easy to root for. Her impatience and intolerance belies her incredibly loyal and protective nature, and her chagrin at the attentions of two men somehow makes her charming. With a supporting cast of characters that never fail to entertain, the story swims along fantastically. Prince Artur is everything you would think that a magical merman prince should be, and Dr. Thomas is an interesting and mysterious wild card. Throw in the mysteries of the deep with mafia bad guys and demanding angelfish, and it’s no wonder why it’s almost impossible to put this book down. The worst thing I have to say about it is that it’s a short quick read. But then since it’s the first of an amazingly fun trilogy, I guess that’s not so bad.

My rating: 4.5/5 stars.

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