eBook Review: Better Off Dead by H. P. Mallory

I downloaded Better Off Dead (Lily Harper Series) by H. P. Mallory onto my AmazonKindle app because it was free and looked interesting.

better off dead

Summary from Goodreads

If there’s such a thing as luck, Lily Harper definitely doesn’t have it.

Killed in a car accident before it’s her time to go, Lily learns that the hereafter isn’t exactly what she hoped it might be.

First, there’s AfterLife Enterprises, the company responsible for sorting out the recently dead and sending them on their way to the Kingdom, (aka happily ever after,) or to the Underground City, (not so happily ever after.)

Learning that Lily’s death was indirectly their fault (her guardian angel, Bill, was MIA during her accident and was one of their employees,) Afterlife Enterprises offers Lily the chance to live again.

But, as with most things involving the afterlife, beware the fine print. Most notably, Lily will become a soul retriever, venturing into the bowels of the Underground City to retrieve souls that were mistakenly sent there by Afterlife Enterprises during a Y2K computer glitch.

Second, there’s angel Bill. As if risking her second life in the Underground City wasn’t enough, Lily’s guide to the Underground is none other than her incompetent, alcoholic, womanizing guardian angel, Bill, the antithesis of anything wholesome. With only Dante’s Inferno and Bill to help her in her quest, Lily’s future isn’t looking bright.

Finally, there’s the legendary bladesmith, Tallis Black. As Scottish as his kilts and heavy brogue, Tallis Black is a centuries-old Celt who, for reasons only known to him, offers to train Lily and act as her escort into the depths of the Underground City. Dark, brooding and definitely dangerous, Lily knows she shouldn’t trust Tallis, but she also can’t deny her attraction to him.

Between soul retrieving in hell, dealing with Bill and trying to figure out what’s in it for Tallis, Lily wonders if maybe she would’ve just been better off dead.

I really like the other H.P. Mallory series and think she is a good writer, but I have some reservations about this series and it didn’t catch my interest like her other two did. I was intrigued by the premise, I like Reaper Mystery tea cozy novels a lot, and I enjoy quirky characters which Better Off Dead has in spades. Angel Bill is quite hilarious even if he was a bit cringe worthy a few times, but in a way that made me laugh in spite of myself. He was the best parts of the book.

Lily is a well developed character who has a lot to learn about her new life. I can see her growing over the series and becoming a wonderful character. I just have a few issues with the premise of her character. My first issue is that when she becomes a Reaper she gets to choose a new body, and since she hates her old fat self she chooses to be a tall, curvy (but in all the right places), redhead- just like every other urban fantasy female lead. Her gangling movements, I’m in a new taller more beautiful body, scenes were off putting to me. It wasn’t as though she chose the right body for the job, she just chose her dream body. And I guess I would be fine with that realism, if the author addressed Lily’s hate of her old body in some way. And maybe Lily will come to realize that her old body wasn’t so bad, or learn something from this in the end, but there was no indication in the first book that this would happen. It seemed an odd point to make about the universe.

My other issue with Lily is that she is yet another virgin, and not necessarily because she wants to be, not because she is choosing for herself her own sexuality, in fact there is no female agency around her choice. I started reading another Reaper Mystery cozy tea novel that I at the same time and I really appreciated that character’s choice about her own sexuality, female agency was a real thing so it was hard not to compare the two. Perhaps Lily’s virginity would not have been such a big deal to me if I wasn’t comparing it to the other, on the other hand it was part of the plot in Better Off Dead.

H. P. Mallory sets up some great characters in Better Off Dead, they aren’t perfect and they have some room to grow. The premise remains interesting and the AfterLife was definitely different from other Reaper Mysteries that I read, so that was a huge plus. There is a kick-ass female in the story, she just happens not to be the heroine. Some of my favorite characters have started out as underwhelming female leads and have grown into amazing women, hopefully Lily is headed in that direction as well.

A Reaper Mystery tea novel about the after life, Better Off Dead has an interesting premise and some quirky characters that will keep you turning the pages.

Audio Book Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

One of my favorite series I’ve read in the last few years is the Raven Boys Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. The most recent of these is Blue Lily, Lily Blue. When it finally finally was available to read I knew that I wouldn’t get it from my library for several months, so I used a credit on Audible and got to read it a whole lot quicker. I’ve read some of Stiefvater’s books via eaudible versions and I really liked her Shiver Trilogy that way. While I really enjoyed the continuing adventures of the Raven Boys and Blue, since I read the first two books in hardcover I had the voices of the characters already set in my head and so the voices that the narrator, Will Patton, used were not my own and that threw me. I reconciled most of them except for his version of Blue which was really different than my own.

blue lily lily blue

Summary from Amazon:

The third installment in the mesmerizing series from the irrepressible, number one New York Times best-selling author Maggie Stiefvater.

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things, though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.

Mothers can disappear.

Visions can mislead.

Certainties can unravel.

I really enjoy the otherness of and strange mystical adventures in The Raven Cycle Series. Interestingly, while each book has sections from the perspective of all of the characters, I felt that The Raven Boys had a slight focus on Gansey, The Dream Thieves centered around Ronan’s abilities, and in Blue Lily, Lily Blue the core of the story revolved around Blue and her interactions with The Raven Boys as she falls madly in love with all of them. After being accused of being crazy for being in love with them all.

Orla wasn’t wrong, of course. But what she didn’t realize about Blue and her boys was that they were all in love with one another. She was no less obsessed with them than they were with her, or one another, analyzing every conversation and gesture, drawing out every joke into a longer and longer running gag, spending each moment either with one another or thinking about when next they would be with one another. Blue was perfectly aware that it was possible to have a friendship that wasn’t all-encompassing, that wasn’t blinding, deafening, maddening, quickening. It was just that now that she’d had this kind, she didn’t want the other.

What makes this book stand out from other Young Adult fiction is this all encompassing love for each other that the characters feel and live even as their lives are turned around and around with the mythical search Gansey is determined to solve and conquer and understand. Since they want that for him, that want it for themselves as well, and the unit stands firm against grey men and assassination attempts.

I also always enjoy the narrative based on the town of Henrietta, I can picture it perfectly because I can see the bits and pieces from the author’s home town, where I coincidentally also grew up, emerge on the scene and it is just a delight. For me, it gives the series a grounding that I haven’t felt in any other series, not even the ones about Chicago (which aren’t always accurate). But by making up a town while using parts from a real one, Stiefvater gives solid footing to an otherwise otherworldly story.

My favorite quote from the book, because it at once reminded me of where I grew up, made me laugh at its accuracy, and sad all at once for its truth was:

Blue had discovered that there were two distinct stereotypes for the rural population of her part of Virginia: the neighbors who loaned one another cups of sugar and knew everything about everyone, and the rednecks who stood on their porches with shotguns and shouted racist things when they got drunk. Because she grew up so thoroughly entrenched in the first group, she hadn’t believed in the second group until well into her teens. School had taught her that the two kinds were almost never born into the same litter.

The third installment of The Raven Boys Cycle continues to intrigue and mystify. While Stiefvater weaves a tale that is its own throughout the book, more mysteries are created than solved and pathways are taken that I never expected. I love this series for its characters, its setting, and its mythology. The interwoven roads are leading somewhere spectacular and I can’t wait to discover what the journey brings.

Some day I’m going to turn to some self righteous prick trying to talk above me and say, “Don’t you Richard Gansey the Third me.” And they will have no idea what I’m say, but I’ll just laugh to myself and enjoy my little inside joke.

Check out some really good fan art by shardsofmyheart on DeviantArt.

Movie Review: Walk of Shame

Walk of Shame stars Elizabeth Banks and James Marsden. Honestly, anything that stars Elizabeth Banks gets my attention and that was the sole reason I picked up the movie from Redbox. Plus, I like a good lighthearted comedy and this movie made me laugh, out loud, several times. Don’t be fooled by the previews before the movie. Mine included an advertisement for Jarhead 2 and the Scorpion King 4. I started to question my judgment in my movie pick, much like I imagined other people would be doing on their walk of shames the next morning. But I found myself having a wonderful time watching Elizabeth Banks navigate through a handful of hilarious situations with desperation and bad decision making.

When Meghan Miles finds herself one night having a pity party because her fiance dumped her and she didn’t get the promotion that she wanted, she decides to go out drinking with her friends. But a night of boozing becomes too much and during an attempted escape from a club of not so sober patrons, Meghan gets help from a charming stranger. Only so slightly sober herself, Meghan decides to go home with the charming stranger because only her emptied out rooms are waiting for her at her apartment. The two spend a night connecting, playing games, and laughing, but the next morning Meghan wakes up to find out that she might still get the promotion if only she can make it to an interview. In a panic Meghan leaves without her cell phone only to discover her car has been towed and just her luck her purse is in her car. Unable to even take a bus trip across town, Meghan begins a day of adventure in a pair of high heels trying to get her car and purse back and make it to her interview on time.


Meghan is a desperate woman, out of her league, who finds herself running from the police, drug dealers, and people who want to Facebook her “Walk of Shame.” Elizabeth Banks plays desperate perfectly. She is hilarious. I love her so much! Super girl crush on Elizabeth Banks happening right now. There is so much fun to this movie that I can only highlight a few of those moments.

Ghetto Crack House

The only people awake early in the morning as Meghan tries to get back her vehicle are hookers and drug dealers (and a jogger), so in desperation Meghan tries to plead with a drug dealer to let her use his phone. But the 5-0 are about to raid that particular corner and Meghan follows after the drug dealer into his ghetto crack house only to realize when he finally hands over the phone, that the only phone numbers she has memorized are her own, her parents, and her ex-fiances.

I laughed so hard at Meghan’s response to landing in a crack house with limited phone options. The scene plays out as genuinely bewildering and it is hilarious. Thankfully, unlike Meghan I could call my mom, explain what happened, and get support, not judgement. But poor Meghan, her only option is to call the man who just dumped her and have him completely fail to help her in any way. Even after a couple of drug dealers yell at him to man up, he responds by telling her not to call him. Interestingly, as their interactions increased, her relationship with the drug dealers reaches a different level of communication and support. A bit over the top, perhaps, the scene left me in stitches.

walk of shame crack house

Kid Pushing

It’s a tiny moment. But when Meghan tries to reason with a kid that she needs to borrow his bike, like most of the people she tried to ask for help, he bargains with her. And it’s for her body. So, she lures him close, pushes his glasses into his face and his butt onto the ground, and takes off on his bike. I laughed my own butt off. Perhaps this was because I dealt with some extremely annoying children at work the other day who broke an apparatus off of a wall, ran around the store despite us workers asking them to stop for their safety and the safety of the other patrons they were running into, and barged into the dressing rooms of other patrons after being asked not to do so. Not once did their parental figure tell them to behave properly and not treat our store like their personal playground. Not once. So seeing an annoying and misbehaving child, get his own. That just made my day.

bike walk of shame

Four Part Douche Test

Once Meghan’s friends realize she never made it home the night before and the only person answering her phone is a charming stranger, they head over to his place to look for clues and to find Meghan to make sure she is OK. When they arrive at Gordon’s house, Denise gives him a test to see what kind of man he is. My friend’s and I used to go through guys wallets. Each group of girls has their own way they sus out the character of a man, this one was pretty funny.  I started giggling just watching the clip again.

Does this movie have a few plot holes? Yes. Many Starbucks are open at 5 in the morning and would let her use their phone. But I’ve also found myself lost in certain areas of a big city that I had never been to before, it is scary, bewildering, and makes good judgement calls harder to hold on to, and I had my cell phone. In spite of more than a few plot holes, the solid acting comedy of this movie makes Walk of Shame a fun and laugh inducing piece of entertainment. But the biggest reason I liked Walk of Shame is that it isn’t about some girl’s walk of shame, it is really about a woman who has an adventure, owns her own story, and walks away from an experience having learned a lesson with a decision to move forward in her life toward that which makes her happy. It’s solid entertainment, and I quite enjoyed the movie.


Webseries Review: A Tell Tale Vlog

I was contacted a while ago (::coughlasthalloweencough::), by Yulin Kuang to view the YouTube channel Shipwrecked Comedy. Created by Yulin Kuang, Sinead Persaud, & Sean Persaud, Shipwrecked is a sketch comedy channel that is “[h]ere to fulfill all your historical literary comedy webseries needs.” One of the series on Shipwrecked is, A Tell Tale Vlog, the vlog of Edgar Allan Poe with commentary by Lenore, the beleaguered spirit.


 “You’re not the only ghost in town.” Edgar Allan Poe attempts to record a writing vlog while the lady ghost Lenore haunts his study.

A new mini-webseries by Shipwrecked, loosely adapted from “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe.

Each of the 8 episodes of A Tell Tale Vlog is about two minutes long and follows the awkward ramblings of Poe, played by Sean, and his “Poe-em,” The Raven. Poe’s fake mustache is to die for. If you need a little giggle, watch the first episode below and check it out! Lenore, played by Sinead, pops up several times per episode with her own sighings about life as a ghost. My favorite lines from her are “Such a ghost whore,” and “Next time you see me, I might not be here.”

This channel is full of comedy gold. I laughed every episode, some of them several times. I enjoyed how the series uses technology to add to the story rather than interfere with it. Poe’s written pleas that pop up on his videos are quite amusing and I thought a genius way to give him dialogue without making the sketches longer. For example, as he is signing off of one episode more of his thoughts pop up on the screen, “Lend me your thoughts on my new poem ‘The Raven’ in the comments below.” A beat and then, “If you don’t like it, I can write you another.”

This is one of the best webseries I’ve seen in a while, and each sketch well written. The acting is excellent, the sound engineering great, and the wit of the writers will make you laugh.

Webseries Review: The Court Supreme

I was contacted by, Arik Sternberg, the writer and produce of The Court Supreme who thought I might be interested in viewing it and sharing it with you all. I was not compensated for this review. He told me:

 It’s a surreal legal comedy about the highest Court of Law in the Universe, where pop-culture characters and comic book stereotypes are put on trial.

Pilot Episode: Blood-Knight vs The Blade of Doom

Summary from The Court Supreme

When a BLOOD-KNIGHT from the proud Berserker clan wants to start a new life and leave all the blood and gore behind, he finds out that the cursed blade that served him dutifully during his many battles, is not willing to let him go so easily, especially not when she finds out that she is going to be replaced by a woman.


Left with no other choice, the BLOOD-KNIGHT calls upon the eternal justice of THE COURT SUPREME to release him from his Curse and/or Contract.

While obviously a pilot webisode, there are a few excellent moments in the Blood-Knight vs The Blade of Doom. The concept of stereotypical comic book characters on trial or in front of a judge was quite intriguing to me. I like watching people verbally spar, and enjoy doing it myself, to the chagrin of my friends. There is no actual fighting, but I was prepared for it, and since I went in with only an expectation of verbal debate, wasn’t disappointed. In fact, the website explains the webseries is for a specific audience.

So if you read too many books, love language and its rhetorical pitfalls, are fascinated by legal maneuvers, enjoy cultural stereotypes & archetypes, and don’t mind getting into a good argument from time to time – then this web series is for you. 

I liked the question of standing and mootness, though not called by those in the webisode. Basically the lawyers argue whether the Berserker can even bring a case if there is no one to bring the case against. Once that is hammered out, the next question is what is the cause of action, and here the episode took a twist that actually surprised me, The Blood Knight wishes to divorce his Lady Blade of Doom, because he cannot claim it is a defective product, rather that his his contract with the blade is more akin to an accidental marriage. I admit this tickled my fancy and I chuckled a time or two. 

But, I do have a few objections. I have some legal objections, claiming to be a court of equality the judge wants to split everything in half, whereas, here in the states many courts look more at an equitable division in divorces or under the public policy of what is just and right for any particular divorce. This is because the courts have figured out that often one spouse will stay home and not make a lot of money while supporting the other person, loosing job and business opportunities and so an equitably division is often more favorable than an equal fifty/fifty split. But perhaps I dig too deep legally in a comic book setting and perhaps the courts in Canada, where this series is based, have a different public policy around divorce which fed into this universes policies around divorce.

Also, I would have had several objections to lines of questioning in terms of relevance, but there were no objections entered into between the two arguers. I found that surprising, but perhaps this court does not allow objections or such objections are entered into later in the series. 

My other major objection is the sound quality. Understandably, a self financed and produced series isn’t going to have access to amazing sets or cinematography, but using what appears to be a big theater was perhaps not the best choice for picking up sound without echoing. Because the whole episode is just people talking, the quality of sound was a tad of an issue. Not horrible, but not the greatest. 

I did like the ending and the sentencing was not what I expected, and that was a pleasant surprise. The acting was decent and believable as people who like to argue some rather strange cases. The episodes do run a tad longer than some webseries, the first episode was over 15 minutes long. I liked that there was depth to the arguing, but it could have been tightened up a bit as well. 

 I enjoyed the first episode enough to start the second and may see myself finishing the other three as well. This series is exactly what it advertises, interesting rhetoric about comic book stereotypical characters and the problems they face, in the court room.

Movie Review: Rise of the Guardians

Recently I’ve been introduced to a lot more children’s movies, and reintroduced over and over. I’ve now seen Rise of the Guardians at least half a dozen times. Not necessarily all the way through at one time, but I’d say, put together the 100s of times the movie has been playing at home, and I’ve seen the whole Rise of the Guardians at least six times. Only we call it the Jack Frost movie.


Pitch Black (voiced by Jude Law) starts stealing children’s dreams and is turning them into nightmares, he feels that the Boogey Man is no longer feared and as a result he has lost power. The only way to get more power, is to get more children to believe. So he invades their dreams. As a result the number of children who believe in Santa Claus (played by Alex Baldwin with a heavy accent the entire time), the Australian boomerang dealing Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fischer), and the Sandman are diminishing as they give all their believing power over to Pitch. The Guardians of the children are loosing power so the Man in the Moon decides that they need another helper and he picks Jack Frost (Chris Pine) from obscurity at the bottom of an icy river to aid the others. No one believes in Jack Frost and he has a hard time fitting in with the other guardians, plus he is trying to remember where he came from and he spends the rest of the movie learning how to be part of a team and understanding what it means when children believe in you. All very heart warming indeed.

I like that the movie has a solid central story line and doesn’t necessarily delve deeply into all of the characters, but only enough to add depth. At the same time I like how a lot of the way Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny do their jobs are explained in this movie, it’s done really well and almost makes me a believer again. My favorite side character is  the Sandman, he doesn’t say a word, yet he makes me laugh the hardest.

I think the best voice actor of them all is Alec Baldwin, he does a fabulous job as Santa Claus, bringing a lot to the boisterous character just with his acting chomps. Surprisingly, it’s Chris Pine who is the least adept at being a voice actor. Some of his lines fall a little flat as though his imagination weren’t quite working in that moment. Because it takes a lot of imagination to bring your voice to where it needs to be to read the lines. Hugh Jackman and Isla Fischer are fine in their respective roles and Jude Law does an impressive job as Pitch. I just love to hate that guy.

A sweet children’s movie, with a really good story line and acting, Jack Frost… I mean Rise of the Guardians is a movie adults will enjoy as well.

Webseries Review: Space Janitors

Space Janitors is part of Geek & Sundry. You can watch the first season online at Geek & Sundry’s YouTube Channel or on the official Space Janitors website (the second season launched April 2, 2013!). Some of the other webseries reviewed this week have just begun or already ended, but you can watch 9 whole episodes from last season in like an hour and get caught up for this season in no time. I’m a huge fan of Geek & Sundry, so subscribe to their YouTube channel and get amazing nerdy content, watch webseries like Space Janitors, and thank your lucky stars there is such amazing content out there.

Ok, plug over. Can you believe I didn’t get paid to do that? Or even asked to do that…….

Space Janitors is a comedy/sci-fi web series created by Davin Lengyel and Geoff Lapaire. It chronicles the lives of two janitors, Mike Chet (Pat Thornton) and Darby Richards (Brendan Halloran) who serve aboard an evil iconic space station. After all, someone has to buff out the blaster burn marks from the halls and mop up the hero guts from the not-so-bottomless shaft.

The misadventures of Mike and Darby and their friends – a dogmatic computer psychologist, a curious Android, and one of the 10,000 clones aboard the station who are all named Dennis – shed a humorous light on popular and otherwise serious science fiction staples. In first season of Space Janitors we see the lives of the blue-collar staff at work on board the ship, punctuated by the occasional run in with the Dark Lord or a squad of invading rebels giving us the low rank glimpse of an epic galactic conflict.

This shows is so often giggle worthy that when I’m having a bad day I watch episodes to catch nerdy references and smile. I like the characters on this maintenance crew who show that living on a space ship is not all about lazer shoot outs and glory. Sometimes it is taking out the trash and standing to the side when said lazer shoot outs are happening. Brendan Holloran and Pat Thorton have a great bromance as Mike and Darby. Their comedy chemistry makes for a wonderful viewing and a lot of laughs.

Production value is actually fairly high seeing as they have funding and are distributed by Geek & Sundry. Some of the technology is purposely old school looking for comedy value. For example, when the incoming Dark Lord’s call flashes on a DOS screen that is just comedy gold. Some of the special effects are rather cheesy, but purposefully so, after all this show is about making fun of space operas and science fiction , as well as, paying homage to what the nerd/geek/dork community loves and knows. But I’m actually quite impressed when they don’t go for cheesy, the special effects are really well done.

If you need a laugh today, tomorrow, or any time really (because I think we all could use more laughs and hugs) check out Space Janitors. Give them some love, because Space Janitors have dreams too.

Picture Me Reading Book Club Extra: Post Apocalyptic Worlds

Picture Me Reading

Guess what! I’m a guest over on Picture Me Reading today, where I join Alisa and Aidan during their Book Club Extra audio discussion. I’m a huge fan of both Alisa’s Picture Me Reading blog where she illustrates her book reviews and Aidan’s Chair With A Panda blog where he reviews Doctor Who television episodes, movies, and tie-in books.

This week we discuss Post Apocalyptic Worlds in literature. My picks range from debut novels to stories about the fae. We discuss war, infectious outbreaks, dwindling resources, and how chocolate and coffee may become rare resources for realzies. What!?

AND if you haven’t heard or seen my tweets about this, there is now a radio adaptation of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman is available on BBC Radio 4! And it looks like it will be available to download after the series has complete!!! WOOT.

PLUS! Later today, a prize for you all to fight for. So stick around, more cool things are on their way!

If you want a list of our picks you can check them out after the break as well as links to written and illustrated reviews, blurbs, and audio discussions on others. A lot of links, a lot of fun, you can now waste your whole morning here. (You can thank me later)

Continue reading

One Thousand Posts and Counting

Today as I type the words for post number 1,000, I’m a little amazed. I began my blogging career on wordpress on a site that is no longer is public. It mostly had a lot of rants about people who don’t know that a strawberry stem is biodegradable. The purpose of the blog was as directionless as I felt. Meanwhile, I was blowing up my Facebook page with links to fun postings, comments, and websites with cool nerdy delights. I called them my nerd links of the day. I  started out with one posting on Facebook which quickly escalated. My friends were like, Um, why don’t you write a blog. And I was like, Dude I am writing a blog. And they were like, Woa I totally forgot about your cherry-pit-is-biodegradable-blog, are you still on that? I said, Not anymore.

Strawberry photograph by Walter J. Pilsak, Waldsassen, GNU Free Documentation License.
Cherry photograph By Sujit kumar via Wikimedia Commons

The last year has had its ups and downs, literally as I was on several planes, and figuratively, as I felt life shifted several planes, but one of the highlights of my year, and something that brings me continual happiness, is posting my goody geeky finds and having people enjoy discovering them too. This blog wouldn’t be here without you all, so thanks.

More thoughts on my blog post 1000

WordPress Finds

Read this truly geeky ode to coffee and it will make you smile. Read her other postings for more geeky goodness. Mostly she is a foodie so read some wonderful bits on southern grits. Oooh that rhymed. Sweet!

I never watch horror movies, so you will never find a review of one on this site. But if you enjoy the occasional gratuitous and copious amounts of blood spurting between lack of plot lines and uninteresting characters this fellow wordpress blogger likes to write horror movie reviews. So check it out here. (Yes, this is quite a biased paragraph. Indulge me on my lack of interest in maintaining a bias free blog. You are after all able to click away and leave if you don’t like bias.)