Book Review: The Walking Dead Vol. 23: Life and Death by Robert Kirkman

AuthorRobert Kirkman
Title: The Walking Dead Vol. 24: Life and Death
Publication Info: Image Comics (2015)

This volume continues the ongoing story of survivors at various communities working to make something close to a normal life while working through the emotional devastation of the zombie apocalypse. They also have to deal with threats such as the Whisperers, an insurgency at Hilltop, and an imprisoned Negan’s mind games.  Then there’s a shocking conclusion!  It’s a good, nuanced story, and one of the better installments in the series.
Rating: **1/2

Book Review: Rat Queens Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe & Roc Upchurch

AuthorKurtis J. Wiebe
Illustrator: Roc Upchurch
TitleRat Queens Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery
Publication Info: Berkeley, CA : Shadowline/Image, 2014
The Rat Queens are a group of four adventurers in a medieval fantasy setting whose drinking, carousing, and brawling leads them to be sent out on quests as punishment.  In this first collection, the Rat Queens discover that someone is trying to kill them and their rival adventure crews and have to solve the mystery.  It’s a riotous mix of humor, profanity, drug references, and lots and lots of bloody gore.  It’s a good send up of the strong female characters trope and the sword and sorcery genre, although I think many allusions were lost on me as I’m not familiar with that genre.  This is a comic series worth reading but much too violent for my tastes.

Rating: **

Book Review: Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

Author: Jenny Offill
TitleDept. of Speculation
Narrator: Jenny Offill
Publication Info: Holland, OH : Dreamscape Media, LLC, [2014]

This work is an experimental novel about a writer in Brooklyn, her marriage, and parenthood.  It’s written in a series of short chapters and vignettes.  Sometimes it feels like the narrator is going on about little things, but then sometimes there is a sentence or two that pithily captures a truth about the human condition.  No one in the story has a name – just the wife, the husband, and the daughter.  The child grows and changes, the husband commits adultery, they move to the country.  Everything is kept at a distance only to be periodically punctured by pain and regret.  I appreciate what Offill is trying to do, but on the other hand this book didn’t really resonate with me.

Recommended booksA Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan,  Monkeys by Susan Minot, and Severance: Stories by Robert Olen Butler.

Rating: ***

Book Review: The Inventor’s Secret by Andrea Cremer

AuthorAndrea Cremer
TitleThe Inventor’s Secret
NarratorLeslie Bellair
Publication Info: Listening Library (2014)

This is the first in a series of an alternate universe dystopia in which Great Britain suppressed the revolution in the American colonies and have created a deeply stratified industrial tyranny.  I actually thought it was supposed to be set sometime in the far future, but since its  in the steampunk genre, it’s supposed to be in the 19th century despite the advanced technology.  The protagonist is Charlotte, a 16-year-old member of the resistance living with other children in camp hidden away from the empire.  When a mysterious newcomer arrives, it moves forward a plot for Charlotte, her brother and other companions to infiltrate the imperial society in New York.  It’s an interesting concept, but the story didn’t engage me .  I could see it’s appeal for younger readers interested in a mix of fantasy, alternate history, and romance.

Rating: **