Review: Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher

Author: T. Kingfisher
Publisher: Tor Books
Released: April 26, 2022
Received: NetGalley
Warnings: Blood, death, abuse, child loss, miscarriage, death of sibling, domestic abuse, animal death (bones), cannibalism

Nettle & Bone is the first novel I’ve read by T. Kingfisher – but I can tell you right now that I’m adding every other book of hers to my TBR list. I loved this one so much. Please make the time to read Nettle & Bone; you won’t regret it!

Marra is the third daughter – the third princess. That offered her some level of protection, though it forced her to watch her two eldest sisters handed off to the same abusive prince. Now Marra is done sitting back by the sidelines. She’s going to find a way to stop him. No matter the cost.

Her only hope is the help of a grave witch. Tasked with three impossible things, Marra keeps moving forward with her quest, determined to find a way to shatter the protection surrounding the prince and his kingdom. It’s the only way to save her sister.

Nothing is fair, except that we try to make it so. That’s the point of humans, maybe, to fix things the gods haven’t managed.

Wow. Wow. Wow. Nothing could have prepared me for Nettle & Bone; that much is certain. This book blew me out of the water – and I want more. I am ranking Nettle & Bone on my top ten list for 2022 (so far); it is THAT good.

First, let’s talk about the world. It is complex, magical, dark, and fascinating. There were times when it felt like we were hopping from one world to the next, as each location is vastly different. Honestly, I would give anything to go back and explore some of those areas (and their citizens) in more detail.

The characters are a delight. Marra is a bold lead that brought readers many unexpected twists in her journey. Naturally, I also adored Bone Dog and the other characters that come into play (I’m trying to avoid naming them to avoid spoilers).

There were so many parts of Nettle & Bone that made me happy. Or upset and concerned. In other words, this book got me fully emotionally invested in the story. Frankly, I’m amazed at how much T. Kingfisher was able to fit in a mere 256 pages.

Long story short, Nettle & Bone is incredible. Go read it.

Thanks to Tor Books and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Review: Triptych by Jaleigh Johnson

Triptych: A Marvel: Xavier’s Institute Novel
Series: Marvel Aconyte Novels, Xavier’s Institute Novel
Author: Jaleigh Johnson
Publisher: Aconyte
Released: September 28th, 2021
Received: NetGalley

4 kitties

Triptych is the latest Marvel: Xavier’s Institute Novel, written by Jaleigh Johnson. To say that I was excited about this novel would be the understatement of the year, as I’ve been craving some new X-Men stories lately.

Fantomex is a famous thief and super-soldier, so you can imagine his surprise (or lack thereof) to find one of his clones breaking into a museum with the intent to steal some goodies. For her part, Cluster has good reason to be interested in these artifacts, as they are far from typical.

These artifacts are about to kick off a series of events that neither Fantomex nor Cluster are prepared for, especially not once Weapon XIII enters the fray. Will one of them gain the artifacts they desire or play right into the other’s hands?

If you generally enjoy side stories from the X-Men side of the Marvel universe, then the odds are good that you’re going to enjoy Triptych. I personally really enjoyed spending a bit of time with Fantomex and Cluster; it made for a slightly different story.

I think the thing I love the most about the X-Men is that there are SO MANY different characters to appreciate. Sometimes that fact can be overwhelming, and other times it is too easy to let side characters slip through the cracks.

But see, that’s where the Marvel novels shine, as they tend to pick up those characters and give them their moment in the spotlight. That is what happened here in Triptych. I didn’t really know anything about these characters, so it was a blast learning all about them and seeing them off on a new adventure. More like this, please.

Thanks to Aconyte and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

DISCLAIMER:

About Marvel Entertainment

Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media for over eighty years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing, publishing, games, and digital media.
For more information visit marvel.com. © 2020 MARVEL

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Realm Review: Jessica Jones: Playing With Fire Episode 16

The Season Concludes In Jessica Jones: Playing With Fire Episode 16

It’s hard to believe, but Jessica Jones: Playing With Fire Episode 16 wraps up the first (but hopefully not only) season of Jessica Jones’ journey. It all started as a missing person case but quickly spiraled into something so much more significant. And darker.

Last we saw, Jessica had successfully taken down one of the major threats – with some help, of course. Following that, she set out to find the rest of the missing flares.

Jessica Jones: Playing With Fire is the latest Marvel series to hit Serial Box. It brought Jess’s story to a new format, bringing audio components and a weekly episodic adventure for our favorite heroine.

Ripple Effect

The final episode of Jessica Jones: Playing With Fire Episode 16 is basically everything the series has been promising. It’s a hefty dose of action, character development, and even just a dash of humor. All while wrapping up all the loose ends.

Elsa Sjunneson-Henry took charge for the final episode, creating an ending that will leave fans hoping for a season two. I know, I’m hoping! Given how things left off, it feels entirely possible for the story to continue, and wouldn’t that be grand?

This episode brings with it a ton of satisfaction. This is a battle that has been building for at least five episodes now? It was worth the wait, and it even brought with it a few surprises, a nice touch.

I love the way everything was wrapped up in this episode. It wasn’t mushy – that isn’t Jess’ style, but it does feel like a solid ending regardless. All of the characters we’ve fallen in love with were present, as well as quick cameos from certain Marvel characters (again). It was perfect and exactly what the fans deserved, not to mention Jessica herself.

More than that, this episode spoke so strongly to trauma and recovery. It’s been a running theme for this series (and for Jessica’s series in general), but I feel like this episode in particular truly nailed it. It’s pretty powerful, especially when woven into the ending.

One more highlight before I end this review: I loved the small details about inclusion and accessibility. Matt Murdock’s quest to make life more accessible for all and even Jessica knows some basic sign language. These were small moments, but they mean so much. It was terrific to see included here.

Narration

Fryda Wolff was the narrator for Jessica Jones: Playing With Fire Episode 16, as with the rest of this series. She has done a fantastic job this season. I hope that if there are future seasons, they’ll get her back for them as well.

Jessica’s story did come to life through Wolff’s reading. She nailed her personality, both the good and the bad. It created a lovely experience all around and made it seriously memorable. More impressive is how well Wolff brought all of the secondary characters to life, making them all distinct and clear right from the start.

Once again, those subtle sound effects reared their heads, but honestly, I cannot express how well it worked during those combat scenes. There were additional elements, some more effective than others. But nothing compared to that overall background sound or the tone it evoked.

Conclusion

Jessica Jones: Playing With Fire Episode 16 is the conclusion everyone deserved – the fans, the characters, everyone. It was karmic and satisfying, and overall really did feel like it was pulled directly from Jess’ world.

Knowing that there won’t be another episode of Jessica Jones: Playing with Fire dropping next Thursday, it’s pretty depressing. It had become a moment to look forward to each week. On the bright side, the conclusion did leave enough room for this series to continue, should they feel so inclined (fingers crossed!).

It looks like there’s going to be a brief period of time where Serial Box doesn’t have any actively updating Marvel series. On the bright side, that means that there are three series to binge for those that want to. Thor, Black Widow, and Jessica Jones all now have complete seasons. Hopefully, it’ll help pass the time waiting for Black Panther’s series to drop.

This review was originally written for Word of the Nerd, but has been ported over to Quirky Cat’s Fat Stacks now that the site has shut down.

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Short Story Saturday: Oh Pretty Bird by Seanan McGuire

Series: InCryptid #0.10
Author: Seanan McGuire
Released: July 1, 2014
Received: Patreon

4 kitties

My binge through Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid short stories continues here with Oh Pretty Bird. We’re still on Jonathan and Frances Healy, and I adore them so much. It’s been refreshing getting to know some of the older Healy/Price members for obvious reasons.

In a way, this short story still feels somewhat somber, though they’re getting better. They’ll never be fully healed, of course. But it’s something. What will be better is finding and killing the woman/monster responsible for their son’s death.

On that note, we have Oh Pretty Bird. This involves the hunting and vengeance upon a Cuckoo – one who is infinitely more dangerous than the counterpart we’re all more used to seeing in the series. It’s a darker short story, but one very much at home with this series.

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Review: The Freedom Race by Lucinda Roy

Series: The Dreambird Chronicles #1
Author: Lucinda Roy
Publisher: Tor Books
Released: July 13, 2021
Received: NetGalley
Warnings: Slavery, rape, brutality, violence

3 1/2 kitties

The Freedom Race is the first novel in Lucinda Roy’s The Dreambird Chronicles series, and it is a series like no other. It blends science fiction fantasy with dystopian elements, and it does so flawlessly. Better yet, it has a poignant message written into the narrative, which makes it all the more powerful in my book.

The country has been torn apart by another civil war. Following the aftermath, it split into two factions. On one side, there’s the Homestead Territories. This is the side that believes in the right to slavery and is the side nobody would want to see win the war.

Ji-ji was born on this side, and all she has ever wanted was a way to escape the only world she’s ever known. The only way to do that is to enter – and win – the annual Freedom Race.



Wow. If you’re looking for a book that hits hard and doesn’t pull punches, look no further. The Freedom Race is unafraid of who and what it is – and it shows. This is a novel that merges dystopia with slavery, showcasing the brutal world that would stem from it.

To say that it was a horrifying read would be an understatement. Yet, I found myself loving Ji-ji’s character. It’s impossible not to root for her. She’s a light that shines so bright amidst all of the horrible actions around her.

I should mention that if ever there was a book that needed trigger warnings, it would be this one. When I say that there are brutal examples of slavery – I mean it. There are also scenes depicting rape, lots of violence, and so much more. This is not a light read by any means, but as long as you know that going into it I can see readers appreciating the message.

Thanks to Tor Books and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Review: Faith: Greater Heights by Julie Murphy

Series: Faith Herbert Origin Story #2
Author: Julie Murphy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Released: November 2, 2021
Received: NetGalley

4 kitties

Faith: Greater Heights is the second novel in Julie Murphy’s Faith Herbert Origin Story series. If you don’t know who Faith is, I would strongly recommend going and checking out the graphic novel series (by Valiant) surrounding the character.

That being said, you don’t need to be up to date in her story to appreciate these novels – they’re origin stories, after all. They’re designed to be approachable and fun. So this would be the perfect starting point for new readers! To be super clear – Faith: Greater Heights is not a graphic novel. It’s a regular novel based on the graphic novel character! And it is still absolutely worth the read!

Frank Herbert is not a typical teenager; that much is clear. She’s actually a secret superhero! Though her closest friends are in on the secret. Faith’s senior year is already proving to not be the calm year she had hoped. Not when a classmate goes missing…and it looks like it might be because of an old-classmate-turned-villain!

If you love the vibes from Faith’s comic series and have always wanted to see more of her, then you’re going to love Faith: Greater Heights. Honestly, even if you haven’t read the graphic series but are looking for a chill and different sort of hero, Faith is your girl.

Faith: Greater Heights is such a delightful read, from start to finish. I love how different yet familiar this origin story feels. It’s very much grounded in all of the elements I love about Faith’s character.

It’s also a really approachable series for those that don’t usually love superhero stories, as it very much feels like a class all of its own. Though I should be clear here: the series is a good starting point. So go back and grab the first novel (Taking Flight) first. It’s worth it, I promise!

This is a fantastic follow-up, one that I really enjoyed. I’m already looking forward to seeing where her adventures go next. Naturally, this means that I am once again motivated to get caught up in her comic series (I’ve been terrible about that).

Thanks to Blazer + Bray and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Review: Outlaw: Relentless by Tristan Palmgren

Outlaw: Relentless: A Marvel Heroines Novel
Series: Marvel Aconyte Novels, Marvel Heroines
Author: Tristan Palmgren
Publisher: Aconyte
Released: September 28th, 2021
Received: NetGalley

4 1/2 kitties

Woo! My favorite Marvel heroine (okay, one of my many favorites) is finally stealing the spotlight! Outlaw is finally (finally) getting her own novel, and I am all sorts of excited for this news. Written by Tristan Palmgren, Outlaw: Relentless is a book I’ve been waiting for.

Inez Temple is known to most as Outlaw. She’s a stubborn and strong member of Domino’s team. She’s also one of her best friends. Inez usually likes to consider herself the reliable sort, but when Johnny Dee enters the scene, all of the traits she so fondly held onto seem to slip away.

Not by choice, mind you. Johnny Dee is a notorious telepath, one that hates mutants in particular. He’s forcing Outlaw to forget all of her abilities and memories, but for what reason? Well, the reason almost doesn’t matter, as Outlaw is still going to get her revenge.

If you love Outlaw (aka Inez Temple), then you’re going to love Outlaw: Relentless. I know I did! But perhaps I was always going to enjoy this novel, as I find Inez a seriously underrated and underutilized heroine.

Outlaw: Relentless is set firmly in place with the rest of Inez’s Marvel appearances. There are references to other moments, mostly from her (unfairly shorter) time in comics. Suppose you want to fully understand these scenarios, considering reading: Domino, Domino: Hotshots, and Agent X. Also, while we’re at it: read Domino: Strays, which is also written by Tristan Palmgren, who clearly gets these characters. Wait, do you think that means there’s a Diamondback novel on the horizon? Yes, please!

I’ve always loved Outlaw’s strong personality, so it was really wonderful to see her get a solo arc here. Yet it was also a very down-to-earth novel, in the sense that what she was dealing with felt very personal (nearly losing everything that makes you who you are would be personal, yeah).

Honestly, Outlaw: Relentless just made me wish all the more that we could see this character more often. I love her so much.

Thanks to Aconyte and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

DISCLAIMER:

About Marvel Entertainment

Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media for over eighty years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing, publishing, games, and digital media.
For more information visit marvel.com. © 2020 MARVEL

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Realm Review: Jessica Jones: Playing With Fire Episode 15

Time To Save the Day In Jessica Jones: Playing With Fire Episode 15

Jess’ case is nearing its conclusion in Jessica Jones: Playing With Fire Episode 15. There’s only so much time to wrap up the investigation and save the day in the process, naturally. Remember when Jess thought this would be a simple open and shut case?

Jessica and her allies (old and new) teamed up and created a plan in the last episode. One that let them handle one of the most dangerous enemies Jess has faced in quite some time.

Jessica Jones: Playing With Fire is part of the Marvel collection found on Serial Box. Currently, it’s one of three series (soon to be four) available on the site. Black Widow and Thor also have series, with Black Panther’s on the way.

Tunnel Vision

Jessica Jones: Playing With Fire Episode 15 was an intense episode, to put it mildly. Elsa Sjunneson-Henry knows how to write a scene full of anxiety, all while building up to something even bigger (is that even possible?).

There are a few scenes that really stand out from this episode, proving once again that Jess is very much a human being, and she’s still working her way through a significant amount of trauma. The entire series has done a wonderful job of handling that delicate subject while also portraying the steps she’s actively going through to heal herself.

This episode has a lot of subtlety hidden with the pages (er, screen?), as well as several moments that let characters shine. It made for a thrilling read. I’m finding myself conflicted. On the one hand, I’m eager to read the series’s next (and final) episode. On the other hand, I don’t want to see the season end.

Regardless, this episode once again points out the complex nature of any series revolving around Jessica Jones. Nothing is ever easy. Everything is a fight. She’s a hero through and through, just one that life hasn’t felt the need to raise. It’s one of the many reasons why her series feels so personal.

Narration

As with the rest of this season, Jessica Jones: Playing With Fire Episode 15 has narration worth bragging about. Fryda Wolff is the woman behind the scenes, and she’s gotten Jess’ character down at this point.

The audio is every bit as complex as the writing, portraying Jess in several different emotional states. Everything from a little bit smug to concerned, then back around to freak out, and then stubborn. It’s all there and more.

The sound effects woven into this episode are subtle yet shockingly effective. They’re used in small doses, quiet and discreet background noises that enhance the state of affairs. It could all have been easily overlooked, and yet instead, it brought the experience full circle.

Conclusion

Jessica Jones: Playing With Fire Episode 15 was every bit the episode I had hoped it would be. It had a little bit of everything; action, drama, suspense, even humor, making it one of the top episodes for this series.

Honestly, this series has quickly become one of my favorites, and I’ll be sad to see it end even while knowing that the ending will do justice to the entire tale and to the characters involved. At least I can rest easy, knowing that there’s another Marvel series on the way (Black Panther can’t get here soon enough).

This review was originally written for Word of the Nerd, but has been ported over to Quirky Cat’s Fat Stacks now that the site has shut down.

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Short Story Saturday: We Both Go Down Together by Seanan McGuire

Series: InCryptid #0.9
Author: Seanan McGuire
Released: November 19th, 2013
Received: Patreon

Next up on the list of Seanan McGuire short stories, we have We Both Go Down Together, part of her InCryptid series. This is number 0.09 in the series, which means I really am making progress in their story! Though I’m not sure how great that is, all things considered. At this point, I don’t want to have to say goodbye to them. (I’m so bad, I know).

If you enjoy the InCryptid series and want to see what a mermaid would look like in this world, it is time to dive into it! We Both Go Down Together reminds me of a blend of mermaids and Innsmouth, which feels about right.

Johnny was all set to go off on this mission by himself, but Fran is a stubborn woman. So even though she is due to give birth within the month, she is very insistently coming along for the ride. Only to find that they’ve been summoned for a concern that feels very personal for the two of them.

Okay, now THIS is my favorite Fran/Johnny story to date. I love the subject/critters, I loved the plot, and I loved the action. It was a perfect storm of events, and frankly, I would love to see more of this town. I know that it probably isn’t possible, but it has captured my imagination, so I can’t help but hope.

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Review: Lies, Lies, Lies by Adele Parks

Author: Adele Parks
Publisher: MIRA
Released: August 4th, 2020
Received: NetGalley
Warnings: Fertility, sexual assault, addiction, depression, animal death

3 kitties

Adele Parks is back for another thrilling tale (pun intended – sorry, not sorry) in Lies, Lies, Lies. This is a novel that will send chills down your spine, I promise!

From all appearances, Daisy’s life is pretty perfect. She has the man of her dreams, and together they just had their first child. But appearances can be deceiving, and Daisy is slowly coming to terms with the life she has.

That is – she was slowly coming to terms with it. Then something happened that wrenched control away and altered her family – permanently.

“Do we still live in a world where being polite keeps order or does it leave you vulnerable?”

So, I would hope that the title makes it obvious, but Lies, Lies, Lies is a novel full to the brim of secrets, deception, and revelations. Not all of them are good, naturally. It’s a thrilling and compelling tale, carried forward nicely thanks to Adele Parks’ writing style.

Though admittedly, this was not my favorite thriller. It wasn’t bad. It had a solid foundation, interesting plot points – the works. There was just something about it that kept me at arms’ distance, and ultimately that impacted my reading experience.

One thing I did enjoy about this novel is that it did showcase many harsh realities that come with life: addiction, depression, fertility issues, and more. However, I just couldn’t get over one scene in particular (spoiler warning: that poor kitten!).

Thanks to MIRA and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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