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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Review: Descent of Angels by Mitchel Scanlon

Series: The Horus Heresy #6
Author: Mitchel Scanlon
Publisher: Black Library
Released: October 30, 2007
Received: Own

3 1/2 kitties

Descent of Angels is the sixth novel in the Horus Heresy series – one of the most popular (and famous) series from Black Library/Warhammer 40K. Mitchel Scanlon wrote this novel; this novel is the first in the series that turns to look at the Dark Angels.

Young Zarahiel has only ever known life on Caliban. It’s a world covered in forests and made dangerous for the beasts that lurk within. Yet, there is a brotherhood here that fights to eradicate the beasts that plague the people.

Leading that charge is Lion El’Johnson. His days on Caliban were the days before he was known as a Primarch – yet he still created history and goals for himself. Now, he and his brotherhood are joining the larger initiative.

“You have crossed a line, but it does not change who you are. Don’t forget that. A man may be dressed up in all manner of fancy titles, but he must not let it change him, or else ego, pride and ambition will be his undoing. No matter what grand title is bestowed upon you, to thine own self be true. Do you understand?”

My read-through of The Horus Heresy continues onward, though admittedly, the going is much slower than I had anticipated. Part of the problem is that I really struggled to get into Descent of Angels. The transition between Fulgrim and Descent of Angels is so stark that it is nearly jarring.

Additionally, the story actually starts off a bit…slow? The first half of the book focuses on the battles of Caliban. Other than introducing characters (which is admittedly a necessary part of the process), a lot of what happens isn’t related to The Horus Heresy itself.

The second half jumps forward drastically, bringing Lion El’Johnson and Zarahiel, along with all the others, back into the fold. This is where the Dark Angels element really takes shape, though it does so in rapid fashion.

There were parts I liked about each half of the novel and parts I didn’t like. I enjoyed following Zahariel’s exploits for obvious reasons. He’s the main perspective in this story, following a trend that the rest of the Heresy (that I’ve read) has established. However, I felt like the pacing was lacking at times and found myself easily distracted while listening to the audiobook.

As for the second half? It’s easier to see how those events are going to be relevant to The Horus Heresy. However, I feel like it also suffered from some pacing issues. The jumps in time are almost too large. One moment they’re on Caliban – hoping to be chosen for the process. The next, they’re out in space, having been inducted, transitioned, trained, and blooded. It’s a lot.

All complaints aside – I will admit that the final twist in Descent of Angels got my attention. It left me eager to pick up the next book in the series (Legion), which is a huge relief on my part. Now to go and nab a copy for myself.

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Review: Skyward Flight: The Collection by Brandon Sanderson and Janci Patterson

Series: Skyward Flight
Authors: Brandon Sanderson and Janci Patterson
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Released: April 12, 2022
Received: Own

4 1/2 kitties

Skyward Flight is the entire short story collection for well, Skyward Flight. They are three novellas written by Brandon Sanderson and Janci Patterson, and they fit within the larger world and series. They are Sunreach, ReDawn, and Evershore.

Sunreach

4 kitties

FM and her squad have been through a lot in the past few months. They’ve lost teammates. They’ve picked up the fight that has been going on for generations. Then Spensa disappeared on a dangerous mission, and nobody quite knows where she is.

They know that the Galactic Superiority won’t leave them alone. Humans are considered too dangerous for that. So FM, Jorgen, and the rest are going to have to find a way to defend their planet. Perhaps the slugs Jorgen found can be of some use?



“But I still wondered: if we didn’t matter as individuals, then what were we saving the group for?”



First, can I just say that I love the idea of this novella series focusing on a different character for each story? There are so many characters in this series, and many of them deserve more ‘screen time’ than they’ve gotten.

Hence, my delight at getting to read from FM’s perspective in Sunreach. As I mentioned above, this novella takes place almost immediately following the events of Starsight. I know I can’t be the only one curious to see what’s happening with Spensa, right?

Unfortunately, her team don’t exactly have any answers. What they do have is an ongoing war and a small army of adorable and semi-intelligent slugs. So, that’s something…right? But seriously, this novella was actually a lot of fun to read.



“I feel like I should tell you,” Jorgen said over the radio, “that I now have a slug on each shoulder and three on my lap, all seeming vaguely uncomfortable that I’m touching them. I blame you, FM.”


Sunreach showed the many sides of the war that’s happening back home. Both out in space – and on the surface. Not all of the remaining humans want to follow along with the same plan. That sounds about right, doesn’t it?

I loved the added politics and concerns. I feel like all of that will quickly become relevant, so I’m glad that I didn’t skip on the novellas (why would I?). Also, if you’ve been dying to learn more about the slugs (guilty!), then you’ve gotta read this book! It’s worth it, I promise.

Next up is ReDawn, another novella in the series. At the time of writing this review (I’m behind, I know), ReDawn is already out and available to read. It follows a surprising perspective – Alanik. Following ReDawn will be Cytonic! Woo!

ReDawn

4 kitties

ReDawn is set following the adventures of Starsight and Sunreach (the first novella in the series). If you’ve been curious about what has been happening to the other characters in the series, then these are a must-read!

Alanik risked everything when she left her home planet – with the intention of using the pilot opportunity to steal a warp drive for her people. Instead, she crashed on the last world inhabited by humans.

Naturally, she wasn’t too pleased about being kept in a coma for quite some time. Now she’s active once again, and that means she’s back to fighting for her people. If only they were willing to do the same.


“Don’t trust their lies. Don’t trust their false peace.”


Guys, I don’t know why – but I was SO surprised to hear that we’d be getting a novella from Alanik’s perspective! Not that I’m complaining. ReDawn is a fantastic read, especially if you’re hoping to learn a bit more about the other alien races in the universe.

Alanik’s world is…fascinating. I could read full novels about her world and still not get enough of it. Just the hints we’ve seen have grabbed my curiosity, and it isn’t going to be letting go anytime soon!
I also adored seeing other characters make an appearance in this novella, though I won’t spoil it by talking about which characters (though I imagine active readers of the series would probably be able to guess?).

Overall, this was a fun and dramatic addition to the series. I’m going to be really curious to see how much of an impact this plot has on the main storyline. I’m also more interested than ever in what is happening to Spensa.

Next up is Cytonic, which is set to drop on November 23rd. So we’re almost there! The next novella will be following the events of that book, and I’m super curious for news on that front.

Evershore

Jorgen, aka Jerkface, is used to being in charge and making tough decisions. He’s been doing it for his flight this whole time. Yet he’s never had to deal with so many life-or-death situations before. Nor did any of his training prepare him for interacting with alien races and politics. Yet here we are.

As far as Jorgen can understand, Spensa is still out on her mission (and/or lost somewhere in time and space), leaving him home to deal with everything else going on. Everything else happens to include Alanik, a distress call, and the search for Spensa’s grandmother, plus his commanding officer (Cobb).


“In order to achieve control, you must first accept that you have none.”


Guys, I have been counting down the days for the release of Evershore! The thing I love the most about these novellas is they help make the wait between novels more bearable. Granted, I now have little else to ease the anxiety until Defiant unless you count the novella bundle, which I very may well read again. Why not, right?

Okay, there’s another thing I adore about these novellas; each one offers a different perspective. And now it is finally Jorgen’s turn. I think we’ve all been waiting to see how he would handle well EVERYTHING that has been happening lately.

On that note, wow. I did not think that they could manage to up the ante further, but they did! This novella brought into context some things that happened at the end of Cytonic, finally answering a few questions that I had.

Speaking of, technically, the events of Evershore happen somewhere before the end of Cytonic, but the recommended reading order puts Cytonic before Evershore. Hope I explained that okay. The point is, it all makes more sense in this order.

I love that the three novellas tie together quite nicely, especially the last two. We got to see different cultures and their battles against the same foe in those. In Evershore’s case, that means it is finally (finally) time to meet the Kitsen. Yes, please! I won’t spoil how that goes, but I will say that it went far beyond my wildest dreams and hopes. Which is saying something, mind you.

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Review: Witch Please by Ann Aguirre

Series: Fix-It Witches #1
Author: Ann Aguirre
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Released: September 7th, 2021
Received: Own
Warnings: Blackmail, prejudice, fatmisia, bimisia

3 1/2 kitties

If you love witchy humor, light romances, and lots of magical chaos, then you’re going to love Ann Aguirre’s latest novel, Witch Please. This turned out to be the perfect read for me around the ‘spooky’ season, and I am so very much looking forward to the sequels.

Danica Waterhouse is a modern witch – literally. Her magic allows her to fix electronics, which is pretty handy given today’s passion for all sorts of high-tech gadgets. Some would say that she has a perfect life, if not for the breakup she’s still trying to get over.

Naturally, that means she’s about to come across somebody that will turn her life upside down. Meet Titus Winnaker, a beloved baker and owner of Sugar Daddy’s bakery. Yes, that really is the name. Yes, despite the name, he can’t seem to have any luck in the love department. Maybe Danica can help him out?

Ahh! You can’t tease me with a witchy novel described as ‘Practical Magic meets Gilmore Girls‘ and NOT expect me to read it! So yeah, obviously, I could not resist giving Witch Please a try, and I don’t regret it in the least.

Witch Please was a cute, funny, and kind of quirky romance/magical novel. It would make for a perfect light read around Halloween, especially those who need a break from all the spooky stuff (guilty).

The pacing for Witch Please wasn’t perfect. There were long moments where it just felt like we were waiting for something to happen. At other times it all seemed to come to a head at once. I can tell you that Aguirre excelled in character creation and human moments.

Not all those human moments are good, mind you. For one thing, I desperately wanted to smack some common sense into Danica’s grandmother. That woman drove me nuts. But again, that in itself is pretty realistic, don’t you think?

The romantic parts were cute, with a few odd twists here and there. Not all of it was super cute or funny, but it worked overall. Honestly, I have no idea what will be happening in the next novel in the series. I’m hoping there will be a switch in perspective, where we’ll get to read about Clementine (hold up: just checked, and that is exactly what is happening! Yay!).

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Realm Review: Jessica Jones: Playing With Fire Episode 14

Regrouping In Jessica Jones: Playing With Fire Episode 14

The tale of one missing person case is almost to a close, and thus so is the first season of Jessica’s latest series. Jessica Jones: Playing With Fire Episode 14 brings this sassy heroine that much closer to finding the resolution she so desperately craves.

Last we saw, Jessica finally hit the point where she’s willing to bring in a little extra help to get the job done. The stakes are simply too high to do anything else. The question is, what are her allies going to do about it?

Jessica Jones: Playing With Fire is the product of a joint effort between Marvel Comics and Serial Box. The result is a series provided in both writing and audio. It updates on a weekly basis, with only two episodes left to this particular adventure.

Iron Will

 Jessica Jones: Playing With Fire Episode 14 was written by Vita Ayala, and they ran away with it. This is an issue that balances information with action in all the best of ways. While it’s clear that our heroine is still recovering, there’s no doubt that she’s still fully capable, especially when she has backup.

It’s so satisfying to see everything come together in these final episodes. Hints that were dropped earlier in the season are suddenly important now, as everything is adequately tied together. Almost every central plot point has been covered. Leaving the resolution free to focus on taking down the bad guys.

That is so Jessica’s style, and I can’t wait to see how it all goes down. The inclusion of other Marvel characters (both good and bad) has made the series feel rooted in history, especially for comic book fans.

As for the action provided in this episode? It feels like the tip of the iceberg. After all, there are still two episodes left to wrap things up. And that means there’s still at least one bad guy out there deserving a beating from the one and only Jessica Jones.

Narration

Fryda Wolff is still in charge of narration in Jessica Jones: Playing With Fire Episode 14, and thank goodness for it. She has done a brilliant job of bringing Jessica’s character to life, including portraying all of the people around her.

There are many audible elements to be found in this episode. Everything from the emotion leaking out of the characters to the stress and impact of a fight. It’s all there, alongside some supporting sound effects. You know, to make the battle feel even more real.

It’s created this perfect storm. If you close your eyes and just listen, it really does feel like the adventure is playing out right in front of you. Pulling mental imagery from both the comics and the Netflix series doesn’t hurt either, naturally.

Conclusion

Jessica Jones: Playing With Fire Episode 14 was a whirlwind of an episode. One that provided moments of extreme tension – alongside some supremely satisfying moments. It’s everything the fans have been waiting for, all while setting the scene for the final few episodes.

It’s hard to believe that this season is almost complete. If we’re lucky, there will be more adventures for Jessica Jones on the horizon. On the bright side, there is at least one more Marvel series set to hit Serial Box. Black Panther: Sins of the King is next up on that list!

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: Loch and Key by Seanan McGuire

Series: InCryptid #0.08
Author: Seanan McGuire
Released: August 12, 2013
Received: Patreon

Behold! I’m still binging all of Seanan McGuire’s short stories, and it finally is starting to feel like I’m making a dent. Sort of. Next on the list, we have Loch and Key, which is number 0.08 in the InCryptid series. This story, along with many others, can be found through Seanan McGuire’s Patreon.

Johnny and Fran have still not healed from the loss of their son. They never will fully heal. But they’re trying to get there, and that’s what matters. The elder Healys have decided it’s finally time to introduce Fran to their summer vacation spot, a lake full of cryptids.

Guys, I loved this story. No, really! I loved it. I want more exactly like this, perhaps even with the same critters involved. They were a delight to read about. I loved their history, location, and even the current predicament. It was so fun to read.

Plus, it helps my heart to see Fran and Johnny slowly but surely healing. I think that the readers really needed that. I can’t imagine having to wait months to see their next installment in the series, as that pain would have felt raw for so long. I’m glad I’m binging it now.

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Review: A Good Day for Chardonnay by Darynda Jones

Series: Sunshine Vicram #2
Author: Darynda Jones
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Released: July 27th, 2021
Received: NetGalley

4 kitties

A Good Day for Chardonnay is the second novel in Darynda Jones’ Sunshine Vicram series. It’s a delightful mystery/thriller series that somehow maintains a sense of humor and confidence despite all of the horrors that go on. I love it.

Sunshine Vicram (yes, that is her real name) is the Sheriff of a small town somewhere in New Mexico. You’d think that running a small town would mean things are quiet for her and her force – but you’d be wrong.

Between Sunny’s past, her family, and the never-ending drama of the town, Sunny doesn’t have time for much else. It will take a lot of coordination to get to the bottom of everything she’s dealing with, but thankfully Sunny’s got the required determination.

“Can you give me one good reason why I shouldn’t beat you to death with a feather duster?”

If you like thriller novels with a whole lot of personality, a dash of humor, and a touch of that cozy mystery vibe, then you’re going to love A Good Day for Chardonnay. However, I would recommend checking out the first in the series (A Bad Day for Sunshine) first.

What I love the most about this series and Sunny’s character, in particular, is that it deviates from the norm. Calling it a bit of a thriller alongside a cozy mystery really does not do it justice. It’s charming and unique and isn’t afraid to bounce all over the place between those two borders.

It’s more than enough to keep my attention and allow me to have a lot of fun in the process. Yes, there are some darker moments in A Good Day for Chardonnay, but Sunny’s personality lives up to her name, and her sense of humor will always work to brighten the mood. It helps keep the story from getting too dark and thus makes it the perfect escape of a read.

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

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