Book Review: Libriomancer

A few years ago, I checked out Jim C. Hines Libriomancer from the library. I’d read and thoroughly enjoyed his Goblin Quest and Princess novels and thought a story about casting magic from books would be a good read. I never got around to it and when the rental period expired I returned it unread.

Jump ahead to a few weeks ago when I finally remembered to check it back out again. This time I devoured it quickly and already put holds on the next two books. I’ll try to avoid spoilers and stick to the general stuff for now, but I have to say that I really loved this book. It was funny in the right places, had action in the right places, and the right touch of romance to hit all the right notes.

Let me take a moment and break down the book for you. Isaac Vainio is a libriomancer (it’s in the blurb. not a spoiler) Basically this means he can cast magic by pulling it out of books. What’s great is that as a true geek, Isaac mostly sticks to scifi/fantasy novels, some called out specifically others in vague descriptions. Either way, every time a reference is made that I got, my little geek heart grew a few sizes for this book.

And then of course there’s some conflict, some adventure, and Isaac has to do some creative thinking to save the day. And as is true of other Jim C. Hines’ books, the ‘method of success’ has some unforeseen side effects that setup the conflict in the next book or the one after.

I can talk for a long time on the plot, the characters, etc of this book but what I want to focus on is just the… awesome wish fulfillment of this story. I know usually wish fulfillment is used in book reviews as a negative, that the book was just written to basically be a form of written daydream but in this case I mean it in a very very good way. Not sure about other readers, but for me the idea of being able to reach into my favorite book and pull out a magic ring, excalibur, tricorder, or fire spider is amazing. I grew up reading to the point that my parents realized by middle school that sending me to my room wasn’t a punishment because I would just curl up with some music and a book for hours, losing myself in the adventure and the characters. Libriomancer is that kid getting to interact with his favorite books in a completely new and magical way. It’s that kid getting to not just be a book geek but also the hero, the geeky guy that through his wits and knowledge of scifi fantasy books can save the day and get the girl. (A girl who is totally kick ass and unique in her own way)

If you’re a book lover, someone that prides themselves in having a bookshelf in every room and believes in the magic of the written world, I cannot recommend this book enough. I love it and can’t wait for the others to come in.


Path of the Cardboard Rainbow Circles

While in HQ for some internal meetings, I was walking from the office to my hotel and I started to see these suns? circular rainbows? Not sure what they were meant to be but they were circles of cardboard about a foot in diameter with rings of colors. They were hung and attached at various points along the alleyway route that I take like some kind of guideposts on a trip. One hanging from a door knob, another taped to the back of a sign, a third attached to a stake shoved into a planter.

As I walked I started to look for them to see if I could figure out what they were, or where they lead. My mind started to concoct some kind of secret scavenger hunt narrative to explain these objects that were every ten feet or so for the half mile walk. Just as I was nearing the end of my trek, they disappeared. I couldn’t find another one.  Did I reach the end? Was I supposed to go through the door that the last one was attached to?

Not knowing the area and not being quite that adventurous, I shook my head and carried on to the hotel. Riding the elevator up, I resolved that the next day I would take a picture of one of them to show my local coworkers, see if they had any idea what I had found.

But the next day my mysterious ‘yellow brick road’ was gone. All the signs had been taken down from one afternoon to the next morning, further adding to the mystery.  For two days now I have kept an eye out for my little cardboard circular rainbows but they haven’t made a reappearance.

So now I am left to wonder about what would have happened if I had followed that last one through the door. Maybe I will write some story playing out the fantastical things that could have been found at the end of that path not taken.

Dragon*con 2015 Thoughts

(warning: censored profanity)

I plan to write more later on my two FATE games that I ran on Friday and Sunday nights but first I wanted to crank out a quick ‘reaction’ piece to my first Dragon*con.

My easy reaction is: “F*#king go to Dragon*con.”

Are there crowds? Yes. Is it hot in Atlanta in the Summer? Yes. Will there be panels you can’t get into? Yes. Will you have to wait for an elevator? Yes.


Will there be cosplayers and fans of your favorite show/game/movie/book? Yes! Will your favorite actors/writers/directors/scientists be there talking about all the things you love? Yes! Will you meet new and interesting people waiting in that elevator? Yes. Will you be surrounded by 60+ thousand people that fully embrace your weirdness, your geekiness, your nerdiness? Will you leave feeling like you are no longer alone in your weirdness? A million times: yes!!

This was my first time going to Dragon*con and I had some idea of what to expect: crowds, lines for panels/interviews, a board game room, some RPGs that I could run or join, cool costumes, celebrities, etc. What I wasn’t- couldn’t have been prepared for were just the sheer number of people that ‘got me’. From the moment you see your first deadpool or hear someone talking about the latest Star Wars trailer or asking you to “WITNESS THEM!”, you immediately understand “You are One of Us.” We could be IT professionals, teachers, librarians, teachers, construction workers, consultants, et cetera but at Dragon*con you are a geek. You are One of Us and it is glorious. It is affirming. It is inclusive.

Yes. I know there are jerks and we all have those stories too but they in no way hold a candle to the guy who jokes about using his shield to hold off the masses as the elevator door opens or the woman who sees you reading a Seanan McGuire book or playing a friend’s video game and asking what it is and not just as a way to kill time but out of genuine interest. If that question had been asked of me anywhere else I would have hemmed and hawed a bit given a high level overview of what urban fantasy is and maybe the protagonist and wait for the ‘oh. so not my kind of book/game’ look in their eyes. But at Dragon*con that explanation is met with ‘Yes and…’ followed by questions about the book, the characters, suggestions for other books/games that I might find interesting.

(For those interested the book was Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire and the game was Cognition Episode 2 by Phoenix Online Studios.)

So once again. If you are in any way a geek: tv, movie, video game, board, or tabletop game, book, character, science, space, LARPing, Felicia Day or whatever it is. F*&CKING GO TO DRAGON*CON!!!!!

(Okay, so maybe I’ll do another post on the actual panels that I visited and the things that I saw)

A Little Junior Derby Vignette

Wrote this after Head Reffing a Junior Roller Derby bout. Not entirely sure where I’m going to go with it but I’m liking the characters and such so far so we’ll see.



Hearing the official’s call, the Little Monsters’ jammer drops lower, her blue eyes glancing at the opposing jammer trying to gauge which direction she’ll go. Something tells Valkyrie that she’ll try and cut high and take the outside lane which is exactly where Val wants to go.


Fine. It’s on. Valkyrie thinks glancing up at the scoreboard. The Monsters are up by 3 but this is the last jam and if she can’t get lead and hold them off, they’ll lose the bout. Not gonna happen, she thinks fiercely, rocking onto her toe stops as Loki’s music pulses through her. The Little Monsters form a wall of blockers on the other side of the Belles from Valkyrie. All except Typhoid who managed to get herself into the Belle’s line. The twins, Frik and Frak, are hip to hip ready to help Valkyrie or more likely block the Belle’s jammer.


The whistle sounds starting the jam and immediately a skater in Monster’s green slams into the blocker in front of her. Typhoid Mary, Valkyrie’s offensive blocker, doing her job and making the opening for her teammate.


There’s my hole! Shoving off, Valkyrie cuts toward it, trying to stay aware of the Belle’s jammer as she does. Within moments the hole starts to close but not before she can get a grip on Typhoid’s belt and uses it to propel herself through the gap.


Two more strides has Valkyrie breaking through the pack and hearing the exhilarating sound of two whistle blasts. Glancing to the left she sees Critical Hit, her jam ref, pointing and holding up his hand, the signal that she’s the lead jammer. And a grunt of success tells her that Typhoid just put a big hit on the other jammer as she tried to sneak through.


YES!! Valkyrie shouts internally, a fist pumping in victory. Looking up at the clock, the blond skater sees that there is still twenty seconds left on the clock. Maybe I can score a few more. With that she puts on a burst of speed, accelerating around the track. Her ice blue skate wheels are a blur as she flies around the turns, long legs crossing over to maintain her speed, and pale blond braid trailing behind her.  


Moving this fast across the track, the spectators a blur, Valkyrie imagines herself with wings, golden and glowing, spread out behind her.The wind on her face and the blur of the fans make it feel almost like she’s flying.


Within seconds the pack is back in view, a wall of Belle’s and Tyhpoid now hovering like some kind of avenging angel waiting to strike.


A quick glance over her shoulder, shows Valkyrie that the other jammer is only thirty feet or so behind her and catching up. Let’s do this, she thinks focusing on the players in front of her, trying to anticipate where her teammate will make the hole this time. One of the Belle’s blockers looks back and sees Valkyrie, calling to her own teammates, “Green Jammer coming up!”


Her lips twitching in an almost smile, Valkyrie uses the sudden attention to swing wide, pulling the blockers with her. And giving her own blocker a perfect target.


“Typhoid!!” signals Valkyrie as she cuts hard to the inside, just as her teammate expecting the calls pushes to the outside catching one of the blockers and shoving them into their own teammates.


Flying through the hole, Valkyrie immediately starts tapping her waist turning to Crit so he can clearly see her calling off the jam. With a smile of his own, the dark haired boy blows four short blasts on his whistle ending the jam and the bout for Valkyrie and her Monsters.

Blog Rebuild

So I haven’t been doing as much with this thing as I wanted/should be. So… I’ve decided to change that. But in order to make the most of it, I’ve decided to blow away most of the old site and only keep a few of the ramblings that I really liked.

I’ll be doing a better job posting here with more creative writing, book reviews, game reviews, random thoughts, and maybe even the odd recipe. Not sure how many folks are actually going to read this but it will serve as my commitment to myself to do this. So… away we go. Again.

Staring Out the Window

Written on the train from Geneva to Zurich

The train rumbles down the tracks, with the views of Swiss lakes, mountains, tunnels, and cows flashing past like a montage from the Tourism Board.  Various artists fight for attention on my ipod, from GaGa to Sinatra.  And I stare out the window.

Memories of the past days mingle with those from a decade ago. Faces that have changed and faces that have stayed the same.  Old faces no longer recognizable. Visits to places remodeled, renovated, and just gone, replay themselves in the ever present cinema of my mind. And I stare out the window.

Paths taken, and paths not taken route themselves in my head, map them onto the sails of the boats in the lake, and the billboards of towns.  Questions about current ambitions, broken goals, new ones made, and those in between rattle in my head. And I stare out the window.

The train tilts on its side through a turn.

Familiarities that seem years behind rise up and yet recede. Interactions that once came with ease now seem strained, even frayed, like meeting people from a dream half remembered. And yet they mingle as if made to. And I stare out the window.

Thoughts of other places, other lakes, other views, and other cows interrupt the feed; other connections and familiarities that I recognize are also starting to fray, and lose substance. Can I stitch them back together, fray check them, should I? And I stare out the window.

Gaga ends and Jim Croce takes over. Saving time in a bottle. If only.

My eyes grow heavy. The train tilts again and then rights itself. The picture show in my head dims and fades. The clacker clacking as it runs out film. And I stop looking out the window.

First Sentences

So for christmas this year I got “What If?” a book of writing exercises. I am going to try and crank out a new one once a week. The first one is to write 10 first sentences. Here’s my crack at it. Any thoughts/opinions is greatly appreciated.

  1. James stared at the cracked shell of the subway train, letting the memories of those few minutes inside before it flipped wash over him.
  2. “Liam, we’re over.”
  3. The rain washed over David as he held Valeria, the most annoying, frustrating, beautiful, courageous woman he’d ever met and ignored questions of what they were to do about those in the manor house behind them.
  4. “You’re sending me to Science Camp?”
  5. The press of college students in the Spring pressed in around me, the guys and girls desperate to get out of Psych 101 and into the beautiful Spring day, I had wanted that to before last summer and night at the lake.
  6. If asked what one object could completely change your life, I never would have said one can of spray paint.
  7. I stared at the picture of Melissa and I holding each other under a waterfall, remembered how beautiful she looked that day in the Smokies.
  8. Slowly I crept through the open window, taking every pain to keep as quiet as possible until I caught my chucks on the windowsill and tumbled face forward into the principal’s office.  James Bond, I am not.
  9. Damon stared out the window at the moon and stars as the day ended on the most bizarre fourteenth birthday I had ever had.
  10. How had this happened?

What Do You See?

When you look at me you see things I fear do not exist.

You see Strength, all I see is one who endures because there is no other choice

You see Courage, all I see is a man too scared to be himself

You see a Rock, all I see is sandstone barely holding himself together

You see Good, all I see is a man doing what others expect

The man I see in the mirror is strained, faded, and lost.  The one you see is amazing, honourable, and confident.  I like your image of me better than my own.  So maybe I’ll stop being myself, and start being the man you see in me.