Books

Part-Time Gods Book Review

I really enjoyed Minimum Wage Magic, so hopped right on over to listening to the audio book of Part-Time Gods.  Is it as good as its predecessor?  Yup!  Rachel Aaron knocks it out of the park with this sequel to the story.  She does a good job of keeping this story wrapped in its interpersonal relationships, while still having a bigger picture in play with the plot.  I think Aaron does a fantastic job of showing us the multiple sides of the story in this one.  As much as I like the Heartstrikers series, there was a clear divide of who was in the right, and who was in the wrong.  Julius just had to show them there was a different way of doing things and problem solved.  But in the DFZ series, you see both sides of this problem:  I found myself agreeing with Opal’s view point, and her Mother and Fathers.  Both have valid feelings, and both have the same problems of not wanting to listen to either side.  Eventually, they’re going to have to talk it out and come to an understanding with each other.  I think it’s a really great way to show the differing lives of people who would be living in the DFZ, and the cameos we got in this book from the Heartstrikers series were great, and added to the story, didn’t feel shoehorned in at all.

 

The plot ramps up hardcore in this book, and I marathonned the 2nd half of the book in one sitting.  Like it was that good: I was on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what happened next.  I read some people saying the end of the book was a cliffhanger, but I didn’t find that to be the case.  The book had a conclusive ending, but at the same time the book was leading to a bigger plot that is going to be concluded in the final book.

 

Everything came to a head in this book, and Aaron’s previous problem of filling the book with too much exposition for world building seems to have been curved overall.  It may help that the world of the DFZ is pre-established, but either way it’s refreshing to read a concisely written story.  The last 2 books of the Heartstrikers series were a bit wordy for me, so this is a really nice change.  It’s just a fast paced, super enjoyable read, that continues right where Minimum Wage Magic leaves off, so you’ll want to read that first before jumping into this one.

 

But yeah, needless to say, I super enjoyed this book.  I regret reading them both now only because I have to wait for the third book to be released, and I’m bursting at the seams!  I can’t wait to see what happens in the final installment of the DFZ books, and what will happen to Opal!

 

 

I’m mostly excited to see how Opal and her Dad will make a mends.  Like we saw some super interesting dynamics between the two – Opal is more like her Dad than she’d like to admit – and I really can’t wait to see more of their relationship in the next book.  I also really hope we see what happens between Nick and Opal (get together please) and all in all, seeing every relationships final conclusion is something I’m thoroughly looking forward to when the third book is released.

 

The DFZ is a great series, and a wonderful extension of the Heartstrikers universe.  I really hope Aaron writes more in this universe, because she has such a good grasp of it and seems to super enjoy it.  I know I do!
I’d like to end this review praising the audio book narrator, Emily Woo Zeller.  She does such a great job voicing Opal, and all of the other characters in this book that it gets me even more invested in the story even more than just reading would have.  I do miss the previous narrator when old characters from the Heartstrikers series pop up, but that’s really just my preference because it took me a while to pick this one up because I loved the narrator for the Heartstrikers books so much.  Getting over that though, and having time away from those books, she really does an excellent job capturing the grittiness of the DFZ, and all the different facets of Opal’s character.  I’d highly recommend picking up the audio books, you won’t regret it!
Have you read Part-Time Gods?  Let me know what you thought in the comments!

Books

Minimum Wage Magic [DFZ, Book 1] Review

I have this on again off again relationship with reading.  It’s not that I don’t like it, I love it in fact.  It’s just so hard to sift through good series and books for me, and only using Audible for books can get expensive.  Luckily, I found out the Kindle Reader PC app was accessible, so here’s to hoping I read more, but still when I find an author I like I’m super loyal and read all of their books.

 

That author lately is Rachel Aaron for me.  I read her Heartstrikers series and fell in love with it:  the world, characters, and writing are all so great.  I’m not normally into urban fantasy, but this one just clicks with my tastes so much that I read the entire thing and am a big fan of the universe it takes place in.  So when I heard that a new series of books was going to take place in the world of the DFZ, I was all in.
Recently, I decided to cancel my Audible subscription just for lack of using it, so with my two remaining credits, I picked up the first 2 books in the DFZ series.  How do they compare to the Heartstrikers series?

 

That’s kind of hard to say.  They’re two completely different styles of books, and I think that was a smart move on Aaron’s part.  I like both, for different reasons, but as far as my personal preference, I like Minimum Wage Magic more.  As much as I like the Heartstrikers series, it eventually evolved into this end of the world scenario.  I like it when stories are more personal, and Minimum Wage Magic is just that.  We follow Opal, a Cleaner in the DFZ – aka, someone who buys storage units, and takes what she gets out of the units and sells them.  We find out early on that she has a big debt to pay to someone by the end of the week, and the plot only thickens when the unit she buys has a dead body inside of it.  Said unit has notes that lead her on a crazy adventure with fellow cleaner Nick, and I don’t want to say anything else because the fun of this book is not knowing what will happen next.
It has a very heist setup to it – beat another party to the prize at the end of the adventure.  There’s plenty of action, lot of flare, and most importantly, the characters we follow are really fun and interesting.  Unlike Heartstrikers, we aren’t following someone who doesn’t want to fight.  That also lends itself to making this series stand on its own, and not making it feel like a rehashed story – and, there are plenty of cameos from characters from the first series of books.  If you haven’t read the Heartstrikers series, it won’t throw you off at all, but for those of us who have it’s a really nice nod to the series and there are really fun references in here.

 

 

But as I was saying, the characters are really interesting.  Both Opal and Nick are super dynamic, both together and apart and I’m seriously hoping they’ll get together at the end of all of this because they just complement each other so well.  The book is told in first person, from Opal’s POV and it just…works.  Like it doesn’t feel like we’re getting too much into her headspace because she’s a closed off character, but we learn just enough about her and her personality to like her, and she tells us enough about the world around her to know how the world works.  Her interactions with other characters don’t feel like first person, and the dialogue has Aaron’s typical mix of humor and grounded logic that I’ve come to really enjoy.

 

And that’s the biggest thing I have to say about this book:  It’s a lot more grounded than the Heartstrikers series.  Instead of world threatening odds, we’re dealing with one woman and her life.  It’s far more personal, and throughout the story that totally gets across.  It’s a super fun heist story with a grounded sense of self, while still having magic and technology that totally makes sense in the continuity of the world.  All the characters feel real, and I’m rooting for Nick and Opal to make it in the crazy world of the DFZ together throughout the rest of this series.

 

I’m super interested after this first entry in the series, to see how Opal and Nick’s stories will end.  Aaron once again, knocked it out of the park with this one.

 

If you’ve read the Heartstrikers series, or if you haven’t, Minimum Wage Magic is worth the read.  I’m going to be starting the 2nd book in the series asap, and can’t wait to see what happens next in Opal’s story.
Have you read Minimum Wage Magic?  Let me know how you liked it in the comments!

Cartoons

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Season 4 Review [Spoiler Free]

We interrupt our regularly scheduled posting to gush about She-ra season 4.  But seriously, I didn’t want to wait to talk about this season, and in the future if I find something is too exciting to wait to talk about on a scheduled posting day, a surprise post will pop up with me talking about something new.  So this is the first post like that I guess.  Going to stay as spoiler free as I possibly can in this one, because this season was just so fantastic that you really have to experience it   yourself.

 

Before I said season 3 was the season that totally got me invested in the show.  It wasn’t that seasons 1 and 2 were bad, they just had a few things I had some gripes with, and wasn’t as fleshed out as I would have liked them to be.  Season 3 took that, and started on the road to a good show – the foundations laid in the first 2 seasons were taking fruit, and there was a clear vision for the show that made it a really fun watch.
Season 4 advances the spectacular groundwork season 3 put forward.  We got so many great character beats, a number of really fantastic plots, new characters that made sense in the show…season 4 was just a really great package that kept me on the edge of my seat.  The first half of the season was “filler” – but really, every episode counted.  Even if the plot in the episode was more light hearted and fun, there was some sort of plot or character beat that advanced the plot and character arcs forward.  This was the first time I felt the entire season was evenly paced in She-ra, and you can tell that the writers really upped their game and have a clear goal in mind for what the end of the story is going to be.  No middle book syndrome in this show – it just was such a joy to watch this season progress, and I can’t wait to see what will happen in season 5.

 

The characters get pushed to their limits in this season as well, and it was interesting seeing where situations took them, and seeing how they’d react.  Neither plot nor characters were set aside to further one or the other – it was well balanced all around.  The multiple character arcs didn’t feel like we were neglecting anyone either, and it was nice to see more spotlight on the overall universe, and on the Princesses that weren’t part of the main cast.  That doesn’t mean the main cast was set aside either:  Adora, Bo, Glimmer, and Catra all have really strong character arcs in this, and are pushed to their limits.  What they’re willing to do to stop this war is super interesting, and honestly I could write entire articles alone on Glimmer’s story arc this season.  The writers weren’t afraid to take certain character tropes and subvert or push them, and because of that the writing in season 4 is stronger than ever.

 

Some new characters were brought in that I don’t want to spoil, but they are welcome additions and I can’t wait to see what will happen in season 5 with them.  It’s more and more apparent  that our heroes are going to have to make crazy decisions to end this war, and what decisions they make are more interesting to me than the over-arching plot.  The world building was super good in this season also, and we got a lot of questions answered about an ongoing plot in the show since season 1 that is a very satisfying conclusion to the mystery given to us in prior seasons.  It also leaves it open to “What are our characters going to do now?”.  It’s just, wow, so amazing, I enjoyed it so much.

 

I keep on thinking, well the theme song says “We’re gonna win in the end” but the more this series develops, the more I get worried that that may not be the case.  That’s such amazing story telling right there:  I don’t feel like anyone is safe in this show, and just because our heroes are the heroes, it doesn’t mean their choices are necessarily the right ones.  This show truly is showing us a war story here, full of morally gray situations and I can’t get enough of it.

 

If you haven’t started watching this series, do it.  I mean, you may want to wait for the end of the show since I think the next season may be the last one, but like this show has improved so so so much from season 1.  It’s a reboot worthy of praise and attention, so I’m doing that here.  Give She-ra a watch if you like character driven, action fantasy shows.  You won’t regret it!