Reviews in Brief

Written by Natalie Luhrs

I'm a lifelong geek with a passion for books and social justice. And I give absolutely no fucks.

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December 7, 2015

monument valleyI’ve been reading and watching a lot of media lately, I thought it might be useful to make a log of them here.


I’m pretty new to reading comics, so I don’t exactly have the vocabulary to write about them in a way that goes too much beyond “I liked this”–here’s a selection of comics that I’ve read and liked.

Bitch Planet, issues 1-5. I’m not sure what to say about this that hasn’t already been said by lots of other, smarter people. The art is fantastic, the storyline compelling, and I’m in it for the long haul. And the essays and letters in the back of each issue make buying these in single copies totally worth it.

Lumberjanes, volume 1. Adorable! It’s a group of girls at summer camp. Having adventures. Supernatural adventures! Cute and I like it well enough but not enough to pick up anything more.

Rat Queens, volume 1 Foul mouthed all girl adventuring party. I liked this, but like Lumberjanes, I didn’t like it enough to pick up anything more.

Saga, volume one. Yes, I am completely late to the party on this one. Smart, complicated, and the art is amazing. And the spaceship is a tree! Definitely going to continue this. As soon as I can justify spending the money on the trades.

Monstress, issue 1. Gorgeous, dark art and terrible things being done to people. The main character is a survivor of a war and she has unfinished business. Going to keep my eyes peeled for future issues of this one, too.


Simply Irresistible, Jill Shalvis. First in her Lucky Harbor series, it’s full of sequel bait but that’s okay. Maddie and her half-sisters have come to the small town of Lucky Harbor to come to a decision about the hotel their mother left them in her will.   Maddie wants to stay, her sisters want to sell. Hijinks ensue.  Maddie has a past that causes her some difficulties with her half-sisters and with her burgeoning relationship with Jax, but it all works out in the end.  I’m a sucker for these sorts of small town stories, especially when a house is involved. The secondary characters were fairly well developed and it’s clear who each of the sisters will be pairing off with. I liked this, but possibly not well enough to pick up the rest in the series.

Something About You, Julie James. Also the first in a series, this time the FBI/US Attorney series. This one’s got a different set up–US Attorney Cameron Lynde inadvertently becomes a witness to a crime and FBI agent Jack Pallas is on the case. Except, of course, they have a history together and Jack blames her for his exile to Nebraska and Cameron knows it. This was fun and fast-paced and I liked the chemistry between the leads. The secondary characters were decent, but felt mainly like plot coupons. Probably won’t pick up the rest of the series, but will consider if they go on sale.

Planetfall, Emma Newman. I don’t even know if I can adequately describe this book. It’s a planetary romance (kind of), there are aliens, there are secrets and complicated personal relationships. The point of view character, Ren, is sympathetically and thoughtfully written and she’s been keeping a secret. As Newman peels back the layers of the colony, things only become more mysterious. I found this book utterly riveting and had to force myself to put it down and to not sneak chapters while at work. I can’t think of much higher praise than that.

Persona, Genevieve Valentine. I utterly inhaled this book over the weekend–it’s a near-future thriller where diplomacy is conducted by attractive young people chosen to be their country’s Face. Suyana Supaki is the Face of the United Amazonian Rainforest Confederation, a relatively powerless country. And then someone tries to murder Suyana.  And this book doesn’t stop–as Suyana runs for her life, the reader’s pulled along after her. Suyana is prickly and closed off and a woman of purpose. Very much recommend this.

Bookburners, Serial Box (in progress). This is a serial novel by Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, Mur Lafferty, and Brian Francis Slattery. There’s an episode a week, so at 16 episodes, it does come out to be more than a physical book, but I feel it’s money well-spent as you get DRM-free files in multiple formats as well as the ability to read online and audiobooks. I find serial fiction to be fascinating and I like this model–high quality content and lots of ways to access the content. Story-wise, this reminds me a lot of the TNT show The Librarians in the sense of an arcane monster of the week, a dedicated and yet secret organization devoted to confining the magic, and an overarching storyline. This wraps up in a few weeks and I can’t wait to see what happens. 

Other Media

I’ve been working my way through Person of Interest–which does eventually turn into SF, but not until season two. But I found it really gripping from the beginning, despite the manpain that’s intended to be character development for both Reese and Finch. Unfortunately, season 4 isn’t on Netflix so I don’t know what I’m going to do when I’m done with season 3.

I’m also watching Jessica Jones, but very slowly. I’m only two episodes in and finding it to be dark but compelling television. I’m interested to see where it’s going, but this is the sort of show I need to pace myself with.

And on the other side of the superhero coin is Supergirl, which I am enjoying tremendously. I like the bright earnestness of it and the way it is about Kara and her narrative. And I would happily watch an hour of Cat Grant crankily mentoring Kara every week. Happily.

And finally, I played Monument Valley last weekend. It’s a fairly short game–only took me a couple hours to play the game and the expansion–but it’s gorgeous and elegant and one of the best mobile games I’ve ever played.

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