Book Review: The Monsters Know What They Are Doing

The Monsters Know What They're Doing: Combat Tactics for Dungeon Masters by Keith Ammann
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a really hard book to rate. It isn't a book of stories or any narrative really. It is a collection of blog posts that provide a description/recommendation on how to run each monster in D&D. On that front this book is very successful. The insight and writing is very well put together and I really learned quite a bit on how to approach encounters.

The real complaint I have with this book is the formatting and layout. This is really a reference book. Unfortunately, the layout and formatting doesn't lend it to be used as a reference book. The book is laid out in "chapters" and a narrative style. I think if the book was formatted more in a dictionary format, two columns per page and with an in-depth index, this could be infinitely more useful for Dungeon Masters to utilize.

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Book Review: Finder

Finder by Suzanne Palmer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a really fun read. A fun, light sci-fi adventure following Fergus Ferguson as he finds himself caught up in adventure too large for the likes of him while at the same time only solvable by him.

There is nothing heavy or overly sciencey about this book. It is almost like a pulp fiction novel, putting the sense of fun ahead of any sort of realism. The cast of characters is just as enjoyable as the main character, with people who inevitably end up loving and hating Fergus at the same time. Think of a Han Solo or Rick O'Donnell and everything around that notion. Humor mixed with dumb luck.

If I had any critique of this book, it would be the almost innumerable amount of Deux Ex Machina situations with Fergus and his endless bank account somehow always pulling out ahead. It could have very easily made the book an "eye roller", but somehow Suzanne Palmer is able to make it work and still have the reader rooting for our self deprecating hero through each misadventure. If you can let that go and let the story take you for a ride, you almost have to enjoy this book.

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Book Review: Elysium


Elysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sometimes you lose. Sometimes you lose everything.

This was a pretty heavy book. I am going to put that right out front with this review. If you are in the midst of mid-2020 and everything around you is depressing and stressful, then this may not be the most ideal book for you to pickup right now.

I am going to have a tough time trying to review this, as it is extremely difficult to try and explain this book without giving it away. Think of it this way. A story has a beginning, a middle and an end. That narrative timeline is progressing through this book, front to back. All the while the characters, their relationship and even the time/place that the story is occurring in change with each section of the narrative. The crux of the narrative is about the relationship between Adrian and Anton. Who those two are though is never the same. Sometimes they are siblings, other times lovers? Sometimes their gender changes, other times the time and place that they are living in changes.

Through it all though it is about their relationship as the world around them is metaphorically and physically destroyed.

This book embodies what I really enjoy most about SciFi novels. It challenges the reader. It challenges the reader on multiple levels about their beliefs, about how they view the world, perhaps even in this case what they think a narrative format should be.

I have a few minor gripes about some of the writing. Often times the vignettes were not always clear. There is one for example midway through the book were our main characters are part of a religious order, wearing white and tending to a flame. I had no idea the context or time of this society. Was it modern? In the near future? Somewhere in the past? That issue came up several times for me.

The book in the end will most likely not leave you satisfied. You do not get a good explanation of everything that occurred or an understanding of what from the story was "real" and what was manifested from the story being told. I think that was the point, but it does leave wanting a few final sentences to tie it all up.

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