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Wrong Side of Dead Review

4/30/12
Wrong Side of DeadWrong Side of Dead by Kelly Meding


I got this in digital format as an arc from Netgalley.com, and it's the first book that I've read from this author. I got the feeling that I was late to this party, but Meding does a pretty good job of keeping new readers abreast of the world's history. I'm not sure how annoying this would be to a reader who is already familiar with the series, though, since it seems like she was rehearsing bits of the previous story. I thought it was a pretty interesting story, but it did feel a bit like there were way too many different sorts of critter running around. Apparently the main character has died(?) a bunch of times, is basically a ninja, a dead-eye shooter, and and she can teleport. It doesn't feel earned. It felt very convenient, at some points, but it didn't make sense for a teleporting ninja to be trapped as she (apparently) was prior to the start of this story. It was a fast paced story, but I'm not sure why the relationships developed as they did. It seemed like an awful lot of the people who are currently working together were mortal enemies only a few days before the story picks up. I get that calamity shoves people together who were one enemies, but it's not all that believable that people would be actively hunting a person one day and trust them implicitly the next. If you want some fiction about a bunch of were-creatures (seriously, ferrets to hawks and bears), the occasional vampire, some quasi-ninja monster-hunters, and a mad scientist then perhaps this is the novel for you.

View all my reviews

Private Reserve Spearmint

4/29/12
It's been a long week in the teaching world. It's Finals Week, and I've been writing exams and grading them all week. That means lots of red pens, and I'll talk about a couple of them next week. Look forward to Noodlers Tienanmen and Widowmaker next week.

Aren't these nice splotches? 
Today's polish ink is a Private Reserve ink. When I first got into fountain pens a few years back, this was the only ink that I used. Their inks served as the foundation of my collection for years. They've changed their bottles since that time, it seems, and I don't much care for the new ones. They're just not as nice-looking.


Spearmint is a vibrant green that reminds me of that fancy green that you get on golf course grass. It doesn't really have any shading to speak of, but it is a nice consistent green that looks good even in a fine line like the one my Hero 616 lays down. It didn't feather or spread, and it only showed through on a really cheap pad of paper. The rest of the time it was well-behaved.

The flow on this one is pretty smooth. It's not a very thick ink, and that's a bit of a surprise since most of the PR inks that I have tend towards the thicker side. They'll coat the inside of the sample (vial or jar) and leave a residue there. Spearmint doesn't do that and, as a result, it was really easy to wash out of my pen.


So many people!

4/26/12
Holy crap. I had 55 views on my blog yesterday. That's, like, 11 times my normal viewership. It helps to post stuff on Facebook, eh? Well, keep coming back. It's good for my self-esteem.
Word.
Mike

Family, Van Halen, and Sweet Persimmon

4/25/12
Howdy, Folks.
This last month has seen a cavalcade of family coming to our place. My father started it off when he stopped through on his drive to Alabama to see my grandmother. My wife's parents came to town to celebrate her birthday and we spent the weekend looking at houses. The first few are a lot of fun, but it wears you down eventually. We found a local builder that makes some nice houses to order, and they're very reasonably priced. I have a penchant for older houses that have some character, but a huge new house has its own appeal.

Then my brother- and sister-in-law came to town for the Van Halen concert. It was a pretty rad concert. Our seats were in the nose-bleed section and they didn't turn on the A/C in the Greensboro Colosseum for some reason, but that didn't stop us from having a good time. (You know you're at a good concert when someone pours a beer on your wife.) Good times! Eddie van Halen is a great guitarist, and they played hits instead of the stuff on their newest album (which I don't really care for). The only problem with Van Halen is the lead singer. I don't like David Lee Roth very much. He's a fine singer, but he dose some really weird quasi-kung-fu crap on stage and I kinda hate when he starts telling some stupid story in the middle of a song. Don't tell us how cool you are, man. Prove it by rocking out.

Then my Dad came back through on his way back to the frozen north. It's been a busy month. (And I've only just given one of my final exams. Hooray grading!)

Alrighty, let's talk about an ink that I've had for a while. Pilot's Iroshizuku (Sweet Persimmon) is a great color. It doesn't have much in the way of shading, but it's just so rich looking. It's a reddish orange that certainly catches the eye. I've used it in one of my Ahabs and in a much finer Hero pen, and it's fairly well-behaved. It will spread a bit when you use the generous flow from an Ahab, but not much from the really fine Hero. It retains that rich look from either nib, though. Fine nibs don't usually showcase the shading of an ink, but this ink doesn't shade much, so load it up in anything you want and enjoy that beautiful color.

One of the draw backs to this ink is that it does tend to show through papers. The quite thick paper that I use for these reviews can hold its own against this ink, but you can still see it a bit from the other side. If you're using something cheap like a drugstore writing tablet you can count on it making dots on the next page.

The other problem is its price. These inks go for between $28 and $35 per bottle. At 50ml, it's a decent size bottle, and they're beautiful bottles for display, but that price might keep some from buying it.





I think I got this sample from isellpens.com, but it's available in sample form from the Goulets and others. Go get some.


Levenger Fireball

4/19/12
I mentioned in my Skynn review that one of my inks tends to radically change colors. Levenger's Fireball is generally a nice kinda tomato-y red, but if you leave it in a pen for any length of time it turns into a dark maroonish brown. Both colors are kinda nice, but they're really different. Actually, now that I think about it, I'm not sure which one I prefer.




Do any of you have inks that do this sort of thing?

De Atramentis Forget-Me-Not

4/16/12
Forget-Me-Not is a really bright blue. I was surprised by the volume of this color. It looks fairly dark in the sample vial, but it is a bright and intense blue. It nearly shouts at you from the page, "BLUE!"


A knife-smear.



The flow is perhaps a little dry from my Lamy Al-Star, but that results in a nice even color with just a little bit of shading where the letters terminate. It doesn't skip, and you don't end up with a pool of ink at the bottom of each letter. It's a nice balance. There isn't much shading in this ink (unlike the Tsuyu-Kusa), but you also don't face shading, feathering, or bleed through. 


The only disappointment for me was the lack of a scent. I know this is supposed to be a scented ink, but my sample just didn't have any smell at all. Maybe my sample is a little old? I've seen a couple of other reviews that say that there is a scent, but that it is a faint one. In any case, that's a bit of a novelty and it's lack doesn't make the ink less colorful or effective. 


Yeah, I might have covered up a spelling mistake.

Rotring Skynn

4/13/12
I'll leave you this week with a look at an odd fountain pen that I picked up a long time ago. It's a Rotring pen, and if you want one you'll have to find one online since they've stopped making most of their fountain pens. They seem to be around the $30 mark these days, though I don't think I paid anything like that for it back in the day.

You're going to get really mixed reviews on these pens. They have some idiosyncratic features that you're liable to love or hate.  
  • The grip is big and soft, and I kinda wish that this grip was on more pens. 
  • The nib is listed as an "XL," but that can't mean extra large. It lays down a line that is much closer to a Lamy Medium than any of the broader nibs that I've used. The nib is steel, and there really isn't any flex at all. 
  • You can remove the nib and the feed to clean them, and that's really convenient. 
  • The cap (and thus the nib) point down when you have it clipped to a pocket or your shirt. That's weird and it feels a little dangerous, but...
  • The cap fits very tightly. It's not falling off. In fact, it is a little difficult to remove. You need to kinda push it off to the side with your thumb. It's nice that it's a tight fit, but I used to be a bit worried that it would hit the nib and break it off. 
  • On the other hand, you can't post the cap. It's small, and I can imagine losing it at some point if you're careless with where you place the cap while you're writing.
It's a bit of a dry-writer, but once you get the right ink in it it's just fine. I'd love to tell you what ink I'm using in the pictures, but I don't know what it is. I think it might have been Levenger's Fireball, but that ink changes colors on me so I don't know for sure. I'll write a post about that color-shifter soon. 




 





Have an awesome weekend!

Pilot Iroshizuku Kiri-Same

4/11/12
The wife is a big fan of this color. The first color that she wanted was a grey, and this is the first grey that we've found that is really good. It's definitely a grey with a good amount of shading. There's very little bleed and feather with this ink, and there's no reason that you couldn't use this ink day-to-day. Some of the other Iroshizuku inks that I've tried have some behavioral problems, but this one is nice. It's interesting and just a little bit fancy. You won't be finding this ink in a drugstore pen.

Of course, like the other inks in this series, this ink comes with a hefty price tag. The bottles are beautiful and they're big, but they come in at about $30.


Michael A. Stackpole's "In Hero Years...I'm Dead"

4/9/12


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I've liked Stackpole for quite a long time, and this story reminds me why. He writes good characters and lets them drive the story. The characters in this book are interesting, and we get introduced to them slowly over the course of the story. The story seems like a character study of some characters who see a lot of action rather than the adventure that I was expecting. 


Stackpole sort of dumps you into the life of a semi-retired crime-fighter who has been absent from his home city (think Gotham or Metropolis) for 20 years. He's dealing with the repercussions of his sudden and mysterious departure, the people he left behind, and the massive changes in the culture of the city. It's a story which combines almost-recognizable characters and an interesting social system which provides one view of what might happen in a system which embraces both heroes and villains. 


It was an interesting story, but it wasn't my favorite of Stackpole's work. For his best, I would look to Talion: Revenant or I, Jedi.


De Atramentis Black Ed. Brown

4/7/12
If you're looking for a really dark brown, then this is for you. It's a rich brown tat 's so dark it appears black unless you look closely after it's dried. It is a pretty thick ink that flows well, and glistens a little as you write. I'm not sure what the shading would be like in a pen that lays down less ink than my Ahab.  It might just look like a black from a fine nib. I'd say that makes it suitable for pretty well any usage. 
I only have a few samples of De Atramentis inks, but I have liked the two that I've tried. (The other is a "scented" blue that I'll post soon.) 
 



April's Ink Drop! [Added Spoiler Pics]

4/4/12
It's here! (Don't look if you don't want to know what's coming.)

Man, I get so excited when the Ink Drop appears in my mail box. Actually, I get excited when I know the end of the month is approaching because I know that soon I'll get an Ink Drop shipment, and it'll be a surprise, and there's so much to anticipate.

I won't post them yet (so as not to spoil the surprise for people who haven't gotten their's yet), but I gotta say that I really like all of them. I wish I had an empty pen right now.

If you haven't signed up for the Ink Drop from Goulet Pens, then you should do it. There's a link above.

Alrighty, it's been long enough for people to have received their samples. They're all blues. They're pretty nice blues. As I've said before, I'm a fan of blues, and I'm always excited to have a few more.


Zebra V-301

4/3/12
I think the aesthetics of this pen are pretty nice. It's brushed stainless steel with black plastic trim. It looks nice in its packaging, and it comes with two large ink cartridges. The nib is understated, but it has a nice shape and a good finish. The black ink is pretty nice. It's either an off-black or the feed is so dry that the ink comes out pretty weakly. (This latter option is actually more likely.)  It's also not very expensive at $4.

Unfortunately, that's where the good report ends. 

This pen is frustrating. I really wanted to like it, but I don't think I can. It's just too inconsistent. It writes okay if you store it with the point down, and if you have the nib on the paper just right. If you angle the nib even slightly to either side it will skip like mad. You can see that in the writing samples. This might be fine if the grip on the section weren't made of slightly slippery plastic (but it is) or if the barrel were a little heavier (but it's not). It has some knurling on it, but it just slips around in your hand without any weight behind it. 


My recommendation is to skip this one. I haven't used a Pilot Varsity in quite a while, but I'm almost sure it's better. In fact, those two Hero pens that I picked up a while ago are cheaper than this V-301 and they are way more reliable. Get any of those things instead. Or just get a couple of ink samples from your favorite online vendor.

{EDIT: Full disclosure. I had almost one typo per sentence in this blog. I was typing it while I was watching River Monsters. I don't multi-task very well. Thanks for telling me to proofread, Mom.}