Showing posts sorted by relevance for query kim pauley. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query kim pauley. Sort by date Show all posts

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Review: Still Sucks to Be Me

Kim Pauley is back and so is new vampire Mina Hamilton Smith in the new (as in as of today new) book "Still Sucks to Be Me".

This book is of course a sequel to her Freshman attempt, Sucks to be Me. StbM was a great book. It surprised me how quickly the characters grabbed me and how I wanted to know all about them. You can read my review (linked) and then read this one. This review will assume that you have read StbM, so if you haven't then here there be spoilers….

Ready? Great.
Ok "Still Sucks" starts off not too long after Mina's conversion and her "funeral". No. She did not get to go. So deaths faked, names changed the Vampire Council relocates them to Louisiana. Not somewhere cool like New Orleans or even Bon Temps, no they end up in a one-stoplight town so Mina's dad (now called her brother) can study with this ancient vampire historian. Very nice for him, terrible for Mina.

Mina discovers that vampire powers not withstanding she is now, again, an outsider at her new school. Sure she is the "New Girl from California" but that doesn't help when the local school jock takes and interest in her and not in the girl that wants him.

Kim Pauley does a great job of juxtaposing Mina-as-a-vampire with Mina-as-a-teenager-in-a-new-school very well. Yes, Mina can easily overpower or glamour anyone in the school to get what she wants, and she knows it, but she doesn't. Of course life is made more difficult by the arrival of Cameron, a new vampire who is cute and smells nice, who may or may not be a Black Talon. Plus she has not heard from her best friend Serena (with whom she broke like a zillion laws to keep in contact with) or her boy-friend George since getting to Nowhere, LA. Yeah. Life, or Unlife can suck like that.

Kim gives us another great tale that in many ways mirrors the first. In the first book Mina's school life was finally going good and it was her vampire life that needed all the work. No her vampire life unlife is going as well as can be expected (she is even learning to glamour and shape-change) her school life is a chaotic mess.

What I liked most about this book was the ending. It was a reminder that we are dealing with vampires here. Not sparkly guys with bad orthodontic work that talk about their feelings all night, but some pretty nasty characters that not only can, but want to kill people. I'd love to see Kim try her hand, even if for a short story, something a bit darker. I bet she would do well.

Now there are a few caveats here. Yes, this book is aimed at the Young Adult crowd and my blog isn't. So if you pick up this book (and I would like it if you did) then keep that in mind. There is a lot of "Teen Girl Angst" here, but not as much as you might suspect given it is about teen girls and teen vampires. There is angst, but a lot of it is not the "my life is miserable teenage sort but of the "OMG this crazy chick is trying to kill my best friend!" sort.

I don't know if there are future books in store, but I hope so. I'd like to see how a college bound Mina reacts to situations. Or maybe she could tour Europe or something. Either way I can see a lot of adventure ahead for Mina and her friends.

Like I said of her first book, this is a good, well-written book with characters that a likable that relatable. I liked the new aspect to Mina's parents' lives unlives. I did miss seeing more of Uncle Mortie, but hey, it's not his book. The Black Talons were interesting, what little we got to learn of them and so were the Carters.

Using Mina in your Games

Of course it is very tempting to use Mina in a game. And since I tend to give in to temptation, here we go!

Cinematic Unisystem (Ghosts of Albion/Angel/Buffy)

Mina Smith (Apprentice level in Ghosts of Albion)
Life Points 44
Drama Points 15

Strength 3
Dexterity 3
Constitution 4
Intelligence 3
Perception 5
Willpower 4

Attractiveness +1
Hard to Kill 2
Fast Reaction Time
Situational Awareness
Vampire (Ghosts of Albion type)
- Glamour (note: this is shape shift ability from the book) 1
- Mesmerize (note: this is the glamour ability from the book) 1
- Sunlight Immunity (part of the Vampire package in this world. They do not burn up, but it is uncomfortable and they try to avoid it.)

Adversary (Black Talons, anti-vampire groups)
Honorable 1
Love (George?)
Teenager (from Buffy/Angel)

Useful Information
Actions 1
Perception 1d10 + 8

Acrobatics 2
Art (writing) 2
Crime 1
Doctor 1
Driving 1
Getting Medieval 1
Influence 2
Knowledge 3
Kung Fu 1
Languages 1 (English)
Notice 3
Occultism 3
Science 1
Sports 1

Witch Girls Adventures
Mina Smith, Vampire
Rank: 2

Body: d6 Mind: d6 Senses: d6
Will: d6 Social: d6 Magic: d8

Life Points: 12 Reflex: 9
Resist Magic: 11 Zap Points: 16

Skills: Athletics +2, Basics +2, Fighting +1, Hear +2, Look +2, Magic Etiquette +2, Mundane Etiquette +4, Mysticism +1, Mythology +1, Streetwise +2

Abilities: Brave, Friendly
Heritage: Vampire
Common Vampire Abilities


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Buy some books, part 2!

And now a post from author Kimberly Pauley.   Kim wrote the fantastic books Sucks to Be Me and Still Sucks To Be Me.

Her latest post is about how you can help authors and keep their books in the stories.

This comes from a post she made a bit earlier about how her second book had been illegally downloaded more than it actually sold.

This point of view is repeated here as well,

I totally understand this.  Ghosts of Albion is by no means a cash cow for me.  I don't need to rely on payments of it in order to make my bills.  Kim and Saundra Mitchell though do, or least need the money from their books more than I need the money from Ghosts.  Yet, I still see Ghosts of Albion on file share site EVERYDAY.  I get Google Alerts every single day letting me know that there is a way to get a Ghosts' PDF without paying a dime.

No offense people, but large sums of money or not, I worked my ass off on that book.  I'd like to get paid for the work I did.

Kim mentions that this all puts the future of the 3rd Mina Hamilton book in jeopardy.  This really sucks.  I like Kim's books.  But if people are getting her books from other means then there is less incentive for publishers to want to pay for books to get written.

I think this is worse in the RPG community to be honest.  And what is shocking to me the sense of entitlement that some gamers seem to have that they use to justify the theft of someone else's work.  But I am not going to get into that now.

Instead I want to remind people that if you like the work of an author, buy their product.  If you can't ask your library to buy it and then write reviews.

I love PDFs, but I also like to see people doing what they love and if authors can't get paid then they run the risk of not being able to do what they love to do and we run the risk of not being able to read these books.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Review: It Sucks to Be Me

Sucks to Be Me

Mina Hamilton is your ordinary 16 year old girl who has ordinary problems.  She is worried about her Chemistry test, whether she can get Nathan, the boy she has liked since forever to like her back, or even notice her, there is Prom coming up and oh yeah, her parents are bloodsucking undead creatures of the night. accountant and a middle-school teacher, but still undead.
Yeah, Mina's parents (an her weird uncle) are vampires.
And now she has to decide if she is going to become one too.
In a few weeks.
Or else.

And that begins the tale "It Sucks to Be Me" by new(ish) author Kimberly Pauley.  I got the chance to read this book while on vacation and frankly I was very, very pleased.  Ok a few disclaimers out of the way.  Yes, I know this book is aimed squarely at the Young Adult crowd, and I do know Kim.  But all that aside, this is a really good book.  Lets look into it.

Ok, the hero of our tale is Mina Hamilton the aforementioned 16 year old.  Her parents are vampires, something she has known all her life (it happened just after she was born) and it no big deal to her.  It becomes a big deal when the Northwest Regional Vampire Council (think the Camarilla with more red tape) finds out.  Now Mina, on top of everything else, has to decide whether or not to become a vampire.  She has to take Vampire Classes (not even remotely as cheesy as it sounds, and it is supposed to sound cheesy) and learn all these laws of the undead.  All the time she can't even tell her BFF about it.  Sure it's teen girl melodrama, but Kim really  makes it work well.

I will be honest here, I liked it. A lot.  I am not the target audience, and neither are many of the people that read this blog, but it was a well written, funny book that never takes the vampire myth too seriously but you can tell that Kim really knows her stuff.  I bet she could turn out a vampire tale worthy of Laurel K. Hamilton or Anne Rice and be a thousand times better than Stephanie Meyer.  But I get the distinct feel that that is not where her muse or interests lie.  I think it is obvious that Mina here is running the show so to speak.

Mina is an interesting character.  Like so many Urban-Fantasy-Supernatural / Chick-Lit books out there today Mina is a strong female-or at least she is going to be.  She is still only 16 and all the insecurities and hang-ups related to that. She doesn't know all the answers or even really what the questions are.  She is not entranced by the whole "vampire culture", thinking that some of it is kinda gross, and is more concerned with what and older heroine my consider trivial.  That though is her charm really, and the cleverness of Kim's writing.

Things I liked, in no particular order.
- Weird Uncle Mortie.  One day I need to ask if he is based on a real person, her characterization of him was too vivid. I know exactly what this guy looked like from the moment he left his giant yellow Cadillac.
- Mina's book report on "Dracula".  Very clever and I actually wanted to read more of that.  But that is the teacher in me.
- The author of the vampire books.  She was a kook and she was the one who wasn't a vampire.
- The Black Talons. Are we going to see more than them?  They are certainly not kiddie fare and closer to something like a "Black Court" vampire.
- Can't wait to see more of Mina in the next book.
- Great debut novel.  Some novels from first time authors read like a lot of really cool ideas strung together with a thin plot.  Not this one.  The plot gets into high gear right away and brings you along for the ride.
- I loved that Mina's family was so central to the tale.  I get tired of books where the family is missing, underused, or outright killed off.  Mina's parents (and Uncle Mortie again) are just as important to the tale and to Mina.
- A quick and easy read.  Perfect for vacation or just a nice afternoon with a book.

So. what can you, the older gamer, get from these books?

Well there is a bit actually.  It is good to see a new(er) take on vampires that does not make them into some sort of fetish object or make them sparkle.  In fact this book pretty much dismisses those points of view completely.  Ok, so Mina's parents and uncle are not the vamps from Dusk till Dawn (her favorite movie) either, but they certainly seem the exception rather than the rule.  Or, maybe they are just laying low.  It is easy to see that this book could take place in a larger universe similar to that of any modern supernatural game.  My own "Mayfair's" would work well as a "Blood Bar" in this universe too.

But most importantly I think the book is just a fun read.  When the kids have graduated Harry Potter, and they haven't yet (or won't) moved on to Twilight, then this is perfect.  Actually this is much better than Twilight.

This book is the perfect antidote for angsty, sprakly or otherwise gothier-than-thou vampires.  I look forward to more of Mina's (mis)adventures and a whole new list of why it still sucks to be her.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Random Stuff Friday

I had a cool post for today, but on re-reading it this morning I realized it might need some edits first.  Game stats and trying to get day-job work in at the same time is not good for either.

So instead here are some random things I'd like to share with you.

My friend Kim Pauley has a new book coming out, "Cat Girl's Day Off" about a girl whose super power is the ability to talk to cats.  If it is like her last books, the "Sucks to Be Me" series, then is should be fun.  Expect to see some stats for Natalie Ng here in the future!

Douglas Wall would like you all to check out his fun game "Adventures in Oz".
It is a fun game in and off itself, but I also think it is a good supplement, like an Oz source book for whatever game you are also playing now.  I already did a "Wicked" version of the main good guy, er, wait, sorry main witch (I can't help it, the Wicked Witch of the West IS the hero for me, has been since I was little).
I think you should check it out.

IO9, the website obsessed with all things in geek culture has a cool "Rules of Magic" chart up and it is huge.
I did notice some errors, but they expected there would be some.


Monday, August 3, 2015

Gen Con Haul

The BEST thing about taking my wife and kids with me to Gen Con other than having their company and dedicated gaming time is that I pretty much get to buy what I want under the guise of "it's for the family gaming nights!"  Well. It also happens to be true.

So here is this year's haul.

This is a cheat since I had already backed the Kickstarter.  But I got my book, dice and Martian princess figure.

Got these half-off because a Beyond the Supernatural game I was in was cancled.

My BIG buys.  Notice a theme?  Occult Adventures looks fun. Victoriana 3rd Edition is one I have been wanting for a while.  But the big win?  CHILL 3.0!!  OMG people this is such a cool book.

Mayfair D&D.  All of this for about 10 bucks.

Still loving Castles & Crusades.

AND an autographed print from Jacob Blackmon of my iconic witch Larina for "Strange Brew".

And last, but not least...although I didn't buy it at Gen Con, it came in the mail today.

My "Death Wand" from Magical Miscellany.  The newest endeavour by my friend Kim Pauley.

It is a real work of art!  I am going to need to stat this up!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Books for February and later

So February is usually the darkest, coldest, most dreary month on the calendar.   So it's a perfect time for some new books.  Good for me some of my favorite authors (an some I consider friends) have some new books out.

First up.  What's going on in the land of the dead?  Amber Benson and Calliope Reaper-Jones know.  The second book of the Death's Daughter series, "Cat's Claw" comes out on Feb 23.  I really enjoyed the first one and it is different than the "vampire" fare that is out now.  This book is firmly in the urban-fantasy camp and it's something like "Sex in the City" meets "Dante's Inferno".  A very different mix that I like.  What is really cool you can read this and then get a good feel for the sections in "Ghosts of Albion" Amber worked on.  I have not quite warmed up to Callie yet, but that is only a matter of time.  I like that despite her powers she is not all knowing.  She is still basically a 20-something woman living in the city and that doesn't mean she has all the right answers, or even good ones.

Here is the Amazon link,

Next is a series I have been reading non-stop since I discovered it about this time last year.  The Hollows Series by Kim Harrison.  The star of this series is Rachel Morgan, independent runner, witch, and soon to be target of a witch-hunt.  I first mentioned Rachel and her roommate the living-vampire Ivy, in Play Ivy for Me, and I still want to d more with this world.  The new book, Black Magic Sanction, has Rachel doing what Rachel does best; getting into trouble WAY over her head.  Like Callie, I didn't like Rachel at first.  I thought she was, well, stupid.  She did things all the time that got her into trouble.  But soon I figured out that Rachel isn't stupid.  She is impulsive and being drawn into plots she would rather not have to deal with herself.  Like Calli, Rachel has powers and that doesn't mean she knows what she needs to do with them.  Rachel can be a total flake, but it works for her and now I love this character.  The advantage Rachel has over Callie so far is I am 7 books deep into the Hollow's series now and only 1 in Death's Daughter.  And Rachel has that whole red-headed witch thing going for her. ;)
Black Magic Sanction is also out Feb 23.

The Amazon link,

And last up, a new author, but one I met before I knew she was an author.  Kimberly Pauley (her husband works with my wife) has part two of her YA/Modern Supernatural book, "It Still Sucks to be Me" the ongoing saga of teen-age vampire (maybe) Mina Hamilton.    I don't have much to say here since I am still reading "Sucks to be Me", but I really like what I have read so far.  Kim has a new take on vampires and there is not a sparkly on in the bunch!  Yeah I am a bit beyond the demographic for this, but it is a fun read.
"Still Sucks to be Me" is not out till May.

Amazon link,

Now here is the gamer in me.  Mina, Callie and Rachel are all sitting together in a local coffee shop.  What is each of them drinking?
My guesses:
Mina - hot chocolate, extra whipped cream.
Rachel - coffee, black, in a huge mug with a flaming bunny on it.
Callie - decaf green tea chai with soy milk.

And what happens next to put them all into an adventure.  Ok, Mina is a bit young, so it has to be something that would be good to drag a high school kid into.  Maybe Ivy is there and Mina was sent to learn from her by the head of the vampire council....too much of a stretch?  Yeah maybe.

And why am I thinking of all of these women in terms of Cortex stats?  Seems to work well.

Support these authors.  They are good people and write good stuff.