The Shab-al-Hiri Roach – Book Review


Finished reading

The Shab-al-Hiri Roach

by Jason Morningstar



This was an impulse purchase in homage to the role playing games I used to play. I got it late last year and got to reading it after I pulled it out of my TBR Jar. First of all let me explain what kind of book this is. This short little booklet contains a Lovecraftian RPG (role playing game) meant to play in the course of one evening or afternoon for fun. It comes with a set of forty cards for players to use. I liked the concept of a weird setting with dark comedy elements at the start of the twentieth century academic environment. I wanted something short and quirky to try out with some of my friends and gaming group.



This Indie RPG book is filled with black and white illustrations and news clips from the Pemberton University. The time this adventure is set is in 1919. and it starts with a tragic death of the university entomologist William Appleby-Jenkins. This story then follows the escape of a new and unique species mentioned entomologist brought back from his  expedition in the Mesopotamia region where he discovered the specimen in the cave near the Shab-al hiri potash mine (potash is a substance used mostly as a fertilizer in potassium poor soils).


The game is meant to be played without game master and that sets it apart from most other RPGs I am familiar with. The game can be played with 3 – 8 players but it is recommended for 4 – 5 players. Each player will need a character sheet that is available at the site of the designer Bully Pulpit and can be found along with some other merchandise  –> HERE

Along the character sheets, players will need a variety of playing dice from four sided to twelve sided that can be found in most RPG dice sets. Last thing the players will need are somewhere around fifty tokens that will represent characters reputations – the coins are suggested and of course some snacks and good humor. All players are meant to take a role of one Pemberton University residents and faculty.


Book has six chapters that explain everything from character creation and sequence of play to scene framing and resolving of the conflicts. The conflicts are encouraged and the players are instructed to use their imagination within the bounds they set for themselves. The whole game is meant to be played trough six Events during which every player has a chance to construct the scene to benefit his reputation. Players bet their reputation points on the outcomes and winner is determined by roll of the die. Players are supposed to play the scenes according to the results.

Plot revolves around an ancient life form that is the The Shab-al-Hiri Roach – ” a soul-eating telepathic insect bent on destroying the human civilization.” Players can choose to let it control them willingly which will give them more chances to come on top in conflicts with other players. To win the game after the last Event players need to find a way to have the most reputation and be free of the Shab-al-Hiri Roach’s influence.


I did not try this game yet. What I did not like about it is how much it reminds me of improvisation groups and actor practice groups. Something about it in the end did not sit well with me and I did not find the theme inspiring enough. Games like this one by my experience, tend to balance mostly on the motivations and involvement of the participating players. I was also not very impressed with the quality of the cards provided with the book. The game won a Kenneth Hite’s 2006 Outie Award for its uniqueness. I’m glad I got to read trough it for my TBR Jar Draw reading challenge.


Three Slices – Book Review


Finished reading

Three Slices


Kevin Hearne, Delilah S. Dawson and Chuck Wendig



I was going trough the list of short stories I missed reading for Iron Druid Chronicles after one of my friends asked for reading recommendation. Naturally I turned to Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles. I found a few short stories and novellas I have not read yet and this one stood out as an interesting one. I gave up on reading the short stories in order since they are not so easy for me to come by. I was actually surprised to see that the story A Prelude to War is almost on point for book 7. which is the next book I need to read for this series. I have heard for Delilah S. Swanson and her Blud series and even put it on my TBR some years back. I have never read anything of it though. This is my first Chuck Wendig story and I had no idea what to expect.


These three stories have in common the theme of tyromancy. Tyromancy is the art of divination and telling ones future using cheese hence the apt title Three Slices. While each story is set in its own universe the cheese part is what connects them in a quirky way.


A Prelude to War

by Kevin Hearne


This story was relatively easy for me to get into. It is divided into two segments. One follows Atticus the main character of the series in his exploits to recruit the help of someone he used to know and to get better insight for dealing with his enemies. The other part of this story follows Granuaille on her training to be a druid. While Atticus was one of my most liked parts of the Iron Druid Chronicles I did prefer Granuaille and her way of dealing with druid business and foes. I suspect the part with Atticus has more meaning to the main story of the book series and will have to read on to find out.


Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys

by Delilah S. Dawson


Second story  in this collection presented a bit of a challenge to get into. As a short story from a fully developed and fantastically rich world it brought out an array of new creatures and a world that follows its own rules. Since I knew nothing about any of it the first part of this story had me going slowly to try to understand dynamics of the creatures and the rules they abide by. I knew there was a vampire type creatures of some kind in the center of it all and that’s about it. I like the main character Criminy Stain and his sense of flair. The character itself is very strongly portrayed and driven. In retrospect the story was full of macabre and strange but it was all very nicely put together and I did not mind the brutality of some parts. Its a very dark story set in a dark world with some dark characters. I ended up liking it.


Interlude: Swallow

by Chuck Wendig


This author and her characters I knew the least about. From the very start it read more like a mystery thriller than anything else. While the story Delilah S. Swanson before it had more macabre elements this one was much more scary for me. The way it was written did not help either. The story was put together by little chapters out of order. The way they continue is that they turn forward in time and back in time in the most intense parts of the plot. I had no love for this and did not like it all that much.


While all three stories have a character that uses cheese to tell future in some way there was a distinct commonality in the title of the second story – Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys which refers to a polish saying with general meaning Not my problem, I don’t care. In each story there was a moment of betrayal and the motive of the betrayer had certain carefree elements – nothing personal, I was just worrying about my own stuff. This three story collection was entertaining to read and I found it to be informative for future reading.

The beautiful illustrations were made by Galen Dara and are part of the book. Aside the cover illustration each story has one and I like them as much I like the stories.



TBR Jar Draw January 2018


After finishing my December TBR Jar Draw I decided to keep up with challenging myself with reading more books I already own. I kept both the jar with the titles that were not read adding a few new ones and the plastic cube I put all the titles I read. It filled out nicely and I hope to continue with the more pleasant reading this year. For more info on my TBR Jar Draw 2017 you can check HERE.

Having finished with The Scoundrel Takes a Bride (Regency Rogues #5) by Stepfanie Sloane I posted the short review and my thoughts on it which you can find HERE.

The two draws I have not read are going back in the jar:

# Angel Souls and Devil Hearts (Shadow Saga #2) by Christopher Golden

# Carniepunk by Rachel Caine and various authors

My three new TBR Jar draws are as follows:


1# The Ship of the Dead (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #3) by Rick Riordan

This is one of the books I bought in November last year. While it is one of the most anticipated books from last year for me I still did not read it. With it being the book I bought late in the 2017. I have just added it to the TBR Jar this year. I hope to get to it soon and will have to check the reading order with The Trials of Apollo series. I am not sure do I need to read one more book before it :/


2# The Shab-al-Hiri Roach by Jason Morningstar

This book is one of those odities I stumbled on while I was browsing one of my favorite online boardgame stores. It is actualy a role playing game book for a dark comedy setting. I found it on sale and just had to get it. I look forward to reading trough it. I have never read or played anything by this author so it all adds to the mystery. With the book comes a set of playing cards as well. I am definitely leaning toward this choice!


3# Dhampir (The Saga of the Noble Dead series #1) by Barb and J.C. Hendee

This is one of the books I bought quite a while ago but never really gotten to reading it. I have first three books from this book series. While I generaly like the theme of vampires, the catchphrase “A mix of The Lord of the Rings and Buffy the Vampire Slayer” brings out some mixed feelings on this book. I reamin intrigued and a little bit apprehensive.

Book Choices Header

My book choices for January are quite interesting. I keep being surprised by the books I pull out of the TBR Jar AND that alone is a clear proof I need to keep up with this challenge. Who knows what I might find sitting on my bookshelves?

The Scoundrel Takes a Bride – Book review


Finished reading

The Scoundrel Takes a Bride

(Regency Rogues #5)

by Stefanie Sloane



This historical romance was a part of my TBR Jar Draw from December. I picked it out since I was in the mood for a historical romance book. I wanted a nice and silly historical romance with interesting characters. I have never read any books from the Regency Rogues series or anything by this author before. I got the book as a gift from a friend I used to work with.

historical-romance-fashions-and-hairstyles-versus-the-reality-victorian-era-portrait-book-coverIs the guy on the right wearing a corset too? Whats with that hairdoo? Those bangs look like they have been done by a blind hairdresser! The lady looks like she is embarrassed to be in the picture with him!


Right at the start this book did not rise to my expectations with the main heroine fainting for some silly reason. That same heroine whose mother was brutally murdered while she was a child has been working with Bow Street Runners and was deeply involved in theory of criminal psychology. And she faints for no reason whatsoever. This made the rest of the reading not so motivating.

Some time in the book the prominent point of the book turns the solving of the mystery murder from the characters childhoods. If it werent for two “romantic” thryst scenes between the main characters this would be historical murder mystery book.

about 1743

The tone of the book was not what I was expecting. The title alone was more than decieving with no actual scoundrel in sight – the character it was supposed to refer to was a bit of an alcoholic with kinda heroic background…


I keep waiting on a good historical romance book to sweep me off my feet in the manner of Desperate Duchesses series by Eloisa James. That series set my expectations for a good historical romance a bit high maybe. For some reason this book did not click with me. This will not stop me from trying out some other new historical romace for February if not sooner.

Any suggestions?

woman with quill Kilburne_George_Goodwin_Penning_A_Letter


TBR Jar Draw 2017 Overwiev


I started the project TBR Jar Draw in March 2017 with the idea to tackle on my growing To Be Read list. What I had decided to have the best chances of success with were the books I already own and have not read yet. After searching trough my GR Want to read books list I found 82 titles of books I already own. I proceded to write each on a little pink piece of paper and put them all in a small decorative jar.



From March 2017. I read eight books after I pulled them from the TBR Jar. I read them with aproximately one a month pace. After I pulled out and examined all the titles in a TBR Jar I found three more titles of books I put in the TBR Jar but have read without TBR Jar Draw. That makes eleven books I have read that were titles I have owned and could be remover from the TBR Jar.


Considering the pace I used to buy and acquire books has somewhat slowed down since I first started The TBR Jar Draw project I am happy with my results even though the amount of books in my Want to read category on Goodreads is only slightly lower than when I started – In March 2017 my Want to Read category had 382 titles while today it nmbers 377 books. I realized that adding books to my Want to read list is something I do not want to limit is such a way that makes me miss out on some great new books. Instead I am now fully concentrating on making more responsible decisions when buying the books I want to own.


After anylizing my results I realized I did not think on adding the books I bought in 2017. to the TBR Jar. Now I am left with two choices:

A) Let the TBR Jar get empty completely

B) Add books I bought in 2017 retroactively and continue with adding the books I buy in the future

After some consideration I decided to make the TBR Jar Draw project a permanent reminder to read more of the books I already own and to try to contain the hoarding habits within reasonable and explainable limits.

Therefore I decided to go with the option B) and add the books I bought since the project started. I will continue to be adding new books as I buy them. This made me add another 22 titles to the TBR Jar. I wrote down titles I found browsing trough some of my bookshelves and I do believe there were some I probably missed …

In this manner my TBR Jar Draw project continues and I hope to have even better results next year when I make another overwiev and tally the books I’ve read 🙂

TBR Jar Draw December 2017

First a little update for those who don’t know what my TBR Jar Draw is about. Somewhere at the start of last year I have decided to try and read more of the books I already own. Out of my TBR (To Be Read) pile of books on Goodreads I have selected some of the books I own and wrote the titles on little pieces of paper each. Once a month I draw three titles from the jar and decide to read one of them. This gives me a reason to go trough my bookshelves and find the titles I might have overlooked or forgot about. Here is the link to the post from March 2017 that got me started –> TBR Jar Draw 



I have finally finished reading The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1) by Philip Pullman. While I stated reading it somewhere around Christmas I did not do much reading up until the start of January. It took me longer than I expected and has left an impression on me. I will definetly post a review on it soon.

The two draws I have not read are going back in the jar:

# The Age of Odin (Pantheon #3) by James Lovegrove

# Master of Chains (Forgotten Realms: The Fighters, #1) by Jess Lebow

My three new TBR Jar draws are as follows:


1# Angel Souls and Devil Hearts (Shadow Saga #2) by Christopher Golden

This is the second time I’ve drawn Angel Souls and Devil Hearts. Described as the Epic Vampire Saga I have read the first book from this series quite a long time ago. What I remember of it is dark and gritty scenes and some come to haunt me in the middle of the night to this day. Contrary to that I am still interested in reading this series trough. I am still not that enthusiastic to start on it.


2# The Scoundrel Takes a Bride (Regency Rogues #5) by Stepfanie Sloane

I got this book as a gift along with one other from the same historical romance genre. While I’ve read the other one this one was left behind. It actually seems like a good choice at this moment since I feel like reading a romance novel…


3# Carniepunk by Rachel Caine and various authors

I have mentioned this book before. It is a short story collection from some of the authors I already love and follow. I love reading short story collections since they let me meet fascinating new authors and discover new worlds. Thematically this short story collection is about carnivals and would have been a nice October read. I am very pleased with this drawing.


Monthly reading review – December 2017


Monthly reading review – December 2017

This December I have read:

The Magician’s Nephew (Chronicles of Narnia, #1) By C.S. Lewis ★★★★

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia, #2) By C.S. Lewis ★★★★

Sweet Ruin (Immortals After Dark, #16) by Kresley Cole ★★★★

Kings Rising (Captive Prince, #3) by C.S. Pacat ★★★★

Shadow’s Seduction (Immortals After Dark, #17; The Dacians, #2) by Kresley Cole ★★


1. How many books you’ve read last month? Are you happy with the amount you read?

For the first part of the month my reading was really high and I’ve read all five books somewhere around that time. Around Christmas I was down on my reading and the number of the books I’ve read remained five for the whole month. I’m happy for the great books I’ve read but not soo much with the amount of them.

2. What was the best of all the books you’ve read in December? Any scenes or characters that made a lasting impression?

I enjoyed first two books from Narnia chronicles series and was very pleasantly surprised by Sweet Ruin (Immortals After Dark, #16) by Kresley Cole which I had really low expectations from start. Among five books I’ve read in December four were rated with 4 out of 5 stars yet none of them don’t stand out so much.


3. Were there any not so good books for you last month? What made it hard or not enjoyable to read?

I had such high expectations for Shadow’s Seduction (Immortals After Dark, #17; The Dacians, #2) by Kresley Cole mostly because I really like the Dacian cycle in the IAD book series. I was super hyped about it but could not get into the book. For some reason male and male pairing did not deliver on the lovable starcrossed lovers against the world theme I enjoy in all other books in the series. The saving grace of the book for me were some Lothaire scenes with few sarcastic remarks that lightened up the book for me.


4. How did the books you were reading last month fit in your reading plans if you had any?

I was very hopefull with my reading hype at the start of the month. Last few months in 2017. were very good for my reading and I hoped to continue with in that tone. I had plans on finishing some more books I own and getting those book series up to date as well. On the positive side I did good on my book club reading and had fun with those books in December.

5. Any updates on the series you are reading or are you starting any new series?

I’ve brought Captive Prince series to a close and might look out for some short stories from the same world. Immortals After Dark is now up to date for me with the next book comming out in mass market paperback I opt for buying soon this January. I’m not to fond of the cover though…


6. Would you like to recommend any books or authors you’ve been reading this last month?

Chronicles of Narnia ooks really brought out the magic for this December. I recommend them for anyone who enjoys a little magic in their books. Finishing a book series gives me a positive boost for reading more and feeling better and that is also my recommendation for this December.

Final thoughts on December reading

I have posted two book reviews on three books this December:

The Magician’s Nephew (Chronicles of Narnia, #1) By C.S. Lewis ★★★★


The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia, #2) By C.S. Lewis ★★★★


Sweet Ruin (Immortals After Dark, #16) by Kresley Cole ★★★★ – REVIEW

I am finishing this year with two books reading in progress one of which I expect to finish up soon and another that will be a longer reading project to finish.

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1) by Philip Pullman

A Man for Himself: An Inquiry into the Psychology of Ethics by Erich Fromm