Book review: Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors

My long-overdue post on H. L. Burke’s first Nyssa Glass book! At last!



Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors (Amazon link)

Official summary:

Nyssa Glass is a reformed cat burglar turned electrician’s apprentice, settled into a life repairing videophones and radio-sets. However, when her past comes calling, she finds herself framed for murder and forced into one last job. No one has entered Professor Dalhart’s secluded mansion in almost a decade, at least not that returned to tell the tale.

If Nyssa wants to ensure her freedom, she’ll brave the booby-trapped halls and mechanized maids. Nyssa has skills, but this house has more than its share of secrets. As she steps into the cobwebbed halls lined with dusty mirrors, she has to wonder. Is the House of Mirrors really abandoned?

My review: This is a quick read, about 150 pages. My biggest complaint is that it moves TOO fast–I wanted more background detail, more worldbuilding, that kind of thing. But if you’re in the mood for a speedy read, this book suits the bill.

It’s supposed to be steampunk, but there’s computers, and I just couldn’t buy steampunk computers. Maybe I just haven’t read enough of the genre or something, but it felt more 1960s than 1860s to me.

Those issues aside, I enjoyed the various traps and horrors that Nyssa meets as she prowls around this giant mechanized mansion. A bunch of other burglars had tried to break in before her, and she finds their remains in satisfyingly macabre ways. She befriends the security system (who I kept thinking of as Wheatley from Portal 2), who tries to help her around the traps … mostly.

There are a few unanswered questions left at the end, but this is going to be a series, so that’s to be expected. I’m curious to see where this series will go, especially as Nyssa gains a sidekick at the end. Their relationship will carry the series, I think.

Go give it a look! Or go back a few posts and read Cora and the Nurse Dragon!

Our first Ren Faire visit

Easter was the last day of our local Renaissance Faire. We’d planned to go all month, but it’s only on weekends, and my hubby’s schedule was full of lots of weekends to work. But the stars finally aligned on Easter Sunday. I had gotten some free children’s admission tickets (stockpiled, more like), so it didn’t cost all that much to get in, even with the seven of us.

It was a clear, coolish, breezy day. The fairgrounds are waaaaaay out in the desert, up against the feet of the Superstition Mountains. Gorgeous country, but flat, and already hot.


As you can see, my hubby forgot his hat. As a redhead, this spelled disaster.

One of our first stops was a hat shop. He scored a nice straw hat that saved him from being horribly burned. Next year: sunscreen.


Wizards! This is the point where I remarked, “This is the BEST fair I’ve ever been to!”


Here’s Hubby modeling his new hat. Behind him you can see one of the rides, which was a giant rocking horse. No motors–just the attendants rocking it back and forth. It was so low-tech and ingenious!


Here is the giant slide. Only my son had the nerve to go down, and he said you go down it for a loooooooong time. It would have made a great water slide.


Here’s a fire-swallowing show we attended after lunch. It was all pirate-themed. They even had a tacky shirt with a pirate chest on the front, and the caption, “Nice chest.” On the back it said, “But the booty is even better!”

I saw several people wearing it. It looked exactly the way you think.


The kids all bought Harry Potter wands:

I got this sweet, sweet necklace:


We have plans to take a lot more cash next year. It’s one of those places with so many awesome things to buy that you could easily empty your whole bank account just going, “OOoh! Shiny!”

We’re definitely going back next year.

A fun birthday weekend

It was my son’s ninth birthday this last week. It worked out really well, because we wound up babysitting one of his friends that day, so he had sort of an all-day party.
I baked marble cupcakes with chocolate frosting, which were a big hit.
Look at all those smiling faces!
And a little fat baby.

We have birthdays in March, April, and May, so spring has been dubbed “birthday season”. As if his birthday wasn’t enough fun, one of the neighbor kids had a birthday this weekend, too. So we sat outside, ate barbecue and a Minecraft cake. The adults talked and talked and the kids played and played. It was very pleasant and fun.

The surreal world of Minecraft marketing

So, everybody knows Minecraft. It’s kind of a big deal that keeps on getting bigger, especially once the movie comes out.


Although, seriously, it’ll have its work cut out for it to compete with the fan videos.

So, anyway, yeah, we do Minecraft around here.We also watch a ton of the Minecraft Youtube people, like Dan TDM, Stampycat, Captain Sparkles, and so on.

So we’re walking through Walmart’s toy section. As we’re passing by the Minecraft section, I had to stop and stare. In addition to the foam pickaxes and swords, and the toy creepers and ender dragons, there were YouTubers.

AshelyMariee Gaming, Jerome ASF, Vikkstar, and Captain Sparkles.
Dan at the Diamond Minecart, and Professor Trayarus

Dan even kind of looks like his human face. *shudder*

So, as we continued walking on through the Marvel section and such, I realized why they have to turn the YouTubers into toys:

In marketing, you have to sell people. Barbie, Iron Man, the Indominus Rex–all people. The only people Minecraft has are the male and female player characters, Steve and Alex. You can’t build a merchandise empire on that. So–who do we sell? The popular people who PLAY Minecraft! Yeah!

I just hope that Dan and Stampy and all these other people are getting a big fat cut of the royalties.