Alcatraz vs The Evil Librarians (Book Rev)

Happy Monday!

A few weeks ago I wrote a review of Serial Reader (full review here) and in my review I mentioned having an unofficial and non-intentional avoidance for kindle readers.

I really don’t know why I have had this unofficial kindle reader boycott, maybe it’s because I avoid apps that want me to enter payment information or something.  I think it’s a money-fueled-fear aversion. Or maybe I’m a trendsetter. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Source: Serial Reader (app review) footnote 1

However since then my friend has given me his old kindle fire with the book recommendation “Alcatraz vs The Evil Librarians”


So today’s post has 3 parts:

  1. An update on Serial Reader (I have found more bugs since the initial review)
  2. A review of the book Alcatraz vs The Evil Librarians
  3. Initial impressions of the Kindle Fire

Update on Serial Reader:

I’ve gone through a few phones since I wrote about Serial Reader(1) and one thing I’ve noticed is that I have trouble signing into my account across devices despite the “forgot password?” feature.  The issue this brings up is that when you have to “re-create an account” (I literally had 3 accounts under the same email, same password) you lose your place in your book(s) and have to wait until the serial catches up to where you were in your book UNLESS you get a premium membership (pretty reasonable at about 3$) however the issue remains: IF I CANNOT SIGN IN, I CANNOT ACCESS MY ACCOUNT PREMIUM OR FREE-MIUM.  This being the case, I’ve lost my place in the two books I was reading(2) a couple of times each.

Also it had this relatively minour/inconsistent bug where it doesn’t keep my place.  It most often happened when I finished a chapter and then the next time I came back to read, it started me at the end of the last chapter instead of where I was into the next chapter.

So all things considered, I can recommend Serial Reader if you’re not going to change devices anytime soon but because of this issue I do have trouble recommending it for purchase.

Alcatraz vs The Evil Librarians Book Review:

Alcatraz Vs The Evil Librarians is about the titularly named character, Alcatraz Smedry, who is really good at breaking things.  Not like being clumsy or destructive, in fact Alcatraz makes a very specific distinction between “break” and “destroy”\

There was that word again. Destroy. I felt my hair bristle in annoyance. I don’t destroy things, I thought. I break them. They’re still there when I’m finished, they just don’t work right anymore.

Page 9

Shortly after accidentally burning down his foster parents’ kitchen we’re introduced to the eccentric Grandpa Smedry who reveals “Yer a wizard Alca…” No I’m sorry that was uncalled for, this book isn’t a Harry Potter knock off.  For one thing, this book is much better(3). These books are very self aware in the currently fashionable post-modern style which includes that Alcatraz will speak to the reader directly and frequently, often noting how this being a story about his life and him as a character.  We learn that the world we know is under the rule of a network of evil librarians (though why they’re evil is never fully explained…) and that there is another world somewhere around ours (I suspect it’s an “occupies the same space but not the same time” kind of situation but again, not entirely explained in this first installment) and it’s up to the extended and extensive Smedry family to recover Alcatraz’s father’s life work: The Sands of Rashid (which was stolen by the evil librarians).

I’ve mentioned before about my general reluctance to get involved in book series that span more than 1200 pages and/or 3 books however this series started and ended so very strongly that I’m interested in at least reading the next couple of books (there’s a total of 5 books and book 2 and 3 would have to be pretty amazingly bad for me not to try and power through the last couple of books).  I will be taking a break on the series for a couple of books (variety keeps me going) but stay tuned because I do plan to review more as the series goes.

Thoughts on the Kindle Fire:

It’s pretty brilliant.  I am a bit reluctant to admit it, it’s like admitting to liking Taylor Swift (just her early stuff, like most songs before the “Red” album), but I’m coming out and saying that I like it a lot so far.  It just has too many damn features that I love, like the blue light mode, the highlight and note system, even the fucking cover is brilliant. The only things I kinda don’t like is that it’s a little too “COME BUY EVERYTHING! We’ll make it obnoxiously easy…” however I guess that’s apart of its brilliance.  In Google/Amazon we trust (in a capitalist society, who needs governments anyway? I’m sure someday when Google or Amazon, if one doesn’t buy the other first, buys the US Government, Okay Google/Alexa will be happy to answer my question).



  1. I’m really rough on phones.  I blame my first phone, an old sprint sanyo , mostly because it was a fucking tank.  I got that phone just as I graduated high school and it went through a litany of punishment, including one time where I played beer pong

    This phone was a tank.

    with it, and it JUST. KEPT. GOING.  I appreciate that phones have gotten much more complex and fragile since then but it seems to come at the cost of being so damn fragile.

  2. The Sleeper Awakens by H.G. Wells and House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson
  3. I read the first 2 Harry Potter books and really just couldn’t get into them.  The movies were okay. I’ve seen them all once because of my kid sister otherwise I probably would have quit them too after movie 4 I think.  I remember there was a lull a bit around half way through the series.




Thoughts on the story:

“‘…we’re here to interfere! We’re trying to overthrow Librarian domination of the Hushlands, after all.’ ‘Why not just let people live their lives, and live yours?”

Page 112

This is an excellent question and one that gives me the feel that these Smedrys are acting as “world police” liberating people, who didn’t ask for it, and with out regard for the consequences of crumbling a regime that in, the cannon of this story, is fairly peacefully and the further consequences of the sequential awareness of said “evil regime”.  Alcatraz frequently mentions things like “I am no hero” and “I am not a good person” which makes me wonder if this is a foreshadowing of a moral crisis he will have later in the series.

“Do you have to have a point if you’re an evil sect of Librarians?” Bastille asked with annoyance.

Page 145

This begs the question: Does evil have a “point”? (read: purpose) or more generally does any morality have a “point”? This, being a quote from one of the “heroes”, goes unchallenged which does trouble me a bit because it implies that Bastille, a native of The Free Kingdoms and a child still, has never been challenged to think about WHY librarians are evil and if there is a purpose to the things they do.

“The Scrivener [the founder of the evil librarian cult]. He taught that the world is too strange a place — that it needs to be ordered, organized, and controlled.  One of Biblioden’s teachings is the Fire Metaphor. He pointed out that if you let fire burn free,it destroys everything around it. If you contain it, however, it can be very useful. Well, the Librarians think that other things — Oculatory powers, technology, Smedry Talents — need to be contained too.”

Page 145

This is an interesting philosophy but one that’s kinda one dimensional.  The deal with fire, both in reality and as a metaphoric symbol for society, is that in small amounts it can be sustained without burning everything in sight without oversight.  Once a fire/society gets beyond a certain size, it can/will grow out of control without oversight. Now to continue this metaphor, a small fire may be able to contain it self but it hasn’t enough energy to do much whereas a large uncontained fire has enough energy to do a great many things but without oversight it will consume everything in sight which would be an effective waste of said energy.  It comes down to the debate between Anarchism and Statism. Anarchism can work in societies up to a certian size but beyond that size it falls into a “Lord of the Flies” brutalism just as Statism works on large societies but when applied to too small of a society it becomes a sort of fiefdom. I’m not saying absolute of either works in any size society but a blind acceptance/rejectance of an opposing ideology is generally foolish.

“Librarians named mountains after themselves — just like they named prisons after [Smedrys].”

Page 158

Still not sure of the significance of this but it’s certainly interesting.

“So, my parents game me up so that they would make a spy out of me?” [Alcatraz] asked.

Page 293

This is some fucked up “the ends justify the means” shit here.  I am more strongly suspecting that The Free Kingdoms have some more problems than is let on in this first book.

What did you expect? That [Grandpa Smedry] would leave [Alcatraz] here all summer, in the exact place where your enemies know where to look? With people that aren’t even your family? In a place you don’t really like, and that is depressingly normal compared to the world you’ve grown to love? Doesn’t that seem a little stupid and contrived to you?

Page 306

Damn…that’s got to be shots fired at Harry Potter.

Okay folks, that’s all I have for you today.  I’m working on finishing the “Looking for a Friend” story arc in The Adventures of Fin & Louie.  If you’re interested in catching up on back issues, they can be found on my new page: The Adventures of Fin & Louie



Ramshackle Glory – Live the Dream (album review)

Happy Tuesday!

live the dream

Ramshackle Glory is the final band that Pat the Bunny was in/started before he retired in 2016.  Pat seems to write albums that are heavily autobiographical, this one being no exception. Pat the Bunny is one of those artists that I discovered in the last couple of years where from the first album I listened to by him, Johnny Hobo and the Freight Trains, I thought “HOLY FUCKING CHEDDAR! This kid has a goddamn voice!”  I mean that both literally and lyrically, like if you listen to Johnny Hobo and the Freight Trains (link here) his lyrics are deep but his voice is so “ugly beautiful”.  He is also one of the few artist who has made me jealous because when I started doing research into him, I found out the bastard is like MY FUCKING AGE (I turn 30 this year, for the record). Jealous not because of the life he’s lived, honestly I have pity for the unexplainable amounts of pain and drama he must have experienced, but for the depth of his ability as an artist.  Sometimes life is just but it’s usually never fair.

your heart

This is my favourite song, I might even get a tattoo of this image at some point.

Speaking of just and fair, Ramshackle Glory’s first album deals heavily with ideas of freedom particularly with regard to the things which hold us back such as grief, substance abuse, and political against. This isn’t to say Pat doesn’t have a sense of humour, which can be seen from his track titles “We Are All Compost in Training”, “Vampires are for Poseurs” and “First Song, Part 2” and lyrics like “No one needs to tell me how to get (get get) down // But won’t somebody show me how to get back up? // I thought about killing my landlord, but he was pretty nice// Instead, I paid my rent on time as often as I could” and “Who needs brakes when it’s all down hill from here?”\

Album Summary:

Live the Dream is Ramshackle’s first album is a folk-punk memoir concept album about presumably Pat the Bunny (the lead singer) and some of the friends he mentions throughout the album, specifically Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of Your Fist.  The half of the album is a sort of descent into what seems to be a deeply low but ultimately growing period in his development as a person and an artist which said growth is gradually built up in the second half of the album. The second half of the album is both rhythmically and lyrically more uplifting and progressing through to the climax song (which is also my favourite song) Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of Your Fist and the the outro song “First Song, part 2” which can be seen as a “redemption song” opening with “I took the needle out of my arm about a year ago today// ever since then i’ve been taking the needle out of my brain”.  Overall it’s a rough but excellent album well worth listening all the way through for the appreciation of both the self referential and narrative lyrics starting with the lyric from the first song “But nothing’s been quite the same since you shot yourself” which seems to be a reference to Chuck in Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of Your Fist.

Track List:

live the dream 2

Live the Dream (full album)

  1. First Song (lyrics) (2.27)
  2. More About Alcoholism (lyrics) (2.43)
  3. We Are All Compost in Training (lyrics) (3.18)
  4. From Here Till Utopia (Song for the Desperate) (lyrics) (6.40)
  5. Never Coming Home (Song for the Guilty) (lyrics) (4.04)
  6. Vampires are Poseurs (Song for the Living) (lyrics) (2.50)
  7. Of Ballots and Barricades (lyrics) (1.44)
  8. Bitter Old Man (lyrics) (4.18)
  9. Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of Your Fist (lyrics) (3.40)
  10. First Song, Part 2 (lyrics) (3.20)

Song Notes:

First Song

  • But nothing’s been quite the same since you shot yourself

I don’t know if you believe in ghosts; I hope you’d haunt me if you were one

More About Alcoholism

-(I fully realise the irony of not having any notes about this song)

We Are All Compost in Training

From Here Till Utopia (Song for the Desperate)

Aren’t big enough for the vowels that

I try to fit inside of them (IOU)

  • When I was young, I drank too much, and I’d be lying if I said

I didn’t feel so goddamn young tonight

  • Like if freedom means doing what I want

Well, don’t I gotta want something?

And won’t you tell me that we want something more than just more beer?

I’d be out of excuses for the way

I waste away in the gutters that I chose desperate but not desperate enough

  • Because there’s gotta be something more

Than lying in the front yard, naked, screaming at the constellations

I want something more than an apology to say

When I look the world in the eye

I’ll tell you, man, my friend William came to me with a message of hope

It went: “Fuck you and everything that you think you know

If you don’t step outside the things that you believe

They’re gonna kill you.”

He said: “No one’s gonna stop you from dying young and miserable, and right

If you want something better, you gotta put that shit aside.” i love this

Never Coming Home (Song for the Guilty)

The lights are on, you’re standing up screaming at a ghost again

Darling, I’m home, hell I ain’t left this house of ours in days

But I’m not here. I never am, so I just can’t stay this song is so sad

Vampires are Poseurs (Song for the Living)

  • You could set a watch by the bottle returns and the ashtrays overflowing on the floor I love this  line, also i love the sound at this part of the song

-one of my favourite songs on the album (close to your heart)

  • I hope we choose the right war

Cause I’ve been fist fighting gravity since the day I learned how to breathe

I still wake up on the same cold floor I fell asleep on

So I won’t, but we shall overcome someday

I can’t do it alone, but I shall be free someday

I don’t know how to live, but I’m sick of learning how to die very nice

  • But the past was a mine field, and right now is a prison break

I hope we make it alive so nice

Of Ballots and Barricades

There have been thieves since there’s been property

And the way will come again when none of those things are around

I just hope it’s before people go extinct hahaha

Bitter Old Man

-catalonia 1936

How could they?

Full of naive optimism;

A teenager’s heartbreaking conviction that

Things can be different, oh yeah

Things are gonna be real different when we’re finished ’round here

Fuck me man

Except when it isn’t, yeah

I woke up this morning and

I wasn’t in prison

But I can’t promise that I’m far from it

I’d still kill a man for cigarette

But with friends like you, who needs homicide? Shift in the song

Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of Your Fist

-my favourite song on the album

-a collection of friends and their stories he has had over the years

  • “Scott, I love you and you make me glad to be alive

I promise that I’m gonna pay you back

You always know how funny everything is

Even when I’m so serious that it’s gonna be the death of me”

I promise that I’m gonna pay you back

You always know how funny everything is

Even when I’m so serious that it’s gonna be the death of me” this is a perfect summary of my relationship with my best friend Evan (I love you bro)

First Song, Part 2

A year ago today” full circle, redemption song

I’m still an atheist

But I try to have faith in the things that will happen;

I get saved from myself when i do

So maybe “god” isn’t the right word, but I believe in you” this  gets me