Monday, September 30, 2013

September Reading List

50. Severe Clear (ua), Stuart Woods
49. The Third Kingdom (ua), by Terry Goodkind
48. Gotham Central: In the Line of Duty HC (gn), by Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, and Michael Lark
47. Mockingjay (ua), by Suzanne Collins


Earlier in 2013:
46. The Shambling Guide to New York City (pb), by Mur Lafferty
45. The Hound of the Baskervilles (ua), by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
44. Guild of the Cowry Catchers: Book 4 (ua), by Abigail Hilton
43. The Big Cat Nap (ua), by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown
42. Free (ua), by Chris Anderson
41. Iron Man: Legacy of Doom (gn), by David Michelinie,
40. The She-Hulk Diaries (pb), by Marta Acosta
39. Elizabeth the First Wife (Nook), by Lian Dolan
38. The Maze (nook), by Jason Brannon
37. The President's Vampire (ua), by Christopher Farnsworth
36. The Pope Who Quit (pb), by Jon M Sweeney
35. Memoirs of Sherlock Homes (ua), by Arthur Conan Doyle
34. More or Less (ua), by Jeff Shinaberger
33. Blood & Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter (pb), by various
32. The Children of Hurin (ua), by J.R.R. Tolkien
31. Atlantyx, (pb), by Chase Dalton
30. Callahan's Secret (ua), by Spider Robinson
29. Take Four (ua), by Karen Kingsbury
28. Skull-Kickers, Treasure Trove volume 1, by Jim Zub and various artists
27. The Dalek Generation (pb), by Nicholas Briggs
26. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ua), by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
25. The Areas of My Expertise (pb), by John Hodgman
24. The Skin Map (ua), by Stephen Lawhead
23. Catching Fire (ua), by Suzanne Collins
22. Quitter (ua) , by Jon Acuff.
21. The Bone Bed (ua), by Patricia Cornwell.
20. Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart (hc), by J.D. Greear
19. Left Behind: The Kids #28 (pb), by Jerry B. Jenkins, Tim LaHaye, & Chris Fabry
18. Left Behind: The Kids #27 (pb), by Jerry B. Jenkins, Tim LaHaye, & Chris Fabry
17. Left Behind: The Kids #26 (pb), by Jerry B. Jenkins, Tim LaHaye, & Chris Fabry
16. Time Travelers Strictly Cash (aa), by Spider Robinson
15. The Devil's Company (ua), by David Liss
14. Deadly Straits (ua), by R.E. McDermott
13. Doctor Who: Paradise Towers (ua), by Stephen Wyatt
12. DC Universe Secret Origins (gn), by various writers and artists
11. The Gods of Mars (ua), by Edgar Rice Burroughs
10. Craving Grace (hc), by Lisa Velthouse
9. The Sign of Four (ua), by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
8. DC Dead (ua), by Stuart Woods
7. A Study in Scarlet (ua), by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
6. The Hunger Games (ua), by Suzanne Collins
5. Take Three (ua), by Karen Kingsbury
4. Mary Through The Centuries (hc), by Jaroslav Pelikan
3. Roil (ua), by Trent Jamieson
2. The Devil You Know (ua), by Mike Carey
1. Ender's Shadow Ultimate Collection (gn), by Mike Carey

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Book #50. Severe Clear

Severe Clear, by Stuart Woods. Unabridged audio.

I have read every one of Stuart Woods' novel, through this one. I have not read the last couple, but they are on my list.

Woods continues his recent habit of including many of his characters in a single book. This one stars Stone Barrington, but Will and Kate Lee, Holly Barker, Herbie Fisher, and Felicity Devonshire all play critical roles. Only Dino Bacchetti gets less page time than usual.

The action starts when the NSA picks up the word "The Arrington" -- and since this is the new hotel at which the US President will be signing a treaty in a few days, they pay attention.  The plot involves a British national leading a cell of three Americans who want to bring revenge on the US for killing Osama.

The scope of the novel is that of an epic thriller, but it is still the size of the mystery stories that Woods was writing fifteen years ago. This means the book moves at a breakneck pace, and the sheer speed with which the plot moves helps overcome some of the issues that the book has in terms of its unrealistic plot.

As I've mentioned before, the good guys in Woods' books seem to have the greatest luck in the world. Everything seems to work out for them, personally and professionally. One of them even won the lottery a few dozen novels ago. Literally won the lottery. At least in this book, one character points that out, and I appreciate Woods acknowledging this criticism.

As always, Tony Roberts does a fine job reading the book. He is able to bring nuance to all of the characters, including the females characters, and the foreign characters.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Wonder Woman -- Another View

I recently shared my thoughts on issues 7-12 of New 52 Wonder Woman, having covered issues 1-6 a few months before.

I wanted to mention that an Internet friend of mine, and blogging buddy, has also written on these first 12 issues. ComiKate, whom I know mostly from the Spirit Blade podcast and forums, has started a new blog, and her Wonder Woman review was one of her early entries.

Kate was also a fan of these issues, and writes a very thorough and interesting review. She admits her hesitancy to read the books, and how she was pleasantly surprised about by the quality of the books. She admits that the Greek mythology angle was a key factor for her enjoyment of the series.

Kate is Dutch, and her "main" blog is totally written in her native language, but she regularly translates entries into English, and it is this version of the blog that is linked above and on the sidebar.  Check it out.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

TEASER TUESDAY

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can
play along!
Just do the following:
Grab your current read.
Open to a random page.
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

From the prologue of Shadow Legion: New Roads to Hell, by Thomas Deja:

I need a representative here ... you could be that representative, doing my will and paving the way for return.
"You keep me breathing, there ain't nothing I won't do."
You will need to prove your willingness to be in my service.
"How?"
By giving me ... what you love.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Book #49: The Third Kingdom

The Third Kingdom, by Terry Goodkind. Unabridged audio.

I have read all of Terry Goodkind's books, and have reviewed one of them here. And one here.

This is his 14th novel overall, and the second to take place after the close of the Sword of Truth epic. The action picks up right where the last novel left off. At the end of The Omen Machine, after defeating the Hedge Maid. In that final conflict, Richard and Kahlan were injured. Their injuries, and the events of that confrontation with the Hedge Maid, form the basis for the plot of this new novel.

As in all of Goodkind's books, actions have consequences.

Infected with the essence of death itself from the final battle in the prior book, Richard has been robbed of his power as a war wizard,  he races against time to stop the terrible  conspiracy assembling itself behind the North Wall. His friends and allies are already captives, and his beloved Kahlan, also touched by death's power, will die completely if Richard fails in his quest to return her to the Palace of the Prophets.

The titular "third kingdom" is a place where both death and life exist, and this blurring of the lines between life and death include the presence of undead warriors. So in addition to fighting wizards and prophets, our heroes also have to face bloodthirsty, cannabilistic zombies.

With no magical power, Richard has only his sword (also missing its magic), his wits, and his wisdom. We are introduced to a young sorceress, Samantha, who is just coming into her healing powers. This is a type of character that Goodkind has written before. This gives Richard a foil that allows him to operate as both a teacher, and allows him to show his softer, compassionate side.

There were a few other plot points that were reminiscent of events from prior novels, but in fourteen books set in the same world, that is bound to happen.

This is a classic Goodkind tale, a solid adventure with strong characters, with strong motivations. There were fewer of the "preachy" moments that can slow the action in Goodkind books. This one definitely moves at a faster pace than some, and is a satisying fantasy novel.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Book #48: Gotham Central 1-10

Gotham Central, Book 1: In the Line of Duty, by Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, & Michael Lark. Paperback graphic novel, collecting issues 1-10.

What is it like to be a cop in a city that is protected by the Batman? The question has been asked before in mini-series, most successfully in the four-issue Batman: GCPD and the one-shot Gordon's Law, both from 1996. But this is first ongoing series to features these characters, running 40 issues from 2003 to 2006.

This series covers the Major Crimes Unit of the GCPD, led by Capt. Maggie Sawyer, formerly of the Metropolis Police Department. Major characters in these issues include Detectives Marcus Driver, Renee Montoya, Romy Chandler, and Crispus Allen. They all struggle to deal with the crime that the Batman doesn't handle, while trying to resist the temptation to ask him for help when they need it.

The title begins with Mister Freeze killing an officer, and the GCPD commits to finding the supervillain before the Batman does. The second story arc is a kidnapping and murder investigation, and is the most traditional police story in the volume.

The writing chores of the issues are divided in an interesting way. The teo authors are credited as co-writers for the first arc, covering issues 1 &2. Brubaker wrote the next 3-issue arc, while Rucka wrote the story covering issues 6-10. But there is little (if any) noticeable difference between the writing style in any of these issues. Both excel at the writing of detective stories. Despite the occassional appearnace of a supervillain or the Batman,

 The third arc is the most famous in the title's run, as it includes the "outing" of Renee Montoya as a lesbian. This story won two awards for its writing, as well as accolades from gay-rights organizations. The story was not nearly as heavy-handed as these stories can be, although most of the expected tropes (colleagues who mock, parents who disown) are present.

This volume was a throroughly enjoyable read, and I look forward to picking up more trades that continue the story.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can
play along!
Just do the following:
Grab your current read.
Open to a random page.
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

From chapter 2 of The Third Kingdom, by Terry Goodkind: "He couldn't understand why they didn't simply stab him to death. They were both carrying knives and they had his sword. Still, the partially successful attempts left gaping horrifically painful wounds that gushed blood."

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Buy My Friends' Books!

Two of my internet buddies have new books on the market. I highly encourage you to check them out.

Robert J. Kelly, who appeared in an audio interview for the Book Guys Show to promote his prior book, has released Hey Kids, Comics!. Promising "True Life Tales From the Spinner Rack," Kelly collected stories from comic book professionals, novelists, TV writers, and people from all walks of life on how comic books changed their lives. The book includes a range of vintage photos, making the book a must-have for fans of comic books in particular or pop culture in general.

Thomas Deja's new novel, New Roads to Hell, is the first book in the Shadow Legion saga. A long-time fan of comic books, Thomas has written a prose novel (with a few illustrations) in a comic-book universe of his own creation. The story takes place in a faictionalized 1930s, and has the feel of the pulp stories of the day. BTW, Thomas will be appearing on a future episode of the Book Guys Show. Stay tuned!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Book #47: Mockingjay

Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins.

Ending things is hard: ending TV shows is hard, ending movies is hard, ending novels is hard, and ending novel series is especially hard. But Suzanne Collins has managed to end her Hunger Games trilogy well, with a pretty good final novel.

My favorite part about this series is that the books were not carbon-copies of each other, and Mockingjay certainly stands out from the first two. While The Hunger Games is an action-adventure movie in a vaguely political setting, and Catching Fire is a political thriller with action-adventure elements, Mockingjay is flat-out a war movie. It is about strategy and tactics, and ends in the inevitable confrontation.

I appreciate this genre change, as the characters remain consistent from book to book to book. The changes that Katniss, Peeta, & Gael experience in this final novel are reasonable, given where they started, and how we've seen them mature and change over the first two novels. There is a moment at the end that was totally unexpected to me, but was true to Katniss' character. And I took that moment as a very interesting political commentary, one that young people would do well to learn.

And now that I have finished the book trilogy, I can move into watching the movies with a clear conscience.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Adapting Holmes: New Paradigm Comics


The first two issues of the new comic book series Watson & Holmes have recently been released by New Paradigm Publishing. Created by Branson Perlow and Paul Mendoza, the issues are written by Karl Bollers, with art by comics veteran Rick Leonardi and Mendoza.

This is another "modern take" on the character, with two distinctive features. First, the main character is Afghanistan War veteran Watson, now working at an inner-city clinic. Holmes is merely a supporting character. And second, the pair are African-Americans living in Harlem.

I have not read these issues, but Derek Coward of the Indie Comic Noise podcast has. In episode #327 of the show, he talked about the book. He was generally positive, about both the art and the story. I encourage anyone who is interested in the comic to check out that episode of the podcast, on his site or in iTunes.

As Derek pointed out, the strength of Doyle's creation lies in the fact that it can be presented in so many different forms and versions, many of them entertaining.

The comic is available in a wide range of digital formats, and. I am hoping that it will come out as a trade paperback at some time, at which point I would definitely be interested in reading it.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Podcasting Updates!

The little podcasting network that my daughter and I started up 6 weeks ago has found a little bit of success. We have put out nine episodes ouf our three separate shows:

The Quarter-Bin Podcast. This is my solo show, covering cheap comic books, that I paid no more than 25 cents four. I have released 4 episodes of this.

Uncovering The Bronze Age. This is my daughter's solo show, covering comics from waaay before she was born, the 1970s. The has released 2 episodes of this.

Shortbox Showcase. This is our joint show, where we talk general comic book comics. Our three episodes have covered comic book continuity, alternate universes, and the various "ages" in comic book history.

The episodes are available at the podcast website or via iTunes.

If you are interested in audio, and in comic books, check out the shows.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Adapting Holmes: Baskervilles Graphic Novel


The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, retold by Martin Powell (writer) and Daniel Perez (artist).

I reviewed graphic novel versions of A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of the Four earlier in the year, and I must point out that this adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles is not in the same series. There is a version of Baskervilles in that series, but I chose to look at a different version.

This one is targeted for a younger audience, and is nearer in tone to the "Wishbone" version of the story than the original neo-horror story that Doyle wrote. There are credits to a "librarian reviewer," a "reading consultant," and a "guided reading level," as well as a pronounciation guide. All of this leads me to believe that that this book is designed for school library use. And for what it is attempting to do, this much-abridged version of the story is mostly effective.

The key plot points are all here, including the mysterious bearded man telling his cabbie that his name was Sherlock Holmes. Watson dictates much of the action to Holmes via letters. The excaped convict and the disappearing shoes are present, as are the deceptive family connections. Although extremely shortened, Martin Powell manages to tell the basics of the story in a coherent manner. And Daniel Perez' artwork, although simplistic, is clear and adds to the strength of the storytelling.

There are a few odd moments in the introduction and the backmatter. The "cast of characters" page clearly refere to "Dr. Henry Watson," and although there is a Henry Baskerville in the story, Watson's first name is John. The "about the author" and "more about Sherlock Holmes" pages at the back of the book both refer to Doyle having written 56 Holmes stories. And although there were 56 short stories written by Doyle, he also wrote four Holmes novels -- one of which is The Hound of the Baskervilles.

For a book that is clearly positioning itself for the education market, these mistakes need to be pointed out.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Welcome Back, Mister Tony

One of my favorite podcasts is back, after its annual two-month summer hiatus. Since it is a daily show, I actually kind of like taking a few months off every year. It gives me a chance to catch up on my other shows, or audiobooks, or just have a nice family vacation or two.

Technically, the Tony Kornheiser Show is not a podcast -- it is a local radio show, based out of Washington, DC. There are many ways to listen to the show -- it is streamed live, it is released by the local radio station 24 hours after as a podcast, and a few "unofficial" ways to download the show sooner than the 24-hour delay. For sports and news talk, a day late can make a big difference.

Kornheiser mostly talks about sports, although pop culture, music, and politics all find their way into the show. His rotating panel of co-hosts include former Washington Post colleagues (David Aldridge) and political professionals (Torie Clarke).

I am glad that Mr. Tony's show is back.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

New 52 Review: World's Finest, Volume 1

NEW 52 Review: World's Finest,  volume 1: The Lost Daughters of Earth 2, paperback collection of issues  0-5, by Paul Levitz, George PĂ©rez, and Kevin Maguire.

I had heard that this title was among the stronger of the second-wave of titles in DC's New-52 initiative. After reading this volume, I concur.

On an alternate world (known in the comic book world as Earth-2), Apokolips won the war with the heroes. During  the battle, Robin (the daughter of Batman and Catwoman) and Supergirl (Superman's mysteriously younger cousin) are thrown to the "standard" DC version of Earth (Earth-1). They become Huntress and Power Girl, respectively. Power Girl's alter ego (Karen Starr) is a billionaire industrialist, using her role leading Starr Labs to bankroll their crime-fighting, and to research ways to discover a way for them to return home.
Earth-1 is eerily similar to the planet they had left, but with plenty of dangerous and new elements. This gives the story a nice "stranger in a strange land" feel, as well as containing dynamic fight scenes and nice character moments.

The current version of this story takes place five years after their arrival on Earth-1, while much of their backstory is filled in through flashbacks, as well as the entire issue #0.
The artists do some very funny things with Power Girl's uniform, playing with on the history of her infamous uniform in the prior DC continuity.

In terms of sales, this title usually lands right in the middle of DC's sales list. I hope that it levels out at that level, and never falls into the "risk of cancellation" zone.
Source: public library.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

August Reading List

46. The Shambling Guide to New York City (pb), by Mur Lafferty
45. The Hound of the Baskervilles (ua), by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
44. Guild of the Cowry Catchers: Book 4 (ua), by Abigail Hilton
43. The Big Cat Nap (ua), by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown
42. Free (ua), by Chris Anderson
41. Iron Man: Legacy of Doom (gn), by David Michelinie,
40. The She-Hulk Diaries (pb), by Marta Acosta
39. Elizabeth the First Wife (Nook), by Lian Dolan


Earlier in 2013:
38. The Maze (nook), by Jason Brannon
37. The President's Vampire (ua), by Christopher Farnsworth
36. The Pope Who Quit (pb), by Jon M Sweeney
35. Memoirs of Sherlock Homes (ua), by Arthur Conan Doyle
34. More or Less (ua), by Jeff Shinaberger
33. Blood & Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter (pb), by various
32. The Children of Hurin (ua), by J.R.R. Tolkien
31. Atlantyx, (pb), by Chase Dalton
30. Callahan's Secret (ua), by Spider Robinson
29. Take Four (ua), by Karen Kingsbury
28. Skull-Kickers, Treasure Trove volume 1, by Jim Zub and various artists
27. The Dalek Generation (pb), by Nicholas Briggs
26. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ua), by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
25. The Areas of My Expertise (pb), by John Hodgman
24. The Skin Map (ua), by Stephen Lawhead
23. Catching Fire (ua), by Suzanne Collins
22. Quitter (ua) , by Jon Acuff.
21. The Bone Bed (ua), by Patricia Cornwell.
20. Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart (hc), by J.D. Greear
19. Left Behind: The Kids #28 (pb), by Jerry B. Jenkins, Tim LaHaye, & Chris Fabry
18. Left Behind: The Kids #27 (pb), by Jerry B. Jenkins, Tim LaHaye, & Chris Fabry
17. Left Behind: The Kids #26 (pb), by Jerry B. Jenkins, Tim LaHaye, & Chris Fabry
16. Time Travelers Strictly Cash (aa), by Spider Robinson
15. The Devil's Company (ua), by David Liss
14. Deadly Straits (ua), by R.E. McDermott
13. Doctor Who: Paradise Towers (ua), by Stephen Wyatt
12. DC Universe Secret Origins (gn), by various writers and artists
11. The Gods of Mars (ua), by Edgar Rice Burroughs
10. Craving Grace (hc), by Lisa Velthouse
9. The Sign of Four (ua), by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
8. DC Dead (ua), by Stuart Woods
7. A Study in Scarlet (ua), by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
6. The Hunger Games (ua), by Suzanne Collins
5. Take Three (ua), by Karen Kingsbury
4. Mary Through The Centuries (hc), by Jaroslav Pelikan
3. Roil (ua), by Trent Jamieson
2. The Devil You Know (ua), by Mike Carey
1. Ender's Shadow Ultimate Collection (gn), by Mike Carey