Saturday, May 30, 2015

This Week in Reading

Rumours of Glory (hc), by Bruce Cockburn, pages 268 – 330.
Lois Lane: Fallout (hc), by Gwenda Bond, COMPLETED. Reviewed here.
Wish You Were Here (ua), by Rita Mae Brown & Sneakie Pie Brown, COMPLETED. Reviewed here.
Flesh & Blood (ua), by Patricia Cornwell, pages 1 - 106.

Aquaman 17 – 19, 21 – 25
Challengers of the Fantastic
Convergence Action Comics 2
Convergence Detective Comics 2
Convergence Justice Society of America 2
Convergence Plastic Man & the Freedom Fighters 2
Convergence Shazam 2
Convergence World’s Finest 2
Hawkworld, Book 2
Impossible Man Summer Vacation Spectacular
Ultraman 1 – 3
Walking Dead 115 – 120
Wonder Woman 23.2, 24 – 29

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Review of Wish You Were Here

Book #20: Wish You Were Here, by Rita Mae Brown and Sneakie Pie Brown. Unabridged audio.

When I first decided to start reading this series, it was about 10 books old, and the first four were not available on audio. Every year or so, I check and no, these older novels have never showed up at my public library in audio form. Until now. As of a few months ago, three of the four early novels are now available, so I scooped up the first one and gave it a listen.

I have read more than twenty books in this series, so reading the first one was an off experiences. Characters were in different places (sometimes literally) and in different relationships. Sheriff Shaw and Officer Cooper are new in their positions, for example, as this book starts. So it was interesting to see how over the course of the series, they have become integrated into the main cast of Crozet locals.

The plot involved shipping things through the mail, as well as incriminating postcards, so Harry’s job at the Post Office was custom-made for this, her first murder mystery. I give Brown credit for finding mail-related crimes for the first dozen or so books in the series, but changing Harry’s job circumstances gives her the freedom to stumble into a larger range of crimes. In retrospect, that was a wise authorial choice.

And the key aspect of the series was present right here from the start, and that is how Harry’s animals think and act. They can communicate to each other, and we get their dialogue, although the dumb humans jut hear barking and hissing. The animals “insights” about human nature and behavior add levity to the otherwise tense and suspenseful mysteries.

This novel was obviously not written as a prequel, but it helped me to think of it that way, having so many future books from the series. I enjoyed this book, and am looking forward to picking up more of these early novels.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Review of Lois Lane: Fallout

Book #19: Lois Lane: Fallout, by Gwenda Bond. Hardcover.

I read a Marvel YA novel a few years ago, so it seemed only fair to read this new DC-themed young adult novel, as well. I am not a genre-snob, and have enjoyed a wide range of YA novels over the years.

In this one, Army brat Lois Lane has been encouraged by her parents to try to make it work at this new school. Just this one time, they don’t want their daughter to rock the boat. But from her very first day at Metropolis High, Lois does everything EXCEPT keep a low profile.  She makes a few acquaintances at the new school, but her only true friend is the boy she’s only ever chatted with online, the mysterious SmallvilleGuy.

The plot of the novel is a bit “out there,” as it involves a immersive gaming technology that can control people’s minds, not just in the game but also when they disconnect. But I should not hold the plot of this novel to a different standard than I’d hold a comic book, so I was able to quickly buy into the conceit of the story. Any time technology plays a major role in a modern story, there are always questions about how “realistic” or “reasonable” the tech is, and Bond does a reasonable job grounding the more outlandish aspects of the story.

It is very easy to see how this teenage reporter can turn into the intrepid and tough journalist that she has been for more than half a century in the comics and movies. Most of the supporting characters in the novel are original, but the role played by Perry White (and of course Lois’ mysterious farmboy friend) placed the novel in enough of the comic book world to satisfy this old-time comic book reader.

This book is a fun read. It moves fast, and tells a light yet entertaining tale.

Source: public library

Friday, May 22, 2015

This Week in Reading

Rumours of Glory (hc), by Bruce Cockburn, pages 164 - 268.
Lois Lane: Fallout (hc), by Gwenda Bond, pages 98 – 232.
Raging Heat (ua), by “Richard Castle,” COMPLETED. Reviewed here.
Wish You Were Here (ua), by Rita Mae Brown & Sneakie Pie Brown, pages 1 – 44.

A-Team 2
Beep Beep the Road Runner 27
Convergence Adventures of Superman 2
Convergence Justice League of America 2
Convergence New Teen Titans 2
Convergence Swamp Thing 2
Convergence Wonder Woman 2
Doctor Strangefate 1
Flash 175
I, Vampire 0, 13 – 19
Justice Machine, featuring the Elementals 1 – 4
Sleepwalker 4
Suicide Squad 14 – 19
X-Men 172

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Review of Raging Heat

Book #18: Raging Heat, by “Richard Castle.” Unabridged audio.   

I have read all five prior Nicky Heat novels, and have reviewed the most recent ones here and here. I have enjoyed them all to varying degrees, and think that the integration of the books into the TV show is an impressive feat.

In this novel, a man falls from a great height, and journalist Jamieson Rook takes the opportunity to spin some of his wilder conspiracy theories. Evidence seems to point to the involvement of a rising-star politician, but Nicki and her team of detectives debate about how strong that evidence is. The team has a deadline to meet, as Hurricane Sandy is bearing down on New York. The story ends up involving political contributions, unofficial paramilitary squads, an identity theft ring, and human trafficking.

There is more character development in these novels that is present in many detective series. Events here parallel (although not exactly) events on the show, including the death of a long-term character, a crossroads in the Heat/Rook relationship, and doubts about whether Heat should accept a promotion. There is also a large amount of tension between the characters I this novel, between Heat and Rook, as well as between Heat and her team of detectives. That is a nice touch, and that tension was well-earned.

The only part of the novel that put me off was setting the action during Hurricane Sandy. I love the integration of events on the television show into the novels, but integrating events from the real world seemed like a weird choice. I can’t put my finger on why I didn’t like that, but … I just didn’t like that.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Review of I, Vampire volume 2

New 52 Review:  Rise of the Vampires, paperback collection, featuring I, Vampire 7-12, and Justice League Dark 7 & 8. Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov & Peter Milligan. Art by Andrea Sorrentino & Daniel Sampere.

I enjoyed the first trade of I, Vampire very much (reviewed here, along with the first trade of Justice League Dark). The first half of this collection is the “Rise of the Vampires” storyline that crosses over through both titles.  The team-up works well, as Madame Xanadu, John Constantine and Deadman seem to be natural compatriots for Andrew Bennett, Mary Queen of Blood, and their army of vampires. One of the strengths of the New 52 initiative was the strength of their “Dark” line, which also included Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E., Demon Knights, and Resurrection Man.

Cain, the father of all vampires, has killed the sympathetic Andrew Bennett. But that does not stick, and Andrew manages to return to life, changed. The specifics of that change are unknown, making those around Bennett nervous. He announces that he is Cain's opposite, meant to build and not destroy. Andrew and Mary reunite in an embrace, as he will lead the vampires with her. The vampires are reformed again with a thought, and they swarm Cain while Andrew beheads the immortal evil. After undoing the slaughter and erasing memories, the vampire couple walks away with their docile vampire army, leaving up in the air the question of Bennett’s evil.

The last four issues of the collection deal with Bennett’s struggle to control the entire vampire population of North America, without allowing them to decimate the entire human population. He comes up with a plan to allow them to feed as they wish, if they can beat him in a fight. One one vampire accepts the challenge – Mary. And they fight for the right to control the army. And the Van Helsings get involved. As does a team from Stormwatch. Because comics.

Fialkov continues to do a terrific job humanizing Andrew Bennett, and in these stories, he does the same for Mary. The tragedy of their centuries-old relationship is clear whenever the characters interact.

The crossover with Justice League Dark may well have been an attempt to bring readers to I, Vampire. At this time, Justice League Dark was selling about twice as many copies per issue as we I, Vampire. Unfortunately, this did not help save the I, Vampire title, which was canceled after issue 19.