Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Review of Scorpia Rising

Book #23. Scorpia Rising, by Anthony Horowitz. Unabridged audio.
I have read all of the prior Alex Ryder novels, and have found them among the more serious Young Adult novels I’ve read. The concept of “teen James Bond” could go wrong in a lot of silly ways, but this series has always taken seriously the effects that this situation will have on both the teen and on those around them.

As the novel opens, Alex Ryder is out of the spy game, supposedly for good. He and his female caretaker, Jack, have moved to London, and Alex is back in school. The leaders of MI6 have pledged to never use Alex again on a mission, recognizing how lucky they have been that his involvement has not become publicly known. But an attack at Alex’s school and the interception of some troubling chatter leads MI6 to put him back in the field, for what they promise is one last mission.

A teenaged enemy from a prior book, Julius, escapes his secret prison. Having had his features surgically altered to become a virtual twin of Alex makes him the perfect pawn for the evil organization Scorpia to use. The novel is exciting, and Alex also manages to have plenty of character moments, especially with his female caretaker Jack Starbright. As the novel ends, it appears that Alex’s career as a spy is actually, truly over. We also learn that MI-6 is not as virtuous in dealing with Alex as we may have thought at this point in the series. This is a level of nuance and Realpolitik that is unusual for a novel featuring a teen protagonist.

There is one more book set in this world, but from what I can tell Alex is not the lead character. It may well be a prequel involving Alex’s spy father, and the man who came to be Alex’s greatest nemesis.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

This Week in Reading

Scorpia Rising, by Anthony Horowitz, pages 92 – 210
Dragon Token, by Melanie Rawn, pages 48 – 98.
Kingdom Come, by Elliot S. Maggin, pages 1 – 29.

Common Grounds 1 – 6
Invisible Republic 1 – 5
Martian Manhunter Annual 1
Space Action 1 – 3
Trekker omnibus, pages 296 –  324 (*)
Wonder Woman 1

 (*) covering the story “Trial by Fire.” Ruth and Darrin Sutherland talked about this story in detail on episode 18 of the excellent podcast Trekker Talk.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Podcast Guest Appearances

Over the last few weeks, I was able to appear as a guest on a couple of terrific podcasts, hosted by a couple of terrific podcasters. There are a few more to be recorded and released in the near future, but here are two that recently came out.

I appeared recently for the 5th (and probably final) time on Ryan Daly's excellent Secret Origins podcast. I joined him to talk about one of my favorite obscure characters, ManBat! That conversation occurs in the first section of episode 39 of that show.

I was also fortunate enough to join Paul the Producer Spataro on episode 241 of the excellent Back to the Bins podcast, on the equally excellent Two True Freaks podcast network. He and I talked about Issue 17 of the DC Comics run of Kurt Busiek's excellent Astro City, as well as a Hulk story from an early issue of Tales to Astonish. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

This Week in Reading

Scorpia Rising, by Anthony Horowitz, pages 1 – 92.
Dragon Token, by Melanie Rawn, pages 1 – 48.

Amalgam Books: Assassins, Bruce Wayne Agent of SHIELD, Bullets & Bracelets, The Exciting X-Patrol, JLX, JLX Unleashed, Magneto & the Magnetic Men
Constantine the Hellblazer 13
DC Comics Bombshells 14
Meanwhile 3 & 4
Nomad 15
Power Man 27, 35, 58, 61 & 62
Psyba-Rats 2

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Review of The Dusenbury Curse

Book #22.Crime Cats: The Dusenbury Curse, by Wolfgang Parker. Paperback.

This is the second book in a series, and I confess that I have not read the first. I picked up a flyer for this series when I attended a local independent and small-press comic convention a few months back. And this is not a comic book, but I have no problem reading YA fiction. And I like cats, and mysteries featuring cats. So here we are.

Jonas Shurmann has learned the secret of communicating with cats, and along with his feline partners, CatBob and Neil Higgins, has developed a reputation as a detective. So when a hooded figure and a 100-year-old phantom cat appear in the neighborhood, they are just the team to solve the mystery. And they discover that a century-old curse has been placed on one of their friends, Orville.

There is a bit of a “Scooby Doo” aspect to the mystery, but the conclusion is satisfying. And we end with a nice lesson involving forgiveness, healing, and friendship.

While the action is occurring, the author includes a few cat-care hints. In this one, the topic of dealing with a cat urinating in the house (“a pee-pee cat”) is addressed, activity which is also worked into the story.

Note: The author donates a portion of the profits from every new copy of Crime Cats sold to a local cat-based charity, The Crime Cats Relief Fund.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Books And A Beat. 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 1 of Dragon Token, the second novel in the "Dragon Star" trilogy by Melanie Rawn.

" A low rumble vibrated through Azhdeen's body as he was caught in Pol's grief; he unfolded one wing and cloaked it protectively around his human. Pol huddled against the dragon's shoulder, too stricken even to weep."

Saturday, June 11, 2016

This Week in Reading

Crime Cats: The Dusenbury Curse, by Wolfgang Parker, COMPLETED.  
The Name of God is Mercy, by Pope Francis, COMPLETED. Review here.

Cat-Man Comics 1 & 2
Convergence: Batgirl 2, Blue Beetle 2, Infinity Inc 2, & JLI 2
Freex 2
Reign in Hell 1 – 8
She-Hulk: Cosmic Collision
Wonder Woman Rebirth