Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April reading list

11. Doing Hard Time (ua), by Stuart Woods
12. Aquaman: The Others (gn), by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis, and Joe Prado

13. The Guild of the Cowry Catchers: Book 5 (ua), by Abigail Hilton
14. Doom's Day, Book #1: Rampage (pb), by Danny Fingeroth and Eric Fein

 Earlier in the year:

10. Star Wars: Scoundrels (ua), by Timothy Zahn
  9. Shadow Ops: Control Point (ua), by Myke Cole
  8. Little Black Sheep (Nook), by Ashley Cleveland
  7. The Last Dragonslayer (ua), by Jasper Fforde
 6. Before Watchmen: Comedian & Rorschach, by Brian Azzarello, J.G. Jones, and Le Bermejo
 5. Inferno Revealed (hc), by Deborah Parker and Mark Parker
 4. The Gearheart (ua), by Alex White
 3. The Great Fables Crossover (gn), by Bill Willingham, et. al.
 2. Silent Partner (pb), by Terrence King
 1. His Last Bow (ua), by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Review of Doom's Day: Rampage

Book #14. Doom's Day, Book One: Rampage, by Danny Fingeroth & Eric Fein. Paperback.

This is the first part of trilogy of team-up books. This one features Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk, facing off against Hydra and A.I.M. agents. And Doctor Doom, monarch of Latveria, is pulling many strings in the background.

Bruce Banner and his wife Betty are kidnapped by a renegade secret agent named Hildebrandt, who is plotting to create an army of Hulk clones. When his first batch of proto-Hulk's are loosed upon New York City,Spider-Man swings to the city's. But his old friend Flash Thompson is one of the poor fellas who has been turned into a rampaging Hulk. But the clones are just the beginning of the problem, as Spidey and the Hulk are drawn into a maze of intrigue involving Hildebrandt, double agents and Dr. Doom.

I personally would have preferred more Doctor Doom in the story -- but I always want more Doctor Doom. This first book in the series has more Hydra and A.I.M. and S.A.F.E. than I needed, but all these shadowy agencies added depth to the overall story. The inclusion of the Felicia Hardy, (the Black Cat) was a great addition to the action. She is an interesting character who has played major roles in both Peter Parker's and Spider-Man's lives, as well as that of his old buddy Flash Thompson. She served as the bridge for many of the otherwise disparate aspects of the story.

Comic book novels vary greatly in quality, although I've generally found the Marvel ones to be better than the DC ones - I reviewed a She-Hulk novel last year. Fingeroth is a veteran comic writer, and tells this story in a very solid manner, taking advantage of the additional narrative canvas that a novel offers. Fein's chapter-opening illustrations help set the scenes, and reminds us of the comic book origins of the characters.

Source: From my friend Kirk,  from WTAP-TV, Parkersburg, WV

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Review of Guild of the Cowry Catchers, book 5

Book #13.The Guild of the Cowry Catchers: Book 5, by Abigail Hilton. Unabridged audio.

This is the last book in the Cowry Catcher series, and brings the series to a satisfying conclusion. My reviews of books 3 & 4 are here, and here.

The adventures of Gerard and Silveo continue, and in this book they have teamed with Gwain, whose book has sparked rebellions. Now, they seek freedom for the fauns of Maijha Minor from the tyranny of the wyverns.They have lit the sparks of revolution, and now they have to live with the consequences.

However, things are not as they seem when they arrive on the island. Priestess Morchella is pulling strings, and the fauns may want their own brand of revenge. Gerard lost everything last time he stepped onto Maijha Minor. If he’s not careful, the same could happen again.

Hilton does a good job bringing the series to an end, and the resolutions make sense for the world and for the characters. The way that Silveo's story ends (or maybe it doesn't) is strange, but given some of the other strange things in this world, that is nothing to be too worried about.

Again, Hilton dos a fine job narrating and producing the audio episodes, and the vast majority of the full cast of voice actors do excellent jobs.

Source: The Guild of the Cowry Catchers website.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Review of Aquaman: The Others

Book #12. Aquaman, volume 2: The Others, hardcover graphic novel, collecting issues 7-13. Written by Geoff Johns, with Art by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Rod Reis. 

Tom Curry met and fell in love with an Atlantean queen. She could not stay with him on the surface world, and she had to leave Tom. But she left him with a son, Arthur. As the youngster  grew, Adam demonstrated enhanced powers, and a telepathic communicate with sea life. Tom contacted a scientist, Dr. Stephen Shin, to help him with Arthur, and Dr. Shin helped train the young Aquaman.

But Shin’s interest in Atlantis brought him to the attention of Black Manta, who attacked Arthur, and Tom suffered a heart attack as a result. He died a few days later, and in revenge, Arthur killed Black Manta’s father. And in these issues, the cycle of revenge continues, as Black Manta comes after Aquaman in the present day.

In this arc, we learn that in his early days as a hero, Aquaman traveled with a group called The Others. Their goal was to protect the six most powerful Atlantean artifacts. But as Black Manta has been gathering these artifacts, The Others join forces again to stop his power-grab.

Geoff Johns builds on the story that he began telling in volume 1, reviewed here. Aquaman is a legitimate hero here, and he and his wife Mera constitute DC Comics’s #1 power couple. But in this arc, his wife is in the same position that we as readers are, learning things about Aquaman’s past (and past connections) that we never had a clue of before.

The art team of Reis, Prado, and Reis is again strong. Their work here earned them a “promotion” to the higher-profile Justice League book. Along with Johns’ strong plotting and scripting, this book continues to be one of the strongest books in the New 52.

FYI, DC Comics recently released the first issue of a new title related to this arc, Aquaman and the Others.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

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 Ch 9 of Doom's Day #1: Rampage, by Danny Fingeroth & Eric Fein.

"Three more wooden crates marked with Cyrrilic letters remained unopened. Doom ignored them. The time for art and leisure had passed. Now it was time for those who had been foolish enough to invade his beloved Latveria to pay a terrible price for their action."

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Podcasting updates

At the Book Guys Show, we have put out some very fun episodes recently, to celebrate our centennial of episodes!

Episode 99 was our "best of" episode, where we revisit some of our more famous guest interviews and quite a few of our previous book reviews. This is just a sampling of what you may have missed in episodes 001 to 098.

We threw ourselves a party for episode 100, and invited back some of our favorite guests for updates and new interviews. Guests included Seth Harwood, Lian Dolan, Tom Merritt, Scott Brick, and Pat Flewwelling. It was a blast!

I was not around for the recording of episode  101, but Paul and guest host Craig Damlo chatted with an Iraqi-American codenamed "Johnny Walker," about his new book, that chronicles how he risked everything to fight with the U.S. Navy SEALs in Iraq. His co-writer Jim DeFelice also appeared on the show.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Review of Doing Hard Time

Book #11. Doing Hard Time, by Stuart Woods. Unabridged audio.

I have read almost all of Woods' novels (including a review here. And here). There are occasionally unbelievable plot elements, but the novels tend to be fun adventurous romps, with well-drawn and consistent characters. And this novel lives up to all of those expectations.

This book is based on an amazingly unbelievable coincidence, which is when long-time antagonist Teddy Fay, in hiding in a small town, intercepts assassins going after Stone Barrington's son and his young friends. The fact that one of the characters points out the amazing coincidence does not lessen the fact of the coincidence.

That aside, the story pushes forwards the overall arcs of Stone, the movie production career of his son, Strategic Services, the Arrington, Dino, and Teddy Fay. And it does so in a fast-paced, entertaining way. The integrated world that Woods has created over the entire body of his fiction writing is an accomplishment, and lends a sense of verisimilitude to the action / suspense genre.

The death of the real-life Elaine worked its way into recent Woods novels, and they seem to be no longer tied to New York. Certainly, some of Stone's adventures in the past have been in London or LA, but I wonder if more of the future adventures (disclosure: I am a few novels behind in the series) will occur on the West Coast.

Source: public library

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Review of Detective Comics #27

Earlier in the year, I declared this a Year for Batman. This was in light of it being the 75th anniversary of his first appearance, in Detective Comics #27. That story was written and drawn by Bob Kane, and almost certainly Bill Finger.

My daughter Emily and I recently talked about this historical issue on an episode of Shortbox Showcase. Here is a brief discussion of the Caped Crusader's very first appearance.

In reading these old stories, it is always fun to see plot elements and characters who have "stuck" for all these years. And in the very first panel of the very first Batman story every published, we find Bruce Wayne chatting with his old friend, Commissioner Gordon. I love that this key supporting character is literally there from the very beginning.

Within the first few years of publication, Robin, the Joker, and Cat-Woman (first known as The Cat) had all appeared. The plot in this first story involves the deaths of leading industrialists, and revolves around a secret agreement the men had signed to divide the ownership of their enterprise. I liked the business angle -- in these days, the idea of "super-villains" had not quite been developed, so Batman and his crime-fighting allies spent most of their early adventures ... well, fighting actual crimes.

And the last panel reveal of Bruce Wayne as Bat-Man (with the hyphen, at that point) must have been a dramatic moment for a young person reading the magazine for the first time, back in 1939.

These are six action-packed pages, certainly dated in a number of ways and not terribly sophisticated, but certainly enjoyable. Not every new action character introduced in this era became a big hit, not by a long shot. But reading this first Bat-Man story, one can see how that this character had the makings of a long-term success.

Source: from the book Batman From The Thirties To The Seventies, which I own.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

March Reading List

10. Star Wars: Scoundrels (ua), by Timothy Zahn
  9. Shadow Ops: Control Point (ua), by Myke Cole
  8. Little Black Sheep (Nook), by Ashley Cleveland

Earlier in year:
 7. The Last Dragonslayer (ua), by Jasper Fforde
 6. Before Watchmen: Comedian & Rorschach, by Brian Azzarello, J.G. Jones, and Le Bermejo
 5. Inferno Revealed (hc), by Deborah Parker and Mark Parker
 4. The Gearheart (ua), by Alex White
 3. The Great Fables Crossover (gn), by Bill Willingham, et. al.
 2. Silent Partner (pb), by Terrence King
 1. His Last Bow (ua), by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle