Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Batman, Vol. 6: Graveyard Shift by Scott Snyder, Various

Batman, Vol. 6: Graveyard ShiftBatman, Vol. 6: Graveyard Shift by Scott Snyder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've been so busy it's taken me almost a month to write a review for this. My review is based on my spotty memory. Four stars because this is a good collection of stories that reads like an anthology. It's hard to keep up with the chronology because they kind of jump around. Bats has a new sidekick, but he's trying to get rid of her (you know how Bats is about putting people in danger), especially in light of what happened to his last Robin in the recent past :( Lots of good action and plenty of Batman dealing with the tough emotional landmine he's fighting his way out of.

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Batman, Vol. 2: The City of Owls by Scott Snyder, Various

Batman, Vol. 2: The City of OwlsBatman, Vol. 2: The City of Owls by Scott Snyder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Owl/Talon storyline continues to be crazy. Wow, there are not too many enemies that can give Batman a run for his money, but the Owls definitely can. Continually, I think Gotham can't be more of a deep pit, a literal hellmouth. But the more I read Batman, the worse it gets.

The action scenes were awesome, and the whole Owl story is deeply creepy. The point of view of Alfred's father gives an interesting look into the past of Gotham and the Wayne family. I think that there are some repeat stories with this and later volumes in the Scott Snyder run of Batman. It didn't bother me though.

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Lazarus, Vol.3 by Greg Rucka

Lazarus, Vol. 3: ConclaveLazarus, Vol. 3: Conclave by Greg Rucka
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This series is back on track after the second volume, which I believe was a misfire. It wasn't focused enough on Forever, who clearly is the heart of this series. I appreciated the storyline of all the Lazari meeting together for their conclave. Interesting contrasting their personalities with Forever's. Forever continues to have a vulnerability to her nature, despite her lethality. She really does want to be loved and cherished by her family, but it's an impossible goal. I was glad that she did choose to do the right thing (in my mind, even though it was disobeying orders). The fight between her and her friend who is another Lazarus, was incredible. You tend to think a fight like that wouldn't play well with a graphic novel, but it was done very well, with excellent play by plays. I'm really glad that I liked this so much more than Volume 3.

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Batman: Harley and Ivy by Paul Dini, Judd Winick, Bruce Timm (Illustrator), Joe Chiodo (Illustrator)

Batman: Harley & IvyBatman: Harley & Ivy by Paul Dini
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this. The artwork was divine, and it shows a playful but credible Harley that's missing from the newest solo run. This volume depicts the friendship between Ivy and Harley which is mostly on Harley's side. Ivy seems to be mostly exasperated with Harley. This also shows the toxic romantic relationship that Harley has with the Joker. I can be honest and say I despise the Joker. I'm okay with him being shown as a bad boyfriend in this, because he is a terrible boyfriend, and I do believe that he brings out the worst in Harley. I much prefer her as her own woman. It bears mentioning that her original creators were Paul Dini and Bruce Timm for the Batman Adventures show in the 90s, and they understand her best. I liked Ivy in this as well. She's depicted as the gorgeous and dangerous femme fatale she is. But also as a friend by necessity with Harley, barely tolerating her, but deep down I think she does like Harley. There is a cameo by the Bat and Co., which I'm a-ok with it. I am so thrilled that my library had this. I loved every minute of reading it! It makes me want to paint Harley and Ivy again!

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Legenderry: A Steampunk Adventure by Bill Willingham

Legenderry: A Steampunk AdventureLegenderry: A Steampunk Adventure by Bill Willingham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I will always compare everything Bill Willingham does to Fables, fair or unfair. And it seems to pale in comparison. I normally love when modern writers borrow characters from the classics, and Willingham has done this with characters from the pulp action, fantasy and adventure of the 19th and Early 20th century and integrated them into the Steampunk framework of his imagination. I was more inspired by the artwork than the actual story. As far as the narrative itself, it was vaguely interesting. I think the cameos were the most fascinating aspect. If my library gets the next volume, I would read it.

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Death of Wolverine by Charles Soule

Death of WolverineDeath of Wolverine by Charles Soule
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this was a very good graphic novel. I've become a huge fan of Wolverine. I guess my buddy has rubbed off on me, because he's the biggest Wolverine fan on earth. This has everything you might like about the character. You see inside his soul and you see how sucky his life is in the sense that he has to fight, it's not an option.

Wolverine has lost his healing factor, and that is a very bad thing for a person who has to fight as often and as hard as he does. Death is literally right around the corner for him. To think that just retracting his claws could lead to endocarditis, and his skeleton harbors radiation from his time at Nagasaki.

Wolverine is on the search for who called out the hit on him and who wants him dead (well, who does the most, anyway). He ends up going full circle to his own creation as a warrior of adamantium, and that leads to the event forecasted in this title. The ending is as dramatic as one could hope for with a Wolverine title. This is the best one I've read so far, but I have a lot more Wolverine to read before I'm done.

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A Yuletide SeductionA Yuletide Seduction by Carole Mortimer
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I wasn't feeling this book very much at first, but I really liked the end of the book. It was very sweet, and I'm always a sucker for a hero who's stone cold crazy about the heroine. There was a real 'aww' moment at the end. I think the plot was rather convoluted, but that's what makes Harlequin Presents books so addictive.

Jane is a caterer and a chef, and being a foodie, I'm all for that. I could have used more food descriptions. Gabe is a big businessman who makes his money buying up ailing corporations. Jane has something personal against him because of what happened between his wife and her husband. He made her life difficult in the aftermath and contributed to an already painful situation. But that doesn't stop her from being attracted to Gabe and falling in love with her.

One aspect of this Harlequin Presents that was different is that Gabe is actually a nice guy. He only appears ruthless in Jane's mind. He doesn't read that way in the story.

There is no big chemistry and tension in this book. It's more of a slow build and a sweet romance. But that's not a bad thing. I gave it an extra half star because the ending was so lovely.

Overall rating: 3.5/5.0 stars.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Heart of the Season by Julianna Douglas

Heart of the SeasonHeart of the Season by Julianna Douglas
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

"Heart of the Season" is the second book in the Loving Hearts series by a Goodreads friend of mine, full disclosure. I can honestly say that I enjoyed this novella outside of being friends with the author. I can't say what I loved more, the hero, Zachary, an Afghanistan US Marine war vet or his dog, Akilah. Well honestly, their relationship is at the heart of this story. Julianna is clearly an animal lover, and she understands the power of the human animal bond. How having a pet can add so much to one's life and save one both physically and emotionally. That foundation of this story is a very strong one, and built on top of it is a believable romance. While this has somewhat of a happy for now feel, I do believe in the love between Zach and Jeannie. I think they are soulmates and they have a strong bond that is friendship, mutual respect, and a meeting of minds and hearts, on top of sexual attraction.

I love that Zachary is truly a very gentle man. While he's a soldier and a warrior, he's also a sensitive person. And it's okay for men to be sensitive. It's nice to be able to see that vulnerability in a hero without it seeming to compromise his masculinity. I could appreciate Jeannie even more that she respected the gentle man that Zach was. I loved how the narrative shows why Zach is the man he is due to his being raised by his grandmother, a sweet, caring woman who loved him deeply and raised him with strong values. Seeing male characters who have been raised by strong female figures depicted in a positive way doesn't get old.

I won't even lie. This book made me cry several times. I am so in love with both Akilah and Zach, and their deep friendship. I do have a weakness for beta heroes and Zach with his scars and his disability definitely snuck into my heart from practically the first page of my Kindle as I read it. Akilah is a precious furry baby. I wanted to give her a hug. The thought of what those poor dogs go through on the frontlines is heartbreaking.I can definitely see why the soldiers fall in love with them and want to bring them home. A relationship forged under those conditions will stand the test of time.

I haven't talked much about Jeannie. In a work, she was a great heroine. She's a principled, warm, caring young woman who is putting her principles to action. Going to work in an animal shelter in Afghanistan is not for the faint of heart, especially for a young woman who comes from a privileged environment. I like that she is a deep person and has the ability to look deep. Her love for animals and people is very obvious and made me loved her more.

This book even has some good action scenes on the frontline. They were well-written and it's obvious that Julianna did her research. Kudos to her for bringing a situation to light where people and animals could use some help.

While I personally am not a big fan of happy for now endings, I think this one works pretty well. I hope that we get to see more of Zach and Jeannie's developing relationship, and definitely more of Akilah.

Overall rating: 4.5/5.0 stars.

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Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Dark Inheritance by Chris d'Lacey

A Dark Inheritance (Unicorne Files #1)A Dark Inheritance by Chris d'Lacey
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

This was an impulse checkout from the library. I've been doing audiobooks while I do stuff at home. Audiobooks allow me to get some reading in and have time for completing tasks that would seem very lonely or boring if I wasn't reading as I did them. The story sounded interesting on the blurb. This was pretty good. An interesting idea, although after finishing the book, I don't feel that much more informed about the situation. It ends with a lot of questions unresolved. It's an interesting mix of science fiction and supernatural elements.

Michael's father disappeared a few years ago, and the family has been left to deal with the upheaval his disappearance caused. When Michael saves a dog from falling or leaping off a cliff, he becomes a local celebrity. The manner in which he did it, using an previously unawoken ability to bend and manipulate time and reality, brings him to the attention of a secret group called Unicorne, which seems to know more about his father's disappearance than anyone else. Michael is unwillingly drafted by this organization to solve the question of why that dog was on the cliff and how it's related to a strange Goth girl at school

I liked the creative nature of this story more than the execution. I don't care much for stories where you don't get any answers to the important questions, especially when it's done that way to keep the reader reading. I would have liked to have gotten more breadcrumbs about Michael's father, and I want to know what's going on with Amadeus Klimt.

I do think this had some thrilling and creepy moments and that was fun. The reality of the situation was especially chilling in that human evil is always disturbing to me.

Some parts were cute. I loved the camaraderie between Michael and his younger sister. I always appreciate a strong sibling bond in a book since I'm close to my sister. I think Michael's relationship with Freya had some lost opportunities. With the bombshell dropped at the end of this book, I'm guessing that will be explored further in the next book.

Let's hope my library gets the next volume.

Overall rating: 3.5/5.0 stars.

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Harley Quinn Vol. 2: Power Outage by Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, Chad Hardin (Illustrations)

Harley Quinn Vol. 2: Power Outage (The New 52)Harley Quinn Vol. 2: Power Outage by Amanda Conner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm coming to the realization that I do like the Suicide Squad incarnation of Harley more than the one in her solo outing in this run. I think that this solo series is geared towards readers who want a more goofy version of Quinn. I can deal with the fact that she's not really a hero, more appropriately classed as a villain, but her mayhem in this series is played for laughs and that's hard to get behind for me.

Many times, the story was hard to follow and downright incomprehensible. I did like the team-up with an amnesiac Power Girl, for the most part, except for a few too many crass jokes. I think that the saving grace for this volume was the incredible artwork. I was inspired to do yet another drawing of Harley Quinn. What can I say, her aesthetic really appeals to me. I will probably keep reading these, even though they aren't my favorite. At least to fill the gap between Suicide Squad volumes.

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