Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Secret Avengers, Vol. 1: Reverie by Nick Spencer (writer)

Secret Avengers, Vol. 1: ReverieSecret Avengers, Vol. 1: Reverie by Nick Spencer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Words to describe this: interesting, confusing, complicated, obsfuscating. That's a good start. I agree that readers who have come to the Avengers from the movie might like this. It also has some gems for long-term readers, characters that you won't know who they are unless you have followed the comic book storylines. I think the biggest strength of this novel is that you get to visit with characters you may have become fond of in the movie and who might not have gotten as much screentime. The downside is the story is pretty confusing. I will pick up the next volume and see if I feel like I have a clue about what's going on better in that one.

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Resurrection Man, Vol. 2: A Matter of Death and Life by Dan Abnett , Andy Lanning, Jackson Guice (Illustrations)

Resurrection Man, Vol. 2: A Matter of Death and LifeResurrection Man, Vol. 2: A Matter of Death and Life by Dan Abnett
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

This volume piggy backs onto the second Suicide Squad volume Suicide Squad, Vol. 2: Basilisk Rising, which is kind of cool. I can see Mitch's side of things in this book, and the more I read about his powers, the more they intrigue me.

Mitch's origin is very strange and not quite what I thought. I'm glad that he is not like he used to be, because he used to be a real tool, and that's putting it lightly. There is tons of action in this book, and I could see it as a pretty cool tv show or movie adaptation, although they'd have to turn down the violence a tad.

The ending is one what gives you a 'huh' moment and makes you wonder what's going to happen next. And I see there's only two volumes. That's too bad!

Overall rating: 3.5/5.0 stars.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Wolverine: Origins Vol. 1: Born in Blood by Daniel Way, Steve Dillon (Artist)

Wolverine: Origins Vol. 1: Born in BloodWolverine: Origins Vol. 1: Born in Blood by Daniel Way
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I'm delving deep into Wolverine's origin stories and finding some dark places in his past. Wolverine has done plenty of his share of dirty deeds, and he has his share of regret. He wants to make things right. He created a killer for the US government, and realized that it wasn't too different from the forces that shaped him.

It was really dark seeing what Wolverine did in this part of his past, and the repercussions. I think that this tragic and dark past is part and parcel of what makes him the unique hero that he is, so I find that reading this saddens me, but it also makes me understand why the Wolverine of the present is so determined to fight for justice in his own way.

Not for the faint of the heart, but integral to the story of Wolverine. Some pretty cool cameos by others in the Marvel Universe.

Overall rating: 3.5/5.0 stars.

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Justice League of America, Vol. 1: World's Most Dangerous by Geoff Johns

Justice League of America, Vol. 1: World's Most DangerousJustice League of America, Vol. 1: World's Most Dangerous by Geoff Johns
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this was pretty good, once I got beyond the misconception that JL and JLA was the same. That Amanda Waller is a master schemer and manipulator. I feel that Steve Trevor is in a tough spot. I don't think he's completely against the Justice League (he still has feelings for Diana), but Waller is playing on his concern for Diana and his jealousy over her being involved with Superman, and the fact that Steve isn't a super and therefore couldn't work out with Diana in the long run.

The team that they put together is interesting. I hope my library continues to carry this so I can see where the story goes next. I actually liked Catwoman in this book, so I am convinced to try her New 52 series.

I was a bit confused on some aspects. It's hard with these action and character-packed stories to keep up with everyone. But overall, I felt the story was cohesive, and I liked how it continued the arc from Justice League, Vol. 4: The Grid and showed the JLA side (and dealt with some of my confusion over JL versus JLA).

I wasn't too excited about the first JL titles I read, but I am starting to like these graphic novels more and more.

I'd recommend this title.

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The Hawk and the Lamb (Harlequin Presents,  #1616)The Hawk and the Lamb by Susan Napier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked how the whole set up builds suspense, but it's in a lighter, humorous way. I'm a sucker for that spy vibe, so I enjoyed it. Elizabeth is clearly way out of her depth as a spy, but she's clearly good enough to keep the hero guessing. I agree with one of my friends that the description of the hero in a tight swimming briefs didn't sound that appealing to me, and he sounds kind of skeevy with the earring and the abundant chest hair. However, I felt the chemistry was well done, and it was nice touch the the heroine feared being too passionate because of her first and last lover making her feel bad that her libido was much stronger than his (he was older). I felt the way that Elizabeth wigged out near the near was kind of weird and melodramatic. It was tension the story really didn't need.

Not my favorite by this wonderful author, but still a four star read.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Suspect by Robert Crais

SuspectSuspect by Robert Crais
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a book that you need to read if you're an animal lover! I loved the whole aspect of the bond that formed between Scott and Maggie. They are both wounded warriors, grieving their lost love ones, and somewhat rejected because of their emotional/physical wounds. Maggie was so awesome, I felt my heart fill with love for this wonderful German Shepherd. I am a huge fan of this breed, and Crais presents their wonderful natures in the most truthful and vibrant way.

Crais fills in some interesting tidbits on the training of police dogs and their holders and what military dogs do. That aspect of Maggie in the frontlines with her handler just about tore my heart out. I cheer on military people who do that important and dangerous job, and it squeezes my heart as an animal lover how equally dangerous it is for their working dogs. Police dogs also serve a crucial role and they can face some very dangerous situations in the line of duty. Scott's boss reminded me of my dad who was a country boy who loved dogs. He had his down to earth manner and sense of connection to dogs that was almost spiritual.

Scott is a good character, but honestly, I needed more of his inner world. I feel that this was a function of this book being too short. I would have liked a longer, more expansive story that took place over a longer time period. While the bond between Scott and Maggie totally sells this book, I would have found it more believable had it taken place over a longer period of time. Such as it was, I loved it. Maggie is such a wonderful companion, and I liked that not only does she help Scott heal, he helps her as well. While I am a cat lady, I also love dogs, and this book made me long to bring home my very own German Shepherd Dog one day soon. Crais shows how important the human animal bond is in society and how therapeutic animals and people can be to each other. Sorry to go on my soapbox. I can't help it because this book really touches on this issue which is so dear to my heart.

The mystery part felt undeveloped, honestly. Crais is an excellent mystery writer, so I don't mean to put him down, but it was a bit simplistic compared to some of his other works. I was surprised at the culprits and the look Ta police corruption is sobering. The secondary characters add texture to the story, but some of their parts felt under-represented.

Man, I hate to put this book down in my review! I have so much love for the whole aspect of Maggie and Scott as partners, and I am truly in love with Maggie. She's up there with Einstein from Watchers for me, which is really saying something. This book has something so powerful to say about the love between people and their pets/animals that it earns a special place in my heart. And honestly, I still feel it deserves four stars despite some of my issues with its brevity affecting the execution of the overall storyline.

Definitely check this out. The audiobook is really good and the narrator is excellent.

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Animal Man, Volume 1: The Hunt by Jeff Lemire, Travel Foreman (Illustrator), John Paul Leon (illustrator), Steve Pugh (Illustrator)

Animal Man, Vol. 1: The HuntAnimal Man, Vol. 1: The Hunt by Jeff Lemire
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I picked this up because I've been reading Swamp Thing and the story seems to cross over--the war is between the Green and Red versus the Rot. Honestly, I didn't like the artwork at all. It made an already gruesome and disturbing story moreso. The drawings were so squiggly and unappealing, and the colors were too muted for my tastes. If the creators were going for a horror tale, they achieved their goal. I love animals, so I like the idea of Buddy (and his daughter) having a connection to the animal web of life, but I hated how the Rot distorts this.

I am on the fence about continuing this series. I think I prefer the Swamp Thing execution. I'm hoping that Buddy and his family will show on that side and I can get a different and in my mind better perception of the Animal Man concept.

Unfortunately, the artwork was such a turnoff, I had to give this one 2.5/5.0 stars.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Suicide Squad, Vol. 4: Discipline and Punish by Ales Kot, Patrick Zircher (Illustrations)

Suicide Squad, Vol. 4: Discipline and PunishSuicide Squad, Vol. 4: Discipline and Punish by Ales Kot
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This felt different from the last books, but then the writer is different. Still loving this series. Still lots of craziness, and violence. Not too gratuitous, thankfully. Some thoughtful stories, one with Deadshot as a young man who is driven by revenge, and another with Harley Quinn reflecting on her life. Both come to realize that they need the Suicide Squad to give them balance. For Harley, it keeps her off the edge of chaos, and for Deadshot, it's a challenge that means more than getting paid.

I am indifferent toward Cheetah as a member. She adds nothing to the team. The Unknown Soldier comes off as a bit of a Waller toady. The addition of Commissioner Gordon's serial killer son is intriguing. He's developed a fixation on Miss Waller.

As usual, you don't get all the story or all the answers. It makes me eager to read the next volume.

My favorites are still Harley Quinn and Deadshot, both conflicted characters who leave you feeling sympathetic, but also kind of guilty that you like them so much.

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Justice League Dark, Volume 3: The Death of Magic by Jeff Lemire

Justice League Dark, Vol. 3: The Death of MagicJustice League Dark, Vol. 3: The Death of Magic by Jeff Lemire
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A disappointing follow up to The Books of Magic. I didn't like the storyline much in this one. I felt the story built up to an exciting plateau, but to me, the conclusion wasn't that well done. I feel like that was a nod to Harry Potter, which is kind of fun. And all the magic creatures looking to young Andrew as their lost leader.

I kind of liked the "What If" when the team lands in the anti-magic kingdom, where their powers don't work. Even Constantine can't lie or dissemble. That was funny, since Constantine is the most honest and forthright you'll ever see him in his life. Kind of felt bad for Deadman and Madame Xanadu since being in the place was particularly bad on them both.

Yeah, I don't remember much else because it's been so long since I read this. Just that it wasn't as good as the last volume. I'll keep reading though.

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The Punisher, Volume 3 by Greg Rucka (Text), Mirko Colak (Illustrations), Marco Checchetto (Illustrations), Mico Suayan (Illustrations)

The Punisher, Vol. 3The Punisher, Vol. 3 by Greg Rucka
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the darkest volume, and that's saying something. Rachel Cole-Alves really has to count the cost of her mission to punish criminals. Castle doesn't take it easy on her. He treats her like the soldier she is. Lays it out on the line for her. The storyline building up from the first books culminates in a way that is very intense. I can't say anything more without spoiling it.

This is a riveting read. I love this series, even when it's hard to read.

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All Star Western, Vol. 4 by Jimmy Palmiotti All Star Western, Vol. 4: Gold Standard by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray (Goodreads Author), Moritat (Illustrations)

All Star Western, Vol. 4: Gold StandardAll Star Western, Vol. 4: Gold Standard by Jimmy Palmiotti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I like that this series keeps it interesting. Mixes up the stories. The tone varies with each volume. This one has an interesting mix of humor and twisted borderline horror. Hex teams up with crime fight from the future, Booster Gold. Booster Gold is ineffectual, let's be honest. He ends up being the sheriff for a town, a hapless one that is preyed on by a gang of sociopaths/psychopaths led by a voodoo/human sacrificing couple. Yeah, Hex and Booster Gold make quite an odd couple. Hex is a real rascal, but I like him more and more. I have to say, some of the drawings here of Hex were really quite ugly (poor guy). However, it doesn't serve as a hindrance in getting ladies. This one ends on a very interesting cliffhanger. I hope this isn't the last one in the volume!

There is a side story with an 18th century version of Stormwatch. That was kind of cool. I liked how they take on vampires and other creatures of the night. It would make a fun movie idea.

I wish I had written my review sooner. I forgot part of the story. I do remember liking it a lot.

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Batwoman, Volume 1: Hydrology by J.H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman

Batwoman, Vol. 1: HydrologyBatwoman, Vol. 1: Hydrology by J.H. Williams III
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have mixed feelings about this. It was different and really artistic, but I wasn't that enamored with the story and Kate as a main character. I'm not familiar with Batwoman, so this is a very new character for me. I think that people interested in GLBT characters will really appreciate it. It's a favorable profile of a strong, empowered lesbian woman. However, at the same time, Kate has some issues. She's got major survival guilt and an anger problem. She's dealing with her angst in some ways that aren't healthy.

I picked this up because I saw the La Llorona storyline. As a folklore enthusiast, I'm familiar with the Latin urban legend of a woman who comes back as a ghost and haunts and lures men/sometimes children to their death due to her need for vengeance on a lover leaving her and her subsequent drowning of her children and suicide by drowning. It was an interesting take on the legend. There is a twist at the end that sets up a continued story. I'm not sure right now if I will continue this. I'm not that in love with Kate as a lead character.

The artwork is interesting and visually arresting. The characters are drawn in a very distinctive way. I liked that about it. It's a dark story, so you have to be in the mood for it. Pretty good. We'll see if I get back to this series.

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The Justice League (New 52), Volume 4: The Grid by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis (Illustrations)

Justice League, Vol. 4: The GridJustice League, Vol. 4: The Grid by Geoff Johns
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The stuff gets real in this graphic novel! It was a bit hard to keep track of the story at times, with so many characters. But heck, it's the Justice League. I like that there is a fresh sort of look at the characters and the story. If you don't ship Wonder Woman and Superman, you won't be a happy camper. I'm more of a Wonder Woman/Batman girl (a girl can hope), but it makes sense the way they write it here. There is a crazy twist at the end that I really liked, although I was kind of like, "Oh, Crud!" I sincerely hope my library gets the next volume.

I really liked this one. So four stars.

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Justice League: Rise and Fall by J.T. Krul (Goodreads Author), Fabrizio Fiorentino (Illustrator)

Justice League: Rise and Fall Justice League: Rise and Fall by J.T. Krul
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a riveting, emotional read. It's heartbreaking what Roy Harper (the first Speedy) goes through. I wish that things were different. That Roy didn't have to go through the grief of losing a child. Unfortunately, he goes on a downward spiral, and he's not alone. Oliver Queen, his mentor (and foster father) goes over the line, seeking vengeance instead of the justice his membership in the League represents.

This book had me feeling very uncomfortable. I have a problem with drug abuse, and it was hard to see Roy going down that road. I could understand the pain he was trying to kill with drugs, but I hated seeing him go down that road. His decision to pursue a more violent personage is iffy as well. The combination is a very scary proposition.

Ollie is a character I just love. I can't explain why. He's very flawed, but he's one of my favorites from the graphic novel series. I felt bad for him for what happens between him and Dinah, but I can understand her reasoning. The writing is complex here, you can feel all the angst and the complicated actions and feelings of characters. I think that this is really good writing for a graphic novel. The writer doesn't take it easy on you. You go through all the pain with the characters, feel their horror, and the impact of the poor and not-so poor decisions they make. You also flinch when you see how they treat each other, for valid or not reasons.

I don't want to revisit Roy's loss head on, but I'm interesting in continuing his story.

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Thursday, October 02, 2014

Salvation Run by Matthew Sturges (Goodreads Author), Bill Willingham (Goodreads Author), Sean Chen (Illustrator), Walden Wong (Illustrator)

Salvation RunSalvation Run by Matthew Sturges
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Salvation Run is definitely a book from the villain viewpoint. It's interesting to see that vantage point, if well done. I think this was mostly well done, although I never felt much sympathy for the villains (except for when they threw the mortally wounded guy to the ravenous predators, which was just wrong!). I really, really despise the Joker, and this story gave me much reason to dislike him. He is completely malevolent and utterly psychopathic. I can't find a single redeeming trait in him. Lex Luthor has got to have the biggest ego in the multiverse. He is completely narcissistic and a huge megalomaniac. It sucks that his massive intellect feeds into his grandiose view of himself and his overweening self-confidence. I think I might have liked this more if their roles weren't the biggest. I could see some of the less objectionable villains as more antiheroes but not so much these two.

It was an interesting idea with good execution. I don't care as much for this as the Suicide Squad, although they are also quite villainous in some ways. Although Harley Quinn started out as an acolyte of the Joker, I quite like her. I'm glad she's moved on from the Joker. At any rate, this was kind of fun to see the various villains from the DC Comics universe. And there were some interesting surprises and quite a commentary on human nature and the way that people react to crises, in mostly the worst ways.

I've rate this at about 3.5/5.0 stars.

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Batman: Arkham Unhinged, Vol. 4 by Karen Traviss (Goodreads Author), Derek Fridolfs, Various (Illustrations)

Batman: Arkham Unhinged, Vol. 4Batman: Arkham Unhinged, Vol. 4 by Karen Traviss
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

I had no idea this was the fourth book in the series. I grabbed it off the shelf, thinking it was the follow up to Batman: Arkham City. It does seems like it does pick up soon after that book ended.

Overall, I was bored with this graphic novel. Not very much happened. It was more of a mystery/police procedural, which isn't bad in itself. However, there was no real excitement or build in the story. I found myself just trying to finish it.

For those who ship Batman and Catwoman, there were some interesting flirting bits. Bats is different with her. I don't know if indulgent is the right word. He seems more emotive than usual, at any rate.

My verdict is I didn't care that much for this book. It wasn't terrible, although I wasn't that fond of the way Bats is drawn. Just kind of middle of the road for me.

Overall rating: 2.5/5.0 stars

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Woman Woman: Down to Earth by Greg Rucka, Drew Johnson (Illustrator), Ray Snyder (Illustrator), Steve Rude (Illustrator), Stuart Immonen (Illustrator), Eduardo Risso (Illustrator), Eric Shanower (Goodreads Author) (Illustrator), Brian Stelfreeze (Illustrator)

Wonder Woman: Down to EarthWonder Woman: Down to Earth by Greg Rucka
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As much as I appreciate Greg Rucka's writing, I wasn't too fond of this graphic novel. Not an auspicious start to my Wonder Woman graphic novel reading career. I thought it was way too mired in politics. I hate politics. I don't see Wonder Woman as a woman of rhetoric, but a woman of actions which show the principles she holds dearly. This book made me almost like Wonder Woman less. It seemed as though she was cast in the role of politician/representative, and my trust factor seems to diminish greatly when I see someone in this role. She seemed to be trying to juggling both roles, as representative to her people and mouthpiece and fighter and protector for justice. Also, the artwork was dated. I think I am sensitive to that when I read graphic novels. I like the newer artwork and style. So when I read a book that is over ten years old, I almost have to brace myself that I won't be as attracted by the artwork.

It's hard to say much about the storyline, because I feel that this is part of a series and maybe I dropped in when things had already gotten started. As such, I didn't know the major players well, or what was going on. I don't know if it's worth tracking down the other parts of the series, honestly.

This could be an "It's not you, It's me" kind of scenario, seeing as how I am not a big fan of political storylines, and as mentioned, I prefer the newer graphic novels' art styles.

You might like this more than I did.

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