Monday, June 29, 2015

JSA, Vol. 4: Fair Play by Geoff Johns, Rags Morales (Illustrator), Stephen Sadowski (Illustrator)

JSA, Vol. 4: Fair PlayJSA, Vol. 4: Fair Play by Geoff Johns

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My first official JSA graphic novel. I admit I avoided these for a while because I thought they were all set in the early 20th century, and I am turned off by that dated 50s morality feel.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that this takes place in the modern period, where time has passed, and only the long-lived (or immortal) JSA members are still active and alive in the organization. 

I was not blown away by this, but since I liked it more than I expected, I gave it three stars. They have some interesting team members with cool powers. It's surprisingly multicultural, which is a bonus. They take on some intense missions, and are actually kidnapped into Roulette's modern day gladiatorial games, which are highly lethal, to say the least.  I liked the character's ingenuity and use of their strengths and team work to get out of those situation. Loved the Batman cameo (big surprise).

I liked some characters more than others.   I didn't care for the young fellow whose name I forgot. He was a petulant brat.

Not a title I'd reach for first, but I'm willing to read more.

View all my reviews

A Deal Before the Altar by Rachael Thomas

A Deal Before the AltarA Deal Before the Altar by Rachael Thomas

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm sad to say that this was a let down for me.  The blurb sounded really cool, since Marriage of Convenience books are my kryptonite.  And both of the characters are damaged souls (check).  Both have dysfunctional childhoods and parental failures in their background (makes for an interesting story and built in angst).  And both suffer from fear of emotional involvement (not my favorite, but I get it).  And yet, I couldn't get excited about this book.  I felt like I was thumbing through the pages and waiting for the spark. Even the love scenes were unexciting. Dare I say I was actually a bit bored?  I think that the ending bumped my rating up a little. It was sweet and dramatic in a way I like, and Georgina showed some chops. She's a heck of a woman.  I found her ability to play the game and be fearless in the face of other's negative opinions pretty impressive.  I found Santos less compelling.  I thought he was in a state of arrested development about his father's remarrying and having another child. I think Santos was lucky to have a woman like Georgina.  I think they loved each other, but I didn't feel much about it either way.

I would read more by this author, but I hope that she develops that ability to make her book sizzle and engender pathos in her reader.

Not bad enough for less than three stars, but too disaffecting for more than three.

View all my reviews

Friday, June 26, 2015

Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring Batman by Brian Azzarello, J.T. Krul (Goodreads Author), Jimmy Palmiotti, Peter Milligan, Eduardo Risso (Illustrator), Mikel Janin (Illustrator), George Pérez (Illustrator), Fernando Blanco (Illustrator) , Scott Koblish (Illustrator), John Dell (Illustrator), Joe Bennett (Illustrator)

Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring BatmanFlashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring Batman by Brian Azzarello

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is even darker than the Flash volume!  Batman isn't the Batman we know and love. He's a much more driven, more morally compromised version.  What would happen if a man's child was killed in front of him and he was powerless to prevent it.  The Joker is probably even more twisted, and you wouldn't believe me if I told you.  That's just the Batman story.

Then there's the story about the biggest jerk in the DC-Verse, Deathstroke, and his crusade to find his lost daughter.  I can't call him a hero, because he's not. He's ruthlessly selfish and murderous.  I feel bad for anyone who throws in with him. He's not a man I'd trust as far as I could throw him.  This is non-stop action, a world in which the seas have become a lawless place of pirates, and the Atlanteans kill humans with impunity.

The story about Dick Grayson and his family tells us how things might have gone if Bruce Wayne had not been there in his life after the death of his parents. Also shows a Europe that has been decimated by the Atlantean-Amazonean war, and where various DC-verse figures have become freedom fighters (even ones who were once villains).

My least favorite was Secret Seven. It was pretty gruesome and twisted, and while I see the point of it all in terms of the Flashpoint story arc, I didn't really appreciate the story at all.

I would still give this four stars because I thought it was pretty interesting, and frankly, nightmarish.

View all my reviews

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring The Flash by Sean Ryan, José Marzán Jr. (Illustrator), Sterling Gates (Goodreads Author), Adam Glass, Scott Kolins (Writer/Illustrator), Ig Guara (Illustrator), Oliver Nome (Illustrator), Rodney Buchemi (Illustrator) , Joel Gomez (Illustrator)

Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring The FlashFlashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring The Flash by Sean Ryan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I will confess I watched "The Flashpoint Paradox" Justice League movie prior to reading this, and let me tell you, I was blown away at how dark this story arc is.  This is like "What If?" on steroids.

The movie goes into some explanations I won't get into, and I tried to forget I knew that, because I haven't read The Flash, Vol. 2: The Road to Flashpoint yet, which I think is probably the backstory.  All I know is, I don't want this life for any of the DC characters I know and love.    One of the interesting things is seeing what this crazy world does to the various characters as you know them.  Villains end up on the other side.  Sometimes, they stay just as villainous. Sometimes, they are worse, unchecked in a world where the Justice League as we know it never existed or has fallen by the wayside.  Where Wonder Woman has become an autocrat who leads ruthless, murderous Amazons who delight in killing humans. 

This one isn't for the kiddos. Very violent and has some disturbing imagery.  Probably the most disturbing in the story about Gorilla Grodd, who has pretty much taken Africa and claimed it for his own, and it ain't pretty.  I couldn't look away.  I'm starting to wonder why AU seems to be so dark and dreary. Maybe so that the reader will repeat, "It's only a book. It's only a book. It's only a book," and wipe their foreheads.  While the first story is about Flash, this is really more like an anthology featuring different characters from the DC verse in the aftermath of Flashpoint.

Flash is a cool character. I like him more all the time.  Interesting that this is my first official solo Flash graphic novel. I'll be reading more.

View all my reviews

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

The Maltese Falcon The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sam Spade is a street-smart protagonist with a nose for solving crimes and an eye for the ladies, but nothing touches his heart of stone.  Not even the quest for a black statue of a falcon that is a priceless treasure, and the beautiful damsel in distress it brings into his life.

What starts as a simple surveillance job becomes a mystery that leads to some dead bodies, that the police are eager to pin on Spade.  Spade isn't the man to be played, and he shows his ruthless nature, and keen intelligence hiding under a deceptive facade.

I listened to this on audio, narrated by William Dufris. He does an excellent job and really seems to enjoy himself in the process.  Unlike some narrators, he manages a very good female voice that doesn't remind me of a man in drag.  He also makes each character sound distinctive, and the nature of those characters oozes out to the listener.

I personally found Spade to be a jerk. But he's not all bad. He is adept that saying what a woman wants to hear, and with casual endearments delivered in a silver tongue, but meaning none of it, but he can also be quite mean to the women in his life.  I wouldn't exactly call him a thug, but he has no problem using his physicality as an asset when it's necessary.  The fact that he's a good detective is very apparent.  And strangely enough, deep down there is a strange sense of honor that won't allow him to look the other way, even when he longs to.  He also seems to be motivated by a need for no one to think they can take advantage of him.  He's even willing to allow people to think the worst of him so long as he can keep his tough guy reputation.  You get the impression that San Francisco is his city, and he knows how to maneuver his way through its deep waters.  He is a true detective in the sense that nothing gets past him, and while he sometimes struggles to control his emotions, he never allows them to compromise his intellect. 

Bridget O'Shaugnessey is one of those heroines who seems helpless and sweet, but it's also apparent she is more than capable of taking care of herself, like butter wouldn't melt in her mouth.  The fact that she's deeply involved in this falcon affair is a big sign that she's no Pollyanna.  While part of you really wants to like her and fall into her honeytrap, the other part knows that she's not exactly what she seems.  I didn't blame Spade for being wary of her and not believing any word she says.

Gutman and Cairo are conveyed in such a way that it's impossible to think of them as caricatures.  Their descriptions are so distinctive, almost misleading. However, as I kept reading, I realized that their menace lurks under the surface. Wilbur is truly a scary character, a young psychopath capable of extreme violence and kept on a very short leash. While Wilbur is like a trigger, I'd rather know who my enemy is instead of being faced with an amiable man who is all smiles while he's plotting my demise, like Gutman. Or squishy dandy who seems like he'd jump if you shooed a fly.

I was a bit surprised at the raw content in this novel.  Plenty of swearing, although not the big swear words that slip so casually off the tongue nowadays in media. While the sexual elements are alluded to, there is no question that something is going on between the sheets, and that Spade has a certain reputation. 

Hammett's writing is terse and tends to be heavy on dialogue, using it as a tool to reveal crucial information about its character.  His imagery is clear and bold.  While some of his adjectives are a bit clunky, I really enjoyed the auditory stimulus of his descriptors.  He conveys Spade as a very physical man, but that is merely a smokescreen for his keen intelligence, and one of his best assets, the ability to cause his enemies to underestimate him.

I think that there is a lot to learn about writing detective fiction from this book.  Hammett makes it look easy, but it's not.   Less is more is a lot harder than it seems, and my favorite authors are those who get it right. I recommend listening to this.  It's very easy on the ears.

View all my reviews

Daredevil: The Devil's Hand by Andy Diggle, Roberto de la Torre

Daredevil: The Devil's HandDaredevil: The Devil's Hand by Andy Diggle

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Wow, this is the really real. To think that Daredevil agrees to lead the Hand.  Things must be pretty dire for Daredevil to get in bed with the enemy.  Well things are.  Hell's Kitchen is looking a lot like the real thing, and Murdock realizes that conventional methods of obtaining justice are doomed to fail.  He's willing to take extreme measures, but like Frank Sinatra, he's going to do it "My Way."  Beware of best laid plans, Matt.

This was a really good graphic novel.  It was very intense, and the artwork was fantastic.  The artist has managed to use color and shade to convey the grim world of Daredevil.  There are some scenes that feel very grand, with Daredevil, and the Hand bowing at his feet.  The action sequences are awesome and fluid.  I can't say enough about how much I liked the artwork.

The writing is equally strong.  I think that anything with ninjas and katana makes me heart sings, and I feel that the writer I think this is very near to being a five star book. The story had me on the edge of my seat, and while Daredevil can more than take care of himself, he's deep in the lion's den and his enemies are many and employ any tactics necessary to destroy him, those he loves, and seek to dominate and conquer by any means necessary.  The tension is off the charts, and I hope that my library has the next volume.

I think if I wasn't being so stingy with fives it would be.  It's darn near close.

Overall rating: 4.5/5.0 stars.

View all my reviews

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Free Agent by JC Nelson

Free Agent (Grimm Agency, #1)Free Agent by J.C. Nelson

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book.  I picked it up because I just plain love fairy tales, and it sounded interesting, with a heroine who is basically a debt slave to her Fairy Godfather.   I absolutely love urban fantasy, and it's great when you find one that hits on your happy buttons.  This book does it for me.

One thing I will say is the author has a weird/morbid sense of humor. He talks freely about feeding poodles to hellhounds and running over gnomes, and this might be a turnoff to some readers.  Once I got used to that, it didn't bother me as much.  I think the worldbuilding was good.  Set in New York, but the magical Kingdom is adjacent, and can only be reached by some with a magical tie.

Marissa is a cool character. She's tough as nails but also vulnerable in other ways. She reflects the psyche of the average twentysomething person:  trying to figure out who they are and what they are doing, and what they want to do with their lives?  Marissa has had it tough because her destiny wasn't exactly her own.  Her only goal was working off her debt and getting back to her family. It's absolutely heartbreaking when she realizes the truth about her family.  However, Marissa's feels very much like a fairy tale heroine.  I like that Marissa's angst becomes her strength.  While Grimm is her boss, I think their relationship is very complex. I would say that Grimm is almost like the father that Marissa craves.  While her family seemed to throw her away, Grimm has given her another family and taken pretty good care of her, considering.

The romance was very cute.  Nelson plants some seeds but never gives the whole story away, so one is likely to ask why Marissa thought this person was the target.  I liked Liam a lot and I hope he sticks around.  His curse is kinda sucky for him, but cool from an urban fantasy perspective.  Ari is fun as well.  A very unprincess-like princess who plays a huge role in this story.

The reviews aren't great for this, but I give it a strong thumbs up.  The author knows his fairy tales and takes the reader along for a ride that is in parts funny, sad, scary, creepy, and feels unique even with some elements that make it fit well within the urban fantasy genre. Some aspects were a bit confusing, but it wasn't a deal breaker for me.  Overall, I found this thoroughly enjoyable and I devoured it in about 36 hours.

Overall rating: 4.5/5.0 stars.

Casting Ideas:

Chloe Bennett as Marissa

Miles Teller as Liam

View all my reviews

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Fables, Volume 13: The Great Fables Crossover by Bill Willingham (Goodreads Author), Matthew Sturges (Goodreads Author), Russ Braun (Illustrator), José Marzán Jr. (Illustrator), Mark Buckingham (Illustrator), Andrew Pepoy (Illustrator)

Fables, Vol. 13: The Great Fables Crossover (Fables, #13)Fables, Vol. 13: The Great Fables Crossover by Bill Willingham

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first Fables volume I have given less than five stars in a while. I think it was because I just don't like Jack. He annoys the heck out of me.  Much of the dynamic I love about this series isn't there. While I have come to love the Fables even when Snow and Bigby aren't front and center, I just can't stand Jack.  I wonder if I am the only way who feels that way.  And many of the other characters I've come to know and love aren't in this volume enough for me.

I didn't feel as strong a connection to the Literals storyline. I'm guessing the Literals play a larger role in the Jack of Spades series, and hence the crossover here.  It's interesting from a literary perspective. I love exploring literary devices and archetypes, and it was pretty cool how all the genres show up in this story.  And the whole aspect of the Literal family plays around with metafiction and the power of the creative writing process.  I didn't quite get the motivation of the main 'villain.'  It didn't' seem like he had anything to gain from what he wanted to do.

I think the humor is a lot more sarcastic and incisive in this volume, but the storyline fits it.  There are parts that don't seem as cohesive, and I often wondered where the story was going here.  But even the less interesting Fables are still pretty good!  I think this is a low four star read for me.

View all my reviews

Lazarus, Volume 2 by Greg Rucka (Writer), Michael Lark (Artist)

Lazarus, Vol. 2: LiftLazarus, Vol. 2: Lift by Greg Rucka

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I had trouble rating this because it lacks the impact of the first volume.  Forever seems to get lost in the shuffle, and she was less defined as a character.  Although I felt the flashbacks give more insight into Forever's relationship with her 'father.'  The new storyline about the Barrett family, who have to leave their homestead and travel to the city was interesting, but also sad. At first I didn't get how it tied into the main story, but their paths intersect with Forever in a very pivotal way. It will be interesting to see where their story leads next.

I still like Forever's character a lot and will keep reading this for her.  I think without her as a focus, the story is much less interesting though. I'm not much of a fan of post-apocalyptic/dystopian fiction, but I love women warriors/kickbutt artists like a house on fire.  Rucka seems to like them as much as I do.

Overall rating: 3.5/5.0 stars.

View all my reviews

Justice League of America: The Rise of Eclipso by James Robinson, Brett Booth

Justice League of America: The Rise of EclipsoJustice League of America: The Rise of Eclipso by James Robinson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a 'meh' read to me.  Eclipso is super-powered and super-evil, but he's also super-annoying.  I don't care much for posturing villains, and he's that in spades. when his origins are revealed, you are thinking 'what a whiny baby!' instead of being scared of him. That's not to say he doesn't wreak a lot of habit in this book. He really does.  I gave this three stars because the action is pretty epic, and there is no guarantee of a happy ending.  You pretty much think it's all over until the last few pages.  I've liked the first couple of JLA titles, but this one didn't do much for me.  I'm not very familiar with this team, and it was interesting getting to know them, such as I did.

I had trouble tracking the story between the graphics and the prose. One of my pet peeves with graphic novels. They can be done very well where this is not a problem, but it wasn't in this volume. It doesn't help that the cast of characters is so expansive.  Eclipso has the ability to take over and make people into his minions, and the confusing part for me is not knowing what the various characters are normally like, makes them as evil minions sort of meaningless.  Probably someone who has more background in the DC Universe than I do may feel different.  On the good side, the artwork is very good. I find Donna Troy's outfit mesmerizing, a jumpsuit with quasars and stars on it. It was almost hypnotic, quite honestly. Probably one of the aspects I liked most about this book.

My experience with the JL and JLA graphic novels I've read is hit and miss. This one was more of a miss for me.

View all my reviews

Justice League, Volume 5: Forever Heroes by Geoff Johns

Justice League, Vol. 5: Forever HeroesJustice League, Vol. 5: Forever Heroes by Geoff Johns

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In my opinion, this is the best volume in this run of Justice League.  I feel after volume two, they just got better, but this is definitely the best so far.  The strength of it is telling the story of the dark versions of the Justice League.  They are absolutely bone-chilling.  I think that horror is not always supernatural aspects, but delving into the psychological heart of darkness.  In this care, seeing what an Evil Clark Kent/Superman, Batman, and others would be like. What if the Justice League was merely a syndicate of super-powered, super-evil villains who have plenty of agency to do whatever they want?  That is not a world we want to live in, trust me.  Unfortunately, the Crime Society have gotten a foot into our world.

I think that I really liked this volume because it's so high on character development. It shows how Earth 3's version of Batman, Owlman is really like the evil side of Batman. He has all Bruce Wayne's strengths, but also a twisted, sick lack of morality that allows him to make methodically evil choices.    You really don't want an Owlman when you can have a Batman.  Same to be said for Kal-Il/Clark Kent/Ultraman. That's a case of nurture versus nature. Both sets of parents were evil, if not twisted.  Kal-Il received all the teachings of his father as he traveled to Earth-2, and they were about the worst conditioning you could give a child, unless you want them to be absolutely twisted morally.  Teach a child to hate weakness and to believe that strength is everything, that strength allows someone to take whatever they want with impunity.  Earth 3's version of the Green Lantern is rather like the flip-side of the whole ideology of the Green Lantern Corps.  Instead of being powered by will, how about your fears and pain being used against you to power the ring? And let's not talk about Johnny Quick and Atomica, a pair of thrill killer/criminal lovers who happen to become super-powered when they are about to commit suicide after a botched escapade. One shortcoming is that we don't learn much about Superwoman, other than she's a piece of work.  I am intensely curious about her, and I hope that we get her backstory in the next volume. 

This whole adventure is narrated by The Grid, the computer virus/AI consciousness that takes over the super-powered machinery of Vic Stone, Cyborg and expels his human part.    I like the way that Vic deals with The Grid and the group of unlikely crime-fighters he recruits.

"Forever Heroes" left me wanting more of this series.  High on adventure, suspense, and character development, it was a page turner.

View all my reviews

The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly

The Great Zoo of ChinaThe Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Only Matthew Reilly would write a book about a zoo full of dragons.  I will admit I am a huge fan of his books.  I take each one as it is and I usually come out a happy camper.  In this case, I have to give him a thumbs up.  Let's face it, Reilly either works for you or he doesn't. He unashamedly writes escapist fiction that makes the reader feel as though they are immersed in a summer blockbuster movie. And he does it well.

I wasn't a big fan of the "Jurassic Park" book.  I didn't finish it because it felt like the characters only existed to be dinosaur food.  I don't care much for 'sacrificial lamb' characters.  However, I find it interesting that this is Reilly's favorite book of all time.  Even though I liked the movie version more than the book, I'd have to thank Crichton for inspiring one of my favorite authors in that way.  So for me, I don't mind that the idea of a dragon zoo was inspired by "Jurassic Park." With all due respect, I'll take dragons over dinosaurs any day of the week.

Clearly Reilly is aware that this book would be compared to Jurassic Park and he understood that fact.  I think I can get into this book because while I am a fantasist, I love the idea of real, live dragons. However, Reilly takes the fantasy version of dragons and gives it a very real, very gritty spin.  I like that Reilly put so much thought into bring dragons into a millennial setting in a believable way. Many of the reasons it's a bad idea to have a dinosaur park are evident in why it was a bad idea to have a dragon zoo, but maybe even worse.  Dragons don't mix well with humanity.  Especially Reilly's dragons. The creators of the zoo believe that have concocted a fool-proof plan with their zoo that will supplant China over the United States as the arbiter of cultural consciousness. However, they neglected to consider that while dragons are animals, they are fiercely intelligent, and are the ultimate of predators. Frankly, I think people who believe all animals are stupid aren't paying enough attention to the natural world and clearly do not have pets.  Humans like to think of themselves as the ultimate of predators, but in nature, when the odds are evened, we aren't.  Even a microbe can wipe the floor with humans, case in point.

Reilly is in his high action, high gore mode, and I know I'd be covering my eyes if this was a movie.  Reading the book had many wince-worthy moments, but also the awe of majestic dragons.  While I didn't want the dragons to be eating people, I felt wowed by the fact that they were real and they did a lot of what dragons do.   Like our intrepid heroine, CJ, I felt like the whole thing had BAD IDEA!! Written on it in huge block letters.  Even with the ingenious plan the zoo creators had to keep the dragons in the zoo, I had a feeling that they dragons would find a way around it, yet their strategizing gave me a huge feeling of awe.

I think books should stand for themselves and authors shouldn't have to defend themselves for what they've written outside of the book. But at the same time, I find it very interesting to see what the thought process behind their writing is.  I enjoyed reading Mr. Reilly's Q&A at the end of the book and I can see that he put a lot of hard work into writing this book.  His goal is to make a book that is easy to read and enjoyable, and that's evident.  At times, when I wondered why he phrased things a certain way, it made sense when I read the Q&A and saw that this was why he did it.

I loved CJ as the lead character. She is a buttkicking character and what makes it cool is that she is a woman.  She proved very clearly that an action lead doesn't have to be male to own a story or to save the day.  But anyone who has ever seen "Aliens"  or "Alias" knows what I'm talking about.  I like that CJ was the type who observed and assimilated information and acted on that information in a logical way instead of losing her cool.  But at the same time, she's not just an academic. She knows how to go into action and it saves her life and others around her many times in this book.  Her backstory really informs who she is a person and makes it clear that she's in the right place at the right time.

I liked the other characters, especially Hamish (CJ's brother) and Greg. But the scene-stealer is Lucky.  I was a bit jealous of CJ, except for the flying parts. Not for me, that.  Oh, I just adored Lucky!

I think Reilly brought it big time with this book. I'd give it 4.5 stars because I had a couple of quibbles.  I won't go deep into those because they are spoilers, but I wish the ending was slightly different.  I see why Reilly ended things the way he did, but part of me was still sad about that.

View all my reviews

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Olivero's Outrageous Proposal by Kate Walker

Olivero's Outrageous ProposalOlivero's Outrageous Proposal by Kate Walker

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was disappointed with this book. I guess it's my own fault.  This cover was so gorgeous, it made me excited to read the book. However, the story is pretty ho-hum.  It lacks passion, and I don't just mean sexual passion.   I thought it would be pretty vibrant because of how they first meet and their instant chemistry, but this foundation isn't built on in a satisfactory way for me. Fundamentally, I didn't get excited about reading this, but I just wanted to get it read. 

One thing that was pretty interesting was how malignant Dario's brother was. He was basically stalking Elyse because his father wanted him to marry her, and her father pretty much dangles her like bait in front of him.  I think Dario's father was a big, fat jerk, and it bothers me that Dario was so stuck on getting his approval. I know his mother made him promise to reconnect with the guy, but Dario was too emotionally fixated on his father's approval. Poor Elyse comes off as a pawn for most of this book.  I love revenge stories, but I prefer when the heroine retains some power over herself, even if it's mentally or emotionally. Elyse seems to fold in on herself.  I can see how things were with her.  Her parents are so fixated on each other, she is emotionally neglected. That's why I wanted her to have a hero who was crazy about her. I don't think Dario was really. Of course, at the end, they make up and love is declared, but it wasn't fully convincing to me. 

I gave this three stars more because I liked the heroine and I do give the cover props.    It's probably nothing special to some readers, but I think it's kind of a unique look for this series.This book had some potential, but it wasn't anything particularly memorable.  I think I just have such high expectations for Harlequin Presents because I love them so much, and I'm disappointed when they don't live up to those expectations.

View all my reviews

Crisis on Infinite Earths by Marv Wolfman

Crisis On Infinite EarthsCrisis On Infinite Earths by Marv Wolfman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was good overall. It was dramatized with a full cast of actors playing the various characters.  Although there are different POVs, The Flash has the prominent one. 

I have this book somewhere (still haven't found it), but I thought it would be fun to check out the audiobook, and it's a good way to multi-task. I will put audiobooks on when I am doing other things, such as folding laundry or my drawing homework.  I think there is a thin line with audiobooks, especially dramatized one.  Sometimes the cheese factor is magnified.  This felt a bit melodramatic at times and very retro.  The publication date is 2009, but it feels a bit older. 

I ended up giving it three stars because I started losing interest after a while. It seems to go a bit long for me.  Also, there is a fair amount of jumping around, so it was hard to keep up with the story.  The villain was irritating to me, although he was very formidable. I liked that the heroes and the villains joined forces because of the huge threat they were facing.  On the good side, the idea is interesting.  The epic battle doesn't guarantee any sort of happy ending, and the casualties are monumental. We're talking about billions of people dying because literally, the various earths and their universes are ceasing to exist.  I felt for these people, both the ones who had a prominent viewpoint and people who had no voice. 

If you're a fan of the Flash, he is the most prominent character, so this is worth checking out for him.  I like the Flash, always have. He's a good guy. He doesn't get the spotlight as much as the Big Guns like Supes and Batman, but he's pretty awesome in what he can do and the enormous heart of his. Another cool aspect is the differences between the various Earths.  I can't call myself an expert in quantum physics or cosmology, so I can't verify the science of the multiverse, but the explanation seems plausible.

Overall, this is a good production and the acting is very good. The sound effects are well-done. It's an interesting way to view the DC Universe, but so much happens and so many different versions of the heroes are present, this might be confusing for a newbie to the DC Universe to read.  From what I've been reading on DC Wikia, this is a huge event in the world, and it affects the storylines of pretty much every character.  I'm glad to finally get a vantage point of the Crisis and go from there.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Siirocco by Anne Mather

Sirocco (Mills & Boon Vintage Modern) (The Anne Mather Collection)Sirocco (Mills & Boon Vintage Modern) by Anne Mather

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mixed feelings about this one.  I think that it's a lot of fun reading vintage Harlequin Presents, because it's a window into the past.  I get a kick out of the characters wearing clothes that will never (let's hope) be in fashion again, and I can visualize they way they look. For instance, Alexis is quite fond of velvet suitcoats and silk trousers.  Not something that you can get away with now unless you are deliberately channeling 70s pimp. 

Overall, this is pretty strong writing. I just didn't like Alexis, at all. I thought he was manipulative to the extreme.  While I will be the first admit I like stalkerific heroes, I felt like he was stalkerish in a very unsexy and offputting way. I know the difference between fiction and fantasy, and it's appealing when the hero is obsessed with the heroine, as long as he's not controlling and manipulative about it, and he's clearly not stalking every mode she makes.  After Rachel helps him the first night, he is pretty much following her every day or has his servants doing it. He knows where she works, who her roommate is, and other pertinent information that made him seem like a scary guy who might do Rachel harm.  I also didn't like how sexually aggressive he was.  Rachel made it clear she was engaged, and Alexis did everything he could to destroy her relationship with her fiance'. While her fiance' was a big time tool, that wasn't right.  I guess for me, the difference in why a hero can be stalkerific in a good way or just a plain old creepy stalker is unselfish love and concern for the heroine.  I still didn't really believe Alexis loved Rachel at the end of this story.  I think he was strongly attracted to her and obsessed, but I didn't get a sense of "I would die for you" kind of love from Alexis.

I agree with another reviewer that the descriptions of the Arab people in Alexis' family and his servants was a bit on the racist side.  At least stereotypical. That was a turnoff as well.

So let's talk about what I liked. I did like Rachel, although I wish she wasn't such a pushover.  It was pretty odd how the author hints at the fast that her fiance' is selfish enough to expect manual gratification but doesn't reciprocate. He doesn't seem to find Rachel sexy to me.  I wondered about that. I felt like maybe he wasn't attracted to her, or that he was possibly gay.  I still don't know about it.  But I did like Rachel. I think she deserved better than both her ex and Alexis, personally.

I think the love scenes were pretty good, but too bad I felt like Rachel was coerced into sexual situations moreso than truly voluntary.   So that did take the blush off the rose for me.

I'm sure many vintage HP fans will like this more than me. The hero really kind of killed it for me. Otherwise, it was a diverting blast from the past.

View all my reviews