Friday, September 21, 2012

2012, Part 13

Rebel Fire by Andrew Lane- Sherlock Holmes is fourteen and staying with his aunt and uncle for the summer. He is being taught to think by Amycus Crowe, an American Bounty Hunter searching for Confederate Rebels who escaped to England after the war. But he has been notified that John Wilkes Booth, the Southern Actor who shot Lincoln, is still alive and may be in England. Naturally, Sherlock wants to help him, and searches for Booth with the help of his friend, Matty Arnatt. But when he's caught by Booth and his keepers, he discovers that Booth has gone mad, and although he is able to win his way free, Matty is captured by the men and taken prisoner to prevent Crowe from following them after they escape. But neither Amycus Crowe nor Sherlock are good at taking orders, and they follow the men to Southhampton, and from there to America, along with Amycus's daughter, Virginia. Along the way it becomes clear that Booth is not the one in charge of the assassination attempt on the President, and never was. But who could wish to see the President dead, and why. Left alone with a madman, Sherlock and his friends will have to outwit the man with the real power and prevent him from seizing his next target, while staying alive all the while... I loved this book, which actually read rather like an episode of Young Indiana Jones, complete with encounters with real life people, like the Graf von Zeppelin, and the story and adventure are always exciting and entertaining. Sherlock Holmes is not the way he is later on, but still developing, and I enjoyed this story immensely. Well worth reading and extremely enjoyable. Highly recommended.

Elfhome by Wen Spencer- Tinker, transformed from a human to an elf by her husband, is still dealing with the fallout from the events of "Wolf Who Rules". So is her cousin, Oilcan, who unexpectedly finds himself looking after a young Stone Clan Elf of merely double years, i.e. less than 100, and below the age of majority. But it turns out that this orphan isn't the only one who has been coming to human Pittsburgh, and the others are missing. Unable to keep from investigating the situation, Oilcan teams up with Tinker and a Stone Clan Sekasha named Thorne Scratch to rescue the other Stone clan orphans who had been drawn to the city by members of the Stone Clan agreeing to welcome them when they arrived. But Oilcan somehow ends up taking the kids into his house, which is by no means big enough to hold them all, and must find new accomodations for all of them. He also finds himself falling into a relationship with Thorne Scratch even as Tinker becomes engaged in looking for the High Oni still living in the city- Oni who may actually be the Skin Clan who shaped the Elves into the way they are presently, and who were thrown off Elfhome by the Sekasha who were their latest and most perfect creations. But when Oilcan and Tinker's Great Grandfather ends up in the city looking for his relatives and descendants, they discover that someone in the Stone Clan has allied with the Oni, and that the half-Oni may be the be their best allies against the Full Oni. But can they get the half-Oni on their side? And can Wolf Who Rules persude the Half-Oni that allying with the elves is safer than just hiding from everyone? And when Oilcan is kidnapped by members of his own family to turn him into a Domani to rule the Stone Clan in the city, can he uncover the corruption in his own clan, and what effect, if any, will it have on his growing relationship with Thorne Scratch? And can Tinker cut off Onihida from Elfhome and destroy the twisted part of her own soul that is rising up to destroy her and all she has worked for? I enjoyed reading this book, even though I had only just finished reading "Wolf Who Rules" not long before. This one focusses a lot on Oilcan, Tinker's relative and also a descendant of the Stone Clan. But something is rotten in the Stone Clan, and Oilcan has to step up, not only as a human, but a man and (later) an elf to keep his clan in line. And even then, his life is in danger, and he has to tap into his magic to take out the one who has set the whole sick plan in motion. But who will support him, now that he's an elf? I liked reading about Oilcan and seeing the world through his eyes, not just those of Tinker, but she's still there, and brings the ending to a satisfying conclusion. Recommended.

Lothaire by Kresley Cole. Lothaire is a vampire, the Dreaded Enemy of Old, and he has been told by a soothseer that his Bride will be one that gains him a throne, and considering that he is heir to both the Dacian vampires as well as the Horde, he's happy about that. Until he realizes that his Bride is a mere human, and he doesn't feel any sort of a connection to her at all. He visits her every few years, and then finally, one night, he sees her sacrificing humans on the mountain where she lives and finally feels the conncection. His Bride is not this... human, but the Vampire Goddess who has taken over her body, Saroya the Soul Reaper. Meanwhile Ellie Peirce knows she's cursed, possessed by something that enjoys killing indiscriminately. But when a red-eyed man shows up to prevent her from killing herself, and later, to prevent the state from putting her to death, she's despairing. She wants to die, and take the thing inside her with her. And yet, she feels a connection to this man, as much as she doesn't want to. But as he spends more time with the Human Ellie, Lothaire comes to realize that she may be his Bride after all, that Saroya will never mate with him willingly, and he has promised by the Lore to kill Ellie's spirit and give her body to Saroya. How will he get out of his pledge and keep the woman promised to be his destined Bride? Ehh... I wasn't feeling Lothaire so much because he really treated Ellie like crap. By the time he realizes he's wrong about her *not* being his bride, I wanted him to go off and die and leave Ellie alone- after Saroya was kicked out of her body, of course, I don't think he did nearly enough butt kissing for Ellie to forgive him, even if she loved him, and I don't know why she fell in love with him. I can only blame Stockholm Syndrome. So by the end, I wasn't happy that they ended up together. I thought Ellie deserved better, and Lothaire still didn't deserve Ellie. Not recommended.

Avengera Academy: Second Semester by Gage, Chen, Raney, Grummet and Moline- With the destruction of the Infinite Avengers HQ, Ant-Man moved the team of young people he'd been teaching out to the old HQ of the West Coast Avengers and invited all sorts of kids with Superpowers there to learn how to be heroes. Finesse, Reptil, Hazmat, Veil and Mettle have made their peace with the Academy and settled in to being students. But when the other Avengers come, they believe that the Academy is going to be shut down. But can they convince the Avengers that the Academy is something that needs to go on? And then, when Jocasta is killed and her consciousness erased, Ant-Man can only conclude that the job was accomplished by someone inside the academy. But when Magneto and the White Queen come to discover who among the staff and students might have done the deed, Magneto and his son Quicksilver, now a teacher at the Academy, come to blows, and the Young Avengers, backed by new Students White Tiger, X-23 and Lightspeed, jump into the fray to help. But will the tension between father and son boil over into a war between the X-Men and Avengers? Next, a new student is discovered, and turns out to be a mind-manipulating alien whom Reptil allies with? But why? And why are Avengers from the future manipulating their younger selves? And finally, the Outsiders turn up at the Avengers Academy campus needing help, Ant Man and the students are glad to help. But when Ant-Man and Tigra decide to take away the two youngest Outsiders, for their own good, the young heroes take exception to them. But can a spell of understanding clear things up? I loved the Avengers after watching the recent movie, but this volume had very little to recommend it for me. One of my least favorite Avengers (Ant-Man) and a bunch of teenage characters I mostly hadn't heard of.

DC Universe- Legacies by Len Wein and a huge selection of artists retells the stories that went into the making of the DC Universe much like "Marvels" did for Marvel. Told by a man named Paul Lincoln, who grows up in Suicide Slum, until a chance encounter with the Guardian and the Sandman changes his life- but not that of his former friend, Jimmy Mahoney. As time passes, Paul witnesses Supervillains turning murderous, the Crisis on Infinite Earths, and more. As Paul grows, he becomes a cop, then a detective, and marries his old friend's sister, who is just as angry at the mobster Paul's friend became as he is. But eventually, Paul, as a cop, arrests his old friend, and they come back together when his old friend comes up for Parole. Paul Testifies for him, and his friend is finally released and becomes a security guard at S.T.A.R. Labs, only to save lives himself in an explosion and have Superman shake his hand. The story ends with the modern day universe, but the book continues with short stories about some of the Forgotten heroes of the D.C. Universe, people like the Challengers of the Unknown, the BlackHawks, The Sea Devils and Cave Carson, along with a story of the second Blue Beetle, the Seven Soldiers of Victory, a battle between King Arthur, Merlin, the Shining Knight, Silent Knight, and Etrigan the Demon against Morgain Le Fay and her demonic knights, a Reunion story of Hard Company as they remember the last day of the War and how Sgt. Rock died as well as a story of Orion and the New Gods, and Shazam telling his story, along with that of Black Adam. I liked this story, which was a bit more personal and touching than that of "Marvels", which attempted the same sort of thing. In this, there was more of a focus on Paul and his family and friends, and I found myself drawn in to the metastory that tied the different eras of the comics together. And I loved the backup stories in each volume interesting.

Club CSI: The Missing Moola by David Lewman- The Class is saving for a trip by selling Magazine subscriptions. But when $100 is missing from before the last fundraiser- the class bake sale, Ben, one of the Club CSI comes under suspicion because he's really been wanting a new tablet computer. But by following the evidence left behind- fingerprints and other evidence- they discover the real thief, who took the money to impress a girl he liked. But there's something wrong with his explanation, that leads the Club, and their teacher-advisor into a large theft ring. But can they crack the ring, or will they be hurt by the thieves? And what reward will they receive for their hard work? Another excellent volume in the series, one that takes all sorts of kids and brings them together to find the solution to the crime, even if one of their own might be blamed. Highly recommended for those who love CSI.

I Want You to Shut the F#CK Up: How the Audacity of Dopes is Ruining America by D.L. Hughley with Michael Malice- D.L. Hughley might be a comedian, but one of the things about being a comedian is that you must be able to see clearly before you can poke fun at things, and in this book, Hughley takes on his own life, how he became a comic and politics as well. He discusses why the current crop of Republican candidates were so unelectable, and why Herman Cain was such a disappointment, both as a Repulican and to blacks (Here's a hint: Republicans thing that Blacks will vote for anyone with dark skin, regardless of their politics, and Republicans are wrong on that point.) He also lays out how Republicans could win black voters to their side, if they cared. But Republicans simply don't seem to really care. He is scathing in his observations about the Republican candidates, and really points out what they are saying, and how that would make things worse, not better. My favorite criticism of his was that Herman Cain's 9=9-9 Tax plan sounded like a pizza deal, not a tax plan- and he's right. It did. Entertaining and enlightening. Recommended.

A Want So Wicked by Suzanne Young- Elise seems to be a normal seventeen year old girl, the daughter of a preacher, with a dead mother and an older sister who seems to be growing up much too fast to suit their father. He's moved them to Thistle, Arizona, hoping that he can provide a better life for them. Until the night when she wakes up in a local park, not knowing who she is. She soon remembers but problems continue with Lucy, and Elise, going to her first job at a Mexican restaurant, bonds with fellow server Abe, and is accosted first by an old, homeless man, and the local "witch" and seer. She finds that she is able to give something to these people, and the seer claims she shines very brightly. And then everything turns pear-shaped. Abe turns threatening, she meets a new boy named Harlin, and she starts finding out who and what she really is. But can she handle the knowledge? And the visions she's been having of a girl named Onnika... what significance do they have in her life, and what can she do about them? I really enjoyed the mythology of the book, which was unlike anything I've encountered before. The story was enjoyable and mysterious, and the characters were engaging and drew me right in. It's not a very long book, but the story will stay with you for a while. Recommended.

Silence by Michelle Sagara- Emma's boyfriend, Nathan, died in a car crash, and ever since, Emma has visited his grave when walking her dog at night. One nighr, however, she stumbles on Eric, a classmate of hers, also in the cemetery with a ragged woman, she starts having headaches, and ends up in the hospital, where she sees her dead father- and when she touches him, everyone can see him, too. But this puts her in danger, for the powers she has mean she is a Necromancer, with powers over the Dead, and her new classmate Eric seeks to kill her before she can become a danger to others. And soon other necromancers will come, attracted by her power, and attempt to make her one of them. But Emma isn't like the others, and she doesn't want to use the dead people she sees for power- she wants to help them move on into wherever they should be in death, be it Heaven or wherever else they go, and she'll fight anyone, even the other Necromancers, to keep the spirits of the dead safe. But when Eric comes to see her side, his own organization sends other Hunters to "help" him, and with the Necromancers gathering, the stage is set for a fight over Emma. But she just wants to save the spirit of a little boy who died in a fire, and she'll even enlist the boy's mother to help her. But can Emma keep herself safe as she fights to save the little boy? And will she end up becoming a necromancer after all? I found this an interesting read, with a new sort of supernatural heroine. I found the details of her powers and how we learn about them and what she is interesting. How she dealt with her powers also made her interesting- but is she really the first and only person to feel this way about dealing with the dead? I didn't get what made her so different in her attitudes. But this book is the first in a series, so it's very probable that we will get answers sooner or later. Recommended.

The Dark Legacy of Shannara: Wards of Faerie Fire by Terry Brooks- In Aborlon, Elven Druid Aphenglow Elessedil discovers a hint to the location of the other Elfstones that were stolen from Aborlon ages and ages ago by a Darkling boy who was in love with the Elvish Princess and wanted her to abandon her people and live with him and his. Aphenglow knows she must inform the Druids of this clue to hidden magic, but someone has found out about her discovery and tries to kill her and steal the knowledge. Aphenglow kills one of those after her and discovers that it is a human clad in black robes. Soon after, she returns to Paranor, and the Ard Rhys of the Druids awakens from Druid sleep to undertake the search for the missing elfstones, while Aphenglow returns to Aborlon to ask the Elven King to let her use the Seeking Elfstones to find the magic she is looking for. He is not inclined to let her, but his grandfather, and Aphenglow's ensures she is able to use the stones for a day, inside the borders of Aborlon. But again, she is attacked- only this time she has a protector and between the two of them, they kill five humans sent to kill Aphenglow by the new Head of the Federation: Drust Chazhul, who distrusts magic and wants to have it all under his control. He plans an attack on the Druid fortress, Paranor. But Aphenglow is hurt, her leg broken, and Khyber Elessedil, the Ard Rhys, asks her permission to see the same vision Aphenglow was granted by the Seeing Elfstones, then assembles a group to seek the missing Elfstones, among them the twins, Redden and Railing Ohmsford, who have inherited the Wishsong powers, Mirai Leah, the young woman they are both interested in, the Druids Pleysia, her daughter Oranthia, a man of visions called the Speakman, a Dwarven Druid named Seersha, and a Druid named Carrack. But when the Speakerman tells them only one will return from their quest, how can they turn back? And when their Quest takes them out of the Real World and into another, will they be able to escape? Meanwhile, Paranor comes under attack, and Aphenglow, her Druid lover Bombax, her sister Arlingphant, and the troll servants of the Druids come under attack in Paranor, and must defend the fortress from Federation troops. But the magic which protects Paranor is more than the wards which the Ilse Witch left behind. Can the two remaining Druids and their friends stay safe as the fortress rises to attack the Federation men? I enjoyed this book, which was interesting, but felt that it was a little confusing as written, and the love plot thread was set up in a way that was more than a little telegraphed, to me. Recommended.

DoOon Mode by Piers Anthony- Colene, an abused young woman, ran away from her horrid life and found the Virtual Mode, where she met Darius, the Cyng of Hlaughtar, or King of Laughter, of his own mode. He was carrying a chip that made travel for others possible in the Virtual Mode. And he also fell in love with Colene, even though he was searching for a woman to be his vessel of joy and bring amusement to his people, and Colene was a well of nothing but dolor and sadness. But their former travels in the Virtual Mode have come back to haunt them- the Emperor of the DoOon Mode, Ddwng, wants the chip for himself to conquer the nodes around them, and when he captures Colene and Darius and their traveling companions, he tries to force them, via the manufactured animal-like "Nulls", to give up the chip. But in their time on the planet Chains, Colene manages to befriend the Dragons, also nulls, but prone to eating the animal-null inhabitants of the planet, and get them to stop eating the nulls and eat rats instead. But even when Darius agrees to give Ddwng the chip, their trip home will force them to confront their deepest fears as they finally bring their traveling to an end. I hadn't read a book in this series in years, and I don't ever remember reading this one, but after a slow start focusing entirely on the nulls, this ended up being enjoyable. Even so, it felt a little rushed towards the end, and ultimately less successful than I would like. Slightly recommended, but read the rest of the series first.

The Heroes of Olympus: The Demigod Diaries by Rich Riordan- This book is a follow-up to the Demigod Files, and part of the Percy Jackson series. In it, we find out more about rhe Demigods at Camp Halfblood and we find out how Luke and Annabeth met. After a small game, we find out what happened on Percy and Annabeth's one month anniversary date (hint, it involved a giant and the Staff of Hermes, aka the Cadeuceus), and find out what happened while Percy was at the Roman DemiGod camp In Bunker 9 with Leo and Buford. Some more games, the prophecy, and the book ends with a Novella written by Rick Riordan's son, Haley, showing Lamia's son, Alabaster, and a human who investigates death and the Dead, Dr. Claymore, try to get Alabaster's half-sister Lamia to stop trying to kill him. I enjoyed this little mini-book, and I thought the story by Haley was simply amazing and very well-written. Highly recommended.

How to Pee Standing Up:Tips for Hip Chicks by Anna Skinner with Illustrations by Sara Schwartz- This book gives hip (and broke) girls tips on how to get by- spend less money, what you really need, and how to get ahead in business: dealing with bad bosses, how to request a raise, and more. But I didn't like this book much, as some of the stuff it advocates is on the shady side of legality, like buying a dress, tucking the tags in to wear it, and then returning it the next day. Not to mention, it takes money right of the pockets of the salespeople who sold it to you, and they can always tell if yo've worn it. Do it more than once, and they'll remember and despise you for it- if they didn't after the first time. Not recommended.

1 comment:

Arion said...

John Wilkes Booth being chased by Sherlock. I must say I didn't see that one coming.

Great blog, man, I really like it.

Keep up the good work,