Wednesday, January 02, 2013

2011 Part 4

Beneath the Thirteen Moons by Kathryne Kennedy- The world of Sea Forest is a huge, alien jungle. People find it hard to survive without healers to cure their ills. But when her beloved niece falls ill, Mahri Zin decides to do something about it- by going to one of the larger cities and kidnapping one of the healers there to serve her village. She doesn't want to be forced to this, but she has no choice. Only, the man who she abducts is more than a simple, if powerful, healer. He also happens to be the Prince, Korl Com'nder, and at first he resents her for taking him into the deep forest and away from the patients who need him. But he soon becomes aware that Mahri's people need him more, and that their lack of healers are killing them- ailments that could so easily be cured if a healer was stationed in their village. So isn't one sent there? And why has his family done nothing about it? But more, he isn't viewing Mahri as his kidnapper anymore, but as a beautiful woman he wants to get to know better. But can he convince her that his interest is sincere and that she can be his queen, or will she reject him out of hand, even after things change for the better? I found the beginning of this book very hard going- both characters were acting in ways I found unlikable and I wasn't sure I wanted to read their story. However, Korl, when he found out the situation in Mahri's village, actually started to change for the better while it takes Mahri much, much longer to become sympathetic. In fact, even by the end of the book, I still wasn't much in sympathy with Mahri, and while the ending went some of the way towards making that up, I still felt vaguely dissatisfied with the ending. Not really recommended.

Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters: From Dating, Shopping, and Praying to Going to War and Becoming a Billionaire- Two Evolutionary Psychologists Explain Why We Do What We Do by Alan S, Miller and Satoshi Kanazawa- This book looks at the human animal and attempts to explain why things are the way they are. Why are their virtually no Polyandrous Societies? (Because men don't want to help raise children who aren't their own, and having one woman for each man (or multiple women for each man) is an easier way to achieve that then multiple men for one woman). Why do men and women perceive the same things differently (Partly brain chemistry, but also partly due to the way men and women interact among their sex). Why are Diamonds a Girl's Best Friend? (Because the men who are willing to sacrifice a chunk of change for a woman are more likely to stick around and help her raise any children she may have, and she's looking for a Dad, not a cad who will run off after the fun is over). This book was fun to read and reminded me a lot of some other books I've read over the years, like "Why are Flamingos Pink?" and other imponderables books. Short, snappy, yet understandable answers to questions fill the book. This book was a great read. You may not always accept what the authors have to say, but it's well written and provides quick, concise answers to questions that might have troubled you or things you wondered about. It's simply written and doesn't talk down to the readers, and I enjoyed it a lot. Highly recommended.

The Lady of the Storm by Kathryne Kennedy- Cecily Sutton is a young woman with the power of the elves of Stormhaeme, but she's spent her life in hiding because her powers make her a threat to the ruling Lord of Stormhaeme. She also has a hard time being far from the water. But when Giles Beaumont shows up to try and persuade her to enter Stormhaeme and steal the ruling scepter of Stormhaeme, at first, she most certainly doesn't want to do it. Because to go against any of the ruling Elvish Lords means a quick and certain death. But Giles, who is committed to the human resistance against the Elven Lords who have taken over England, must persuade her, even if he feels that he is all to attracted to the beautiful Cecily- he can control himself. But can he? And when it comes to stealing the scepter can Giles and Cecily prevail against the Lord of Stormhaeme, and against the creatures that he controls? And even moreso, can Cecily prevail her will over that of the Scepter, which wants to be used? I loved the story of Cecily and Giles, and of the flaws that each of them had. Towards the end, Giles is marked by poisoned wild magic, and he worries that his change in looks will make Cecily not be attracted to him anymore. But will they find a place to take the scepter that can protect it? I liked that this book was a sequel, but during the course of the story, it became apparent that there were books in this series and stories that would not be published, which just annoyed me. Damnit, I want to read about all the scepters, and to be denied those is just painful, and that pulled down my opinion of the book a little. Still, I did enjoy it, and I'd definitely recomend it.

The Bodyguard by Cherry Adair, Gena Showalter and Lorie O'Clare is a series of three novellas. "Temptation on Ice" by Cherry Adair has Sebastian Tremayne sent to the Arctic Circle to take out Michaela Giese, a physicist he'd once been in love with. But the rumor is that she's turned and gone to the other side, which is why Sebastian has been sent to kill her. But she is at the facility to shut it down, not work there, and the rumors are wrong. But when a sorceror decides to use the nuclear facility, Sebastian finds saving Michaela's life is highest on his agenda. As is saving his on her own... "Temptation in Shadows" by Gena Showalter has Sean Walker, a club owner with the ability to control the shadows. But when he's kidnapped along with Gabrielle Huit, one of his workers, he discovers that they have the same powers- and she is even stronget than he is. But who have kidnapped them, and why? And after they escape, can Gabrielle trust him when she finds out all of Sean Walker's secrets? "Hunting Temptation" by Lorie O'Clare has Seth Gere, a werewolf hunter, trying to take down werewolf Trey Long. But Jenna Drury has reasons of her own for wanting Trey Long dead- he's hunting humans, and that's making life very dangerous for her and her people. But when she and Seth spark an interest in each other, can he find living with a girl with an animal appetite stimulating? And will her people let her have a romance with a mere human? Or will they resist letting her claim him as her mate? I enjoyed this book, but to be honest, the stories themselves seemed a little disjointed when stacked side by side. I think my favorite was probably "Temptation on Ice", as I felt it had the hottest romance, even if it was taking place somewhere *very* cold. Recommended.

A Marked Man by Barabra Hamilton- When young Henry Knox is accused of killing Sir Jonathan Cottrell, the King's Commissioner, neither Abigail Adams, nor her husband, John, believe him guilty of the deed, as Henry is tall, fat and bespectacled, and despite being in competition with Cottrell for the hand of a fair maiden, he doesn't have it in him to do such a thing. But the British are only too ready to blame a Colonial for the deed, for they know the colonists hate them and are ready to revolt. But John, as leader of the Sons of Liberty, feels it is his job to clear young Knox's name. But when Abigail is approached to investigate as well, she discovers that Knox is not the only man to want Cottrell dead. But can she discover which man actually did the deed, and prove to the British that they are wrong about Henry Knox? But there are thos who do not want the truth to come out, and they have no compunctions about hurting any woman who pokes her nose into the business. But can Abigail keep her husband, family, and herself safe? I find myself enjoying these books more and more, and enjoying the banter between Abigail and John Adams, and the antics of their family. The plots are twisty and difficult to decipher, and Abigail is an admirable heroine who does the right thing- most of the time. Highly recommended.

Three Sheets by Zane Alexander- Some people like to relax with a drink after work. but for Zane Lamprey, drinking is a way of life, since he was the host of a drinking show called "Three Sheets" that sent him on an oddyssey around the world to find out what the world drinks, and which drinks are the best. From Ireland to Poland, Tequila, Mexico to Japan, Zane samples the liquors of the world and shares the tastes and the hangovers that accompanied each. On the way, he busts the myths of the drinking world- the French claim champagne gives no hangovers- a statement Zane decidedly disagrees with- and has the experience to prove! And in Jamaica, the cup of marijuana tea left him more stoned than soothed- a hangover cure, it wasn't. So , if you like drinking, or even just enjoy stories about people drinking, this book is an entertaining way to pass the time. It can give you tips that even your drinking friends might not know- and a ton of entertaining stories to read. Recommended.

The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Dating and Sex by Joshua Piven, David Borgenicht and Jennifer Worick- Worried about dating the wrong person, or getting Bad breath or B.O. before a date? Worried about possibly dating an axe murderer or someone with a toupee or a faked up body. Then there are all the little things that can go wrong on dates, and how to escape if a date goes wrong, how to deal with your date if he passes out, and more. Be over-prepared for every dating disaster and then some. Recommended.

Phillips Book of Great Thoughts and Funny Sayings compiled by Bob Phillips- The world is full of quotes, and the best and funniest are collected into this book, sorted bysubject. Generally, each topic has between one and five quotes, but some- the more popular ones, have many, many more. One of my favorite quotes is from the cover, by Doris Day, about middle age. "The really frightening thing about middle age is the knowledge that you grow out of it." but there are tons of others. The book is attractive and illustrated mostly with 18th and 19th century clip art. Funny, wise and recommended.

Medieval Travellers by Margaret Wade LaBarge- When most people think of the Medieval Era, they often think of the people who lived then as stay-at-home types, who rarely saw life outside of their village. For some people, this was so, but for a far wider selection of people, travelling was almost a way of life. Some made the rounds of famous shrines, like Santiago de Compostela and similar places, sometimes looking for a cure for their ailments, others to show their piety. Kings and Queens moved around the country, taking tours of the Realm they rules and making sure that the nobles were loyal to them. Nobles also moved from their country homes to court and back to keep watch over their lands and ensure that they proved their loyalty to their monarch. Priests and Eclesiastics also moved, following the sourts, either as lawyers or personal priests, or just o move to their assigned shrines, or to Rome if they were needed. Diplomats travelled also. bringing offers of peace or other communications between courts- but how did they all get around? This book covers the ways travellers moved in the Medieval world and the sorts of comforts and travails they endured on their journeys. As an overview of how and why people travelled, this book is excellent. In the days when hight-speed travel meant changing the horse you were ridintg every six to eight hours, this book also looks at how hard it was to travel great distances, and how long it would or could take you to get to your destination. This book really makes you feel what it was like to travel then, and the comforts (few) anf horrors (many) of travel in Medieval times. Highly recommended.

The Immortals by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell- Nate Quarter is a lamplighter in the Eastern Woods, the tiny bit of the Deep Woods closest to the Edge. His life is uncertain. but it is his, until he is betrayed and forced to flee with his only friend, Slip the Scuttler who warned him of the betrayal just before it happened. But Nate won't be able to just head to Great Glade, caught up in a quest for healing waters, Nate, Slip and their new companions will have to travel to the Hive and beyond, to the very Edge of the Edge... and perhaps what lies beyond... This book is the last one in the Edge series, and sort of winds up the stories of all the books that came before. I found it a little puzzling, how all those characters managed to get caught by the ultimate villain, but I can't say that this wasn't a fitting or appropriate ending to the series, and it was good to see the earlier characters again. Recommended.

Through  Animals' Eyes:True Stories from a Wildlife Sanctuaey by Lynn Marie Cuny- Lynjn Marie Cuny opened her own wildlife sanctuary and has had much experience with wild animals. This book collects 31 of those stories, from the sad to the heartwarming. One was a story of an Emu who came to the wildlife sanctuary, and, looking for a new family, finally found one in a group of Vultures. Of a female coyote who lost a leg to a trap, but who lived to survive in the wild, along with her pups. Of a hen that kept watch over an injured fox.  Of seven orphaned baby opossoms, of birds and mountain lions and all sorts of animals. I loved this book, and I would definitely read it again. Highly recommended.

Better Single Than Sorry by Jen Schefft- Every woman wants to find "the one", the man who is right for them and who they can love and who will love them in return. But anyone who's dated knows that to find your prince, you have to kiss a whole LOT of frogs. But when do the frogs you kiss become too many, and how can you tell when iit's time to stop and stop looking? Or, if the relationship you are in is merely ho-hum, do you keep in the relationship, which can be tempting, or do you abandon it to find someone more worthy of you and your love? Relationships are hard, and once you find someone who appeals to you, it can be hard to abandon that if it's not a strong love connection, or if it gets tired, and look for someone new. But why shouldn't you settle? Jen Schefft lays out the reason why you shoukdn't just settle and keep looking for the man who will thrill and excite you, and treat you well, one you can get excited about being with. Life is too short to accept less, and this book shows you how to love yourself and look for the love you deserve. Recommended.

Veil of Lies by Jeri Westerson- Crispin Gues is a former Knight, outcast for plotting against King Richard. He wasn't actually guilty- he was protecting the man who raised him, but nobody seems to care. As he struggles to survive, he is forced to take jobs that no knight should take. So when a cloth merchant asks him to follow his wife, on suspicion that the wife is being unfaithful, his lack of coins and need to eat convinces him to take the job. but when his client is murdered in a locked room with no other exits, Crispin will be forced to solve the murder, and the piece of cloth, said to be Veronica's Veil, that precipitated the murder. I love this series, which is sort of Medieval Noir, and Crispin remains a knight despite the circumstances he is living in. I really enjoyed this book, and the character of Crispin, who evokes your sympathy, but at the same time is enough of a dick to make you not always like him so much. But the medieval world is always fascinating, and Jeri Westerson brings us its seediness in full color sensurround (so to speak). Recommended.

Under Siege by Edward Marston- After the successful Battle of Oudenale, English attention turns to the city of Lille. As the leadership of the army undergoes a chance, Danoel Rawson, having sent his love, Amalia, to England to keep her safe, is sent into Lille to steal the plans to the city, and to add versimilitude to the tale, they send him in with backup- Rachel Rees to be a wife to him. Daniel manages to steal the plans, but he's forced to leave Rachel behind when he is discovered. As Daniel struggles to get the plans to the army, he is forced to return to Lillie to rescue Rachel. But as his old commander, the Duke of Marloborough, tries to get Daniel the appropriate reward for his bravery and efforts on behlaf of the army, his wife's falling out with the Queen due to an entirely too strong and unwanted opinion, hampers his efforts on Daniel's behalf. And as Lillie comes under siege, Daniel is trapped inside the city, which puts up a spirited and effective defense. But as Daniel struggles to stay alive, in England, Amalia has attraacted a dangerous admirer, who wants to kill Daniel to have Amalia for his own. Can Daniel dodge the soldiers who want to kill him and the lurking menace from across the channel as well? This was another wonderful, tightly plotted mystery that I really loved reading. Despite the fact that everything happens during a time of war, often the battle is not the most tense portion of the book, but the mysterious admirer's pursuit of Amalia is equally tension-inducing and thrilling. The best part of this book was between Amalia and Rachel Rees, who really comes into her own as a strong female character. Recommended.

Brightest Day, Volume 2 by Various artists and colorists, written by Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi- At the end of Blackest Night, Twelve heroes and villains were resurrected, their purpose unknown, This book is the second volume collects their stories. The point of their resurrection is to each accomplish a task. Some have already occurred, such as Professor Zoom rescuing the Flash from the Speed Force, Jade balanced the Darkness, Osiris freed Isis, Goddess of Nature, and Maxwell Lord prevented Magog from bringing about the world we saw in Kingdom Come. This book covers other stories. Hawkgirl has to prevent Hath-Set from killing Hawkman, and Hawkman has to close the gate between Earth and Hawkworld. Meanwhile, Aquaman has to track down the new Aqualad, the son of Black Manta, and enlist him to the side of good before he can turn to evil like his father. Most of the volume seems to take place on Hawkworld, but we also see what the other heroes are doing to accomplish their own tasks. By coming into this in the middle, I wasn't very invested in the story. While some of the tasks seem to be worth coming back for, some I had to wonder... why, exactly, this was so important. I felt it had to do with the returning the world to the status quo, but without a real beginning and missing the end, I just couldn't get invested in the story or the characters. I think this is a book where you have to read it all to enjoy and get what is going on and why.

Strontium Dog: The Early Cases by John Wagner, Alan Grant, and Carlos Ezquerra- Johnny Alpha is a Bounty Hunter for Hire. He works with an actual Viking come forward in time named Wulf and a small, multi-armed alien healer named the Gronk. Each of the Strontium Dogs is a mutant, mutated by exposure to the radiated rain, filled with Strontium. Most mutants are weak and can't do much, but sometimes the mutations people get from exposure makes them more suited to hunting other people. Johnny is unusual among SD's in that he looks completely human, but his eyes are bright gold and he can affect people's minds with his eyes. In the first story, Johnny is after a fellow SD when he is enslaved by a group of warriors called the Wolrog. He must manage to escape and take out the threat of the Wolrogs without being killed. Next, Johnny is on the track of a fellow SD named Bug-Eyes, but Bug Eyes flees into an alternate Dimension, taking Johnny with him, and Wulf and the Gronk must follow him and escape a dimension called Hell together, while bringing Bug Eyes to justice. Next, Johnny's Death is foretold by one of his targets and he must go after Willy Blanko, a criminal that might not  be completely human. And lastly, Johnny and Wulf cheat to get sent into the past to grab and punish someone who was never punished in his own time... Adolf Schickelgruber, aka Adolf Hitler, I loved this series, and I loved reading these older stories over again, although the Hellworld arc seemed to go on forever and not be quite as interesting as it once was. But otherwise excellent. Recommended.

Jack of Fables: The End by Bill Willingham and others- Jack has been turned into a Giant Dragon, and is living in a cave with Gary, the Pathetic Fallacy. But he is living off the proceeds of the Great Library, that tells the tales that never made it into the Fairy Tale Books, and now he is being tracked down by the former Librarians, who want to kill Jack for his crimes and find the books again, his own son, Jack Frost, now a hero for hire, and numerous others that Jack has screwed over in the past. But can Jack survive the many threats against him, and if he can't, what will be his ultimate fate? I never liked Jack, and his stories leave me cold, and I was hoping he'd die at the  end of the book. And well, while I won't give away the ending, I enjoyed this book less for reading about Jack and more about the other characters. Sadly, by the end, I still didn't care. Not recommended.

Blacksad by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido- In a world where humanoid animals are the only ones that exist, John Blacksad is a private eye. A black cat, he gets involved in cases that are of the most hard-bitten sort, and usually gets messed up and in trouble up to the tips of his furry feline ears. There are three stories in this volume. The first, "Somewhere within the Shadows" has Blacksad investigating the death of a starlet named Natalia Wilford. He takes the case personally, because he was once  Natalia's bodyguard, before he became her lover. They didn't last a long time, but her death enrages him. What is he to do when the villain is someone the police can't touch? "Arctic Nation" takes place in a gated community called the Line, where only animals with white fur are accepted. Working for his old teacher, Miss Grey, she wants him to help her former student, Kyle. But Kyle's family live in the Line and may be involved with a supremacist organization called Arctic Nation, and it seems that Arctic Nation is heavily represented in the Line, and Kyle is missing. In additon, the town Sheriff may be a Pedophile, and a least weasel named Weekly, who has helped Blacksad, has also gone missing. Can Blacksad untangle the web of lies, violence and hatred to find and rescue Kyle and Weekly? "Red Soul" takes place in Las Vegas, where Blacksad is acting as a bodyguard to a tortoise named Hewitt Mandeline. But he also meets an old teacher of his, Otto Liebber, an owl who works in physics. However, Otto is blamed for old war crimes, and Blacksad must find the truth, no matter how it might hurt him. He even meets a woman named Dora, whom he falls in love with, but in the muddle of the case, he might end up losing her for his actions. Can Blacksad find the truth and help Otto escape a frame-up against him? I really enjoyed this book, which is more European rather than an American series. Produced for France by a Spanish artist and writer, then published in America by Dark Horse, it uses its characters to examine more than just hard-boiled detective crime stories. It also takes on racism, sexual slavery, bigotry, hatred and sexual repression. If you haven't read this series, you should. Yes, it often seems like some sort of fur fetishists ultimate fantasy, but very soon you forget that the characters are animals and they just seem like characters. The stories will pull you in and you will enjoy them very much. Highly recommended.

Tom Strong, Volume 1 by Alan Moore , Chris Sprouse, Alan Gordon, Arthur Adams, Gary Frank, Dave Gibbons, and Jerry Ordway- Tom Strong is a an adventurer, and this graphic novel collects his adventures, from his beginning (as told in a comic sent to the newest member of his fan club, to the return of an old foe- Modular Man, an encounter with an Aztec Computer Deity who Tom helps to be free from its controllers, the return of Ingrid Weiss, an old foe from World War II, an adventure in Pangaea, where Tom and Dahlua once encountered an entity named the Pangaean, An encounter with another old Foe, Paul Saveen... or is it? And finally, an encounter with a foe raised to hate Tom- his own son by Ingrid Weiss, Albrecht. But can Tom defeat his enemies, or will one of his allies step in to lend him a hand at the last moment? I liked this grphic Novel. Tom is interesting, and his wife, daughter, and his helpers Pneuman and King Soloman are all interesting. Tom acomes off as a cross between Superman and Tarzan, but his adventires and foes are intriguing. As new foes are introduced, we get to see how Tom deals with them and their first encounter as well. Well done and Highly recommended.

Tom Strong, Book 2 by Alan Moore, Chris Sprouse, Alan Gordon, Alan Weiss, Paul Chadwick, Gary Gianni, Russ Heath, Kyle Baker, Pete Poplaski and Hilary Barta- This volume contains more Tales of Tom Strong- an encounter with Humans who have been altered by aliens and provided with food, a school where kids are put to work by robot teachers, Tesla Strong's encounter with a magma man who lives in an erupting volcano, tales of Dhalua's vision ecnounter, Tom's encounter with an alien in Central America, and Tesla takes on a girl with gravity-shifting boots. Then, Tom goes on a journey into death, into an alternate world populated by Funny Animals, and an adventure with "Too many Teslas". Then, a long adventure in Terra Obscura, helping heroes imprisoned in time oops for thrirty years, and dealing with an alien who has taken over Terra Obscura. Then a time-travelling, dimension-spanning adventure with Tom Strong against Paul Saveen many times over. Finally, three shorter adventures- a comedic one on a deadly planet, an encounter with ones greatest desire, and Tom  teams up with Johnny Future to rescue his wife and daughter from salvers from outer space... I liked this volume as well. The short stories at the beginning are okay, but I rather prefer the longer stories as being more fleshed out and interesting. Recommended.

Tom Strong, Book 3 by Alan Moore, Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, Howard Chaykin, Shawn McManus and Leah Moore- This book starts off with the Return of the Lava-men, as Tesla is abducted by them, and Tom and Dahlua must go find their daughter. Then, it's the return of the aliens that abducted the humans from the last graphic novel. It turns out that they were looking to see if their creatures could survive on Earth, and a man known as the Weird Rider comes back to Earth to warn Tom that they are coming to enslave Earth and turn it into a work camp for them. Tom must gather his allies to defend the Earth from the alien bugs and defeat them before they can get to the planet. But when the group of children known as the Strongmen, fanatic members of Tom's fan-club, get involved, the battle must be delayed to rescue them. Then, a series of Short stories. "Electric Ladyland" has Dahlua kidnapped by a group of radical feminist separatists to fix something that has gone wrong with a chemical weapon they are making. "Bad to the Bone" shows the fate of Paul Saveen when he goes in search of a temple that is supposed to grant immortality, and gets hoist by his own Petard... and lastly, an obsessive comic collector collects Tom and Tesla into an alternate-dimension comic book of his own making. But can Tom and Tesla escape with the help of the other internees? This book was mostly long stories, which I love. But this time around, my favorite stories were two of the shorter ones- "Bad to the Bone, which telegraphs the ending at the beginning, but is a perfect story of how evil sows the seed of its own downfall, and the last story with the comic collector, because it shows why the comics code was so important. Another interesting collection of comics, definitely a fun read. Recommended.

Tom Strong's Terrific Tales, Book 1 by Alan Moore, Steve Moore, Arthur Adams, Sergio Argones, Jaime Hernandez, Leah Moore, Jerry Ordway, Jason Pearson, Paul Rivoche and Alan Weiss- This graphic novel is a collection of three different kinds of tales. One is Tom Strong stories, second is tales about young Tom Strong either growing up on Attabar Teru, and third are stories of Jonni Future, the successor to Johnny Future. The first story takes Tom to the Arctic and has him looking beneath the ice for a missing Nazi  Expeditionary Force, but what he really encounters may be the death of him. Next is a wordless Tesla story, where she borrows her father's Ultrasaucer to go partying on an alien planet. Then Young Tom encounters the shipwreck that brought the Ozu to Attabar Teru and encounters a glowing Ghost... or is it really? And in the first Jonni Future story, Jonni Ray encounters a Panther-man  and is introduced to the world of the Grand Array. Then, Tom joins his Russian Opposite number, Svetlana X, to investigate what happened to a Russian Space Station. Next, Jonni takes out the menace that killed her uncle, and Young Tom is sent to kill one of the massive Thunder Lizards for a feast making him a man in Ozu sociery, but can he find a different way? Then, Tom takes on a movie studio in "Attack of the Robo-Saveen", Jonni Future is kidnapped and finds herself in the "Seraglio of the Stars", where she must escape her sluglike new owner, and Young Tom must undergo a Goloka vision Quest that ends him up in the land of the dead. Next, Tom attempts to save a man determined to commit suicide, but ends up needing his help as well, then Jonni Future takes on three witch hunters from the past, and Tom has encounter with a shapely female sea-demon. Next, collectable trading cards tell of Tom tangling with Paul Saveen, a wordless story shows a day in the life of King Solomon, Young Tom sneaks into the Forbidden Rites of the female Ozu and learns a valuable lesson. Next, we follow Tom as he takes a journey through outer and inner space after taking a heroic dose of Goloka, Jonni faces the Garden of Sklin, and Young Tom investigates a hidden valley and discovers a threat to his life. This is collection of mixed tales, but strangely, my favorite stories aren't the Tom Strong stories. but the Jonni Future ones, which are just all kinds of awesome. Even they are just straight adventure stories, the characters, art and stories really elevate them out of the ordinary, which is what the other stories seem in comparison. The story with Young Tom learning the secrets of the Female Ozu does stand out for being extremely funny, though. Recommended.

Tom Strong's Terrific Tales, Book 2 by Alan Moore, Steve Moore, Arthur Adams, Alan Weiss, Chris Weston, Peter Bagge, Michael Kaluta, Peter Kuper, Shawn McManus, Bruce Timm and Jason Pearson- In this Volume, Tom is visitedon Attabar Teru by a sleeping child, a cartoonish version of him and his family race the Devil and Paul Saveen- and the devil take the hindmost, we explore the history of Millenium City. A man fantasizes himself as Tom Strong- with diastrous results, Tesla strong is abducted to a "Jungle Girl Safari Park, and we see Tom as a washed-up loser living in the suburbs. Young Tom must help chief Omotu when Dahlua is kidnapped, he returns to the volcamo where his parents died and confronts their ghosts, finds and reads his mother's journal, discovering more about ber life, has another encounter with the female sea-devil he met in the last book, helps an errant aviatrix from Millennium City and bids farewell to the Ozu to find what life holds for him in the city of his parents. Jonni Future also returns,  rescuing Jermaal from the Empress of Death, tries to retrieve the Earth's Moon from Endymion Sin, the Moonjacker, takes on the sentient virus, Cancer Blue in a two-parter, has an encounter crossed in time with her Uncle, Johnny Future, and must discover who is the real version of herself when an alien named Mirror-Mirror constructs a duplicate of her. But can Jermaal figure out which is the real Jonni before she begins to kill? Another interesting set of tales, but my favorite remains the Jonni Futire ones, although the story concentrating on Tesla Strong was also very amusing. I loved the somewhat cartoony look of that story, and all the scenes in it. Not as strong as the first volume for Tom Strong stories, but Jonni Future remains the best reason to pick up this graohic novel. Only slightly recommended.

Top Ten: The Forty Niners by Alan Moore, Gene Ha, Todd Klein and Art Lyon- After World War II, the government collects all the science heroes, the superheroes and other mutants and people who wear spandex and collects them in one single city, where they are to live out the rest of their lives. Among those gathered are Jetlad, a young boy who fought in the war with his own personal Jet, and Leni Mueller, the Sky Witch, a German hero/villain who was one of Jetlad's many nemeses. There is no bitterness between them, and because they know each other, they decide to stick together as they navigate this new city. The paths they take, though, will be very different. Jetlad, also known as Steve Traynor, gravitates towards the city airport, where other war heroes, like the Skysharks, hang out, while Leni becomes one of the new policemen that keep order in the city. But not everyone wants the city to survive, and both Steve and Leni, along with their new friends, will have to come together to save it. I loved this graphic novel, not just because it has the first homosexual romance I've seen in a comic book I've seen for a main character. Even if you don't know that this is a prequel to Alan Moore's Top Ten, it's an intensely enjoyable story. Well worth a look and Highly Recommended.

Cowboys Versus Aliens: The Graphic Novel by Andrew Foley, Dennis Calero, Fred Van Lente, Luciano Lima and Scott Mitchell Rosenberg- The history of the Wild West is one of conquest. But the Americans might not end up on top this time, when a ship full of hostile aliens crash lands in the West, and the aggressive aliens that make up its crew see nothing more than a planet full of slaves and resources, ready to be harvested. Now, the only people who can stand against them are a group of Indians led by their Shaman, and a group of cowboys and settlers led by a preacher and a Cowboy named Zeke. Helped by an Alien who was posing as the Ship's science officer, they must take out every one of the aliens to have any hope of surviving. But even with some of the alien's tech on their side, can Cowboys armed with sixguns and Indians wielding bows and arrows have any chance against a horde of aliens? I saw the ads for this movie when it was  in the theatres, but even in the comic version, a small group fighting a better armed force would seem like it would be easily slaughtered. There are some cute and clever in-jokes (the minister is reading Jules Verne's "From the Earth to the Moon", but on the whole, it never seemed entirely plausible. Not recommended.

Ultimate Avengers: Crime and Punishment by Mark Millar and Leinil Francis Yu- Frank Castle is better known as the Punisher, and he kills criminals like the ones that murdered his wife and son. So, when he's set up and offered a chance to become an Avenger, he's startled. Why do they want, or  need, him? But what Nick Fury has in mind is a group of Black Ops Avengers to do wetwork missiona (or assassinations). Along with Frank, Nick Fury has the Black Widow, Hawkeye and the first Hulk. Not Bruce Banner, but a negro professor who was Banner's mentor, but now runs a crime gang in South America, And their first target is the person taking down a bunch of rich men. But it seems that they have something in common-twenty years ago, they killed a biker and his girlfriend/wife after a night's revelry in a bar, and sacrificed the hiker's soul to the Devil. Now the biker, Johnny Blaze, is back, as the Ghost Rider, and he's looking to kill the men who killed him. And their leader is the Vice President of the United States. Will Johnny Blaze be able to kill the men who killed and sacrificed him, or will the Avengers prevail? This was a quite different and shady side to the Avengers, and while the story was okay, I just don't like the changes that the Ultimates universe enshrined into canon, with the exception of Fury being black. Only slightly recommended. This book left a bad taste in my mouth.

Captain America: Man out of Time by Mark Waid and Jorge Molina _ Steve Rogers is serving as  Captain America at the end of the War when he and his sidekick, Bucky Barnes, are asked to go on one last mission. Naturally, they agree, but the mission is a failure. Bucky dies, and Cap is lost, seemingly forever. When he is brought back, he escapes to a world he thinks is a nightmare, can he come back to himself enough to realize who and when he really is? All that saves him is a single hope- time travel, putting him back to where he wants to be. But when he is sent back to the past unexpectedly, will he be able to forget his memories of the future and the revelations  and information he has seen? And how will he get back to the future from his own past? It took me a while to get into this comic- the story was good, but the art style threw me off at first, but it shaped up very well towards the end. I think it took me a while to figure out that more was happening in the background, like missions with the Avengers and such, that was never shown in the comic itself. It comes off as a bit disjointed at first, but once you realize that much of the story is like a "highlights ree;" in the middle, it's good. Recommended.

Scott Pilgrim, Volume  4: Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together by Bryan Lee O'Malley- Scott , frustrated by his continual lack of money gets a job and promptly loses it. He meets an old friend from High School who becomes overly attatched to him, and has to face up to saying the "L" word to Ramona- "Love", while facing off against her half-ninja ex-girlfriend. He also gets to see into her own headspace, and she isn't pleased. Will he be able to sustain this relationship with Ramona and survive the next attack, that of "the twins"? I have started to get tired of this series. It just goes on and on,and the whole metaphor is getting kinda forced. Scott is trying to grow up, but he's still kind os a jerk and I have to wonder what all these women see in him. Not recommended.

Scott Pilgrim, Volume 5: Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe by Bryan Lee O'Malley- The Twins show up, and Scott must fight themboth at the same time. But they tell Scott that Ramona doesn't really like him, she's just here in Canada to get away from her boyfriend Gideon, who she used to work for. Scott struggles against the idea that Ramona doesn't really care for him, and how he must defeat two ex-boyfriends at once in the same battle. Can he do it? Not much really went on in this book, and the fights are getting tiresome. Even if Scott can defeat Ramona's exes, is there hope for their relationship? At this point, I barely care, and watching the characters drinking and dealing with relationship stuff is getting rather boring. Not recommended.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, Robert Venditi, Attila Futaki and Jose Villarrubia- Percy Jackson is a kid who is always in trouble. ADHD and Dyslexic, he's constantly in trouble at school. But when he's on a school trip to the museum when a math teacher turns into a winged monster and attacks him, and the one teacher he actually likes throws a pen that turns into a sword that Percy uses to kill her. But afterwards, no one remembers the math teacher, and Percy finds out that he is a Demigod, a hero, and that he shouldn't exist. His father, Poseidon, swore a pact with his brothers Zeus and Hades to have no more half-mortal children. and now that Zeus' original lightning bolt is missing, Percy is blamed as the thief just because he is a son of Poseidon. So Percy must go in search of the real thief with a fellow demigod, Annabeth, daughter of Athena, and Grover, a satyr who was watching over Percy at school. But the other Gods are after Percy, and he has only ten days to find the bolt of die trying. This graphic novel really condenses the story of the book, but it was very effective. Some of the characters seem to have been lifted from the movie (Chiron looks a lot like Pierce Brosnan to me) and, of course, the scenes are different, but the ending has Percy being reunited with his mother, and I still enjoyed the story a lot. Recommended, but the book is a thousand times better.

ExMachina, the Deluxe Edition, Book Five by Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris and Jim Clarke- Mitchell Hundred used to be a normal man, until he was attacked, and developed a circuitboard on his body. Now he can talk to and control any sort of electronic devices. It's not perfect, and they can lie to him, but he's parlayed it into a career as a superhero named Ex-Machina and now, Mayorship of New York. But now he's determined to go out in a blaze of glory- to fix New York as it truly needs to be fixed, and to clean up the streets. But he's made many enemies. Another reality is seeking to invade, and the city is under attack from rabid rats, and Mitchell Hundred is at the center of it all- and most at risk from dying. Can he save the city and himself? Maybe it's that I didn't come into this series until the end, but I didn't like Mitchell Hundred. He's a character that never had my sympathy as he did worse and worse things to save the city, Maybe we were supposed to feel that he was a good character who went down the road to hell because it was paved with good intentions, but he never really had my sympathy. And at the very end, he accidentally (maybe) kills someone, it was just the cap on the monument to my dislike of him. The only thing that balanced it out was that by the end, he'd lost pretty much everything and everyone: friends and family. Not recommended.

Scott Pilgrim  Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour by Bryan Lee O'Malley- Ramona left to see her exm Gideon Graves, and hasn't come back, and everyone thinks she's left Scott. So why does Gideon still want to fight him, and why did he send all of Ramona's exes after Scott? could it be that Gideon doesn't want to be an ex? Or does he just have a really hard time letting go? Scott bonds with his opposite, Nega-Scott, and remembers everything, and goes off in search of Ramona. But at Gideon's club, Scott and Ramona will have to fight Gideon and earn the power of their love. So, I read the last book just to see how it ended, and aside from a slow start that has really been like all of the rest of the story so far, it finally comes to a climax and ends. And this is an ending I am actually glad I read, as Scott finally remembers how bad he was to his ex-girlfriends, and resolves to do better with Ramona. He makes up with his other girlfriends and goes on to a new, happier life with Ramona, with each accepting their psrt in making the relationship work. In a way, the ending is more than worth it, and I found this book the best out of the last three. Recommended.

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