Friday, September 05, 2014

2014, Part 8

Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon by Matt Fraction, David Aja and Javier Pulido- Hawkeye is back, and when he gets badly injured in an accident, he gets out of the hospital, only to fnd himself near a building in Bed-Stuy where mobsters are harrassing the residents. Moving into the building, he sets himself against the mobsters while becoming close to the building residents and saving an abused dog as well. But unlike the other Avengers he works with, Hawkeye has no real superpowers, and his whole shtick is shooting arrows. Trick arrows. Okay, really good trick arrows, but still... Can he take on guns and gangs, and villains like Madame Masque, armed only with a bow and arrows? Okay, this book was interesting, but they kind of made Hawkeye the Buttmonkey of the Avengers. The Doof. The Goofball for whom nothing ever goes right. Kind of like Old School Spiderman. And while that's a lot more characterization than Hawkeye has ever gotten, it still kind of rankled me. Because he's been recently made more popular thanks to Jeremy Renner playing him in the Thor and Avengers movie, but this kinda felt... disrespectful to the character, who as I remember in the older Avengers comics, was always a strong and kinda competent guy. Not so much the buttmonkey of the group. I felt slightly offended reading these, and I am sad to say that the feeling never quite went away, even when Hawkeye pulled it all out in the end. I also found the Russian mobsters constant use (some would even go as far to say overabuse) of the word "Bro" to be annoying and eyeroll inducing. It may have been meant to be humorous, but I didn't find it amusing in any way, just annoying. I wouldn't recommend this series, but it might float your boat.

Hawkeye: Little Hits by Matt Fraction, David Aja, Steve Lieber, Jesse Ham and others- Hawkeye now owns the building that he saved, but his actions have attracted the attention of high-caliber villains like Kingpin. With a Price on his head, Hawkeye must make it through and save the building, his tenants and their families from the wrath of the criminals, along with a serial killer known as the Clown. But with the mobsters also after a dangerous ex of his, Darlene Penelope Wright, not even Kate Bishop may be enough help to pull Hawkeye's fat out of the fire. But when she abandons him, how can he stand against the forces arrayed against him? I only read this because I got this and "Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon" at the same time. Less Bro in this volume, but he's still the buttmonkey, seeming consistently down on his luck, and I really didn't find this rather thin graphic novel to be any better than the first. Not my cup of tea. Not recommended.

Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews- Dina DeMille owns an inn in the Avalon Subdivision of a small town in Texas. Unlike her perfectly ordinary neighbors, Dina may not stand out from the crowd, but her inn is something special, with a mix of magic and technology, and visitors from other dimensions often stay there. When dogs in Dina's town start dying, she suspects her neighbor, Sean Evans, ex-military and newly moved into the subdivision. He also happens to be a werewolf, which is why she suspects him of the killings. Sean is on edge because he wants to protect the area in which he lives, and he doesn't like Dina interfering in what he considers his own business. But when Dina kills the thing that has been killing the dogs, it's not a misplaced mountain lion or cougar, but a dangerous extraterrestrial hunter. And when a contingent of Vampire Lords of House Krahr show up to hunt the rest of the thing's pack and its master, Dina will have to scramble to help both Sean and Arland, the Vampire Marshal of House Krahr, who have a vested interest in hunting the thing down. But are she and the inn, which is still, very weak, up to the task? And when both men show and interest in her and more, can she keep her feet on the ground and her mind on task for what they face ahead? This was a very obscure Ilona Andrews book, but that didn't make it any less awesome. There is so much story packed into this surprisingly slender book that I was constantly amazed that it wasn't thicker. I'd love to read more of this series, which is surprisingly light on the romance aspects. More a "He's hot and I find him attractive" rather than outright snogging or shagging. There is definitely something of an attraction triangle, with Dina as the hypotenuse, but it's not overwhelming. Really excellent and I want to read more. Recommended.

Victories by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edgehill- Spirit White and her friends have left Oakhurst Academy behind and are fleeing after the death of their friend Muirin. Spirit, who has long thought she had no magic, has found out she has magic after all, the magic of Spirit, which was neither acknowledged nor taught at the academy. Worse, the man in chanrge of Oakhurst turns out to be Mordrd in disguise. Now left on their own, the only hope they have is reaching QUERCUS, a user she met on the internet who seems to know more than he is telling. When they reach their destination, they are met by a woman named Vivian, who takes them to meet QUERCUS, who is the spirit of the actual Merlin. Now, it is up to them to fight Mordred and the Dark Knights, and to do so, they will each have to remember their past selves, find the four Hallows and destroy Mordred. But that won't be easy with the Shadow Knights on their tail and the rest of the students locked up in Oakhurst Academy. Can they find the Hallows, Destroy Mordred's unkillable body and fight the final battle- and win? I really enjoyed this book, which was the ending of the series. Lots of interesting stuff happens, and we get to see why Spirit White is the only Spirit magic user at the entire school. The ending was a bit of a disappointment- not the fight against Mordred. which was great, but the ending where magic has somehow inexplicably diminished with the death of Mordred and the passing of all the reborn spirits. It just didn't make sense as to why, but other than that, I really liked the book, and wondered what would become of the magicians and the world. I assume the former "Mark" would do something about that, it's sort of left like that. Admittedly, most people wouldn't know they had magic without someone telling them that it exists, but again, to me it felt a bit disappointing. Recommended.


Thanos: Redemption by Jim Starlin, Keith Giffen, Dave Sharpe- Thanos has given up on destroying the universe as a present to Death, the only thing he loves and instead decides to aid those he has harmed, including the inhabitants of Rigel-3. After staving off a coup by the Rigellian military against their Grand Councillor, he discovers that their current problem is that one of their colony worlds is about to be attacked and devoured by Galactus. Thanos decides to stand him off, but during the course of the conflict, he discovers that Galactus is trying to collect the Soul Gems to end his own endless hunger. However, Galactus is being made a pawn of by an entity known as Hunger, who destroys realities. He tried to prevent Galactus from releasing Hunger, but is unsuccessful. Then, he teams up with Galactus, who now realizes his error, to destroy Hunger. But can they destroy such a thing> Afterwards, he travels to the Kyln worlds, the universe's largest prison camp, where the Beyonder has reincarnated in a mortal female form. There he battles her with the help of Peter Quill, Star Lord and Gladiator of the Shi'ar Royal Guard, who has had himself incarcerated to monitor the Beyonder's new body. Thanos fights her but can he prevent the Beyonder from escaping and being reborn? Also freed is the Old One, who once served Galactus as a Herald, but now only seeks to destroy him. A fact which he cannot usually do. However the previous battle with Hunger has weakened Galactus, and now he might succeed, So Thanos goes to Galactus to warn him. But can he prevent the Old One from destoying the weakened Galactus? and what will he do with The Old One if he does? This was an interesting collection of stories, but as with all things, Thanos's "Redemption" didn't last long. In the Comics, he died and was reborn and went right back to his old ways almost immediately. Which only goes to show you, nothing changes for very long in comics. It was interesting to see Thanos try for redemption, but he doesn't make a very good hero. He's a little too easy with killing people to really make a good hero. But it was certainly a good experience to read these stories and see Thanos trying to help those he had wronged. I particularly loved the scene where he speaks with Lady Death as a young child, and she tells him the score- if he kills everything, there will be no death, since death requires life to exist. It was also nice to see Adam Warlock being Thnos's sidekick and fellow traveler for a bit. Entertaining if nothing else, and recommended.

Murder in Murray Hill by Victoria Thompson- Frank Malloy is a cop, but he's hiding something from his fellow officers- he's about to become a very rich man, thanks to a millionaire dying and leaving Frank all his money to look after his daughter, who Frank rescued in a previous case. The minute this news comes out, Frank will be a Pariah in the station house, so when a man asks Frank to look for his missing daughter, Frank takes it on, knowing it might be his last case. Frank discovers that the daughter had been responding to a fellow she met through a lonely hearts ad for months, and she disappeared in her best clothes- probably a sign that they were going to meet. But when he succeeds in tracking the man down, he finds out that Grace Livingston isn't the only woman the man has kidnapped and is holding in his home, making them into his bawds. He calls in Sarah Brandt to help with the women, who have been brutalized, and also discovers that the man has been killed, possibly by Grace Livingston, before they ever set foot in the house. And there are signs that the two women in the house were not the man's first victims. However, then Frank's inheritance information comes out and he loses his job. Still, he isn't able to give up the case- not when the officer he had to hand the case off to is a drunk and wants to arrest Grace Livingstone for the crime- only Frank doesn't believe she did it. Also missing is the man who helped the kidnapper, and when he turns up murdered in the house, a former inmate of the house and the man who bought her away from the kidnapper become more important as they have to find out if the person who killed the kidnapper also killed his servant. And what if the killings don't end there? Meanwhile, Frank and Sarah decide to marry, but can they get Frank's mother to warm to the idea? She has never liked Sarah, thinking that Sarah will take Frank and his deaf son away from her. Can they persuade her otherwise, and can they come to an agreement on which house they will buy to house their growing family? Another really enjoyable book. I like the way Frank and Sarah interact, and despite Frank inheriting a ton of money, he hasn't changed, being essentially the only honest cop in the lower ranks of the force. He may have lost his job, but he remains a cop at heart, and seeing him transition to a private investigator was wonderful. Sarah hasn't had to change as much, but it was nice to see her move on and make friends with Frank's mother at last. A lot is going to change, but the heart of the series will remain the same, and I look forward to reading more. The subplot with the three women who were caught in the scheme was also very enjoyable, and I liked how they also became friends despite what had happened to bring them together. Highly recommended.

Hunter by Jax (Jacquelyn Frank)- Tatyana is a lawyer in a Manhattan office, but when she goes to see what has become of her brother Dimitre, who has fallen out of touch with her, she finds herself cold and stranded in the Catskills wearing only her party dress and a shawl. Leaving her car to try and find someone, anyone, to help her, she stumbles across a giant house and heads for it. In the house lives a coven of Magic users, and one of their own, their protector, Hunter, has recently come home after a long time away. Hunter is unusual in that, despite being the protector of a coven of good Witches, he comes from a family who has long been part of evil. Only the master of the coven he protects, Ryce, saw the good in him and befriended him. And when Tatyana rings the door and falls into a faint, it is his arms that she falls into. Both of them are immediately attracted to each other, but when an evil coven attacks later that night, Tatyana ends up helping them all and discovers magic of her own. To protect her and her emerging abilities, though, Hunter must make her his thrall to protect her from members of the evil coven who will try to make her a thrall as well. But while thrallship in a good Coven is akin to mentorship, being a thrall to someone in an evil Coven is more like being a slave, both sexual and magical. And thrallship comes with an almost addictive desire for the thrall to serve the master- in every way, both physical, magical and sexual. Given the attraction that already exists between Hunter and Tatyana, they have a hard time keeping their hands off each other. But when Dimitre returns to the house (because he has also found magic and joined the coven), they are trying to determine exactly what kind of magic Tatyana has. And as her relationship with Hunter heats up, so do attacks by the evil Coven, whose master is Hunter's actual brother. But can they take out the evil coven before the members of that coven destroy the Coven Hunter has sworn to protect? I liked this book. I liked it a lot. There were definitely some plot holes (Tatyana's entire outside life seems to disappear without worries after she arrives at the house, and no one seems to miss her, not even her other brothers. I found this a little annoying, but the story stands well on its own, and I can see more sequels dealing with the unattached members of the Coven. I enjoyed what we saw of the other members and I think I will enjoy reading books about them, Recommended.

Midnight's Lover by Donna Grant- Ian Kerr was one of two brothers who were Warriors, and they shared the same Warrior between them. But when Ian's brother Duncan was killed, Ian lost control of the God which was in his body, having to control twice what he did before. So, he ran off into the mountains, where he takes shelter in a cave, trying to control Farmire, the God within him, living on whatever animals the god chooses to hunt, but having contact with no one, lest he snap and kill them by mistake. Danielle Buchanan has been raised in Scotland ever since she was a child, but she knows she is a descendant of the Druids and has magic. Unfortunately, she hates her magical talent. When she finds things, she can tell who owned the and must return the item as soon as possible or she suffers terrible pain. So when she finds a key hidden under some snow when she turns down a friend for a date, she must return the key to MacLeod castle. On the way there, though, she is involved in an accident and winds up in Ian's cave. Reluctantly, Ian agrees to escort her to the castle, however, he discovers that Farmire seems to be calmer in her presence. Along the way, they are tracked by forces belonging to Deirdre, and Ian must help another warrior, one not allied to either the mie (Light) or droch (dark) Druids defend his home. And once they reach the castle, the key tells Danielle she must wait. For there is a spy in the castle, and he wants Ian out of the way so he can more easily betray the other Warriors into Deirdre's control. But when Ian voluntarily imprisons himself to keep Danielle safe, can she unmask the traitor and keep Ian, the other Warriors and their wines and husband safe from the traitor, and will she ever find out what the key opens? More to the point, can she convince Ian that they were meant to be together? I found this book really interesting, until I found out that each Warrior turns a different color when his God comes out, and I had this sudden vision of Monsters in Power Rangers colors, and I couldn't keep from laughing. Aside from that, it was a suspenseful book and one that I enjoyed, but the hero was so stubborn that at times, I wanted to kick him in the shins. But I did love the story and the love and caring that grew between Ian and Danielle, and how they unmask the traitor. Recommended.

Promise of Blood: Book One of the Powder Mage Trilogy by Brian McClellan- Field Marshall Tamas has acted to overthrow the corrupt King of Adro, and the Cabal of Privileged who supported his rule. But as the members of the Privileged known as the Circle died, they all said "Do not break Kreismir's Promise. While claiming that it means nothing, Tamas calls on the talents of Adamat, the former police inspector, to track down the meaning of the saying. Also called back home is Tamir Two-Shot, Tamas' son, himself also a Powder Mage, who can manipulate the power in black powder to guide bullets and do magic. They can also ingest the powder, which gives them energy and extends their senses. Tamir comes with his companion, Ka-Poel, a savage from the lands of Deliv. When Tamir saved her life several times, she followed him to repay her debt. When his estranged father sets him to apprehending a Privileged who was with the Royal Cabal the night before the coup, he must work with another female Privileged and a mage killer. but the woman is more than she seems, and seems immune to all of their powers. Then, the nation of Kez declares war, because the King was about to sign a treaty with Kez to eliminate most of Adro's debt, which had been racked up by the King, and get more money for himself to fritter away. And not everyone in Adro is happy with Tamas' actions- and a crime lord wants to influence Adamat's investigation, threatening his family to do so. And then there is corruption in the people who are backing Tamas' coup, and Tamas himself is kidnapped, and a star of gold implanted in a wound near his knee, rendering him powerless as a mage. But he is truly trying to do the best for his country- only the country is broke, bankrupted by the now-executed King. Can he, Adamat and Tamir pull together to save the country from the forces that threaten it? And what of the rumors of the return of the Gods? Can Tamas trust them not to destroy Adro for what he has done, or are they just a tale, as everyone believes? This was a first for me- a tale of magic set in a world where the most common form of magic involves guns and gunpowder. But the story was taut and gripping. Just when you think you understand what is going on, something else comes up and you are back to where you were before. I liked the characters while also despising them for some of the things they did. Tamas comes off as unsympathetic at the beginning, but by the end of the book, you do begin to see something of his point of view. I can't say too much about the plot, because that would give away some of the twists in the story. But this story is something I will definitely be reading more of- it was just that engrossing. Recommended.

Circle of Desire: The Damask Circle: Book 3 by Keri Arthur- Ethan Morgan is a werewolf whose niece is missing, She is one of a number of abductions of children recently, who have been found dead and drained of their souls. Ethan is desperate to find his niece, but the chief has also called in Katherine Tanner, and her grandmother, Gwen. Katherine and Gwen are witches, but Katherine is also a shapeshifter, able to take the form of a bird. She also wants to find the missing kids, but she knows that there is a werewolf and something else, something much, much worse, that is responsible for the abductions. But she finds herself attracted to Ethan, and he needs someone to be his lover through the moon heat, which will drive him wild with animalistic sensuality. But Ethan is also hiding secrets as well as his heart, and as he and Kat search for the abducted children, fight zombies, a werewolf and a Mara, Kat will have to decide if she can help Ethan overcome the baggage that is holding him back from shifting, and keeping him aloof and distant from others. But will she be able to get Ethan to trust her enough to open up to her? And when their times together end in Kat conceiving Ethan's child, can he overcome his past and admit his love for her, or will one or both of them end up dying in the Mara's lair? The Damask Circle books, just like the Nikki and Michael books, are as much about the cases the characters are trying to solve as the romance, but n this case, just like the other Damask Circle books, the story drives the romance, and vice-versa. I did like the romance in this book, but the wqay Ethan kept basically wanting to dip his wick without making a real connection with Kat pissed me off. Thankfully, He got the equivalent of a clue by four to the head, so the ending made me happy that they ended up together. Recommended, but Ethan might make you angry before it is all over.

Batman: Zero Year Volume 4: The Secret City by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and Danny Miki- Bruce Wayne has been missing from Gotham for years, travelling the world. But he is back now, under the cover of darkness, trying to save the city from the criminals who have taken it over. But as he faces off against the Red Hood and his goons, Bruce will have to make a decision as to what is more important to him- his last remaining family, headed by his uncle Phillip, who also runs the corporation bearing his name, or fighting the evil that lurks in the criminal underbelly of Gotham. But when the two separate worlds collide, which will he choose to savem and can he find a way to save both? And what will the birth of Batman mean for Gotham> The end of this graphic novel shows how the training Bruce underwent made him into the man he was- learning driving from a thief of expensive cars, thinking outside the box from a strange explorer and fighting from a queen outside of Norway. Each tries to teach him what they are best at, but Bruce has his own way, and fits their training to his own ends. Can he survive the lessons they have to teach? This was an interesting graphic novel. We get to see Bruce struggle with what he is trying to do- so much more than he struggles as Batman. He clashes with his family, with Alfred, with the police and the criminals in a way he never does after the becomes Batman- because during this series, he is becoming himself, struggling to put the lessons he's learned into practice in Gotham. And eventually, we know he succeeds, but it's interesting watching him get there. Recommended.

The Secret Mistress by Mary Balogh- Lady Angeline Dudley was raised in the country, far from London and the rest of the ton. Her brother is a rakehell, but he is the only family she has left, and the only one who can help her navigate the world inside London in her first season. She is too cheerful and direct for most of the ton, but when she leaves the safety of her room at the inn, she encounters two other men. Edward Ailsbury, Earl of Heyward, defends her when another rake thinks she is a woman of light virtue- he can see that she is dressed far too well, and too soberly, to be a courtesan. But from that meeting , Angeline concieves a passion for Edward, and wants to marry him herself. Edward, though, feels like a passionless stick, stuck in a life of duty. When the woman he would marry turns him down, he offers for Angeline- also to be turned down for lack of passion and feeling. But as they continue to meet and interact with one another, can he see that they are very well suited for each other, and that, indeed, she could make him the happiest of men if only he could let go of his ideas of himself and allow himself to feel? And as for Angeline, can she see Edward as he really is and persuade him to let down his guard and let her into his heart? I like Mary Balogh, and this is very Mary Balogh- down to how the characters passions are engaged long before they end up in bed together, In this case, though, Edward is very self-doubting, and torn between Angeline, who he does like, but feeling he has to make a decision now and to do his duty to his family. Angeline, for her part, wants Edward to be happy, and even if it is not with her and she is feeling horrible about it, tries to shove him in the direction of the woman he asked to marry him years ago, thinking his heart is still engaged there. But it's up to the other characters to take a hand and ensure that Edward and Angelline will end up together and happy. This one takes a while to come together, and it requires all the book for them to realize how very much in love they are. So recommended, but you might get tired waiting for that ending. 

Simply Magic by Mary Balogh- Susannah Osbourne is a teacher in a Miss Martin's School for Girls, and during the summer, she usually stays to help take care of the students who have no home to return to. but this time, she can have some time off, and a former fellow teacher, who married a member of the nobility, invites her to stay for the summer. And there she meets Peter Edgeworth, Viscount Whitleaf, who is immediately captivated by Susannah's looks and wits, though she remembers him and wants nothing to do with him even if he has no memory of meeting her. Peter is staying awsy from his mother, who wants nothing more than to have him settle down and raise a family, but Peter is tired of living life to his mother's wishes and decides to stay around Susannah, who he finds more interesting than any other woman he has ever met. But Susannah still wants nothing to do with him, and he must find out why this intelligent schoolteacher so appeals to him, and why she also wants nothing to do with him- and the fault lies in the pasts, and the parents of both of them. But can Susan forgive Peter's mother for causing her father's death, and can Peter forgive his own mother for lying to him. But can both of them forgive each other enough to find love with each other through the unexpected bond they share?

Nocturnal by Jacqueline Frank, Kate Douglas, Jess Haines and Claire Willis- This is a book of four short stories. "The Phoenix Project" by Jacqueline Frank begins with Amara, who has been kidnapped and held with others in a strange facility where they undergo various tests. But when she is forced to undergo another test and paired with a kidnapped Cop named Nick, they must survive what has been done to them and escape to get retribution on those who endorsed the experiments. But will they ever be the same again? In "Crystal Dreams" by Kate Douglas, Mari is the daughter of two hippies. When her father falls sick, Mari takes over running their shop in Evergreen, California so that her mother can be together with her father. But when something Demonic slips through a portal from another world, Mari's only hopes are Darius, a Lemurian Guardsman from a third world and her mother's book of spells that she has never believed in. Can she bone up on magic in time to save herself, Darius, and the entire town? "Spark of Temptation" by Jess Haines gives us Sara Holloway, a P.I. with an aversion to Magic. Coming off a less than successful case, she finds her boyfriend, a local cop, being even more controlling than usual and demanding that she quit the case. But Sara can't do that. And her new partner, the Mage Arnold, is throwing off sparks that make her uncomfortable- and not just because of the way her skin feels about his magic. But as the case they are on heats up, can she and Arnold find a meeting of the minds and hearts- in time to save both their skins? "My Soul to Take" by Clare Willis involves Maggie Dillon, a native of New Orleans and the doctor at a mental ward. But when she finds herself reacting to Derek, a musician who clains he is possessed, she must turn to alternate sources for help when her psychiatric skills fail her- like her sister, the Voodoo Queen. But can she free Derek from the entity that haunts him? I liked this book a lot. The stories were very interesting and each gave good story on the supernatural. My favorite was "The Phoenix Project" followed by "Spark of Temptation", but all of the stories were good and interesting to read. I liked how the stories did world building, even with so little space in which to do so. Even better, I ended up believing in each romance, again, despite the lack of length of the stories. Recommended.

Hot Lead, Cold Iron by Ari Marmell- Mich Oberon is a private eye working in Chicago in the 1930's. But he's more than just a private detective- Mich is a fairy, a Knight of the Seelie Court, and a self-imposed exile from Faerie. But when he is contacted by the wife of a mobster to find her missing daughter, who has had a changeling taking her place, Mick will have to search both Chicago and the Otherworld to find her- *and* find out why she was taken, and by whom. Either that, or have his secret revealed to the world. But if the cold iron in the city and the case doesn't kill him first, maybe, just maybe, he might find his way to repairing the reputation he never cared about before. This was, for me, a book I found interesting when it was returned to library by someone else. I love historical detective stories, and I love stories about elves and such, so I figured that this book was in my "golden zone". Well, not quite exactly. It's really soaked in the kind of "noir detective" side of the pool and that doesn't quite appeal to me as much as other periods in history. But reading about the fae in this particular Chicago captured my interest, and the case's twists and turns really kept me entralled. I ended up enjoying the novel, bit not quite as much as I expected to. Still. not a bad series, and one I would probably read more of in the future. Recommended.

The Defenders of Shannara: The High Druid's Blade by Terry Brooks- Paxon Leah is no noble- he's just one of many descendants of the Leah family. No longer nobles of any sort, he runs his family's shipping business for his mother and tries to keep an eye on his sister, Chrys, who has been running pretty wild lately. Paxton is just about to try and rein her in, at least a little, when he hears from the barmaid at the local bar that Chrys lost money gambling with a stranger, and when she couldn't pay what she owed right away, the man kidnapped her. Paxon takes his family's sword off the wall and goes in search of his sister, who has been kidanpped awayto Wayford. When Arcannen, his sister's kidnapper, lays him low at the local airfield, Paxon follows him with the sword. In Wayfield, he discovers that Arcannen has magic, but not that many people like him. Kidnapping his sister back, he is forced to fight Arcannen and discovers that the sword has magic after all- magic enough to defeat Arcannen. But Paxon has no idea how to use it. Contacted by the Druids, Paxon goes to meet them, and they agree to tutor him in magic and fighting- if he will serve the Druids for a time. Unbeknownst to Paxon, who agrees to the druid's offer. Arcannen isn't done with the Leahs, and it wasn't really Chrys that he wanted- he wanted Paxton and his blade- and his sister Chrys for an assassin. But who is she supposed to assassinate. As Paxton gets caught up in looking for a traitor amongst the Druids, and taking on various tasks, Chrys is kidnapped again and one of Arcannen's allies works to turn her into the assassin Arcannen needs. But can Paxon and his friends and allies amongst the Druids rescue Chrys and keep her safe? And can they also uncover the name of the traitor amongst the Druids and bring him, her or them to justice? I read the original Shannara books years ago, and I've eagerly followed the stories since, even the ones where they linked Shannara and the "Knight of the Word" books This one was no exception to the rule of how wonderful these books are. I connected with the characters right away, and the last books, about Arlingphant and Aphenglow Elessedil are referenced here- with the Druids restored, and the surviving sister now Ard Rhys. But plots abound., and there are rumbles of things going on under the surface that I am sure will come to fruition in future books, And I will definitely be there reading. Hihgly recommended,

Hill of Bones: A Historical Mystery by the Medieval Murderers (Karen Maitland, Susanna Gregory, Bernard Knight, Phillip Gooden and Ian Morson- This unusual Mystery series involes murders that takeplace through different times and eras in history- but around the same location. Here, the location is the Hill of Solsbury in Bath. Phillip Gooden starts off the book with a story of two brothers who go to join Arthur's forces at Solsbury Hill. One brother, Geraint, is carrying a dagger with an ivory hilt carved in the shape of a bear that he was given by a seer/witch and told he would know when to use it. But his secret is discovered by a fisherman in a coracle, and he may have to defend it with a murder- and save Arthur's ife as well. The next part of the book takes place in the 1100s, when a Knight who once supported King Richard, Symon Cole, and his wife, Gwenlian, are sent to Bath to solve the murder of its guardian by King John. John will take away Symon's lands if he cannot solve the murder and bring the culprit to justice, and confirm him in his lands if he solves the mystery. Gwenlian doesn't trust John and does some investigaiting on her own. But can she bring the culprit to justice and save her too-trusting husband from death? The Next part is written byBernard Knight and involves treasures, plare and a pyx from Bath Abbey. A Lay brother is charged with the thefts, but Riocas, a cat-catcher and Selwyn, the Royal Steward, must band together to free the innocent Lay Brother and find the true culrpit or culprits. The Next story tells of a man named William, who survived a shipwreck, who uses his abilities with medicine to become a prophet of God. He gets gullible villagers to follow him, but when one of his followers is murdered, he has to find out who really killed her, to save his own neck. But is he truly innocent after all? The next tale by Phillip Gooden, concerns a travelling player named Nick Reville. After playing a role in Bath, he is approached by a woman who wants him to impersonate her cousin to her dying Uncle. Nick reluctantly agrees to do so, and the man gives him a small chapbook before passing away. However, Nick is attacked several times for the book, and when the man's son arrives, Nick must help him find whoever is after the book in order to save his own life. But can he find the secret of the chapbook and who is after it in time?Then, in a tale by Ian Morson, Joe Malinferno, a sometimes con man and sometimes researcher and his companion, Doll Pocket, come to bath to open a mummy case for a rich patron. But when a murder occurs on Solsbury hill where the exhumation occurs, Queen Charlotte, one of the attendees, is implicated in the crime, and it's up to Joe and Doll to figure out who really killed the victim and who might have wanted to throw suspicion on Queen Charlotte. Lastly, the ending tale, by Bernard Knight, shows the history of the Hill when a dead body is discovered there, and it turns out to be a case for the archaeologists. But when competing theories come to blows, is anyone safe? This was quite an unusual idea for a book, but not the first book in this series. I wondered how it was going to work, and in practice, it turned out to be very good and interesting. The first story sets the scene and the last one lays it to rest, as missing items and dead bodies in plenty are recovered on the hill. This was unusual for a mystery book, and is more like a connected series of short tales, but all were well told and kept your interest from the first to the last. Highly recommended.

Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews- Kate Daniels is the mate of Curran, the Beast Lord of Atlanta, head of the Shapeshifter Council. But she is also the only daughter of Roland, one of the most powerful mages in the world, and since he's awakened, her ties to him are coming out, and that means nobody is safe. But when Curran is invited to another shapeshifter's territory who he is trying to make peace with, it's Kate as his mate who must attend the monthly conclave with the Masters of the Dead, those who rule and control vampires, which are brute, mindless beasts who will murder anything in their vicinity if left uncontrolled. But when Kate gets to the Conclave, she discovers that one of the local masters, Mulradin, has been killed by a local Werewolf- a woman who spends her free time making love in her beast form, which other shapeshifters consider unseemly. Added to this is the fact that the wolf Alpha is the wife of the former Alpha, and her Beta is pushing for Alpha status, because the Alpha just isn't strong enough. Said Alpha also blames Kate for the death of her husband, so Kate is unwilling to intervene in the conflict. But when Kate and Ghastek, the other Master of the Undead, are kidnapped by Hugh, her father's servitor, Kate and Ghastek must survive until Curran can come rescue them. But they aren't just anywhere, but a very specific place- Mishmar, her father's tower/place of torture. Protected by crazy, ancient vampires and magic, she, Curran, Ghastek, and their allies must then continue to survive and get out of Mishmar, and even then, Katehas to find a way to get her father to leave her, Atlanta, Curran and everything else she loves- without becoming her father in the process. But can she find a way that won't leave her becoming the same kind of thing that her father is, and will still protect others from him? The book ends with a short story about Kate's adopted daughter, is bored with her school and doesn't want to go. Kate wants her to attend a school for users of magic, but when a young girl disappears from the School, Kate asks Julie to investigate the disappearance because someone as young as she is wouldn't stand out as much as Kate. But can Julie find out Lisa's secret and discover what has become of her? And will she end up attending the school later? I got into Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels books when the first book came out, which, hard as it is to believe, was seven years ago. This book seems like it could be the end (right up until the very last lines, but it isn't, and I am glad the series will be ongoing after this one. But this book does make some major changes- not just in the life of Kate and Julie, but of Curran and Atlanta. I loved this book for how much we are still learning about the characters and cultures of the various wereanimals. Here we see more about some of the twisted sex lives of certain weres, and certain humans, and we also learn about the early life of Ghastek, and why he became a Master of the Dead. It was quite enlightening as well as being entertaining. I really enjoyed reading this book, and I felt that everything had changed by the end of the book. This is one you shouldn't miss if you like the Adventures of Kate Daniels.. Highly Recommended.

The Eye of the World Graphic Novel, Volume Five by Robert Jordan, Chuck Dixon, Marcio Florito and Frances Nuguit- The Ta'veren have become separated, but events are drawing them back together in Caemlyn. Rand and Matt make it there first, and Mat is ill. They take rooms in an Inn called "The Queen's Blessing", where Rand meets Loial, an Ogier. Meanwhile, Lan, Moiraine and Nynaeve rescue Perrin and Egwene from the Children of the Light. Rand also goes to see a captured Logain, the False Dragon, and climbs the walls of the palace to see the procession, but when he falls into the gardens surrounding the palace, he meets Elaine Trakand, the Princess, and her companion, Gwyn. Taken before the Queen on suspicion of being an Aielman, Rand must defend himself from a green-robed Aes Sedai wh does not believe him. But the Queen, Morgause, sets him free, but tells him to stay in the city while Elaine leaves for Tar Valon and the tower of the Aes Sedai. But when Moraine and the others arrive, she discovers the source of Mat's illness, a blade that Mat stole from Shadar Logroth and didn't tell anyone about until they were separated. Moiraine is able to take it from him, but evil follows the blade and radiates from it. It was about to take Mat over, but she is able to help him a little bit- enough to bring him back to what he was, temporarily- but she can't remove the blade from him without killing him. Forced to flee the city, the band, now including Loial, must travel the darkways of the Ogier. But will the ways be intact? and can they escape the trollocs, Myddral and Fades by using the darkways? Another excellent graphic novel that better illustrates the Eye of the World novel- though we're talking an ungodly number of grphic novels if they adapr the whole thing.into graphic novel form. But it's well done, and I enjoyed seeing the book in this form, and seeing more depictions of the characters than just on the cover. I can't imagine doing the entire series this way- because it would take up so much room. But it's nice to read nonetheless. Recommended.

Forever by Jacqueline Frank- Jackson Waverly has come back from the brink of death by bonding with Menes a pharoah from a race of Nightwalkers. But Jackson, who is slowly bonding with Menes, is also interested in Doctor Marissa Anderson. Menes is interested in finding the perfect women to bond with the woman he loves, the Pharoah Hatshepsut, but Jackson, a canine-handling cop, is more interested in Marissa, who is avoiding her feelings entirely. But when Jackson, on a hunt for a missing kid, is attacked by the Nightwalkers who are inimical to his own faction, he's dorced to bond more quickly, and reveals his secret to Marissa in the process. But the other side's leader makes a mistake of his own and bonds Odjit, his female leader, with the spirit of Apep, god of destruction. And while he cannot undo it, he must make his peace with Menes and Ramses and their allied Nightwalkers to defeat Apep. But Jackson's friend Leo is his prisoner, and being tortured by Chatha, a Nighwalker who delights in torture, and bonded with a Down's Syndrome child-man. As things change,

Guardians of the Galaxy by Jim Valentino- This graphic novel contains the old school 70's versions of the Guardians, and not the characters from the recent movie. Here, we see the Yondu, Martinex, Aleta. Charlie-27, Major Vance Astro and Nikki. Charlie is a Jovian, from Jupiter, while Nikki is a Mercurian, from Mercury. Nikki and Charlie are friends, but he wants to be something more. First, Yondu, who is the last male of his race, goes crazy, wanting to hunt down Force, who exterminated his people- especially since the only female of his race hates him. But Yondu wants to mate with her to bring back their people, and he is incensed that the Guardians are being late at hunting down Force. Meanwhile, Aleta is looking for some love of her own, and looking at Vance Astro, bearer of Captain America's shield. She and Martinex were once married, but when he killed her children and imprisoned her inside him, her love turned to hate. But Vance, imprisoned in his own suit lest his skin oxidize on contact with air, only has his little pocket dimension where he can shed his costume and be a human again- a dimension that Aleta can enter, as she can switch her form to being only light. Meanwhile the ship warps to a planet named Haven, home of the last of the Mutants from Earth, They fled, looking for a home of their own, but with each succeeding generation, the number of mutants lessened, and the number of normal humans grew, until now, a world of humans in ruled by just seven mutants, and they have become tyrants. Their ruler is Rancor, a descendant of Wolverine. Giraud, a human, is rescued from a mutant-induced interrogation, and the Guardians Quiz him on what life is like on the surface. He gladly answers their questions and begs for their help in unseating Rancor and the other mutants. But while some of the Guardians go off to see for themselves what is going on, Martinex seeks out an ancient power to help free Giraud's people. And when the other Guardians are attacked, it's up to this ancient force, the Phoenix. But can he find someone willing to bind with the Phoenix, and when Rancor decides to destroy the planet rather than let the humans win, can the Guardians save the rest of the people?And even if they can save them, can the Guardians accept one of thr Havenites as a new member of their team. Afterwards, the Guardians have an encounter with the Ghost Rider, they meet up with their opposite numbers when they run afoul of Mephisto, and Aleta disappears, along with Martinex, perhaps forever. And finally, the Guardians return to Earth, only to find it in the midst of a Civil War, but can they ferret out the true villains amisdt the chaos? And which Superhero from Old Earth is still alive? The Guardians undergo changes in their line-up, and who will remain at the end of the book? This was the old Guardians of the Galaxy and had a very different set of characters from the Newer Giardians in the movie. For instance, two of the Guardians are from Humans who colonized both Mercury and one of the moons of Jupiter. Charlie-27 is extremely strong, thanks to the higher gravity of Jupiter and Nikki exudes heath through pores on her head, giving her a literally flaming head. And while the guardians of the movie seem to get the goofier stories, the stories here are prety straight-up insofar ad their seriousness level goes. It's not a bad book, but if you're looking for a Guardians of the Gakaxt movie-tyoe story, you aren't going to find it here. Nonetheless, it's an excellent book and there's lots of interesting stuff going on. I just wish they'd used the characters better. Recommended.

Captain America: Loose Nuke- Cap has just gotten back from spending ten years in an alternate reality where Arnim Zola ruled the world. Coming back with him is Jet, Arnim Zola's daughter, who was trained to rule the world. But Cap's life for those ten years are something quite different, and "The Iron Nail", a new villain, is determined to expost S.H.I.E.L.D., and he'll use every dirty trick to do so, Even exploiting both Cap, who is both in mourning for Sharon Carter, who was killed just before they got out, and Arnim Zola's son, who Cap had raised for the ten years, teaching him to reject the attitudes of his father, and accept Cap's Americn Ideals. But Cap's needed immediately and doesn't have time to mourn, no matter how much he needs it. He's sent after Nuke, a former American Soldier from Vietnam who was given a version of the Super-Soldier serum that drove him just a bit crazy. But it's more the mental conditioning they tried to use on him that cause many of his continuing problems. But when Cap, who is broken up inside, catches up with Nuke, will he be able to reatin hia ideals, or will he let the rage festering inside him come out? And how will Cap deal with Nuke, who is both a victim and a villain? This was a very rare experience, to read a book where Captain America has been driven to his breaking point, and he's being forced to go even further with a man who seems to be a villain, hurting the others who have attacked America in the past. But can Cap unwittingly foil the plot put in place by Iron Nail, and who is the one who gave "Iron Nail" his powers (It looks like it could possibly be Fin Fang Foom, but I honestly have no idea. Also making an appearance in the book is The Falcon, who sees Steve and his need for healing, but is unable to convince Maria Hill that Cap really needs some time to adjust. We also get to see Cap as a boy, and see his mother, the reason why Cap grew up the way he did. One thing I didn't understand about this book is how we get to see both Ultimates Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and normal Earth 616 Fury in the same book without it really being explained. Also, the book ends on a cliffhanger with a villain who strongly reminded me of the Riddler in design (not powers or name). I will be interested to see what this new villain does and how he deals with Cap- and how, and when Cap deals with him when they finally come to blows. Recommended.

What People Wore When:  A Complete Illustrated History of Costume from Ancient Times to the Nineteenth Century for Every Level of Society- Consultant Editor Melissa Leventon- This book is exactly what it describes, but it features the artwork of two older artists, Frierich Hottentoth and Auguste Racinet. And while the drawings of various times and places are nice, as the text says, they are not always correct- sometimes te artists changed colors, or misattribted what they were copying, or just got it wrong. Which often made me wish that these were based on new drawings instead of correcting various older ones. Still, it's a large and extensive catalogue of drawings show changes in fashion through the ages and the various wrinkles of what fashions changed where and wny. The back of the book is packed full of pictures or various details, like hoods, collars and necklines. It's a wonderful book- huge and weighty, and is full of different fashions and when and by whom they were worn. For those interested in the history of fashion, it's an invaluable book- but with the caveats I mentionef before- I would have preferred new drawings based on actual remaininf costumes and outfits. Still definitely recommended.

1 comment:

Mike Smith said...

this could make a book if it isn't one