This is the darkest volume, and that's saying something. Rachel Cole-Alves really has to count the cost of her mission to punish criminals. Castle doe...moreThis is the darkest volume, and that's saying something. Rachel Cole-Alves really has to count the cost of her mission to punish criminals. Castle doesn't take it easy on her. He treats her like the soldier she is. Lays it out on the line for her. The storyline building up from the first books culminates in a way that is very intense. I can't say anything more without spoiling it.
This is a riveting read. I love this series, even when it's hard to read.(less)
I'm really sucked into this series. There is a tremendous meeting of the minds between Castle and Cole-Alves. They almost don't have to talk, but comm...moreI'm really sucked into this series. There is a tremendous meeting of the minds between Castle and Cole-Alves. They almost don't have to talk, but communicate via body language. This is probably a good and bad thing, because they both understand their rage and need to punish those who have taken their loved ones away and will do the same to others. Even the secondary characters have an impact on the storyline. I liked the dialogue between the two detectives on the trail of the Punisher and his new ally. One represents the side of the person who is sympathetic to the Punisher, and who thinks he's doing the right thing, the other on the side of the law and true justice. I think they represent the duality of the reader, their thoughts on both sides of the equation.
The artwork is gorgeous. I think the artist is excellent at conveying the sense of purpose and the intensity of the characters on their faces, making up for a lack of dialogue, and also conveying action on the page.
I especially liked the Punisher/Spider-Man/Daredevil crossover. Daredevil is determined to steer Cole-Alves off the path she has taken, when he failed to do so with Castle.
I am going to be sad when I run out of this run of The Punisher. I still don't know if I'm ready to read the more hardcore Garth Ennis version, and I like the dynamic of Cole-Alves.(less)
I wasn't sure about this series. I loved the first movie and hated the second (I'm totally excluding the very first movie with Dolph Lundgren, which w...moreI wasn't sure about this series. I loved the first movie and hated the second (I'm totally excluding the very first movie with Dolph Lundgren, which was execrable), and I am not 100% sold on the idea of the Punisher. I like some vigilantes, such as Batman and Daredevil. I can understand what drives them to use force and violence in the cause of justice. In the case of the Punisher, his justice is very final and brutal. He doesn't kill innocent people, but if you're a violent criminal, you're fair game.
I decided to give this a try because I have read other work by Greg Rucka, and I figured this character would be in good hands with him. My conclusion is that I was right that he would do a good job with Castle.
Castle's motivations are completely understandable, and he doesn't come off as a sociopath or someone who has parted entirely with morality. Instead he is a fatal solution to the devastating disease of crime. With criminals of the sort in this book, I think Castle is probably necessary. I'm not saying I condone lethal violence in real life, so let me make that clear.
This story arc features a young bride whose entire wedding party (including her husband) were murdered. She survived and has to deal with the aftermath of losing everyone. Castle goes on the hunt for all the men who committed the savage mass murder. The survivor turns out to lead to a cabal of organized criminals who are even worse. They know the Punisher is on their trail and he won't stop until he's Punished them all. They take some measures to see that he is unable to get his work done, but they have underestimated how determined the Punisher is to 'punish' criminals, like the ones who savagely murdered his innocent family.
The artwork is good. While the imagery is violent, it's not over-the-top and too graphic. The movie Punisher: War Zone is an example of how excessive violence can be depicted in the wrong way, and stands in sharp contrast to the first movie, which was also violent, but certainly not shlocky about it. The artist has a way of capturing motion in an extremely vivid way that feels real time. The depiction of the wedding massacre was done in a way that was transmitted the horror of the situation without being gratuitous or exploitative. I liked that particularly violent scenes are given soft focus. While there was some gory imagery, it wasn't over the top.
I like the look of the Punisher. His spray-painted shirt and his slightly flyaway black hair. The rocklike expression that reveals little and inspires fear in his prey. It takes talent to depict a character like the Punisher without him appearing wooden. Instead, his face is a mask that hides so much emotion and thought, but most of all, sheer, adamant determination.
I'm glad I gave this series a chance. I really liked this book and plan to read more by Rucka. I'm not sure I'm ready for Ennis' incarnation, but we'll see.(less)
I am very tardy at writing this review! I have read so many graphic novels in the past couple of months, and I've just been fatigued and sadly, writin...moreI am very tardy at writing this review! I have read so many graphic novels in the past couple of months, and I've just been fatigued and sadly, writing reviews has felt like a chore lately. Having said that, I am glad to get back and review this very good graphic novel.
When one thinks of Marvel characters, your mind doesn't necessarily go right to Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD, but honestly, he's a bit like the glue of the Marvel universe in some ways. Or at least the Kevin Bacon (as in Six Degree of Separation). Definitely when it comes to the Avengers-related storylines. Well, in this one, it's his show. He's a man on a mission.
SHIELD has been infiltrated and disavowed by the government. It's essentially been rolled over into HAMMER, headed up by Norman Osborn. Nick knows something is stinking in Denmark, and he's going to make things right. Even though SHIELD is no more, he still has plenty of tricks up his sleeve. He's been a warrior, spy, and commander, so he knows what he's doing, and ruthless and determined enough to do it.
The villains are nasty and formidable. The good guys feel like underdogs, even though Nick, Dum Dum Dugan and his Howling Commandos are very skilled at taking on 'nasty' bad guys (see what they did in WWII, if you have questions about it). Fury called in his contingency plan, activating SHIELD assets and individuals with potential. Some of them are quite young, but needs must. If I think really hard, it seems really scary for teens to be taking on nasty foes like the Gorgon and Lady Hydra. However, they know what they are getting into and want this opportunity to serve their country, even knowing that some of them will die in the process.
I liked the way this book was put together. It had plenty of graphics and visuals about the enormity of SHIELD and their long-time adversary, HYDRA. Being a geek, I read each and every chart, table and map. It helped to expand my understanding of the incredible task that Nick has set for himself.
This was a great find at the library. I'm just sad that my library doesn't have the rest of this series. I want to finish it. It's kind of pricy to buy, so I have decide if I'm willing to splurge to read the rest of these. I was glad I took a chance on this. No, it's not the X-Men or The Avengers, but it was just as cool in a different way. I didn't underestimate Fury before, but I have gained even more respect for him.
Secret Warriors is a very good adventure series with a touch of the superhero fiction vibe to satisfy comic book lovers. If you can find a copy, it's worth reading.(less)
I think that reading this alone out of the whole series doesn't give you the entire picture. I feel like I have some holes in my understanding. I am h...moreI think that reading this alone out of the whole series doesn't give you the entire picture. I feel like I have some holes in my understanding. I am hoping my library has all or most of these. I like the idea of presenting the situation through the eyes of various characters in the Marvel world. Each one would have a different vantage point based on their worldview and life experiences.
It's not a big surprise that Captain America and Iron Man come out on different sides of the issue. However, Captain America stands against the Superhero Registration out of sheer belief that it is wrong and it goes against the principles of a free society. As a true patriot, he is willing to fight for the rights of others. Iron Man doesn't have a POV in this story, so it's hard to argue his viewpoint, but I believe in his own way, he thinks he's doing the right thing as well. That's the anguish of the situation, that there are good people on both sides, although the baddies like HYDRA and Dr. Doom are going to use the discord to advance their own agendas.
The Winter Soldier has a big role in this book, as well as some protegees of well known superheroes, such as the next Hawkeye, Kate Bishop. Even Namor, who fought with Cap back in WWII shows up. It was neat to read more about TWS after seeing the excellent movie a couple of months prior to this. I hadn't even heard of him until the movie came out and from watching Marvel's Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
The artwork is lovely and the writing touches on the emotional battlefield that Captain and others around him face. Civil War is an apt title for this series, because we are seeing the Marvel heroes well and truly divided. (less)
This book is for fans of scintillating dialogue and stimulating back and forth between the hero and heroine. It brings to mind "Taming of the Shrew" i...moreThis book is for fans of scintillating dialogue and stimulating back and forth between the hero and heroine. It brings to mind "Taming of the Shrew" in the best ways. The chemistry is excellent, and while this is on the lighter side for a historical romance, it's a fun ride to watch Lucy and Derek go at it, and fall deeper in love with each encounter. It has a love scene that made me fan myself!
As always, I enjoyed this book by Ms. Thomas. Her writing is warm and sweet and beguiling. Her characters are distinct with interesting layers. I feel...moreAs always, I enjoyed this book by Ms. Thomas. Her writing is warm and sweet and beguiling. Her characters are distinct with interesting layers. I feel like I am an honorary member of Harmony, Texas. I am always happy to go back there for a visit.
I'm going against the crowd in my rating for this book. I loved it. Honestly, I didn't think a book about the Napoleonic invasion of Russia would floa...moreI'm going against the crowd in my rating for this book. I loved it. Honestly, I didn't think a book about the Napoleonic invasion of Russia would float my boat (despite my history appreciation), but it did. I loved the mix of military history and murder mystery. I think that the well-done characterization was a deciding factor in gaining my interest. I found the fact that the main characters are part of Napoleon's Army, thus, sort of on the bad guy side, and I rooted for them to survive what history tells me was a devastating campaign added to my high rating. I'm sure that some reviewers could find more things to pick apart in this book, but I found it fascinating. I also give points for the fact that it was very coherent, considering it was translated from French to English. Not a quick read by any means, but a fulfilling one.
While I'm not a big zombie fiction fan, I couldn't resist reading this book about WWI with a supernatural/steampunk twist. And Joseph Nassise doesn't...moreWhile I'm not a big zombie fiction fan, I couldn't resist reading this book about WWI with a supernatural/steampunk twist. And Joseph Nassise doesn't disappoint. It's high caliber action that brings to mind movies like The Dirty Dozen, but twenty plus years sooner. I don't know a lot about WWI, to be honest, but what Nassise writes seems credible. I like that he takes what is known about WWI fighting and integrates some steampunkish and supernatural elements. I think that he builds on the ever-present sense of horror that war inherently has, and that's a firm foundation for a supernatural suspense novel. I can't verify this, but the Germans seemed kind of Nazish already, especially in the blatant defiance of human rights and experimentation on humans. That part was rather disturbing.
I felt the suspense element was a huge appeal of this book. I literally didn't know what would happen and I even had to put it down a few times to get a break. Although I wanted to keep reading. I find zombies really disturbing, and the fact that the Germans are using gas to turn people into zombies is pretty darn awful. I wanted the heroes to open up a can of whip@$$ all over them.
If anything could have improved this was more dialogue and interaction with the members of Burke's team. I cared about all these guys, but I think I would have liked to know more about them. I realize that this book occurs over a short period of time, but this would have enhanced my reading experience. The main villain Richthofen was a "real you know what". He's the kind of villain you want to see get his butt handed to him. But he's a credible villain in that he's not easily defeated. He's enough to give you nightmares, actually. I don't think I'll have any, I hope. But just in case, I tried not to read this before I went to sleep. This book is so much scary as unnerving in that I can put myself in the soldiers' shoes and imagine that sense of constant fear that dealt with in the trenches. If being blown up or shot or gassed to death isn't enough. That's a chance they will be turned into zombies or see their fellow soldiers come back to try to eat them to death! Yeah, that's pretty disturbing.
Overall, this was a very good book. Great action moments. I liked the lead characters, especially Burke. The villain is nasty enough to make him a worthy antagonist. The supernatural/steampunk parts are excellent. They tie into the WWI setting very well. I think with more development of the secondary characters, this book would have been even more effective as a read. I will definitely continue this series, but when I'm in the mood for a creepy zombie novel with good action.
Jack Walker’s dream was to be a Navy SEAL. He was going to make it through BUD/S training, no matter how much it punished his body. Just four more wee...moreJack Walker’s dream was to be a Navy SEAL. He was going to make it through BUD/S training, no matter how much it punished his body. Just four more weeks. But he’s pulled out of training early, and drafted into an ultra-secret, elite SEAL team, one that has an unusual team number. This team fights threats against the free world that are supernatural in origin. And Jack is specially equipped to be a member. For the dark scars of his youth mark him with a special ability to sense evil.
I liked the idea of this book, a military special ops story with a supernatural twist. Ochse’s attention to detail as far as military ops lends credibility to the writing. I really appreciated the look at how a SEAL team operates and the whole involved procedure of keeping the world safe, top secret-style, with the ancillary support of various defense agency personnel. His focus seems to be more on this than the supernatural component, but he grafts together the two aspects of the story fairly well. Still this book seemed thin to me. Like it was serviceable, but merely scratching the surface of possibilities. Yes, I think that was the big issue I had with this book. It lacked depth.
I wanted more character exploration. While I felt I did get to know Jack fairly well, I didn’t get more than a surface portrayal of most of the others. I realize that the story occurs in a short period of time, but I had this feeling that the characters merely existed to move the story, or to get killed off. That saddened me. The death of a team member and the ritual associated with his passing, had more time spent on it than seeing that team member as a living, breathing human. Of course, death is an everyday experience for these men. They know they could die on any mission they undertake. But I needed to know them better, because knowing someone is part of the process of caring for them, that they live and die for a purpose. Otherwise, our mental health defenses build a wall between us and the suffering of others in the world, because to cry for every person who dies will destroy you. We just don’t have that capacity. But if you know someone, even a little, it breaks your heart to know they have died. To introduce a character only to kill them without much effort to infuse depth makes a mockery of that. I really dislike the tendency towards presenting characters as sacrificial lambs in a story. Just enough to introduce a character and then they get killed off. I felt this was a shortcoming of this novel.
The action is well done. The pace was intense and appropriate. I got the real sense that I was going on ops with these guys. In this case, all in relation to the supernatural threats in this book. If even possible, that brings a higher level of threat to the situation. There’s only so much a gun can do against an undead, immortal threat, or one from a world of strangeness that doesn’t follow the rules that govern this physical one.
The supernatural storyline was intriguing and definitely horrific. Ochse does build the sense of wrongness and weirdness that would disturb an average person. I like a weird supernatural story like nobody’s business, but I had some moments where I was thinking, “That’s just wrong!” Imagine being a SEAL, trained to eliminate lethal threats all around the world, but previously naïve to the supernatural darkness in this world. You have to keep moving and do your job, and you don’t have time for “WTFs”. So yes, that part was very well done. The particular threat they faced in this book felt novel and very intimidating, and the author ties it into things going on in the world arena. While the climax was too abrupt for my tastes, it definitely had impact, and as I said, I enjoyed the action moments.
With this book, I had that feeling that everything was scratching the surface when I wanted things to get deeper. With an intriguing storyline like this, I get excited to see what journey the author will take me on. Overall, this was a book that kept me reading. It was a pretty good book. A nice mélange of spec ops action and supernatural weirdness. I think the author could have given me more as far as characterization, which is the biggest shortcoming of this novel. However, I would keep reading this if it becomes a series.
Oh my goodness. This is one of those that has a sappy romantic like myself sighing. A lonely, isolated man. A woman who 'has it together' or so it see...moreOh my goodness. This is one of those that has a sappy romantic like myself sighing. A lonely, isolated man. A woman who 'has it together' or so it seems, but is a wreck on the inside. And they find each other.
The Beauty and the Beast retelling doesn't get old for me. After all, I am a die-hard romantic and a die-hard fairy tale lover. Pepper Pace does both so well here. Yet, instead of the Beast being grumpy and surly, Christopher is the sweetest teddy bear (although he probably resembles a Grizzly bear) imaginable. I loved him!
Pace challenges the reader here. Our Beauty has a significant weight problem. And the weight problem isn't her issue, but the emotions underneath it, the ones that caused her weight issues, and the results of them. If you've ever been overweight, you know how it is for Ashleigh. The comments that hit like barbs, because someone thinks they have the right to say something or the fact that they are insensitive, because they've never struggled with weight problems. The assumptions made about you because of your weight.
On the other side, she doesn't make Ashleigh into a completely harmless victim. Ashleigh has some shallowness issues to work through. But that's the beauty of this story. She is able to see the beauty beneath the horrible scars and disfigurement that Christopher has. I truly loved the emotional connection between Christopher and Ashleigh. And there was also a very sensual component to this book, for romance readers who need that in their stories. Lots of spice and hot love scenes to go with an emotional love story that feels so authentic and timeless.
When I got to 38% on my Kindle and love declarations were made, I wondered what else could happen in this book. Well, plenty. This is a love story about not just two people finding each other, but also also finding their way to healing. Making a life together in spite of obstacles they both face.
When you read these kinds of stories, the stubborn person in you is determined to be upset if the problem is fixed, such as the heroine losing weight, or the hero getting his disfigurement repaired. But is that truly fair to the story for the characters not to go through that passage 'just because'? After all, it's easy to stay where you are. Even harder to take that step of faith to change something about yourself for the right reasons. In this case, the resolution made so much sense and only added to this story.
If I could change anything? That's a matter of personal tastes, and I'm sure many will disagree with me. However, I could have done without some of the graphic language in the love scenes. While they were scintillating and the chemistry powerful, I guess I didn't need to read certain terms when it came to body parts. That's a small quibble.
I'm personally no grammar stickler, but there were a couple issues there. I feel bad even pointing them out because a 100% accurate book doesn't necessarily tell a story that I love, like this somewhat imperfect one does. Overall, I found the writing very poised, professional, and so emotionally-stirring that I couldn't help but give this a five star rating.
This was a beautiful love story. That's kind of ironic, because this story is about how what's on the surface doesn't show you everything. That what is at the heart is worth fighting for in the end.
Highly recommended to romance readers who enjoy a more sensually descriptive love story, or just any old sap who can't resist a tried and true love story.(less)
How much can a person survive before their humanity is destroyed?
Cassie is a young woman who will learn exactly what makes her human and what would ca...moreHow much can a person survive before their humanity is destroyed?
Cassie is a young woman who will learn exactly what makes her human and what would cause her to lose the intrinsic element to her nature. She goes from being a normal teenager who has nothing more to worry about than whether her epic crush on Ben Parrish will be returned, to losing nearly everything, and living in a earth decimated by an alien invasion that is nothing like the ones showcased in movies and books thus far.
The aliens want the earth, and view humans as pests, much like we view cockroaches. Their solution, to kill off the majority with cataclysms and world-wide pestilence, and let hysteria and suspicion do the rest of the work.
What happens when humans can't trust each other and start viewing each other as the enemy? It's not much longer before humanity becomes extinct.
Cassie learns the hard way that she is safer alone, trusting no one, but she made a vow to her brother, and she will do anything to keep that vow. When her life is saved by Evan Walker, every hard lesson she learned to stay alive in the earth devastated by the alien invasion will be tested. Can she trust, when trust has led to betrayal?
This is a bleak and heartbreaking read. I listened to the audio, and I would highly recommend this medium because it makes the story that much more personal. The narrators, Phoebe Stohl and Brandon Espinoza allow us to view the story through their eyes, and feel their pain. Their voices portray the passion and pain, the angst and longing, and the violated innocence of young people who are in a horrible situation that they cannot escape.
While this is okay for the older end of the young adult audience, I don't feel that subject matter is appropriate to kids younger than 14. The atmosphere is dark and desperate, and people die in this book. Lots of them, and many in horrible ways. Not only that, but people are forced to kill others to survive or as part of the consequences of the invasion. But don't misconstrue me to be saying this is full of gratuitous violence. Many who have read Yancey's Monstrumologist series know that Yancey is not afraid of gore, but he doesn't take that tactic in this book. Instead, his tone is frighteningly realistic. Don't think that just because the majority of the characters are children, that he will take it easy on them. You'd be lying to yourself.
As a reader, I was sucked into this world, and I asked myself how I would adapt or deal with the circumstances that our characters faced. I am amazed at the resilience of the young. That Cassie could stay strong in heart and her mind whole after seeing what she's seen and being forced to make decisions she never would have faced before. That Ben could find the strength to keep living under his burden of guilt for surviving when his family and many others didn't. That they both could deal with the massive betrayals they suffered.
While clearly science fiction, the use of technology is minimal, but it feels credible. Enough that the presence of the alien invaders is undeniable. But not so much to blunt the realism of the novel.
The tension is neck-breaking, sustained until the last words of the book. I honestly had to take my time listening to this. It's so bleak and depressing at times, it doesn't make for 'fun' reading. But at the same time, I can say this was a fantastic and moving book. I think this book shows what can be achieved in young adult literature. Showing teenagers and young people in a scenario where as much is demanded of the reader as is of the characters. Not lightening the subject matter just to get a YA rating, or fantasizing or sensationalizing the story either to get more readers. From the beginning, I was engaged in this novel, and even when things got harrowing and I feared for what would happened next, I couldn't turn off the CD player and refuse to finish the book. I had to know what Cassie would do next, how she would handle the next situation. If she would find her brother and save him.
Yancey made me care about these people. He made me rage that children had to make these kinds of decisions, but at the same time, he didn't give me a convenient villain, not in the easy way that can happen in fiction. Instead, I was continually forced to reevaluate the situation and my hypotheses, along with the characters. There were times, I just gave up on making a guess on what was going to happen and I just kept listening and decided to let the chips fall where they may.
You wonder what an author feels when he puts his characters through the depredations seen in this book. Does it hurt like he's hacking off a limb? Does he smile gleefully at the computer screen? Or does he feel the grim determination of a surgeon who is cutting into their patient to save its life? This is a question that books like this make me ask. In a strange way, I feel more connected to the writer of a book like this, because I can imagine that the creative process was a demanding one. The they sweated and shed their own blood to write a book just for me to read.
I recommend this book fully to readers who are prepared to face the bleak, upsetting content of this novel. To walk in the shoes of these young people who have to face the end of the world head on, and can't close the book and read something else when it gets too painful for them.(less)
Another very pleasant read by Manda Collins. She writes Regency with a light, enjoyable tough. Nicely sensual, and very steeped in the period. Good ro...moreAnother very pleasant read by Manda Collins. She writes Regency with a light, enjoyable tough. Nicely sensual, and very steeped in the period. Good romance.
A quick and enjoyable read that I pulled out of the pile because I am a sucker for the plain jane, marriage of convenience, and scarred hero themes. C...moreA quick and enjoyable read that I pulled out of the pile because I am a sucker for the plain jane, marriage of convenience, and scarred hero themes. Captain Caine Morleigh is an heir to an earldom who was badly scarred in the Napoleonic Wars. His fiancee' repudiated him after the bandages came off. She even screamed and fainted. That was enough for Caine to know he wouldn't be marrying her. Now Caine needs to find a new bride. This time around, he will choose an unattractive bride, a wallflower desperate for marriage, one who won't mind his unpleasant visage and make few demands on him, happy to be married. His eyes fall on Lady Grace, and he decides she's the one. She's very thin and unprepossessing in appearance. But she has spirit, which he finds out when he asks her to dance and then to marry him. Grace says yes, only to get away from her uncle, who has been mistreating and threatening her. But she is going to make sure that her marriage is to her benefit as well. She wants a real marriage in which her husband respects her and allows her to be true to herself and in which he demands no less than they both deserve in a marriage. Caine comes to realize that his wallflower bride will require a lot more of him than he expected, and give a lot more in return. And that he loves her for it.
I've missed reading Lyn Stone's historical romance books. I'm glad she's writing them again. This book has a trad regency feel, with authentic characters and actions that take me back to that period. Although not G-rated, it is not very explicit in sensuality, but the chemistry, attraction and bond between Caine and Grace is apparent and appealing. I loved Grace's spunk. She wasn't passive or willing to allow herself to be treated as less than she deserved. Her situation with her uncle put her in the position of being a victim but that wasn't natural for her. When she accepts Caine's proposal, she blooms with the freedom and safety he offers, and her real personality comes back to life, and in the process, Caine falls head over heels for her. I was glad that he came to appreciate his bride for the pearl that she was. I liked Caine a lot too. Although his initial plan seemed cold-hearted, he treated Grace kindly and respectfully from the beginning. There was never a question that he was a good guy. He just had some wrong idea about controlling his life by marrying the kind of woman who wouldn't demand too much from him. Fortunately, something in him choose the right woman in the end, and she was exactly what he needed, if not the convenient wife he expected.
Not a ground-breaking book or a foundation-shaker, but a good read. A pleasant love story that kept me reading. Write more please, Ms. Stone. 4 stars!(less)
This book is another excellent addition to Clare's excellent romantic suspense series. Very timely, with a balanced view of the current situation rega...moreThis book is another excellent addition to Clare's excellent romantic suspense series. Very timely, with a balanced view of the current situation regarding Jihadist terrorism going on in the world today. Spicy and emotional.