I'm going to admit to a small love affair with this story. It may be completely dated, but to me it remains one of the most defining X-Men stories. Ev...moreI'm going to admit to a small love affair with this story. It may be completely dated, but to me it remains one of the most defining X-Men stories. Ever.
Back in the day, the Chris Claremont and John Byrne run on X-Men was one of the most exciting eras in the comic's history. Quite a bit of what we see happening in the X-Men stories of today are direct results of what these two men did with the characters back then, and nothing seemed to be bigger during that time than the Dark Phoenix Saga. Jean Grey had been reborn as Phoenix after saving her teammates at the apparent cost of her own life. It quickly became clear that her powers had grown tremendously, and seemed to continue growing exponentially. Eventually, through the manipulations of Mastermind, the true overwhelming potential of her power became evident and Dark Phoenix was born, a being with powers of a cosmic proportion. To sate her hunger, she consumed a star, causing it to go supernova and destroying an inhabited world. Upon arriving back to Earth, the X-Men attacked Jean and tried to diffuse her power. When they were unable to accomplish this, Professor X took matters in his own hands and challenged Dark Phoenix on the psychic level, and won, supposedly locking Dark Phoenix back away in Jean's mind. However at that moment, in order to pay for her transgressions, Lilandra kidnapped the X-Men and sentenced Phoenix to death. Professor X challenged his X-Men against Lilandra's Imperial Guard for the life of Jean Grey, and both teams were sent to the Blue Area of the moon to battle. During the course of the battle, Jean began to feel Dark Phoenix taking control, and instead of allowing that to happen and to have more blood on her hands, she decides to take her own life, thus ending the battle.
There were so many other great moments in this storyline: the introduction of Emma Frost, the Hellfire Club, Kitty Pryde, Dazzler. All of this was paving the road for some great stories through the rest of the 80s. Like I said before, it it definitely dated. The need to re-introduce a characters name and their power and/or weakness, ever single issue, becomes even more tiring when you're reading a collected edition like this, but even so, I still love to pull this off the shelf every couple of years to give it a reread. This new 30th Anniversary Edition is gorgeous, and the coloring is nice and crisp.
Now, for the only complaint about the collection: charging $75 for this edition is ridiculous. The two Inferno collections cost $75 each, and they each collect roughly 600 pages of story each, where The Dark Phoenix Saga is only 350 pages. To me, this is something of a ripoff. This new edition does collect a short story from Classic X-Men and Bizarre Adventures, the Phoenix: The Untold Story one-shot (which is the original version of the story where Jean Grey lives) and a What If? story about what would have happened if Jean Grey lived, but still, $75 is a steep price for this collection. It is so nicely presented that I can almost forgive them the price, but just barely; obviously, it didn't stop me from buying the edition.
I would highly recommend this edition to any X-Men fans, but for somebody who is just looking for a quick read and is not as interested in all the extras with this edition, spend the lesser money and get the trade paperback edition. This edition is really only for the hard-core fans.(less)
In Meg Waite Clayton's latest, we are again introduced to a group of friends, but instead of watching their friendship grow like we did in The Wednesd...moreIn Meg Waite Clayton's latest, we are again introduced to a group of friends, but instead of watching their friendship grow like we did in The Wednesday Sisters, we find ourselves in the midst of a friendship already decades in the making. Mia, Laney, Betts, and Ginger have been friends since their days in law school, when they were all dubbed "the Ms. Bradwells" by their professor in their very first class at the University of Michigan Law School. We first meet the Four Ms. Bradwells during Senate hearings to appoint Betts to the Supreme Court, except a skeleton in their closet is uncovered from early on in their friendship that may hinder Betts' appointment. This skeleton always raises questions about their friendship and who has kept secrets from who over the years.
Clayton also raises other issues in her book, including those of women's rights, but I'll leave the main issue that she brings to her story a secret, because it is this issue that ties everything together in the book, and I don't want to give it away. Needless to say, the secret has to do with a death, and this is the crux of the skeleton in the friends' closet that they need to overcome. The secret is brought up in the very first chapter so you're not kept waiting, and it's presented it in a completely intriguing and compelling manner, making you want to find out what happened.
One of the aspects that I enjoyed most about The Wednesday Sisters that is carried over into The Four Ms. Bradwells is that I felt like I had gotten to know the friends by the end of the book, that they were my friends too. Clayton has a knack for making her characters completely believable and tangible, with all the quirks and imperfections that would make them real people. They have real faults, real problems, aren't perfect, and in this imperfection, she has created honest and true characters.
Do yourself a favor and pick up The Four Ms. Bradwells. It's a refreshing read for early summer and while it does deal with some heavy subjects, it does so in a manner that is easy to read and relatable to the characters. And while you're at it, if you haven't read The Wednesday Sisters, pick that up at the same time. Both books are excellent stories on the power of friendship and what that power can help friends overcome.
My sister is friend's with Michelle, who runs a blog (strangemaine.blogspot.com) and publishes the Strange Maine Gazette, and telling strange but true...moreMy sister is friend's with Michelle, who runs a blog (strangemaine.blogspot.com) and publishes the Strange Maine Gazette, and telling strange but true stories from the state of Maine. When I heard that she had published a book and was having a release party while I was out vacationing in Maine at her store, The Green Hand, I knew I wanted to stop by to pick up a copy.
What a perfectly fun little book! You can tell that Michelle has really done her homework and has thoroughly researched her subjects. Filled with all sorts of stories about the people and places of Maine that make up it's unique and strange history, little stories that you won't find in your generic history books, Michelle has created a one-of-a-kind travelogue to the more interesting aspects of Maine. I'm looking forward to future books and her continued publication of the Strange Maine Gazette.(less)
I was quite delighted to find in my mailbox the other day another beautiful edition from Lorin Morgan Richards, author of Simon Snootle and OTHER smal...moreI was quite delighted to find in my mailbox the other day another beautiful edition from Lorin Morgan Richards, author of Simon Snootle and OTHER small stories, which I received last year for review. Again, fans of Edward Gorey and Tim Burton will love these seven short tales. I also believe that Morgan Richards has really developed his storytelling technique with this volume, as the stories seem to have a little bit more heart and soul than his previous volume. I think my favorite would be the title story, "A Boy Born from Mold." It may sound a little bizarre (which it is, but that's rather the point), but it also tells a story of discovering your family and becoming who you are.
As with Simon Snootle, this volume is 100% handmade by the author; it is a beautiful presentation. With each volume being handmade there is a certain amount of imperfection to each one, but it fits so well with the tone of the book itself that the entire package, story and all, becomes a unique whole.
Recommended for fans of Burton and Gorey and anyone who appreciates a true work of art from an artist who obviously loves his work.(less)
Gail Carriger, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways: La Diva Tarabotti. Lord Akeldama. Pesto. Formaldehyde. Templars. Biffy. Floote. Lord Maccon....moreGail Carriger, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways: La Diva Tarabotti. Lord Akeldama. Pesto. Formaldehyde. Templars. Biffy. Floote. Lord Maccon. "Parassault." Killer ladybugs. Vampires. Werewolves. Seriously, I could just go on and on and on about how I love Gail Carriger. And what do all of these tidbits (and more!) add up to? The latest, delicious volume in the Parasol Protectorate series.
Blameless, the latest offering from Gail Carriger in her Parasol Protectorate series, finds our soulless heroine, Alexia Maccon (neé Tarabotti) is on the run. After the shocking revelations at the end of Changeless, she has been cast out by her brute of a werewolf husband, Lord Maccon, and has since discovered that for an as yet discovered reason, the vampires have set out to kill her, by any means possible (including killer mechanical ladybugs). Add to that the decision by the Queen to remove her status as muhjah of the Shadow Council, and Alexia is not having the best of times right now. Deciding that she needs some answers to her current condition, delicate as it is, Alexia travels abroad, in search of the Templars and some possible information regarding her, her father and her position as a preternatural.
Meanwhile back in London, there is intrigue and suspense galore as Lord Akeldama swarms from his home after a mysterious possession of his is stolen. How is this tied to the government? How do the werewolves play into all of this? And when will the formaldehyde run out?
And where exactly has Woolsey's Gamma run off to?
Gail Carriger has outdone herself with Blameless. I'll admit that I was a little concerned with the direction that Alexia and Co. were taking at the end of Changeless (I thought the situation seemed to come about a little too early), but I should never have doubted Ms. Carriger's ability, me the lowly reader that I am. She has taken a delicate state of affairs, and has made it into an integral, key plot point that helped move Blameless along with all the clever and witty pacing that I've come to love from her books. Having Alexia not attached to Lord Maccon was a refreshing treat. I think the characters are most interesting when they are apart, and Alexia is at odds with Connall. Of course, this situation won't always be that way, and of course they work well together, but I particularly loved the agitation felt throughout the book. The only other addition that I would have liked to see this time around? More Lord Akeldama. He has continually grown on me and may very well be my favorite character of the cast. He's just so over the top and divine.
The level of intrigue and the mystery behind the preternaturals was handled so well this time around. Ms. Carriger is developing a most engaging mythology and history for her characters, and I can't wait to find out more! There was just enough dangling plot lines left over to completely whet my appetite for more!
If you haven't had the pleasure of reading any of the Parasol Protectorate series, do yourself a favor, quit reading this humble blog and dash off to your nearest bookseller and acquire copies of all three books. Immediately. Posthaste. You won't be sorry. Gail Carriger may be one of the funniest authors that I've come across in awhile, and her books and characters are among the most charming and scintillating that I've read this year. My only regret now is that we've had the pleasure of three books released with the last year, that now we have to wait until the spring of next year to see what happens next!
What a fantastic find this was! Sarah, Brad and I were out having our usual Friday night, and we stopped at one of our local bookstores, and there, si...moreWhat a fantastic find this was! Sarah, Brad and I were out having our usual Friday night, and we stopped at one of our local bookstores, and there, sitting on the shelf in the graphic novel section, was The Stuff of Legend, and one look at the cover told me this was something I needed to take home, and I'm not sorry at all that I bought it.
The writers waste no time in getting into the story, as the boy (who I think remained nameless throughout the book) is kidnapped by the Boogeyman within the first 4 pages of the story. Eight of his toys decide to rescue him, as they feel this is their duty to him. The boy's dog, Scout, accompanies them into the Dark, where the toys undergo an amazing transformation, becoming the real, 'living' counterparts to their toy selves (for instance, the boy's teddy bear Max because a fierce grizzly bear). The toys are victorious against the Boogeyman's army in their first battle, but suffer a grave loss afterward in the form of a possible traitor in their midst.
The story does move along a little quickly, but it doesn't detract from the actual storytelling at all. There is real emotion in this book. It is a dark tale, but ultimately one that has a redemptive value that I think is rarely seen in this type of story. The only unfortunate aspect of the story is that it is being published in periodical form (this is a collected edition of the first two issues of the comic books), so there is going to be some wait until the next edition is released.
The art is beautiful as well, rendered in duotone pencil illustrations and presented to look like the pages of an old scrapbook or photo album. the transformation of the toys into their new selves is impressive, and I loved how the Boogeyman is drawn. He's both beautiful and horrible, all at the same time. It is simply an overall gorgeous presentation, and I am quite delighted that I stumbled on this in the bookstore. Now, just to wait for the next volume to be released so we can find out what happens next!
I received Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee from Random House Kids early last week and while I was in the middle of some other books at t...moreI received Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee from Random House Kids early last week and while I was in the middle of some other books at the time, I thought I'd at least sit down and read a couple of chapters to get a feel for the book. Half the book later I realized I needed to set it aside or I wasn't going to be getting to bed at any sort of a reasonable hour that night.
Foxlee takes the fairy tale The Snow Queen and gives it a lightly modern spin. In an unnamed town, Ophelia's father has taken a job organizing an exhibit of swords at an unnamed museum, being the international expert on swords that he is. Ophelia and her sister, Alice, try to find ways to amuse themselves while their father is hard at work on the exhibit. Exploring on her own one day, Ophelia discovers a young boy locked away in a room deep in the sprawling museum. She befriends the boy, and the story he tells her of how he came to be locked away in the room in the museum with the name the Marvelous Boy is its own story within the story.
As Ophelia journeys through the museum on various quests to help the Marvelous Boy escape so that he can finally defeat the Snow Queen, she creates her own fairy tale. There are elements here that will be familiar with all readers of fairy tales, but Foxlee handles them all beautifully, so that you don't really feel like you are treading too familiar water. I found myself re-reading entire chapters because I simply loved the way that Foxlee was telling Ophelia's story. It's a middle grade book, so there are elements that are fairly predictable and foreshadowed rather heavily, but even knowing how the story was going to end, I still enjoyed every bit of it. There is an ethereal quality to the story that is both charming and magical. I don't want to give too much away about the ending, but I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that Ophelia doesn't try to handle everything on her own, as in other young reader books. I find that annoying. I suppose it's to instill a sense of independence in young readers, but sometimes there are things in life that are just too much for a young person to handle, and it's perfectly normal to go to your parents for help, which Ophelia does. This was refreshing for me.
I think anyone who enjoys a good fairy tale and a beautifully written story will absolutely enjoy this book. Highly recommended!(less)
The second volume of the collected editions of Berkeley Breathed's Bloom County is just as good as the first, if not a little better. Breathed's wit i...moreThe second volume of the collected editions of Berkeley Breathed's Bloom County is just as good as the first, if not a little better. Breathed's wit is becoming a little sharper; his characters a little more defined, both artistically and literarily; he's beginning to find his way with the characters and the direction that he wants to take his strip in. His social commentary is starting to really solidify into what made this strip what it was: a commentary on us in the 80s. And what rings true then seems to still ring true in some cases today.
The reproduction quality of the strips could be a little better, but to be able to have all of the strips collected like this in such great editions, I'm willing to overlook that.(less)
Holy crap, but did I love this book! Druids! Witches! Gods! Werewolves! Vampires! Irish wolfhounds! Widows! Throw all these things together, and what...moreHoly crap, but did I love this book! Druids! Witches! Gods! Werewolves! Vampires! Irish wolfhounds! Widows! Throw all these things together, and what you have is an entirely romping fun adventure of a book.
Atticus O'Sullivan may look 21, but in reality he's 21 centuries old and the last Druid. And when you're that old, you're bound to make some enemies along the way. You see, Atticus is in possession of a sword that he "stole" from the Tuatha Dé Danann almost 2000 years ago, and some of those gods want the sword back. Unfortunately for Atticus, one of these ancient gods has made it his personal vendetta against Atticus and has chased him for centuries. And Atticus has run for centuries. But maybe it's time for Atticus to stop running and face his pursuer. However, even Atticus knows it's not a good idea to take on a god by yourself, so he calls in help from some other gods, his vampire/werewolf tag team of attorneys, a bartender who is possessed by a centuries old witch and his faithful Irish wolfhound, Oberon. But even this mixed bag of heroes may not be enough to take down a Celtic love god who has allied himself with Hell and a coven of witches.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book from the moment I picked it up. Hearne's writing is so natural that it picks you right up in the story and sweeps you along. The world building in Hounded isn't too challenging - the entire story takes place in Tempe, AZ - but it's the way that Hearne utilizes gods from several pantheons to create a varied way that religion works in his world. I think this is a really unique approach to gods and Hearne uses it well. Don't let this intimidate you, though. Hearne explains who everybody is and doesn't leave you hanging on trying to figure out who is who.
The writing is fast-paced but doesn't seem to want to try to get ahead of itself. I've noticed this in books I've read before like this, that the story tries to move itself along almost too quickly, not giving you a chance to keep up with it. That's not the case here; Hearne keeps his story moving but without rushing you through it. His entire cast of characters are funny and witty, but not overly so. I found myself laughing out loud through several portions of the book, and especially at Oberon, Atticus' Irish wolfhound. I think that Oberon may be my favorite character in the book. His take on the world and what is happening around him from a smarter-than-your-average dog point of view is often hysterical.
I could gush on some more about the book, but really, you just have to read it to really appreciate just how much fun it is. Fans of Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files will definitely want to pick this series up, but anybody who enjoys a funny, clever urban fantasy will really enjoy this book. Highly recommended!(less)
I'll admit right up front that I was skeptical about this book. My friend Gail had been bullying me for awhile to pick up the series and give it a try...moreI'll admit right up front that I was skeptical about this book. My friend Gail had been bullying me for awhile to pick up the series and give it a try, but honestly, the whole Harlequin thing kind of turned me off of the entire idea (even if it is being published through Harlequin Teen). It kept getting great reviews, as did the subsequent books, but it really wasn't until the third book was released and it was dedicated partly to Gail that I figured I should give it a try. If one of my best book friends was willing to promote the series so much that the author dedicated the book to her... well, I figured it was time to read at least the first one, The Iron King.
Wow. Wow wow wow!
I loved it! Julie Kagawa has such a natural story-telling ability that I was completely sucked into the story, immediately. Her characters are believable and her landscapes are tangible. I was thoroughly enjoying the book when she added in such a compelling and new idea, I was practically jumping up and down from the excitement I had. Her ideas about the new breed of Fey is genius. It seems so obvious, I'm surprised nobody has come up with it before (and maybe they have, and I just don't know about it), but she took the idea and ran with it. I don't really want to give too much away because it really is in the realization of what the new Fey are that makes it so interesting, but needless to say, these are Fey for the 21st century.
The story centers around Meghan Chase, your typical teenager trying to make her way through high school and life. She has all the typical high school problems: family, boys, school. But it isn't until a dark stranger starts following her and her best friend, Robbie Goodfell, starts to act overly protective of her that things start to get really strange. It all culminates in Meghan discovering that she is the child of a faery king and that she is being used as a pawn of war. Add in the mysterious Prince Ash, and you have all the elements you need to for one great story. Oh, and don't worry, for those curious there isn't too much romance, if any. For a Harlequin book, they really were light on the romance and heavy on the action for this book.
If you're looking for an original story set in a at turns familiar and yet strange land, I'd highly recommend The Iron King. I'm sorry it took me so long to getting around to it, and I'll admit that maybe, this once, Gail was right. But don't tell her I said that. She'll never let me live it down.(less)
OK, first off, full disclosure. Heather is my cousin. She came to me to be a beta reader for her book, and I broke my one rule for reviewing: never re...moreOK, first off, full disclosure. Heather is my cousin. She came to me to be a beta reader for her book, and I broke my one rule for reviewing: never review something by a family member/friend. Firstly, because I don't want to be biased in my reading, and no matter how bad something could be, say it's the greatest thing ever, just because I know the writer personally. Secondly, because if something really is bad, I don't want to tell somebody I care about that they have written something bad. But, I know Heather, and I know how hard she's worked at being a writer, and I know it took a lot for her to make that leap of faith and ask somebody to read her work and quite frankly, I was honored that she asked me, so I said yes. I tried to be very subjective when I read that first draft of Love to the Women, and you know what? I loved it. I offered what I hope was some good, constructive criticism on that first draft, but she was telling a damned good story. So there you have it, full disclosure on how I came at Love to the Women.
Now, on to a proper review.
Steve Sheridan has lived in London the last couple decades, working as a senior architect in a firm there, while his wife and three daughters lived in the States. He's always provided for them, and tried to give them everything they wanted, trying to make up for the fact that he wasn't at home, making a living abroad. When it is Steve's time to retire and move home for good, the idyllic life that he has had pictured at home with his family proves to be anything but. His daughters each have their own struggles that they are going through, self-imposed or otherwise, and his wife has been struggling harder than he realized to hold their family together. Over the course of that first summer back home, we watch as Steve's family falls apart, little by little, but by the power and love that is found in his family, they are able to pull through and find a happy place in their lives. It may not be the idyllic family life that Steve had imagined, but it turns into the kind of family life that he needed.
The characters are all vivid and Heather has done a great job bringing them to life and fleshing them out, imperfections and all, and their actions and reactions seem genuine. She paces the story along nicely, not rushing anything, letting the story tell itself. This is a great debut novel and I'm excited to see what else Heather will be writing in the future.
If you'd like to pick up a copy of Love to the Women, you can order a copy of the paperback on Amazon here or download a Kindle edition here.
Dickens' perennial Christmas classic about Ebenezer Scrooge and his visits from the ghost of his former partner, Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christ...moreDickens' perennial Christmas classic about Ebenezer Scrooge and his visits from the ghost of his former partner, Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come and the Christmas lessons Scrooge learns from them. I try to read this every year around the holidays, and it never seems to get old.
The illustrations in this particular edition by P. J. Lynch are gorgeous!(less)
I faithfully read Berkeley Breathed's strip Bloom County, and the follow-up strips Outland and Opus, every day while it was running. I loved these cha...moreI faithfully read Berkeley Breathed's strip Bloom County, and the follow-up strips Outland and Opus, every day while it was running. I loved these characters and still do to this day. Breathed's commentary on the events of the day was always a little on the snarky side, but it was always done intelligently. It is clear in these early strips that Breathed is trying to find his voice. There are some characters that you can tell just don't mesh as well with the evolving feel of the strip, and eventually these characters just melt out of existence. It is also fun to see how the characters that did manage to make the cut evolved from their early beginnings. Towards the end of this first volume, which ends in mid 1982, Breathed has clearly found the voice of the strip and his characters and is beginning to hone the comic wit and satire that will eventually make this strip great.
When I heard that they were finally publishing a complete collection of the strips, I was ecstatic. The volume itself is very nicely presented, and the strips look great reprinted. All in all, I believe that there will be five volumes produced altogether, and I'm hoping that these will include the subsequent strips Outland and Opus, as some of these strips have never been reprinted before.(less)