Short: Skin Trade (Anita Blake 17)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Skin Trade (Anita Blake 17)
Laurell K. Hamilton, 2009

Just in time for Halloween, I'm catching up on my Anita Blake.

Premise: Anita is called to Las Vegas to help hunt down a vampire serial killer. While there, she has to try not to have sex with were-tigers....This series is so surreal.

This one was really not bad. I continue in my opinion (from book 16) that it does feel as if Hamilton is trying to write her way out of the hole she'd dug for the series. After books and books of angst and ridiculous new powers every time you turn around, this one had a sense that things were beginning to stabilize.

I had quit after Harlequin (book 15), which I felt sunk to new depths of idiocy, and while I did break down and read Blood Noir (book 16) and felt that it was somewhat better, I didn't return to the series until recently.

There is still a great deal of ridiculous repetitive business about beasts and sex and such that mostly gets in the way of the story here. Also, I really thought the ending was dumb. There's enough hope here that I read the next few, though.  Expect reviews over the next week...

2 Stars – An Okay Book

Book Blogger Hop Oct 29

 Book Blogger Hop

The Book Blogger Hop is a blog party/link list hosted by 
Every week there is a question for the bloggers to consider.

This week:
"What is the one bookish thing you would love to have, no matter the cost?" 

Hmmm... this is difficult, because I am fairly happy with my reading life. I have a severe lack of space for new books, but now I have a Kindle.  I was thinking: What would I love to have a really nice edition of?  But I have a good Collected Works of Shakespeare, and a Complete Holmes with original illustrations, all of the Vorkosigan novels in nice editions and a lovely hard cover LOTR...  

So I'm going to say, if I won the lottery, I would like to have a bookstore.  (The lottery part means that I don't have to sell popular but boring books to stay in business.)  Where I could read and talk to people about books all the time, and encourage the sales of books that I love.

Yeah, I think that works.

Comics Briefly: Action Comics #894, Batman: The Road Home: Oracle and Ra's Al Ghul, Wonder Woman #604

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

This was a lame week, overall.
Favorite book this week: Action Comics #894
Least favorite: All the other ones

All comics new in stores on 10/27/10

Action Comics #894
(1st story) Writer Paul Cornell, Artist Pete Woods
(2nd story) Writer Nick Spencer, Pencils by RB Silva

I enjoyed this issue. Nothing too amazing, but solid work here. Much fanfare was heard over the fact that Death was going to be in this issue, and so she was, with her usual flair. I really liked the brief touch on what must pass for theology in the DCU.

The second story was a really fun romp about Jimmy Olsen entertaining some friendly aliens who just want to party. Who is the blond reporter he's talking to? I love her.

Batman The Road Home: Oracle
Writer: Marc Andreyko, Artist: Agustin Padilla

Ugh, this was lame. This is what I have to say about this issue: it was a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Well, that and: why does Oracle have evil-anime-glasses eyes? Like last week's Road Home installments, this suffers heavily from having too many narrators.

Batman The Road Home: Ra's al Ghul
Writer: Fabian Nicieza, Pencils by Scott McDaniel, Ink by Andy Owens

Starts with an ugly cover, proceeds through wildly inconsistent internal art to a boring wrap-up of the plot. Ra's' internal narration doesn't suck, but it can't quite save this issue. These have really been a let down after I liked the first few so much. I just noticed something important, though! I guess these are all technically Bruce Wayne: The Road Home. Oops.

Wonder Woman #604
Written by J. Michael Straczynski, Art and cover by Don Kramer & Michael Babinski

I continue to read these in the store rather than purchase them. While this issue was more badass than the previous, I am not a fan of this storyline, and am only keeping tabs on it in case it becomes completely ludicrous. There is something possibly tantalizing in the tease for the next issue, but I don't really trust the writing to pull it off. The art is very pretty, though. There was even a panel in which I didn't hate the new costume.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Cryoburn (Vorkosigan Saga #14)
Lois McMaster Bujold, 2010

This is a shiny new book, and that in itself makes me happy.  PLUS: Yes, it is true.  This hardcover edition comes with a CD that contains ALL Vorkosigan books up to and including this one, except for my favorite: Memory.  On the CD are versions to read in html, epub, mobi, etc... Also speeches, interviews, cover art... this is amazing.

Premise: Lord Auditor Miles Vorkosigan and Armsman Roic are on Kibou-daini to investigate a sketchy business venture that one of the cryofreezing corporations based there has planned for Komarr.  Complications ensue, as usual.

I liked this book, and was slightly sad that I did not love it.  I do want to emphasize that I did enjoy it very much, and had it not been for sky-high hopes, I would probably have loved it without reservation.  This is the double edge of having authors that you trust to be great: you can be disappointed if they're not amazing.

Many of the Vorkosigan books are About something, with a capital “A”, but not in that annoying way that I remember from grade school.  Memory is about life changes, and unexpected paths.  A Civil Campaign is about love and romance, Barrayar is about motherhood.  Cryoburn is about life and death; children and old age. 

The planet Kibou-daini is obsessed with cryofreezing, and they put almost all of their populace in cold storage before they die in the hopes of future cures or longevity treatments.  This, combined with some unorthodox voting policies, creates some interesting political problems and a nasty series of monopolies running most everything.  It's a really neat setting.

Where this book shines brightest is in the character interactions.  It's been 7 years in-world since the last book, and Miles is almost 40.  You can feel him, not slowing down, but changing, settling a bit, with age.  His interactions with other recurring characters speak to their shared history, almost to the extent of repeating old jokes. It doesn't always make for scintillating dialogue, but it feels real; people gently reference their past adventures with each other, and give into a bit of nostalgia now and then.   

This runs the risk of feeling like old hat to those of us fans who are familiar with the entire series, but mostly I think Bujold rides the line well. The only place I think she goes too far is in the tangent about Taura, and I know she had to leave that scene for those same fans.

The other two main characters are (20-something) Armsman Roic, last explored in Winterfair Gifts, and a young orphan named Jin who befriends Miles, giving a spectrum of ages in the viewpoints.  Miles' children (4 total, plus step-son Nikki!) are almost entirely off-screen, so to speak, but a presence nonetheless.

I absolutely loved the beginning chapters, but felt that the plot wandered a bit through the middle.  I look forward to reading it again, now that I'm not racing ahead to find out what happens, just to enjoy the writing.  It probably won't be one I re-read and re-read, though.  In the scale of this series, I'd put it in the lower middle: above Ethan of Athos, Falling Free, The Vor Game and Brothers in Arms, right below the level of Cetaganda and Mirror Dance, maybe? 

It's a mark of how much I love the series that a middling-to-average entry is still:

4 Stars – A Really Good Book

Side note to those who've read it: I haven't decided how I feel about the Afterword yet.  I like the idea and the content, just not sure about the style.  It makes me very curious about the next book.

Comics Briefly: Batman Beyond #5, Darkwing Duck #5, The Last Unicorn #5, Batman The Road Home Catwoman and Commissioner Gordon

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Another big haul this week, although fewer out-and-out winners than last week. 
All comics in this post were new in stores Wednesday 10/20/10.

Favorite Book this Week: Darkwing Duck
Least Favorite: Batman: The Road Home: Commissioner Gordon

Batman Beyond #5

Writer: Adam Beechen, Pencils: Ryan Benjamin
Inker: John Stanisci

Like most of the issues of this mini-series, this issue had ups and downs.  Bruce talking Catwoman Beyond or whoever she is through field medicine was pretty cool, but the reveal on the plot was if anything, stupider than the half-reveal last issue.  On the other hand, it had some good moments, good beats.  Man, that show was awesome.

(Hinty-spoiler for my problem with it:)  Dear writer: I wasn't a huge fan of that JLU episode either, but breaking characters' motivations to make your plot work is not a productive way to deal with one's dissatisfaction.

Darkwing Duck #5
Writer: Ian Brill, Artist: James Silvani

I am so glad I started collecting this a few issues ago.  This is such fun: ridiculous, zany fun.  It was sweet and funny and made me laugh out loud.  I love the little references for long-time fans.  I highly approve of this book, but be aware there was a lot of weird plot in the first few, so give yourself a chance to get acclimated if you give this title a try.  Plus my FAVORITE character is in this issue.  YAY!

The Last Unicorn #5
Written by Peter S. Beagle, Adapted by Peter B. Gillis
Art by Renae De Liz, Color and Ink by Ray Dillon

This issue was very pretty, but they are feeling the crunch with this part of the adaptation, and having to really condense the story. I would not want to try to follow this if I didn't already know the plot well.  The individual moments are amazingly well done, but the transitions are nonexistent.  I can't dislike it, but it's really a series of gorgeous impressionistic spreads starring the characters more than it is a comic book.  For example, there are almost no panels in this issue.  It's a fascinating and beautiful technique, but doesn't actually help you follow the sequence.  Take a look:

Neither “Road Home” book was as good as last week's. Two more chances next week...

Batman: The Road Home: Catwoman
Writer: Derek Fridolfs, Pencils: Peter Nguyen

Both Road Home issues this week were more about the Vicki Vale subplot than about their individual characters.  This was much less interesting to me.  Overall this issue was just okay.  I want to like  current Catwoman, but she had no real personality in this issue, so I don't know whether or not I do.  The art was up and down, the writing corny.  Overall: meh.

Batman: The Road Home: Commissioner Gordon

Storytellers: Adam Beechen and Szymon Kudranski

The art in this issue is not a style I personally like (dark and sketchy/“realistic”).  See sample on the left.  I felt that the story was dull and a little hard to follow, too: too much competing narration.  There's a few nice sentiments, but my dislike of the art style kept me from really getting into this one.  It's okay, but nothing special.

Andersen's Fairy Tales

Monday, October 18, 2010

Andersen's Fairy Tales
Hans Christian Andersen, originally written in 1830's-40's
translation date unknown

One last free Fairy Tale collection and then I'm on to something else.

I had more Kindle version formatting issues this week, I'm afraid.  There are a few points at which there should be poetry or quotations (italicized, indented text) but they are missing.  Not a huge problem, but this means a long poem is missing from “The Shoes of Fortune” and the punch line of “The Old House” is lacking.

Aside from that, I found this collection uneven, and remembered why as I child I largely preferred Grimm's Tales.

There are a few real winners.  I forgot how much I like “The Snow Queen”.  It's a long meandering tale with plenty of intriguing minor characters and the edges of lots of other stories surrounding the core.  The scene in which Gerda hears the story that each flower knows was beautiful and very surreal.  I adore the side plot about the vicious, but ultimately kindhearted, little robber girl.  The ending is sort of a let down, sadly, but only because the first 3/4 are so good.
But every flower stood in the sunshine, and dreamed its own fairy tale or its own story: and they all told her very many things, but not one knew anything of Kay. 
…..What did the Convolvulus say? 
"Projecting over a narrow mountain-path there hangs an old feudal castle. Thick evergreens grow on the dilapidated walls, and around the altar, where a lovely maiden is standing: she bends over the railing and looks out upon the rose. No fresher rose hangs on the branches than she; no appleblossom carried away by the wind is more buoyant! How her silken robe is rustling! 
"'Is he not yet come?'" 
"Is it Kay that you mean?" asked little Gerda. 
"I am speaking about my story—about my dream," answered the Convolvulus. 

I also really enjoyed the other long one: “The Shoes of Fortune.”  It consists of a series of sub-stories about the eponymous shoes, which cause the wearer to receive whatever they wish for.  Unlike in a more traditional fairy tale, the wish-receivers have no knowledge that it is the shoes that are affecting them, and the overall moral is 'be careful what you wish for'.  The second section is especially amusing, in which a townsperson who had thoroughly romanticized the middle ages finds himself back there...much to his dismay.

“The Fir Tree” is moralizing, but has quite lovely use of language.  “The Emperor's New Clothes” is a classic.  "The Shadow" is proto-Twilight Zone.  I approve of that.

There are quite a few more that are up and down: either not that interesting, or simply too odd for me.  A few are quite creepy, and a few like imitations of older stories.

Then there is the one in which Cupid is represented as a “naughty boy”, that one should attempt to avoid, although usually in vain.  It was so bizarre that I hopped over to Wikipedia for a bio, and, sure enough, Andersen was plagued by unrequited love. No surprise there.

Then there are a few that I hated.  Ones like “The Story of a Mother” or the infamous “Little Match Girl,” or even “The Red Shoes.”  They are well written, often pretty, but I am personally not okay with stories, ostensibly for children, in which the end is about how beautiful it is when poor children die horribly, because they go to heaven.  Not okay.  That is some pernicious and nasty stuff there.

So in sum, I found “The Snow Queen”, “The Shoes of Fortune”, and a few others quite good, and the rest decent to aggravating.  That means on average:

3 Stars: A Good Book

FYI: this collection does NOT include popular stories “The Little Mermaid”, “The Ugly Duckling” or “The Steadfast Tin Soldier”.

Download for Free from Amazon
Or try Project Gutenberg or Manybooks for other formatting, selection.

Next Time I'll review something for adults, I promise.

Comics Briefly: Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #5; Batman: The Road Home: Batman And Robin, Red Robin, The Outsiders, Batgirl; Khan: Ruling in Hell

Thursday, October 14, 2010

DC has my number.  I bought a lot of books this week, but I guess I can't resist linked one-shots.  All Comics were new in stores 10/14/10

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #5
Writer: Grant Morrison, Penciller: Ryan Sook,
Inks: Mick Gray, Art (pgs 22-31) Pere Perez

We've been collecting this miniseries throughout, and this issue had been delayed and delayed.  It's become a bit silly that #5 (of 6) is dropping the same week that the big Bat-Family reunion is taking place in normal continuity.  (Background: about a year ago, Batman apparently "died".  Of course he's not dead. Actually?  LOST IN TIME.  This mini-series has been the story of Batman adventuring through the ages.  In each issue, Bruce gets dropped off in a new time zone with partial amnesia.)

This issue has a bit more forward movement than some of the earlier ones, and maybe (just maybe), it's going to make some sort of sense in the next and last issue.  Bruce is not too far from the present in this one; in fact his parents have only just died.  The noir touches were very nice, but overall these have been more interesting for amusing versions of the Bat-motif through time than for the story.

You can read the first few pages here.

Star Trek: Khan: Ruling in Hell #1

Written by Scott & David Tipton
Art by Fabio Mantovani

Oh this was really fun.  Mostly snapshots and montage of Khan and his people building their civilization on Ceti Alpha V.  The next issue should begin the story of how their grand dreams were dashed by the drastic climate change.  So, yeah, I know both ends of the story, but so what?  The art is a little wishy-washy, but Khan's speech and attitude is right on.

Okay.  I bought a LOT more comics than normal this week.  Hold onto your hats, I'll try to be brief:

Batman: The Road Home is a DC event in which the newly not-lost-in-time Bruce Wayne checks on all his various team members.  It consists of eight one shots, each focusing on a different character, tied loosely together by Bruce's secretive plans, and a consistent B-plot about Vicki Vale investigating Batman.  I'm a super sucker for "but we thought you were dead!" moments, so I couldn't resist these.  (Don't worry, most of it isn't that, FYI.)

The first four arrived this week, then two next week, and two the week after.  In continuity order:

Batman The Road Home: Batman and Robin
Written by Fabian Nicieza, Art by Cliff Richards

Strong beginning.  I don't know why Bruce has a supersuit for now, but I'll go with it. I love how simultaneously hurt and proud he is that Dick is such a great Batman without him.  Also, I haven't been following the Batman and Robin ongoing series, (although I hear it's good), but at first glance I enjoy Damian Wayne.  In all of these issues I met characters I'd like to see more of.

Batman The Road Home: Red Robin
Written by Fabian Nicieza, Pencils: Ramon Bachs, Inks: John Lucas

I'm out of touch.  I didn't know Tim Drake was Red Robin.  The art is a bit up and down, but there are some nice moments between Tim and Bruce, and Alfred gets to be awesome.  New character who amuses me: Prudence the sassy assassin.

Batman The Road Home: The Outsiders
Written by Mike Barr, Pencils: Javier Saltares,
Inkers: Rebecca Buchman &Walden Wong

I don't know much about The Outsiders, and this was the weakest one for me both in story and art.  Still, I like Katana, and she gets some nice play here.

Batman The Road Home: Batgirl
Written by Bryan Q. Miller, Art by Pere Perez

Love.  Love Love Love.  I believe I cackled with glee out loud in the comic store over the climax of this one, which was deliciously corny and sweet and wonderful.  I loved the art, I LOVE Stephanie Brown as Batgirl.  She's both deliciously silly and badass.  Love it.  New character who amuses me: Proxy.  This one also works best out of these four as a self-contained story.

There's a bit of confusion between the writers what the various things (JLA powers?) Bruce's supersuit does are actually called in the description panels, but other than that nitpick these are consistent and fun and I will definitely snatch up the other four as they arrive.

Grimm's Fairy Stories

Monday, October 11, 2010

Grimm's Fairy Stories
Unknown date, unknown translation

As you know if you've been reading here recently, I downloaded a bunch of free fairy tale collections to my Kindle.  If you are considering doing the same, do not bother with this one. Almost all the stories worth reading are also in The Blue Fairy Book.

Note the title.  This is a slim selection of fairy tales, in fairly poor translation, not the full Grimm's Fairy Tales collection.  There are places where the stories seem to drop off or change direction suddenly mid-stream.  "The Little Brother and Little Sister", for example, is missing a paragraph found in other versions, which is needed to follow the plot.

A few stories seem to have no point or plot, or extraneous boring digressions, although "Catherine and Frederick" is only a little worse here than in other versions I have found. 

Only notable bits:

"Bearskin" is one that isn't in every collection of Grimm's Tales, and I found it enjoyable.  I prefer the stories like this and "The Six Swans", in which the day is won through persistence and cleverness. Also, he cheats the devil, which is always a nice touch. Many of the other stories are solved through nothing more interesting than dumb luck.

This version of "The Frog Prince" has a very beautiful beginning, but the rest of the story is disjointed, uninspired, and annoying.

Overall it was very uneven, and next time I'll search Project Gutenberg for the full tales.

2 Stars - An Okay Book

A Time for Heroes

Friday, October 8, 2010

I've been thinking recently about favorite characters, both in books and movies/TV.  I still love all the usual suspects: strong women, troubled heroes, characters of ambiguous morality.  But what I love about them changes over time.

It's only been a handful of years... 5 or 6? since I was introduced to the work of Lois McMaster Bujold, and now she's one of my very favorite authors.  (Sample book free at Baen!) Her main series, The Vorkosigan Saga, is a great example of what I'm talking about.  When I first read the books, all in a rush, I loved all of them, but was most interested in the first few about Miles: his adventures as a young man, the warrior women who tended to surround him and their daring escapades.  I still enjoy those books, but the ones I reread now are mostly the later ones, that center on coming to terms with adulthood, his parents' long romance, and the strength of Cordelia and Ekaterin, both strong female characters who are mentally, emotionally and politically strong, more than physically.

As a younger reader I needed my female characters to be badass on the same level as the guys.  Nowadays I'm more impressed when an author, particularly in fantasy, can sidestep the fallacy of making all women live in a strict dichotomy of either being “rebellious warriors” or “damsels in distress”, by making them interesting without giving them a completely unbelievable background. If I read another book where the princess has secret combat training, I may scream.

It starts to make me think it's a world made up exclusively of female mercenaries fighting to be recognized above their housewifely sisters.  And yes, that's meant to remind you of the last few panels of this.

Comics Briefly: American Vampire #7

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Only one book this week that I was interested in.  Next Week DC really gets into their all-Batman-all-the-time push, I'll probably glance at some of those books.

This book was new in stores on 10/6/10

American Vampire #7  (Devil in the Sand Part Two)
Written by Scott Snyder
Artist: Rafael Albuquerque

I've been following this book from Issue #1, and I'm still enjoying it for the most part.  I thought the art got a little sketchier than normal this month.  This is the second issue of the second story arc, based in Las Vegas when the Hoover Dam was under construction.

I don't dislike Cash, the cop at the center of this story arc, but he's nothing too special yet.  I'm intrigued by what's revealed in this issue about the ulterior purpose of federal agents Jack Straw and Felicia Book (those sound like real names to you?)  And if there were any question why American Vampire is "suggested for mature readers", the nude women on the first two pages of this issue would put that to rest.  (The agents are interrogating a vampire pimp.  Just FYI.)

I enjoy the noir tone of this series, and reading this arc makes me want to learn more about how Las Vegas became the city that it is today.  Even so, I'm looking forward to getting back to Pearl, my favorite 1920's actress turned vampire, next month.

FYI, the first arc, featuring the parallel stories of Pearl Jones (in early Hollywood) and Skinner Sweet (in the Old West) is now out in graphic novel.

The Blue Fairy Book

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Blue Fairy Book
Edited by Andrew Lang, 1886

Another free Fairy Tale collection this week.  The Blue Fairy Book is one of the earliest collections of fairy tales in English.  Andrew Lang and his staff collected, translated, and edited fairy tales into twelve collections, but the Blue Fairy is first.  He had good taste.

The stories in this collection have an amazing range, and Lang is good enough to cite his source for almost all of his tales. There are 37 stories total, including six selections from Grimm, five from Perrault, a couple Scots tales (in dialect, sort of), a few British traditionals, three from the Arabian Nights, the part of Gulliver's Travels about Lilliput, and a full retelling of the Perseus myth with different names.  It's almost overwhelming.

A few of them are really unique ones.

“The History of Whittington” is a British rags-to-riches folk tale based vaguely on an actual historical figure. It's interesting to me because of its dips into a modern sensibility, and its occasional meta commentary.
Whittington answered that he should be glad to work if anybody would employ him, and that he should be able if he could get some victuals to eat, for he had had nothing for three days, and he was a poor country boy, and knew nobody, and nobody would employ him.... People are too apt to reproach those who beg with being idle, but give themselves no concern to put them in the way of getting business to do, or considering whether they are able to do it, which is not charity.

It is not our business to animadvert upon these lines; we are not critics, but historians. It is sufficient for us that they are the words of Mr. Fitzwarren; and though it is beside our purpose, and perhaps not in our power to prove him a good poet, we shall soon convince the reader that he was a good man.

“The History of Jack The Giant-Killer” reads much like other Celtic and Arthurian tales I've read: it's full of random violence, there's a lot of “and then this happened” and no “and this is why.” 
Jack, having hitherto been successful in all his undertakings, resolved not to be idle in future; he therefore furnished himself with a horse, a cap of knowledge, a sword of sharpness, shoes of swiftness, and an invisible coat, the better to perform the wonderful enterprises that lay before him.

“The Red Etin” is interesting for being half dialect and half explanation by the translator.
The young man then went on his journey; and he had not gone far when he espied an old man with white locks herding a flock of swine; and he gaed up to him and asked whose swine these were, when the man answered:  
     "The Red Etin of Ireland"—
            (Repeat the verses above.)

Edited for children, some of the stories are not gory in places I expect them to be gory, but the text is matter-of-fact about death and dismemberment in others.  I find this fascinating, especially learning that the version of Cinderella in this collection is the one by Perrault, which in print must have predated the Grimm version (which I'm more familiar with) by at least one hundred years.  Just a hint: Perrault's doesn't involve maiming in the denouement.

Perhaps due to the editing, or just due to translation quirks, there are many amusing turns of phrase, especially in some of the more familiar stories.

Her godmother, who saw her all in tears, asked her what was the matter.
"I wish I could—I wish I could—"; she was not able to speak the rest, being interrupted by her tears and sobbing.
This godmother of hers, who was a fairy, said to her, "Thou wishest thou couldst go to the ball; is it not so?"
Sleeping Beauty:
The good Fairy who had saved her life by condemning her to sleep a hundred years was in the kingdom of Matakin, twelve thousand leagues off, when this accident befell the Princess; but she was instantly informed of it by a little dwarf, who had boots of seven leagues, that is, boots with which he could tread over seven leagues of ground in one stride. The Fairy came away immediately, and she arrived, about an hour after, in a fiery chariot drawn by dragons.
A few times I ran across outright errors, though I can't say for certain when they were introduced, in Lang's translation, transcription, printing, Project Gutenberg's transcription... The oddest was that the setting of “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp” changes from “Persia” to “China” half-way through.

Across thirty-seven stories there are of course repetitive themes: the quest of the youngest son/daughter, adventures, trapped princesses, transformed people, helpful animals, etc. etc.

A few even within this one collection, however, have signs of possibly being the same story at some point in their evolution.

For example, there are strong parallels between the grand “East of the Sun and West of the Moon” and “The Black Bull of Norroway” (though the latter is much less coherent).

“The Wonderful Sheep” is “Snow White” and “Beauty and The Beast” in one long meandering tale.  “Snow White” is not otherwise in this collection, although both “Beauty and the Beast”, and “Snow White and Rose Red” are.

“The White Cat” is very similar to “The Story of Prince Ahmed and The Fairy Paribanou.”

I enjoyed reading through this collection, especially since many of the stories were ones I am less familiar with.  It was a long collection, though, and Lang completed 12 collections of Fairy Stories, all of which are free online. not going to try to read them all now.

4 Stars – A Really Good Book

Find on Project Gutenberg
Find for Kindle

Comics Briefly: Star-Spangled War Stories #1, The Last Unicorn #4, Wonder Woman #603

Friday, October 1, 2010

Yup, I'm trying something new.  I read comics as well as books, so why not let you know what I'm following?  The following comics were new in stores on 9/29.

Star-Spangled War Stories #1 (One Shot)
Written by Billy Tucci
Pencils by Justiniano and Tom Derenick
Inker Andrew Mangum, Colorist Tom Chu

Now, you first have to know that while I know relatively little about the character, I kinda love Mademoiselle Marie.  I have the doll.  So of course I picked up this one shot story featuring DC's WWII resistance fighter.  Overall it was a decent one-shot, with a few really enjoyable scenes.  Marie parachutes in to deliver cash to a resistance cell in France, but accomplishing her mission is hampered by both her allies and her enemies.  Unfortunately, at some points the dialogue was hokey and the French badly chosen, a couple transitions were missing, badly breaking the flow, and it had an art error that confused the story for me.  On the other hand, it read a lot better on my second time through, and I did enjoy it despite the flaws.  So your mileage may vary depending on your affection for DC's war stories.

Preview Here

The Last Unicorn #4
Written by Peter S. Beagle, Adapted by Peter B. Gillis
Art by Renae De Liz, Color and Ink by Ray Dillon

I've been loving these adaptations.  Of course, I love The Last Unicorn, so I start at that level.  The last one (#3) was a little choppy, due to which parts of the story the adaptation kept and which parts were dropped for space, but I think this one was spot on.  Issue 4 concerns the approach to Haggard's castle and the stop in Hagsgate (along with the Hagsgate subplot, cut from the animated movie.)  The dialogue makes me catch my breath, it's so beautiful.  Also there is an awesome interview with Peter S. Beagle that is being serialized in the back of each issue.  The last panel's art was a little odd, but most of it was just lovely.

Wonder Woman #603
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Art and cover by Don Kramer & Michael Babinski

I didn't even buy this one, just read it at the store.  This might be the most boring and annoying issue since the relaunch in #600, and that's saying something.  Stuff Happens!  It Makes No Sense!  Fight Things!  Cool Pose!  Fight Other Things!  I am not impressed.  Come on Straczynski.  I'm not hoping for much, but I tried to half-defend the new outfit.  Throw me something good.