Showing posts from August, 2011

DC's New 52: Final pre-launch opinions

Yes, a little more comic commentary. I'll talk about prose next week, guys, I promise. It's been long enough that we fans have been hashing over the “New 52”, now impending from DC comics, that I've moved from flabbergasted, to torn between intrigued and angry, through interested, right on to tired of the whole idea. However, I still wanted to add my commentary for the upcoming issues, from most to least anticipated. Think of this as my Pull/Don't Pull List, and/or my Please Don't Cancel/Please Cancel Wish Lists. Books that I will definitely buy the first few issues: Batgirl #1 by Gail Simone, Ardian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes – Despite my sadness to lose Stephanie, I'll definitely check out this series.  Demon Knights #1 by Paul Cornell, Diogenes Neves and Oclair Albert – Medival superhero team? By the writer of some of my favorite episodes of Doctor Who? Yes, please! Books that I will probably try the first issue unless I hear som

Top Ten Tuesday - Fall TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at  The Broke and The Bookish This week's Prompt is: Top Ten Books on your Fall TBR List. Well, I'm sure I'll run across a few galleys to tackle, but there's only one new book coming out that I'm looking forward to: 1: Pirate King by Laurie R. King. Mary Russell, Sherlock Holmes, silent films and Pirates of Penzance? Yes, please! I do have a list of not-new books I'm planning on reading or re-reading this fall: 2, 3, 4: LOTR , for the Read-Along hosted over at Little Red Reviewer 5: I bought The Black Company: The Books of the South  at a dying Borders, and hopefully I'll get to that soon. 6: The Lies of Locke Lamora , and the other books I bought on vacation . 7: I'm planning on going to the local research library to read some  The Demolished Man and some of the other early Hugo winners when I get both time and motivation. 8 through 200: The Giant Box-O-Back Issues that I bought on sale at my favorite c

Batgirl: Batgirl Rising and The Flood

This Wednesday marks the beginning of the New DCU, so I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about my absolute favorite series that DC ended for the sake of their promotion. This version of Batgirl will not be continuing into the new continuity, but it's a really great run, all 24 issues, and I highly recommend it. Batgirl: Batgirl Rising and Batgirl: The Flood Bryan Q. Miller, Lee Garbett, Pere Perez, et al.,  2010, 2011 I have been collecting Bryan Q. Miller's Batgirl since last summer with Issue #13, and I finally got my hands on the trades that collect the first 12 issues. Premise: Stephanie Brown has been a junior vigilante for a while. Like many a young female hero, her father was a supervillain. I swear it's so common it's become a cliché. First she was a solo agent as the Spoiler, then started working with the Bat-family. She even briefly went by Robin, before she ended up rather dead. But this is comic books, so she faked her death... or somethi

The Hobbit Read-Along Part 3

This Hobbit and LOTR Read-Along is hosted by  Little Red Reviewer  and  Geeky Daddy See Parts One and Two Here. The following discussion questions pertain to the last third of the book, so if for some horrid reason you haven't read The Hobbit, you are hereby warned: Spoilers Ahead. I'm battening down the hatches here for the imminent arrival of Hurricane Irene, but I think I have time to get this down. What were your thoughts of how Smaug was killed? If you did not like it what do you think Tolkien could have done differently? I absolutely love it. I love it on the story level and the thematic level. I love that it's a bit of a subversion of a fairy-tale or epic plot. There is a Hero, but he's not the main character of the story that you're following. Yet the heroic plot couldn't have happened without Bilbo behind the scenes. Were you satisfied with the ending of The Hobbit ? Yup. It's a bit of a left turn for the plot, but I li

Comics Briefly: American Vampire #18, Batman: Gates of Gotham #5, Superman Beyond #0, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1

Favorite Issue This Week: Superman Beyond #0 All Books were new in stores on 8/24/11 American Vampire #18 Writer: Scott Snyder, Artist: Rafael Albuquerque, Colors: Dave McCaig A strong conclusion to the Ghost War storyline. Flirts with an edge of cliche in one aspect, but I liked it anyway. Good twists, good action, and good moments for Pearl always make me a happy reader. Next issue starts an awesome-sounding flashback, I'm really looking forward to the next arc! Batman: Gates of Gotham #5 Story: Scott Snyder and Kyle Higgins, Writers: Kyle Higgins and Ryan Parrott, Art: Trevor McCarthy, Colors: Guy Major This is the conclusion to this miniseries, and it's a decent one. There is some good action, some nice lines here and there, and I like the portrayals of all the BatKids. I especially like Dick's fight with the villain, it really worked for me. I wasn't in love with the obvious lead-in to next month's whole Dick-isn't-Batman-any

Top Ten Tuesday - Books You Never Reviewed

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at  The Broke and The Bookish This Week's Prompt is: Top Ten Books You Loved But Never Wrote A Review For Considering the vast scope of my reading life before I started this blog a few years back (hell, I could probably fill this list ten times over with books I read before blogging was a word) I think I'll touch on entire series which I love that haven't gotten their due here on the Bookshelf. 1. Miles Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold - Well, obviously. I've probably even re-read the whole series twice in the past year and the only one of them I've reviewed on the blog is Cryoburn . 2. Aubrey/Maturin Series by Patrick O'Brian - I really enjoyed all 20 and a half books, but the idea of reviewing them seems difficult; I mentally blend together what happened in each slim volume. 3. Discworld by Terry Pratchett - I loved a good half of these books, and have even re-read a few since I started the blog

Ember and Ash

Ember and Ash Pamela Freeman, 2011 Recent Release, copy for review provided by Netgalley. Premise: Ember thinks she has her life planned out. She is going to marry another warlord's son, uniting his land with her father's. Unfortunately, the godlike Powers that allied with her mother's people in the old days have other ideas, and soon Ember and her cousin Ash are plunged into a dangerous journey to save their people from the will of the capricious Powers. I feel slightly odd about this review. It was a competently written book, and each part was well done. I'm just not sure that it managed to become more than a list of interesting scenes. I wanted to read this book because I had read the first few sample chapters and really liked them. It seemed as if the theme of the story would be these brave people fighting for the right to not be playthings of these elemental Powers. I liked that a lot. There was some of that, but it felt lost in the somewhat silly

Unnatural Issue

This post is part of a week-long series of reviews of Mercedes Lackey novels. See  intro post  for more information. Unnatural Issue Mercedes Lackey, 2011 Premise: When Susanne was born, her mother died, and her father went insane with grief, refusing to acknowledge her and secluding himself from the world. This would be a sad story in any case, however her father was a skilled Master of Earth magic. As Susanne grew, she became an Earth Master as well, but her father starts dabbling in darker spells, and begins to think that he could bring his beloved back from the grave, if only he finds the right vessel. A girl of twenty-one who looks very like her mother fits the profile perfectly. The Elemental Masters series consists of semi-linked volumes that can also stand alone. I've read a few in the past, but not the most recent, and still I could jump into this one easily. What links the books, besides the occasional recurring character, are two things. First the wo

The Hobbit Read-Along Parts One and Two!

This Hobbit and LOTR Read-Along is hosted by Little Red Reviewer and Geeky Daddy . I'm playing a bit of catch-up here. When I signed up to be part of this read-along, I really thought I had a copy of The Hobbit in the apartment. Turns out, LOTR, Check, Sillmarillion, Check, but no Hobbit! It must be in storage someplace. No problem, I thought, I'll just pick up a copy at the library. However, when I got there, there were no copies to be had. It must be a summer reading book around here. Okay, I think, I have a copy of the BBC Radio Drama version that my husband won in a contest. I'll listen to that. And then we went out of town for a week. And I discovered that long radio drama isn't really my thing. (Short I can handle.) Went back to the library, and this time I found a copy. Instead of answering all the discussion questions from both weeks, I'll just touch on a selection for now: On Chapters 1-7: What were your expectations starting The

Arrows of the Queen

This post is part of a week-long series of reviews of Mercedes Lackey novels. See  intro post  for more information. Arrows of the Queen Mercedes Lackey, 1987 For today's article, the first novel ever published by Ms. Lackey. Premise: Talia's only pleasure in the hard life on her border community was the bits of reading time she stole while doing mindless chores. But it's her thirteenth birthday, and her family says that it's time for her to be married. She flees the prospect of the dead-end life she's seen her sisters fall to, only to run into an extraordinary animal called a Companion, who chooses her above all others to return to the capital with him and be trained as a Herald, one of the psychically gifted lawgivers of the Kingdom of Valdemar. She needs to learn quickly who to trust, because there is a conspiracy afoot, and she'll need to survive long enough to complete her training if she hopes to help her Queen. A young person who is emot

NPR List of Top 100 SF/F Books and Series

No blog hop for me this week, but because I like lists, I was interested to see that last week NPR posted the results of their reader (listener?) poll of 100 Top Science Fiction and Fantasy works. (For some reason, some books are listed singly, others as series.) Reader surveys are notoriously flaky in their choices, and I missed the initial spate of posts about this list since I was out of town with limited internet access. Now, of course, I want in on this discussion/meme. Thanks to The Hopeful Librarian and Dreaming About Other Worlds for calling my attention to this. Here's NPR's Article And here's my commentary on the list: Bold titles are those I've read, and I'm going to go ahead and give myself credit even if I haven't read an entire series. 1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy , by J.R.R. Tolkien - Duh. 2. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy , by Douglas Adams - Again, Duh. I actually have a really fun oversized edition of this book t

Knight of Ghosts and Shadows

This post is part of a week-long series of reviews of Mercedes Lackey novels. See  intro post  for more information. Knight of Ghosts and Shadows Mercedes Lackey and Ellen Guon, 1990 I am such a sucker for this kind of book! Premise: Eric Banyon has trouble with his life. He likes being a busker and working the Faire, even though he could be a world class flautist. He then wonders why he can't keep a girlfriend. One day he plays in the woods like he's never played before, and then this guy with pointed ears shows up, calling him Bard and asking for his help... I was concerned that this book wouldn't live up to my vague yet positive memories. Luckily, it surpassed my expectations. It was just so sweet! This was exactly the kind of fluffy read I adored as a teenager, and still enjoy now and again. Flawed but well meaning good guys, some sympathetic bad guys, magic, elves, love and action. Plus one of the best, most adorable 'each half of insecure cou

Four and Twenty Blackbirds (Bardic Voices 4)

This post is part of a week-long series of reviews of Mercedes Lackey novels. See  intro post  for more information. Four and Twenty Blackbirds (Bardic Voices 4) Mercedes Lackey, 1996 Premise: Tal Rufen is a constable who cares about his job. Maybe he cares a little too much. When he becomes convinced magic connects a series of grisly murder-suicides, he refuses to give up the case, even when his supervisors disagree. This is a more coherent novel than the first bardic Voices book. It's gently connected to the other books, but you wouldn't need to have read them to follow this. It's also a bit CSI Fantasy Kingdom, which I really enjoy. Tal is a good character, maybe a smidge more honorable than one might expect, but kind, smart, and good at his job. When the action moves to the city of Kingsford, he is joined by Justiciar Mage Ardis, who was a minor character in some of the other books. The story of the two of them, along with bird-man Visyr, working to

Comics Briefly DOUBLE FEATURE: American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest #3, Avengers Academy #18, Batgirl #24, Cloak and Dagger #1, Darkwing Duck #15, Power Girl #27

I missed last week's post due to travel, so this is two weeks' worth of comics! Favorite Issue Last Week: Batgirl #25 Favorite Issue This Week: Avengers Academy #18 American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest, Batgirl and Cloak and Dagger were new in stores on 8/10/11 Avengers Academy, Darkwing Duck and Power Girl were new in stores on 8/17/11 American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest #3 Writer: Scott Snyder, Artist: Sean Murphy, Colorist: Dave Stewart This is more like it, after last month's slight let down. More action, more tense moments, more hints about Felicia's abilities, good character stuff between Felicia and Cashel, more mysteries! Bring on the vampires! Avengers Academy #18 Writer: Christos Gage, Artist: Andrea Di Vito, Colorist: Jeromy Cox Wow! Doing the Fear Itself tie-in issues have really forced the academy kids to step up to the plate in a big way, and the stories

Oathbound, Oathbreakers (Vows and Honor 1 and 2)

This post is part of a week-long series of reviews of Mercedes Lackey novels. See  intro post  for more information. Oathbound, Oathbreakers (Vows and Honor 1 and 2) Mercedes Lackey, 1988, 1989 Premise: Tarma is a Shin'a'in swordswoman whose entire clan was murdered. She became a Goddess-sworn warrior to take vengeance for her people. She joins forces with Kethy, a White Winds mage who also has violence in her past. Kethry is now bonded to a sword which holds a geas to help women in trouble. They soon become sworn sisters, fast friends, and swift death to their enemies. The first book, Oathbound , is somewhat disjointed, but it's for obvious reasons. It was put together around a handful of short stories that had been previously published. FYI: the story of Tarma and Kethry's first meeting is not reprinted in either of these volumes. While I enjoyed reading these, I didn't quite love them the way I remember loving them as a teenager. The characters a

Top Ten Freebie - Books Bought on Vacation

Currently going on here at the Bookshelf: Mercedes Lackey Week! Click for more info. Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at  The Broke and The Bookish This Week's Prompt is:   Top Ten Tuesday Freebie -- Use this week to write a top ten list about ANYTHING in literature.  When I first saw this prompt I had all these different ideas for what I could write about! But I've been incredibly busy, and now I just got back from vacation, and I'm exhausted and my brain feels sludgy. So instead, here are the Top Ten Books (and book-like things) I bought while on vacation in the land of a thousand awesome used bookstores, aka Seattle. 1: That red book on the bottom is a role-playing game book called Prime Directive. It seems to be a game semi-unofficially based on Star Trek: The Original Series, where the players are Star Fleet commandos. It amuses me greatly, plus it was just $3 at Gary's Games 2 and 3: JLA graphic novels (specifially JLA: On

Trio of Sorcery

Trio of Sorcery Mercedes Lackey, 2010 This post is part of a week-long series of reviews of Mercedes Lackey novels. See  intro post  for more information. Premise: Three urban fantasy novellas about magically talented women solving mysteries. Arcanum 101 is a Diana Tregarde prequel, featuring the witch and Guardian trying to find the connection between a fake psychic and a kidnapped girl, while simultaneously starting college. Drums is a sequel to the novel Sacred Ground , in which medicine woman Jennie Talldeer needs to stop an angry ghost from killing a young dancer. Finally, Ghost in the Machine follows techno-shaman Ellen McBride, who is called in to consult with a MMO corporation who find that their perfectly programmed monster may be more powerful than they planned. This was a fun read. I especially liked that the stories worked well together, despite not having much overt in common. The first is set in the early 70's, and the protagonist is a college fres

The Lark and the Wren (Bardic Voices, Book One)

This post is part of a week-long series of reviews of Mercedes Lackey novels. See intro post for more information. The Lark and the Wren (Bardic Voices, Book One) Mercedes Lackey, 1992 I'd been considering re-reading a few books I hadn't looked at in years, and then I saw that I could read this one for free. Premise: More than anything, Rune wants to make music. But for a girl born a bastard, with no money and no connections, with nothing but talent, the path is bound to be long and hard. I remember enjoying this whole series when I was in high school, and on re-reading I'd say it's fluffy and light, with some major bright spots and some major flaws. One of the flaws is that the plot reads like a series of short stories all jammed together, not like a novel. The first half of the book or so is comprised of two major stories, which work well together. The first part tells how Rune is dissatisfied with her life, and how she ends u

New Theme Week: The Work of Mercedes Lackey

It's time again for a new theme week! This time I'm reading the work of just one author: the incredibly prolific Mercedes Lackey. Ms. Lackey was one of my favorite authors in high school and I still pick up the occasional new book when I'm in the mood for some girl-positive fantasy. I was in need of a mix of nostalgia and the fantastic, so I'm reading a grand array of her work, some I've read before and some I haven't, in selections from many different series. Here's the schedule (links will also appear here as reviews are posted) Mon Aug 15: The Lark and the Wren Tues Aug 16: Trio of Sorcery Wed Aug 17: Oathbound and Oathbreakers Thurs Aug 18: Four and Twenty Blackbirds Fri Aug 19: Knight of Ghosts and Shadows Sat Aug 20: Arrows of the Queen Sun Aug 21: Unnatural Issue What's your favorite book by Mercedes Lackey? I remember being really fond of the Mage Storms Trilogy, but those will have to wait for another session of re-re

Top Ten Tuesday - Underrated Books

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at  The Broke and The Bookish This Week's Prompt: Top Ten Underrated Books (books you can't believe aren't more popular, books that are more obscure, etc.) I could really just repost my top ten list from a few months back on underrated authors , but let's see if I can come up with a few more specific works. 1: I found The Worm Ourobouros completely fascinating. See my full review here. It's weird and a little clunky through the beginning, but it might arguably be the first fantasy novel (in the way we currently think of High/Epic Fantasy) EVER. And it's GOOD. It's okay by me that it's rough around the edges. 2: From a similar time frame, Time and the Gods by Lord Dunsany is a wildly imaginative, yet somewhat unknown, set of short stories 3: Switching from classic works to just-released, I've felt lucky to have found the wonderfully original works by Andrea K. Höst, see my recent review of The Silence of Medai

Downbelow Station

Downbelow Station C. J. Cherryh, 1981 Premise: When humanity spread to the stars, they were contained to ships and stations, and tethered to Earth by commerce. That was until Pell, the first new living world, was found. From there, humans spread to the stars, and grew apart. Now the struggle over who will rule out there is coming to a head, between the Earth-Based Company, the space-based Fleet which ostensibly works for the Company, and the cloning-friendly spacers who make up the Union which has claimed the Beyond. The citizens of Pell Station don't want war to come to them, but the obvious line of battle is drawn at Pell and its world, also called simply DownBelow. It took me a few chapters to get into this book, similar to some other Cherryh I've read, but it was definitely worth it. It's both a sweeping story of the movement of peoples and governments, about the ways ideologies and morals shift when humans are separated by great distances, and a series of v