Monday, December 31, 2012

129:110 Marvel Civil War by Mark Millar

A group of young wannabe superheroes tries to tackle some supervillians and the battle ends up killing several kids.  Now the public is outraged and wants something done now!  Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, works with the government and Reed Richards, aka Mr. Fantastic, to bring about registration and training for mutants and superheroes, to have superhero task forces in every state under government control.  Not all the superheroes are in agreement with the proposal and perhaps the biggest surprise is that Captain America is completely against it.  Now they are going against each other in the biggest civil war ever to decide the shape of their future.  But who will win: Iron Man or Captain America?  And do we even know who is in the right?

Interesting idea and even more interesting to bring in everyone from the Marvel universe at some point in the books.  Really interesting was who fell on which side of the issue and their reasons for it.  The end wasn't a total surprise but the whole thing was engaging enough that I might continue reading a bit further to try and get some more backstory and see where things go.  I'm not a huge fan of mainstream comics for a number of reasons, the biggest one being the lack of consistency in the worlds.  Seventeen gazillion different Spiderman comics come out each month and each has "Spiderman" as the main character but the worlds are so different that it's not really the same person from comic to comic and it drives me nuts.  Add in the different artistic styles (and I admit, I'm super fussy about what I like artistically from a comic and what I don't) and I tend to shy away but the artwork was good enough and the story well done to keep my interest for a bit longer.

Page count: 512p/41,317p ytd

Sunday, December 30, 2012

128:110 Avengers Disassembled by Brian Michael Bendis

The Avengers mansion is under attack.  Tony Stark is speaking at a UN meeting as Secretary of State when he starts going off on one of the members.  The Vision shows up and starts speaking of their doom before robots start coming out of him as he is torn apart.  Basically, the Avengers' world has just blown up in their faces and it's not pretty.  At the end of the day, they gather to mourn their losses and Tony Stark gives the blow that he can no longer afford to continue paying for the Avengers.  Where will they go from here?  No one is sure except that as they leave the ruins of their mansion after a last meal, they are greeted by a huge number of people showing their support.

Again, another prelude to the Civil War stuff as we see the UN decide they no longer wish to be associated with the Avengers and many of the members end up deciding to go off and pursue different lives.  It will be interesting to see how this affects things in the Civil War or if this story line is brought up in it at all.

Page count: 176p/40,805p ytd

127:110 Marvel Secret War by Brian Michael Bendis

Graphic Novel set in the Marvel universe.  There is an increase in the number of tech villians doing petty jobs and it has attracted the attention of SHIELD and specifically Nick Fury.  Tracking back has led to the discovery that the new head of Latveria is behind these attacks but when Fury takes this information to the president, he refuses to act so Fury decides to take matters into his own hands.  He puts together a small squah of superheros and deals with it and then wipes their memories.  A year later tho, those heros are being attacked and they don't know why.

Interesting getting into some of the politics of the Marvel universe especially as we see Fury step away from SHIELD at the end of the book.  Apparently this is setting things up for Avengers Disassembled which is the prelude to the Civil War.  Looks to be good!

Page count: 256p/40,629p ytd

And with that, I have completed my 40 new authors for the year which was my last uncompleted challenge.  I'll be doing a wrap up post tomorrow as well as a "What I'm looking forward to" post talking about new releases coming up that interest me.

126:110 The Doctor Trap by Simon Messingham

Doctor Who novel with the 10th Doctor and Donna Noble as the companion.  Sebastianne is the ruler of Planet 1 and has decided to add to his trophy collection the ultimate prize, The Doctor.  He lays an elaborate trap and brings in the Society for Endangered Dangerous Species, a group of a dozen hunters that specialize in making dangerous species extinct.  The game is set and the pieces in place but the one thing you never want to put in a trap is the Doctor.

I enjoyed the plot, nice twists and turns although some were glaringly obvious.  The only bit I didn't like was the tone for the characters voices were off.  I just couldn't read anything in David Tennant's or Catherine Tate's voice as it didn't read right for those characters.  You'd get a glimpse of them and then it would disappear.  A bit sad although maybe if I'd been watching episodes with them recently it would have been easier but still, wasn't quite right.  Still a fun book tho for fans of the series.

Page count: 247p/40,373p ytd

Saturday, December 29, 2012

125:110 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Liesel is on a train with her mother and brother being taken to stay with a foster family in Molching, Germany, in the late 1930s.  Her brother dies on the way and during his burial, she sees a book "The Grave Digger's Handbook".  She steals it and her life as a book thief in WWII Germany has begun.  Her new papa comes and holds her every night when the nightmares of her brother's death wake her and somewhere in that time, he starts teaching her to read her stolen book.  She meets the other kids on the street and Rudy becomes her best friend and partner in crime.  In the years of the war, she steals a few more books, her family harbors a Jew in their basement, and she learns to love.  Death watches her life unfold and when the bomb hits her house, he is there to find the book she lost, the one she wrote, The Tale of a Book Thief.  He tells us her story.

I'd heard a lot of people saying what a great book this was but no one ever said anything about what the story line was so it was a surprise to me at the beginning.  The choice of Death as the narrator was inspired considering what was going on all around the main story.  It was well written, beautifully descriptive, and just a wonderful read.  Highly recommend.

Page count: 550p/40,126p ytd

Monday, December 24, 2012

124:110 Underworlds: The Battle Begins by Tony Abbott

The first of the Underworlds series.  The day started normally enough for 10yr old Owen Harper until he got to school and watched the floor open up and his best friend disappear amongst flames with dozens of eyeballs staring at him as a voice is heard saying "The Battle Begins!"   Her last words were telling him to find a book as she flung a key at him.  What choice does he have but to do as she asked and try to get her back, even if it means being attacked by Fenrir, stealing the Lyre of Orpheus, and traveling to Hade's Underworld.  Thankfully, he has his friends Jon and Shelly to help him along the way.

Normally not a book I would be counting as I was going to have my little guy reading it aloud to me to practice his reading skills but that lasted all of one chapter.  After that, he took great delight in reading ahead and telling me to catch-up.  Took him less than a week to finish the entire book which considering he's not yet 7 is pretty impressive.  As a result, I ended up reading this one on my own so I could discuss it with him. I have a feeling it's going to be this way for the rest of the series.  I will say tho, I found it to be a fun story.  Not much in the way of character development but lots of action with some fun mythology stuff thrown in from several different mythos (Loki & Hades...Oh My!).  While written simply, it doesn't talk down and manages to infuse humor even in the scarier scenes to keep them from being too scary.

Page count:  101p/39,576p ytd

123:110 Fool's Errand by Robin Hobb

The first in the Tawny Man Trilogy.  The Red Ship Wars are over and Verity dead.  Kettriken is Queen and has tried to raise their son, Dutiful, in both the traditions of the Six Duchies and the Mountain People.  Now as his betrothal is on hand in an arranged marriage to one of the Outislanders to unite their people, he has disappeared.  No one is certain if he has run away or been kidnapped as the only clue is a note from the Piebalds, a group of Witted whose goal is to stop the persecution of their kind.  Chade, the Queen's advisor, and The Fool, aka The White Prophet, both turn to FitzChivalry in the hopes that as both Witted and Skilled he can find the Prince and bring him home safely before it's too late.  Fitz cannot help by say yes but the path it leads him on is a dark one for everyone.

It's been a while since I read the Farseer trilogy and I skipped over the Live Ships trilogy (which I do think I'll go back and read at some point) but it was still nice to come back to this world.  These are still dark, heavy books but so richly detailed it's easy to lose yourself in them.  There are times when they are slow and it's a bit harder to get into but then everything will start happening at once and you can't put it down.   Truly wonderful epic fantasy!

And with that, I have completed my A-Z series challenge since it was about reading the first or last book in each series.  I had to abandon several series part way through in order to finish up before the end of the year but now I'm done.  I'm also done with the A-Z author and A-Z book title challenges as well as my personal challenges for number of books and pages to read for the year.  The only one still to fulfill is number of new authors.  4 more to go but I think I will be able to make it with some shorter selections.

Page count: 662p/39,475p ytd

Sunday, December 23, 2012

122:110 Queen's Blade by TC Southwell

First book in the Queen's Blade series.  Minna-Satu has become queen of the Jashmiri and in her innauguration speech has declared that she will end the endless war that has been going on for generations untold with their neighbors, the Cotti.  She is advised to have the Cotti king killed and his son brought to her unharmed in order to bring peace about but after sending team of soldiers after team of soldiers out, only to be informed of their deaths, she is intrigued when an assasin known as Blade comes saying that he can do the job.

Blade is an unlikely assasin, smooth cheeked and slender, but also considered one of the best around.  He manages the impossible task but now his Queen wishes him to stay on as her advisor and personal assasin.  She knows her course is unpopular and will be even more so as the plan becomes revealed.  Can Blade help keep her safe and can peace actually be accomplished with this plan?

Well paced with a more simplistic writing style but good political intrigue.  It was hard to really relate to the characters and I found myself neither liking nor disliking them but curious to see what would happen next.  This is the start of a longish series and while I'm not rushing out to get the next ones, I don't discount picking them up at some time either.

Page count: 231p/38,831p ytd

Friday, December 14, 2012

110:121 Kick-Ass by Mark Millar & John Romita Jr.

Saw the movie and thought it was crazy but an intriguing concept so when Chris got the book for his birthday, I figured I'd give it a go.  In all, the movie was pretty faithful to the book although the story of Big Daddy was changed.  If you haven't seen the movie, it's a comic about an ordinary teenager who is a bit of a geek and short of friends deciding that his life is boring and why don't  more people try to become every day superheros.  He dons a costume and with zero training, goes out patrolling the streets of a mob town to try and bring some justice into the equation.  He gets the crap kicked out of him and almost dies.  This leads to his having plates put in his head which dampen his pain receptors and doesn't deter him from going out again and again.  He's a junkie and this is his high.  Along the way, he meets two real masked crusaders: Big Daddy and Hit-Girl.  Hit-Girl is about 10yrs old but has spent her entire life training to take out the bad guys by her father.

This is a bloody and gore infested comic, make no mistake.  I knew that going in and wasn't too surprised by anything in it but I just couldn't get into the artistic style of it.  I get that it's supposed to be gritty and everything, but it was just ugly.  I won't go out of my way to see the movie either but at least the movie had an artistry about it that I just felt the comic lacked.

Page count: 192p/38,582p ytd

110:120 History of US Vol 4: The New Nation by Joy Hakim

I have to admit I learned more in this book than previous ones like the fact that there were presidents between Jackson and Lincoln.  I mean, I knew that in a logical sense because Jackson was number 7 and Lincoln was sixteenth but still, they actually had names.  Of course, she only gave one chapter to all 8 of them since they didn't seem to do much of anything.  Otherwise, it was still better than the first book or two as it seemed to flow better and the presentation was easier to follow.  I still dislike the gazillion side notes and extra articles that get stuck in tho.  I find them distracting and I know that Jon tends to gloss over them.  Sometimes you can as they aren't that important and sometimes they are really important.  Ugh!

Page count: 199p/38,390p ytd

110:119 Memorable Thoughts of Socrates by Xenophan

This was a kindle version and included Xenophan's versions of The Symposium and The Apology as well.  Of the three "books", I liked The Apology the best.  I felt it was honest, heart-felt, and straight-forward.  The Symposium was my least favorite as I felt it was very rambling and did not show Socrates in his best light.  The Memorable Thoughts I felt truly was a brilliant portrayal of what I would expect to have heard from him.  Witty, insightful, straight-forward when possible but with the curveballs when needed to make his point.  I'm interested to read Plato's thoughts on Socrates now.

Page count: 114p/38,191p ytd

Monday, December 3, 2012

110:118 Viridis by Calista Taylor

The first in the Viridis series.  Lady Phoebe Hughs has created an herbal elixer, Viridis, that hightens the senses in a most pleasurable way and has build a discreet club for those wishing to partake.  Her former lover, Seth Elliot, is back from a mission for the Cause after a year to find that she has been being courted by Lord Victor, a man who does not like taking no for an answer.  Now Lord Niles Hawthorne is found dead only a few blocks from the club and all trails are leading back to Phoebe's life being in danger but by whom?

Billed as Steampunk Romance and Mystery which I suppose it lived up.  I wasn't impressed.  The mystery was only mediocre and it was hard to care much about the characters.  There wasn't "romance", it was just a bodice ripper.  There was no wooing or courtship.  That all happened a year before the story took place and we got none of that, just two people picking up where they had left off.  I felt it was a let down in that department as well.  The villain was nasty and got away with everything, likely to help lead into the sequel, but the whole thing just left things too unfinished.  At this point after finishing the first one, I very much doubt I'll be going back for the sequel.  I'll give it 3 stars because it was ok but it was nothing spectacular.

Page count: 304p/38,077p ytd

Sunday, December 2, 2012

110:117 Night Shift by Lilith Saintcrow

The first book in the Jill Kismet series.  Jill is a Hunter, one who hunts the dark for Hellbreed and kills them to protect humanity.  She is the only hunter for Santa Luz now that her teacher and lover is dead, murdered by Hellbreed less than a year ago.  Unlike other hunters tho, she has entered into a pact with the main Hellbreed in her territory, Perry, in order to gain strength, speed, and extra magical firepower.  It also lets her tap him for information.  It's a good thing as she will need everything he can provide for this case where the never before heard of alliance of werewolf and hellbreed has happened.  The daughter of a high ranking (and very psychotic) Hellbreed is on the run with a rogue werewolf who is on a murderous rampage.   Can Julie figure out what is going on that has brought those two together?  An even better question is can she  make them stop and keep her own skin mostly intact?

Fast paced and interesting.  A departure from the standard which is always appreciated with nice strong leads, both male and female, good and bad.  Not a lot of romance but it's definitely being set up for that in future books.  Internal guilt ridden monologues got very close to hitting my annoyance buttons a few times but I'm hoping that some of that got resolved in this book so it won't be such a big issue in future ones.  In all, a promising start to a series.

Page count: 323p/37,773p ytd

110:116 The Horse and His Boy by CS Lewis

An enjoyable romp through other areas in the Narnia universe that eventually lead into Narnia itself, but only briefly.  King Edmund, Queen Lucy, and Queen Susan make small appearances but are not integral to the story rather it's an adventure tale of two children running away from Tashbaan towards Narnia with two talking horses but who find out about a plot to destroy Narnia and must do the near impossible to get the news into the right hands.  You can definitely see the Aslan/God connection very heavily in this one as he orchestrates things for the greater good of the land he loves.

Page count: 224p/37,450p ytd