June 2018

The first book in the Fatal duology. Part of the action/adventure bundle I bought from Storybundle in 2015.
It’s a modern-day thriller/mystery.

Publication year: 2011
Format: ebook
Publisher: Reprobatio ltd.
Page count: 345 at Adobe Digital Editions

Another country, Myanmar in this case, is counterfeiting American hundred dollar bills. Unfortunately for them, someone on the inside decides to take their own cut and takes a million of the counterfeit dollars to US and buys some valuable antiques with them. The fakes are so good that they get through an airport currency exchange office. When the Myanmar finance minister realizes what has happened, he sends a pair of very efficient killers on the trail of the money to get it back.

Tess is a former computer programmer who didn’t like working with tight deadlines in a cubicle at all. So, now she’s a bike messenger for Red Caps, in New York. She loves the freedom at her work, has casual sex with musician Nick, and doesn’t worry about tomorrow. However, someone starts to murder female bike messengers in a very gruesome way and she becomes unwittingly embroiled in the counterfeiting scheme and becomes a target twice over.

Ron Stanford is a detective in the NYPD, specializing in serial killers. He starts to investigate the gruesome murders of the bike messengers and is immediately attracted to Tess. But he puts his feelings aside and concentrated on the murderer who kills more and more quickly. He also consults on other strange murders which seem to be the work of a professional or a pair of professionals.

Despite how different these two storylines are, they work together surprisingly well. However, since the plots are joined only but a couple of characters, that means that the cast of characters is quite large. There are many, many viewpoint characters, including the serial killer and the two Asian killers. However, I had no trouble following the stories or the characters. Only one other POV character besides Tess is a woman and she’s seen very briefly.

Tess is an interesting character for the most part, despite being drop-dead gorgeous, like very many female characters tend to be. She’s living day-to-day, enjoying her life and not worrying much about anything else. In contrast, Ron has been through a recent divorce and is a career cop. Their courtship was thankfully very understated.

The book has quite graphic torture scenes, enough so that I skipped over most of them. The thoughts of the killer are also quite disturbing, which they should be. Then ending was perhaps a bit too easy and while the romance was understated it still managed to get some jealousy scenes. Also, the reason why the serial killer killed is left quite vague.

The scenes are short and change quickly from character to character which keeps the pace quick.

Overall, this was a good read, delivering excitement, mystery, and some interesting characters.

Collects Spider-Island (2015) #1-5.

Writers: Christos Cage, Ron Frenz, Tom DeFalco
Artists: Paco Diaz, Sal Buscema

Spider-Man has actually never been one of my favorite heroes. But since I started first reading Marvel comics, I’ve also read Spider-Man for the simple reason that for many years X-Men and Spider-Man were the only two monthly comics published here in Finland. For some years we had a couple of other Marvel comics which had several heroes and groups (mainly Fantastic Four, Avengers, Daredevil, and Punisher) but they’re long gone now. Currently, Spider-Man is the only monthly Marvel comic. So, you might say I know a lot about Spidey, at least before Marvel broke up Mary Jane and Peter. I was so insulted by that break up and the way it was done, that I dropped the Spider-Man comic. But now Spidey’s part in Secret Wars was published here in Finland and I ended up reading those issues. And rather enjoying them for some wacky fun.

In Spider-Island, the baroness is the Spider Queen. Who seems to be a huge sentient spider. She’s infected almost everyone in Manhattan with the Spider infection which has turned heroes, villains, and regular people into six-eyed spider creatures. Except a small group of heroes still fights on: Agent Venom (Flash Thompson with the symbiont), Spider-Woman (whose powers apparently make her immune) and Vision along with a small group of regular people. Flash has a great idea to make a few other heroes immune to the infection. So, they confront spider infected Hulk, Captain Marvel, and Captain America, and make use of items that can override the Queen’s control. So, we have six-armed lizard Hulk, werewolf Cap, vampire Captain Marvel, and Iron Man who is sprayed with the Goblin venom! Together, they fight the Queen!

This was fast-paced and fun. I thoroughly enjoyed the six-armed spider/lizard Hulk, vampire Captain Marvel, and the mad Iron Man. The plot isn’t too stupid and not too complicated, either.

The collection has a bonus in the form of Mayday Parker, the Spider-Woman. I’m actually not familiar with her but can see the appeal. In this comic, Peter has died recently, and May is still mourning. Someone grabs control of the current Avengers and turns them again Mayday. Another fast-paced read.

Booking through Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Today, the topic is Top 10 series I really want to catch up on.

I’m a series reader. I love to immerse myself in series so I have started quite a few series which I haven’t finished yet and quite a few are still ongoing. Most of them I want to continue with. Also, my physical TBR pile has quite a few first in a series books waiting. But the series I really want to continue with are:

1, Toby Daye by Seanan McGuire
I’ve read all the novels but only a couple of the short stories. I need do read them, too.

2, the Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman
The newest book, the Lost Plot, is already out!

3, the Lady Trent series by Marie Brennan
I’ve only read the first book in this dragon centric fantasy series so I have four books to read.

4, the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde
I’ve only read the first three books in this humorous fantasy series and enjoyed them a lot. I need to read the rest.

5, Vatta’s War by Elizabeth Moon
I’ve currently listening the third book in this science fiction series and intend to listen to the rest.

6, Roma Nova by Allison Morton
The alternate history thriller series has been quite enjoyable and I’m looking forward to reading the rest.

7, The Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters
I’ve enjoyed nearly every book in this amateur sleuth/archeology series set in Victorian England. I’ve only got three more books left.

8, The Terra Incognita series by Ada Palmer
This is a complex and demanding SF series that I want to continue with.

9, The Machineries of Empire series by Yoon Ha Lee
Another complex SF series where I’ve only read the first book but which I’m looking forward to continuing.

10, Discworld by Terry Pratchett
The Discworld series has plenty of books I haven’t read yet.

A stand-alone fantasy book.

Publication year: 1990
Format: Audio
Running time: 11 hours
Narrators: Bill Hensel

This is a fast-paced and fun fantasy adventure with lots of political and court intrigue.

Ischia, the royal city of Cisali, stands next to a live volcano and not surprisingly, its people’s lives and religion center on the volcano, called the Lady. One magical stone is said to keep the lava from engulfing the city. So, when the stone’s stolen, the king is desperate to get it back. But due to court intrigue, he sends out an unlikely pair:

Darvish is the third prince. He doesn’t have much power and spends his days drinking and carousing with both men and women. This makes him unhappy and he drinks even more to forget it. Also, he’s now ordered into a political marriage to girl he doesn’t know.

Aaron is a thief. He had the misfortune to stumble into Darvish’s bedchamber and get caught. Luckily, Darvish was attracted to him and saved Aaron from tortured to death. However, Aaron grew up in a strict home and he has learned to deny his sexual leanings. He has two ghosts in his mind, talking to him and berating him.

The king suspects that Darvish is plotting to get the throne and therefore sends him out to retrieve the stone. Luckily for the duo, they stumble upon princess Chandra who is a trained wizard. She’s also Darvish’s unwilling fiancée and has no desire to a romantic relationship at all because it will stifle her wizardry. After the death of her mother, she has also become estranged from his father the king.

The trio will have to learn to work together to get the precious stone back.

I really liked the three main characters: each have circumstances and their own inner demons to conquer while on the quest. Aaron is the only one who actually knows a bit about the world: both Darvish and Chandra have led very safe lives and Aaron is their (unwilling) guide to the larger world.

The world isn’t too complex but not too simple, either. A nice, fun story which teases at a male/male romance but the ending might be disappointing for anyone expecting that.

Booking through Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Yesterday, the topic was Top 10 summer reads.

Since Finnish weather is unpredictable to say the least, I’m going with my summer tbr.
I’m so behind on my mount tbr reading that it’s not funny, but I’m going to make a valiant effort during the summer to make a dent into the piles. So, I’m going to focus on short books like:

1, Deadly Silents by Lee Killough
A science fiction whodunnit.

2, Catnap by Carole Nelson Douglas
Another short mystery book from new-to-me author.

3, Vanishing Act by Carolyn Keene
I was a huge Nancy Drew fan when I was young, but I’ve never read a Nancy Drew book in the original English. For one thing, Nancy is Paula Drew in the Finnish translations.

4, the X-Files: Ruins
Another old favorite is the X-Files show. I’ve read only a couple of the tie-in books before and I know they can vary wildly in quality.

I also have quit a few longer books like:
5, The Paladin Caper by Patrick Weekes
I really enjoyed the first book in this series, the Palace Con, and got the next two books in the series.

I’ve also got quite a few audio books waiting:
6, Engaging the Enemy by Elizabeth Moon
The next book in the Vatta’s War series.

7, Super Sales on Superheroes by William D. Arand
A fun looking superhero book from a new-to-me author.

8, Inspector Hobbs and the Blood by Wilkie Martin
A fantasy cozy mystery! A few months back I moaned the lack of these sorts of books and then managed to find this one. I hope it’s good.

9, Tower of Thorns by Juliet Marillier
The next book in the Blackthorn and Grimm fantasy series. I loved the first book and I’m hoping this one will be as good.

10, The Nine by Tracey Townsend
I won this book several months back and I really want to read it, so hopefully I’ll get to it soon.

Storybundle has two great new offerings: Summer Steampunk Bundle came alive a couple of days ago. It has 11 books for just 15 dollars, three of them Storybundle exclusives. 2018 LGBT bundle has lots of queer science fiction books for 9 more days.

The second book in the five-part Vatta’s War science fiction series.

Publication year: 2005
Format: Audio
Running time: 14 hours and 21 minutes
Narrators: Cynthia Holloway

This book starts soon after then first book, “Trading in Danger”. After she was drummed out of military academy, Kylara Vatta, Ky, is now the captain of a small and old trade space ship. She survived her first voyage on it, but not without losses. Ky refuses to return to the arms of her family, the wealthy Vatta who have made their fortune through interstellar trade. Instead, she’s determined to make it on her own, no matter how boring it’s going to be. But then someone tries to rob her ship and she’s attacked in public.

Someone has launched an attack against Vatta Transport Ltd. Their home is bombed killing many of the family members, including some very close to Ky. The attacks also sever interstellar communications, the ansibles. Furthermore, the government of Slotter Key is blaming the Vatta family and so shutting down their resources. Many of the other trading companies also feel that Vatta is to blame and refuse to deal with them.

The surviving family sends one of the own to find Ky and to find out who their enemy is. Ten years ago, Stella made a grievous error and was branded as the family black sheep ever since. She’s the most unlikely person to investigate anything, so she’s sent. However, she’s a determined and level-headed woman. She has already learned to work undercover, as a spy of sorts, and now her skills are put to a test. Her former lover Rafe soon joins her. He’s a lovable rogue with plenty of talents and secrets of his own.

Ky’s familiar cast returns. I enjoyed them more this time around although their attitudes towards Ky don’t change. She hires a couple of new men and while I could see what’s going to happen with (at least) one of them, it was still a nice ride. I also really enjoyed Ky and Stella’s interactions. However, Ky doesn’t really have time to mourn her family and the story has very convenient coincidences.

This was a nice continuation to the series and definitely raises the stakes for Ky and the surviving Vatta family. Now, Ky has to work with no safety net which she had in the first book.

Collects All-New X-Men issues 11-15.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger, David Lafuente

The original X-Men (or their alternate timeline duplicates) are still trying to get used to the modern world and the history which they don’t know. Jean is struggling with her new-found telepathic powers, her upcoming (past?) fate, and then she finds out what Wanda Maximoff did to mutants and that she’s still an Avenger (personally I blame awful writers for that “event”). Meanwhile, a group of X-Men which has the five originals and Wolverine, is apparently robbing banks. And so the original X-Men are now wanted felons.

However, perhaps the most shocking development is that the young Warren (Angel) leaves the rest of the original group and join’s Cyclops’ team. Jean tries to force him to stay and gets a stern lecture from Kitty.

This collection has the awful Hank/Jean thing. Besides that, I also found the brief exchanges between Rachel and Jean… very bizarre. Rachel Summers (or Gray as she’s calling herself now) is the alternate reality child of Jean and Scott (she’s from the Days of the Future Past timeline). She was a major character in the X-Men and Excalibur comics for years and I was looking forward to her reaction and she getting to know her mother when Jean’s a teenager. They’re both telepaths, too. Instead… we get a couple of funny pages where they don’t even talk to each other?? This was a missed opportunity. But maybe Rachel is such a marginal character these days that Marvel doesn’t even bother with her? Too bad. Or maybe they talked in another X-Men comic? I think Rachel was in the “X-Men” comic at that time.

On the other hand, I again loved the adult Kitty training the teenaged X-Men. (Although Kitty in relationship with adult Bobby? I don’t remember that at all… In fact, I thought it was just a movies universe thing?? And isn’t she going to date Star-Lord soon? What?) I also loved Mystique’s scheme and was almost sorry to see it busted. We also get a couple of pages of Scott and Bobby just being teenagers, which was also funny. And so was Wolverine trying to herd cats… er teenaged X-Men.

So, overall the same quality as the first collection. Mostly it delivered fun and excitement but also some frustrations.

The first book in an alternate reality noir mystery series.

Publication year: 2015
Format: ebook
Publisher: Red Dog Press
Page count: 243 at GoodReads

In an alternate USA, four big families rule the city of Bridges. The city has been divided into four quadrants, each ruled by one family, and it’s very difficult to move from one quadrant to the other. The families are Spadros, Clubb, Hart, and Diamond.

Jacqueline was born in a whore house to the madam. She was also a member of a kid gang. When she was twelve her best friend, Air, was shot and she still has nightmares about it. She grew up not knowing who her father was, until one day he appeared. He had made a deal with the Spadros. Jacq was to be the bride of the Spadros heir. Despite being a “Pot rag”, as the very poorest are called, she was trained to be a lady and married Tony Spadros. Except that Jacq loved someone else and never saw him again after she was promised to Spadros. Roy Spadros, the head of the family, is a ruthless, cruel man who delights in torture and beating his wife. But Tony is different. He’s still a man who has spent his whole life in luxury, wanting for nothing. But he’s usually not cruel, only when it serves a purpose. He orders men killed when that’s required but not tortured. And he loves Jacq. Jacq has learned to pretend love but has never forgotten her only love, Joe. She also knows that if something would happen to Tony, she would be thrown back to the streets. So, in secret from Tony she has her own business as an investigator. It doesn’t make much money but she saves what she can.

The story starts when a woman calls Jacq for help. The woman is Air’s mother. Her youngest son is missing and nearby is the mark of the Red Dog Gang. Jacq refuses to help at first but the case won’t leave her alone: she can’t allow the little boy to just vanish. When the little boy’s older brother is found strangled in another quadrant, Jacq knows that she must investigate. But she has troubles of her own: she must support Tony or someone could murder him. She must keep her investigations a secret from him because it would ruin their delicate relationship. She must also keep her investigations a secret from everyone else who could ruin her life.

Jacq has a lot of contacts around the Spadros area, some of whom know who she is and others don’t. She uses a lot of disguises and lies. The story has a lot of characters, as well. Jacq herself is a tough and determined woman but she’s in a very vulnerable position and she also has hard time letting of the past, her childhood friend’s death and her first love. So, she’s also a vulnerable character.

The story is told from Jacq’s first person POV. Since she was born poor and then rose to the elite (although unwillingly) she has a different perspective than many of the other wealthy people. The story touches on the disenfranchisement of the poor, class struggles, and women’s rights, which are, sadly, still ongoing issues today.

The start of the story dropped us readers right in the middle of the story. Explanations came later mostly through Jacq’s thoughts. For the most part, this worked well and I enjoyed the story. Jacq is a very interesting character and her dilemma drew me in. The book is labeled as steampunk but there are very few steampunk elements in the story.

At the end, the current case is resolved (kind of) but the larger mysteries remain. We also get a timeline of this alternate history and a list of characters at the end.

Top 5 Wednesday is GoodReads group where people discuss different bookish topic each week. Today the topic is

Favorite Fathers/Father Figures
Literature is full of fathers and father figures, both bad and good. I’m going to list some of my favorite fathers from various comics.

1, Jonathan Kent by DC comics
As the foster father of Superman himself, Pa Kent is an iconic father figure. Not only did he raise young Clark to defend all innocent people, and the whole planet when needed, the adult Clark can always come to him and Martha with his troubles (at least in the universes where the Kents are alive).

2, Ben Parker by Marvel comics
“With great power comes great responsibility.” Another iconic father figure, Ben raised young Peter Parker but Ben’s death taught him the ultimate lesson.

3, Cutter from Elfquest by Wendy and Richard Pini
When we first meet Cutter he’s the brash and headstrong young chief of the small Wolfriders tribe. But he adjusts surprisingly well to fatherhood and is an excellent father to the twins. Of course, being a chief sort of means be a parent to the whole tribe so I guess it’s not such a big leap.

4, Reed Richards by Marvel comics
These days Reed and Susan have two kids and I think for the most part they’re excellent parents. Even though Reed has the tendency to get buried in his work, he usually manages to come out and hang out with his kids and Susan. Not surprisingly, they also make sure that the kids Franklin and Valeria have the best education possible. However, sometimes Reed’s questionable choices (such as keeping secrets from his family) comes to bite them.

5, Donald Duck by Walt Disney
Another male raising alone a child (or in this case three children) who aren’t his own. Donald could be either on the worst dad list or best dad list. He’s usually a caring father figure to his three nefarious nephews, giving his last cent to get them a birthday or Christmas present. They also have wacky adventures together. On the other hand, he can also lose his temper in half a second and chase them down with a rod in his hand.

Next Page »