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.

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