December 2019


The second ST:DS9 relaunch book.

Publication year: 2001
Format: Print
Page count: 234
Publisher: Pocket books

The second book starts right after the first one, the DS9 characters dealing with the aftermath of the Jem’Hadar attack and the revelation that Odo has sent a Jem’Hadar on the station. Kira wants to believe it while Nog is sure that the soldier is lying and just waiting for the best chance to do most damage. Ezri Dax is trying to find out if the Jem’Hadar lying or not. In the aftermath of the attack, Federation, the Klingons, and the Romulans are send a combined fleet to DS9 in preparation of a counterstrike back through the wormhole. Kira is convinced that this is the worst decision they could make.

Meanwhile, someone has leaked the prophecy about the Emissary’s child and Kassidy must try to deal with that.

Enterprise-E hasn’t reached the station yet and don’t know what’s going on there. However, Commander Elias Vaughan has found a new purpose in his life.

To me this story isn’t so fragmented as this partial summary makes it sound. All the characters have common goals. Often, a scene starts with one character and ends with another. This second book doesn’t actually have as much fight scenes as the first one, but they’re hand-to-hand so different from the first book. The Bajoran religion continues to be a big part of the book: both Kira and Ro and a couple of minor characters deal with the prophecy in their own ways.

The Enterprise crew isn’t much in the book at all; it’s clearly focused on DS9 characters. Also, the book is full of references to past episodes, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

The story starts with Jake Sisko taking a shuttle and trying to bring his father back. However, we don’t return to that story until the end and… as a cliffhanger.

This was a good continuation of the story which throws a couple of twists in, as well. Sadly, no return for some of my favorites: Jadzia, Odo, and even Miles (I very much enjoyed Miles’ and Julian’s friendship and their (holodeck) adventures together. No more, alas). Kira shines and is put through quite a wringer.

This is certainly a very interesting start to continue DS9. I’ve no idea how the series continues but I have couple of more of the books. But I think I’ll rather rewatch the show, for now.

Collects issues 1-6 of the miniseries.

Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Aaron Lopresti

This was a fun series set in Conan’s Hyborian Age. We get glimpses of Conan’s childhood when he meets a mysterious little girl called Yanna when they’re both very young. Eventually, Conan falls for Yanna.

In the main story, adult Conan rescues gambler Kian from torture and death. Kian promises Conan a fortune because Kian has bet against the local gladiator pit’s champion. Conan takes the gambler to that town and sees that the champion in question is a woman. Must to his surprise, he thinks that she’s his long lost Yanna. When she wins the fight, Conan tries to free her but is surprised and soon also in chains. They’re both now owned by the gladiator master. At the same time, a couple of mysterious crows are stalking our heroes.

The champion has lost her memory and doesn’t know who she is. She’s also lost most of her powers because ordinary chains can hold her.

This was a good cross-over comic. It centers on Conan and paints him as more chivalrous figure than I remember. It has plenty of action and even a couple of moral choices. We aren’t explained just how Diana is sent to Conan’s world but that’s not the point, either.

I rather liked the art which isn’t too cheesecakey.- In the beginning of the tale, Diana is wearing just rags but the blood stains on them look very similar to the symbols she usually wears which was a nice touch.

A stand-alone time travel SF book. Part of the time travel bundle I bought from Storybundle back 2015.

Publication year: 1991
Format: ebook
Publisher: Spectra
Page count in GoodReads: 352

Elizabeth Devane used to work for United Atomics but after a friend of hers died from a cancer he got from his work in United Atomics, she quit her job and became a protester. She and her boyfriend break into a testing site at Los Alamos and try to dismantle Magnetocumulative Generator. Instead, there’s a huge explosion which kills her boyfriend and hurls them both back in time to 1943 and to the secret atomic test site at Los Alamos. Elizabeth is alone and at first she thinks that she’s hallucinating everything.

At first, she not sure what she should do but soon she realizes that she has a good chance of sabotaging the atomic testing. She doesn’t have papers, of course, but with her background she’s able to forge papers. Instead of working as a simple clerk, she becomes one of the calculators in the war effort. She meets the men working on the Manhattan project, including Oppenheimer, general Groves, Feynman, and Graham Fox. She tries to remember what she knows about WWII but isn’t sure about many things.

Meanwhile, the Germans are building their own bombs. At university, Fox was good friends with Dr. Esau who is the head of the German atomic project. Because Fox talks with Elizabeth, he sends a letter to Esau which pushes German research forward more than it should.

Elizabeth is the main POV character. Esau and Fox are also significant POV characters and there are a couple of others, as well. I thought the descriptions of 1940s US was well done and Elizabeth has to get used to minor things being very different, such as food (which was very greasy) and how everyone smoked indoors. She’s an independent woman and so stands out among the other women. Initially, she’s very much against building the bomb or advancing atomic science.

Graham Fox is one of the engineers. He wants the world powers to maintain a balance of terror and so, he sends that letter to Dr. Esau. He’s convinced that the German engineers don’t want to use any weapons but that they, too, want to maintain the same balance.

Dr. Abraham Esau is a Nazi scientist. He’s worked long to overcome his Jewish sounding names. He wants power and recognition, especially in the scientific fields. At the start of the story, he’s just been appointed the Plenipotentiary for Nuclear Physics. However, he’s still working under other ruthless men who don’t know much, if anything, about physics and he resents that. He’s also jealous of other scientists. When Armaments minister Speer orders him to use concentration camp prisoners to work with the radioactive materials, Esau has nothing against it.

This was an interesting book. It’s a drama where Elizabeth, and to lesser extent Fox, struggle with their conscious. Elizabeth knows the outcome but wants to change it, stop the bombs from being dropped to Japan and the Cold War from ever happening. But she doubts how much she can do. Interestingly, I don’t think she ever considers what would happen if she stopped the US research but Germany continues with theirs.

I wasn’t really interested in the later POV characters. Otherwise, this was a good read. People who know more about WWII than me will get more out of it.

Despite the name “Trinity Paradox” this doesn’t deal with time travel paradoxes but rather the emotional paradox that Elizabeth finds herself in.

Happy holidays to everyone who is celebrating!

Collects Spider-Girl issues 0, 1-5 (1998).

Writer: Tom DeFalco
Artists: Ron Frenz, Bill Sienkiewiz, Pat Oliffe, Al Williamson

Spider-Girl is set in an alternate future where Peter and Mary Jane had a girl, May, who is also called Mayday. She’s a star basketball player and aces every subject in high school. She’s both a science nerd and a star athlete. She’s got friends in both groups, which, of course, brings trouble for her.

In issue 0, May’s spider powers (enhanced strength and speed and spider-sense) kick in right in the middle of a basketball game. Peter and Mary Jane realize what happened but they haven’t told May about Peter’s career as Spider-Man. May overhears them talking about it. Then the Green Goblin reappears. He threatens May and tells her that her dad should meet him at the bridge or he’ll kill Peter’s family. While Peter tries (unsuccessfully) get help from the New Avengers, May forces MJ to admit that Peter was Spider-Man. May puts on the Spider-Man suit and heads out to rescue her dad.

The Green Goblin here isn’t Norman Osborn but Norman’s grandkid who blames Peter for killing his dad and granddad. He’s almost howling for revenge and is totally insane. May manages to outwit him. We also meet her supporting cast which includes nerds Jimmy Yama and Courtney Duran. Her best friend is Davida who can barely stand May’s nerdy friends. Her sporty friends are Brad Miller, whom May has a crush on, and Brad’s best friend “Moose” Mansfield who picks on Jimmy all the time.

However, at the end of issue 0, Peter, MJ, and May burn the Spider-Man costume and webslingers “in silent agreement”.

Of course, May can’t stop being a superhero. In the first issue, her dad is being stalked and she must interfere. She ends up putting on a black mask and a black, very formfitting “gym cloths” and heads out to beat bad guys. She ends up going toe to toe with a teleporting mobster called Mr. Nobody.

In the second issue, she fights an insane killer called Crazy Eight and realizes just how dangerous being a superhero can be. She also meets Darkdevil who tries to warn her off and later tries to trap her.

In the third issue May and her group of messy friends got to the FF museum’s new exhibition. A super villain attacks and May puts on her tights to save them and also meets the Fantastic Five. Their leader is John Storm and members include his wife and skrull Layla Storm, the original Thing, the Big Brain (Reed has lost his body and now lives in a flying robot), and Spi-Lord Franklin Richards. May has been keeping a low profile in the previous issues but this fight puts her right on the front page of Daily Bugle. Her dad is furious. In this future, Peter has lost one of his feet and that’s why he decided to stop being Spider-Man. He wants her to quit.

The fourth issue starts with him yelling at her. She leaves for school. Another fight breaks out between Jimmy and Moose, after which there’s an accident with a (presumably) mystical amulet transforms the janitor to the Dragon King who attacks the kids. Spider-Girl defends them. But back home, Peter is even more determined that she’ll stop being Spider-Girl.

The fifth issue against begins with a fight between May and Peter. May leaves for basketball practice. But she skips it and instead walks around. Meanwhile, the original Venom breaks out. Peter has gone out, intending to talk with May. Instead, Venom finds him and bonds with him. May must now fight Venom who has bonded with her dad!

This is a very 90s comic. For some reason DeFalco decided to write this in second person and he uses a lot of descriptive boxes, essentially telling the same things that we see. Also, the art is very typical of 90s Spider-Man comics, especially the 0 issue where the artist is Ron Frenz, whose Spider-Man comics I’ve read a lot. Whether you like this comic or not, depends a lot on if you like those features. Personally, I don’t mind them too much, as I’ve read a lot of these types of comics (except for the second person narration). However, I don’t really care for the strange mid-riff bearing fashion which is common to both teenagers in high school and their moms (at least MJ). Also, when May put on the “gym cloths” to do some superheroing, she also had a bare mid-riff which was really strange.

This is a good riff on the general Spider-Man motifs: high school with friends from there, secret identity which makes May miss important meetings (well, ok, just once in this collection. But it was recurring motif in Spider-Man), and goofy villains. Of course, there are differences: instead of Peter’s aunt May, Mayday has both Peter and MJ and their relationship seems to be good, at least until May starts keeping her superheroing a secret. Also, May herself isn’t bullied at school; it’s her friend who is bullied.

Peter works in the CSI department of the local police but there’s no mention of MJ’s career. May is a intelligent, witty, and very dependable. She has a great sense of responsibility, which is very appropriate. She even tries to use on her dad. 🙂 Even when she disagrees with her dad, she respects them and tries to keep them safe.

Overall, I rather enjoyed this comic. Too bad that this ended up being her only collection published in Finland. In fact, only two female Marvel superheroes have their own publications in Finland: Spider-Girl and Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew). Both were published only for one collection.

The second and final volume of the adventures of Rogue and Gambit. Collects issues 7-12.

Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artists: Oscar Bazaldua, Javier Pina

I enjoyed this collection a lot, perhaps not quite as much as the first one, but still a lot. Mojo can be a very good villain, when used well, so I was happy to see him. Rogue and Gambit are kidnapped by Mojo into the Mojoworld. They’re essentially brainwashed and put to various shows for viewers’ entertainment. But something goes wrong: every time Rogue’s powers malfunction and she kills Remy. Mojo sends Spiral to fix her.

The last two issues center of Gambit when he returns to New Orleans and to his guild. I’ve never been a big fan of the whole thief guild stuff but it was an ok ending to the series.

This was light and fun. I love the chemistry between Remy and Rogue. I loved the various Mojo world weirdness, seeing Remy and Rogue in different genre movies/ TV-shows, if only briefly. The whole things starts with HoneyMoonlighting, a riff on the old TV-show (which I liked a lot) and continues with a surprise guest appearance of a character I haven’t seen in a long time (and I’d love to see more). The story also gives Rogue a chance to “fix” her powers. I’m pretty sure some people will be unhappy with the fix. I’m OK with it and I’m hoping that it will stay this time.

Spiral also gets an interesting development and I’m intrigued to see where we’ll see her next. Rogue and Remy will next appear in the new Excalibur comic with a new (to me) writer. Here’s hoping they’ll do a good job.

The first ST:DS9 relaunch book.

Publication year: 2001
Format: Print
Page count: 284
Publisher: Pocket books

The book starts three months after the end of Star Trek: DS9’s last episode so it contains heavy spoilers for the final season. So does this review.

Three months after his father’s disappearance, Jake Sisko is down on Bajor, helping with an archaeological dig. One of the archaeologists, an elderly prylar, gives him an ancient book of prophecies which gives Jake not just hope that he’ll see his father again, but that he must go to the wormhole and bring his father back. However, he decides not to tell anyone about it in case the prophecy is wrong.

Back in DS9, Colonel Kira is in command. She sees a dream about Benjamin but is rudely awakened with the news of a murder on the station. It turns out that she knows the murder victim, an elderly prylar who took care of Kira when she was a child. The victim brought the prophecy to Jake, but the others don’t know that. The murder also died so the station security needs to find the motive for the murder and the murder’s identity.

Kira has been feeling low and this news depressed her even further. Also, the station’s newest security chief is agnostic Lieutenant Ro Laren whose abrasive manner drives almost everyone away and Kira doesn’t think Ro can solve the mystery. However, she leaves the crime to Ro and continues dealing with the everyday life on the station.

Nog and Ezri Dax are repairing the Defiant. The Dominion War left the star ship is such a bad shape that it’s still being updated to newer systems, much like the station itself. However, a Federation star ship is guarding the wormhole in case the Dominion will break the truce.

Suddenly, three Dominion warships emerge from the wormhole and attack. The warships seem to be packing more firepower than ever.

Meanwhile on the Badlands, Enterprise-E is looking for any remaining Jem’Hadar ships. Commander Elias Vaughan is advising captain Picard. Vaughan is an old soldier who is doubting the choices he’s made in his life. When the Enterprise finds an old cargo ship, something peaks Vaughan’s curiosity and he leads an away team to the ship.

This book is mostly about DS9, as is appropriate for the relaunch. Enterprise doesn’t appear until about half-way through.

Mostly, we follow the remaining DS9 people. Kira, Kasidy Yeats, Dr. Julian Bashier, Ezri Dax, Quark, and Nog, as well as few new characters, including Ro Laren. All of them are POV character. Most are handled fine. Kira is exhausted but stubbornly pushing forward while Quark is developing a crush on Ro. Perhaps not surprisingly, Ro is finding it hard to replace Odo and her past makes the Starfleet people uneasy around her, as well. Kasidy is mostly thinking about settling on Bajor and Nog is full of self-doubt and hatred toward the Dominion.

Unfortunately, I found the handling of Ezri and Julian excruciating. They’re a couple now but apparently a happy couple is too boring, so the writer (or editors?) concocted a strange rift between them. I mostly liked this but I found the book strangely introspective, which didn’t really gel with the visual TV-show.

The ending is a cliffhanger, so this is clearly the first book in a series.

The second book in the Oxford Tearoom Mysteries.

Publication year: 2016
Format: Audio
Running time for the whole box set: 17 hours 35 minutes
Narrator: Pearl Hewitt

This story was part of a collection of three books: the prequel and books 1 and 2.

Gemma Rose started tearoom recently. Her best friend Cassie is an artist and a waitress in Gemma’s tearoom. Cassie has finally caught the eye of an art gallery owner, Jon. In fact, she’s now dating him. Cassie’s art is part of an art show where the other artists are well-known and the paintings are very expensive. However, Gemma thinks that Cassie’s art is very different than the others and she also doesn’t like Cassie’s new boyfriend and a bit jealous about the time Cassie’s spending with him.

Cassie invited Gemma to the show’s opening party. Gemma goes outside for a short while and hears a whispered conversation which seems to be about getting rid of someone. However, she doesn’t know who were talking. Back inside, a drunk young woman berates Jon but then she falls over, dead. It seems that she’s been poisoned. The woman turns out to be pretty disagreeable person, so there’s no shortage of suspects. Gemma even suspects Cassie’s new boyfriend.

Meanwhile, Gemma’s mother has discovered on-line buying and is getting all sort of strange items for Gemma even though she tries to say that she doesn’t want them. The story has also a romantic triangle because Gemma is seeing a handsome doctor, strictly as a friend, but the local CID detective is the one that gets her heart pounding.

This was a fun and light mystery. The cast is entertaining, even though the four old women don’t meddle as much as in the first book. The victim was a student at Oxford university, so Gemma has another excuse to go and snoop there. Muesli is the small cat in the cover and Gemma has just adopted her. She lives with her parents and they all must get used to the rather mischievous cat.

This was a very good sequel and an entertaining read.

The first book in the Oxford Tearoom Mysteries.

Publication year: 2016
Format: Audio
Running time for the whole box set: 17 hours 35 minutes
Narrator: Pearl Hewitt

This story was part of a collection of three books: the prequel and books 1 and 2.

Gemma Rose has started her tearoom just a couple of weeks ago. She has a brilliant if somewhat eccentric chef and her best friend works as a waitress. Best of all, she has a lot of customers. But then a very rude, almost obnoxious American tourist walks in, snapping his fingers for service. Gemma grits her teeth and plays nice. But then the chef’s mischievous cat Muesli slips to the tearoom and Gemma must try to get her before the customers spot her. The rude American makes a crude pass at Cassie, Gemma’s best friend, and threatens to return the next day. Gemma thinks there is something very strange about him, beside his lack of manners. That evening, in the pub, the American picks a fight with a local man known for his hotheadedness. They’re both thrown out.

But the next morning, Gemma finds the American dead. He’s sitting in front of her tearoom, murdered with a scone. Not only are she and her friends prime suspects but after the local newspaper writes about the murder, nobody comes to her tearoom anymore. Worse, the detective on the case is Gemma’s old boyfriend Devlin and he’s determined to treat her like any other suspect.

This was mostly a light and fun read. Gemma’s mom is very prim and proper and she’s trying to fix Gemma up with a doctor. She also doesn’t think that running a business is a proper job.

Gemma is the first person POV character. She’s rather an immature and impulsive lead. She used to be a canny businesswoman for eight years but she seems to have none of those qualities now. All her savings were used on the tearoom and she doesn’t know how to cook herself. When the local newspaper starts writing about the murder and Cassie’s possible involvement, Gemma is close to bankruptcy because people are afraid to come to the tearoom. There’s a possible love triangle between Devlin and the doctor, which I really don’t care for.

However, the cast of characters are fun. The four old women are nosy and very entertaining when they try to help Gemma. I also enjoy Cassie who is an artist but must work part-time jobs until/unless her paintings start to sell. The narrator was great and I enjoyed the writing style a lot.

The prequel to the Oxford Tearoom Mysteries.

Publication year: 2016
Format: Audio
Running time for the whole box set: 17 hours 35 minutes
Narrator: Pearl Hewitt

This story was part of a collection of three books: the prequel and books 1 and 2.

Gemma Rose is a former Oxford graduate and she also grew up in Oxford. However, after graduation she decided to take a high-paying job in Australia. But now, eight years later, she decided to quit her job and move back to Oxford. She wants to start a tearoom and is buying a run-down cafe to do it. She’s already talked to a local bank and been assured that she’ll get the loan.

On the plane back to Britain, she becomes fast friends with the woman sitting next to her, Jen Murray who is visiting Oxford and staying at a local hotel. After Jen has left, Gemma realizes Jen forgot her scarf. Gemma takes it intending to return it to her. Gemma is staying with her parents while she’s trying to get the tea room up and running.

Her mother has invited four old women to tea. While Gemma doesn’t particularly want to meet them and reminiscent about her childhood, she put up with them. After meeting her oldest friend Cassie, Gemma goes to the hotel and returns to scarf to Jen. Jen invites her to stay for a while and drink with her. Gemma accepts and they talk at the hotel bar for awhile. Gemma doesn’t drink but Jen drinks a lot. In the end Gemma helps Jen up to her room.

The next morning, Gemma is surprised and saddened when she hears that someone has murdered Jen the previous night. She’s even more surprised and horrified to find out that she herself is the prime suspect. Of course, the bank refuses to give her the loan while she’s a suspect and another buyer wants to get the place.

This was a fun and light cozy mystery. It does a great job introducing us to Gemma and the people in her life. I especially liked Gemma’s relationship with her best friend Cassie. They support each other wonderfully. While Gemma didn’t care for the four old ladies, they helped her solve the mystery and were very funny. The mystery starts pretty late compared to the other books (I’m halfway through the second book) and it’s quite convoluted. But I liked the characters and the light writing style quite a lot.

Next Page »