September 2021

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

When a friend comes up to you for a recommendation, what do you normally suggest? List your top five most recommendable books for today’s prompt!

1, the Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters.

For historical mystery and humor, I recommend the Amelia Peabody series. Amelia is the first-person narrator in the series which is starts in 1884. Amelia is an amateur Egyptologist. So, while her family and Amelia work on various digs, they also solve murders. The first book is Crocodile on the Sandbank.

2, the Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

For people who enjoy alternate realities, spies, dragons, and fairies, the Invisible Library is the series to go to. The main character Irene Winters is a junior Librarian, spy, and secret agent for the Library between parallel worlds. Her mission is to save books from various worlds. To do that, she often has to use cover identities and get into places where she shouldn’t be.

3, The Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold

This is a long-running science fiction series that focuses on the characters. I’d start with Shards of Honor which is the first one in a duology where the main character’s mom Cordelia is the main character. Or you can start with the hyper-energetic Miles in Warrior’s Apprentice.

4, Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

For urban fantasy, I always recommend the Toby Daye series which is also very much character-centered.

5, Jackie Kessler and Caitlin Kittredge: Black and white

Black and white has a great superhero feel. It’s not too gritty, like Watchmen and the Batman movies, but it’s also not a parody or a comedy. It incorporates the current media and commercial cultures with superheroes. Iridium and Jet were best friends when they were in the Corp-Co’s Academy for teenaged extrahumans, training to be superheroes. But five years later, they are sworn enemies. Jet, who has Shadow powers, is New Chicago’s most celebrated heroine, the Lady of the Night, and Iridium, who has light powers, is a supervillain and running the city’s underworld.

Collects Worlds’ Finest issues 18-21, Annual #1, and Batman/Superman #8-9.


Writers: Paul Levits, Greg Pak

Artists: R. B. Silva, Scott McDaniel, Diogenes Neves, Jae Lee

This was a pretty good collection, although issue 18, the first one, was the last issue in the previous collection. Karen’s powers are out of control. She and Hel fight a new threat, a girl whose tattoos come to life.

Next is my favorite story in the collection: the adventures of Robin and Supergirl. This is set on Earth-2 where Helena is Robin and fights alongside her dad, Batman. Karen is still in hiding because her cousin Superman wants to keep her a secret weapon against Darkseid’s forces. But both girls long to be more independent, so they set out on their own.

Next starts the First Contact crossover, where the Huntress and the Power Girl finally meet Batman and Superman. Karen’s unstable powers worry Helena more and more. She finally asks for help from this world’s Batman. He’s younger than her dad and while they have similarities, they also have differences. Helena breaks into the Batcave. Bruce doesn’t want to believe her claims, but his instincts tell him that she’s telling the truth. So, he and Hel fly (on a Batplane) to see Karen, whose powers are making her a danger to everyone around her. She’s so much out of control that Superman must intervene.

However, whatever is affecting Karen infects Clark, too. Bruce must take him out with kryptonite. Then Hel and Bruce start tracing the nanobits that are affecting the Kryptonians. The team-up is pretty interesting. Hel and Karen can’t help but to compare the men they know to this world’s doubles. Clark and Bruce are younger than their counterparts. Bruce doesn’t trust anyone and not even his own instincts. He wants logic to back up his hunches. Clark doesn’t really trust Hel and Karen, but he still does his best to help Karen. While the story is fight-heavy (since it’s a superhero comic…) we get some very interesting character interaction and even growth. This was a good ending to the Karen’s powers are unstable plotline. Unfortunately, I’ve already read Batman/Superman vol. 2 Game Over where the story is also printed.

The first book in the historical Nottingham series reimagining the myth of Robin Hood. Or rather a deconstruction of the myth.


Publication year: 2019

Format: Audio

Running time: 25 hours 25 minutes
Narrators: Raphael Corkhill, Marisa Calin

This was far darker than I expected it to be. I guess it can be called realistic but is it really realism when every decision has bad consequences? But I guess it is realistic when everyone thinks they’re doing the right thing, no matter who they hurt or how much.

I was curious to read another reimagining of Robin Hood but unfortunately, this one wasn’t for me. For one thing, three significant POV characters are new: William de Wendenal, Arabel de Burel, and Elena Famwell, Will Scarlett’s lover. They’re solid, flawed characters with dark pasts. But since they’re not part of Robin’s myth I didn’t care for them. For another, it’s very dark. No matter how much the characters strive to do good, all their actions turn out to be wrong.

Set in 1191, King Richard is fighting in the crusades with Robin of Loxley and William de Wendenal as his closest allies. Robin and William even wear the king’s crown from time to time, acting as his body doubles to draw away assassins. But money and weapons don’t flow from England and that hurts the army. When Robin is wounded, he and William are sent to England to retrieve the missing weapons.

Meanwhile in England, the sheriff of Nottingham and his guard captain Lord Guy of Gisborne must collect crippling taxes that the king has ordered to fund the war. Lady Marion Fitzwalter is doing her best to keep the people from starving or rotting in jail because they can’t pay the taxes.

In the forest, a group of outlaws and former street urchins hide out, stealing what they can. Their leader is a huge, older man John Little who tries to keep his people safe. But Marion gives them information and directs their efforts.

The book did have some very interesting reversals. The current sheriff, for example, is trying to do his job and keep the peace. But the king’s demands and the disdain of the local nobles makes it very hard. Even his guard captain Guy thinks the sheriff is weak and ineffectual. Guy himself loathes everyone who breaks the law and does his best to keep his own men safe.

So, everyone thinks they’re doing the right thing, but they’re working against each other, which adds to the grim tone. Everyone also assumed others’ motivations are bad. However, there was some humor, especially in the banter between the characters.

The Robin Hood mythos had quite a few reversals. The biggest one is, of course, right from the start Marion was leading the outlaws and Little John was the field leader. Also, Robin’s attitude toward poor people was very elitist: he thought they were poor because they didn’t work hard enough and when he started to help the poor, it was a political choice. Alan a Dale isn’t a musician at all. Robin often mentions that the outlaws can’t effectively fight against Nottingham’s guard because the outlaws aren’t trained and have poor weapons. Will Scarlet has a different upbringing, I liked him a lot. I won’t spoil the others. Some of them I liked, some I didn’t. It was nice to see more female characters, though.

The book has multiple POV characters and each chapter starts with the name of the POV character and where he or she is. The story has quite a few surprises. Even the end has a very surprising twist and is a cliffhanger, not really an ending.

A SF thriller, sequel to Jurassic Park.

Publication year of the Finnish translation: 1996

Format: print
Page count: 443

Finnish publisher: Otava

Finnish translator: Jaakko Kankaanpää

The book is very different from the second Jurassic Park movie. In fact, only a couple of scenes are from the book.

Five years have gone by since the Jurassic Park catastrophe, but most people don’t know about it because the Costa Rican authorities kept the survivors quiet. But strange creatures are found from time to time and even though Costa Rican authorities destroy them as soon as they know about them, rumors are circulating.

Richard Levine is obsessed with these creatures. He’s a scientist, but he wants to catalog things and theorize rather than do any field research. But then he finds clues that point to one Costa Rican island where dinosaurs could still survive and he must go there. He won’t even wait for his equipment. He just leaves. And disappears.

Levine isn’t a likable person, and he has few friends. Luckily for him, those friends include Dr. Ian Malcolm and Dr. Thorpe, who is a former engineering professor who has nothing but scorn for theory. Also, two kids have been helping Levine, Arby and Kelly. When Thorpe, along with his assistant Eddie, and Malcolm put together clues when Levine could be, Arby and Kelly help them. But my favorite was Dr. Sarah Harding who is an animal behaviorist specializing in African predators. Sadly, her advice to young Kelly is still relevant. Some parents and teachers still tell girls that they’re worthless except for their looks. Unlike in the movie, the book Sarah is calm under pressure and focused on getting her colleagues off the island.

I didn’t enjoy this book as much as Jurassic Park. It has some bad guys, but they don’t really do much. The characters also discuss how humans are destroying the nature and themselves. Malcom offers his theories about how species go extinct.

But the book has plenty of dinosaurs, and they aren’t just a threat. Crichton puts down his own theory on how they behave and we get to see them sort of in the wild.

Top 5 Wednesday is GoodReads group where people discuss different bookish topic each week. Yesterday, the topic was rereads.

There are some books that are fantastic no matter how many times you read them. What books do you want to reread soon?

I want to reread quite a few books. Sadly, many of them are so thick it’s unlikely I’ll revisit them. Also, I usually want to reread the whole series and not just one book. But I have so many books I want to read for the first time that I don’t often reread.

1, Timothy Zahn: Heir to the Empire

The first sequel to the Star Wars trilogy. I remember that I loved it and could hardly wait the next book to come out so I’m very curious to see how if it is still as good.

2, Jasper Fforde: The Eyre Affair

Fforde’s series is funny and fun. Thursday Next is a literary detective, diving into books.

3, Robert Jackson Bennett: The Divine Cities trilogy

I throughly enjoeyd all three books.

4, Steven Brust: The Khaavren Romances

This series is set in his fantasy world’s history. They imitate Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers. If you can stand the writing style, they’re very funny.

5, Seanan McGuire: Rosemary and Rue

The Toby Daye series has so many interconnected characters and events that it would be great to reread them back to back.

“Three time travelers walk into…

An anthology of comically historical proportions.

The authors were given just the title as a prompt, and told: pick three characters from history, throw them together somehow, and tell us what happens as they travel through time, putting wrong what once went right, or otherwise messing up the timeline.”

This sounds like a fun Kickstarter project. It’s almost funded and has three more days to go.

Collects Worlds’ Finest issues 6-12.


Writer: Paul Levitz

Artists: Kevin Macguire, George Perez, Cafu, Cliff Richards, Yildiray Cinar, Ken Lashely, Barry Kitson, Geraldo Borges, Robson Rocha

Publisher: DC

Publication year: 2013

The series that portrays best friends Helena Wayne, the Huntress, and Karen Starr, the Power Girl, continues! They’re from Earth 2 which was devastated by Darkseid’s forces and now they’re looking for a way back. This collection has shorter stories, each two issues, which seem at first disconnected from each other. Also, the final issues concentrate on the disappearence of Michael Holt which happened in the Mr. Terrific’s comic. I didn’t even know Power Girl and Mr. Terrific were dating.

In the first issue, Helena has broken into Wayne Industries to ”borrow” money for her next identity, but she’s ambushed by the new Robin, Damien. They battle, of course. Meanwhile, Karen is in space putting something on Morgan Edge’s satellite. When Helena is in trouble with Damien, Karen interferes and Damien finally listens. It seems that someone is stealing millions every week from Wayne industries. Damien and the women agree to track down the perp.

The next issue is the team-up. Robin and the Huntress go north and battle wolves while tracking down a lead, while the Power Girl goes to Mali where she’s confronted by children who have apparently energy weapons from Apokolips.

In the next issue, assassins are after Helena. It seems that Ibn Hassan (whom I haven’t heard of before) put a large prize on her head. She’s shot and beaten so she’s confined to bed. While Karen hunts down the man who is responsible for the prize, Helena reminiscences about her life on Earth 2 when Batman and Catwoman, her parents, trained her.

Next, a group of mercenaries invades Starr Island, Karen’s home. Wounded Helena defends Karen’s staff against them.

Karen and Hel find out that Michael Holt is behind the assault on Karen’s home. But he disappeared a while ago, after he and Karen split up. Helena looks for clues in Holt Industries. But when someone systematically attacks Karen’s labs, she and Hel go on the offensive. Finally, the villain behind their troubles is revelaed.

This wasn’t as good as the first volume, but I still mostly enjoyed it and I’m eager to read the next one. I again enjoyed the friendship between Helena and Karen. Their personalities are quite different. Hel has been taught how to stay invisible, while Karen enjoys the spotlight, playing her role as a billionaire industrialist. Hel is cool under fire while Karen is brash. However, I dislike Damien and the stories were a bit too disjointed. Also, I found it strange that I’ve never heard of Ibn Hassan or Karen dating Mr. Terrific so those storylines left me cold. The last story ends in a cliffhanger.

However, the complex relationship between Hel and Damien was done well. Neither has ever had a sibling. Yet, they grew to sort of care about each other. I also really enjoyed the glimpses of Hel’s parents and her life with them.

I liked most of the artwork. Perez’s work is as gorgeous as ever but Macguire did most of the work. His more rounded style works well for the Power Girl. However, the fill-in artists’ styles were very different from them which was a little distracting.

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

By this point, most schools are probably in session! What books remind you the most of school? They can be about school, something you read for school, or something else, so interpret the prompt as you’d like!

I don’t read books about schools very often. Also, many would-be wizards or warriors are apprentices to mentors, rather than going to school. However, quite a few of my favorite characters have graduated from one school or another.

1, J. K. Rowling: Harry Potter

The first wizard school that came to my mind was, of course, Hogwarts.

2, Terry Pratchett: Light Fantastic

While the first two books in the Discworld series aren’t my favorites, I adore the Librarian and this book has his first appearence in the series. The Unseen University itself makes a gentle mockery of the real world universities and particularly Oxford and Cambridge.

3, Various X-Men comics

The Xavier Institute for Mutant Education and Outreach is also X-Men’s headquarters which means that it’s attacked quite often. But it was moved to another dimension where the young mutants can hopefully concentrate on going to school.

4, Susan Wright: The Best and the Brightest

Starfleet Academy is mentioned quite a lot throughout all of the series, but only a few books have been set in it. This book focuses on new characters, but quite a lot of familiar ones also make appearances.

5, Buffy the Vampire Slayer omnibus vol. 2

Sunnydale High has quite a high mortality rate, even though Buffy and her friends are working overtime to keep it lower. This comic book collection has one-issue-length stories, a couple of them are set before the TV series, the others during various seasons.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Today, the topic is Books Guaranteed to Put a Smile On Your Face

This could be nothing but Terry Pratchett books, but there are other very funny writers, too. Also, humor is tricky. One person’s laugh-out-loud books will have another frowning. So here are some of mine.

1, Terry Pratchett: Wyrd Sisters

If you like quirky older women as the main characters and have even a passing knowledge of MacBeth, this book will most likely make you laugh out loud. Several times.

2, T. Kingfisher: “The Clockwork Boys” and the second part “The Wonder Engine”

A forger, a fallen paladin, a young cleric, and an assassin are forced on a quest to save their land. Hilarity ensues.

3, Jasper Fforde: The Eyre Affair

Thursday Next is a literary detective. If you like the idea of people able to climb into a book, do yourself a favor and read it. It’s great fun.

4, Steven Brust: Jhereg

Vlad Taltos and his sarcastic familiar Loiosh banter throughout the series. Vlad lives in a world where the elves, called Dragaerans, rule the world and humans are second-class citizens, at best. Vlad is an assassin, but he grows a lot during the series.

5, Genevieve Cogman: the Invisible Library

Irene is a junior Librarian, spy, and secret agent for the Library between parallel worlds. Her mission is to save books from various worlds. To do that, she often has to use cover identities and get into places where she shouldn’t be.

6, Connie Willis: To say nothing of the dog or how we found the Bishop’s Birdstump at last

Ned Henry is an Oxford historian who has done too many time jumps between the 1940s and the current day searching for a bishop’s bird stump from the ruins of Coventry Cathedral. Because of the too many jumps, he’s suffering from a severe time lag which causes among other things “tendency to maudlin sentimentality, like an Irishman in his cups or a Victorian poet cold-sober”, dizziness, difficulty in distinguishing sounds, and blurry vision. The cure is two weeks of bed rest. Unfortunately, it does not look likely that Ned will get that.

7, Andy Weir: The Martian

Mark Watney was left accidentally behind on Mars. What might save him are potatoes and his sense of humor.

8, A Lee Martinez: Emperor Mollusk versus the Sinister Brain

Mollusk’s hobbies include inventing new technology and conquering worlds. He conquered Terra with mind control but ended up tinkering with their problems until he realized that his presence brought more harm than good to the poor planet. Then, he stepped down as the Warlord of Terra but the mind controlled Terrans still practically worship him. Naturally, he has a lot of enemies outside of Terra.

9, John Scalzi: Redshirts

If you’re familiar with Star Trek, this book that stars the junior members of a rather strange starship, might very funny to you.

10, Elizabeth Peters: Crocodile on the Sandbank

The Amelia Peabody series is set in Victorian times. Amelia and her family are Egyptologists and amateur detectives. The books are fast-paced and fun.

The second book in the Themis SF thriller trilogy.


Publication year: 2017
Finnish publisher: Like
Format: print
Finnish translator: Niina Kainulainen

Page count: 389

Waking Gods opens ten years after the end of the previous book, the Sleeping Giants. Structurally it’s similar. It has interviews, conversations, mission logs, and diary entries. But it doesn’t have conventional prose which, again, creates distance between the reader and the characters.

In the ten years, the world has grown accustomed to the giant space robot called Themis. It, and its two drivers, are controlled by the Earth Defense Corps which is supposed to protect Earth if the aliens ever came back. When a new giant alien robot appears in London, the population takes it calmly. The new robot just stands there while people film it. The drivers inside, if it had drivers, don’t try to communicate in any way. Doctor Rose Franklin and her team are still figuring out how to contact them when the robot makes a move. And kills most of the people around it. More robots appear in Earth’s most populated cities. Rose and her team must find a way to defeat them before more people die.

Like the first one, Waking Gods was fast-paced and a quick read, probably because of the structure. Almost all of the familiar characters return. The plot has quite a few twists and the ending is also a huge cliffhanger.

I was really not expecting the turn of events. This is a book where humanity confronts terrible beings they can’t defend against. Millions of people die. So, things are pretty bleak. Unfortunately, I don’t really care for that right now. But I guess the next book is supposed to be an uplifting story of how humans triumph against all odds, so I’ll read that. But I’ve already read so many books about war that I don’t think I would have picked up this series if I had known it would lead to a war, once again.

Also, some of the characters make really stupid choices just so the plot can unfold. Also, it has a precocious child because of their genetics. Not a fan of that, either. Still, the premise continues to fascinate me and I’m looking forward to reading the end.