action heroine


The first book in the fantasy series Rogue Angel.

106588

Publisher: Golden Eagle

Publishing year: 2006

Format: Print

Page count: 346

The book starts with a brief scene in 1430 England where an impassionate young woman is burned at the stake and her sword shatters.

Then we move to the modern-day. Annja Creed is an archeologist. Because it’s not easy to get funding for excavations, she also works for Chasing History’s Monsters, a TV show about mythical beasts around the world. She does her research and narrates her own episodes. This time she’s in France, hunting la Bete, a supposedly werewolf-type creature that killed people in the 1760s. However, she soon finds that someone is shadowing her, and then she is attacked in broad daylight.

She continues her search, heading to the mountains. There she encounters a mysterious older man who calls himself Roux. Her assailants continue to follow her.

The book has multiple POV characters, including the main villain who is ruthless after la Bete because he thinks it will lead him to treasure. A hidden order of monks is also involved.

This was a fun and fast-paced action/adventure. It has a good mix of historical detail and fantasy.

Annja is a good main character who reminds me of Sidney Fox, from the TV show Relic Hunter. She has a lot of skills but unlike many heroines these days, she’s personable and gets along with most people, even though at times she can be a bit too blunt. She knows how to shoot and learned karate from an early age. She’s an orphan who learned to take care of herself.

I also found Roux a fascinating character but I won’t spoil his story here.

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

21532175

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.

Collects Worlds’ Finest issues 6-12.

17671953

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.

Collects Superwoman issues 1-7 (Rebirth).

31855850._sy475_

Writer: Phil Jimenez

Artists: Phil Jimenez, Emanuela Lupacchino, Jack Herbert, Joe Prado, Matt Santorell, Ray McCarthy

When the original Superman of this timeline died exploding, Lana Lang and Lois Lane were near him. The women got powers from the explosion. Lois got powers similar to Superman and Lana got electricity powers. Lois wants to be Superwoman, to continued Clark’s work but Lana doesn’t.

However, Lois convinces Lana to train her. Then Lois starts her career as Superwoman.

Lex Luthor is Metropolis’ new Superman. He uses an armored suit and he has built a huge battleship called the Gestalt to battle (other) supervillains. But when he unveils it to the people in Metropolis bay, someone takes over it. Both Lois and Lana are needed to try to prevent the mysterious person from taking over Gestalt and perhaps the whole world.

I really liked the dynamic between Lois and Lana. They aren’t friends, they don’t even like each other, but they’ve lost Clark. Lois wants to protect the world to keep up his legacy. Lana doesn’t want to do any superhero stuff but she agrees to train Lois. In the end, Lana does take up the mantle of Superwoman and help Lois. I was really interested in seeing what happens between them. That’s why I was very disappointed with the end of the first issue, hoping it wouldn’t be true.

So instead of the (more interesting?) storyline I was expecting we got a story about how Lana’s powers are killing her and she must overcome her fear to function. After Clark’s death, she started having panic attacks and she’s afraid that everyone she loves will die. She’s an engineer but is now a science reporter. However, that wasn’t really relevant to the story. She’s in a relationship with Steel, John Henry Irons. She clearly loves him but she’s also afraid that he will die and she’s trying to push him to the side to protect him. Or her own feelings.

I really enjoyed Lana’s supporting cast of Steel and his genius inventor niece Natasha. I also rather enjoyed the ghost. Traci 13 seemed interesting but I don’t know her. Maggie Sawyer appears as the Captain of Metropolis’ Special Crimes Unit. Lex’s newfound obsession with becoming a superhero was interesting.

The storyline jumps some days or weeks forward at one point. I think that could have been clearer. Also, at some point, Lana was telling us (in recap boxed) about things she couldn’t know, which was really strange. Also, it ends in a cliffhanger.

Most of the art is done by Jimenez and I love it. The fill-in artists weren’t too different, either.

While I didn’t like everything about the comic, I enjoyed it.

Collects Uncanny X-Men (2018) 17-22.

44024180

Writer: Matthew Rosenberg

Artists: Salvador Larroca, Carlos Gomez, Carlos Villa

Publisher: Marvel

This is the culmination of six months of comics for the mutants who aren’t in the Age of X-Man alternate world. Cyclops and his team face increasingly desperate times. Also, one mutant is working without their knowledge and yet using them are puppets. The team is Cyclops, Wolverine, Mirage, Magick, Havoc, Karma, Chamber, Multiple Man, Hope Summers, Banshee, and Juggernaut. However, Karma leaves the team and so does Wolverine. The team has decided to use Dark Beast as their scientist. Not everyone is comfortable with that decision.

This is a very dark comic. All of the characters are struggling with the deaths of their teammates, friends, and lovers. Cyclops suggested that they would take care of their deadliest enemies before the X-Men themselves are killed. The team agrees on that mission but not much else. They fight and bicker amongst themselves while talking about issues such as leadership and trust.

Also, the US government wants to get rid of mutants and so they’re issuing vaccinations for children. The vaccine will stop mutations. The whole next generation of mutants is in dire danger.

This is meant to be the end of the X-Men, with the characters making a fateful decision very near the end. Of course, Hickman’s new run changes, not just the teams, but the mutants’ place in the Marvel universe. If the X-Men had ended here permanently, I probably wouldn’t have been satisfied for the simple reason that there are so many mutants and they all didn’t get their ending. That would have taken several issues, of course. So as it is, this was a fine ending to the series, for now.

A stand-alone urban fantasy book.

35018915

Publication year: 2018
Format: Audio
Running time: 9 hours 21 minutes
Narrator: Kevin T. Collins

I’m a huge fan of Brust’s Vlad Taltos books so I guess I was expecting something similar. The Good Guys isn’t a Taltos book.

Donovan Longfellow, Marci, and Susan are a field team for the Foundation. The Foundation is dedicated to keeping the existence of magic a secret from the regular people. They also train magic users and hire them for minimum wage. The trio considers themselves the good guys.

Donovan is told about a new murder possibly done with magic because it was done in bright daylight in a restaurant and nobody saw a thing. When the trio gets to the site, Marci finds out that very powerful magic has been used to murder the victim. A time-stopping spell from an artifact. Donovan and the team must find out who the killer is and where do they get their magical artifacts. However, when the team realizes that the killer is after quite bad men, they start to wonder if they are, indeed, the good guys.

This was an entertaining read. The characters are quite distinct but for some reason, I just didn’t connect with any of them. Donovan has some FBI training so he’s very good at police work. He’s also black. Marci is a new sorceress but unlike the other two, she has a personal life. Susan is an experienced sorceress and quite formidable with both her magical talents and physical skills. I wanted to like them more.

However, I don’t think the format of the book was best for audio. The story has many, many POV characters. One of them is in the first person and the rest in the third person. The scenes are quick and the POV character changes often. It was a bit difficult to follow in the audiobook for me.

The world was interesting and I feel there could be more stories in it. Brust plays around with quite a few tropes. For example, Donovan knows that torture isn’t an effective way to get reliable information, so the team simply talks with people, even those who try to kill them. Also, Susan is the team’s muscle.

The sixth book in the Invisible Library fantasy series.

45043662._sy475_

Publisher: Ace

Publication year: 2020
Format: print

Page count: 336

This sixth book in the Invisible Library series is just as entertaining as the previous books and I’m looking forward to the next.

This time our Librarian/spy/book acquirer Irene Winters is sent to retrieve the only copy of a book written in Ancient Egypt (a scroll, really). The Library needs the book so that they can stabilize a world that is important to Irene, so she’s anxious to get it. However, the current owner of the book is a powerful Fae, a canny negotiator who owns a lot of precious items. In exchange for the book, he wants another item, a painting. Irene, Kai, another dragon, and a group of Fae must steal the painting from another world. Of course, things go wrong.

Kai, who is a dragon prince, isn’t too happy about working with the Fae. In this series, dragons are order incarnate and the Fae are chaos. Each Fae personifies an archetype from stories and behaves according to their archetype. The group also includes another dragon but Kai doesn’t care for her at all.

This was a fun and fast-paced heist story. Unlike the previous books in the series, it doesn’t have much politics, so it’s a change of pace. We also get to meet Irene’s parents, if only briefly. However, from the end, it seems that politics will continue to play a larger role in the next books. I’m also surprised that nobody has strongly objected to Kai and Irene’s relationship, so far, given their important roles in the current politics between the dragons and the Fae.

The cast of characters is mostly new, but they are rather distinctive. I hope we’ll meet them again.

This is a really fun series with dragons, the Fae, many, many alternate realities, and fast-paced adventure. On the other hand, the adventures don’t leave time for character development. Also, this book hints at a larger plot, but I’m not sure if Cogman will ever return to it because she has left previous larger plot hints open. I enjoy the worlds and the characters enough that I don’t really mind that, though.

A prequel novella to the Kana Cold urban fantasy series.

43476687._sy475_

Publication year: 2018

Publisher: AOE Studios

Format: ebook
Page count in GoodReads: 148

Mark and Alice McNeil have a terrible problem: no doctor or psychologist can find out what’s the matter with their little girl. She has bruises all over her little body and screams so much she’s hoarse. One night in front of Mark’s eyes something invisible seems to attack the girl. She falls and breaks her arm. Desperate, Mark decides to contact a supernatural investigator.

Kana Cold is just starting her work investigating the supernatural. But all the cases she’s had so far have been hoaxes or misunderstandings. So, when Mark tries to hire her, in a seedy biker bar, she’s skeptical and not really interested. But a bit reluctantly she agrees.

This is a mystery story with a little bit of horror elements.

Kana is young but already a hard drinking tough girl, and she really wants to get concrete proof of the existence of the supernatural. We find out a bit about her reasons later in the story. However, a lot of her background is still left unexplored, as is usual for a prequel. She’s half Japanese. She’s pretty distant and cold towards the clients. Her partner AJ is a gadget man and also usually handles the clients, because Kana is too blunt. AJ approaches the supernatural from a science angle and he uses a couple of tech devices he’s built himself.

This was a good introduction to the characters and the setting. The biggest problem I had was with the framing story. Mark is telling the story to a reporter but the main POV character is Kana, and she certainly didn’t share her emotions with him. So it felt a bit strange. Otherwise, this was a quick, enjoyable read.

My newest short story is available on Amazon! I wrote this one, too, for the Dereclict anthology. It turned out to be a spy story:

A secret mission in the Alps. Inexperienced MI6 agent Iz Carter and her new partner.

Freezing wind whipping Iz’s face when she hang glides between snow-covered mountains. Below her, homes lighted like jewels. She must land on one of them. To the stronghold of a chemical weapons dealer.

She must focus on the mission. Or she dies.

A fast-paced short story full of unpredictable turns, Wreck of the Armitage follows the traditions of the best spy stories.

The first book in the Chaos of the Covenant science fiction series.

34215290._sy475_

Publication year: 2017
Format: Audio
Running time: 9 hours 16 minutes
Narrator: Jeff Hayes

This is military SF set during a war between the Republic and the Outworlders. The Republic has a lot more resources that the other side. We get POVs from both sides of the conflict but our heroine is a Republic soldier.

Lieutenant Abigail Cage is a breaker, a hacker. She’s also a mother, looking forward to retiring and spending time with her daughter. She’s assigned to a team which is dropped to enemy territory. She does have some experience with combat so she’s more worried about the couple of less experienced soldiers. But during the mission, something goes wrong and she finds a code she can’t break. Soon after they get back, the whole team is arrested. Abby protests that whatever the others might have done, she’s not part of it. Very quickly, the whole team is sentenced to a maximum security prison called Hell. And she’s put on one of the most difficult levels on the whole prison. She must fight constantly to survive.

However, the book moved on quickly to a point where it became more interesting to me.

In addition to Abby we have several other POVs. This world has aliens but they seem to be Star Trek types rather than completely alien aliens. Abby is a capable fighter and becomes even better during the book. She’s a patriot but she mostly just wants to get back to her daughter.

This was a fast-paced story with both fierce combat scenes and a complex scheme in the background which one of the other characters is trying to solve. The Republic has recently finished building two starships, Fire and Brimstone, which are so powerful that nothing can stand against them. But they have been stolen and of course the Republic is frantic to get them back.

I have the first four books in audio and I’ll likely continue to the next one. This first book ends in a huge cliffhanger.

Next Page »