action/adventure


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.

My newest Robin Hood short story is live!

This is another story I wrote for the Derelict anthology. I had loads of fun with this one, too. It’s very short and fast-paced.

Robin Hood protects his people, the Saxons. Sometimes even Normans.

A shield between the villagers and the malevolent Sheriff of Nottingham.

Robin loves the verdantly green Sherwood. Sunlight filtering down between oak trees and birches. Hunting deer and rabbits. Birds singing and woodpeckers drumming.

But soldiers invade his Greenwood. Stomping, shouting. Armor rattling, swords glinting.

Can he escape them?

A riveting, fast-paced short story, Robin Hood: Hunted will keep you on the edge of your seat.

The fifth book in the Robert Langdon series but it can be read without reading the others.

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Publication year: 2017
Finnish publisher: WSOY
Format: print
Fnnish translator: Jorma-Veikko Sappinen
Page count: 463

I’ve read the DaVinci Code but that was years ago. Fortunately, Origin doesn’t require the reader to know anything about the previous books. There are a few references here and there but nothing crucial.

Edmond Kirch is a forty year old tech genius who has impressed the world again and again with his inventions and accurate prophecies in the tech world. He invites hundreds of people to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to see his newest presentation which he promises will change the world by answering two profound questions: where do we come from and where we are going.

Harvard Professor Robert Langdon is one of Kirch’s teachers and he’s also coming to the presentation. He’s not sure what to think of it all but is curious. But just before Edmond is about to tell his astonishing revelations, he’s assassinated in front of everyone.

Astonishingly beautiful Ambra Vidal who is the Museum’s curator fears that she knows who was behind it. She convinces Langdon to flee with her before they can be the next targets.

This was an entertaining and fast-paced read. The chapters are short and often end in cliffhangers. Most of the story takes place in Barcelona and takes us to Gaudi’s famous buildings, La Sagrada Familia and Casa Mila. In fact, the setting in clearly a character by itself. The theme is rather old, though: religion vs science. The book has an element of near-future science fiction.

Even though Langdon is nominally the main character, the book has many other POV characters. In fact, the book starts with the POV of one of the bad guys. He’s actually depicted quite sympathetically: his family died horrifically and he can’t get over it. He thinks he’s working for a good cause. It’s ironic that he knows how people in his position can be manipulated but can’t see it when it’s done to him.

If you’ve read a Langdon book before, you’ll likely know what happens in this one. But if you like this sort of thriller/mystery, it’s very entertaining.

Currently the first book in the Sabel Security thriller series.

Publication year: 2015
Publisher: Machined Media
Format: ebook
Page count at GoodReads: 365

Jacob Sterne is an Army veteran. Now, he’s employed by Sabel Security, an international security organization. He has some problems, though. He hears the voice of Mercury, the Roman god of messages in his head. Mercury usually warns him about danger but sometimes he just makes snarky comments about how soft Jacob is, unlike tough old Romans in the good old days. Jacob knows that Mercury is most likely a reaction to trauma but they still banter. He also has problems with women: he wants to sleep with all of them.

Pia Sabel is a former Olympic level soccer player. Now she’s a multimillionaire and runs the security company. She has her own problems because she saw her parents murdered when she was very young. Her adoptive father owned the security company, among other firms, and gave it to her. She’s headstrong and used to getting her own way. But she also wants to do what’s right, no matter if that’s cutting off body parts from rapists or tracking down corporation which are trying to poison millions of people. Jacob is in love with her but considers her way out of his league.

The story begins in Borneo where Pia Sabel is building a school. But she and her team manages to get on the nerves of the local tough guys and they must leave quickly. On the road, Pia meets a young girl who is carrying her sick younger brother. Pia insists that they stop to help, even though Jacob is against it. The team finds a place they think is a hurriedly built hospital full of local sick people. But the place has guards with guns and the medics are too nervous. Jacob steals three vials. Jacob, Pia, and the team are forced out and to leave the girl and her brother behind. Later, they hear that everyone in that camp are dead. Worse, someone tipped off the media that Pia and her company were there.

Pia is determined to find out who killed the people and why. Also, killers are determined to get back the vials Jacob took.

This is a fast-paced story with lots of violence but the plot is surprisingly complex. Sabel Security seems to employ almost exclusively former soldiers so they also swear like soldiers. The hunt for the bad guys takes Jacob all over the world. However, it does have a couple of gruesome torture scenes. And a lot of people are shot. Sabel Security actually uses dart guns with tranquilizers but their enemies don’t and Jacob and the others change to regular weapons when needed and when Pia isn’t around.

Jacob is a first person narrator for most of the book, but there are two other POV characters in third person. One of them is one of the bad guys so we get a pretty good picture of how they operate and bit about why. Still the full explanation for the reasons of all this came as a surprise to me in the end.

Surprisingly many of the secondary characters are women, in addition to Pia. Two of them are actually Jacob’s ex-girlfriends and he isn’t very comfortable working with them, at first.  Many of the women are former soldiers who are just as good in a fight as Jacob and the other men.

This was like a summer action flick with lots of action and some humor. I didn’t really connect with any of the characters but it was entertaining.

While the book is labeled as the first in the series, there are references to past events. In fact, near the end one plot point is dependent on them.  Apparently, this is the third book about these characters. The first two books are now called Sabel Origins series. But that’s a pretty minor point.

Collects Batwoman issues 1-6 and Batwoman: Rebirth 1.

Writers: Marguerite Bennett, James Tynion IV
Artists: Steve Epting, Stephanie Hans, Renato Arlem

This Kate Kane is from the TV show Batwoman. I’ve only seen the first season.

This collection starts with an issue that recaps most of the TV series’ Batwoman’s origins. The death of her twin and mom (except that they’re different from what we saw on TV), her kicked out of Military Academy for being a lesbian, and her descend to a drunk socialite. She falls overboard, hits her head badly, and ends up on a paradise island. Except that the island is a haven for warlords and other bandits. She falls for the leader of the island, Safiyah, who keeps the peace between the four warlords.

A year later, she meets Batman and decides to pull her life together and become Batwoman.

In the main storyline, Kate is in Istanbul, following a lead about Monster Venom biodrug. It leads her back to the island Coryana. But the island has changed. Outsiders have bought most of it and Safiyah is gone. One of Safiyah’s closest allies is after Kate, blaming her for bringing corruption to the island. Kate finds out that the corporation which created Monster Venom now own most of the island. She must try to save the island and the inhabitants. We also get to see some of her year on Coryana.

The art for this storyline is crisp and clear. It fits the story well. The colors are especially nice.

The fifth issue tells the story of Kate’s year on the island from Safiyah’s point-of-view. Hans’ art style is softer and blurred, dreamlike. It also fits a flash-back issue well, even though it’s very different from Epting’s style.

The final issue takes us several years into the future. A Batman (not Bruce) has taken over Gotham and uses Batdrones and Bat troops to spy on the people and the criminals and to keep them in line. Renee Montoya is the Commissioner. Kate leads some military outfit called the Colony and leads an attack against Gotham. This isn’t a current storyline so I’ve no idea if this will be continued or even given a proper ending. But I love alternate realities and this is a very intriguing one.

This was a good beginning to Batwoman comic even though Kate isn’t in Gotham and her supporting cast is quite small. The storyline introduces three new villains, which I strongly suspect we’ll see gain. I liked Knife and her personal connection to Kate but I didn’t really care for the main villains.

Kate is working with Julia Pennyworth who is apparently Alfred’s daughter and a Special Forces operative. She and Kate have nice banter and she’s Kate’s “Overwatch” with the codename of Tuxedo One.
I enjoyed this collection a lot even though it was surprisingly dark. It has only a couple of humorous moments. But I intend to continue with it. Luckily the Finnish library system has the next two volumes, too.

Collects issues 1-8, published in 1989.

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Writer and artist: John Byrne
Publisher: Marvel

In an effort to cut down stress from (yet another) lockdown, I’m reading my old favorite comics. She-Hulk is a fun character and I’ve always appreciated that she’s not a broody or angsty. Byrne is one of my favorite comics creators so their union was lots of fun. Of course, he wrote Jen in Fantastic Four before starting this comic. This is a very 80s comic with lots of explaining the panels which I think are very clear, anyway. While Jennifer doesn’t have a constant cleavage, like the Black Cat or the Black Widow, she does spend time in her underwear, although not in every issue. But she’s also strong and awesome

These are stand-alone issues with one weird two-parter and continuing subplots. Also, Jen knows that she’s in a comic book and she speaks directly to readers and to Byrne. This was the first time I read a comic like that, so it made a big impression. This is mostly a fun comic with lots of jokes and humor. While many of the characters are from other comics (meaning they weren’t created to be funny) Byrne throws in some off-the wall original characters, too. (Doctor Bong, I’m looking at you… and laughing.)

In the first issue, Jen is in a circus and is hypnotized by the Ringmaster. She tells us her origin story and we also get a subplot of one of the weirdest Marvel enemies ever, the Headmen.

In the second issue, the Toadmen attack New York and the Headmen kidnap Jen.

In the third issue, the Headmen control the She-Hulk’s headless body! And make it attack Spider-Man!

In the next issue, Jen gets a new job as assistant DA and meets her gorgeous new employer… only to find out that he’s happily married. The Stilt-Man is after her new employer, so Jen must stop him. She also gets a new sidekick, who used to be the Blonde Phantom when she was younger. Brilliant stuff about aging characters.

In the fifth issue, we meet Doctor Bong!

In the sixth and seventh issue, NASA’s new FTL rocket is stolen and Jen hitches a ride to the stars. This is apparently a follow up story to some other comic but it’s still entertaining and wacky. Briefly guest starring Mr. Fantastic.

In the final issue, Jen gets her first legal case, trying to find some solid evidence to put a serial killer behind the bars. We also meet possibly the world’s strangest PI… who knows who is naughty and nice.

This wasn’t as hysterically funny now as when I read them years ago. Sadly, She-Hulk wasn’t published in Finland and this is the only collection I got my hands on. But now, thanks to Marvel Unlimited I will continue reading and I finally find out just who is that mysterious bald man who wants to get Jen because she’s the only one strong enough to defeat his arch enemy. He’s called Mister L and he drives in a large limo.

I thoroughly enjoyed this walk down the memory lane. Younger readers would probably be less enchanted with this 80s style.

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Collects Excalibur (2018) 7-11.

Writer: Tini Howard

Artists: Wilton Santos, Marcus To

This collection is clearly divided to two story archs. The first one is a hunt but this time Excalibur is hunting Warwolves, the wolf-like silver beings from the first volume in 1990s. I believe they’re originally from Mojoworld. Then we’re solidly back in Otherworld and dimension hopping, reality altering stuff.

Apocalypse needs the skulls of Warwolves in order to establish a gateway to Otherworld. The Warwolves are imprisoned in London Zoo so our heroes head there. Except that the Warwolves aren’t there. Cullen Bloodstone has acquired them. Betsy goes to see him and he invites our heroes to his manor, to hunt the Warwolves. Then Excalibur talks a bit about if it’s okay to kill intelligent beings. But since Warwolves have killed innocent people, they decide it’s ok. Of course, the hunt doesn’t go as planned.

In the next story, people in London hate mutants. They burn images of Jean Gray and professor Xavier and the gates to Krakoa. Kitty and Rachel come to the rescue with a flying ship. However, Betsy needs to go the lighthouse and she heads to the Starlight Citadel which used to be the home of the Captain Britain Corps. But Opal Luna Saturnyne, who commanded the Corps, doesn’t like Betsy. So she sends her own, new battalion of priestesses against Excalibur. Fighting ensues!

Meanwhile, Jame Braddock with his reality-altering powers is getting bored so he creates his own realities!

A lot is going on in this series. It also uses the Hickman style of storytelling giving us a page of backstory at least once an issue.

The second story is weird. But I love weird X-Men stories. Is it one of those… maybe? I’m mostly enjoying it. I still don’t care about Rictor or Apocalypse. And Gambit is weirdly grumpy all the time. And it ends clearly in the middle of a story, in a cliff-hanger. Also, I think the upcoming crossovers probably limited the storyline and the characters available.

Some characters from the original Excalibur comic make an appearance. Most noticeably Peter Wisdom who is Britain’s agent and works as a liaison between the team and the Queen. Kitty and Rachel’s appearances are way too brief.

I am rather excited about the strange new reality and how our Excalibur is going to react to meeting their counterparts.

The third book in the Aurelia Mitela alternate reality thriller trilogy.

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Publication year: 2019
Format: ebook
Page count: 338 at GoodReads
Publisher: Pulcheria Press

A year ago, Aurelia Mitela was secure and happy in her life. She was the foreign minister of Roma Nova, a former special forces major, and as a Countess she was also the head of her family. Her daughter has married and moved to EUS. But after Caius Tellus usurped the throne of Roma Nova and ruthlessly pursued everyone in the legitimate government, Aurelia barely escaped with her life. Now, she’s officially an exile and thanks for Caius’ very public lies, even the small group of other Roman Novan exiles think that she’s betrayed her country and her honor. They want nothing to dow with her. Even her former friends have turned away from her which breaks her heart. Only her lover Miklos still believes in her.

Aurelia is still recovering from a near fatal shooting but she must stand up to the other exiles and convince them that even with their small resources, they must start a plan to retake Roma Nova. But Caius sends both assassins and legal teams after her. She turns to her old allies, both political and personal. But many won’t help her, at least publicly.

The final book in the trilogy continues shortly after the end of the previous one, Insurrectio. It’s mainly political intrigue but Aurelia has assassins after her and she goes on a scouting mission to Roma Nova.

Caius was a smooth manipulator in the previous books. Now, he shows his ruthless side. He believes that women are too emotional to lead and enacts laws that force women not only to step down as business owners and soldiers, but make them legally beholden to a man; husband, father, or brother. Not surprisingly, the independent Roma Novan women loath this and Caius’ soldiers enforce the laws brutally. Aurelia sees this from a distance but it’s still quite disturbing. Of course, many men are against these laws, too.

This is set in 1980s so it’s also historical fiction. It’s fast-paced and entirely from the first-person POV from Aurelia. This was an excellent ending to the series.

A reprint of the Modesty Blaise comic strips 61, 62, and 63.

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Publisher: Titan
Original publication years: 1987-1988
Titan publication year: 2011

I finally got my hands on an English language MB album. Funnily enough, the second story is one of the first I actually ever read.

The first story is “Butch Cassidy Rides again” where Modesty and Willie are riding an old outlaw trail in the US. They come to a town where the locals are reviving the spirit of Western films for tourists’ enjoyment. However, during a mock gun battle, Modesty realizes that one of the shots was real. She noticed the young man whose thigh has been shot and with her quick action, saves his life. Meanwhile, Willie goes after the shooter. However, Willie is surprised from behind and the shooters get away. Also, the shooters looked like Butch Cassidy and his gang, so the local sheriff doesn’t believe Willie’s account. He dismisses Modesty and Willie as nutcases looking for celebrity.

The next day, Willie and Modesty meet a girl who is helping her grandparents against local ruffians – who look like Butch Cassidy and his gang. Willie and Modesty decide to stay and help the girl and her grandparents.

The next is “Million Dollar Game” which starts many years ago, when Modesty had just disbanded her criminal organization the Network and retired. She has taken up a new hobby: rescuing abused donkeys. The vet she calls to care for them, Greg Lawton, becomes her lover but they part ways after a few weeks. Then we move to the modern day. Someone is leaving short love notes to Modesty at her hotel. Outside the hotel, Modesty witnesses someone attacking a man. She saves him. He turns out to be the vet Lawton who is a bit peeved that Modesty didn’t recognize him. He also left the notes. Lawton is currently working for WWF trying to catch poachers.

When his airplane burns, Modesty offers to fly him and help him against the poachers.

The poachers are ruthless and well-armed. They are shooting rhinos and elephants for money and have killed game wardens before. As soon as they see that Modesty is helping Greg, they plan to kill both of them.

The last is a fun and intense adventure “The Vampire of Malvescu”. Willie and Modesty are traveling in Transylvania by foot. They have a bet about which of them will arrive first to the castle of Malvescu which is owned by one of the men who were in the Network. However, when Willie arrives to the castle, he’s astonished to find out that the former bachelor has married a very innocent girl. When Modesty arrives to the local town, she’s told that she shouldn’t go to the castle because a vampire hunts there. The vampire has already killed one girl. But Modesty heads to the castle anyway – and a vampire attacks her!

When Romero took over, the comics got more nudity. Especially in the third story, the former Network man’s wife spends a lot of time topless. I’m surprised the British newspapers allowed it. It’s also a bit strange because Modesty and Willie think that she’s very innocent.

These were all fun stories, first in a Western theme and the last set in the rocky Transylvania. The last two stories bring out Modesty’s love of animals, especially of donkeys.

This is a prequel story to Frank’s Robin Hood series.

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Publication year: 2020
Format: ebook

I stumbled on this series quite by accident and was delighted to find another Robin Hood series. However, this one is a bit darker than my own.

“Hood” tells the story of how Robin Hood got his nickname and is set in the early days of our heroes’ outlaw life. This outlaw band has Robin, Little John, Will Scarlet, Friar Tuck, and a young woman called Alis. We get a few clues about how Alis and Robin met. Everyone in the group seems to be born nobility but are now outlaws. Robin himself is the son of the late Earl of Loxley. Even though he’s still insecure about this ability to lead, the others willingly follow him.

This Robin has a dark past and is torment by it. He was jailed and tortured by the sheriff. A young woman whom Robin calls Rosa helped him in the dungeons, but she was killed because of it. Her death haunts Robin more than the torture and he has flash backs to it. The others also seemed to have dark pasts.

The story starts in Sherwood on Christmas Eve. Robin and his band haven’t eaten in two days. They ambush Sir Guy of Gisborne who is collecting taxes – and food from the mouths of peasant children.

This was a fast-paced and enjoyable read, if quite dark. I really enjoyed the close-knit family feel of the band.

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