action/adventure


The first book in the Jurassic Park duology.

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Publication year: 1990
Finnish publisher: Tammi

Finnish publication year: 1992
Format: print
Finnish translator: Tarmo Haarala

Page count: 518

I’m a huge fan of the Jurassic Park movie series. I saw the first Jurassic Park film in the movies and it was a huge experience to see the dinosaurs on-screen. I read this book over ten years ago and have only dim memories of it. The memories were accurate.

The film is pretty faithful to the book, except that it omitted characters and shortened scenes and left some scenes out. In fact, the book starts with a family vacationing on a beach and small dinosaurs attack a little girl, just like the beginning of the second movie. The beginning of the book has quite a few background scenes; we get to the park about 150 pages in. And the changes made the film better.

New gene technology allows scientists to extract dinosaur DNA from insects that have been preserved in amber and to add reptile DNA to it, to fix it. Hammond wants to make a dinosaur park for wealthy people and especially wealthy kids. But some of his financiers have started to become nervous and demands the experts will evaluate the park. So, Hammond brings in two paleontologists, Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler. The financiers’ lawyer Gennaro is afraid that the park will be a disaster and he brings in Ian Malcolm, a chaos theorist. If you’ve seen the movie you know what happens. 🙂

The book is deeper and longer than the film. Ellie is a minor character compared to her role in the book, which is the only thing I didn’t really care for. The book works very well. Perhaps the most boring aspects are Malcolm’s lectures about how science will fail because scientists have become too arrogant and because science doesn’t take into account the chaos of life.

The ending is also different, more bloody and ambiguous.

The book has a lot of POVs, especially in the first third which jumps from the family on the beach to the doctor examining the girl to a rival genetics company that pays Nedrey to get samples from the dinosaurs. But the rest of the book also has several POVs from Alan Grant to Timmy who is Hammond’s grandson to Hammond to Ellie to game warden Muldoon to the main engineer John Arnold who is desperately trying to get the computers to work again.

Malcolm starts to warn the reader that everything will go wrong, even before we see the dinosaurs. The dinosaurs are, of course, the center of the book. Some of them are more intelligent than in the movie. There’s even a suggestion that since they’re related to birds, some of them could be migratory. I loved the descriptions!

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and I intend to read the sequel soon.

A stand-alone satire of an adventure fantasy book. 30th-anniversary edition.

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Publisher: Mariner

Publication year: 2007
Format: print

Page count: 456 which includes two introductions, an explanation to Buttercup’s Baby, the short excerpt of Buttercup’s Baby, and Reading group discussion points.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Princess Bride movie so I decided to read the book, as well. It’s an odd book, as parodies tend to be. But I think most people know that already.

It shouldn’t work because of the structure, and according to GoodReads’ reviews, it didn’t work for a lot of people. I enjoyed it for the most part.

Goldman creates a construct of himself as the narrator of the book. He claims that Morgenstern wrote the actual books and he just cut off all the dull parts and made an abridgment. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on the reader, Goldman makes his narrator present pretty much all the time. At the beginning of every chapter, he tells us what he has cut and why. Then the ”good parts” of the chapter start. Unfortunately, that constantly interrupts the reading and reminds us that we are, indeed, reading a book.

The second point is that the characters are caricatures or archetypes. Buttercup is beautiful, Westley is a daring lover, Fezzik is a dumb giant, Inigo’s life is centered on fencing and getting revenge on the six-fingered man who murdered his father, Humperdinck is ruthless. We get a little bit more of them in the book, such as Fezzik’s and Inigo’s childhood. But they’re not three-dimensional characters. They’re not supposed to be. Yet, they’re endearing and memorable to many.

Well, ok. Fezzik get a surprising amount of depth in the book. But not the others. In fact, it seemed to me that if Buttercup had been plain, Westley wouldn’t have loved her. That’s not a message you want to send to all teeange girls watching or reading. Or boys, either. And in the book, Westley slaps Buttercup. Just no.

So, I ended up enjoying the movie more than the book. The narrator’s interruptions got on my nerves in the latter half of the book. I didn’t really care for the fictionalized Goldman in the book. He seemed very bitter. Maybe he was supposed to be a humorous character, a parody of a successful screenwriter who can’t write a novel of his own, but for me he instead sucked away humor.

Buttercup’s Baby is a sort of continuation. It’s not a short story but rather just the first chapter of a book, which again was rather frustrating.

If you like the movie and especially if you’d like to know more about Fezzik and Inigo, I think you can like the book, too. Just skip the introductions.

A stand-alone urban fantasy book.

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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.

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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.

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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