action/adventure


The first book in the fantasy series Rogue Angel.

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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.

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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.

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.

Collects Worlds’ Finest issues 6-12.

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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.

A stand-alone steampunk book.

Publication year: 2017
Format: Audio
Running time: 10 hours 45 minutes
Narrator: David Giuntoli, Claire Coffee

When June Stefanov was a young girl, her grandfather told her a story about an angel helping the Russians during WWII. Her grandfather leaves behind to her a keepsake, a mechanical part that the ”angel” gave her. Now, June is an anthropologist specializing in ancient tech. She travels around the world to find mechanical, human-sized dolls hundreds of years old. Now, she has found a female doll in Oregon. It is about three hundred years old. June fixes it so that it writes down the message it has been waiting to write. But others don’t want humans to know anything about the mechanicals, so June is in grave danger.

Russia, 1725. Peter awakes in the Kremlin. The tsar’s (Peter the Great, after whom the mechanical Peter is named) mechanician has just built him a body. Peter’s anima, his spirit, is older but he doesn’t remember anything before awakening in Russia. Soon, the mechanician awakens another mechanical being Elana, whom Peter thinks of as his sister. Peter has feelings and thoughts and is conscious of himself, but he’s bound to a word, Pravda which means justice. Each mechanical being has such a word and is internally driven to behave in such a way as to fulfill that word.

The mechanical beings fascinate the tsar, but the queen of Russia hates them. Still, Peter does his best to serve the tsar. But when Peter the Great dies, his wife Catherine banished Peter and Elena from Russia. They flee across the country and continue to hide from humans for centuries. They also try to find clues about who made them. Before they leave Russia, they meet another mechanical being who threatens them.

Every other chapter of the book is set in the current day and the next chapter is set in the past. June is a first-person narrator while Peter is a third-person narrator. This worked surprisingly well for me. The historical aspects were fascinating, and June was an interesting POV character in the modern chapters. Both sides of the story have a lot of fight scenes, but in contrast, Peter and Elena ponder about their own existence and June is uncovering the mystery of the mechanical beings.

Elena is a fascinating character. She’s in the body of a 12-year-old mechanical girl and she soon grows tired of being treated as a child. Peter is also very protective of her. She yearns to find out more about herself and the other possible mechanical beings, while Peter considers them a threat. I did wonder why they didn’t try to build her another body.

Overall, this was a very entertaining story.

The first book in the Themis SF thriller trilogy.

Publication year: 2016
Finnish publisher: Like
Format: print
Finnish translator: Juha Ahokas

Page count: 351 plus a sample of the next book

The book has an unusual structure: every chapter is either a dialog between two people with no descriptions, just the dialog, or a report. This gives the reader a lot of freedom to imagine the characters and the setting, but it can be tough to read because it is so different. We also never get the name of the person doing the interviews. He seems to have a lot of power and money, but only because he can tap into a vast network of knowledge and can manipulate others well.

Rose was 11 years old when she falls from her new bike into a giant, mechanical hand that glows without an apparent energy source. Nobody knows what to make of the hand. Rose grows up to be a physicist. Years later, she heads a secret project which studies the hand. She realizes that it’s a part of a body and finds a way to locate the other parts. This is the start of the story.

The nameless interviewer picks two US military pilots for the project. The way to find the other parts of the mysterious giant body is to spread radioactive material in the atmosphere so the project needs pilots. Unfortunately, not all of the parts are in uninhabited areas.

Rose and a couple of other people continue to research the parts which start to form a body. But the robot is thousands of years old. How is that possible?

This was a fascinating concept and I enjoyed the novel way it was written, too. Of course, the structure distances the reader from the characters. So, this is a book where the concept and the plot are far more interesting and appealing than the characters. If you can stomach the writing style, try it.

The ending doesn’t give us closure, and the last chapter ends in a huge cliffhanger which raises even more questions.

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.

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