Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Success Continues

For the third week in row, Griffin's team was victorious, this time 26-12 (it wasn't that close). The offense put together two good drives, with Griffin taking the plays in at reciever. The defense was outstanding. We recovered 4 turnovers, with an interception and a fumble being returned for touchdowns. Griffin continues to get better at cornerback. He was in on a tackle, but his best play came when he squared the runner up and tackled him head-on. It was a good play by him, particularly because Griffin was more aggressive. There is a tough challenge ahead next Saturday as the team looks to continue to improve.

Lexi continues to cheer for a powerhouse team. They won 49-0 this week. She'll cheer again this week. Lexi is also attending the basketball open gym sessions in order to improve and to show the coaches her commitment to basketball.

Cami continues volleyball practice (I was wrong about her having a game this past week). Her first match is in a couple of weeks. Cami has set a goal for herself to serve the ball overhand and get it over the net. She's working really hard to accomplish that.

More of the same for the Knights this upcoming week.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

DARK NIGHTS: METAL #1 by Scott Snyder - Book Review

From the publisher: The superstar BATMAN team of writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo reunite for a massive, universe-spanning event!

DARK DAYS: THE FORGE and THE CASTING hinted at dark corners of reality that have never been seen till now! Now, as DARK NIGHTS: METAL begins, the Dark Multiverse is revealed in all its devastating danger—and the threats it contains are coming for the DC Universe! 

DARK NIGHTS: METAL is a DC event unlike any other—one that will push Batman, Superman and heroes of the Justice League beyond their limits to take on threats unlike any our world has ever seen! It will take the combined might of the World’s Greatest Heroes as you’ve never seen them before to face what’s coming their way! 

Dark Nights: Metal #1, by Scott Snyder, kicks of the Metal event, following the two Dark Days books. In it, Snyder actually begins telling the story of Nth Metal and begins to delve into the history of the DC Universe. It's hard to discuss this book without any spoilers, but I can say that the entire Justice League has finally come together and becomes aware (somewhat) of Batman's investigation into the mysterious Nth Metal. More is revealed about the Blackhawks, some of Carter Hall's quest is explained, and there is that ending...the one you might have seen spoilers of, but that I, personally, did not see coming. As the DC Rebirth initiative continues, the various event-type series and team-ups continue to delve into the connective tissue between all the various universes/restarts/continuity blips that have occurred over the years. I'm enjoying the attempt to tie everything together in a logical way, and Dark Nights: Metal seems to be off to an interesting start.

If you like event series, are interested in the mystery (at least one of them) behind Rebirth, or just like Scott Snyder's style, you should pick up Dark Nights: Metal #1. But get on board quick, as it seems like once the story gets going, it's going to go deep.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Another Successful Week

Griffin's team won 24-0 for the second consecutive week. This week we played a school that was new to us, but were still able to pull it out. After a slow start, the boys turned it on; plus, for most of the game we played with only one sub (due to sickness, injury, and absence). I was really proud of all the kids. Griffin did a nice job, playing a ton. He played every play on defense at cornerback, getting close to several tackles and nearly recovering a fumble. He also played a bunch at wide receiver on offense. He did a good job blocking and had a couple of touchdowns run to his side. The next challenge comes next Saturday.

Lexi had her first cheer game of the season, and had a good time. The team won 49-0, and I think the cheerleaders were getting tired arms, as they did push-ups after each score. The next game is Thursday.

Finally, we got the info on Cami's volleyball. She starts practice Monday, and will have games on Wednesdays. She is excited and looking forward to the season.

And just like that, we are superfans again.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Serenity: No Power in the 'Verse by Chris Roberson - Book Review

From the publisher: Tough times haven’t ended for Mal Reynolds and his crew aboard the Serenity. When a call for help to find a missing friend takes them to an Alliance post on the Outer Rim, they encounter a new force building strength to fight the battle of the Browncoats—soon leading the crewmembers to question their individual values…Discovering that their friend is in Alliance custody and that an Alliance Operative is on the way, Mal concentrates his energy on the problem at hand and strikes an uneasy partnership for a daring rescue. But this is only the beginning of the story. Success will be when the Serenity’s crew makes it off this planet alive and all accounted for…

With Serenity: No Power in the 'Verse, Chris Roberson has done a fine job of continuing the Serenity saga while expanding on it, both by filling in details and opening up a future's worth of stories.

This latest Serenity collection finds Mal, Zoe, and the rest of the crew looking to rescue a friend of theirs from the Alliance. In the course of their mission, they encounter a new group of Peacemakers, a woman named Kalista with a group of girls who have been trained/conditioned like River, a Companion colleague of Inara's, and perhaps the start of a bigger place in the 'Verse for the Serenity crew.

No Power in the 'Verse has everything fans of the tv show have come to expect. There is action, a plan that doesn't work out exactly as hoped, humor, swearing in Chinese, Jayne doing stupid stuff, Mal acting with integrity, and River kicking butt. There is a resolution to the story, as well, but the end contains a springboard to what could be a much larger tale for the Mal and company in the future.

In addition to the main story, there is a short story by Chris Roberson, The Warrior and the Wind. River tells Zoe's daughter Emma the story of the Serenity crew (both tv and movie stories) with a touch of fairy tale about them. It was cute and touching, and a nice way to catch new readers up on what happened in the past.

Overall, I recommend Serenity: No Power in the 'Verse by Chris Roberson. This is a must read for fans of the tv series, and would be an entertaining story for readers looking for a good, old-fashioned space western.

I received a review copy of this book from Dark Horse Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Starting with a Win!

Griffin's first game of the season resulted in a 24-0 win for the team. Part of the fun was that we beat the other team from our school, winning bragging rights for the year. Griffin started at cornerback on defense, and rotating at wide receiver on offense, taking in the plays. He had two pretty good plays during the game. On offense, he made a really nice block to help spring the running back for a 15-20 yard gain. On defense, he made a solo tackle on a pass play that held the receiver to only a couple of yards. I was really proud of him on that play, because we scrimmaged the other team during the week and he was beat on the same play. He learned from that and made the tackle when it counted. Our next game is next Saturday.

Lexi had a week off from cheer practice, but is back at it this week. She has her first football game to cheer at this week, too.

Cami starts volleyball next week, and we will be all systems go!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

We're off! (Fall sports)

Yesterday, Griffin officially began his 5th grade football season. He was a part of the annual kick-off jamboree, with his team playing two 10 minute running clock scrimmages against other teams. Both "games" ended scoreless, with our defense and offense doing some nice things and making some good plays. Griffin was in on at least one tackle from his cornerback position, and blocked on offense while playing wide receiver. Next Saturday is his first official game.

Lexi has been doing her regular cheer practices, and I think the first game for them to cheer at is in two weeks.

Cami will be playing fall volleyball, and sign ups are this week.

We are looking forward to getting the fall season off to a great start and watching the kids participate in activities they enjoy.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

THE WILD STORM #6 by Warren Ellis - Book Review

From the publisher: Michael Cray, the world’s best professional killer, is going to get himself killed for refusing to assassinate an innocent. Angela Spica, whose only mistake was saving someone’s life, is discovering that her life is over forever, and that the people in this strange new world she’s forced to survive in...may not be people at all. Treaties have been breached. Secrets are being told. There’s a war coming.

Finally! The Wild Storm #6, by Warren Ellis, begins to fill in some of the backstory/background of the various characters and groups.

Possible Mild Spoilers:

The great majority of this issue is a conversation between Jacob Marlowe and Angela Spica. It is Marlowe who provides much of the background, providing some general information about the conflict between IO, led by Miles Craven, and Skywatch, led by Henry Bendix. It seems IO rules the Earth and Skywatch rules everything else (space, other planets, etc.). In the middle of all this is Marlowe and his group, Halo. To combat the other two, Marlowe formed his own C.A.T. team (covert action team), consisting of people he'd rescued down through the years. Halo's mission is to save the planet.

The other main action revolves around Michael Cray, formerly of IO. He receives an interesting offer at a very interesting time.

I'm really enjoying The Wild Storm, and issue #6 was a great step forward in the story. I appreciated the information that Ellis provided on the various groups, and look forward to seeing how this all plays out. As the series continues, I'm curious if it will read more clearly as a collected edition, but I'm still having fun reading it installments; I'm just impatient having to wait for each new chunk of story. I highly recommend The Wild Storm #6 by Warren Ellis. It's not the best starting point for new readers, but due to it's content, it does work pretty well.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

DARK DAYS: THE CASTING #1 by James T Tynion IV and Scott Snyder - Book Review

From the publisher: The Joker's surprise attack threatens to lay waste to all of Batman's carefully laid plans. Will the Dark Knight be able to regain the trust of his closest allies, Green Lantern and Duke, and prevent the forces of darkness from consuming the DC Universe?! Will Hawkman's warning stop our heroes from peering into the abyss?

The great comics event of summer 2017 is on its way, courtesy of superstar writers Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV with art by a master class of comics artists: Andy Kubert, Jim Lee and John Romita Jr.! 

Dark Days: The Casting #1, by James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder, picks up where Dark Days: The Forge left off. There are several groups investigating a mysterious dark metal. Batman has met up with Wonder Woman. Duke and Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) are confronting the Joker; and Hawkman is narrating his history and journey through a journal. As some of these heroes meet up, more is revealed behind the mystery of the dark metal. However, no clear answers are given; rather, this book is going to lead right into the Dark Days event series beginning in August.

The story was pretty good. It functions as sort of an extended prologue to the main series, so there are no major revelations. But, there are some interesting tidbits dropped in for readers. For instance, the dionesium that saved Batman's life in his battle with the Joker (and apparently saved his life, too) is related to the dark metal and there may be side effects. Another nugget of information is that Hawkman's origin goes back farther than ancient Egypt (which is the typical origin story for both Hawkman and Hawkgirl). I'm curious how these ideas will play out.

I'm also wondering just what the overall synopsis for Dark Days is, because for now, both Tynion and Snyder are keeping things close to the vest. They did a fine job with The Casting, but I think their hands were  tied in so far as revealing anything goes. I would recommend Dark Days: The Casting #1 to readers who are Batman fans and to those who are anticipating the Dark Days event. I don't think it will be required reading for the main series, but it does provide some context and background.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Here we go! Fall sports season is underway.

This week we are back at it. Griffin's youth football season gets underway this week with multiple practices. I'm excited because the number of players on the team is smaller this year than it has been the last two years, which mean more playing time for all of the kids. His jamboree to start the season is July 29 and the first official game is August 5.

Lexi starts her cheerleading practices this week, going from some optional practices to official ones. In addition to their regular cheering at games, the squad will also be competing several times during the fall.

Cami is looking forward to volleyball, which will get underway when school starts in August.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch - Book Review

From the publisher: There have been ghosts on the London Underground, sad, harmless spectres whose presence does little more than give a frisson to travelling and boost tourism. But now there’s a rash of sightings on the Metropolitan Line and these ghosts are frightening, aggressive and seem to be looking for something.

Enter PC Peter Grant junior member of the Metropolitan Police’s Special Assessment unit a.k.a. The Folly a.k.a. the only police officers whose official duties include ghost hunting. Together with Jaget Kumar, his counterpart at the British Transport Police, he must brave the terrifying the crush of London’s rush hour to find the source of the ghosts.

Joined by Peter’s wannabe wizard cousin, a preschool river god and Toby the ghost hunting dog their investigation takes a darker tone as they realise that a real person’s life might just be on the line.

And time is running out to save them.

With this new novella, bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch has crafted yet another wickedly funny and surprisingly affecting chapter in his beloved Rivers of London series.

I've seen the Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London books and thought about picking one up many times, but just couldn't pull the trigger. When the opportunity to review The Furthest Station (a novella-length story in the same series) arose, I decided to give it a shot.

Peter Grant is a police officer who works in The Folly, the special unit that deals with the unexplainable or supernatural. His latest case has him looking for a ghost on the Tube. Grant undertakes the search with the help of his colleague Jaget Kumar from the British Transport Police. What they find is that there is a very real danger to someone's life, and the ghost on the Tube are just the beginning.

I enjoyed The Furthest Station. The characters are well developed and interesting. Peter Grant is a likable protagonist, with real flaws and an engaging personality. Kumar is an adequate companion, as well. It is easy to see that there is a history between the two. Other characters include Grant's teenage cousin Abigail and his boss Nightingale (who is a master practicer of magic). Abigail is somewhat of a prodigy who longs to learn magic and begin working with her cousin full time. She is very proficient with technology (as many teens are) and very intelligent. Abigail is a nice counterpoint to Grant. Nightingale fills the role of (somewhat) crusty mentor.

The mystery was engaging. It was nothing that seemed out of place in a book of this type, and didn't rely heavily on the use of magic. In fact, as far as police procedurals go, it was rather ordinary (this is not meant as a negative). I liked the fact that magic did not dominate the story but rather felt very natural and complimentary to it.

My only complaint was that I felt like I was missing out on some background or inside jokes, having not read any of the other books in the series. This is definitely not Aaronovitch's fault, but I found myself distracted by this from time to time. If The Furthest Station is meant as an easy entry point to the series (due to the length), then maybe those types of things should be explained or left out. However, I would guess readers who are already familiar with the series would enjoy those comments or events.

Overall, I thought The Furthest Station was entertaining. Ben Aaronovitch has created an interesting urban fantasy/mystery series with engaging characters. If as a reader, this fits in your sweet spot, it would be worth picking up and giving it a read. If you are already a fan, this is a must read.

I received a preview copy of this book from Subterranean Press and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine - Book Review

From the publisher: In an exhilarating new series, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time.…

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden. 

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service. 

When his friend inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn.…

The concept for Rachel Caine's Ink and Bone (Book 1 in The Great Library series) is cool: The Great Library of Alexandria survived and is now the dominant force behind the structure of the world. Governments, etc. are all secondary to the Library, because the Library controls information. Everyone can access anything from the Library on their Codex (think tablet) but it is illegal to own any book. And the Library will do anything to hold on to it's power. At sixteen, students can apply to become an employee of the Library, but it is highly competitive. Meanwhile, Jess Brightwell, who comes from a family of smugglers (particularly rare books), is told by his father that he will be part of the next class trying to go into the service of the Library, where he can use his position to spy for his family. And then the fun starts.

First, there is a Harry Potter vibe when Jess begins his journey to Alexandria and his Library training. He takes a train to get there and meets a group of fellow students. There is Thomas, big, friendly, and intelligent; Kahlila, pretty, quiet, and brilliant; Glain (from Wales, and enemy of Jess's England), tall, strong, and fierce; and others. Once in Alexandria, they are taken to their home, Ptolemy House, where Jess meets his roommate Dario, rich, arrogant, and a rival to Jess. They also meet their instructor, Scholar Christopher Wolfe, who is strict, demanding, and distant. And that's where the Harry Potter similarities end. As the students begin their training, they are in competition for only six spots at the Library, so the tensions run high. They are also introduced to a late arrival to the class, Morgan, a pretty and mysterious girl who Jess is immediately drawn to. As the class is whittled down, the danger only grows, and not much is what it really seems to be, including the Library and those in charge of it.

Caine has done an excellent job with this first book in The Great Library series. The world building is terrific, as she has extrapolated what the world (particularly parts of Europe and Egypt) would be like if the Library of Alexandria hadn't been destroyed, but the rest of society had developed in much the same way as our world has (this is set in the near future). She has included several touches to deepen the world, such as a war between Wales and England, or a group known as the Burners who are in conflict and rebellion with the Library (particularly in America). There is also a form of magic, known as Alchemy in the book, that plays a rather important role.

Caine has also created some very engaging characters. Jess Brightwell is a great protagonist who finds himself in moral conflict and has to dig deep into himself to figure things out. Scholar Wolfe has layers that are revealed as the story progresses, and his motivations are slowly revealed. Jess's classmates grow in depth as they experience the Library training together and the high stakes of the story put the characters in very real peril. Very little is revealed about the leaders of the Library, like the Artifex Magnus, Obscurist Magnus, and the Archivist, but future volumes promise to add to them.

In addition to the main storyline, Caine has interspersed snippets known as Ephemera between each chapter. These short bits are based on communications between two characters and add details of a personal nature or focus on the Library's big picture ideas. For example, an early entry mentions Scholar Johann Gutenberg's new printing press invention, and how it needs to be hidden and he needs to be eliminated in order for the Library to keep its stranglehold on information. Each bit of Ephemera adds to the overall picture of what is going on.

I really enjoyed Ink and Bone, and upon finishing, I bought the second volume in the series. Rachel Caine's story and characters are engaging, the world of the Library is interesting, and the concept draws the reader in. I highly recommend this book. While the target audience is older teens, this can and should be enjoyed by adults as well. I'm looking forward to reading further installments in Rachel Caine's The Great Library series.

I received a review copy of this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

NIV Kids' Visual Study Bible - Book Review

From the publisher: The NIV Kids’ Visual Study Bible, for ages 8–12, brings the Bible to life in four-color illustrated splendor. This study Bible includes a spectacular full-color interior featuring over 700 illustrations, photos, infographics, and maps on every page that visually represent key Bible information. Each page also features important facts located near the relevant verse. Intriguing facts; colorful, engaging maps; photographs; and illustrations make this a Bible they’ll want to explore.

     Over 700 four-color photographs, illustrations, infographics, and maps throughout
     Full-color design
     Book introductions, including important facts and an image to orient the reader
     One-column format with side bar study notes for ease of reading
     Presentation page
     The complete text of the New International Version (NIV) translation of the Bible
     Beautiful cover featuring gloss

The NIV Kids' Visual Study Bible is just that: Visual. In my opinion, the selling point of this edition of the Bible for kids is all the visual aids that are a part of it. This is not to say its a graphic novel-type book; it's not. It just has a lot of pictures, charts, graphs, etc. For example, there is a pie chart breakdown of the topics discussed in Proverbs. There is a bar graph showing the make up of David's Mighty Man army. These types of things are spread throughout the Bible. Additionally, each book of the Bible begins with a title/information page, which includes "Who wrote this book?", "Why was this book written?", "What do we learn about God in this book?", and several other topics which can be helpful in understanding the context of the book. In the margins of the pages, quite often there are summaries, explanations, or support for specific verses.

So, does this version work? Overall, I'd say yes. I have a daughter who is anxious to get her hands on this Bible, and she likes it. She feels like all of the visual parts will be helpful and good. I do as well, as the key is to help kids understand what they are reading, as opposed to just reading it or looking at pictures. Overall, I would recommend the NIV Kids' Visual Study Bible as a great Bible for kids in the 8-14 year range in particular, but it is a good Bible for kids of other ages as well.

I received a review copy of this book from Zondervan in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

ASTRO CITY #45 by Kurt Busiek - Book Review

From the publisher: “WHAT BROKE THE BROKEN MAN?” part one of two! Astro City’s tangled history of superheroes, music, counterculture, serpents and darkness comes to a head. Heroes are destroyed, minds are shattered…and an unlikely savior rises. 

Well, Kurt Busiek did it again. Astro City #45, the first of two parts, tells the story of Glamorax, a hero from the 70's who seems to represent everything about the 70's glam rock movement. When Glamorax's friend, Tom O'Bedlam, throws a party, a rather eclectic group of people from past decades shows up. This causes Glamorax to do some serious soul-searching. As Tom and Glamorax progress, they discover that a serpent cult has played a role in society for a long time.

Busiek has a knack for telling interesting stories with unusual heroes and villains. Sometimes they are new takes on familiar archetypes, sometimes they are new ideas that often seem obvious in retrospect. This story, and Glamorax in particular, is one of the latter. As a character, there isn't a lot of depth to him/her, but as an idea, it is tremendous. A hero who represents the counter-culture of a society makes perfect sense. Additionally, the narrator, known as the Broken Man, is also interesting. Having shown up in several issues lately, the Broken Man (who reminds me a bit of Dream from the Sandman) continues to break the fourth wall and warn the readers of a deadly menace called Oubor. The Broken Man is a curious figure, and seems like he has much to offer the Astro City universe. How the stories of these two characters, Glamorax and the Broken Man, converge with that of Oubor seems to be the set-up for the second part of this story. I'm anxiously awaiting the next issue to read the conclusion to Busiek's mystery.

I highly recommend Astro City #45 by Kurt Busiek. Long-time readers will enjoy it for the bigger picture aspects and new readers should find it self contained enough to please them.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Day at the Beach by Jedd Hafer and Todd Hafer - Book Review

Cover: A Day at the Beach
From the publisher: Do you yearn for a day at the beach where your mind and soul can wander away from life’s troubles? Do you gaze up at the sun or the nighttime stars and wonder if God is really on your side? Do you long to hear his quiet voice in the roll of a gentle wave? In A Day at the Beach, brothers Todd and Jedd Hafer don’t have the answers to all of life’s troubles, but they’ll help you see that the God who built the universe also wants to help you build a great life. Let these encouraging words bring a ray of warm sunshine to your doorstep as Todd and Jedd offer their joy-filled perspectives on life and faith. So take a deep breath, unplug from life’s daily grind, and follow the call of your heart to Jesus, the ultimate source of life.

A Day at the Beach by Jedd and Todd Hafer is a nice little devotional book (it is gift book sized). Each daily devotional is between 2-4 pages and includes an anecdote (somewhat beach related), a tie-in to a Biblical prinicipal, and Scripture to tie it all together. Some of the topics/titles include Burning the Beach Burgers,A Shell of Yourself?, For the Love of a Penny, and Beach Butler Brigade.

The Hafer brothers have put together a fine book of devotions; there were probably about 60 or so. However, my one quibble with it is that the topics are only very loosely related to anything beachy. I chose to review this book hoping to both learn more about God and to be transported to the beach (much like another devotional called Life is Better at the Beach). The topics are nice and engaging but not what I expected.

Overall, I would recommend A Day at the Beach by Jedd and Todd Hafer to readers looking for a short, easy to read devotional book. Just beware that it isn't so much beach related as you may hope.

I received a preview copy of this book from Tyndale in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Wild Storm #5 by Warren Ellis - Book Review

From the publisher: Michael Cray is dying. This doesn't stop IO from giving him one final job, to fix the world he’s spent years killing for. Michael Cray, the best assassin in the world, is sent out to kill Angela Spica, the engineer who saved Jacob Marlowe’s life and exposed the secret state she worked for. Lucy Blaze, investigating the chaos caused at Camp Hero by IO and a wild CAT, meets an old enemy—and realizes an ancient war may be entering a new phase, at the worst possible time. 

Finally! The Wild Storm #5, by Warren Ellis, finally begins to offer some explanation of what is going on (I think). Things I noticed in this book: Michael Cray, who works for International Operations, gets a clue about Angie Spica and her suit. Zealot gets some mysterious advice. Daemons show up for the first time. There is a quiet moment with Angie Spica and Adrianna Tereshkova (aka Void). We are introduced to The Bleed, and find out a little more about Jacob Marlowe and Skywatch. Last, Executive Protection Services makes an appearance.

As far as The Wild Storm issues go, this was a change, in that there really weren't any fights or major conflicts to speak of. It is heavy on personal character moments, which I really enjoyed. Ellis is deepening the characters, providing motivation and backstory. I'm generally a fan of Warren Ellis's storytelling and trust him to reveal what I need to know in his own time, and this issue gave a little bit of that. I'm still not 100% sure just what exactly is going on, but I'm patient enough to ride it out and let the story unfold. So, with that, I'll just wait for the next issue of The Wild Storm to discover more of the mystery.

I recommend The Wild Storm #5, by Warren Ellis.  As before, though, this is not a good starting spot. You really need to begin with issue #1 to have any hope of understanding what is going on.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Batman #25 by Tom King - Book Review

From the publisher: “The War of Jokes and Riddles” part one! Don’t miss this extra-sized anniversary issue! In his own words, Bruce Wayne narrates a harrowing, never-before-told story of the Dark Knight’s greatest failure…and the horrors it unleashed! In the spirit of YEAR ONE and THE LONG HALLOWEEN, prepare to see a side of Batman you've never seen before—get in on the ground floor of a classic Batman epic in the making!

Wow! Batman #25, by Tom King, is AWESOME! It is titled "The War of Jokes and Riddles" part one, and that pretty much sums it up. Forgive for a sparse write up here, but I don't want to give away anything. So, Batman is narrating a case that happened shortly after Year One. Riddler, who is in jail, has been co-opted into helping the police with difficult cases. Joker is running rampant. And that's about all I'll say.

Tim Sale's artwork is spectacular, and Tom King looks to have written the first chapter of what might be a legendary Batman story. The pieces are put in play, Batman is hesitant with his narration, and Joker and Riddler are at the top of their game, both vicious and smart. I can't wait to read the rest of this story.

I highly recommend Batman #25 by Tom King. This is a must for Batman fans, and is a great starting point for new readers. It's also a great hook to grab fans who have drifted away from Batman recently. In short: Read This!

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Nightwing Vol. 2: Back to Blüdhaven (Rebirth) by Tim Seeley - Book Review

From the publisher: Dick Grayson's adventures as Nightwing continue in the second volume collecting the best-selling NIGHTWING series from DC Unverse Rebirth!

Former Robin and retired superspy Dick Grayson has returned to Gotham and stepped back into his life as Nightwing--the blue-and-black clad vigilante known for going where others won't. Fresh off a deep cover operation to infiltrate the Parliament of Owls, Nightwing must come to terms with secrets of his past that will forever change his destiny. Featuring appearances by Batman and Superman, this volume is packed with nonstop action and adventure!

Written by GRAYSON veteran scribe Tim Seeley, NIGHTWING VOL. 2 continues the spectacular adventures of the former Robin, Dick Grayson! Collects NIGHTWING #9-15.

Tim Seeley continues Nightwing's Rebirth adventures with Nightwing Vol. 2: Back to Bludhaven. Back in the day (pre-Flashpoint, pre-Rebirth, etc.), Nightwing moved to Bludhaven to escape from Batman's shadow. Bludhaven was basically a dirtier, more crime ridden neighbor to Gotham. Dick Grayson moved there, joined the police force, and had multiple adventures during the original run of Chuck Dixon's Nightwing comic. Many fans, myself included, have fond memories of this run. Cue Tim Seeley, who is (I believe) returning Nightwing to his roots after all he's gone through over the past several years and various reboots.

Dick moves to Bludhaven to rediscover himself, volunteering at a community center. There, he discovers that his supervisor, Shawn Tsang, is a former supervillain (Defacer), one whom he actually apprehended. As he patrols Bludhaven as Nightwing, Dick also runs into (and catches) another former Gotham villain (Gorilla Grimm). All of this leads to his discovery that there is a support group for former villains chased out of Gotham by Batman and Robin trying to go straight (an interesting concept). Over the course of this book, Nightwing attempts to uncover a deeper conspiracy and, with the help of the motley group of former villains, succeeds. Dick also finds himself in a complicated relationship with Shawn, and the final chapter of this volume addresses this.

Seeley is able to capture some of what makes Dick Grayson unique among the Bat-heroes: his humor and the sense of pleasure and sheer joy he takes in what he does. He has always been the balance to Batman's deep brooding and seriousness. The supporting characters have potential, but so far, they didn't really stand out. I'm curious to see how things progress with Shawn Tsang, though.

Seeley has done a fine job with Nightwing. However, I just found this collection to be okay. While he is getting back to some of the joy Dick has in being Nightwing, along with his sense of humor, this just didn't feel like a "deep" story. It's nice and fun, and there are some cute parts (Bludhaven attempting to use Nightwing's presence as a marketing gimmick). Overall, though, Nightwing Vol. 2: Back to Bludhaven was just a little better than average. I still really enjoy Nightwing and look forward to seeing where Seeley takes him. I would recommend this particular book to established fans, and I believe Nightwing's relocation to Bludhaven provides a nice jumping-on point for new readers.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

City of Miracles By ROBERT JACKSON BENNETT - Book Review

From the publisher: Revenge. It’s something Sigrud je Harkvaldsson is very, very good at. Maybe the only thing. 

So when he learns that his oldest friend and ally, former Prime Minister Shara Komayd, has been assassinated, he knows exactly what to do—and that no mortal force can stop him from meting out the suffering Shara’s killers deserve. 

Yet as Sigrud pursues his quarry with his customary terrifying efficiency, he begins to fear that this battle is an unwinnable one. Because discovering the truth behind Shara’s death will require him to take up arms in a secret, decades-long war, face down an angry young god, and unravel the last mysteries of Bulikov, the city of miracles itself. And—perhaps most daunting of all—finally face the truth about his own cursed existence.

City of Miracles, by Robert Jackson Bennett, is the third (and final, I think) book in the Divine Cities series. However, that being said, the books all stand on their own merits, and can be read as stand alone stories without anything being lost. Read together, they create one long story about a world dealing with magic gods, or Divinities. Additionally, each book focuses on a different character as the main protagonist, but there are callbacks to previous characters and events.

City of Miracles focuses on Sigrud je Harkvaldsson, a former spy (think black-ops type) who has lost basically everything that is important to him. When he hears about the assassination of his longtime partner and friend Shara Komayd, he drags himself from his self-imposed exile to use his particular set of skills (wreaking destruction) to find those responsible for her death and avenge Komayd. This act drags him into a much greater conflict than he could have imagined, as he discovers Komayd was involved with finding the children of the now (mostly) deceased Divinities, some of whom he and Shara were responsible for killing. He also discovers that there is a mysterious force looking to find the children for it's own nefarious purposes.

I really enjoyed this book. It is deep, full of emotions, and action-packed. It also takes it's time as Bennett very deliberately lays out his story at it's own pace. This is not a light, easy read, but it's not a hard read, either. It just requires the reader to focus and absorb what is happening. The plot always moves steadily along, interspersing moments of character interaction with mysteries revealed and set pieces full of action and violence. Throughout, the reader is given insight into a world with a much deeper history than it at first seems. Bennett's world building is spectacular, and I, for one, would really enjoy future stories set in this world, whether involving the same characters and time period, or others from the past or future.

Bennett's characters also shine. Sigrud je Harkvaldsson is a deeply complicated man, full of contradictions. He is contemplative, yet  extremely violent. He lives with sorrow and regret, yet makes many of the same choices that caused the sorrow and regret in the first place. He is a loner, but desires the company of others. In addition, former protagonists from the previous books, Shara Komayd and General Mulaghesh, make appearances. Also playing a major role in this story is Shara's adopted daughter, Tatyana. There is an innocence and depth to this character that perfectly complements Sigrud to form a very vibrant heart to City of Miracles. Finally, the antagonist (who I'll not name so as to avoid any potential spoilers) is a broken and sympathetic character.

I highly recommend City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett. In fact, you should read the whole trilogy, just to spend time in Bennett's world and with his characters. This is a fantastic read and it is well worth your time.

I received a review copy of this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

DARK DAYS: THE FORGE #1 by James T Tynion IV and Scott Snyder - Book Review

From the publisher: DARKNESS COMES TO THE DC UNIVERSE WITH THE MYSTERY OF THE FORGE! Aquaman, The Flash and more of DC’s pantheon of heroes suspect Batman of hiding a dark secret that could threaten the very existence of the multiverse! It’s an epic that will span generations—but how does it connect to the origins of one of DC’s most legendary heroes?

The great comics event of summer 2017 is about to begin courtesy of superstar writers Scott Snyder and James Tynion III and illustrated by a master class of comics artists: Andy Kubert, Jim Lee and John Romita Jr.! You do not want to miss this one! 

What a great start to the Dark Days event! Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV have written a terrific opening chapter with Dark Days: The Forge #1. In a nutshell, here is what I know: Batman is (has been) investigating a mysterious dark force; Hawkman is looking into the origin of Nth metal, which he encountered when he became Hawkman; and Green Lantern and Duke discover a secret cave in the Bat-cave. Any more details than that and we'd be in spoiler territory. However, I can say that it looks like some heroes from DC's past might make an appearance and the book ends with a surprise/cliffhanger that I did NOT see coming.

Snyder and Tynion accomplished what any first book needs to do. They set the stage, teased several threads that will no doubt come together, and revealed just enough to pull the reader in and make them anxious for the next issue. I don't really know what the whole Dark Days event is about, but based on this first issue, I'm anxious to find out.

I highly recommend this book to all comic readers. Dark Days: The Forge #1 is fantastic, and looks like it is going to impact upcoming books for a while.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Summer Events Heat Up

As summer vacation is in full swing, so are the kids' sporting events/activities. This week, Cami and Griffin are participating in tennis camp. They both have fun playing, and are learning a lot of the basics. Plus, they have lots of friends attending so that makes it even better.

Lexi has begun training/running to prepare for the upcoming Cross Country season. As of today, she is planning on joining the team when school starts, so she wants to make sure she is in good shape.

Church camp is coming next week for the twins, with more stuff to come over the coming weeks.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Bill & Ted's Most Triumphant Return by Brian Lynch - Book Review

From the publisher: Bill and Ted must now fulfill their destiny to become the inspiration for galactic harmony, but at what cost! In an adventure of epic proportions, one change to the future will set the Wyld Stallyns on a time-travelling odyssey of music, villainy, history, and excellence! 

From Brian Lynch (Angel: After the Fall; screenwriter of Minions) and Jerry Gaylord (Fanboys vs. Zombies), experience Bill and Ted's most triumphant return! Also featuring short stories from Ryan North (Unbeatable Squirrel Girl), Kurtis Wiebe (Rat Queens), Christopher Hastings (The Adventures of Dr. McNinja), Ian McGinty (Bravest Warriors), and many more!

I just finished reading Brian Lynch's Bill & Ted's Most Triumphant Return. It was an entertaining book that captured the spirit of the original movie, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. The story picked right up from the sequel film, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, with our heroes Bill and Ted having won the San Dimas, California Battle of the Bands. Now, however, they have to write a second song. What to do...if only they had access to a time machine in the form of a telephone booth (remember those?) Wait, they do. Bill and Ted head into the future to find out what their second song is. Along the way, they run in to the teenage version of their arch-nemesis Chuck de Nomolos. They decide they want to help him out so he won't grow up evil and decide to kill them. What happens next could only have happened to Bill and Ted. Time-travelling shenanigans ensue, and everyone learns more excellent lessons from Bill and Ted.

I loved the original movie when I was a kid, the second less so. But regardless, when I realized that the story of Bill and Ted was continued, I leaped at the opportunity to read and review it. And my verdict is that Bill & Ted's Most Triumphant Return is good. It's a fun adventure, and Lynch perfectly captures the spirit of the movies. Many of our favorite characters return, and there is more development of the world that the music of Wyld Stallyns (Bill and Ted's band) inspires. My only caution is that it's different to read Bill and Ted's adventures rather than just watching them.

In addition to the main storyline, the collected edition of Bill & Ted's Most Triumphant Return also contains multiple short stories starring some of the side characters from the movies.

Overall, I can recommend Bill & Ted's Most Triumphant Return by Brian Lynch. I particularly recommend it to fans of the movie, but I think new readers may enjoy it as well. And remember, Be excellent to each other! And party on, dudes!

I received a preview copy of this book from Boom Studios and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Track and Basketball End

Track season came to an end this week at the County Meet. Lexi competed in the 400m and the long jump. She finished 8th in both events. In the 400m, Lexi was challenging for 5th, but just ran out of gas at the end. She was also having trouble breathing, as she was fighting being sick. However, she still finished the race with her personal best, so that was cool. As far as long jump, because of how the meet developed, Lexi had to take all three jumps immediately after finishing the 400m. Due to this, she wasn't able to get her best jumps in, but she did get close to her average for the season. While the season didn't end the way she hoped, it can't be looked at as anything other than a success. We are all very proud of her, and look forward to how she improves next season.

Cami and Griffin attended what will probably be their last basketball practice for this session. They both have shown improvement, particularly in making a dribble move before shooting (behind the back, between the legs, etc.).

Other than summer camps, this ends our sports seasons for a few months.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

ASTRO CITY #44 by Kurt Busiek - Book Review

From the publisher: A tale of murder, mystery…and a cat. Starring Nightingale, Sunhawk…and their cat. Did we mention the cat? The cat’s the lead character. Featuring guest art by Rick Leonardi (SUPERMAN, Spider-Man 2099). Mreow.

Astro City #44, by Kurt Busiek, is a perfect example of what the Astro City comics do. They take ordinary superhero cliches or stories and give them a twist. Sometimes that means humanizing the heroes and villains, sometimes its focusing on the ordinary people and the effect the super people have on them. With this new issue, Busiek focuses on a cat, the hero Kittyhawk.

This particular story is all animal themed. The heroes Nightingale and Sunhawk need to find and rescue a young girl from the villainous Poppinjay. But, Nightingale's new pet cat, whom she affectionately calls Kittyhawk, keeps getting in the way. What the two heroes don't realize, however, is that the stray cat was given powers as a result of a previous Nightingale/Sunhawk adventure. As Kittyhawk uses her new-found powers, she receives help from Rocket Dog (the animal theme continues).

A nice standalone issue, Astro City #44 is simple but fun. Busiek is a master at telling superhero stories in unique ways. This origin story for Kittyhawk is another great example of his ability to constantly look at the history of superhero comics and find some unexplored corner to write about. I recommend this book to fans of Astro City and to new readers as well. It may not have the gravitas that some of Busiek's longer arcs have, but it's a terrific story, and something different from the norm.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

THE WILD STORM #4 by Warren Ellis - Book Review

From the publisher: There’s a covert action team out in the wild, and I.O. has proof of it for the first time. This changes everything. The woman who tipped the first domino in this cascade of secrets and lies is on the run. And the other great power of the hidden world is on the scene. Henry Bendix is noticing things from on high, and that doesn’t bode well for I.O., Angela Spica or the planet. The storm is building.

Cole Cash (Grifter) and his wild CAT (Covert Action Team) escape from IO's Razor CAT team. Miles Craven (of IO) has discovered Angela Spica has technology she shouldn't, which helped her turn into some form of robot. Henry Bendix, the Weatherman, is ticked off at everything, but especially everything about Earth.

There. That about sums it up. I have NO idea how to review The Wild Storm #4, by Warren Ellis, because I still have no idea what exactly is going on. In fact, I feel like I know less with each new issue. However, I'm committed to seeing where Ellis takes this. I have enjoyed many of his books in the past (including Stormwatch and The Authority, the spiritual predecessors of The Wild Storm), and trust that he will eventually pull everything together and I'll understand what's going on. I also like the characters, particularly Cole Cash.

I highly recommend The Wild Storm #4, but I do not recommend reading it if you haven't read the previous issues (or go ahead and do it, you might have a better grasp on events than I do).

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Best Track Week Evah!

This week was the best track week ever for our family. To begin with, Lexi won four ribbons combined for her two meets. In the long jump, her distances started going back up, and she finished second and tied for second. During the first meet, she ran the 400m competitively for the first time. She had told me multiple times that she thought it was easier than the 200m, but I didn't really believe her. However, she blew us all away. She finished first, and kept a consistent pace throughout. Her coach told her she was 4 or 5 seconds off our middle school record. The crowd was really excited for her, and so was Lexi. She had set a goal to earn a first place ribbon and did so. During the second meet, she pushed through and finished in third, only a couple of seconds off her first time. As a result, she is going to run the 400m in the County meet (our version of a conference championship). She will also be competing in the long jump.

To add to our track meet, Cami and Griffin competed in the Youth Track Night, a sort of introductory event for elementary school kids. They both had a great time running the 100m and 200m, throwing the shot put (with a softball), and doing the long jump. They think they may compete on the middle school team next spring (our 5th graders are allowed to do that). In addition, they also had another basketball session, and did a great job.

This week, the County meet and basketball.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

James Bond: Hammerhead by Andy Diggle - Book Review

From the publisher: Bond is assigned to hunt down and eliminate Kraken, a radical anti-capitalist who has targeted Britain's newly-upgraded nuclear arsenal. But all is not as it seems. Hidden forces are plotting to rebuild the faded glory of the once-mighty British Empire, and retake by force what was consigned to history. 007 is a cog in their deadly machine - but is he an agent of change, or an agent of the status quo? Loyalties will be broken, allegiances challenged. But in an ever-changing world, there's one man you can rely on: Bond. James Bond.

James Bond: Hammerhead, by Andy Diggle, is the latest in a line of James Bond comics/graphic novels. To this point, I've been very entertained by all that I've read. And Hammerhead is no different. It is very much a typical Bond story, and I mean that in the best possible way.

In Hammerhead, Bond is tasked with a British weapons manufacturer who also happens to be responsible for disposing of Britain's decommissioned nuclear warheads. Meanwhile, a mysterious anti-capitalist terrorist named Kraken (got to love those Bond villain names) is trying to obtain those warheads. Mix, shake, and stir and you've got a fast-paced, action-packed James Bond adventure.

Andy Diggle has a fine grasp on what makes a good Bond story. There is the traditional explosive beginning (the art, by Luca Casalanguida, even takes the reader through the title pages much like the movies do). Bond meets a beautiful woman (in this case, the daughter of the weapons manufacturer he is tasked to protect). There is a crazy new weapon (Hammerhead), gadgets from Q division, witty banter and one-liners, In addition, Bond globe hops as usual; locations include Venezuela, London, Dubai, and the North Atlantic.

While Diggle doesn't really develop the character of James Bond with any new depth (this is hard to accomplish with this type of long running character), he does stay true to who Bond is. His Bond leans more towards the Ian Fleming novels and more recent Daniel Craig movies. Bond is more serious, rather than cartoony. Personally, I like this portrayal a lot, and Diggle does a great job with it.

Andy Diggle's James Bond: Hammerhead is a great addition to the James Bond cannon. It is fun and non-stop, bringing out what is best (in my opinion) about Bond. I highly recommend this book to new and old readers alike.

I received a preview copy of this book from Dynamite Entertainment and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Another ribbon

During this past (rainy) week, Lexi ended up only having one track meet (in the rain). She ran the 4 x 100 relay, and her team had their best time. She also long jumped, and while her distances aren't hitting her best, she still placed. This time she earned 3rd place. She was very excited, and has now tripled her stated goal for the year.

Cami and Griffin had another session of basketball camp. Because their group is small in size, they are getting some personal attention. Plus, the coach really encourages Cami (he used her as an example twice, she told me), I think because she is one of very few girls who participate. Both Cami and Griffin showed some improvement and weren't complaining about how hard they worked when the time was over, so that's nice, too.

This week, Lexi is scheduled for two track meets, Cami and Griffin have another session, and the twins are also supposed to be participating in the school's youth track night (weather permitting).

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

We Stood Upon Stars: Finding God in Lost Places by Roger W. Thompson - Book Review

From the publisher: Get Lost. . . and Find What Really Matters

We are made for freedom and adventure, friendship and romance. Yet too much of life is spent unfulfilled at work, restless at home, and bored at church.  All the while knowing there is something more. You’ll find some of life’s best moments waiting for you over a campfire, on a river—even in that coffee shop or brewery you didn’t know you’d discover along the way. It’s time to begin the search. 

In the literary spirit of well-worn tales about America’s open road, this poetic, honest, often hilarious collection of essays shows how to embark on adventures that kindle spiritual reflection, personal growth, and deeper family connections.

From surfing California’s coastlines, stargazing southwestern deserts, and fly-fishing in remote mountains of Montana, you’ll be inspired to follow the author’s footsteps and use the hand-drawn maps from each chapter to plan your own trips.  There you will hear God’s voice – and it may help you find what you’re searching for.

“We search mountaintops and valleys, deserts and oceans, hoping sunrises and long views through the canyons will help us discover who we are, or who we still want to be.  The language of our hearts reflects that of creation because in both are fingerprints of God.”
—Roger W. Thompson

We Stood Upon Stars is a series of short essays by Roger W. Thompson. Each essay makes up a chapter, for a total of 31 chapters. In short, Thompson loves to explore the outdoors, particularly in the American West. His adventures take him all over California, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, Montana, and South Dakota, among a couple of others. Throughout his travels, he reflects on what it means to be a man and how God's beauty and plan are reflected and found in nature, or as the subtitle says, Finding God in Lost Places.

I enjoyed this book. Each chapter was its own little story, a slice of Thompson's life. He does a masterful job of describing the various scenes in nature he sees, and is very open about how he feels. Several of the chapters deal with very specific "wounds" and personal sadnesses (I know it's not a word, but tragedy didn't feel right). He also writes with a subtle sense of humor, most often at his own expense.

We Stood Upon Stars can be enjoyed on two levels. The first is in Thompson's travels around the U.S. I found myself imaging the landscapes he visited, and was able to picture many of them in my mind's eye. There is a beauty to the West that many people never experience, and Thompson brings a bit of that to his readers. He also fills his essays with adventures: fly fishing, looking for surf, camping in National Parks, river rafting, etc. These give a cool view to those who've never experienced them. This book can also be enjoyed as a meditation on God's plan for our lives. While he never gets overly religious, Thompson doesn't shy away from discussing God's majesty. He is also very open about where he turns in times of need and sorrow. In some aspects, this book reminded me of some of John Eldredge's early books. Its very much about using the outdoors to connect with God and pass on traditions of being a man (Thompson has two sons).

Overall, We Stood Upon Stars by Roger W. Thompson was a good read. I liked the clear writing style and the fact that I could read a couple of chapters at a time and then put it down. I also liked the nuggets of wisdom I found sprinkled throughout. It was exactly what I was looking for when I decided to give it a shot. I recommend this book to fathers, outdoorsy types, and readers looking to find God in places other than their "usual spots".

I received a preview copy of this book as part of the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, April 28, 2017

A little track and another ribbon

Lexi just had one meet this week. She ran the 100m and 4 x 100m, and did okay. Her best event continues to be long jump, though. This week she finished 4th, and because it was a three-way meet, she earned another ribbon. Next week she has two (maybe three) meets.

Cami and Griffin had their first session at the Indiana Basketball Academy this spring. They are in the Shoot, Shoot, Shoot clinic, which focuses on shooting. For nearly an hour straight, they did multiple shooting drills, combining dribble moves, ball fakes, and passes with taking good shots. They were both exhausted, and Cami wasn't thrilled. I don't think she was used to being coached by someone who wasn't a parent of one of her teammates. Griffin went through this last year, and the work on form really helped him improve. Also, their coach this session was Jim Crews, former IU player (1976 National Champ) and D-1 head coach (Evansville and St. Louis University). They get back at it again next week.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

All Star Batman Vol. 1: My Own Worst Enemy (Rebirth) by Scott Snyder - Book Review

From the publisher: From the #1 New York Times best-selling author of BATMAN, Scott Snyder, comes his newest Dark Knight project as a part of DC Universe Rebirth, ALL-STAR BATMAN VOL. 1: MY OWN WORST ENEMY! 

Snyder is one of the most critically acclaimed authors in the comics world, with titles that include the genre-defining BATMAN VOL. 1: THE COURT OF OWLS, as well as BATMAN: BLACK MIRROR and AMERICAN VAMPIRE. But this time, he teams with Eisner Award-winning illustrator and comics legend John Romita Jr. (Avengers, THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS: THE LAST CRUSADE) and critically acclaimed artist Declan Shalvey (Moon Knight)!

In this new graphic novel, Batman finds himself trying to help old friend Harvey Dent…now known as the villainous Two-Face! The Dark Knight accompanies his foe on a cross-country trip to fix his scarred face and hopefully end the Two-Face identity forever. But when the former Gotham City D.A. sets a plan into motion to free himself, the road gets bumpy and every assassin, bounty hunter and ordinary citizen with something to hide comes out in force with one goal: kill Batman! Handcuffed together on the road to Bat-hell, this is Batman and Two-Face as you’ve never seen them before! 

Following the success of COURT OF OWLS, DEATH OF THE FAMILY and ENDGAME, ALL-STAR BATMAN VOL. 1: MY OWN WORST ENEMY is the industry-shaking graphic novel for the Dark Knight, with one of the biggest creative pairings in DC Comics history sharing their take on one of the greatest heroes ever in ALL-STAR BATMAN VOL. 1! Collects issues #1-5.

In his introduction to All Star Batman Vol. 1: My Own Worst Enemy, Scott Snyder mentions that after he finished his iconic run on the Batman title, he still had stories he wanted to tell. However, he wanted to take Batman out of Gotham and use new artists to tell each story. Well, mission accomplished with this first volume.

My Own Worst Enemy is a Batman road trip reminiscent of Midnight Run or The Book of Eli. In short, Batman is taking Harvey Dent/Two-Face to a secret location in order to provide him with a "cure" for getting rid of his Two-Face personality forever. To defend himself, Two-Face has promised to release every bit of compromising information on the citizens of Gotham unless they stop Batman.  To add to the chaos, Two-Face has promised the combined fortune of Gotham's top three crime bosses to anyone who frees him and stops Batman. Let the madness ensue.

This was a very entertaining story. The road trip aspect allowed the setting to be constantly changing. Also, it allowed for a large number of B list (and C and D, etc.) villains to take their crack at Batman, with often amusing results. Ordinary people were put in difficult positions, and Penguin and his cohorts (the top 2 crime bosses) were desperate, as well. On top of all this, James Gordon and the Gotham police force find themselves compromised as well, due to some information Two-Face has on them.

There were two things I particularly enjoyed about My Own Worst Enemy. The first was the relationship between Batman and Two-Face. Snyder reveals a rather poignant encounter from their childhood, and I found that it added depth to both Bruce and Harvey. (Snyder has become a master at adding background to Batman's past and making it feel very natural, like the reader knew about it all along). I also enjoyed the focus on Duke, Batman's new non-Robin partner. He plays a pivotal role in the story, and his relationship with Batman is just different enough from the Robins of the past/present to add an interesting perspective (Duke also gets a back-up story that adds depth to him as well).

If this first volume of All Star Batman is any indication, Scott Snyder has again got a hit on his hands. If he hasn't already, he is well on his way to establishing himself as one of the top Batman writers ever. I highly recommend All Star Batman Vol. 1: My Own Worst Enemy. It will thrill long-time readers and is a fine starting place for new readers.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Track Update

This week, Lexi only had one track meet (the other was canceled due to bad weather). Fortunately, this was a pretty successful meet for her. Lexi competed in the 100m and the 4 x 100m relay, as well as the long jump. She was a couple of hundredths from winning the "JV" heat of the 100m, and looks better and better running it every time. She did a nice job in the relay, but her team is all 5th-7th graders, which makes it hard for them to win. However, the long jump is where Lexi excelled. For the first time ever, Lexi placed in a "varsity" event. She finished in 2nd place, and was really excited to earn her first ribbon. That was a goal she set before the season, and she was super stoked to meet that goal. She has told me that her new goal is to finish 1st in an event. She has one, maybe two, meets coming up this week.

Cami and Griffin will be starting a once-a-week basketball camp this week. They will be participating in a session that focuses on good shooting form. Griffin participated in this last spring, and it was clear that his shot was becoming better and his form was improving, so I'm excited to see how they grow over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

THE WILD STORM #3 by Warren Ellis - Book Review

From the publisher: Angela Spica is wounded, alone and hiding from black-ops killers sent by her own benefactor, the man she thought responsible for her well-being—the mastermind behind an assassination attempt the Engineer just foiled. But, unknown to her, she might yet have a chance to survive this terrible day. The Grifter has a plan.

A storm is building. And through it all, a mysterious woman crackles though the electrical devices that inhabit our lives, slipping among the invisible networks of the world.

There’s something new in the world. 

Warren Ellis is at it again with The Wild Storm #3. Angela Spica is still on the run and in hiding from IO, while Grifter and his friends attempt to find her and bring her in. When IO finds them, chaos ensues.

Once again, I'm at a loss as to how to describe this comic book. Ellis is in his element, with craziness and giant ideas all over the place. There is fighting, revelations, explosions, superhero stuff, and Grifter doing Grifter-type things. While there is a little background as to how Angela created her bio-metallic suit/form, the reader is still left to trust Ellis to reveal what we need to know only as we need to know it. I was happy to have more of Cole Cash aka Grifter in this issue, with him actually donning his mask, but I'm really looking forward to seeing how this story progresses and learning more of the background of the characters and organizations. I really feels like Ellis has this really deep backstory and has dropped us in the middle of it. I'm extremely curious to discover just how this arc will turn out.

The Wild Storm #3, by Warren Ellis, is another excellent book. At this point, I would only recommend it to readers currently following the series, however. New readers may find themselves very confused. It is worth tracking down the previous issues to catch up, and it would also be worth it to read the story in a collected edition when it is published. Finally, I hope this series continues for a long run, as I find myself sucked into it immediately and disappointed when I reach the end.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Batman Vol. 2: I Am Suicide (Rebirth) by Tom King - Book Review

From the publisher: Still reeling from the events of "I AM GOTHAM," the epic first arc in Tom King's brand new BATMAN series, the Dark Knight finds himself up against some of the biggest (literally) threats he's ever faced within the city limits of Gotham. To save the city he loves, Batman enlists the help of the toughest members of the Bat-family including Nightwing, Batwoman and more!

Also in this volume, Batman must take on some familiar foes who have stolen something from Gotham--and the Caped Crusader's limits will be tested as he fights to get it back.

Breakout writer and former CIA analyst, Tom King (GRAYSON, THE SHERIFF OF BABYLON) is paired with superstar artists Riley Rossmo and Mikel Janin in this knock-down, drag-out superhero story! Collects BATMAN #9-15.

Batman Vol. 2: I Am Suicide, by Tom King, took the promise of the I Am Gotham storyline and ramped it up. This was a great book with many twists and turns as the story progressed. In the wake of her breakdown, Batman decides Psycho Pirate is the only one who can help Gotham Girl. However, the Pirate is being held captive by Bane on the prison island of Santa Prisca. Bane relies on the Pirate to help in the absence of the Venom Bane used. To get the Pirate from Bane, Batman puts together a team that includes the following: Catwoman, Bronze Tiger, Punch, Jewelee, and the Ventriloquist. How they get in to the prison, and how they go about trying to take Psycho Pirate, make up the bulk of the book. The final two chapters act as an epilogue, with a focus on Catwoman and Batman.

I thought this was a fantastic story. King told a Batman story like none I have read before. I'm not sure that I can put my finger on a specific thing, but it just felt different and right. For one, the team Batman was using very unusual and atypical, with more of a villain feel. Also, Batman's attitude was different, more desperate than he's been in a long while, maybe ever. He is also more brutal and devious. This almost felt like a Dirty Dozen type story. It was very cinematic in scope, and the art added to the feel. It was big and bold, full of action and emotion. Additionally, King did a great job exploring the relationship between Batman and Catwoman. He was able to add depth to this very complicated relationship.

I highly recommend Batman Vol. 2: I Am Suicide. Tom King just keeps getting better. I'm anxiously awaiting the next volume in this opening "I Am" arc, I Am Bane.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Track and an Academic Honor

Lexi had one and a half track meets this week (one was canceled due to weather half way through). Twice she ran the 100 m, both times as part of the 1st heat. The second time she set a personal best time, and finished 4th or 5th (she wasn't sure and I couldn't tell). She long jumped at both meets, setting a personal best with a jump of 12' 3". She was in the 4 x 100 m relay in the first meet and did okay, and ran the 200 m in the second heat of the second meet. She ran out of gas near the end, but looked good running up to that point. All in all, it was a good first week of meets for Lexi.

In addition to track, Lexi was accepted into the National Jr. Honor Society this week. She will be inducted next week, and is very excited. Several of the current members were "fighting" over who was going to get to induct her at the ceremony.

The twins are still biding their time, waiting for camps and such.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Spring Sports are Underway

Lexi has been practicing for track over the last several weeks. Finally, she is supposed to have two meets this week (Monday and Wednesday, weather permitting). She is currently going to be competing in four events for most meets: 100 m, 400 m, 4 x 100 m relay, and 4 x 400 m relay. She is super excited and has been doing really well so far.

The twins are currently in a holding pattern, with the chance Griffin will be going to a basketball camp and Cami with the possibility of some more volleyball.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Batman: Night of the Monster Men (Rebirth) by Tom King; Steve Orlando - Book Review

From the publisher: The first Batman crossover of DC Rebirth is here in BATMAN: NIGHT OF THE MONSTER MEN!

It’s the storm of the century, and it’s headed straight for Gotham City. The guardians of this sprawling urban center—Nightwing, Batwoman and the Batman himself—think they’ve prepared for the worst.

They have no idea.

Thanks to the machinations of the macabre scientist Dr. Hugo Strange, the storm has unleashed a rain of monsters upon the city. Colossal creatures are stomping through the streets, terrorizing the citizens and challenging the skills of even Gotham’s greatest heroes.

Can the Dark Knight and his allies stem the tide of destruction? Or will the Night of the Monster Men mark the fall of the Bat?

Find out in BATMAN: NIGHT OF THE MONSTER MEN, the first crossover of the DC Rebirth era from the creative team of Steve Orlando (MIDNIGHTER), Tom King (BATMAN), Tim Seeley (BATMAN ETERNAL), James Tynion IV (DETECTIVE COMICS), Riley Rossmo (CONSTANTINE: THE HELLBLAZER), Roge Antonio (BATGIRL AND THE BIRDS OF PREY) and Andy MacDonald (THE NEW 52: FUTURES END). This epic of horror and heroism collects BATMAN #7-8, NIGHTWING #5-6 and DETECTIVE COMICS #941-942.

Night of the Monster Men, by various writers, is the first Batman crossover since Rebirth started. And overall, it was entertaining. A quick summary: Hugo Strange has developed a serum that creates monsters. These are Godzilla type monsters and they began to run rampant. To make matters worse, a hurricane is threatening to hit Gotham. Batman and Batwoman gather their team (Spoiler, Orphan, and Clayface), and enlist Nightwing to help them defeat the creatures and save Gotham. What starts out as a relatively simple mission turns out to have a deeper meaning and possible long-term repercussions.

I enjoyed this as a crossover event. It basically spanned one night, and taking two issues from each of three different comics wasn't a huge departure for any of their regular storylines. Additionally, it was fun to see Batman take on literal monsters as opposed to the more figurative type he usually battles. I thought the character interactions were terrific: Gotham Girl and Nightwing, Batman and Batwoman, Duke and Alfred, and Orphan and Spoiler. Clayface is also becoming a very intriguing character as he continues to try to be a "good" guy. The writers are coming up with some new and unique opportunities for him to show some new uses for his abilities. I also liked the concept of the Wayne Watchtowers; they absolutely need to become a recurring thing.

As far as villains go, I think Hugo Strange has potential. With his psychology background and his willingness to misuse science, he could be a very formidable adversary for Batman. This story did a nice job of pushing that idea.

Batman: Night of the Monster Men is a fun and entertaining book. It is a decent place for new readers to begin, but it will definitely appeal to Bat-fans. It also seems to be setting up events for future books down the line.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Slow Week

This was a relatively slow week for the Knights. Lexi had track practice (meets start after Spring Break) but her big news was that she tried out for, and made, the Cheerleading squad for next year. She also received the MVP award for last season. She was named MVP because she played two sports but went out of her way to be at all (or nearly all) cheerleading practices and games. She also did every position in her stunt group (base, front spot, back spot - apparently she is a natural and saved a group -, and flyer). She is very excited about the upcoming year.

Griffin and Cami played in a 3-on-3 tournament at school. Griffin's team finished in 3rd place, and he did a great job, scoring a few times (2 jump shots went in!). Cami's team did not win any games, but she did a good job and scored on a nice lay-up.

This week is the first of two for Spring Break. We have lots of relaxing planned.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

THE WILD STORM #2 by Warren Ellis - Book Review

From the publisher: All Angela Spica did was save someone’s life. And now hers is over. The rogue engineer lies bleeding in a place she hopes nobody will find - but she’s wrong. The people embedded in the secret power structures of the world are tracking her. Skywatch. Halo. International Operations. A covert operative called Grifter. 

If only she hadn’t unknowingly foiled an assassination planned by her boss. If only her boss wasn’t the one person more interested in the Engineer’s transhuman implants than in her life.

It’s all going very wrong, very quickly. There’s going to be more blood.

The Wild Storm #2 continues setting the table for the story Warren Ellis began with issue #1. The general storyline consisted of various groups looking for Angela Spica, who transformed/changed/became so kind of techno-organic being to save a life. The groups looking for her include Halo, Skywatch, and IO. As they all try to track her down, it becomes apparent that there is some sort of conspiracy going on. Where it goes, and who finds Angela, remains to be seen in future issues.

With several of the main characters already on stage, Ellis uses this second issue to bring in Cole Cash, better known as Grifter. He was a favorite character of mine in the old days of Wildstorm comics with Image, but he wasn't nearly as interesting in DC's New 52. I was happy to see him get a fresh start, as I'm sure many old fans are. Once again, though, Ellis has dumped the reader in the middle of the story and we are left to piece things together. This is not a complaint, though. I trust Ellis enough as a writer to believe that all (or at least most) will be made clear as this series progresses. However, I'm left wondering if The Wild Storm would be better read in a collected form, rather than in small issue-sized bites. I'm left waiting anxiously for the next issue, and am excited to see where this all goes.

I would highly recommend The Wild Storm #2 by Warren Ellis. This series should be required reading for fans of the old Wildstorm comics, while the series offers a fresh starting point for new readers as well.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

More Volleyball (and Choir)

Cami had what may have been her last volleyball tournament of the season. They won one match today, and played another pretty tight, going to a third game. Cami had fun, as did the team, and you could see the improvement. And while their may not be any more tournaments, they will continue to practice through the end of the school year.

Lexi's middle school choir attended the annual Choir Competition. They performed 3 songs, and earned a Gold rating for their performance. Lexi sounded, and looked, beautiful. Now her focus will be on cheerleading tryouts and track, where she will run and jump (although she doesn't yet know for sure which events).

Saturday, March 11, 2017

James Bond Vol.2: Eidolon by Warren Ellis - Book Review

From the publisher: James Bond is trapped in Los Angeles with a MI6 agent under fire and a foreign intelligence service trying to put them both in bags... and possibly more than one foreign intelligence service. And things may not be any safer in Britain, with bodies dropping and ghosts moving in the political mist...

Collecting issues #7-12 of the ongoing James Bond comic book series written by Warren Ellis, the New York Times bestselling author of Gun Machine and critically-acclaimed comic book writer (Iron Man, Planetary, Astonishing X-Men), and featuring artwork by Jason Masters (Batman Incorporated).

I'm really enjoying these new James Bond graphic novels. With Vol. 2: Eidolon, Warren Ellis has written another entertaining Bond tale. When an undercover MI6 agent needs to be escorted from Los Angeles back to London, James Bond is given the assignment. However, what appears to be an easy job quickly turns bad. Bond and the agent are attacked on their way to the airport, and thus begins a race to discover a hidden Spectre cell, one with sleeper agents in multiple intelligence agencies, including MI5, Britain's answer to the FBI. As Bond and friends track hidden funds and off-the-books weapons caches, the tension mounts. Will they be in time to stop an episode of domestic terrorism?

Ellis does a great job capturing the characterization of the James Bond stories. There is humor, dry wit, action, emotion, and consequences. Bond, Moneypenny, and  M are portrayed quite well. The villains, in this case Spectre agents, are sufficiently threatening. Their leader, Beckett Hawkwood, has an interesting backstory, and fits in with other Bond villains.

As I said about the previous volume, VARGR, Ellis has done a nice job creating a logical extension of the Bond stories and the more recent movies. I highly recommend James Bond Vol. 2: Eidolon. If you are a James Bond fan, this is a fun ride. Additionally, it can be read independently of the previous volume, as it contains a complete story.

I received a preview copy of this book from Dynamite and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Astro CIty #42 by Kurt Busiek - Book Review

From the publisher: They call him Mister Manta, the Scourge of the Seven Seas. At least, they called him that a long time ago. Nobody's called him anything for years, but that's about to change. What happens when a long-forgotten villain makes his dramatic return? Can he find his place in the world, or has it moved on without him? Featuring guest artist Matthew Clark (Wonder Woman, Doom Patrol)

*Note* Due to a scheduling/artist conflict, the original solicitation for Astro City #42 has been switched with Astro City #43.

With Astro City #42, Kurt Busiek has written another nice slice of life type story. One of my favorite things about the Astro City comics is how Busiek is able to take well-known superhero tropes and put a different spin on them. With #42, he examines the life of a supervillian; however, this villain was defeated and was lost at sea. As a result, Mister Manta has spent the last 30 years marooned on an island. His days consist of creating new tech from the resources he has on the island, and building/perfecting the home he created. When the opportunity to escape the island appears, Manta, somewhat reluctantly, takes it. What he discovers about himself is the heart of this story. Once again, Busiek has written a great story, full of character and heart. Mister Manta is an empathetic villain, but the empathy comes from an unexpected realization.

I highly recommend this issue of Astro City (#42) and would recommend any of the collected editions.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.