Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Quoted Again!

My review for the book Penance is quoted over at Exhibit A Books.

• On Do Some Damage, Dan talks about the city of Chicago and its importance within Penance; only rightly so that Being A Big Sandwich, in an early review, highlight the city as a character in itself, complimenting Dan’s great “job of painting a visual picture, dropping actual locations and architecture to create a vivid portrait of the city” making “his story seem like a actual episode from Chicago’s history. ” That’s not enough praise for Penance from Being A Big Sandwich, and the review firmly places Dan and Det. John Lynch in the same category as Michael Connelly and Harry Bosch himself. That’ll do, pig, that’ll do.

My actual review is here.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Opening Day

Cami and Lexi had their first softball games of the season today.  Cami is still playing 6U, with the coach pitching and then hitting off the tee.  She got on base several times (off the tee) and scored twice. She also fielded the ball a few times.  Lexi is in 10U, her first with other girls pitching.  She drew a 4-2 count in her first at-bat, which brought in her coach for two pitches (she struck out). In her second at-bat, she was hit on the knee and eventually scored a run.  All-in-all, a successful opening day.  On Thursday, I start my first game with Cami's team as an official t-shirted coach (I had a middle school academic meet today).

Before Watchmen: Nite Owl and Dr. Manhattan by J. Michael Straczynski - Book Review

From the publisher: Discover what happened before WATCHMEN as writer J. Michael Straczynski is joined by Andy Kubert and the legendary Joe Kubert to take flight with the gadget-savvy vigilante known as Nite Owl! And then in BEFORE WATCHMEN: DR. MANHATTAN, JMS teams with fan-favorite artist Adam Hughes on the all-powerful super-man Dr. Manhattan. For Dr. Manhattan, past, present, and future are one and the same. But as he observes the events of his life, do they remain the same? Or are they changed? The very fact of his existence may have altered the nature of what will or will not be...

Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, is considered one of the most important comic books of all time, as well a piece of literature.  When DC Comics decided to create a series of prequels, the announcement was met with a very mixed response: some were excited to revisit the world and characters, while others, including Moore, were wholeheartedly against it.

This collection contains the Nite Owl and Dr. Manhattan stories written by J. Michael Straczynski.

The Nite Owl story was the origin of the second Nite Owl.  His relationship to the original Nite Owl, his motivations for becoming Nite Owl, and his membership in the Crimebusters are all presented.  There is quite a bit dedicated to Dan Dreiberg (Nite Owl II) and Hollis Mason (Original Nite Owl) as the torch is passed and Dreiberg is trained.  There is a very cool dynamic there.  Additionally, the team-up relationship between Dreiberg and Rorschach is explored.  It is these two relationships, as well as Nite Owl's romantic interest in Silk Spectre, that drive the story. They really add to Nite Owl’s character development and provide a nice lead-in to the original Watchmen series. 

The Dr. Manhattan story was very interesting.  It included the origin of Dr. Manhattan, his introduction to the Silk Spectre, and the ramifications of physics, time, and the consequences of making choices.  It seemed very philosophical and dealt with the ramifications of Dr. Manhattan’s powers.  It also showed some background into how Ozymandias manipulated Dr. Manhattan in order to execute his plan in Watchmen, serving as a nice side story to the opening chapters of the original story.

I really enjoyed these this book, and the approach that Straczynski took to the characters.  They were very true to the spirit and character of Watchmen.  I would highly recommend this to any fans of the original.

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

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time Vol. 1 by David Tipton - Book Review

From the Publisher: November 23, 1963: A day that changed the world forever.

That day saw the broadcast debut of Doctor Who, which was to become the longest-running science fiction series on television.

And now, 50 years later, we pay tribute to one of the greatest pop-culture heroes of all time with this special series, which tells an epic adventure featuring all 11 incarnations of the intrepid traveler through time and space known simply as... the Doctor.

As a casual fan, I'm always intrigued when multiple incarnations of the Doctor get together, so I decided to give this book a shot. This collection (the preview edition I received) is the first three issues of the 12 issue Prisoners of Time story.  Each issue has a different aspect of the Doctor, all three of which I was unfamiliar with.  These issues dealt with the first, second, and third Doctor and their (his?) companions. Each story was a self-contained story with the Doctor confronting a different villain from the show, and each ended with the mysterious disappearance of the companions.  I found the stories rather ordinary. The overarching mystery of the series is all 11 aspects of the Doctor finding and rescuing the companions. 

With only a passing knowledge of Doctor Who at best, and the more recent shows at that, I found myself very confused by much of what was happening.  I was unfamiliar with the various companions, and the villains weren’t any of the ones I knew (Daleks, Weeping Angels, Cybermen, etc.).  I imagine that a true Doctor Who fan would find much to like in this series.  However, for the casual or new fan, I wouldn’t recommend starting with this story.

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

The Crow: Skinning the Wolves by James O'Barr - Book Review

From the description: James O'Barr returns to The Crow! In this three-part tale, O'Barr and artist Jim Terry craft a harrowing story set in a concentration camp in 1945 Europe. The night train is being unloaded. And one of the passengers is making a return visit...

The original Crow story, also by James O'Barr, was a deeply personal and heartfelt story. It sprang out of personal tragedy for O'Barr, and was a way of dealing with the incident, making sense of the incident, and hopefully moving past it.  It had heart, emotion, deep sorrow, and righteous anger.  It left the reader feeling worked over and spent and sad.  It was way more than a simple revenge tale.

Unfortunately, Skinning the Wolves, the latest Crow story, offers none of those things.  It is a revenge story set at a concentration camp.  And while the main character has some righteous and justified anger, it takes way to long to get to the emotional center of the story. By the time the motivation is revealed, the story has simply become one long, gory revenge piece.  It ultimately falls very flat, with very little character development, which lessens any emotional impact.

If you are a Crow fanatic, you should read this story.  Otherwise, I wouldn't really recommend it.  Track down a copy of the original. It is definitely more worthy of your time.

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

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith - Spiral by John Jackson Miller - Book Review

From the publisher: "An ambitious Sith rebel, Spinner, is about to upset the balance of a lost tribe of Sith. When he is arrested for treason and sent away on a prisoner vessel, thoughts of overcoming his station, destroying the Tribe, and even finding a way to escape into the galaxy lead Spinner to a powerful, long-forgotten weapon. A rival stowaway Sith on that same vessel has her own ideas about the future of the Tribe. They don't need eradication; they need a new leader — her"

I haven't read a lot of the old stories from the Star Wars universe, particularly the Sith, so I was looking forward to reading The Lost Tribe of the Sith.  I was curious how the Miller could make the evil Sith interesting main characters. Well, they really weren't that interesting.  The story was a standard good guy vs. bad guy tale, without even a twist to keep me in suspense.  The characters, Sith (both bad and benevolent), Jedi (both dark and light), and regular characters were all two-dimensional.  There was very little character development, and I didn't really care what happened to anyone in the story.  The art was okay, but nothing special.

This story was average at best.  I would only recommend it to the Star Wars enthusiast.

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

Friday, April 12, 2013


Last scene from M.A.S.H. Best series finale ever. Reminds me of my buddy Buckeye.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Key Death by Jude Hardin - Book Review

From the publisher: "He’s a world class guitarist with a crippled hand, and an ace detective with a revoked license. He has a kid in college, a wife working two jobs, and a cash-under-the-table “security consultant” gig that’s gone dry.
Nicholas Colt, it seems, has an identity crisis.
Then one night at a concert, a friend’s friend asks for help. Wanda has a terminal illness, and she wants to meet her biological father before she dies.
Unfortunately, Colt soon discovers that Phineas Carter was shot dead two years ago in his Key West apartment. Now Wanda wants Colt to investigate the murder. Determined to see justice served, she offers to send Colt to Key West for as long as it takes.
Despite protests from his wife and daughter, Colt accepts the case. Maybe it’s just what he needs to jumpstart his life. Maybe it’s his ticket back to usefulness and productivity.
Or maybe it’s a big mistake…
With a serial killer known as The Zombie on the loose, a savage beast who saws the tops of his victims’ heads off, scoops out their brains, and reassembles their skulls with Krazy Glue, Colt might be in for more than he has bargained for."

Key Death is the fourth Nicholas Colt book.  It follows in the tradition of the non-standard private detective, much like Spenser, Travis McGee, or Magnum P.I.  This is not to say it is the same or of the same quality, but Colt is not a formally trained investigator just like those others.  Anyway, I found Key Death to be an entertaining book.  The locale (mostly Key West, but other parts of Florida as well) is great.  The characters are well-drawn, although some of the secondary characters (Colt's wife, daughter) don't play much of a role.  The mystery is intriguing, with several threads pulling together

Colt is an interesting main character.  He definitely has his flaws, which gives him something to work towards overcoming.  He is smart, but doesn't always have the right answer immediately.  There are also mental and emotional consequences to the actions Colt takes, which makes everything more believable.

The book was fast-paced, with plenty of dialogue and shorter descriptive paragraphs.  I enjoyed Hardin's writing style.

The only issues I had with the book were a few instances of over-the-top violence (some of which added to the seriousness of the case) and some almost-too-descriptive sex scenes. I would be interested in reading some of the other books in this series, but if this is the norm then I'll be passing.

Overall, I would recommend this book to mystery lovers who are looking for something new, with the warning about some of the content.

I received a review copy of this book from Netgalley and Thomas & Mercer in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Proud of Lexi

So I received this email today from one of the teachers at school: "I was subbing for Mr. G this morning and asked to have Lexi as a helper.  Well, she did IT ALL!  Ran the equipment, followed his list PERFECTLY, got the class quiet, even led them in singing rounds and showed them the proper beat on the drums.  I am incredibly impressed!  I kid you not, I simply stood there.  I told her she ought to give Mr. G a run for his money."

I'm so proud of Lexi!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Harbinger Volume 1: Omega Rising by Joshua Dysart - Book Review

From the publisher: “Super-powered teenager Peter Stanchek is on a dangerous path. Skipping across the country in a desperate attempt to stay one step ahead of the authorities, Peter is quickly realizing that he's a psionically-charged "harbinger" with the potential to reshape the course of human history. But Peter's plight has not gone unnoticed. Respected philanthropist and fellow harbinger, Toyo Harada, is about to offer Peter the chance at the things for which the boy has always longed - family, inner peace, self-control - and induct him into the sprawling, secret network of conspiracy and subversion known as the Harbinger Foundation. Now, Peter begins his long road towards a destiny that will shake the very foundations of the Valiant Universe. His first lesson? All power comes with a price!” 
This volume contains issues 1-5 of Valiant’s new take on the Harbinger title from the ‘90’s.  I had only a passing knowledge of the previous series, but was usually impressed with the stories Valiant put out, so I eagerly jumped at the opportunity to read Omega Rising.  It was an interesting story.  It was mostly set-up, involving Peter’s background and involvement with Toyo Harada and the Harbinger Foundation.  I found Peter and Toyo to be unsympathetic characters and hard to relate to, but I’m sure that my opinion will change as the story develops.  As of now, I’m not really clear who the “good guy” is or who the “bad guy” is.  It was not apparent what the Harbinger Foundation is trying to accomplish, either. I would have liked several more issues to broaden the story, because it seemed like things were just beginning to start when the volume ended.  As it stands, I will look to the next volume, releasing in June, before I make a final judgment.
Dysart’s writing was decent and the art was nice, adding a realistic touch to the story of people with superhuman abilities. 
Omega Rising was a good origin point for the Harbinger series.  I would recommend it to fans of Valiant’s other books.
I received a review copy of this book from Netgalley and Valiant Entertainment, LLC in exchange for an honest review.

X-O Manowar Volume 1: By the Sword by Robert Venditti - Book Review

From the publisher: “Aric of Dacia is a brash warrior and heir to the throne of the Visigoth people. He has lived his life under the heel of the Roman Empire, but now a far more terrible enemy has come to subjugate him. Taken from his home and family, Aric is enslaved aboard a starship belonging to a brutal race of alien colonizers known as The Vine. If he is to have any hope of escaping and returning to Earth, he will have to steal the Vine's most powerful weapon - a sentient suit of indestructible armor - and become X-O Manowar!”
I read some of the previous X-O series during the ‘90’s, but didn’t really remember much other than the concept.  Because of Valiant’s usual quality, I looked forward to reading this new incarnation of X-O Manowar.  This collection contains the first four issues of the new series, and acts as an origin for Aric/X-0.  After having read it, I really don’t have much to say.  The synopsis above pretty much sums the story up.  I really felt like four issues weren’t enough to get a sense of who Aric was and what the Manowar armor is capable of.  This book is the equivalent of watching Spider-Man until Peter Parker becomes Spider-Manand then stopping, without exploring what he can do, etc.  It is a fine introduction, but would have benefitted from another 2-4 issues of story.  Fortunately, the second volume is releasing in April.
The writing was fine and the art served the story well.  I’m curious where Venditti is going with this, as the “fish-out-of-water” story of a Visigoth with a super-powerful suit of armor in modern times is intriguing.  I’ll definitely read another arc of the story before I make my final judgment.
I would recommend this story to Valiant fans or to a reader looking for something a little out of the ordinary superhero-style graphic novel.
I received a review copy of this book from Netgalley and Valiant Entertainment, LLC in exchange for an honest review.