Wednesday, December 28, 2016

JUSTICE LEAGUE VS. SUICIDE SQUAD #2 by Joshua Williamson - Book Review

From the publisher: The first major event storyline of DC’s Rebirth era begins with a day Amanda Waller always knew would come: the Justice League discovers the existence of the Suicide Squad! This government-sponsored black-ops team of super-villains with bombs implanted in their brains is obviously a deal-breaker for Earth’s paragons of truth and justice! But you can bet the Waller and her Task Force X won’t go down without the fight to end all fights as this weekly series gets under way! 

Justice League vs. Suicide Squad #2, by Joshua Williamson, picks up right where issue #1 left off: with the JL meeting the Squad. What follows in this issue is the classic super-team fight. Both as groups and indiviually, the heroes of the Justice League and the "heroes" of the Suicide Squad match up and battle. Interspersed with the fighting are little character bits, like Killer Croc mentioning a past with Aquaman that he doesn't remember, and Harley Quinn referring to a friendship with Wonder Woman.

Meanwhile, Maxwell Lord has formed his own group of villians, with the purpose of getting vengeance against Amanda Waller.

Justice League vs. Suicide Squad is gradually building, and Williamson is taking full advantage of having access to multiple heroes and villians. I highly recommend this fun and action-packed book. Justice League vs. Suicide Squad #2 is an entertaining read. I look forward to reading the rest of this series.

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

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Trinity #4 by Francis Manapul - Book Review

From the publisher: “BETTER TOGETHER” part four! The trio’s tribulations have turned the Black Mercy’s gift into a world of nightmares that give birth to a horror that can only be called the White Mercy. And what scares Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman could destroy the world!

Trinity #4 is the penultimate chapter in the Better Together storyline, by Francis Manapul. This time around, it is Wonder Woman's chance to revisit her youth, as she, Batman, and Superman visit Themyscira and meet the Amazons. Our heroes are challenged and face a series of trials; however, the men are not accepted and must move on. Meanwhile in the present, Lois and Jon confront Poison Ivy. Very little happens with this storyline in this issue, though.

I continue to enjoy Trinity. The character development is moving forward and the art is gorgeous. The interaction between Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman is very interesting, particularly since this is not the same Superman the other two have an established friendship with. As this series moves on, this should be the most intriguing aspect of the series. I look forward to seeing how the relationships develop, grow, and change.

I highly recommend Trinity #4 by Francis Manapul. Its a fun read and moves the story arc along well.

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

JUSTICE LEAGUE VS. SUICIDE SQUAD #1 by Joshua WIlliamson - Book Review

From the publisher: The first major event storyline of DC’s Rebirth era begins with a day Amanda Waller always knew would come: the Justice League discovers the existence of the Suicide Squad! This government-sponsored black-ops team of super-villains with bombs implanted in their brains is obviously a deal-breaker for Earth’s paragons of truth and justice! But you can bet that the Wall and her Task Force X won’t go down without the fight to end all fights as this weekly series gets underway! 

Justice League vs. Suicide Squad #1, by Joshua Williamson, is a great opening shot in what promises to be a fun event series. What happens when you discover many of the villains you've put in prison are out and working together? That's the dilemma facing the JL.

The Suicide Squad is tasked by Amanda Waller to stop a crazy cult leader from causing an earthquake and killing thousands. In typical Squad fashion, things go a little sideways. Meanwhile, Batman informs the Justice League of the Squad's existence, and of his experience with Amanda Waller. Finally, with all of this going on, a mysterious figure has freed some very bad people from a very secure prison.

In this first issue, Williamson has done an excellent job of putting the pieces on the board and setting up the game. I'm anxious to see how the conflict between the two teams plays out, both physically and philosophically. I'm also curious to see just what the third party has in store, as well.

As the first major event of the Rebirth era, Justice League vs. Suicide Squad has a high bar to meet. Joshua Williamson's first issue has opened the series in fine fashion. I highly recommend this book, and series, to fans of the JL and Suicide Squad, and to fans of big event books.

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

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Weather - Bleech

Due to ice, freezing rain, snow, cold, wind, and terrible roads, all the ball games for this weekend were canceled. Next stop, January.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

More Basketball

Cami's team finished the regular season undefeated, but it was a nail-biter. She continues to play good defense and scrap for the ball. She just missed getting a shot of at the end of a quarter. Next Saturday is the tournament, so we're hoping for the best.

Griffin's rec league team won pretty easily. He took two shots, but neither fell in for him. He is a defensive whirlwind and is becoming more and more aggressive. He spent some time guarding a classroom "rival" of his, and when that kid started getting physical and grabbing Griffin while Griffin was guarding him, G threw and elbow and pushed him away. The ref gave both boys a talking to, but the other kid came away with the foul.

Griffin's travel team won both games. Griffin had some steals and rebounds, and played good defense, but his best play was a deep three that was just past the buzzer.  He continues to improve each week.

Lexi's cheer continues, along with her basketball practices. Additionally, her choir performed their Christmas concert and she had a solo as a "snow surfer". She also looked beautiful and not at all like my little girl (this was the first time it hit me she was quickly growing up). Also, on Saturday, the 7th and 8th grade girls basketball teams worked at the local food pantry as part of the athletic program's service requirement. I'm very proud of who Lexi is and who she is becoming.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

EVERAFTER: FROM THE PAGES OF FABLES #4 by Matthew Sturges and David Justus - Book Review

From the publisher: The situation on Alcatraz reaches a boiling point as Peter rushes to help Connor escape Paco’s brutal revenge. With their location now compromised and the Shadow Players set to enjoy the upper hand, Tanner and her crew go rogue and throw a fatal wrench in Winona’s plan. There’s no such thing as a smooth resurrection, but nobody saw this mess coming.

With Everafter #4, Sturges and Justus have got the story going full speed ahead. Connor and Peter confront the group responsible for stealing the Native American artifacts and discover a mass summoning of vengeful Native American spirits. Meanwhile, Feathertop continues to insist the Bo Peep eliminate the 12-year-old superpowered Fable, which she is very reluctant to do.

The action flies by in this issue, with Sturges and Justus doing a great job of telling an action packed story. With Connor on display this issue, we really got to see him in the thick of his job as a Player. Peter is great as the mentor, and provides support. However, my only complaint is that I would like even more character development. Fables was always character driven, and I hope that Everafter doesn't stray to far, even while keeping its Jason Bourne-type story.

With only one issue left in this arc, I'm very curious to see how Sturges and Justus bringing the various storylines together and create some resolution. I'm really enjoying this series and highly recommend it, particularly to fans of Fables and secret agent stories.

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

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Basketball Update

Lexi continues to practice for her season, getting better every day. Additionally, the 7th grade boys team that she cheers for is currently undefeated and hasn't even been challenged, so that's fun as well.

Cami's team remains undefeated with a week to go in the regular season. She played another good game, getting some rebounds and playing defense. She also stole the ball on an inbounds play and took off on a fast break, just missing her shot. She is still having a good time.

Griffin's rec league season started this week, and his team won. He played tenacious defense and handled the ball well, too. He tied up several loose balls and got off a few shots (a small miracle because his league has 4-6th grades, and the older kids like to shoot). My favorite play was when he got a steal on the press, then turned and hit an 8 foot bank shot. It was a nice move.

Griffin's travel team games were a tale of two vastly different performances. They were blown out in the first game, and blew out the other team in the second. Griffin continues to be the defensive master and is very aggressive on the ball. He did get a couple of shots today (none fell), but his highlights came on defense. He created/caused numerous turnovers, and found himself on the floor after loose balls several times. He also fouled out in the second game, but it was due to his harassing his opponent and being aggressive trying to make steals.

More to come this week!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

DC Universe: Rebirth Deluxe Edition by Geoff Johns - Book Review

From the publisher: Geoff Johns's best-selling, critically acclaimed blockbuster comic is now available in a deluxe edition hardcover in DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH DELUXE EDITION, featuring expansive bonus material, from early concept sketches to variant covers!

Wally West is trapped out of time and space, lost in the recesses of dimensional bleed due to the Flashpoint caused by his mentor Barry Allen. Drifting in this nothingness, only Wally—the man once known as Kid Flash and then the Flash—can see the mystery pervading the universe…someone has stolen ten years.

Wally must now return to Earth and the loved ones who have always acted as his lightning rod. Can he reach Linda Park—the woman who was once his wife and mother of his children—or Bruce Wayne—the Batman—the world’s great detective who might be able to unravel the mystery Wally sees before him. But no matter who he contacts, he always slips away, closer to nothingness.

The fate of the universe depends on Wally West’s REBIRTH…

The story that began one of the most critically acclaimed launches of all-time is here in DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH DELUXE EDITION. Written by #1 New York Times best-selling author Geoff Johns (JUSTICE LEAGUE) with art from four of the industry’s greatest talents in Ivan Reis (AQUAMAN), Gary Frank (BATMAN: EARTH ONE), Ethan Van Sciver (GREEN LANTERN: REBIRTH) and Phil Jimenez (INFINITE CRISIS), this new hardcover graphic novel edition has ramifications that will reverberate through the DC Universe for years to come! 

DC Universe: Rebirth is Geoff Johns's opening chapter in the great attempt to restore/reset/reboot DC's continuity once again. However, unlike previous attempts, Rebirth is acknowledging previous storylines, consequences, and ramifications. I believe this is a terrific way to go about this, as it doesn't once again erase years of continuity for new readers at the expense of long-time readers.

After the Flashpoint event and the New 52 universe, many DC characters were changed; some in a small way, some in major ways, and still others ceased to exist. Among this last group was Wally West, the original Kid Flash. Rebirth shows that Wally isn't really gone, he has just been caught in the speed force. This has given him perspective that the other heroes and villains don't have; he is aware that someone or something beyond just the Flashpoint has been manipulating their lives. He journeys to try and find someone who will remember him, thus freeing him from the speed force and beginning to restore what is missing from the DC universe.

Johns does a fantastic job of telling Wally's story. He checks in with many other characters, including Batman, the Atom, Aquaman, the new Wally West, Linda Park, and Barry Allen. Johns also begins to tie together all the various incarnations of continuity, and caps them off with what I believe is a terrific reveal that bears reading as the story goes forward.

This particular edition of DC Universe: Rebirth is the Deluxe Edition and is supposed to contain bonus material. However, my preview copy is identical to the original edition of Rebirth that was released previously. I did not receive any bonus material, and can therefore not review it.

I recommend Rebirth, by Geoff Johns, to fans of DC Comics, particularly fans who have been reading their books for ten or more years. This is a wonderful beginning to the effort to restore many, if not all, of our favorite characters and their continuity.

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

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Thanksgiving Basketball

We only had one game and one cheer game this week. Cami's team won again in a tight battle. She was able to take another shot, but unfortunately it didn't go in. She also had a rebound or two, and played good defense. Lexi once again cheered for the boys' teams, and continues to practice basketball for her own team (games start in January). Griffin had the week off, but hits it hard next weekend, with both rec league and travel ball.

Here we go...

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Basketball Update

Lexi continues to cheer, and practice with her basketball team. Her games start in January. Things should get interesting then.

Cami's team won again, and continue to be undefeated. She didn't score this week, but took a few good shots, one of which just missed. She keeps playing good defense, learning how to slide her feet this week. She also had a rebound or two, and tied up the ball a couple of times. She still plays with a big smile.

Griffin's team went 2-0 today and looked pretty good doing it. Griffin took a few shots; however, they didn't fall for him today. He picked a kid's pocket, stealing the ball and making a good pass. He also grabbed several rebounds, heading out on the break a couple of times (he tied for the team lead of rebounds/box outs). His defense was tenacious. He guarded one team's best player for about 5 game minutes, and shut him down.

Lexi has a cheer game and practice this week, and the twins get back at it on the weekend.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

TRINITY #3 by Francis Manapul - Book Review

From the publisher: “BETTER TOGETHER” part three! The deadly White Mercy has Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman in its terrifying grasp! But who would dare to orchestrate this attack—and why? All will be revealed as the three most powerful heroes in the DC Universe fight for their very souls! 

Trinity #3, by Francis Manapul, continues the Better Together arc, as Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince (Batman and Wonder Woman) journey on with a Clark Kent (Superman) they don't really know. However, unlike last issue's focus on Clark, his father, and Smallville, the current issue looks at Bruce Wayne, the aftermath of his parents' deaths, and Gotham. As events from their past play out, Bruce begins to see that something is just "off" about it, and thinks they are not really in the past.

Meanwhile, Lois Lane is trying to find/rescue the son she has with Clark. What she discovers puts our heroes' situation in a whole new light.

Once again, Manapul has done a fantastic job. This story continues to move right along, and the characters have a little more revealed each time. The art is terrific, as well.

I'm really enjoying this series. There is a fresh spin on the backgrounds of Batman and Superman, with Wonder Woman riding shotgun. The rediscovery of their pasts, and being forced to confront the events that forged them, is allowing the reader to experience some familiar events through a new lens. The side story with Lois Lane and Jon Kent is beginning to dovetail nicely with the main storyline. I look forward to seeing how it all turns out.

I highly recommend Trinity #3. The series as a whole is a fun and satisfying read. Pick it up if you're a fan of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman.

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Leadership Promises for Every Day: A Daily Devotional By John C. Maxwell - Book Review

From the publisher: God has entrusted you as a leader.

Whether you are new to leadership in your work, family, community or church, or you’ve been leading for years, you’ll discover fresh wisdom in Leadership Promises for Every Day. Find day-to-day guidance and encouragement to grow to be a godly leader. Written in John C. Maxwell’s hallmark tone of confidence, clarity, and directness, this devotional will inspire you as it covers many topics that you run into every day, including success, stewardship, teamwork, and mentoring.

Daily Scripture, along with John C. Maxwell’s seasoned advice and simple takeaway messages, provides much-trusted guidance and encouragement. God has entrusted you to lead. Make sure you honor him by leading well.

Leadership Promises for Every Day is a daily devotional using excerpts of John C. Maxwell books as the basis for each reading. It is a 365 (no Feb. 29) day devotional, so it would work for a yearlong devotional time.

Each day's reading is relatively short; it takes approximately 5 minutes to read, so it's perfect for someone on the go. The daily devotional consists of a Bible passage highlighting a leadership principle, followed by a passage from a Maxwell book supporting the verse(s). Additionally, each month has a leadership focus that the days then appear to reflect back on.

This is a decent devotional book. The short length lends itself to readers who often find themselves short on time. The content is leadership heavy; if you are familiar with Maxwell's writings then this may seem repetitive. It is a little light on spiritual content, as the focus is leadership, rather than salvation (this isn't a bad thing, I just want to be clear to potential readers).

I would recommend John C. Maxwell's Leadership Promises for Every Day to readers interested in Christian-based leadership. It's daily nature and short selections make it ideal for people to commit to over a year.

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

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Our Basketball Update

Cami's team won again, and are now 3-0 on the season. She hustled on defense, nearly making a steal, and got a few rebounds. She also set some good screens and took a few shots (unfortunately, none went in.) She always plays with a bounce in her step and a big smile.

Lexi made the 7th grade basketball team! She also cheered for the boys' teams for the first time this year. Her schedule just got a lot busier.

Griffin's travel team played their first two games, splitting them with a win and a loss. Griffin played great defense, hustling and harassing his man during both games. He was on the floor several times, tying up loose balls, and I think had a rebound. He had one beautiful steal at half court and was able to get a shot off, but it did not go in. He also started his school ball this week, with games beginning in December.

As is evident, we are about to become extremely busy!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, Illustrated by Sanna Annukka - Book Review

From the publisher: Hans Christian Andersen's magical tale of friendship and adventure is retold through the beautiful and intricate illustrations of Finnish illustrator Sanna Annukka. Cloth-bound in deep blue, with silver foil embellishments, The Snow Queen is elevated from a children's book to a unique work of art. It is an ideal gift for people of all ages.

When I decided to review Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, I was completely unfamiliar with the story. I thought I remembered hearing that Disney’s Frozen, which my kids loved, was based on it, so I wanted to check out the source material to see if they would enjoy it. What I discovered is that very little of The Snow Queen made it in to Frozen. Andersen’s tale is an adventure in its own right, but not really anything like Frozen.

The Snow Queen begins with the story of a devil and a mirror that shows a distorted version of what it reflects; namely, it brings out the worst in what it shows. An accident causes the mirror to shatter and the pieces to fall to Earth. These tiny shards were lodged in the hearts and eyes of many people, causing them to see the worst in people and to have cold hearts towards their fellow man.

We then meet Kay and Gerda, two young children who are the best of friends. When Kay is “infected” by mirror shards, he decides he would like to tell off the Snow Queen about winter. When he disappears, Gerda goes on a quest to find him. Along the way, she encounters many people and animals who seek to help and/or hinder her.

The Snow Queen is very much a hero’s journey type of story. Gerda endures many trials during her quest to find Kay. However, it isn’t particularly exciting. Rather than action, things just kind of happen to and for her.

This particular edition is highlighted by its cloth-bound cover and new illustrations by Sanna Annukka. They are pretty illustrations, and unique in their composition. This edition of The Snow Queen appears to have been created for collectors or as a gift book, as it has an unusual size, as well.

Overall, I would recommend The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen to readers who enjoy his many stories. This is an attractive looking book and the story is okay. I don’t think it would appeal to my own kids, but I’m sure it will find its audience.

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

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Here Come the Winter Sports!

Cami had her second rec league basketball game today. Her team is now 2-0. Last week, Cami scored twice and had a steal. Today, she wasn't able to score, but she did go to the basket a couple of times (two very tall girls interfered with her shot). She hustled a bunch, and played point guard during the 4th quarter.

Griffin has his first travel ball double-header next Sunday.

Lexi tries out for the school team this week, as well.

And so it begins....

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

EVERAFTER: FROM THE PAGES OF FABLES #3 by Dave Justus and Matthew Sturges - Book Review

From the publisher: The Shadow Players are on edge as Peter rushes to learn Connor’s fate, and their botched reconnaissance mission is salvaged when the newest recruit taps into his powers and enters the belly of the beast. With eyes and ears on the inside, he’s positioned to collect crucial intelligence from the unsuspecting mercenaries—that is, if he can stay on script and stay alive. Back at headquarters, Bo rebels and raises serious questions about the morality of Feathertop’s vision for protecting the Mundy world.

Everafter #3 continues The Pandora Protocol arc by Dave Justus and Matthew Sturges. At this point, Connor Wolf has run afoul of a group of mercs who are stealing Native American artifacts. Peter is trying to find out what happened to Connor, and worried he's lost another partner. Bo Peep and Feathertop try to find Jessica Yow, the young human with powerful magic. They also make a side trip to another world, where Feathertop makes a revelation that makes everything more immediate. Meanwhile, Hansel finds out that being dead doesn't end one's service to the Shadow Players.

This is an entertaining series. I'm finding myself enjoying meeting these characters, particularly Connor, Peter, and Bo. There is depth there, and Connor provides a great viewpoint as the young agent learning the ropes. The Shadow Players investigating "Everafter" events and other magical incidents feels like a natural continuation of Fables without seeming like a re-hash of previous storylines.

Everafter is a tough series to evaluate issue by issue due to its nature. There are reveals and surprises each issue that can potentially spoil the read for a new reader. While I'm enjoying reading it, I have to imagine that it will be even better as a completely collected arc.

Justus and Sturges continue to tell a fun and intriguing story with Everafter #3. I highly recommend it, and can't wait to see how things develop next.

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

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Superman: The Final Days of Superman by Peter J. Tomasi - Book Review

From the publisher: It's a new chapter in the Man of Steel's life that will change everything you know in the epic eight-part SUPERMAN: THE FINAL DAYS OF SUPERMAN, all written by Peter J. Tomasi (BATMAN AND ROBIN)! 

Superman... is dying. His never-ending battles have finally taken their toll on Kal-El, and with time short he reaches out to unite his friends and loved ones for what comes next. Meanwhile, a new sinister force's machinations will see to it that Man of Steel will not go quietly into the night, but instead enter into a life and death struggle with another being forged from the very energies of the Kryptonian's solar flare power now claiming to be the true Superman!

SUPERMAN: THE FINAL DAYS OF SUPERMAN ushers in a completely new era for the Man of Steel in an unforgettable graphic novel that is NOT to be missed. Collects SUPERMAN #51-52, BATMAN/SUPERMAN #31-32, SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN #28-29, and ACTION COMICS #51-52.

Superman: The Final Days of Superman, by Peter J. Tomasi, is a good book. It is basically the New 52 version of the Death of Superman story; however, rather than Doomsday, there are multiple versions of Superman. This is the collection that paves the way for the Superman Rebirth books.

The story is basically this: with Superman outed as Clark Kent and seriously low on power, he finds himself trying to lay low and discovers he is dying, with no cure. As only Superman can, he makes the decision to continue to help others as long as he is able to. Meanwhile, a mysterious glowing figure is showing up in all of Clark Kent's old haunts, claiming to be Superman. As the true Superman tries to figure out this mystery, he comes into contact with many of his old friends/family, who are also trying to come to terms with his pending death. These include Batman, Wonder Woman, Lois Lane, Supergirl, Lana Lang, and others. The culmination becomes the jumping off point for the new Superman storylines as part of the DC Rebirth event, particularly in the new Trinity comic.

I found The Final Days of Superman entertaining and a solid read. I wasn't a big fan of the New 52 version of Superman, at least in his own books, but I enjoyed the character as he was presented here. I also liked how Clark had the chance to speak with many of his friends and inform them of his condition. Batman, in particular, was very interesting to watch deal with this and realize not everything is a problem to be solved. Tomasi did a fine job weaving in the many characters and their personalities, while telling a good story.

This story was interesting enough that I will most likely read some of the Superman Rebirth books to see how things progress. I would definitely recommend Superman: The Final Days of Superman to Superman fans, and would also suggest it to readers looking for a solid story about the mortality of heroes.

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

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

TEEN TITANS #1 by Benjamin Percy & Jonboy Meyers - Book Review

From the publisher: “Damian Knows Best” part one! Now that Damian has “summoned” the Teen Titans, the tyrannical teen reveals his master plan! But a great evil from Damian’s past is lurking around the corner, ready to strike at the team’s newest leader and destroy the new Teen Titans before they even begin! 

Following the Rebirth issue of Teen Titans, Percy and Meyers's Teen Titans #1 kicks off the Damian Knows Best storyline. Damian Wayne is Robin. He is also Batman's son. He also recently turned 13, and had no friends with which to celebrate. These things combined to lead Damian to try to form a new version of the Teen Titans. Unfortunately, he went about it the wrong way; he kidnapped all the potential candidates (Starfire, Kid Flash, Beast Boy, and Raven). Suffice it to say, they weren't happy.

This first issue is heavy on Damian attempting to convince his fellow heroes that they should become the Teen Titans. It's not heavy on action, but Percy and Meyers do a wonderful job in capturing the voice and spirit of each of the characters, including Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne's butler and possibly Damian's only friend. Beast Boy's insecure arrogance, Raven's brooding, Starfire's anger, and Kid Flash's confusion are highlighted by Damian Wayne appealing to them. As the character has developed, he has gone from an insufferable brat to a young man struggling to accept who he is and what he has been through. Damian desperately wants to form a team of heroes/friends, but his social skills are severely lacking. To me, this is the chief part of why Teen Titans is worth reading. There is tremendous potential in the story of Damian Wayne growing and learning while surrounded by other heroes his age, working to become more like Batman and less like Ra's al Ghul (his grandfather and leader of the League of Assassins).

Teen Titans is definitely one of the Rebirth series to read. This first part in the Damian Knows Best arc gets the series off to a fine start. Benjamin Percy and Jonboy Meyers have done an excellent job. I recommend it to fans of teen team books and readers interested in seeing what happens with Damian Wayne.

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

VIGILANTE: SOUTHLAND #1 by Gary Phillips - Book Review

From the publisher: Donny was feeling pretty settled in his cushy life. Even though his girlfriend was politically active, he never gave social justice or racial issues any time. So, when Dorrie discovers something she shouldn’t have and ends up dead, no one expects Donny to be the guy to carry on her work—but that’s exactly what he does, putting on a mask and taking to the streets. He soon finds himself tangled in family history, political conspiracy, and a plot that goes far deeper than he ever imagined.

Set in the heart of Los Angeles, this new VIGILANTE series raises an old question while making it relevant to our times: when you witness bad things being done, how far would you go to set them right? Written by Gary Phillips, noted writer of the Ivan Monk series of novels, and drawn by Elena Casagrande (Suicide Risk), this hard-hitting tale of revenge and redemption takes the Vigilante into a whole new danger zone. 

With Vigilante: Southland #1, Gary Phillips has created a new Vigilante, but one that echoes the previous incarnation. Donny enjoys his life: work as a custodian, hang out with his girlfriend Dorrie, play basketball, and get high. But when the political warrior Dorrie is involved in an accident, Donny is reluctantly forced to turn to his family for help. What follows are the beginnings of a man who feels like he has no choice but to put on a mask to obtain justice. At this point, there isn't a lot to differentiate him from other characters in similar situations, but its definitely too early to say for sure.

Vigilante: Southland is a mini-series, and as such, the first issue spends the majority of the time introducing the characters and setting up the situation. Because of this, its hard to judge this issue on its own. The reader is given just a small taste of Vigilante in his costume, with the promise of more to come. I have a feeling that Vigilante: Southland is going to end up being best read as a collected whole, rather than in six separate installments.

Gary Phillips has opened his new series with a promising chapter, and I would recommend it, but I think I will probably wait until all the issues are out before I jump back in. I guess its the difference between watching a tv series from week to week, or waiting to binge watch. In the case of Vigilante: Southland, I'll wait to have it all in one place.

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

TRINITY #2 by Francis Manapul - Book Review

From the publisher: “BETTER TOGETHER” part two! Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman have uncovered a window into their very souls: and the power of temptation proves to be stronger than any villain they could battle! The bonds of friendship and trust between the most formidable heroes on the planet will be tested to their breaking point, with the lives of innocents hanging in the balance!

Trinity #2, by Francis Manapul, continues the Better Together storyline that began with issue #1. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are thrust into Clark's past. There they come into contact with a young Clark Kent and have some explaining to do to Jonathan Kent, Clark's father. When young Clark goes missing, its up to the three heroes to find him. Meanwhile, in the present, Jon Kent is coming to the realization that his life might change now that his dad has taken up the mantle of Superman again.

Trinity is starting out strong, and this second issue continues the fine storytelling. Manapul's storytelling and art are terrific, and this story has the potential to be very entertaining. My favorite thing about this book is seeing how Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman interact and develop a new relationship. In the wake of Rebirth and the blending of various alternate universes, these long-time "friends" have tare trying to build trust and friendship with people who look and act like those they've known, but are alternate versions of their teammates. This should fascinating to watch as Trinity continues.

I highly recommend Trinity #2 to fans of DC's big three heroes. Francis Manapul is doing a wonderful job.

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

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

THE LOST BOYS #1 by Tim Seeley & Scott Godlewski - Book Review

From the publisher: The stakes are raised in this nostalgic and unstoppable sequel to the ’80s cult classic vampire film, The Lost Boys. Veteran horror writers Tim Seeley (GRAYSON, NIGHTWING, Hack/Slash), and Scott Godlewski (THE DARK & BLOODY, Copperhead) deliver a gruesome and stylish return to the bloody boardwalks and big hair of 1987!

Santa Carla, California is on edge. The eccentric coastal town and haven for the undead was finally returning to “normal” after its last supernatural scuffle left the local coven’s head vampire dead and gave newcomers Michael and Sam Emerson a housewarming both violent and bizarre. Now the brothers must once again team up with militant vampire hunters Edgar and Allan Frog when a new gang of ruthless, stunning, life-sucking nightcrawlers known as the Blood Belles emerges from the aftermath to collect Michael’s love interest and their lost sister, Star. 

Growing up in the 80's, I was a big fan of the movie The Lost Boys. It was just the right mix of creepy, scary, and funny. Now, Tim Seeley and Scott Godlewski have written a sequel, so I thought I'd check it out.

Lost Boys #1 takes place shortly after the film ended. In this first issue, we catch up with nearly all the major players from the movie: Edgar and Allan Frog, who are training to become full-fledged vampire hunters with Grandpa Emerson; Michael Emerson (former vampire) is working at a nursing home, where he is picked up after work by his girlfriend, Star (herself a former vampire); and Sam Emerson is still working at the comic shop and trying to meet girls. There is even a brief cameo from the child-vampire Laddie and the Emerson's dog Nanook. We even come into contact with a mysterious new woman who is very interested in Sam and his knowledge of vampires (or at least vampire comics).

Lost Boys #1 is very effective in laying the groundwork for the series. There are a couple of nice reveals, but mostly this issue is set-up for what is to come. The story moves along nicely and the art has a nice 80's feel to it. The whole book nicely captures the feel of the film.

I highly recommend Lost Boys #1 by Seely and Godlewski. It's great for fans of the movie, and would be a fun read for fans of horror with humor.

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

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Jesus Always: Embracing Joy in His Presence By Sarah Young - Book Review

From the publisher: Sarah Young’s first 365-day devotional since Jesus Calling.

With scripture and new personal reflections, the #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah Young, brings Jesus’ message of joy—for today and every day. Experience true joy—now and always.

Life today is full of difficulties—loss, sadness, fear. In the midst of these challenges, joy often feels impossible or out of reach. But Jesus has more for His followers than a life of striving, pain, and discontent. He offers life abundant, life to the fullest, life brimming with joy! Jesus Always, the new 365-day devotional from bestselling author Sarah Young, was written as part of Sarah Young’s exploration of the promises of joy in scripture. Written as if Jesus Himself is speaking directly to the reader, Jesus Always invites you into a new way of living—a life of joy.

Reaching out with joy-filled reminders from the Word of God, these devotions will intimately and gently connect you with Jesus—the One who meets you where you are. Draw near to Him in Jesus Always.

Sarah Young's new devotional book Jesus Always continues in the vein of her previous books, Jesus Calling, Jesus Lives, and Jesus Today. It is a daily devotional, and uses Jesus's own words to bring the message.

Jesus Always is a small book, sort of gift-book sized. Each page contains one devotional, and they are labeled by month and date (even February 29) rather than just 366 various devotions. The subtitle of this book is Embracing Joy in His Presence, and I've noticed how each devotional spins out of that theme. I rather like this, in that having a devotional that reminds me of the joy of Jesus is nice. There is a great joy to be had in a relationship with God. Whether dealing with hardships, sickness, disappointment, or happiness, each devotion touches on how to embrace the joy of being in Jesus's presence.

Additionally, each devotion contains Jesus's words in italics, and while there aren't any scriptures in the text of the devotion, the words of Jesus and the ideas discussed are referenced by book, chapter, and verse at the bottom of each page.

My family has enjoyed Sarah Young's previous books, and Jesus Always is no different. It contains spiritually uplifting messages in a short, easy to read form. I highly recommend this devotional book.

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

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

EVERAFTER: FROM THE PAGES OF FABLES #2 by Dave Justus & Matthew Sturges - Book Review

From the publisher: Connor Wolf’s initiation begins as the rest of the Shadow Players regroup and grapple with the fallout from Hansel’s gut-wrenching incident during their recent failed assignment. Tension builds as Feathertop ignores the team’s pleas to complete the mission, and Peter adjusts to Connor’s bravado when the two are sent on reconnaissance to thwart a group of mercenaries who have stolen invaluable—and powerful—Native American artifacts from exhibits across the country. If you’ve been missing the magic of FABLES, don’t miss this series!

With Everafter #2, Justus and Sturges continue the story begun in issue one. They continue to set the table, expanding the reader's view of the Fable world while continuing to develop the characters, in particular Peter Piper and Connor.  Connor, in particular, is becoming a favorite of mine. He brings a youthful perspective to the spying trade as a member of the Shadow Players. His reactions to becoming a spy are basically based on James Bond-type movies (I feel like I might act the same way). This creates a nice tension with Peter, the cool veteran who is grieving a lost teammate. Mayhem ensues as the Peter and Connor run into the group trying to steal Native American artifacts.

Meanwhile, the mysterious girl from the previous issue is demonstrating more of her powers, showing just how dangerous she is. I'm anxious to see how the various story threads are woven together and the Pandora Protocol arc continues to unfold.

I continue to recommend Everafter. Dave Justus and Matthew Sturges are doing a fine job. They are carrying on the Fables tradition, but putting their own spin on things. There is just enough of the familiar to appeal to long-time Fables fans, and enough of a new take to bring in new readers and/or not make Everafter feel like a rehash of earlier stories. Highly recommended.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Fall Seasons End

Lexi wrapped up the tennis season with a doubles match and a #3 singles match. She did not win either one, but did perform admirably, even taking her singles opponent to deuce 8 or 9 times during the final point. Overall, this (from my point of view) has been a very successful tennis season for Lexi. She definitely improved, both from a physical aspect and a mental aspect. Hopefully she plays next year, too. She also has two more football games to cheer at in the upcoming week, and that aspect of cheer is complete.

Griffin's team lost their playoff game 24-18, so the season has ended. However, the team played their most complete game of the year. They even stripped the ball with about 30 seconds remaining to give themselves one final chance to tie. They fought to the end, and made a bunch of good plays. Griffin was involved in multiple tackles, including a pretty good solo tackle on the edge, while playing cornerback. This was a very good season for Griffin. He really improved his aggressiveness, and overcame his hesitation when it came to hitting. He made multiple tackles, blocked well, and scored. I'm very proud of how he did. Next up is travel basketball.

Cami finished her fall softball season with a double-header, one loss and one tie (due to time constraints). She finished on a high note, walking once, striking out, and hitting an arching line drive into short right field for a stand up double. She also scored the tying run. She played 2nd, outfield, and pitched the last inning of the second game. She made a great play at pitcher; a ball was hit hard back at her, and she fielded it and made a great throw to 1st for the out. It was a good fall season, and I'm glad Cami had a chance to practice pitching more and to improve her hitting. She is growing in confidence.

Basketball is almost upon us all, but a brief respite awaits in the near future.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

TEEN TITANS: REBIRTH #1 by Benjamin Percy & Jonboy Meyers, Jim Charalampidis, Corey Breen - Book Review

From the publisher: The Teen Titans are farther apart than ever before…until Damian Wayne recruits Starfire, Raven, Beast Boy and the new Kid Flash to join him in a fight against his own grandfather, Ra’s al Ghul! But true leadership is more than just calling the shots—is Robin really up to the task? Or will the Teen Titans dismiss this diminutive dictator?

Teen Titan's: Rebirth #1, by Benjamin Percy, opens with the various Titans on their own, some dealing with the fallout of events from the Batman books, some just trying to figure out who they are. As they each go about their days, they are attacked by a mysterious cloaked figure.

This issue does a fine job of laying the ground work for this newest incarnation of the Teen Titans. The reader gets a glimpse into the personalities of Beast Boy, Starfire, Raven, and Kid Flash. Percy provides just enough to create interest and add some depth without turning the story into an info dump. Jonboy Meyers's art is a great fit with the story, looking a bit cartoonish and young, which fits the characters.

Teen Titans #1: Rebirth is a great first issue, introducing the characters and setting up the story arc. I'm curious, based on the final panel, how the the Titans will react and where the story will go in the next issue. This is a series that bears watching, as the potential is there for a fun and interesting run. Highly recommended!

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

BATMAN BEYOND: REBIRTH #1 Escaping the Grave part one by Dan Jurgens, Ryan Sook, Jeremy Lawson, Tony Avina, Travis Lanham - Book Review

From the publisher: Six months have passed since the events of BATMAN BEYOND #16. While areas of destruction remain in the outside world, Gotham City has made great strides toward reclaiming its bright future. But new threats arise and old adversaries may be coming back. And the question still remains: whatever happened to Bruce Wayne?

I have only a passing familiarity with Batman Beyond, so Dan Jurgens's Batman Beyond #1: Rebirth is a great starting point for me. Terry McGinnis, aka Batman, is back from the "dead" and is back to protecting Gotham. He also has to reconnect to his former life, since everyone believed he was dead. As he fights the violent Jokerz gang, his former girlfriend is kidnapped and there is a nasty rumor floating around that the Joker may not be dead after all. Batman Beyond #1 is the opening act in a new adventure for Terry McGinnis, the Batman of the future. Plus, what happened to Bruce Wayne?

I enjoyed this book. It was a nice change to the typical Bat-books. Also, because many readers may not be familiar with Batman Beyond, Jurgens gives a recap of how Terry McGinnis became Batman. The way in which the information is presented is organic and does not feel forced. I really appreciated that approach. The art, by Ryan Sook, fits the book well and echoes the Batman Beyond cartoon from the early 2000's.

I enjoyed Batman Beyond #1: Rebirth. Dan Jurgens has gotten off to a good start, with both an immediate problem to be dealt with and long-term mysteries as well. This is a perfect jumping on point for readers new and old. I recommend the book to fans of all things Batman.

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

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Raising a Modern-Day Princess by Doreen Hanna and Karen Whiting - Book Review

From the publisher: In the same tradition as Raising a Modern-Day Knight, this book is designed to equip parents to cultivate strong relationships with their adolescents. Raising a Modern-Day Princess stresses the importance of creating a rite of passage for teen girls―a defining moment in which girls can be blessed by significant adults in their lives, and a call for their families and communities to celebrate and support them as they enter womanhood. This book offers practical help in raising a generation of women to see themselves as God sees them―as daughters of the King.

Raising a Young Modern-Day Princess, by Doreen Hanna & Karen Whiting, is a nice book designed to provide mothers with a guide to raise their daughters. Many little girls want to be princesses. Each little girl should be taught she is a princess, or daughter of the King, Jesus. This follows a model of growing up to be a woman of God.

The book is set up with ten chapters, eight of which feature a Fruit of the Spirit as the focusing element. Each of these chapters follows a similar pattern: begin with a Princess Attribute and Fruit of the Spirit. Follow up with an anecdote from both Hanna and Whiting. Add a focus on the Princess Attribute and the Fruit of the Spirit. Wind up with a slew of "Fruitful Activities", "Mom's Tool's", "Dad and Daughter Activities", and "Dad's Toolbox".

I didn't realize that this was a mom-centered book, so I didn't particularly find myself interested in the style or presentation of the ideas. This is unfortunate, because I have daughters, and the book leads you to believe it is for both parents. The "dad" element is very minor. Additionally, I didn't really feel like this book brought anything new to the genre of raising children to grow up loving God and becoming a strong Christian. It is a decent book for what it is, but it didn't stand out to me.

Raising a Young Modern-Day Princess, by Doreen Hanna and Karen Whiting, is an average book. I would recommend it to mothers of young daughters. However, if you've read similar books, you may find this repetitive.

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

Just Another Week

Lexi had two tennis matches this week. She lost her doubles match, but she was able to play #2 doubles, and beat her opponent 8-2. That was her first singles win that did not come in an exhibition game. She also cheered for middle school football on two different nights.

Griffin had his last regular season game and won, 16-0. He played every play on defense at cornerback, getting in on multiple tackles and having a couple where he was the primary tackler. He also nearly had an interception, but deflected it instead. He also played his old wingback position a bit, and did a fine job of blocking. Playoffs start on Tuesday.

Cami's team played three games this week. In the first, she pitched and got three outs, played some second base, and hit a double and scored. In the double header, she played RF and 1st, and had a really good hit (off a pitcher, and not coach pitch). She smacked the ball down the third base line, and eventually came around and scored. In the second game, she pitched all three innings. She struggled with consistency a bit, but was a trooper and kept fighting. She got a hit in this game as well, scoring a couple of batters later. Unfortunately, her team lost all three games, but Cami did a nice job.

More to come next week.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

TRINITY #1 Better Together part one: Family Dinner by Francis Manapul, Steve Wands - Book Review

From the publisher: “BETTER TOGETHER” part 1! Together again for the first time! Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. The core of the World's Greatest Heroes…but with a new Man of Steel, the bonds these three share will be tested and redefined by super-star writer/artist Francis Manapul. In this premiere issue, see the trio travel from Metropolis to Gotham City and beyond to learn what forces launched their heroic careers. But how will this journey of discovery lead them to a new threat?

Francis Manapul's Trinty #1 is a short but full story. It consists of Lois Lane, Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, Diana Prince, and Lois and Clark's son Jon having dinner at the Kent farm. It functions as a simple introduction to these characters/heroes, who have known other versions of each other but are having some trust issues with each other.

I haven't read all the Rebirth stories of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, so I think there are some relationship dynamics that I'm missing, but I enjoyed this book. I look forward to seeing how the story progresses. Done correctly, a series starring the "Big Three" can be outstanding and really delve into who they are and why they need each other. Trinity #1 shows this promise, and I'm excited to read future issues.

One last thing: Steve Wands's art is gorgeous. It is reminiscent of the style used on the Batman/Superman and Superman/Wonder Woman titles.

Trinity #1 is highly recommended, with an eye toward the future.

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

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Titans Hunt by Dan Abnett - Book Review

Robin. Wonder Girl. Speedy. Aqualad. Hawk and Dove. There was a time when these and other young heroes were synonymous with justice. They were the Teen Titans, one of the greatest superhero teams in the entire Multiverse…but that Multiverse has changed, and the time of the Titans has been wiped from the world.
So why are Dick Grayson and Roy Harper—now better known as Nightwing and Arsenal—experiencing memories of a world they never knew? What compels them to hunt for an Atlantean named Garth and an Amazon named Donna Troy? What dangerous secrets connect them to a powerful stranger, a mysterious psychic and an odd couple—and what do those secrets mean for the fate of all life on Earth?
Somehow, somewhere, somewhen, these men and women were Titans. Now the hunt is on for the force that can reunite them so the Titans can tower once more…
One of the DC Universe's premier teams returns for the first time in years in TITANS HUNT! Join writer Dan Abnett and artists Paulo Siqueira and Stephen Segovia as they uncover the titanic mystery behind it all! 

When DC started the New 52, one noticeable group of heroes was missing: the Teen Titans (or just Titans, now, since they are all adults). This was a group of heroes that had been around for decades and had an interesting and complex history. With Titans Hunt, Dan Abnett goes about bringing these heroes back into the DC mainstream, while also beginning the Rebirth event that spans all of DC's books.

Grayson, Roy Harper, Donna Troy, Garth, and the other Titans are living their lives, some as heroes, some as ordinary people. But all are having strange dreams and recognize that something is missing from their memory. As images, words, and people creep in from the fringes of their memories, they find themselves drawn together to the town of Hatton's Corner. There they are confronted by a creature known as Mr. Twister. In facing him, they find their memories and pasts restored, and are forced to confront the reasons why they forgot in the first place.

In addition to this story, Abnett also tells of Dick Grayson's (the original Robin) first adventure with the Justice League. It's a nice piece of background that also ties into the Titans Hunt storyline.

With Titans Hunt, Abnett has done a fine job of recapturing these heroes and bringing them back. I've never been a consist reader of the Teen Titans/Titans, so there were a few characters and aspects of the story I was unfamiliar with, but Abnett supplied the information that I needed to know to understand and enjoy the story. He provided some nice characterization (particularly with Nightwing, who makes a comment about all the identities he has had that doubles as commentary on the Titans missing memories). I also liked the scenes where the Titans began recalling who they were due to their interactions with each other.

The book concludes with a preview of the Rebirth story, in which Kid Flash (a former Titan himself) plays a major role. This short story is dripping with emotion and nostalgia as the Titans find themselves still missing their memory of one teammate. In a way, Titans Hunt was told in order to set up this Rebirth story, which paves the way for a return to much of the DC mythology longtime fans enjoy so much.

There is one last piece to the book. There are several pages of unfinished art from the story that show how Kid Flash was interacting with his former teammates even when they were unaware of him. It's a neat take on the typical idea of including unfinished pages from a story when collecting the issues in a book.

I recommend Dan Abnett's Titans Hunt. Longtime Titans fans will enjoy seeing the characters brought back. Additionally, this is a good starting point for those fans interested in the Rebirth event.

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

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Double the Fun

This week, Lexi had two tennis matches (unfortunately, she also had an invitational rained out). She and her partner lost both matches, but it is clear Lexi is improving. She is moving around the court more and making forehand and backhand shots. She also went straight from a match to cheer for the football team.

Griffin had two football games (one was a make up game). We lost both games, but Griffin had some good plays. In the first game, he played cornerback the entire game and had 3 tackles and ran a kid down on a long run but just didn't know how to dive at the end. In the second game, he played every single play, due to 5 or 6 boys being out from illness and other stuff. He did a nice job blocking from his wingback position, and his one chance to run didn't go well (most of our offensive plays weren't really successful in this game). He played corner again, and again had the chance to run a kid down; this time, he was able to dive and saved a touchdown. He also defended several pass attempts, nearly being in position for an interception. Next Saturday is the last regular season game.

Cami was due to have a double-header today, but was rained out. She'll have several games coming up due to all the rain-outs.

This has been a frustrating season weather-wise, as it seems every time there is a softball event or football game, there is rain. Bleech!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

DOOM PATROL #1 Brick by Brick, part one by Gerard Way, Nick Derington, Tamra Bonvillain, Todd Klein - Book Review

From the publisher: The atoms are buzzing. The daydreams crowd sentient streets, and the creative team has been warned, “Turn back now or suffer the mighty consequence of sheer, psycho-maniacal mayhem.” Generation-arsonists unite—this is DOOM PATROL, and the God of the Super Heroes is bleeding on the floor.

A blenderized reimagining of the ultimate series of the strange, DOOM PATROL combines elements from classic runs, new directions, and things that could not be. Our entry point is Casey Brinke, a young EMT on the graveyard shift to abstract enlightenment, with a past so odd that she’s not entirely sure what is real and what is not. Along with her partner, Sam Reynolds, the pair blaze a path through the city and its denizens, finding the only quiet that exists at 3am is the chaos of the brain. When the pair answer a hit-and-run call, they find themselves face to face with a familiar figure: Cliff Steele, AKA Robotman.

The pair’s only communication? Shouting out of the open windows while at high velocity. Who needs a new roommate? Who names a cat “Lotion”? And when do we get to see all those muscles?

Find your answers inside the pages of this comic book, as we set the stage for new beginnings, as well as the re-introduction of some classic DOOM PATROL characters, including Niles Caulder, Negative Man, Flex Mentallo, and Crazy Jane. 

I have no words to describe Doom Patrol #1 by Gerard Way. It is weird, strange, bizarre, and colorful. It begins the set-up for the team to come together, but there is basically nothing in the way of explanation. This appears to be a book where the reader just jumps in and ultimately trusts that the writer will make things clear in time.

I was not a reader of the previous Doom Patrol book by Grant Morrison, but it would appear that Way's Doom Patrol is picking up with many of the "heroes" of that book. This is the first in DC's Young Animal imprint, but seems like it may have been a good fit with the Vertigo line of the 90's.

I don't know whether Doom Patrol #1 is a good book; it is definitely a unique book that I'm sure will find it's niche and appeal to a certain group of readers. However, I'm not sure if I fit in that group. I may give it another issue or two and hope I can begin to understand what's going on, but I'm not sold yet.

This is recommended to fans of Way's previous books, Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol run, and anyone looking for a comic that is different from the norm.

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

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Batman Vol. 9: Bloom by Scott Snyder - Book Review

From the publisher: Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo conclude their #1 NEW YORK TIMES best-selling, critically acclaimed saga. 
Bruce Wayne has a nearly perfect life. He’s in love with an amazing woman and works by her side every day at one of Gotham’s youth centers, helping the children of the city he loves. His memory has been patchy ever since he nearly died in the last Joker attack, but even so, he’s confident that this is the happiest he’s ever been.
And yet…he sometimes feels himself being tugged back to another life. In the negative space of his missing past is a half-remembered history, filled with violence and darkness, but also greatness. 
The Batman is calling Bruce back. But if he returns to his past, what will become of the perfect, happy life he has built?  
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s character-defining run on the Dark Knight demonstrates why Batman truly is forever. Collects BATMAN #46-50, as well as a short story from DETECTIVE COMICS #27.

With Batman Vol. 9: Bloom, Scott Snyder wraps up his long run on Batman, and sets the series up for the Rebirth event. This book is a direct continuation of Batman Vol. 8, with Bruce Wayne still not aware he is Batman, and a villain called Bloom terrorizing Gotham. Additionally, Jim Gordon is operating as Batman, with the assistance of a mechanical Batman suit. The story involves Bruce coming to terms with who he was/is, the fight to stop Bloom, and Duke (a member of the Robins) facing up to the realities of his life.

Snyder has done another wonderful job with Batman. Of particular interest to me was the conflict Bruce Wayne experiences and goes through on his journey back to being Batman. There is a lot of soul searching and sacrifice as Bruce processes this change, and the visuals are a unique way of showing him dealing with all of these issues. Alfred is once again the emotional center of the book, as the reader sees and feels his anguish as his "son" has to sacrifice his happiness once again. I also enjoyed Duke's role in this story, and his interaction with Bruce Wayne and growth as a character should be an interesting thread to follow in future issues. 

I have enjoyed Snyder's Batman stories; he has added a lot to the mythology surrounding the character. There is a short tale at the end of this collection that is a perfect little end to his run, as the reader is taken way into the future as the legend of Batman continues to endure.

I highly recommend Batman Vol. 9: Bloom by Scott Snyder. It is a must for Batman fans, and while it is not a great jumping on point, it sets up the new Rebirth storyline well.

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

Saturday, September 10, 2016

An Interesting Week aka More Rain

This was another week that saw some interesting weather impacting the kids' activities.

Lexi had two tennis matches (an invitational was rained out). She played 3rd singles in the first one, and lost. However, she was very excited and felt that playing singles helped her improve. She also played a doubles exhibition match that day, and won. In the next meet, she played 1st doubles, and she and her partner won. At this point, I have no idea how the team overall is doing, but Lexi is getting better everytime out, and is seeing success fairly consistently. She has a match or two this coming week. The football games she cheers at were canceled due to weather, but there will be another this week.

Cami had her first fall softball game. Her team lost, but she did get a hit. I'm not sure if she had any fielding chances (Griffin had practice at the same time). Today, she participated in the fall softball clinic, with an eye on improving her hitting. She has a game (maybe two) next Saturday.

Griffin's team lost their game, after a rain-shortened week of practice. He played a series on defense and was involved in making a couple of tackles. Offensively, this was a rough game, as there was very little success as a team. This week he has two games (one a weather make up): Wednesday and Saturday. We are hopeful for a better showing.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

EVERAFTER: FROM THE PAGES OF FABLES #1 by Dave Justus & Matthew Sturges, Travis Moore, Micheal Wiggam, Todd Klein - Book Review

From the publisher: From the team that brought you FABLES: THE WOLF AMONG US comes a new chapter of the FABLES legacy! In a post-Fables world where magic abounds, it can be wielded for the greater good or used to plant the seeds of anarchy and terrorism. The Shadow Players are a global network of agents—both Fable and mundane—tasked with policing a newly enchanted world and protecting humanity from itself. EVERAFTER features the return of series favorites Bo Peep, Peter Piper, Hansel, and Connor Wolf, as well as exciting new characters and a terrifying new villain! Written by FABLES: THE WOLF AMONG US veterans Matthew Sturges and Dave Justus with gorgeous art by Travis Moore (Fables: The Wolf Among Us, JLA All Stars), you won’t want to miss this series that FABLES creator Bill Willingham himself told us we had to get into your hands as quickly as possible!

Dave Justus and Matthew Sturges have done a spectacular job with Everafter: From the Pages of Fables #1. Following on the heels of the events in the final arc of Fables, Everafter picks up with a group of Fables who remained in the mundane world. They have formed a group called the Shadow Players, and are tasked with protecting the world from "new" fables and magic, formed from our new stories.

In this opening to the Pandora Protocol, we find Hansel, Bo Peep, and Peter Piper in the midst of tracking down a dangerous new "package". Meanwhile, Connor Wolf, son of Bigby Wolf and Snow White, has joined the Shadow Players, anxious to use his abilities for good and to find adventure. This opening chapter does a fine job of introducing the main players and setting the stage for the rest of the arc, and future stories still to come.

I was a huge fan of the original Fables series, and Everafter seems to be hitting the same sweet spot. However, instead of the struggle between the various Fable factions, now we get more of a James Bond/Mission Impossible-type story. I'm really looking forward to future installments, and highly recommend this new book. Sturges and Justus have stepped in to a much-beloved world and seem to know exactly how to recapture the magic.

Pick this up if you were a fan of Fables, or you're looking for a twist on the super-spy, action-adventure genre.

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

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Lull In-Between Events

While none of the kids have events during Memorial Day weekend, we had plenty last week.

First off, Cami got 1/2 an inning in before lightning started. She has yet to play a game of fall softball, but we've got a reschedule for this Tuesday, which adds to the regular game this Saturday, along with practice. Should be a full week, weather permitting.

Griffin's football game was also on Tuesday, and actually was called with 4 minutes left due to the lightning. At that point, we were up 28-12. Griffin blocked much better this week and scored a 2-pt conversion that was so open he could have run the entire length of the field. Griffin also got to play defense, which made him happy. He was involved in a few tackles, and showed more aggressiveness. We're back at it on Saturday.

Lexi had 3 tennis matches, and unfortunately, she and her partner lost all three. However, Lexi was able to play a singles exhibition match, and won. She showed much improvement during that match, and the doubles match earlier that afternoon. She used both forehand and backhand strokes effectively, which she had not been doing. I actually like her playing singles better, because it forces her to move around the court more. She also tried to go to the football game and cheer after one match, but as with the twins, by the time Lexi was able to get there, the game had been called due to the lightning.

We are hopeful for better weather this week, allowing the kids to compete in their activities.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Batgirl Vol. 3: Mindfields by Cameron Stewart - Book Review

From the publisher: THE BATTLE FOR BURNSIDE IS ON!

She rides a cool motorcycle, swings a mean right hook, and has backup from the best crime-fighters in the biz, but Batgirl's greatest weapon has always been her mind. As the brilliant Barbara Gordon, she's on the verge of a tech breakthrough that could transform her beloved Burnside neighborhood, and all of Gotham City to boot—though if it falls into the wrong hands, it could just as easily devastate them.

But how can Batgirl stop a hacker who can break into her brain itself?

A sinister figure has been haunting Batgirl's nightmares and stealing all her secrets, from her high-tech innovations to her hidden identity. And he'll use that knowledge to destroy her forever.

Now Batgirl must assemble a band of her best friends and closest allies—including Spoiler, Black Canary, Batwing and more—to stop the most dangerous enemy she's ever known, or Burnside and the entire Bat-family will burn…

It all comes down to this! The revolutionary creative team of Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, and Babs Tarr bring the saga of the Batgirl of Burnside to a close in BATGIRL VOL. 3: MINDFIELDS. Be there for the shocking climax to one of the greatest Batgirl stories ever told! 

Collects BATGIRL #46-52.

Cameron Stewart's Batgirl Vol. 3: Mindfields wraps up the New 52 Batgirl story and her time in Burnside, a neighborhood of Gotham. This last volume relates Barbara Gordon's confrontation with The Fugue and a final run-in with the terrorist group Gladius and their commander.

The Fugue is a pretty creative villain concept. He is able to hack people's memories and plant or remove anything he wishes. What makes him a good villain for Batgirl is the fact that Barbara Gordon has an eidetic memory. She literally remembers everything, and uses that as one of her chief weapons in her war on crime. With a computerized implant in her spine enabling her to walk (she had been paralyzed), she is particularly at risk to memory manipulation. After all, when you've always been able to rely absolutely on your memory, what can you believe when you find it's been messed with?

The arc with Gladius was okay, but more than anything, it seemed to serve as a wrap-up to this Burnside storyline. Gladius, and the commander, as suitable villains, but the real star(s) of this story are all Batgirl's friends: Operator, Black Canary, Spoiler, and Bluebird. These heroes form Batgirl's own little version of Batman's extended Bat-Family. The developing relationships among these characters offer some nice potential storylines in the future. At the conclusion of Vol. 3, Barbara Gordon makes a decision that ends this run appropriately while also setting the stage for whatever direction the character is taken after the DC Rebirth event.

Additionally, Batgirl Vol. 3 includes the Batgirl story from the Joker: Endgame story arc, for the Batgirl fans who may not have read the collected version of the Joker story.

Overall, Cameron Stewart has done a fine job. Batgirl showcased a different type of comic storytelling that was unique from most books. Batgirl Vol. 3: Mindfields is recommended to fans of this fun book, as both a natural conclusion to this particular story, and as a jumping off point for the future.

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

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Weather Interference

It has been a heck of a week, weather-wise. Lexi was able to get one tennis match in, which she and her partner won, 8-2. It was a tighter match than the previous two, but the competition was good for the girls. Wednesday's match was postponed/canceled due to tornadoes in the area. She did get to cheer for the middle school games, though, and even saw some church friends who attend the opponent.

Griffin's football game was canceled due to flooded fields. Like the others, Cami's first fall softball game was canceled due to flooded fields. It rained a ton here this week, and continued today.

Hopefully the weather will cooperate this week, as all of the kids' activities take place during the week with Labor Day weekend coming up.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A&A: The Adventures of Archer & Armstrong Volume 1: In the Bag by Rafer Roberts - Book Review

From the publisher: GET SMASHED... OR BE SMASHED! Meet Armstrong: Since the ancient city of Ur, this immortal adventurer has spent the last 7,000 years drinking and carousing his way through history alongside some of the greatest merrymakers the world has ever known. Meet Archer: A sheltered teenage martial arts master and expert marksman that was raised for a single purpose - to kill the devil incarnate. Little did he know that this undying evil was actually Armstrong (he's actually a pretty good guy... once you get to know him) and, since hitting the road together, the two have become great friends and even better partners. Now: Archer is about to set off on his most dangerous mission yet - a quest into the mystic reaches of Armstrong's bottomless satchel to liberate his friend and comrade from the clutches of the mad god Bacchus! (Okay, so, Armstrong went into the satchel himself to get a bottle of whiskey that he kinda misplaced and got stuck. It's like the Amazon warehouse of arcane treasures in there... and he doesn't exactly have a maid service.) Imprisoned in Armstrong's satchel for centuries, Bacchus now commands a legion of monsters, goblins and golems bent on escaping back into the world of man and enacting revenge on their captor... Can Archer single-handedly combat the godly embodiment of intoxication himself - and rescue his best buddy - without becoming lost amongst Armstrong's endless repository of bizarre artifacts and historical oddities in the process? From red-hot rising star Rafer Roberts (Plastic Farm) and superstar artist David Lafuente (Ultimate Spider-Man), Valiant's next blockbuster series starts here! Collecting A&A: THE ADVENTURES OF ARCHER & ARMSTRONG #1-4.

Archer and Armstrong Vol. 1: In The Bag, by Rafer Roberts, is a big, loud, buddy comedy adventure. Armstrong is a near immortal from ancient times. He is all about good times, and occasionally fighting evil. Archer was raised by a parents who were members of a cult. They raised him to assassinate the ultimate evil, aka Armstrong. Through a number of circumstances, they became friends and companions.

In this current book, Armstrong finds out that an old friend (whom he had wronged) has died. Armstrong decides to make things right with the widow, which sends him on a search for an important item that he stored in his bottomless satchel. When he doesn't return, Archer calls on his adopted sister, Mary-Maria, for help. However, she doesn't like Archer, and she runs a group of assassin nuns. Meanwhile, the god Bacchus, who was captured and put in the satchel by Armstrong, begins to exact his revenge. Yes, it's just as crazy and wild as the summary sounds.

So, the story was decent. It had humorous moments, particularly between the hedonistic Armstrong and the naive Archer. There are quips, fights, character moments, and a giant Greek god of parties. Roberts does a fine job of telling the story, and it is entertaining in its way.

While this isn't really my type of book, I would recommend Archer & Armstrong Vol. 1: In The Bag to fans of the previous series and to those who enjoy buddy/comedy/action tales with a bit of raunchiness.

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

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Weekly Family Update

This week brought more activities to the Knight household. Lexi had two tennis matches (with a third rained out). She is playing 1st doubles, and she and her partner won both of their matches 8-0. It is clear that Lexi has improved from last year, and it's cool that she is playing in matches that count now, rather than exhibition matches. Also, her team won both meets. To add to her schedule, she cheered at a football game after one of the matches.

Griffin's team lost 12-0. It was a tough game, and a bit of a step back. Griffin didn't carry the ball this week (a couple times his play was called, but stuff happened), but his blocking was pretty good. Also, no defense, as very few boys play both ways, unless there are problems or a big lead. He did recover a bad kick while playing kick-off return, though. We're looking forward to a good week of practice and a better overall game next Saturday.

Cami starts fall softball tomorrow. She has games on Saturdays, with a clinic from a former varsity coach thrown in one weekend as well (Trisha helped set that one up!). Cami is excited because she has a bunch of friends on her team, and her coach is a good guy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Nightwing #3 by Tim Seeley - Book Review

From the publisher: “Better than Batman” part three! Nightwing and Raptor have become the pride of the Parliament of Owls, successfully completing missions for them across the globe—but Batgirl is not happy. Can she convince Nightwing he’s gone too far, or has he fallen too far under Raptor’s influence?

In Nightwing #3, Tim Seeley drops Nightwing and Raptor in the middle of a mission to secure blueprints for the Parliament of Owls. To find them, they must successfully navigate the Maze House of Knute Ruud, the man who designed the base of the Parliament. As they prepare to enter, Batgirl shows up, angry and suspicious of Raptor.  As they make their way through the maze, loyalty is questioned and plans are revealed.

I've got to say, its nice to see Dick Grayson back in his Nightwing guise. As cool as his spying for Spyral was, he is at heart a hero, and being Nightwing lets that happen. In addition, Raptor's constant suggestions that Dick is just another Batman are causing Dick to reevaluate who he is and what he is. Batgirl also acts as a moral compass of sorts, and adds a bit of humor as well. It's nice to see the Parliament of Owls returning to play a major role again. They are a wonderful group to act as villains, and their machinations are truly deep and devious.

While Nightwing #3 is its own adventure, it is also part of a larger arc, "Better than Batman". It can be read and enjoyed on its own, and I give it a high recommendation, but it will be best understood in the context of the larger story.

Tim Seeley is continuing to write fun, adventurous stories with Dick Grayson/Nightwing and is constantly evolving the character. This is a series that should be read by any Bat-family fans and those who like a little humor to their heroes.

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

JUSTICE LEAGUE #3 by Bryan Hitch - Book Review

From the publisher: “The Extinction Machine” part three! The hive-mind entities known as the Awakened take their vendetta against the Justice League to the next level by changing ordinary people into grotesque monsters bent on hunting down super-humans all over the world. Meanwhile, Superman journeys to the center of the earth to stop the catastrophic quakes that are taking lives all over the world.

-Minor Spoilers-

Justice League #3 is Bryan Hitch ramping up the crazy. The various members of the Justice League are dealing with a world-sized threat known as "The Kindred". Exactly what they are and what they are doing is unclear. However, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, and the rest are doing their best to stop The Kindred before they can enact whatever plan they have. As the team splits up, the circumstances look grim.

This issue of Justice League does not stand on its own. Having missed the first two issues, I found myself at a loss as to the larger picture of what was going on. I think the concept of The Kindred is fascinating, and I'm curious as to how "The Extinction Machine" story line is going to be resolved. I'll definitely be looking to read the issues I missed.

Additionally, this story, both at the issue level and the arc level, looks to be a huge threat (it reminded me of another book Hitch worked on, Stormwatch). The Justice League was formed to deal with situations that put the world at risk, and The Kindred appear to be just such a threat. They are challenging the heroes on every level.

In the midst of overwhelming challenge, there is a small personal interaction with Superman and Lois, their son Jon, and Batman. My favorite scene was Jon offering Batman cookies. Just a little piece of perfection.

I would definitely recommend Justice League #3, but it is not a good place to jump in to the story. Bryan Hitch has got big things going, and it looks well worth reading.

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