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.