ANNOUNCEMENT
After a lot of thought, I've decided to take a break from blogging for the foreseeable future. With my little C creeping its way back into my life and possible long term treatment now, I need to take a couple of things off my plate for the time being, and the blog is going to be one of those things. As it is, it felt like it was becoming more of a chore than anything else. I need my reading time to be more enjoyable right now, more of the escape that I really need, and what I don't need is the little voice in the back of my head telling me how many reviews I'm behind and trying to come up with what I need to say about the book.

I simply want to read.

I'll more than likely occasionally post on here what I've been reading, and if there is something that really blows my mind, I'll probably have more to say about it and may write up a proper post, but for right now, things are going to be very quiet around here.

As always, happy reading!
2017 edit
I will continue to blog according to my health and ability, and connecting my posts thru Goodreads, so please be patient if things get quiet around here again this year.


2017 edit #2
I am happy to report that my bone marrow transplant was a success and that I'm feeling more like myself everyday. That said, I'm going to try to start blogging a little more frequently, but please bear with me as I still continue to recover.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: The Fall by Guillermo del Toro & Paul Hogan


My "can't-wait-to-read" selection for this week is:

The Fall by Guillermo del Toro & Paul Hogan

I read the first installment in this trilogy, The Strain, last year. It's rare for a book to make me uncomfortable, but this one did. It's just so damned creepy! I've been anxiously awaiting this second installment!

Product Description:
The second in the New York Times bestselling trilogy that began with The Strain-about an invasion of vampires-by one of Hollywood's most popular and imaginative storytellers, the creator of the Oscar-winning Pan's Labyrinth.

The vampiric virus unleashed in The Strain has taken over New York City. It is spreading across the country and soon, the world. Amid the chaos, Eph Goodweather, head of the CDC's team and one of a small group who have banded together to fight the bloodthirsty monsters that roam the streets, finally manages to identify the parasite that causes the infection. But it may be too late.

Ignited by the Master's horrific plan, a war erupts between Old and New World Vampires, each side vying for control of the planet. As the virus continues to plague the land, humans find themselves caught in the middle of the conflict . . . and at the bottom of the food chain. They are no longer the consumers, but the consumed.

At the same time, the battle finds its way inside Eph's own home: his ex-wife, Kelly, who was turned by the Master, has her sights fixed on Zack, Eph's son.

With the future of the world in the balance, Eph and his team of fighters must use all their skills and Holocaust survivor and former professor Abraham Setrakian's intimate knowledge of the enemy to combat a terror whose ultimate plan is more terrible than the humans at first imagined-a fate worse than annihilation.


The Fall will be released on September 21, 2010 from HarperCollins. It's not available yet on Amazon, but B&N has it on preorder.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

57. X-Men Legacy: Salvage by Mike Carey, illustrated by Phil Briones & Scot Eaton

#57

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Title: X-Men Legacy: Salvage
Related Series: X-Men
Authors: Mike Carey, illustrated by Phil Briones & Scot Eaton
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 168
ISBN: 9780785141730
Publisher: Marvel
Twitter: @marvel
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 6-26-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Graphic novel category)

From Amazon:
It's the moment that X-Fans have been waiting for - Rogue makes her return to the X-Books. But while Xavier seeks out Rogue, who is searching for him? Hunter becomes hunted and friend becomes foe, in a story that will change your favorite Southern Belle forever. Plus: Professor X's odyssey brings him full circle as he answers a call from the Acolytes. But what do they want? Revenge? Or a new leader? Xavier's LEGACY journey ends here, and it's a doozie Collects X-Men: Legacy #219-225

OK, so I don't know exactly where Legacy is going these days. It only seems to be around as a series to revise and sort out all the side stories that have been dangling around in the X-universe for years. Sorting out Professor X. Mr. Sinister. Wolverine and Daken. Now Rogue and Danger. Don't get me wrong, it's good that these plots are finally being dealt with, but it just seems like they are rushing through all of them right now so that they can finally start integrating Legacy back into the mainstream stories. Which is fine. It looks like Legacy will be involved with the Utopia crossover, which is good, since it will seem like the series actually has some direction again.

56. Uncanny X-Men: Sisterhood by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Greg Land, Terry Dodson & Yanick Paquette

#56

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Title: Uncanny X-Men: Sisterhood
Related Series: X-Men
Authors: Matt Fraction, illustrated by Greg Land, Terry Dodson & Yanick Paquette
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 144
ISBN: 9780785141051
Publisher: Marvel
Twitter: @marvel
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 6-26-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Graphic novel category)

From Amazon:
The X-Men get up to the delicate art of living as the Sisterhood plan their imminent demise. The Science Team gets to work, trying very hard not to kill one another first. Simon Trask gains traction in the California state legislature, muscling "Proposition X" to an emergency ballot vote. If it passes, mutants past and present, powered and otherwise, won't be allowed to breed. All this, and a friend returns as a foe and ready for murder! Oh, things are getting ugly... Collects Uncanny X-Men #508-512.

I'm becoming more and more impressed with Matt Fraction as the current writer on Uncanny. His writing reminds me of Joss Whedon's work on Astonishing, where the story seems more character-driven, with the big action happening, but more in the background. Yet the plot doesn't ever seem to suffer at the expense of the characters. It's all the a realy great balance of storytelling.

We finally find out what Madeleine Pryor, the Red Queen, has been up to these last couple of issues, but we don't find out why. It seems that she can bring people back from the grave with the help of her Sisterhood, a group of female villains that she brought together to help her achieve her means. When her ultimate objective is finally revealed, I felt a little lost, because there is no real explanation as to its cause, but maybe that's a story for another time.

I particularly enjoyed the X-Club's jaunt into the past, a past that seems to be heavily steampunk influenced, in search of possible answers to the reactivation of the X-gene. We even get our first glimpse at the first (steampunk) Sentinel!

A nice little addition to the current story, tying up several threads and leaving just enough to whet the appetite for the upcoming Utopia event.

Oh, and Greg Land continues to blow me away with his hyper-realistic art. Stunning.

55. X-Men: Original Sin by Mike Carey & Daniel Way, illustrated by Scot Eaton & Mike Deodato

#55

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Title: X-Men: Original Sin
Related Series: X-Men
Authors: Mike Carey & Daniel Way, illustrated by Scot Eaton & Mike Deodato
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 144
ISBN: 9780785129561
Publisher: Marvel
Twitter: @marvel
Format: Paperback
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
Finished: 6-26-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Graphic novel category)

From Amazon:
After his bruising encounter with Cyclops and Emma Frost, Professor X is forced to revisit the biggest challenge and the biggest failure of his career: Logan. But the layers of lies hide one last, deadly secret which goes back to the days of the X-Men's founding - and the Professor's timing couldn't possibly be worse! Collects X-Men: Legacy #217-218, Wolverine: Origins #28-30, and X-Men Original Sin One-Shot.

OK, could there be anything more tiresome than yet another revision to Wolverine's history? Yes, there can be. Yet another Wolverine ripoff character. There have been many attempts at writing/rewriting his history and several attempts at creating characters that can be used to make more Wolverine-ish stories (X-23!), so now Wolverine apparently has a son with the seemingly same powers and seemingly same memory problems and seemingly same berserker rage - but wait! There's a difference! Now, he's a bad guy! to me, this is just a little lazy. It's basically Wolverine all over again. In fact, Wolverine goes to Professor X to try to do the same brainwashing on Daken that Professor X did on Wolverine back in the day, in yet another revision to his past.

The only reason I'm giving this lazy story anything more than 1 star is because the parts around the story are well written and the ending actually didn't go where I thought it was going to go, even though it still ended up paralleling Wolverine's own story a little bit too much.

54. Uncanny X-Men: Lovelorn by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Terry Dodson, Mitch Breitweiser & Danial Acuña

#54

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Title: Uncanny X-Men: Lovelorn
Related Series: X-Men
Authors: Matt Fraction, illustrated by Terry Dodson, Mitch Breitweiser & Danial Acuña
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 136
ISBN: 9780785129998
Publisher: Marvel
Twitter: @marvel
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 6-26-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Graphic novel category)

From Amazon:
In the depths of his heartache over Kitty Pryde, Colossus goes looking for something - anything - to stop his pain... and finds a nightmare from the Old Country running rampant in the States. What's their connection? Elsewhere, Angel and the Beast begin a worldwide quest gathering some of the most unique minds on Earth and run across a hero long thought dormant. Emma checks into a hotel you have to see to believe, while poor Scott sits idly by... oh, and then footage showing the Alaskan Massacre that kicked off Messiah Complex is released to the media. Just another day in the life of the all new, all different X-MEN! Collects Uncanny X-Men #504-507 & Annual #2.

I've seen a lot of varying reviews on this particular volume. Some love it, some hate it, many are "Meh" over it. The reason is, there isn't much in this volume that can stand up as a stand alone volume. This is a "middle-of-the-story" volume, but you can't get from the beginning to the end of a story without something, in the middle right? There is lots going on in the X-Men universe by this time, and in Matt Fraction's stories, this is one of the main tie ins to what's to come. We see more of Madeleine Pryor as the Red Queen; Beast is recruiting his own version of the X-Club to try to figure out the secret to unlocking the X-gene; Colossus is off rescuing kidnaps Russians; and footage of the massacre in Alaska is leaked. But that's all there is in this volume, glimpses of the events leading up to things yet to come and the beginnings of lots and lots of secrets.

The inclusion of Annual #2 is a tie in to the Dark Reign story line moving throughout the rest of the Marvel Universe at this time. It seems to be a bit revisionist (but what isn't, these days?) and it seems a little out of place in the grand scheme of this story, but it does solve one mystery from the early issues in the volume: what was going on with Sebastian Shaw?

53. X-Men: Manifest Destiny by Mike Carey, et al.

#53

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Title: X-Men: Manifest Destiny
Related Series: X-Men
Authors: Mike Carey, et al.
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 200
ISBN: 9780785138181
Publisher: Marvel
Twitter: @marvel
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
Finished: 6-26-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Graphic novel category)

From Amazon:
When you move, you have to take your baggage with you. Joining the rest of the X-Men, Wolverine makes the trek to their new home in San Francisco, California. For much of his life, Logan's past has been a mystery, but now, after regaining his memories, Wolverine has more baggage than he can carry. Upon arriving, Logan goes to the center of San Francisco's legendary Chinatown to resolve a mysterious incident from his past. Although his last visit to the neighborhood was a full 50 years ago, Wolverine isn't the only one who remembers. As another piece of his violent past is unearthed, the mutant finds himself facing off against the deadly Black Dragon Death Squad! Collects Wolverine: Manifest Destiny #1-4, X-Men Manifest Destiny: Nightcrawler #1, and X-Men: Manifest Destiny #1-5 (Iceman, Nightcrawler, Boom-Boom, and Avalanche)

This is a collection of non-related stories that deal with the X-Men moving to San Francisco, and how some of them are adjusting to the move. I don't think there is anything in this volume that would be missed if it was to be skipped if you are reading through the current story lines. Not a necessary volume at all, in my eyes. This may sound harsh, but the best part for me about this volume is the Michael Turner cover.

52. A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon

#52

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Title: A Spot of Bother
Author: Mark Haddon
Copyright: 2006
Pages: 354
ISBN: 9780385520515
Publisher: Doubleday
Author Website: www.markhaddon.com
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Finished: 6-21-10
Challenge: 100 Books, 1010 Challenge (Fiction category), TIOLI (June - A book with a problem in the title)

From Amazon:
George Hall is an unobtrusive man. A little distant, perhaps, a little cautious, not at quite at ease with the emotional demands of fatherhood, or manly bonhomie. He does not understand the modern obsession with talking about everything. “The secret of contentment, George felt, lay in ignoring many things completely.” Some things in life, however, cannot be ignored.

At 61, George is settling down to a comfortable retirement, building a shed in his garden, reading historical novels and listening to a bit of light jazz. Then his tempestuous daughter, Katie, announces that she is getting re-married, to the deeply inappropriate Ray. Her family is not pleased – as her brother Jamie observes, Ray has “strangler’s hands.” Katie can’t decide if she loves Ray, or loves the wonderful way he has with her son Jacob, and her mother Jean is a bit put out by all the planning and arguing the wedding has occasioned, which get in the way of her quite fulfilling late-life affair with one of her husband’s ex-colleagues. And the tidy and pleasant life Jamie has created crumbles when he fails to invite his lover, Tony, to the dreaded nuptials.

Unnoticed in the uproar, George discovers a sinister lesion on his hip, and quietly begins to lose his mind.

The way these damaged people fall apart – and come together – as a family is the true subject of Haddon’s disturbing yet amusing portrait of a dignified man trying to go insane politely.

A Spot of Bother is Mark Haddon’s unforgettable follow-up to the internationally beloved bestseller The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Here the madness – literally – of family life proves rich comic fodder for Haddon’s crackling prose and bittersweet insights into misdirected love.

I think Mark Haddon may be becoming one of my favorite authors. I read TCIOTDITNT a couple of years ago and just loved it. Shortly thereafter, I found a copy of A Spot of Bother at a library sale and picked it up, and regret to say that it has taken it this long for me to take if off my bookshelf to read it, but that's to the TIOLI Challenge, I finally worked my way around to it. And loved it. And can't wait to read more Mark Haddon.

Haddon's way of taking something that would probably be either ignored or looked upon uneasily because it should be a subject best left alone is amazing (in TCIOTDITNT, it is Christopher and his Asperger syndrome, in ASOB, it's George and his insanity). What's more amazing to me is how he can create a story that is both unsettling-ly funny and deceptively touching out of something that by all rights should be uncomfortable. To me, this speaks volumes about his ability as an author.

George's slow yet steady fall into madness is the base ingredient for the story, but it's the cast of characters and situations that surround George that really add the spice to the story. His wife, Jean, who is having an affair with his ex-coworker David. His daughter Katie, and her on-again-off-again fiancé Ray and her son from her first marriage, Jacob. His son Jaimie, and his boyfriend, Tony. All these characters come and go through the pages of George's story, all trying to deal with their own lives and issues while all are slowly piecing together the possibility that George may in fact be losing his mind.

It's a darkly comic story that I couldn't put down. Haddon seems to have a way with this stories like this, because the same thing happened with TCIOTDITNT; once I let the story pick me up, it wasn't going to let me go until I'd finished the book. Recommended, especially if you enjoyed TCIOTDITNT.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

51. Uncanny X-Men: Manifest Destiny by Matt Fraction & Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Greg Land & Terry Dodson

#51

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Title: Uncanny X-Men: Manifest Destiny
Related Series: X-Men
Authors: Matt Fraction & Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Greg Land & Terry Dodson
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 208
ISBN: 9780785138174
Publisher: Marvel
Twitter: @marvel
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 6-17-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Graphic novel category)

From Amazon:
Go west, young mutants! Following the events of Messiah CompleX, the X-Men are heading west, founding a new home for themselves and all mutants in a place known for its tolerance: San Francisco, California. Shortly after their arrival, however, the X-Men find themselves tangling with Magneto and fighting down the robotic, mutant-killing Sentinels. And as if that wasn't enough, Pixie, one of the youngest members of the team, learns just how dangerous bigotry is when she's confronted by the all-new Hellfire Cult. Collects Uncanny X-Men #500-503, X-Men FCBD #1, and X-Men: Manifest Destiny #1-5 (Dazzler, Karma, Mercury/X-23, Colossus, Emma Frost, Graymalkin, and Juggernaut)

This was a great kick off to a new chapter in the X-Men story. After basing their operations out of NYC almost exclusively for decades, the X-Men are moving to the west coast after the destruction of the mansion, and are setting up shop in San Francisco. They build themselves a new home there in abandoned military outposts around the city, and open their doors to all mutants, both active and former, who seek refuge there. Magneto shows up, mysteriously re-powered, and helps the High Evolutionary collect technology from the Dreaming Celestial, to a purpose that as yet seems to be a mystery.

Greg Land and Terry Dodson's art is amazing; both artists have such a dynamic style each to their own, and their storytelling is really good. Sometimes it's hard to follow what an artist is trying to illustrate, but not with these two. They are two of the best artists working on the X-Men in a while. I'm anxious to see where Matt Fraction is going to take these characters in the future.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Neil Gaiman wins the Carnegie Medal for The Graveyard Book

Congratulations to Neil Gaiman on winning the Carnegie Medal for The Graveyard Book. Here's an interview with him from Borders.

Neil Gaiman | Borders Media

Thursday, June 24, 2010

50. Cable, Vol 1: Messiah War by Duane Swierczynski, illustrated by Ariel Olivetti

#50

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Title: Cable, Vol 1: Messiah War
Related Series: X-Men
Authors: Duane Swierczynski, illustrated by Ariel Olivetti
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 128
ISBN: 9780785129721
Publisher: Marvel
Twitter: @marvel
Format: Paperback
Rating: 3/5 stars
Finished: 6-17-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Graphic novel category)

From Amazon:
Is she mutantkind's last hope... or its final damnation? Cable, the former mercenary and time-traveling X-Man, is given the task of protecting the last offspring of the dying mutant race, but by ensuring her survival, he may also guarantee its extinction. Bishop, the cop from the future and traitor to the X-Men, stalks Cable and the infant in the lawless New Jersey of 2043, determined that the nightmare future he grew up in must never come to pass. Now, aided by an old ally, Cable must decide if he should continue running or face Bishop, while bringing hope to a hopeless land. Crime novelist Duane Swierczynski (Moon Knight: Annual #1) and artist Ariel Olivetti (Punisher War Journal) team-up to put a new twist on a beloved X-Men mainstay, as Cable must balance hard-edged soldier with nurturing father. Collects Cable #1-5.

So, I can imagine that quite a few people will give me crap about reading comics and graphic novels. I'm sure every time one of these posts rolls across on my FB wall or even on my LT thread, there are going to be some that roll their eyes, mumbling something under their breath about comics being for kid and move on. And, you know what? I'm OK with that, because they are missing out on some just plain fun reading.

Like any story-telling medium, there are going to be highs and lows in the story, but when you're working with 40+ years of history behind you, it's just bound to happen. The X-Men have been around since 1963, so there is quite a bit of history and back story that each new creative team needs to try to stay true too, while infusing their own particular brand of creativity into the characters. In most cases, this is what keeps the story and characters fresh. In the case of the stories going on right now within the X-Men titles, there has been a fairly significant event (if you frequent this blog, it's the oft-mentioned Messiah Complex), and even in that one event, you can get highs and lows in the story and its spin off series. However, in some cases, even the lows need to be read and appreciated because they may have repercussions on the overall story that may make their worth more significant in the long run than what the immediate story provides.

This new Cable series is one of those cases. I didn't feel like the story really had any merit other than setting up a larger arena for the story to play out in later. I'm a little behind on some of these side series, but am still somewhat familiar with what is happening in the current stories, so I know that what is happening here may not seem all that interesting, but farther down the road, these stories may mean more.

Cable escapes into the future with the mutant child born during Messiah Complex, to keep her alive since Bishop seems hell bent on killing her, as he sees her as the cause of his alternate reality, while Cable and the rest of the X-Men see her as the beginning of the future for them. Bishop follows Cable, and through some rather too convenient circumstances, tracks Cable and the child to the New Jersey of 2043, and confronts them, trying to kill both. Cable, after several issues of trying to travel back in time even though he seems unable to, finally figures out that he can still forward in time, and jumps just in the nick of time, leaving Bishop behind and having to start his search all over again. So basically, I felt that we arrived right back at the beginning of the story again, just with Cable and the child farther into the future. Did this seem worth it right now? Not really. Will there be some significance to the events in this volume that will be important in later stories? Possibly. And that's why I'm willing to give it a chance into the next volume. It's like putting the pieces of a puzzle together, and you don't always know when one piece that has been eluding you is finally going to come together with the larger picture.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Literature Map

Can't figure out what to read next? Just type in the name of your favorite author and see who comes up!

W...W...W... Wednesdays 23 VI 2010


To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading? Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey

What did you recently finish reading? A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon

• What do you think you’ll read next? Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Waiting on Wednesday: The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that are eagerly anticipated.

My "can't-wait-to-read" selection for this week is:

The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman

I just discovered this book this morning through Shelf Awareness and it sounds like something that would be just right for me. You can read a review here: Children's Review: The Grimm Legacy.

From Amazon:
Elizabeth has a new job at an unusual library— a lending library of objects, not books. In a secret room in the basement lies the Grimm Collection. That’s where the librarians lock away powerful items straight out of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales: seven-league boots, a table that produces a feast at the blink of an eye, Snow White’s stepmother’s sinister mirror that talks in riddles.

When the magical objects start to disappear, Elizabeth embarks on a dangerous quest to catch the thief before she can be accused of the crime—or captured by the thief.

Polly Shulman has created a contemporary fantasy with a fascinating setting and premise, starring an ordinary girl whose after-school job is far from ordinary— and leads to a world of excitement, romance and magical intrigue.


The Grimm Legacy will be released on July 8, 2010 from Putnam Juvenile.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Movies: Prequel to Oz

Not sure how I feel about this, but you know I'm going to go see it.

Movies: Prequel to Oz

49. X-Men Legacy: Sins of the Father by Mike Carey, illustrated by Scot Eaton

#49

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Title: X-Men Legacy: Sins of the Father
Related Series: X-Men
Authors: Mike Carey, illustrated by Scot Eaton
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 168
ISBN: 9780785130024
Publisher: Marvel
Twitter: @marvel
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Finished: 6-13-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Graphic novel category)

From Amazon:
Xavier traces his history and the history of the X-Men to the core. What he finds will shock you! And what do Rogue, Gambit, and Sebastian Shaw have to do with it? Then, Sinister's machinations finally come to a head, after decades of preparations. Can Xavier discover the secrets to the plot against his mind before he loses his sanity? Or will he become another in a long line of victims? Either way, he just may learn things about his past he'll come to regret! Guest starring Sebastian Shaw and the deadliest gator in the swamp, Gambit! Collects X-Men: Legacy #213-216.

Alas, we go right from one story that is decent to one that is mediocre, more or less. I'm not exactly sure what the point of the story was other than to bring Sinister back into the story for the umpteenth time (and people complain about Jean Grey coming back...). Anyway, I'm sure there is going to be a point to the "shocking" reveal at the end of the volume, but for right now, it left me wanting something more. The art was decent, and really, the story wasn't bad (although a little disjointed in sections) but I'm really hoping it's leading up to something better. And for anybody interested, I think you can safely skip the follow up stories. I think these were placed here just to fill up space.

Monday, June 14, 2010

48. X-Men Legacy: Divided He Stands by Mike Carey, illustrated by Scot Eaton, John Romita Jr & Billy Tan

#48

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Title: X-Men Legacy: Divided He Stands
Related Series: X-Men
Authors: Mike Carey, illustrated by Scot Eaton, John Romita Jr & Billy Tan
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 120
ISBN: 9780785130000
Publisher: Marvel
Twitter: @marvel
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 6-12-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Graphic novel category)

From Amazon:
In the wake of Messiah CompleX, there are no X-Men and mutantkind still lies in ruin. With Magneto depowered and Xavier gravely injured, it seems their reign as the preeminent mutants has ended. But neither of these old soldiers is willing to go gentle into that good night! Fresh off a groundbreaking run on Messiah CompleX, writer Mike Carey takes on mutantkind's most iconic figures, as well as some of the most important moments in X-Men history. Collecting X-Men Legacy #208-212.

Spoiler Alert!
After the events of Messiah CompleX, Professor X is trying to piece his life back together, literally. After being shot in the head by Bishop, Xavier's body is taken by the Acolytes and Exodus repairs the damage to his brain, but isn't able to reconstruct all the memories in his head, so Xavier then goes on a mission to meet up with people from his past so that he can read their memories of him and try to reconstruct his life, even though he doesn't necessarily like the person that he was.

Overall, not a bad story. I actually enjoyed this Messiah CompleX follow up story a little more than the story running concurrently over in Uncanny X-Men. The use of different artists when they were jumping back and forth between flashbacks and now was a nice touch.

Friday, June 11, 2010

47. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, adapted by Eric Shanower and illustrated by Skottie Young

#47

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Title: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Related Series: Marvel adaptations of Oz
Authors: L. Frank Baum, adapted by Eric Shanower and illustrated by Skottie Young
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 192
ISBN: 9780785129219
Publisher: Marvel
Artist Website: www.skottieyoung.com
Twitter: @marvel, @skottieyoung
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 5-23-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Graphic novel category)

From Amazon:
The premiere American fantasy adventure gets the Merry Marvel treatment! Eisner Award-winning writer/artist Eric Shanower (Age of Bronze) teams up with fan-favorite artist Skottie Young (New X-Men) to bring L. Frank Baum's beloved classic to life! When Kansas farm girl Dorothy flies away to the magical Land of Oz, she fatally flattens a Wicked Witch, liberates a living Scarecrow and is hailed by the Munchkin people as a great sorceress... but all she really wants to know is: how does she get home?

OK, so I'm not going to go into the story here, as I think most everyone is a least marginally familiar with Dorothy and her adventures in Oz. What I will say is that Eric Shanower did a fairly decent job adapting L. Frank Baum's story for the sequential art medium, but it's really the art of Skottie Young that makes this book worthwhile. Young's art is fresh and whimsical and just a little creepy and I think he really captures the essence of Oz and its quirky inhabitants perfectly. I don't know that Oz purists will appreciate this volume very much, but as a fan of the original book, I can say that I really enjoyed it.

Recommended.

46. X-Men: Divided We Stand by Mike Carey, et al.

#46

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Title: X-Men: Divided We Stand
Related Series: X-Men
Authors: Mike Carey, et al.
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 136
ISBN: 9780785132653
Publisher: Marvel
Twitter: @marvel
Format: Paperback
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
Finished: 6-6-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Graphic Novel Category)

From Amazon:
In the wake of Messiah CompleX, there are no X-Men. But where does that leave the mutants that were X-Men? Some of the industry's hottest creators bring you stories of your favorite mutants as they make their way in a world without the X-Men. And only those who adapt will survive. Featuring Cannonball, Husk, Nightcrawler, Storm, Black Panther, Neznho, Anole, Beast, Dark Beast, Havok, Vulcan, and Surge! Plus: Guest-starring Cyclops, Wolverine, Colossus and the rest of Marvel's mightiest mutants! This spectacular will usher in a new era for the X-Men! The future of mutantkind starts here!

Just a collection of short stories that don't seem to have any real bearing on the overall story being told. These stories follow up on some of the lesser characters in the X-Titles right now, I guess telling why we won't be seeing most of them in the upcoming collections. If you're following the current X-Men stories and skip this collection, I don't think that you'll be missing a thing.

45. Uncanny X-Men: Divided We Stand by Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Mike Choi & Sonia Oback

#45

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Title: Uncanny X-Men: Divided We Stand
Related Series: X-Men
Authors: Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Mike Choi & Sonia Oback
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 120
ISBN: 9780785119838
Publisher: Marvel
Twitter: @marvel
Format: Paperback
Rating: 3/5 stars
Finished: 6-6-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Graphic Novel Category)

From Amazon:
Reeling from the events of Messiah CompleX, the surviving mutants reassess Xavier's dream amidst the rubble of the mansion. Betrayed by one of their own, and mourning the loss of former allies, is peaceful coexistence still an option? The only thing that's certain is an uncertain future for mutantkind. Is anyone safe in a world without X-Men? Collects Uncanny X-Men #495-499.

Well, needless to say, the very first follow up story to Messiah CompleX didn't quite live up to the appeal of its predecessor. Cyclops has decided to disband the X-Men after the events of Messiah Complex, or has he? Why is he sending some of the X-Men remaining on Earth to San Francisco? And more importantly, why is San Francisco reverting back to the 1960s? And how is this a decent continuation of the great story that was told in Messiah Complex? And what's the point of the story following Wolverine, Colossus and Nightcrawler in Russia?

Unfortunately, after such a great comeback (at least in my eyes) that happened with Messiah CompleX, this collection falls short. Hopefully it's just staging the groundwork for some better stories in a new location (San Fran).

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A summer of brain candy

Get ready, kids. This summer, it's all going to be about brain candy. Just saying.

Barbara Kingsolver Wins Orange Prize

Awards: Orange Prize; German Peace Prize; Prince of Asturias

Top-Selling Titles in Chicagoland Last Week

Top-Selling Titles in Chicagoland Last Week

44. X-Force, Vol 1: Angels & Demons by Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost, illustrated by Clayton Crain

#44

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Title: X-Force, Vol 1: Angels & Demons
Related Series: X-Men
Authors: Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost, illustrated by Clayton Crain
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 144
ISBN: 9780785129769
Publisher: Marvel
Artist Website: claytoncrain.com
Twitter: @marvel
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 6-5-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Graphic novel category)

From Amazon:
There are lines that the X-Men have sworn never to cross. But after the shocking events of Messiah CompleX, Cyclops realizes that some enemies need to be dealt with permanently - and the X-Men can never know about it! Enter Wolverine, Warpath, X-23, and Wolfsbane - X-Force! Collects X-Force 1-6.

A series spin-off from the events of Messiah CompleX, X-Force is the group of X-Men that will cross the lines that the X-Men themselves won't cross. Made up of the best trackers and killers that the X-Men have, X-Force's first mission is to take down the head of the Purifiers, a mission that proves much more difficult than they expect, especially with the unexpected return of Bastion.

A dramatically darker storyline than your normal X-Men story, this volume deserves its "Mature" rating. The themes dealt with in this volume, including the over-the-top body count, definitely makes this a more "adult" X-Men title. Even so, it is a decent spin off from the Messiah CompleX storyline and I'm interested to see where this story goes from here.

43. X-Men: Messiah CompleX by Ed Brubaker, et al.

#43

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Title: X-Men: Messiah CompleX
Related Series: X-Men
Authors: Ed Brubaker, et al.
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 352
ISBN: 9780785128991
Publisher: Marvel
Twitter: @marvel
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 5/5 stars
Finished: 6-5-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Graphic novel category)

From Amazon:
The biggest event to hit the X-Men in ten years is here! Just when it looked like there was no possibility of a future for mutants, hope arrives. But the X-Men aren't there to meet it - the Marauders and Purifiers beat them to it. Now the race is on to get the first new mutant since House of M! Collects X-Men: Messiah CompleX One-Shot, Uncanny X-Men #492-494, X-Men #205-207, New X-Men #44-46, X-Factor #25-27, and X-Men: Messiah CompleX - Mutant Files.

OK, so my interest in the X-Men mythos had been dwindling for some time now, and right up to this collection is about where I began to quit buying the monthly comics. The stories had been lackluster, and even though there seemed to be some potential, it just hadn't quite come through for me. And then came Messiah Complex.

The writers of Messiah Complex finally brought all of the wandering plot threads that had been hanging around for awhile and started to weave them back together into a cohesive and well constructed story. In other words, they sucked me right back in again.

After the events of House of M, there hadn't been a single mutant birth. That changed, however, with the birth of a mutant so powerful that she registered immediately at birth, instead of when her powers would have manifested themselves at puberty. Her birth brought together the Marauders, the Purifiers and the X-Men in a war over her very existence. Almost every X-Team out there joined in for the search for the child, hoping that she is a sign for the continued existence of mutants; the Purifiers consider her the Antichrist and are trying to kill her outright; and Sinister's interest in the child remains a mystery. Overall, a really great story and one that helped to get me interested again in the X-Men mythos.

Highly recommended, but only for X-Men fans.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

42. Under the Dome by Stephen King

#42

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Title: Under the Dome
Author: Stephen King
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 1074
ISBN: 9781439148501
Publisher: Scribner
Website: www.stephenking.com
Twitter: @scribnerbooks
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 5/5 stars
Finished: 5-31-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Fiction category)

From Amazon:
In Stephen King's mesmerizing new novel, a Maine town is subject to the imposition of an impenetrable dome that isolates its citizens from the world.

"Wow," was more or less my singular thought as I read Stephen King's Under the Dome. I was concerned at first that such an ambitious novel (1074 pages!) was going to loose its steam either under the shear number of characters inhabiting it or just by its own bulk of story, but I was wrong on both counts. King navigates his characters through the ten days that the novel spans with both an ease and sense of purpose and urgency that makes the novel at the same time easy to follow and keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat suspenseful!

King doesn't waste any time getting into the meat of his story; the Dome that traps Chester's Mill, a small town in Maine, falls into place about three pages into the story. Anyone unfortunate enough to be on the threshold of the Dome falls victim immediately (for instance, one woman was just reaching out far enough into her garden to lose a hand). Birds fly into the invisible barrier, cars drive into it, people walk into it; one minute the Chester's Mill is going along its day, minding its own small-town business, the next it is cut off, totally and entirely, from the outside world by an impenetrable, invisible barrier that defies all explanation. What follows is a story more of psychological exploration and exploitation than King's more "horror"-based stories.

I really don't want to give away anymore about the story, because I think that it's important for the story to unfold for the reader without much prior knowledge of what's going to happen. But believe me, the story will pick you up and carry you in its tide, sometimes barely leaving you a chance to catch your breath. A lot happens in this story, so there is little time for King to let you calm down before he's throwing the residents of the town and the reader into the next set of problems.

One of the things that did detract from the story for me was the reactions of some of the town's inhabitants. Some of their reactions just seemed so unbelievable (never mind the fact that the town is totally engulfed in an invisible Dome... apparently I have no trouble believing that aspect of the story). The reactions of both those inside and outside the Dome seemed just too extreme at times, but of course, I also think that's the point of the story; how far can people be pushed before they absolutely and totally snap from this reality? And of course, it's also Stephen King we're talking about here. Of course, he is going to take his readers on a wild and strange ride that is just this side of believability, making it just that little bit possible. It's what he does.

To be honest, the ending did leave me a little perplexed. It almost seems to me that King had written this amazing story, and then couldn't himself explain how it all happened. I'm not saying that the ending is a cop out, not at all. It just seemed a little abrupt and didn't really feel like it fit in with the overall presence of the rest of the book. However, it is so overshadowed by the shear grandness of the entire story leading up to it, including the moments leading directly up to the ending that practically left me breathless, that I am able to easily forgive it.

Under the Dome is big, there's no question about that. The story is big, the characters are big, their problem is big, the Dome is big; hell, the actual book is physically big! But don't let that dissuade you from reading it. King has created one hell of a story and once you get lost in Chester's Mill, much like the inhabitants that find themselves trapped under the Dome, you'll find that there isn't much hope of escaping until the very end.

Top-Selling Titles in Chicagoland Last Week

Top-Selling Titles in Chicagoland Last Week

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

41. Strange Maine: True Tales from the Pine Tree State by Michelle Souliere

#41

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Title: Strange Maine: True Tales from the Pine Tree State
Author: Michelle Souliere
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 128
ISBN: 9781596299368
Publisher: The History Press
Website: strangemaine.blogspot.com
Format: Paperback
Rating: 5/5 stars
Finished: 5-31-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10

From Amazon:
Maine is well known as a land of fresh air and clean water, as the home of L.L. Bean and as one of the most popular camping and outdoor recreation destinations in the country. But what lies behind this idyllic facade? Freaks. Weirdos. Unmapped roads. Whispering rocks. Deadening fog. Ghost pirates. Lonely islands. THINGS in the woods. This is the great state of Maine, home of Stephen King, land of the Great Northern Woods and all the mystery that lies within their dark footprint. What better setting than this for tales of strange creatures, murderers, madmen and eccentric hermits? From the "Headless Halloween of 1940" to Colonel Buck's curse, from Bigfoot sightings to the "witch's grave" in a Portland cemetery, writer and illustrator Michelle Souliere brings to life these strange-but-true tales from the Pine Tree State.

My sister is friend's with Michelle, who runs a blog (strangemaine.blogspot.com) and publishes the Strange Maine Gazette, and telling strange but true stories from the state of Maine. When I heard that she had published a book and was having a release party while I was out vacationing in Maine at her store, The Green Hand, I knew I wanted to stop by to pick up a copy.

What a perfectly fun little book! You can tell that Michelle has really done her homework and has thoroughly researched her subjects. Filled with all sorts of stories about the people and places of Maine that make up it's unique and strange history, little stories that you won't find in your generic history books, Michelle has created a one-of-a-kind travelogue to the more interesting aspects of Maine. I'm looking forward to future books and her continued publication of the Strange Maine Gazette.

40. X-Men vs Fantastic Four by Chris Claremont, Stan Lee, et al.

#40

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Title: X-Men vs Fantastic Four
Related Series: X-Men
Authors: Chris Claremont, Stan Lee, et al.
Copyright: 2010 (1965, 1987)
Pages: 136
ISBN: 9780785138075
Publisher: Marvel
Twitter: @marvel
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
Finished: 5-20-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Graphic novel category)

From Amazon:
Old soldiers may fade away, but so do young mutants! On the verge of disintegration, Kitty Pryde seems resigned to her doom - but the X-Men will do anything to save her, even bargain with a worse doom... Doctor Doom! What stunning secret prevents Mr. Fantastic and the Fantastic Four from saving the day instead? Is he terrified of failing because his greatest failure, the fateful rocket flight, might have really been his greatest success? Do the answers all come down to wunderkind Franklin Richards? Plus: the classic tale of the two teams' original face-off in Marvel's early era! Collects Fantastic Four vs. the X-Men #1-4, and Fantastic Four #28.

Not a whole lot to tell here. This was basically an excuse to put out another miniseries to try to make some more money disguised as a loosely written plot to heal Shadowcat from the injuries she incurred during the Mutant Massacre. It all feels a little dated and forced, but it keeps the story moving along from the Mutant Massacre.

Only recommended for diehard X-Men fans. Like me. I'm such a geek sometimes.

Book Brahmin: Nnedi Okorafor

Book Brahmin: Nnedi Okorafor

And for those in the Lansing, MI area, come meet Nnedi Okorafor at Schuler Books in the Eastwood Towne Center tonight at 7pm!