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Danielle's Reading Adventures

Reading is my favorite hobby, hands down. Books are love to me.  I am an avid collector, and paper books will always edge out e-books with me.

Currently reading

Russian in 10 Minutes a Day
Marianna Ilyina, Kamal Bouranov, Kristine K. Kershul
Say It Right in Russian
Clyde Peters
The Blue Fairy Book
Andrew Lang
The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?
F. F. Bruce
Berlitz Russian Phrase Book & CD
Berlitz Publishing Company, Berlitz Publishing Company

The Making of a Villain

 

G.I. Joe: The Fall of G.I. Joe Volume 1G.I. Joe: The Fall of G.I. Joe Volume 1 by Karen Traviss

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This is my first GI Joe comic. I have liked GI Joe since I was a kid and the animated tv show came on with its famous (and I still use it), "...And Knowing is Part of the Battle" saying. I admit that I really checked this out because Baroness is on the cover. Even though she's a bad guy, I find her interesting, and I love her style. Sadly, she is barely in this book.

I think this story is really serious and tackled some intense issues. I didn't mind that, but I didn't think that it really captured the feel of the GI Joe team. I haven't read proceeding volumes (since this is my first one), so I not familiar with the events prior that lead to the team losing people and Duke going off on his own. Also, the fact that the government is about to shut down the GI Joe program.

This story seems focused on the main villain, a young man who went through the Cobra Cadet training but is now joining the Separatist group in his country, believing that Cobra is too moderate and extreme measures are required to win back his company's independence. I think that if I wasn't looking for a GI Joe book and more action, this would have been an interesting dramatic thriller suspense graphic novel. But since I was looking for a GI Joe book, it was disappointing.



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A Gothic Tour

The Poe Estate - Polly Shulman

This is an homage to Gothic fiction lovers aimed at younger readers. I loved that about this book. It's metafiction that takes it even deeper. There is story within a story within a story. I read The Wells Bequest first, which is the science fiction volume of this series. I liked it, but I liked this more because I love Gothic/Classic horror. It's apparent that Shulman does as well. I made a note of all the books she alluded to. Many I had read, but I got ideas for others to look up and read.

The overall concept was well done, and some elements were quite serious for a MG level book. This book deals with death in a very matter-of-fact way. Suki's sister died and her ghost is her protector. Except Kitty is getting to be problematic in her protectiveness, leading to Suki's reputation as being weird, and Suki needs to let her go. Her parents have to move in with a great, great-aunt into a house that is part of her family's strange and tragic history. As Suki gets drawn into an adventure related to her ancestor's tie to the house and interacts with employees from the New York Circulating Repository, she learns that it's important to accept her sister's death and try to move on.

I couldn't give this book higher than 3.5 stars because it is written in too lightweight a fashion. Some serious topics are put out there and there are deeper levels that don't get delved into with this book. I feel that there was a longer book inside of this one that didn't get written. I understand that some things had to be pared down due to format, but I would have liked to see that other book that this book shows potential for turned out. On the good side, I love how multicultural it is, and the fact that all families aren't the same, and that hardworking people experience financial difficulties and lose their homes and jobs. Not because they are lazy, but because of things outside their control. Suki is a strong young girl to go through all of this and keep on going. I had mad respect for her and her family. I cried about her sister and some of the tragic events from her family's past.

I love the metafiction concept. I could read about that for days. I could have spent hours more delving into this interest world that Shulman created. I wish I had 100 more pages of this gem. I will always be a cheerleader for middle grade fiction. While I was somewhat disappointed with this book, I would still recommend it to readers who love classic and Gothic horror.

The 1st Detective Story

Murders in the Rue Morgue & Other Stories (Library Edition)Murders in the Rue Morgue & Other Stories by Edgar Allan Poe

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I checked this audiobook out to celebrate the October Spooky mood. I have been an admirer of Poe since I was a grade school student, and what I've read by him, I've loved. I have been meaning to read more by him, but haven't taken the time. Audiobooks are such a good way to maximize my time because I can listen and do other things, so I grabbed this one. In all honesty, it wasn't very scary or even eerie (with the exception of "The Raven. " I am glad that I did listen to it though. I had never read any of these stories. I could have done without a couple of them, but overall, it was enjoyable, and this four hour audiobook format was a good way to keep me company as I did other things. The narrator's voice was a bit irritating, with a nasally tone that wasn't my favorite. He was good with accents and voices though.

Here are my thoughts on the stories:

"Murders in the Rue Morgue" --I love a good detective story, and this is the first detective story, and that is to be celebrated. I saw a lot of Sherlock Holmes in C. Auguste Dupin and Watson in his anonymous friend. It was a great mystery with a crazy resolution. I never would have guessed. My only issue with it is that it's basically telling and not showing. Dupin seems very pompous in his way of analyzing people, and he seems very self-important. He shows the observant trait of a good detective, which Poe terms ratiocination. I loved the twist on how each witness thought the guttural speaker was a foreigner, but from a place that had never been. In light of the resolution, that was a very nice touch. I give this four stars because it's impressive as the first detective story. I think all the detective fiction readers and writers owe Mr. Poe a great debt.

"The Purloined Letter" --I didn't find this one as impressive as the first. It seemed very simplistic, and there was no real tension. I do give Dupin props for his handy solving of a mystery that had the police stumped, but he's so obnoxiously arrogant about it. Sherlock with some aristocratic French attitude thrown in. 3 stars.

"The Thousand and Second Tale of Scheherazade" --I didn't care much for this, sadly. I love Scheherazade and the Arabian Nights stories, and I don't think this added anything to the mystique of the stories. I felt like it was full of weirdness, way too random, with bizarre diversions in the storytelling, but at the same time, really quite boring. Besides, it ruined the best aspect about the stories, so that was a downer for me. Probably my least favorite story by Poe. 2 stars.

"A Descent into the Maelstrom" --This felt more like a Jack London story than a Poe story. It's good to see that he does venture into straight adventure, no pun intended. I felt it was an average read. It didn't have much of an impact on me, but I didn't dislike it like the previous novel. 2.5 stars.

"The Raven"-- A classic by this author. I love poetry, especially eerie poetry. I admit I don't like overly long poems, so this was a nice length. Long enough to get a reader involved, with a beautiful rhythm to it. Listening to this was a lot of fun. I think I would need to read it, to delve more meaning out of it. It's a bit oblique, in my opinion. 3.5 stars

"Masque of the Red Death" --I really appreciated listening to this. I have seen the movie with Vincent Price and thought it was very clever. It's interesting how they managed to get a full-length movie out of this, since it was very short. I think the tone was nicely Gothic and sinister, and it has an impactful statement about the concept of believing that being wealthy and high status makes one exempt from all ills. And there is something very repugnant about indulging debauchery and hedonism when people are suffering around you. Death finds everyone of us. 4 stars.

Conclusion: Four hours of my life that I can't say I regret. It helped that I was finishing a project for school at the time, so it kept me busy. I would say that one's life is not added to much by "Scheherazade" and "A Descent into the Maelstrom", but I recommend the other stories.




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Ghosts of Japan

Lafcadio Hearn's "The Faceless Ghost" and Other Macabre Tales from Japan: A Graphic Novel - Sean Michael Wilson, Michiru Morikawa

Beautiful art with eerie storytelling. I wish this was a series. I would so keep reading these. I still intend to read the original stories, but this was great as a visual format to some great classic horror I hadn't yet got around to reading except for one very scary story by Hearn I read in an anthology. If you like Japanese horror movies, check out the source material.

1952

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D., Vol. 1: 1952Hellboy and the B.P.R.D., Vol. 1: 1952 by Mike Mignola

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Weird. Yeah, I know that 'weird' is essential to Hellboy. But this was really weird. A hodge podge of horror with science fiction. Hellboy is awesome as always. His team kind of blurs together for me. Good action, but nothing that stood out and made me say wow. Having said that, it's Hellboy, so it's good.



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The Beast Beneath

Kraken Rising: Alex Hunter 6 - Greig Beck

Alex Hunter, the Arcadian, goes back to Antarctica, or at least, beneath it, and faces an old menace. And we, the readers, are along for the ride. This book is as much horror as action. I have always thought as the polar ice caps melt, something will be revealed that we may not want unleashed in the modern world. Pathogens that could wipe out humanity. This book touches on these fears, both at a macro and micro level. The world beneath Antarctica as a whole seemed out to get to the explorers. There are moments in this book that made my skin crawl and made me wince. I didn't read this before bed, but I can imagine it might have given me some night terrors. I do admit to a phobia about infection and pathogenesis.

Alex is a complex character. As much a hero as a man on the brink of psychosis. He received a treatment that saved his life and made him a super-soldier, but has also awakened an Other inside of him that is basically a deranged psychopathic killer. It takes an incredible amount of effort to Alex to surpress that part of himself. Alex had to leave behind his loved ones, including Aimee his ex-lover and the child they made together. But he will have to come out of the dark when they are both in danger.

But a huge problem is that China and United States may start a global thermonuclear war because of the conflict arising from their altercations at the South Pole and a lost US submarine. In order to neutralize this conflict, Alex has to go find that sub. The sub search will put them in the crosshairs of an ancient and powerful beast, a creature of biblical fame, and a species that has adapted over millions of years to its sub-oceanic/sub-Antarctica environment.

This is not the second book in the series, but it's actually fine to read this after Beneath the Dark Ice. Stuff happens in the books before this, but the author does a good job of not letting that be an issue to understanding the events of this book.

The gore factor is fairly high and so is the gross out level. Some of the stuff in this place literally made my skin crawl. I'm a germaphobe, and this has plenty of triggers for folks like me. Like I said, this whole habitat is out to get the humans who trespass. To the environment and its inhabitants, humans are just prey. High body count, so be warned about that as well. I liked all the high tech gadgets. I am not a gun person in real life, but I enjoy reading about hardware in books. There is also plenty of excellent action sequences, of many kinds. Try going man to giant kraken and see how well that turns out for you. Generally not good. And don't think that you can hide from it. Oh no. There's no hiding.

Recommended to readers who like action/adventure with sci-fi horror elements.

Is This The End?

The Punisher Vol. 3: Last Days - Mitch Gerads, Nathan Edmondson

Definitely the darkest book in this series. Very violent and bloody but also with a sense of futility. The Punisher has to ask himself what he's doing and why, and he's placed in the situation of being seen as Public Enemy Number One, when he's just doing what he can to protect society from violent criminals who want to kill and destroy others. The conclusion is a segway that feels odd and not strictly harmonious with the overall story arc of this series. The ending makes me question if this is truly the end for the Punisher. Of course, I'll keep reading these if they make more.

Brave New World

Secret Wars #1 of 8 First Printing - Esad Ribic, Jonathan Hickman

Overall, I wasn't impressed with this graphic novel. The concept was grand and expansive, but ultimately confusing. Maybe a big issue with it is that the Fantastic Four characters are the core of the story. I don't find them that interesting. I thought I would like the idea of an alternative earth created out of necessity, but I didn't much. The world seems very nebulous in its composition, and the story keeps going back to Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic and Victor Von Doom, who is God Doom in this story. I'm not sure what I was reading. I'm not sayin' I'm brilliant, but I like to think I should have been able to dissect what the point of this story was. By and large, it just felt like a wasted opportunity to get so many people from the Marvel Universe together in one story. With current events, I am feeling that whole all powerful dictator thing and group think as a story concept, but this needed to be better written to impact me.

A Fearful Kind of Safety

Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Two Vol. 2 - Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo

This series gives me a stomach ache in a good way. This intense storytelling. Superman has completely gone off the deep end and he's barely recognizable to those who love and respect him. Those who once counted Superman as friend and ally are having to choose which side to take. Superman has become a totalitarian who believes that the only solution is to control everyone and to suppress any dissent. Of course, Batman is not going to go along with that, and it has ended disastrously for the once friends and allies. Humans are rising up and taking their place in the fight, because it's their world too. They fight alongside the heroes who have chosen to go against Superman.

I have a huge love for Harley Quinn, so it was nice to see her show up and her relationship with Black Canary, finding common ground. Also, Zatanna shows up in this book. Another favorite DC heroine of mine. I liked seeing so many unlikely allies come together in the fight, but it's very painful to see the fall of enduring heroes in the DC Universe.

Injustice is huge and epic. One cannot read this series and not feel the foundations of the DC World shake under one's feet. When I finish these books, I still feel the tremors long after I put the book away.

Overall rating: 4.25/5.0 stars.

Small Town Girl

Jessica Jones: Alias Vol. 2 - Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos, David Mack

This volume is very dialogue heavy. Such a different sort of Marvel title. Really not any action. Lots of social commentary that is very timely. I can understand 100% Jessica's disgust at the pastor who was rehearsing a speech that is despicable, and he truly believes in. Ugh. Yeah, that's definitely a pet peeve of mine, so I was feeling Jessica. Jessica goes to small town America to help find a missing girl. The trail reveals a rot in the small town and gives Jessica one more thing to be disillusioned about. Not that Jessica needs that. Oh and she goes on a date with Scott Lang. You can see a lot of the creators' worldview in this, but I think things that need to be said and addressed are done in such a way without being preachy. Overall rating: 3.5/5.0 stars.

Weird Science

The Breach - Patrick  Lee

After several false starts, I got into this book. I read most of it on the way to Illinois for Thanksgiving. This is one of those books that takes a while to get started, but once you're in, you're in. The concept is so crazy, it takes a while to figure out what's going on. I think the closest comparison I could make is the TV show "Fringe". It's that kind of crazy. Also it's the kind of thing that people who have tons of conspiracy theories and deep distrust for the establishment, corporations and the government will read and say, "I told you so." The ending is a bit of a mindblower. I am still trying to decide how I felt about it.

I am no physics genius, but I love the concept of time travel. I like the ethics and philosophical aspects. You know, the whole grandfather complex thing and the "if you could go forward or back, would you?" kind of thing. Also, there's the whole what happens when we open doors to places we don't know anything about. Should some doors stay closed?

As a scientist, I have asked myself that many times. I tend to be a big fan of scientific ethics and I think that you can't throw that out just in the search of knowledge. Seek it, but seek it carefully and cautiously. Some of the inventions in this book, I can't even. I mean, they should be buried in a very deep hole somewhere. I pray some of this will never exist in real life.

So anyway, my opinions of science and time travel aside, this trippy book really grabbed me and didn't let me go. There is a high body count and I asked myself what the hell is wrong with some people. They abandon right and wrong for power and ugly stuff happens. That's a big part of this book. Also, on the good side, there are people who will put their lives on the line to do the right thing. That takes a lot of moral courage and I feel that even from fiction, we can draw courage to face those tough ethical decisions in our own lives.

This one has some blood and guts, but nothing gratuitous. I would advise readers to plan to pick up the next book. I have it, and I will try to get to it in the nearish future.

This is my second book by Patrick Lee. I read Runner first, and I like his style. He's not afraid to go there and put the reader through their paces. He doesn't give them a cut and dried book. He makes them think about what they are reading. I like that in an author.

A Sweet Little Mystery

Fudge and Jury - Ellie Alexander

This wasn't quite as entertaining as the previous books, but it was still very good. The delicious descriptions of chocolate and yummy goodies had me salivating, and the mystery kept me on my toes.

Reviewed for Affaire de Coeur Magazine. http://affairedecoeur.com.

On the Job Training

Daredevil: Back in Black, Volume 1: ChinatownDaredevil: Back in Black, Volume 1: Chinatown by Charles Soule

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I wanted to like this more than I did. I think it's because I loved other Daredevil book so much. I didn't care for the artwork. For lack of a better word, it was too scratchy looking for me, which didn't work well with the monochromatic colors. Also, it was hard to keep up with the storyline. Although there was an interesting twist with the villain, and things get crazy when Hand ninjas show up. Also I did like that Daredevil's new sidekick is Asian. It might have been something of a plotpoint, but at least there is POC representation here.

I think I have high expectations when it comes to Daredevil, from my other reading of this character and the movie, and most certainly the recent Netflix series. It's not bad. It's decent. Just not as great as I was hoping.



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Patriot Acts - Greg Rucka

I freely admit that I intend to read everything by Greg Rucka I can get my hands on. He can write very well. Whether it's graphic novels or full-length fiction. I checked this audiobook out from my lad I did. It's not the first in the series. But it's okay. I got the jist on what happened. I will want to go back and read the previous books. As it was, this was a really excellent suspense novel. It starts almost in medias res, but that's okay. I liked that I was left tl learn about what was happening as things went along.

Kodiak is a good hero. He's a tough guy. He knows more than a thing or two about protecting and going on the offensive. He was in the army and he's a body guard by trade. He ends up on the black side of things when his name is outed as a traitor. He goes on the run with a shadowy assassin who has made some enemies, but has decided she doesn't want to kill anymore. At the same time, he's very empathetic and grieves deeply. I liked seeing that duality and his determination to see his mission through.

I think this would make an excellent movie. That's one of the things I love about Rucka's books. They are well-written prose novels, but could serve equally well as movies or television shows. This book is in 1st person and that works very well for this book. The first action scene at the gas station was high level tension and extremely well executed. The tension is maintained very well as Atticus and Drama go on the run together trying to stay one step ahead of the folks hunting them. And then they have to turn the tables. Everything is well thought up. No running around half-cocked. This pair has to play the long game, and the ending is satisfying even in its near bloodlessness. Drama is equally well-developed. She's the kind of action heroine I love and I wish I could see more of in movies/tv although we have some great ones with Sydney Bristow (Alias), Jane Doe (Blindspot), and although not so much physically Olivia Pope (Scandal). She is 100% lethal, but she's world weary and has learned the hard way how killing saps and destroys a person's soul and humanity. That's how you make a killer, convince them they are no longer human and that other people are below human. She had rejected that training at great cost.

The narrator was excellent. His pace and tone perfect for Atticus, a man who was world-weary and at the same time, deeply angry about something that happens in this book. And with good reason. I like how Drama's lines are spoken in a monotone that fits the character, a woman who has undergone incredibly tragic circumstances and was essentially trained to kill from an early age. I think this book is years old, but it actually relates to current events very well. It's a strange world and your friends aren't always friends and vice versa.

This isn't a long book, but it's perfectly executed. I do recommend this one.

Overall rating: 4.5/5.0 stars.

Supernatural Opposition Team

Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Three Vol. 1 - Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo, Mike S. Miller

Sorcerer John Constantine has been put in the position of assembling a team of supernaturals to take on the greatest menace the world has ever known, authoritarian Superman who has decided he will save humanity by protecting it, and ruthlessly dealing with his enemies. He has amassed a huge toll of fallen superheroes who are working against him with the help of some heavies in the supernatural DC universe. He has aligned himself with villains who care nothing about murdering people. It's just terrible stuff, but riveting reading. Readers won't come out of this series without their minds being messed up. I can't get over how awful it is in a world where Superman is a bad guy, and the whole superhero community is fighting each other because of taking sides for and against him.

This book is timely in that it presents some timely themes about our society. Where freedom in a society is taken away due to fears (or exploiting) about the safety of humanity. Slavery and authoritarianism doesn't save anyone. There is no such thing as benevolent slavery or obstruction of basic rights. I hate that Superman was so mentally and emotionally broken that he ended up this way and led a lot of people to their destruction in the process.

Favorite parts: Harley Quinn, Zatana, John Constantine snark, seeing normals fight the good fight against superpowered heroes.

Least Favorite parts: Gruesome details of DC superheroes that I like. The tragedy of these events.

This series will stick with me for a long time. I think it should be a miniseries on Netflix although it would just about kill me.

Diversified Interests

Cryoburn - Lois McMaster Bujold

I knew this wasn't the first book in the series, but I decided to check it out from the library and listen to it anyway. Very enjoyable. Miles is an appealing lead character. I loved that Miles isn't your typical hero as far as looks. He's not very tall and he has medical issues that have affected his looks. It doesn't matter at all, because he has presence. And I love a smart guy who's solving mysteries. Miles is more or less a space detective. I like detective in any setting, but it was fun to read a science fiction book with detectives in it. I read this while I was working on my final painting for my class, and it more than kept me company. The narrator was good, he had a pleasant voice, sort of like an older English butler. It worked for me.

The story involves corporate corruption and cryostasis. Quite a combination. I liked how multicultural the cast of characters were. It sort of reminded me of how in Firefly, the Chinese culture has dominated and its reflected in the dialogue and names of people. In this case, there is a good mix of various Asian cultures, along with other ethnicities. There is plenty of suspense, but a lot of wry humor, which is always welcome. It didn't mess things up for me that I hadn't read the first book. Instead I am intrigued to read about Miles' parents Aral and Cordelia, and fortunately I do have that book.

I know I'm not giving this book justice in this review. My brain is pretty fried, so this will have to do.

I recommend this.