Monday, January 30, 2017

The Flash Vol 1: Lightning Strikes Twice by Joshua Williamson


Let me start off by thanking Net Galley and DC Comics for allowing me to read this book for an honest review. I have been very lucky to have been able to read the Rebirth comics of my favorite heroes. 

Barry Allen has a lot to contend with in this book. It starts off a little confusing to be honest with you. We find Barry working CSI on a case that is very similar to his mother's death while having visions of Zoom and Wally West. However, Wally comes out of that vision and is back running along side Barry for a few pages. Now here is where I get confused. I didn't read a lot of Flash during New 52 but I did before that. I remember Wally West and him being Kid Flash, but now we have another Wally West who is Iris West's Nephew who also has a touch of the speed force. What book explains the two Wally's? I have to read that one. 

Anyway, this all happens in the first few pages and that is all we get of the visions and return of Wally West. I'm sure this is setting up future stories but I was hoping for something about this. Instead we get one heck of a story that could mean big trouble for Barry. A Speedforce storm hits Central City and strikes a whole lot of people. Now flooded with speedsters Barry has to split his time between CSI work, being the flash, and training new speedsters. This also brings about a new very fast and very dangerous villain known as Godspeed. 

This was s great way to start of the new story line with the Flash. I couldn't put this down and just flew through it. I highly recommend this to any fan of the Flash because it is very well written. My only complaints about this book is the set up in the first few pages that didn't go anywhere in this volume and the art work. I didn't have any pictures that really stood out for me to include in my review this time. I try to get some art from the digital comics I read as an example but the art is kind of fuzzy and not very detailed. I get that it shows just how fast Barry is at all times but I have read other comics that have still been able to convey this and have more detail. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Aquaman Vol 1: The Drowning by Dan Abnett


Welcome to Rebirth and a new start for Aquaman. The king of Atlantis is working very hard against the wishes of his people to bring the Atlanteans and the land dwellers together. Arthur has created a land bridge embassy to allow the heads of governments can meet with the heads of Atlantis and come to an understanding as well as get to know one another. 

While trying to bring two worlds together a dark soul is hellbent on revenge and he is planning on doing whatever it takes to bring Aquaman down. Black Manta is going to destroy Aquaman and get his revenge for his father that Aquaman killed. To make matters worse, a new secret organization have plans to undo everything Aquaman has worked so hard for and bring about a new war between the Atlanteans and our world. Here is one of the covers from an issue in this collection. Gives you a sense of just how dire the situation is.


Not only is this a new beginning while keeping up with the events of New 52 but we get a great cameo from another hero. Superman himself has a brief spot in this book. Again, the situation really is stacked against Arthur. There is so much in this book that sets the stage for the next volume.

The story is actually very well done. I have been so impressed with Aquaman since Geoff Johns took over and then towards the end of New 52 the story started to get stale. This book is a fresh start that I hope brings some really interesting stories in the future. I easily give this 4 out of 5 stars. A big thank you to Netgalley and DC Comics for giving this to me for an honest review. I'm honored to get the chance to read this and really excited for the future of not only Aquaman, but the rest of DC Comics.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Justice League Vol 1:The Extinction Machines by Bryan Hitch


This book gets right to it. Squid looking things are attacking the citizens of the world and enslaving them. The League is doing what they can to stop this but something is not only holding them back but steeling their powers. The purge is coming right before the Awakening. Flash looses his speed and the Lanterns loose their light. Those people under the control of these alien things chant that their power was stolen by the Justice League and they are taking it back. 

The team is a little different than where we left it in New 52. The staples are there, Batman, Wonder Woman, Barry Allen is the Flash and Aquaman are the heavy hitters. Cyborg is taking a bigger roll in this team but we have two new Green Lanterns and a New Superman. You read that right, a new Superman. Lantern Baz was around in New 52 so he has some miles on him but Jessica is new to the corp and she is still having issues with her confidence. If you haven't read up to this point in the Superman book and care to still be surprised then I suggest stopping here. I didn't read Superman until right before Rebirth so I know that Superman dies. He is killed by Kryptonian cancer, basically. During the last days of Superman's Life Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman stumble across a Clark Kent, Lois Lane and young Jonathan Kent from another Earth hiding from the world.

Now with the world crumbling, literally, and the universe possibly being destroyed the team needs to turn to this unlikely Superman to help them save the world. Clark has to decide if he wants to remain hidden with his family or be apart of something greater. 

I've got to admit, this was fun to read and I flew through it. I have to thank DC Comics and Net Galley for allowing me to read this for a review. I continue to be blown away by the books I read after Rebirth. I love my favorite heroes getting back to their roots and seeing some of the things I didn't care for in New 52 corrected. I can't wait to see where volume 2 takes us and look forward to its release. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. I also have to say that I love seeing all of these heroes working together. There are some great covers in the series and the variant cover gallery in the graphic novel. 




Monday, January 23, 2017

The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King


I tend to spend some time thinking about my reviews before I put cursor to blog. I was looking over my first review when I read this book originally and I took some time to think about this. I have come to the same conclusion that where this is fun to revisit with old friends, this really doesn't have much to do with the Dark Tower series. Allow me to explain. This book picks up right after Wizard and Glass. Our Ka-Tet of Roland, Eddy, Susannah, Jake, and Oy are heading further down the path of the beam after leaving the emerald castle. On their way the feel a storm brewing and seek shelter. While tucked up in an abandoned building Roland plays story teller. This is where our series stalls and the stories begin. Our Ka-Tet is only in the book at the very beginning and the very end. The rest of this is two stories from Roland's past and the days when Gilead still stood. 

Stephen King has a foreword where he says that he was really happy to know his friends still had more to say. He goes on to say that even though this is an in between novel it can be read as a stand alone. If you are a fan of fantasy and you like good story telling then I would recommend this book. It is completely worth the read. Now the other side of the coin will come later so bare with me. 

I did say that the beginning and end is the only place we see our Ka-Tet, but the first story that Roland tells is actually of his history. So it isn't the Roland we have come to know in the last four books but another building block of how he got to this point in our timeline. Shortly after Roland becomes the youngest Gunslinger his father sends him out on a mission to find out what is going on with a possible Skin-walker that has been terrorizing local baronies. The second story is also one from Roland's past but rather it is a sort of bed time story that his mother had told to him as a kid. 

Now for the review and the other side of the coin that I mentioned earlier. When I read this for the first time I was so excited to have more Dark Tower so my excitement was through the roof. This could have been the worst book in history and I would have loved it no matter what. Still, I originally gave this book 4 out of 5 stars,. With all my excitement I still didn't give this a full 5 stars. This time around I am reading these books in audio because I just don't have time to sit down with a book and read. I have to squeeze in my books while I work in audio. Reading this book I found my attention wandering. I tuned out the book and focused on my work instead of being able to multi task listening to the story and doing what I needed to. The excitement was gone since I had already read this and since it didn't really advance the Dark Tower story I just couldn't get into this like I did on a first read. 

I got my wife reading these books and and she stopped at Wizard and Glass. She has yet to continue on but wants to. She asked if she needed to read this book before she moved on to the next and I told her no. It doesn't advance the story so you don't need to read this if you really don't want to. She isn't as big a fan as I am but she did say she would go with me to see the movie when it comes out. You better believe I will review the movie here after I see it. So even though I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars the first time I read it I have to revise this rating. I am giving it 3 out of 5 stars. It is still a good book and enjoyable. My reason for dropping a star was because it didn't have the same  excitement or draw on a second read that the others have had. It has its place on the series but at the same time just draws out Wizard and Glass instead of getting back to the quest at hand. May I recommend that if you are going to read the Dark Tower series, and want to read this. Read the books as they were 1-7. Then go back and read this. I love Wizard and Glass but it is a long book and you spend most of it in Roland's story. Going from one story to two others before we get back to the beam drags this out a bit more than I liked. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl


My son is a huge reader and I couldn't be happier. He reads books like crazy and is grade levels higher in his reading level. I wasn't a big reader until I was in high school so I am really excited that he loves reading so young. My 3 year old daughter is the same way and my wife and I love it. We don't have much spending money but if the kids want books we buy them even if we shouldn't. For Christmas my son got a Roald Dahl boxed set and he couldn't wait to start reading these. I never read any of his books so I was ok with taking a break from Harry Potter to read these as a family. 

This book is pretty short. We plowed through this in 3 days. There are a lot of pictures throughout the book and Conner loved that. This is a cute story. Mr Fox has been stealing from three farmers and they have tried and tried to stop him. Finally an opportunity presents itself and the three farmers trap him and his family in their den. The rest of the book is all about how Mr Fox is going to out fox these dumb farmers. Pun totally intended. Boo if you want. I can almost feel my wife's eyes roll as she reads this. I'm a father so I am completely justified in all bad Dad Jokes I make. 

This was really cute and I enjoyed listening to my wife read while I got to snuggle with my son. I wish there was more story here. It was a fun ride but I would have liked more to the plot. I give this 3 out of 5 stars and do recommend this as a good family read. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix by J. K. Rowling


As I have mentioned in previous reviews my wife and I are reading these books with our 7 year old son. We take turns reading a chapter and it has taken us a long time to finish this book. We love how excited he gets when we read these book and then watch the movie. This is one of my favorites for so many reasons. 

So the Order of the Phoenix is all about this secret group of wizards and witches who are dedicated to standing up to Voldemort and his Death Eaters. This group included Harry's Parent's back in the day so Harry is desperate to become a member. However, secret wars aside Harry has to return to Hogwarts for his fifth year. It is at school where Harry meets one of the most evil, most hated, and horrid villains of all time; Dolores Umbridge. Has anyone else felt that the most secure place on Earth has this revolving door for villains? Here is where the spoilers for earlier books come in. In book 1 Voldemort is riding on a professor, book 2 Voldemort unleashes the Basilisk in the bowels of the school, book 3 (bad example), book 4 has a Death Eater disguised as a professor, and now this book has Dolores Umbridge who is a despicable person. 

Umbridge is taking over Hogwarts slowly and forcing Dumbledoor out. She has control over everything and Harry and the other kids need to take things into their own hands. Harry sets up a secret club to teach other students how to properly defend themselves against the dark arts. Ok, so this seems like a lot do deal with in one book right. Battling against a power hungry Professor, secretly teaching students how to fight against evil, and dealing with big exams. Well this isn't everything. Harry has been having these visions. He can see through the eyes of not only Voldemort, but his pet snake as well. Harry has no idea what these visions mean and the one person who can help him figure these out is Professor Snape. 

I really love this book and I can go on and on about this for pages. Book ,3 Prisoner of Azkaban, is my favorite still but this is a very close second. There is no hesitation in me giving this 5 out of 5 stars. We have taken a little break from Harry Potter for now but I am looking forward to getting back into them. It has been so long since I have read these, and the last time I even saw the 6th movie was when it came to DVD. I didn't even have Blu-Ray back then. It has been awhile. I also must add that my wife disagrees with my revolving door of villains theory. Since Voldemort made it into Hogwarts attached to a professor and in a book the Ginny Weasley brought with her, he technically didn't just walk in. Since she reads these posts I feel I must include her thoughts on the matter so you all know I did have a voice of reason and stick by my goofy theory. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Graphic Novel Challenge 2017


It is beyond that time again. Time to sign up for the Graphic Novel Challenge for 2017. I have to say that last year was a big flop for me in the reading department. I took the plunge and pledged to read 52 graphic novels and only did 22. I had big dreams of getting all these advanced copies and catch up on all these series I have missed out on like Preacher and American Vampire. Instead I got a few books of these series and didn't continue. This year I plan on doing better. I want out of my reading funk and I hope comics is the way to do it. 

This is one of the few challenges I look forward to every year. The levels for this are as follows:
Modern Age: read and review 12 books during the year 
Bronze Age: read and review 24 books during the year 
Silver Age: read and review 52 books during the year

Golden Age: read and review 104 books during the year

Wish me luck as I try to read the level I haven't reached the entire time I have done this challenge. I also want to wish luck to everyone who signs up this year and hope you meet your goals. I'm looking forward to seeing where things take me this year and I still have a goal to catch up on the series I missed out on.  I also kind of want to start reading the Lucifer books from Vertigo. I love the show on Fox and I am curious to see how different the show is from the books, or how similar.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Green Arrow Vol 1: The Death and Life of Oliver Queen by


I have been waiting so long for Rebirth and then it finally comes out and I not only have no time to read but I hit the biggest reading funk I have been in in forever. I bought Rebirth #1 the one shot special and have not had a chance to read it. This is my first book since Rebirth and I loved it. Thanks to Net Galley and DC Comics I was able to read and review this. 

I have had the DC All Access app on my phone and it is one I open almost daily. I remember reading an article title. Oliver Queen is DEAD!!! and nearly fell out of my chair. How can you start off an event called Rebirth with killing off one of your bigger characters? I had to read this and was so excited when my approval came through. 

This book takes us back to the Green Arrow before New 52. I read one or two books of New 52 and really didn't like what Oliver Queen had become. This is back to the Oliver Queen I have known and loved. The book begins with homeless people being kidnapped and sold to this group of rich power crazed people trying to take over the city and then more. While looking into these missing homeless people he runs into none other than Black Canary. This made me very happy to see them back at odds and back in each other's arms. Yes I'm a bit of a romantic and I love seeing these to characters as a couple. We also get to see John Diggle right along side Oliver in this book. I don't remember him being a character in the series before New 52 and I didn't read enough of New 52 to know if he was in there. I do know I really like the character in the show Arrow and I was thrilled to see him in this story helping Oliver after knocking the snot out of him. 

This book was great and I can't wait for volume 2. This is a series I am going to keep up with and I am so glad to have a good Green Arrow Story line. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars and hope the rest of this series is just as good. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Walking Dead vol 26: Call to Arms by Robert Kirkman


So much has gone on in the Walking Dead that I was anxiously waiting for this next chapter. It has been out for awhile and I really should just start buying these but for the time being I still put my name on the reserve list long before it is even released. If you haven't read the books up to this point then you may want to stop here. In the last book Rick was attacked by an Alexandrian, Carl and his girlfriend have been Exiled to the Hilltop, and the Whisperers are letting Alexandria be for now.  

What can I say about this book but Holy Crap WOW!!! So much happens without a ton of action but just enough violence to make this an almost perfect book. We find out exactly what Rick plans to do after his near death attack. Negan plays a bigger role in this book which was both awesome and massively confusing. 

I loved this book and really wish I could say more but I don't want to ruin a single panel. So this is going to be a short one. I do wish there was more zombies in the book but the story is amazing. So I'm giving this 4 out of 5 stars when really it is a 4.5 star read. Read this series it is well worth the time to get to visit with these characters. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Troop by Nick Cutter


I had been dying to read this book for so long. I got the advanced reader copy from Netgalley but never had time to read it. I remeber when this came out the big thing that made me want to read this more than anything was the quote from Stephen King.
"The Troop scared the hell out of me, and I couldn't put it down. This is old-school horror at it's best." -Stephen King
I thought it the master of Horror found this that terrifying it had to be good. Well, let's say this isn't the first time King and I have  disagreed. So this book is about a Boy Scout troop that has gone to an island for their yearly camping trip. While there they encounter a man running from something that has a hunger that can't be satisfied. He is being eaten from the inside and is contagious. The sickness drives the victim crazy and causes them to slip into madness and eat anything and everything to satisfy the hunger.

I hate to say it but I didn't find this scary at all. It was kind of predictable and there were moments I almost smacked my head thinking "Really, you went that way with the plot?". I had such high hopes for this book and it just didn't live up to the hype. I was already in a bit of a reading funk when  I started this. I had really hoped this book would be the one to pull me out of the funk and be one of the best reads of 2016 I had. Instead I was disappointed and couldn't wait to put this book behind me.

This book like any other had its ups and downs in the plot like any book out there but this one felt like there were more downs than anything else. King is also quoted as saying this isn't for the faint of heart and where there are some gross scenes in the book I have read far worse. I have been sitting on this review for some time because I didn't know exactly what to say other than this was a disappointment. I reviewed this on Goodreads with a 3 star rating but sgtill hadn't written the actual review. Now that I sit here rethinking this book I have to change my review to a 2 out of 5 star read. I am not sure if I will be continuing with this author. I am really torn. I want to try something else to see if I can finally see what King saw reading this book, but at the same time I fear being let down again with hopes higher than the quality.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Worst of 2016


If you are like me you judge your year based on the book s you have read. I know, this makes no sense but a die hard book lover totally get this concept. I may not have had a ton of stellar books in 2016 that I read, but I can say this is the first year I didn't have a single 1 star read. I didn't have any books I hated but quite a few I was just disappointed in. So here we go. 

So let's kick it off with a recent one Star Wars: Bloodline. The hype for this was so misleading. This was supposed to be the book that explains how Ben Solo becomes Kylo Wren. Instead it was all about politics and during the election season this was the very last book I wanted to read. It was written well and I could see if I was a bigger Star Wars fan I would have probably enjoyed this more. I was just very disappointed. I wanted this book to be more, and had much higher expectations.

I found my attention wandering and being just bored at times. I don't feel this book is worthy of a 1 star on my rating scale but I wish I hadn't read it when I did at least. 







For my second disappointment of the year I have to give that to The Girl in the Spider's Web. I loved the initial trilogy and was so excited to hear there was a partial fourth book by Stieg Larsson. Of course it had to be finished by another author and this is where the problem began. I could tell while reading this that the author was really trying to make this book feel like the others. The whole story felt forced and there was some rough scenes in this book that really didn't make sense to advance the story. It felt like it was only in the book because these types of scenes were in the previous ones. 

The story was patchy and dull. The suspense that grabs you from the beginning was lacking from this book. I had heard rumors that this series might continue under the new author, but to be honest, I won't be continuing. 




I had one other big disappointment that I will mention but the review hasn't been posted on the blog yet so if you really want to know what I thought. Check that post out if you have a few minutes. The Troop was this book that even Stephen King raved about how horrifying it was and my expectations got so big that when I read this it wasn't scary and it was just ridiculous. Not ridiculous in a an awesome way but in a way that made me roll my eyes hard.

Here is hoping that this year proves to hold books better than 1 star and that the only 5 star books are not just the re-reads. Happy New Year everyone.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Best of 2016 and Goals for 2017



Reading through my last few years best of and Goals post I noticed one there is one common thing I try to do every year. I try to find more time to read my hardcovers in the comfort of my home with a cup of coffee or frosty glass of beer. Year after Year I seem to fail at this so I'm not going to have this as one of my goals this year. As of my last years goals I didn't find that reading time, I did start my re-read of the Dark Tower series but didn't start re-reading Jeffery Deaver's books. I also didn't begin a Christmas week reviewing Christmas movies and shows. 

Goals

So they what are my goals for this year. Well I hate to do it but I just want to get out of this Reading funk. I have set a lower goal this year for Goodreads at 65. I'm basically taking a step back a bit from reading in hopes that by stepping back it renews my vigor to read and write. I did review w alot more movies in 2016 and I would like to keep up with that. There are a ton of movies coming out this year I can't wait to see and my family has been kind enough to give my wife and I gift cards to the movies. Look for those reviews to come throughout the year. I also have been kicking around the idea of starting a second blog. Books is just one of my passions in my life and I have been toying with the idea of starting a second blog. One that would only have a post or two a month but include some of my other hobbies. More on this later if I come around to it. 

Best

Well I have to give the top spot this year to Jeffery Deaver. Steel Kiss was amazing and creepy on a real level. This book is all about how our trusted household devices can turn on us one day and be the tools of our bloody demise. The book opens up with one of the goriest and heart wrenching scenes Deaver has ever written. A man at the mall is the unlucky victim of an escalator that has been tampered with. One push of a button and the hatch opens and the man falls into the gears to his death.  

I will admit that this book had its slower moments which isn't usually the case for a Deaver novel, but by the end all of these moments made sense. The ending was explosive with twists and turns I still didn't see coming and I worked hard at the clues to figure this out. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a well written thriller. There is some back story needed from the earlier books between Rhyme and Sacks. 



This year the bulk of my 5 star reads were re-reads of the book I have read previously. Harry Potter and the Dark Tower series high among those. One goal I did achieve was to catch up on the Dresden books. I was right, I'm going through withdrawal waiting on the next book in the series. There were so many books in the series that I loved but I think I am going to pick the last book for my best of post. Harry has been pimped out by Mab to help a group of villains lead by one of his most hated enemies Nicodemus. Harry has to find a way to honor the deal Mab made while figuring out how to keep Nicodemus from succeeding.  

This book was intense and fast paced. I flew through this book and then regretted not drawing this out. The wait has been tough as the new book hasn't gotten a release date yet. I love this series and hope there are many many more to come. 




2016 wasn't the biggest group of books I have read in a year and there wasn't many new reads that I enjoyed as much as the Dresden series or my re-reads but I had fun. I feel kind of bad that I fell into such a long slump that I haven't pulled out of yet. I read two books just before the funk really took hold and just got around to writing those so I have something to post next week. He is hoping I can get back into things to keep up my 3 a week posts. Good Luck with your reading goals for this year. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year 2017



Welcome to the new year and thank you for spending it with me and my blog. I have been away for awhile and I have been in both a reading and writing slump. It has been probably a month since I finished a book. I have hardly read any comics and haven't listened to an audio book either. So many things I wanted to accomplish with my reading and writing and my blog that just never came to be. 

Do not think for a minute this is going to be one of those sad depression confessions with how the post started off. I'm fine that I didn't get around to everything I wanted to do. I'm a little sad that this is the first year I didn't complete my reading goal on Goodreads. I could have adjusted the number down just so I could complete it but that would be cheating and I had already dropped the number mid year. Life was so busy for me and my family towards the end of 2016. My son has been doing great in school and I couldn't be more proud. My daughter is growing up so fast and she has become quite the little artist. She is only 3 but already is better at drawing and coloring than most kids I know at her age. Yes I am a father and no child will ever be as amazing as mine. 

My job has been great but stressful. I have been so busy with end of the year stuff and I have been asked to work on so many other projects that it is tough to keep up sometimes. Still I love my job and my company and couldn't be happier in my role stress and all. As much as I love my job it does take me away from my family. the late nights at home but working can be a bit rough and I am studying for a certification exam that is just killing me. I don't need the certification for my role unless I want to be promoted so yeah, I kind of need this and studying is tough. 

The one constant in my life is always my family. We have had our struggles but my wife and my kiddos are what give me strength and I love every minute I get to spend with them. I'm a proud dad and my kiddos surprise me everyday. My wife has been absolutely amazing and every day my love for her get stronger and stronger. She has been making dresses for our daughter that are absolutely amazing and she has some amazing talent with all things crafty. I'm a lucky guy.

Ok, so again I have some ideas for my blog and might even start another blog which will have posts once or twice a month so in addition to my book blog I may start another on a different topic, More on that if I get to it. I'm unbelievably excited about the Winter Classic this year. I'm writing this post before even the Blues Blackhawk Alumni game has been played but when this posts tomorrow is the Winter Classic and the first one that not only the St Louis Blues have played in, but the first one to be held in St Louis. I tried everything I could to win tickets to this game but will be watching from my couch instead. I love my hockey and have high high hopes for this season. Can't wait to see where this season takes the city and the team this year. I am also hopeful that next years post I will be able to announce I passed my exams and have been promoted. I know, big dreams but a man can hope.

Alright I have bragged about my year and stuff. I hope everyone has a wonderful 2017. Nerdist liked to refer to 2016 as the year of no Chill and I thought that was both hilarious and spot on. 2017 is uncertain but I hope to see some good come in the new year and good luck to everyone. He is to health happiness and family for everyone.