Friday, August 31, 2012

Graphic Novel Review – X-Men: Second Coming

This is the second story I sought out after reading Avengers vs. X-Men: It’s Coming, the first issue of this crossover seemed action packed so it seemed worth my while to check it out, even if I haven’t been all that impressed with X-Men titles in recent years. I had read Messiah Complex (which was when Hope, the first Mutant born since House of M reduced their numbers to almost nothing) but wasn’t as impressed by it as so many other reviewers were – it felt a lot like X-Cutioners Song to me (which was a much better story). At the end of that story, Cable had taken the baby into the far future, to protect her from those who would try to kill her in our time.


Second Coming is exactly that – Hope’s return to our time. She is a teenager now and believes she had trained enough and is ready to face a world where the Mutants see her as a Messiah and some humans will stop at nothing to finish the mutant race once and for all. Once Hope and Cable show up on the mutant tracking computer called Cerebro, Cyclops sends out teams of X-Men to help them – but various mutant-hating groups have banded together under the Machine/Man known as Bastion, and they always seem one step ahead of the X-Men in reaching Hope and Cable first. The X-Men wind up with some serious fatalities before they realize it is Cable’s techno-organic virus that’s leading Bastion to Hope’s location – and her only hope is to get away from him and stay with the X-Men.

Meanwhile, Bastion and his forces have more in mind than just the death of this one new Mutant, they want to exterminate the rest of the race as well. He has found a way to create a barrier around the island in San Francisco bay where all the mutants are living, and within that barrier he has opened up a portal into a future. From that future waves of Sentinels start pouring into the present, and these armored robots succeeded in killing all the mutants in their own timeline so now it’s only a matter of time before they accomplish the same thing again.

As more mutants fall and all they can do is try and hold the line against this unstoppable foe, Cyclops sends a team into that future, a one-way suicide mission to stop those Sentinels before time runs out.

There’s almost too much going on in Second Coming. I think it involved every X-title, and it’s got to be at least 12 issues long. Some characters don’t get as much development as they probably should – there are lots of old foes of the X-Men gathering together at first, but instead of facing off against all of them, the X-Men are really left to defeat these futuristic Sentinels as well as Bastion himself in the end. Cameron Hodge has his moment against the New Mutants, but even that seemed to me a side story to the main one. So I think the book could have used a slightly tighter focus on Cable and Hope coming back, and then this ultimate battle – removing a few issues here and there to give it a better pace.

Still, it’s got tons of action, there’s a great scene near the beginning where the X-Men teleport into the middle of a car chase where the humans are after Cable and Hope – and the battle that ensues looks like something out of a blockbuster summer movie. The powers-that-be certainly picked some fan favorites to kill off in this event – including some of my own, but at this point death feels a little too meaningless in comics for it to really mean much to me – they’ve killed and brought back so many of my favorites that I just take it all in stride nowadays. Let me know if they’re not alive again in just a few years. There’s a lot of interesting foreshadowing of Avengers vs. X-Men in this comic event as well – the Avengers are fairly useless in trying to remove the barrier keeping the X-Men locked in, and I really could start to understand the desperation the mutants feel at being an endangered species. I feel like having read this gives me a nice foundation for the X-Men position leading into AvX.

At the same time, the X-Men still just isn’t the same book for me anymore – I was a huge fan from the mid-80s (around the Australia based team’s time) to the mid-90s (Age of Apocalypse) but nothing since then has really screamed “must read”. Perhaps I’ve just grown out of them a bit, I find my tastes have moved on to the Avengers now. Still, Second Coming is up there as far as X-Men books of recent years that I have enjoyed, a worthwhile read especially if you’re considering picking up the latest event, Avengers vs. X-Men.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Videogame Trailer: Star Trek

I enjoyed the new Star Trek film from a few years ago - I'm a long time fan of the series, and the new movie did enough right that I felt comfortable with the changes. I'm cautiously optimistic about the upcoming sequel - but I'm really liking the look of this new video game:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday

This is a blog meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine to spotlight upcoming books. This week we're featuring picks chosen by SQT and Jim.

Jim's can't wait to read selection is:

Shift by Kim Curran
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Date: Sept. 4, 2012
pages: 320

When your average, 16-year old loser, Scott Tyler, meets the beautiful and mysterious Aubrey Jones, he learns he’s not so average after all. He’s a ‘Shifter’. And that means he has the power to undo any decision he’s ever made.

At first, he thinks the power to shift is pretty cool. But as his world quickly starts to unravel around him he realises that each time he uses his power, it has consequences; terrible unforeseen consequences. Shifting is going to get him killed.

In a world where everything can change with a thought, Scott has to decide where he stands.


Sounds like a Sliders/superhero mix - I think this is going to wind up being the year of superhero-type books for me. I've had my eye on this since it was first announced, but the release date creap up on me while I wasn't looking.


SQT's can't wait to read selection is:

Broken by A.E. Rought
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Date: January 8, 2013
Pages: 320

Imagine a modern spin on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein where a young couple’s undying love and the grief of a father pushed beyond sanity could spell the destruction of them all.

A string of suspicious deaths near a small Michigan town ends with a fall that claims the life of Emma Gentry’s boyfriend, Daniel. Emma is broken, a hollow shell mechanically moving through her days. She and Daniel had been made for each other, complete only when they were together. Now she restlessly wanders the town in the late Fall gloom, haunting the cemetary and its white-marbled tombs, feeling Daniel everywhere, his spectre in the moonlight and the fog.

When she encounters newcomer Alex Franks, only son of a renowned widowed surgeon, she’s intrigued despite herself. He’s an enigma, melting into shadows, preferring to keep to himself. But he is as drawn to her as she is to him. He is strangely…familiar. From the way he knows how to open her locker when it sticks, to the nickname she shared only with Daniel, even his hazel eyes with brown flecks are just like Daniel’s. The closer they become, though, the more something inside her screams there’s something very wrong with Alex Franks.

And when Emma stumbles across a grotesque and terrifying menagerie of mangled but living animals within the walls of the Franks’ estate, creatures she surely knows must have died from their injuries, she knows.

I had to follow Jim's lead and post a Strange Chemistry title in honor of their launch last week. If you're not familiar with Strange Chemistry, they are the YA imprint of Angry Robot books. Angry Robot has has some fabulous releases (including Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig) and just looking at the books on this page I'd say Strange Chemistry is going to be just as good. "Frankenstein" is probably one of my favorite pieces of classic fiction and "Broken" looks like a terrific adaptation.

Random Thoughts (With Links)

  • I get a little freaked out when other bloggers link to me. I used to get excited when other people would mention a post or review because it usually meant something resonated with them. But in the new, brave world of the internet the inmates have taken over the asylum and a blogger is just as likely to be on the receiving end of a rage-a-thon by someone who has decided to take your online opinion and use it as fodder for an epic rant. Fortunately my thoughts are not usually deep enough to stir up the emotion needed to make it worth the time for anyone to get worked up over them- but I'm still irrationally twitchy when I see someone else wear the bullseye for a day or two. Fortunately I was linked to, in a good way, in a post by Alex Bledsoe in which he talks about the covers of his books (which have been noted to have a different vibe than the books themselves) and he quotes a small bit of a review I had written for his latest book, "Wake of the Bloody Angel." Whew! No need to duck and hide today.

  • I've been questioning the veracity of online reviews for awhile. Not the blogger-reviewer type  (though I'm sure we've all seen some we thought were iffy) but Amazon reviews. I get a lot of solicitations for self-published books and they almost invariably point me to their Amazon page and a slew of 5 star reviews that proclaim their book is the best thing they've ever read! I don't know about you but when I see a page full of 5 star reviews, and nothing else, I move on. No book, not even some of my favorites, are exempt from 1 and 2 star reviews. I've become so jaded that I won't buy a book from any publisher, unless it's by an author I know I like, if I can't read reviews that run the gamut from at least the 3-5 star range. And it appears that my suspicions are well founded. Apparently the new big thing in self-publishing is buying positive reviews. Sheesh.

  • Neil Armstrong died this week. I was so sad to read of his passing. I was born in 1969, just a couple of months after Neil made history as the first man to walk on the moon, and always thought it was cool that I shared a birth year with such a momentous event. I think, perhaps, that my love of sci-fi movies owed a little to the fact that I was able to connect the dots with the moon landing and the year I was born. R.I.P Neil. You were my hero.

  • I read a cute article today about how the Kindle is killing the "commuter book recommendations;" you know, that thing you do when you glance at the dust jacket of other commuters to see what they're reading? I love looking at what other people read, but the author of the article also touches on the best aspect of the Kindle- hiding what you're reading from everyone else! I haven't had any desire to read "Fifty Shades of Whatever" but if I do decide to read some mommy porn I can at least rest assured that no one else is going to know.

  • Speaking of Kindles. I love my eReader and I'm always surprised when someone tells me they don't have one. My husband isn't so infatuated and I find that baffling. Anyway, Book Chick City is hosting a giveaway for a Kindle Fire/Kindle Touch and you should stop by if you don't already have a handy-dandy reader of your own. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Giveaway! "The Iron Wyrm Affair" by Lilith Saintcrow

Orbit Books has had some really cool titles come out this summer (and with many more to come this fall). I had "The Iron Wyrm Affair" on my Waiting on Wednesday list and purchased the book as soon as it came out. So when Orbit Books kindly sent me a copy, it gave me the opportunity to pass on a copy to one lucky winner!

The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow

Emma Bannon, forensic sorceress in the service of the Empire, has a mission: to protect Archibald Clare, a failed, unregistered mentath. His skills of deduction are legendary, and her own sorcery is not inconsiderable. It doesn't help much that they barely tolerate each other, or that Bannon's Shield, Mikal, might just be a traitor himself. Or that the conspiracy killing registered mentaths and sorcerers alike will just as likely kill them as seduce them into treachery toward their Queen. 

In an alternate London where illogical magic has turned the Industrial Revolution on its head, Bannon and Clare now face hostility, treason, cannon fire, black sorcery, and the problem of reliably finding hansom cabs. 

 The game is afoot..

Just leave your information in the form below to enter (all information is guaranteed confidential and will be discarded once the contest ends) and I will randomly pick a winner by Tuesday, September 11th. No multiple entries please- all multiple entries will be discarded. Open everywhere.

Good luck!

**Contest Closed**

Friday, August 24, 2012

Audiobook Review: Perfection by Nick Kyme

I’m going the lazy way with this particular audio drama from Black Library and just copying the official description, and long-time readers can probably guess why:


Under siege from Chaos Space Marines of the Emperor’s Children, survival for the world of Vardask looks bleak. Matters worsen with the arrival of the World Eaters of Khorne, but when the Champions of Slaanesh are slowly murdered in mysterious circumstances the enmity of the rival warbands threatens to turn them on one another on a scale not seen since the aftermath of the Horus Heresy. Are there no depths to which the scions of Fulgrim will not stop in pursuit of true perfection?

When I use the official blurb it usually means that the plot wasn’t particularly memorable, and that the review isn’t going to be particularly positive. There are exceptions – but this isn’t one of them. It’s a shame because one of my first audio drama’s from Black Library was Nick Kyme’s Fireborn, which remains one of my favorites. Fireborn was a self-contained adventure, easy for a newcomer to pick up and enjoy. Unfortunately, Perfection is the exact opposite. At this point, I feel like I should be well versed enough in the Warhammer 40,0000 universe that I ought to be able make out who’s fighting whom in the fiction – unfortunately, I could never determine that in this story. It seems that two different legions of Chaos marines are fighting on Vardask – but I never did figure out against whom. I guess it doesn’t really matter anyway, since that’s not the focus of the story.

Instead, it seems to be about a small group that’s slowly getting whittled down, and they think that it’s either an assassin or someone from the other Chaos Marine legion. There area couple of interesting fights against this assassin – it may have been an Eldar, so maybe that’s whom they’re supposed to be fighting on this world – and those had some sparks of interest for me – but unfortunately, there’s just way too much of the bickering between brothers who don’t trust each other for me to have cared after the first chapter or two. And because of that, I didn’t really care about the “shock” ending – not because it wasn’t shocking (I certainly didn’t guess), but because I didn’t care about any of these characters, what difference did it make.

Perfection felt like it was trying to be a prologue to another story, or to set up some future book where Nick Kyme plans to bring the Champions of Slaanesh up again (perhaps they’re the mortal enemies of his Salamanders?) – but as a stand-alone it just didn’t work for me at all.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

DVD Review- "Battleship"

When I first saw the trailer for "Battleship" three words came to mind- Transformers at Sea. And while the final product isn't precisely the same movie as "Transformers," it's close enough to a kissing-cousin that one could easily be persuaded into thinking that it is another overhyped Michael Bay production. The similarities were enough to keep me away from "Battleship" while it was on the big screen- and I'm not so sure I didn't waste my time seeing it on my own television.

"Battleship" starts off with an interesting premise when, in 2005,  NASA discovers a "Goldilocks" planet (the conditions are "just right" for human life), gives it the designation "Planet G" and sends a powerful signal from an array located in Hawaii in an attempt to see if there is any intelligent life there.

 However, the film immediately loses momentum when it jumps forward to 2012 and follows the story of brothers Alex and Stone Hopper. Alex (Taylor Kitch) is the slacker while Stone (Alexander Skarsgård) is the older, career focused sibling. Following a silly series of events in which Alex tries to impress a woman (Brooklyn Decker) by breaking into a convenience store for a chicken burrito, he is basically forced into the navy by his outraged brother. I almost gave up on the film after the first half-hour as it was an overacted mess on Skarsgård's part while Kitch tries to convey every emotion through a silent smolder-- which is annoying when I know that both men are capable of more than such clichéd portrayals

The story then jumps ahead to show both men in the navy and Alex's girlfriend is not only the lovely lady from the beginning but also his commanding officer's (Liam Neeson) daughter. Stone is now the commander of his own ship while Alex, even though he's still the hot-headed guy he always was, is inexplicably a lieutenant with some command responsibilities of his own. As they head out on their respective ships as part of the navy exercises known as RIMPAC, the focus then returns to space and some incoming objects that are hurling to Earth at alarming speeds. After one object collides with a satellite it crashes to the surface of the planet causing massive destruction in its wake. It then becomes clear that the NASA signal sent out seven years earlier resulted in the arrival of an alien species that may intend to take over the planet.  The plot then moves into the predictable man vs. alien part where Alex and Stone try to save the world from the alien invaders.

"Battleship" was always destined to be a shallow film thanks to the inexplicable fact that it was based on a board game. Perhaps this was because movie makers had plundered every marketable comic book they could find before moving on to Saturday morning cartoons; but surely there are a few good books they could draw from? At any rate director Peter Berg ("Friday Night Lights" "Hancock") gamely took the reins and attempted to forge a decent movie out of a nothing idea. The problem is that "Battleship" only succeeds in the action sequences-- honestly, they're great. The visuals in the movie are outstanding. And I was almost won over during the part of the movie that directly draws from the board game as the aliens and navy seamen blindly fire at each other at night with only tsunami sensors as the available means of tracking the aliens. Thank goodness no one actually said you sank my battleship!

But no matter how great the suspense is during the action sequences, and it's pretty good, it can't make up for the plot holes and bad acting that plague the whole film. Berg clearly has great respect for the military and attempts to incorporate some nice tributes to our wounded warriors, even going so far to feature real-life double amputee Gregory D. Gadson. And while I appreciate the sentiment it has to be noted that Gadson isn't an actor and the fact that he is paired with the equally wooden Brooklyn Decker throughout most of the film makes their scenes even clunkier than they might otherwise have been (though Decker has actually improved tremendously since her debut in "Just Go With It").  However, I don't want to be too harsh on Gadson because he has an excuse for being wooden- no one else really does. The acting swings from two extremes- overly emotive to barely breathing-- and it makes you wish they'd just go back to the explosions.

The aliens are also really underutilized as a plot point. They come to the Earth only seven years after we send a signal, but that's all we really know about them. I won't get too spoilery (in case you might want to waste a couple hours on the film) but I will say that we learn a little about the aliens, mostly a weakness we can exploit, but we don't know what they're looking for. And it appears that there is the presumption that destroying only the aliens that came on this trip is enough to eradicate the threat altogether and it's amazing to see a big screen film that is so poorly thought out.

If there is anything that redeems the DVD release of this movie it has to be the extras that are included with the package. The behind-the-scenes excerpts are always fun but the the main attraction, for me, was the tour of the USS Missouri (The Mighty Mo).

I'm usually a sucker for movies that show respect to the U.S. military, and "Battleship" does its best to convey a deep sense of gratitude for our servicemen. But the overall production is so buried in what has to be an intentional cheesiness that it's hard not to wince at the hackneyed dialog and hyperfocus on the plot's shortcomings. "Battleship" does what it's supposed to do, I suppose, in that it delivers on the action and visual spectacle. But if you're someone who likes a believable plot in addition to your CGI you can't help but be disappointed in the final result.

Videogame Trailer: 007 Legends

Just like the Bond movies, the video games can be hit and miss. I'm particularly fond of the 1st person shooter ones, and this seems to be mostly from that perspective (along with some driving sections). Some of these "lesser" Bond films are actually some of my favorites (for instance - despite the fact that they don't reveal Moonraker as one of the missions, it's obvious from the trailer that it's one of the movies included).

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday

This is a blog meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine to spotlight upcoming books. This week we're featuring picks chosen by SQT and Jim.

SQT's can't wait to read selection is:

Flame of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier
Publisher: Roc
Date: November 6, 2012
Pages: 446

Maeve, daughter of Lord Sean of Sevenwaters, was badly burned as a child and carries the legacy of that fire in her crippled hands. After ten years she’s returning home as a courageous, forthright woman with a special gift for taming difficult animals. But while her body’s scars have healed, her spirit remains fragile, as she fears the shadows of her past.

Sevenwaters is in turmoil. The fey prince Mac Dara has become desperate to see his only son, who is married to Maeve’s sister, return to the Otherworld. To force Lord Sean’s hand, Mac Dara has caused a party of innocent travelers on the Sevenwaters border to vanish.

When Maeve finds one of the missing travelers murdered in the woods, she and her brother Finbar embark on a journey that may bring about the end of Mac Dara’s reign — or lead to a hideous death. But if she is successful, Maeve may open a door to a future she has not dared to believe possible...


Juliet Marillier is a simply fabulous author. If you haven't read her Sevenwaters series you should- I can't recommend it enough.  She draws from Celtic myth as the foundation of her books, but they are so lyrical and romantic they easily stand on their own. Each book can be read as a stand-alone novel, but you won't be sorry if you start with Daughter of the Forest and read your way through the whole series.

Jim's can't wait to read selection is:

The Lost by Vicki Pettersson
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Date: March 19, 2013
pages: 368

Griffin Shaw and his wife were both murdered fifty years ago. Now a Centurion-a minor angel who assists the souls of newly deceased taken by violence-Grif has been granted permission to solve the mystery of his death. But like most things in life, both mortal and eternal, that permission is conditional. Grif must help the Pure angels with souls who might otherwise be Lost.

Souls like Jeap Yang, a drug addict in his final moments of life. Grif knows that death is coming, but he cannot intervene. Hopefully, Grif's mortal lover, reporter Katherine Craig, isn't constrained by angel protocol. If she can stop a death, she will.

But as Kit is about to find out, there are things more traumatic and evil than murder. A strange new drug is literally eating tweakers' flesh from the bone, and the conscientious reporter is determined to break the story-and get the drug off the streets. Her crusade will propel her and Grif into a head-to-head with a vicious drug cartel. But it seems the Pures are angelic in name only. And they have a secret agenda-a scheme that will ensare Kit and Grif and leave them scrambling to stay alive, to stay together, and to choose their fate-before it's chosen for them.

I still haven't gotten to read book 1 (The Taken), but that doesn't mean that the second novel isn't on my radar.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Movie Review: Turtles Forever (2009)

It’s taken me a while to verbalize this review. I knew months ago that I wanted to review Turtles Forever. Maybe it was just because I was in disbelief of how I felt about the film, or maybe it was because I just wasn’t sure how much of my opinion came from another, rather well done review of the film that I watched shortly before watching the film myself for the first time. That’s not why I watched them in such a short amount of time to one another; rather, I watched Phelous’s review when it came out, and I watched Turtles Forever as part of my research for my video on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

What I guess this whole, pointless spiel really says is that I really don’t like this movie, and it really makes me feel sad. My own personal memories of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a blend of the movies, the SNES games, the Red Sky seasons and the “Core” seasons, aka the Middle Seasons that most people associate TMNT with. As a result of this blend, I never saw the show to be as cheesy and comedic as a lot of people did, possibly because the first season is awesome, possibly because I didn’t watch the show from 1987 (when I wasn’t born yet) on, possibly because slapstick comedy to me is the boring part that I block out of my memory. Might be why most of my Inspector Gadget memories are of the theme song.

Turtles Forever was a 2009 made for TV film that brought the 2003 cartoon series to a close- and also successfully took the spot of the 2007 CGI theatrical film in everybody’s mind after the fact. Seriously, when was the last time you heard anybody actually talk about that movie? Probably 2007.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to talk about that movie now, either. Instead, I’m addressing Turtles Forever, which by all accounts was intended to be an homage to all of the various Turtles incarnations that came before, and perhaps, for those people who really saw the Turtles as nothing but the cheese-fest that they were in the second third of their original run, might actually feel that way.

For anybody who actually respected the Turtles, and saw them as cool fighters with an inspirational tech guy, and actually liked to watch them do cool things, it’s rather an insult. While the 2003 Turtles are cool, grim, and handy in a fight, the 1987 Turtles spend the entire movie tickling one another, breaking their disguises, and running recklessly into fights without any sort of planning. The ’03 Turtles spend the entire movie whining about how useless and annoying the ’87 Turtles are, and the one- I repeat that, one occasion in which the Mirage Turtles mention they prefer the ’87 Turtles over the ’03 ones does not make for fair turnabout. If anything, it’s like the school bully constantly taunting the smaller kid, and then the parents off-hand mention to one another that the smaller kid is funny, and expect that to somehow make up for all of the psychological abuse the small kid suffered at the hands of the bully. Here’s a hint: It doesn’t.

The plot of the film isn’t too bad; in fact, simply trimming the script to fold down all of the straight up middle fingers to the original series would have turned out a pretty fun story. After a battle, the Technodrome ends up visiting the 2003 Turtles world instead of Dimension X. It’s actually pulled off fairly well, long enough to get the point across, but short enough the audience isn’t saying “okay, we get it” throughout the scene either. I personally came into this film with no familiarity to the 2003 villains (in fact, I had to ask several witnesses and visit several fan explanation pages before I could figure out exactly what the deal with all of the Shredders in this series was), but I was able to keep up with exactly what was going on at all times.

This is fairly short lived, however, when Donatello announces that he’s going to create a portal between worlds “with… a lot of positive thinking”. They travel back to the 1987 universe, where April O’Neil is being chased by about a dozen parodies of the most ridiculous villains in the entire 1987 series. Opinions are mixed on this- some defend the scene as a parody mentioning that some villains on the series were just as ridiculous as this, while I would argue that, if you combine the concepts and the cheap animation of this segment (and the fact that they don’t face a single serious villain from the 1987 universe), it comes off as more insulting than funny. This is one of those sections I was talking about earlier where just a little bit of foresight could have transformed an insulting scene into a worthy parody.

Speaking of villains, I haven’t really mentioned the 1987 villains here, and there’s a reason for that. After the setup, they’re immediately demoted to comic relief. This is probably the most frustrating part of the film for me. I’ve heard it said that the way you measure the quality of a (super) hero is by measuring their villains. If Turtles Forever is to be believed, that would make the measure of the 1987 Turtles somewhere around the level of a janitor flushing a turd down the drain.

Really, the best characterization in the film is Bebop and Rocksteady. In fact, their role in the plot is one thing that I would call a successful homage, in that it’s too close to the truth to be a parody. Not sure you can make a parody of comic relief characters anyway. Bebop and Rocksteady’s major contribution is something that I could honestly see in their original series, and for that reason, I have no problem with the way the climax of this movie goes.

Turtles Forever is a kind of fun film, but there’s a lot of flaws and sometimes that makes it hard to see how much work was really put into it. In one scene, the film shows off every single incarnation of the Turtles that doesn’t appear physically in the film- including Turtles that I remember owning the action figures of but can’t for the life of me tell you what they were called or what media they appeared in. It’s little tidbits like that which show you that somewhere deep down, there really was love for the source material. It’s just really hard to see when big, bad Raphael spends his days tickling people.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

R.I.P. Tony Scott

~From The Wrap
Director Tony Scott jumped off the Vincent Thomas bridge near Long Beach on Sunday and died from his injuries.
He was 68. The Los Angeles coroner confirmed to TheWrap that Anthony David Scott of Beverly Hills jumped off the bridge and died on Sunday. That is the full name of the British-born "Top Gun" and "Crimson Tide" director, who has lived in Los Angeles for many years.
The U.S. Coast Guard told The Daily Breeze that a suicide note was found inside Scott's black Toyota Prius, which was parked on one of the eastbound lanes of the bridge. Officials said that Scott climbed a fence on the south side of the bridge's apex and leapt off "without hesitation" around 12:30 p.m., according to The Breeze.
Scott, the brother and producing partner of Ridley Scott, is best known for high-octane action movies. The Scott brothers' company is Scott Free Productions. His most recent movies were "Unstoppable" and "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3." 
Read the rest of the story HERE

This made me so sad to read. My condolences go out to the family. May your soul rest in peace Tony.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Rants & Raves

It's been awhile since I've done one of these, and this time it's got a distinctly Marvel flavor:

Rave: Guardians of the Galaxy movie/comic – if you follow my twitter feed or have seen my reviews of this comic you’ll know that I make no secret of my love for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Mavel’s announced a movie, and while they haven’t outright revealed a new Guardians of the Galaxy comic yet, the rumors are certainly strongly leaning in that direction. Since there seem to be a few questions about both of these things, I thought I’d try my hand at both.

First, for those wondering why this makes for an exciting movie idea, and how it is that this won’t wind up as a mess like Green Lantern did (being a similar, sci-fi superhero genre mash-up) – Guardians of the Galaxy is meant to be irreverent. Think similar in many respects to Galaxy Quest, or the interactions between the characters in Firefly. This is a rag-tag group, not the best of the best, but the only ones available to save the universe from threats that could end all life. And I’m not even sure how to answer the folks who insist that somehow the original Guardians (a superhero team from the 31st Century) would make for a more simple origin in this film (as opposed to the modern incarnation of the team, which is what Mavel seems to be going with). There seems to be some folks who feel the modern team (which takes place in the same time-frame as the current Avengers) is complicated – I’d say that the “complicated origin” for these characters is likely what they’re going to use as the plot for this film.

As to the potential comic, it appears likely that Brian Bendis will be the writer of that new series – which has caused much consternation among a certain segment of fans. These same fans don’t like what this writer has done with the Avengers over the past few years, and often praise the work of Abnett and Lanning (the writing team responsible for starting the new Guardians of the Galaxy). I’m going to give my own two cents on both of those things. First, if you’ve enjoyed the recent Avengers movie, then Bendis is the writer for you – his Avengers comic tonally matches the Marvel film series, and it makes perfect sense to have him start to create stories for the Guardians comic in that same style. I also happen to be a fan of Bendis’ Avengers, having never cared for the team prior to his run on the book.

Then there’s the question of Abnett and Lanning. They’ve done some wonderful work for Marvel, especially some of their “cosmic” stories – and their first arc (6-issues) of Guardians of the Galaxy is just fantastic. Unfortunately, I also think they lost it along the way – there were way too many fake-outs and “deaths” that didn’t really stick in a series that only lasted 24 issues – and too many plot lines that weren’t really followed up on and despite claims to the contrary by the authors, there didn’t seem to be much of a plan. So while I appreciate what DnA did by forming this new team of Guardians that I love so much, I look forward to seeing another author’s take on the idea (and my first taste will be when I finally catch up on the TPB of Avengers Assemble, a series with the Guardians as guest stars, written by Bendis).


Rant: Daredevil/Punisher/Fantastic Four film rights – well, I’m somewhat sorry to see that it seems Daredevil will be the character that Marvel/Disney gets the rights back to (from Fox, because they can’t get a new movie together in the time they have left). I mean, I’m glad Marvel/Disney is getting the rights back to any of their characters (like Punisher, which recently happened for them as well) – but these are characters that I just generally don’t care all that much about. I was far more excited by the possibility of Marvel getting back the film rights to the Fantastic Four (or even just the piece parts in Galactus and Silver Surfer).

Part of that is that I just like those characters, part of it is that I think they fit better into the Marvel film universe – so I’d have rather seen that deal happen. At the same time, Marvel’s wise to play its waiting game – again, commentators seem genuinely surprised that Marvel didn’t extend the date or give Fox the co-financing it wanted for the Daredevil film. Why should they? There’s nothing in it for them – by NOT co-financing, they know that one of two things is likely to happen 1) the rights revert because Fox doesn’t have time to make a film or 2) Fox makes a poorly received film and doesn’t bother to spend money on another within the designated amount of time, at which point the rights revert to Marvel. Giving Fox what it wants was the only way for Marvel to lose.

Rant: Defenders – I am disappointed that this new series has already been cancelled (at issue 12). I think the first TPB has only just recently been released, and I haven’t even had the chance to read it yet. Sure it a quirky title featuring an oddball assortment of Marvel characters – but it sounded interesting with a big story to tell. Unfortunately, I also think that Marvel tends to make everything into a new ongoing series, when perhaps they should just focus on making some things into limited series – tell the story you’re looking to tell, and don’t bother your readers with lots of unnecessary cameos by other heroes who aren’t supposed to be a part of the team in question. At least so far Captain Marvel seems to be selling extremely well, as that’s probably the next title I was most excited about.

Rave: Marvel NOW! – it’s like DC’s new 52, only without the whole “scrap everything you ever knew about the characters you love while we start from scratch” thing. I had to laugh when recently one of the guys behind DC mentioned that they are promising better continuity in the future with the new 52 – wasn’t that the whole point of the reset in the first place. Anyway, it seems like Marvel’s doing this the right way – doling out the new #1s over a few months (instead of finding yourself with 52 issue number 7s on the stand a few months from now), and not resetting their continuity – just creating new starting points for new readers. I don’t love every title they’ve announced (I still can’t get too excited about any X-Men titles, though Uncanny Avengers and A+X will be ones I watch out for), but I like the creative teams being shifted onto books I do care about (Iron Man, Thor, Avengers, Fantastic Four) – so all in all, I feel it’s a win-win for my upcoming reading.

Rave: Steam Bandits: Outpost – a new game coming from a company formed by employees laid off from Obsidian, looks to take what’s so addictive about free world building games, and take away the frustration of not being able to play the game because you either need to purchase upgrades with real money or you have to wait until artificial time delay is over to continue playing (unless you want to pay to play it faster). Sure, they’re still planning on pay content – but they’re extras, things you don’t need to play the game, and no artificial delays. At least that’s what the developers claim, and the game is coming out in Oct/Nov timeframe, so we’ll know soon enough if they mean it. It’s got a great looking steampunk vibe, and I’m hopeful that it will replace my son’s addiction to the many “tap” games he currently seems to like to play. More games from this universe, that will all interact together, are planned by the developer, and you can get in on the action by helping to fund their Kickstarter as well.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Trailer: Star Wars 1313

This is a new preview that's come out of the Gamescom convention. And just to put my own conjecture in here, I believe that Joe Schrieber's upcoming/unannounced (likely) Star Wars novel (as shown here) is going to be the novelization of this game.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Books Received

The Inexplicables by Cherie Priest

Rector “Wreck ‘em” Sherman was orphaned as a toddler in the Blight of 1863, but that was years ago. Wreck has grown up, and on his eighteenth birthday, he’ll be cast out out of the orphanage.

And Wreck’s problems aren’t merelyabout finding a home. He’s been quietly breaking the cardinal rule of any good drug dealer and dipping into his own supply of the sap he sells. He’s also pretty sure he’s being haunted by the ghost of a kid he used to know—Zeke Wilkes, who almost certainly died six months ago. Zeke would have every reason to pester Wreck, since Wreck got him inside the walled city of Seattle in the first place, and that was probably what killed him.Maybe it’s only a guilty conscience, but Wreck can’t take it anymore, so he sneaks over the wall.

The walled-off wasteland of Seattle is every bit as bad as he’d heard, chock-full of the hungry undead and utterly choked by the poisonous, inescapable yellow gas. And then there's the monster. Rector's pretty certain that whatever attacked him was not at all human—and not a rotter, either. Arms far too long. Posture all strange. Eyes all wild and faintly glowing gold and known to the locals as simpley "The Inexplicables."

In the process of tracking down these creatures, Rector comes across another incursion through the wall—just as bizarre but entirely attributable to human greed. It seems some outsiders have decided there's gold to be found in the city and they're willing to do whatever it takes to get a piece of the pie unless Rector and his posse have anything to do with it.

  Renegade by J.A. Souders

Since the age of three, sixteen-year-old Evelyn Winters has trained to be Daughter of the People in the underwater utopia known as Elysium. Selected from hundreds of children for her ideal genes, all her life she's believed that everything is perfect. Her world. Her people. The Law. But when Gavin Hunter, a Surface Dweller, accidentally stumbles into Elysium's secluded little world, Evelyn comes to a startling realization: Everything she knows is a lie. Her memories have been altered. Her mind and body aren't under her own control. And the person she knows as Mother is a monster. Together with Gavin she plans her escape, only to learn that her own mind is a ticking time bomb...and Mother has one last secret that will destroy them all.

Fate of Worlds by Edward M. Lerner and Larry Niven

For decades, the spacefaring species of Known Space have battled over the largest artifact—and grandest prize—in the galaxy: the all-but-limitless resources and technology of the Ringworld. But without warning the Ringworld has vanished, leaving behind three rival war fleets.

Something must justify the blood and treasure that have been spent. If the fallen civilization of the Ringworld can no longer be despoiled of its secrets, the Puppeteers will be forced to surrender theirs. Everyone knows that the Puppeteers are cowards.

But the crises converging upon the trillion Puppeteers of the Fleet of Worlds go far beyond even the onrushing armadas:

Adventurer Louis Wu and the exiled Puppeteer known only as Hindmost, marooned together for more than a decade, escaped from the Ringworld before it disappeared. And throughout those years, as he studied Ringworld technology, Hindmost has plotted to reclaim his power …

Ol’t’ro, the Gw’oth ensemble mind—and the Fleet of World’s unsuspected puppet master for a century—is deviously brilliant. And, increasingly unbalanced …

Proteus, the artificial intelligence on which—in desperation—the Puppeteers rely to manage their defenses, is outgrowing its programming. And the supposed constraints on its initiative …

Sigmund Ausfaller, paranoid and disgraced hero of the lost human colony of New Terra, knows that somethingthreatens his adopted home world. And that it must be stopped …

Achilles, the megalomaniac Puppeteer, twice banished—and twice rehabilitated—sees the Fleet of World’s existential crisis as a new opportunity to reclaim supreme power. Whatever the risks …

One way or another, the fabled race of Puppeteers may have come to the end of their days in this final installment to Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner's Fleet of Worlds series.

Sharps by K.J. Parker

For the first time in nearly forty years, an uneasy truce has been called between two neighboring kingdoms. The war has been long and brutal, fought over the usual things: resources, land, money...

Now, there is a chance for peace. Diplomatic talks have begun and with them, the games. Two teams of fencers represent their nations at this pivotal moment.

When the future of the world lies balanced on the point of a rapier, one misstep could mean ruin for all. Human nature being what it is, does peace really have a chance?
Tomorrow the Killing by Daniel Polansky

Once he was a hero of the Great War, and then a member of the dreaded Black House. Now he is the criminal linchpin of Low Town.

His name is Warden.

He thought he had left the war behind him, but a summons from up above brings the past sharply, uncomfortably, back into focus. General Montgomery's daughter is missing somewhere in Low Town, searching for clues about her brother's murder. The General wants her found, before the stinking streets can lay claim to her, too.

Dark, violent, and shot through with corruption, TOMORROW, THE KILLING is a fantastic successor to one of the most heralded fantasy debuts of recent times.

Trucker Ghost Stories: And Other True Tales of Haunted Highways, Weird Encounters, and Legends of the Road Edited by Annie Wilder

In a uniquely entertaining book by a rising star, here are uncanny true tales of haunted highways, weird encounters, and legends of the road.

It may have happened to you; it’s happened to almost everyone who’s ever driven down a highway at night, or in the fog, or snow. Something suddenly appears: a flash of movement, a shadow...what was it? It could be, as the true stories in this book attest, a ghost.

These are true stories from the highways and byways of America. These firsthand accounts are as varied as the storytellers themselves—some are detailed and filled with the terror and suspense that made people feel they had to share what happened to them with others; others are brief and straightforward retellings of truly chilling events.

Here is a chupacabra attack on the desert highway between L.A. and Las Vegas; ghost trains and soldiers; UFOs; the prom girl ghost of Alabama; a demon in Texas, and other accounts of the creepy, scary things that truckers and other drivers and passengers told to editor Annie Wilder.

With so many different stories, Trucker Ghost Stories moves beyond the usual haunted house to offer stories to entice any ghost story reader...and anyone who’s ever wondered....

Taken by Benedict Jacka

This time last year, I could go weeks without seeing another mage. In mage society I was an unknown and, all in all, that was how I liked it. It’s hard to say what changed. Whatever it was, I got involved in the magical world again and started getting myself a reputation.

Alex Verus’s insights into the future used to be the best-kept secret in London. Now, with the aid of his apprentice, Luna, his unique investigative talents are all the rage. He just has to be careful about picking his employers, because everyone—even the beautiful woman who practically begs him to run security for a prestigious tournament—has motives that can be hard to predict. And Alex doesn’t do unpredictable.

But his latest gig just might be impossible. Apprentices have been vanishing without a trace—and someone on the Council could be involved. Alex has no evidence, no witnesses, and no suspects. All he knows is that someone is keeping tabs on him. And after assassins target Luna’s classmate, Alex sees that he doesn’t know the half of it—and that he could be the next to disappear.

Haunted by Jeanne C. Stein

Anna Strong—kick-ass bounty hunter and vampire—has made some enemies in her time. But it’s not just her old foes she should be worried about…

Anna’s shape-shifting friend Culebra finally opens up to her about his life before he owned Beso de la Muerte, a bar catering to supernatural clientele. As if summoned by the conversation, Culebra’s past stumbles into his bar in the form of an old buddy cashing in a favor.

Soon Anna, Culebra and her ex, DEA agent Max, find themselves deep in Mexico, dealing with drug cartel infighting, old vendettas and missing girls. Mexico just may prove to be Anna’s best match yet…

The Wrong Goodbye by Chris F. Holm (Digital ARC)

When an old friend and fellow Collector asks Sam to help him find a soul he claims was stolen, Sam says he's on his own. But when the soul Sam's tasked with collecting disappears as well, Sam has no choice to find out who's behind the thefts and why. As his investigation leads him down the rabbit-hole of the black-market soul trade, he begins to wonder whether he is simply a pawn in a dangerous game – a game in which the only outcome can be war.



Crown Thief by David Tallerman (Digital ARC)

Meet Easie Damasco: Thief, swindler and lately, reluctant hero.

But whatever good intentions Damasco may have are about to be tested to their limits, as the most valuable - and dangerous - object in the land comes within his light-fingered grasp. Add in some suicidally stubborn giants, an old enemy with dreams of empire and the deadliest killers in two kingdoms on his heels, and Damasco's chances of staying honest - or even just surviving - are getting slimmer by the hour.


Devil Said Bang by Richard Kadrey (Digital ARC)

Getting out of hell is just the beginning

What do you do after you've escaped Hell, gone back, uncovered the true nature of God, and then managed to become the new Lucifer?

Well, if you're James Stark, you have to figure out how to run Hell while also trying to get back out of it . . . again. Plus there's the small matter of surviving. Because everyone in Heaven, Hell, and in between wants to be the fastest gun in the universe, and the best way to do so is to take down Lucifer, a.k.a. James Stark.

And it's not like being in L.A. is any better—a serial-killer ghost is running wild and Stark's angelic alter ego is hiding among the lost days of time with a secret cabal who can rewrite reality. Starting to care for people and life again is a real bitch for a stone-cold killer.

Angel's Ink by Jocelynn Drake (Digital ARC)

Buyer beware . . .

Looking for a tattoo—and maybe a little something extra: a burst of good luck, a dollop of true love, or even a hex on an ex? Head to the quiet and mysterious Gage, the best skin artist in town. Using unique potions—a blend of extraordinary ingredients and special inks—to etch the right symbol, he can fulfill any heart's desire. But in a place like Low Town, where elves, faeries, trolls, werewolves, and vampires happily walk among humanity, everything has its price.
No one knows that better than Gage. Turning his back on his own kind, he left the magical Ivory Tower where cruel witches and warlocks rule, a decision that cost him the right to practice magic. And if he disobeys, his punishment—execution—will be swift.
Though he's tried to fly under the radar, Gage can't hide from powerful warlocks who want him dead—or the secrets of his own past. But with the help of his friends, Trixie, a gorgeous elf who hides her true identity, and a hulking troll named Bronx, Gage might just make it through this enchanted world alive.

Blood Riders by Michael B. Spradlin (Digital ARC)

The Western Territories, 1880. For four years, Civil War veteran and former U.S. Cavalry Captain Jonas P. Hollister has been rotting in a prison cell at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. His crime: lying about the loss of eleven soldiers under his command . . . who he claims were slaughtered by a band of nonhuman, blood-drinking demons.

But now a famous visitor, the detective Allan Pinkerton, has arrived with an order for Hollister's release. The brutal murder of a group of Colorado miners in a fashion frighteningly similar to the deaths of Hollister's men has leant new credence to his wild tale. And suddenly Jonas Hollister finds himself on a quest both dangerous and dark—joining forces with Pinkerton, the gunsmith Oliver Winchester, an ex-fellow prisoner, a woman of mystery, and a foreigner named Abraham Van Helsing, who knows many things about the monsters of the night—and riding hell for leather toward an epic confrontation . . . with the undead.

The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow

Emma Bannon, forensic sorceress in the service of the Empire, has a mission: to protect Archibald Clare, a failed, unregistered mentath. His skills of deduction are legendary, and her own sorcery is not inconsiderable. It doesn't help much that they barely tolerate each other, or that Bannon's Shield, Mikal, might just be a traitor himself. Or that the conspiracy killing registered mentaths and sorcerers alike will just as likely kill them as seduce them into treachery toward their Queen.

In an alternate London where illogical magic has turned the Industrial Revolution on its head, Bannon and Clare now face hostility, treason, cannon fire, black sorcery, and the problem of reliably finding hansom cabs.

The game is afoot..


Hidden Things by Doyce Testerman

Watch out for the hidden things . . . That's the last thing Calliope Jenkins's best friend says to her before ending a two a.m. phone call from Iowa, where he's working a case she knows little about. Seven hours later, she gets a visit from the police. Josh has been found dead, and foul play is suspected. Calliope is stunned. Especially since Josh left a message on her phone an hour after his body was found. Spurred by grief and suspicion, Calli heads to Iowa herself, accompanied by a stranger who claims to know something about what happened to Josh and who can— maybe—help her get him back. But the road home is not quite the straight shot she imagined . . .

The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams

Bobby Dollar is an angel—a real one. He knows a lot about sin, and not just in his professional capacity as an advocate for souls caught between Heaven and Hell. Bobby’s wrestling with a few deadly sins of his own—pride, anger, even lust.

But his problems aren’t all his fault. Bobby can’t entirely trust his heavenly superiors, and he’s not too sure about any of his fellow earthbound angels either, especially the new kid that Heaven has dropped into their midst, a trainee angel who asks too many questions. And he sure as hell doesn’t trust the achingly gorgeous Countess of Cold Hands, a mysterious she-demon who seems to be the only one willing to tell him the truth.

When the souls of the recently departed start disappearing, catching both Heaven and Hell by surprise, things get bad very quickly for Bobby D. End-of-the-world bad. Beast of Revelations bad. Caught between the angry forces of Hell, the dangerous strategies of his own side, and a monstrous undead avenger that wants to rip his head off and suck out his soul, Bobby’s going to need all the friends he can get—in Heaven, on Earth, or anywhere else he can find them.

You’ve never met an angel like Bobby Dollar. And you’ve never read anything like The Dirty Streets of Heaven.

Brace yourself—the afterlife is weirder than you ever believed.

Lord of Mountains by S.M. Stirling

Rudi Mackenize, now Artos the First, High King of Montival, and his allies have won several key battles against the Church Universal and Triumphant. But still the war rages on, taking countless lives, ravaging the land once known as the United States of America. Artos and his Queen, Mathilda, must unite the realms into a single kingdom to ensure a lasting peace.

If the leaders of the Changed world are to accept Artos as their ruler, he will need to undertake a quest to the Lake at the Heart of the Mountains, and take part in a crowning ceremony—a ceremony binding him to his people, his ancestors, and his land.

Then, once he has secured his place and allegiances, Artos can go forward, and lead his forces to the heart of the enemy’s territory…

An Apple for the Creature Edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni P. Kelner

Includes a never-before-published Sookie Stackhouse story!

What could be scarier than the first day of school? How about a crash course in the paranormal from Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner, editors of Home Improvement: Undead Edition? Your worst school nightmares—taking that math test you never studied for, finding yourself naked in school assembly, not knowing which door to enter—will pale in comparison to these thirteen original stories that take academic anxiety to whole new realms.

In #1 New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris’s story, "Playing Possum," Sookie Stackhouse brings enough birthday cupcakes for her nephew's entire class but finds she's one short when the angry ex-boyfriend of the school secretary shows up.

When her guardian, Kate Daniels, sends her undercover to a school for exceptional children, teenaged Julie learns an all-new definition of "exceptional," in New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews's "Magic Tests."

For those who like fangs with their forensics, New York Times bestselling author Nancy Holder offers "VSI," in which FBI agent Claire is tested as never before in a school for Vampire Scene Investigation.

And in New York Times bestselling author Thomas Sniegoski's "The Bad Hour," Remy Chandler and his dog Marlowe find evil unleashed in an obedience school.

You'll need more than an apple to stave off the creatures in these and nine other stories. Remember your first lesson: resistance is fruitless!

Includes stories by: ILONA ANDREWS, AMBER BENSON, RHYS BOWEN, MIKE CAREY, CHARLAINE HARRIS, DONALD HARSTAD, STEVE HOCKENSMITH, NANCY HOLDER, FAITH HUNTER, TONI L.P. KELNER, MARJORIE LIU, JONATHAN MABERRY, THOMAS SNIEGOSKI

Blood Forever by Mari Mancusi

Sunny and Rayne McDonald have had their lives turned upside down thanks to the Blood Coven. But when the past itself is changed, the sisters will do anything to get back what they’ve lost…

After making a deal with the devil, Rayne and her twin sister, Sunny, have been given the chance to go back in time—to prevent that fateful night when Sunny was bitten by Magnus from ever happening. But while Sunny has been offered a vampire-free existence, she finds she doesn’t want to live without Magnus by her side. And although Rayne puts up a stoic front, she secretly wishes that the vampire Jareth was back in her arms.

To reclaim their lives, Sunny and Rayne team up to figure out a way to change history for the better. Problem is, Jareth and Magnus aren’t all that eager to help two unfamiliar girls who somehow know everything about their vampiric organization. Now, if the twins can’t get the boys on their side, history may spiral out of control—destroying not only the Blood Coven, but quite possibly the entire human race...

Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire

It’s been almost a year since October “Toby” Daye averted a war, gave up a county, and suffered personal losses that have left her wishing for a good day’s sleep. She’s tried to focus on her responsibilities—training Quentin, upholding her position as Sylvester’s knight, and paying the bills—but she can’t help feeling like her world is crumbling around her, and her increasingly reckless behavior is beginning to worry even her staunchest supporters.

To make matters worse, Toby’s just been asked to find another missing child…only this time it’s the changeling daughter of her fellow knight, Etienne, who didn’t even know he was a father until the girl went missing. Her name is Chelsea. She’s a teleporter, like her father. She’s also the kind of changeling the old stories warn about, the ones with all the strength and none of the control. She’s opening doors that were never meant to be opened, releasing dangers that were sealed away centuries before—and there’s a good chance she could destroy Faerie if she isn’t stopped.

Now Toby must find Chelsea before time runs out, racing against an unknown deadline and through unknown worlds as she and her allies try to avert disaster. But danger is also stirring in the Court of Cats, and Tybalt may need Toby’s help with the biggest challenge he’s ever faced.

Toby thought the last year was bad. She has no idea.


Romeo Spikes by Joanne Reay

Working the Homicide squad, Alexis Bianco believes she’s seen every way a life can be taken. Then she meets the mysterious Lola and finds out she’s wrong. More weapon than woman, Lola pursues a predator with a method of murder like no other.

The Tormenta.

If you think you’ve never encountered Tormenta, think again. You’re friends with one. Have worked for one. Maybe even fallen in love with one.

They walk amongst us—looking like us, talking like us. Coercing our subconscious with their actions. Like the long-legged beauty who seduces the goofy geek only to break his heart, causing him to break his own neck in a noose. Or the rock star whose every song celebrates self-harm, inspiring his devoted fans to press knives to their own throats. The pusher who urges the addict toward one more hit, bringing him a high from which he’ll never come down. The tyrannical boss, crushing an assistant’s spirit until a bridge jump brings her low.

We call it a suicide. Tormenta call it a score, their demonic powers allowing them to siphon off the unspent life span of those who harm themselves.

To Bianco, being a cop is about right and wrong. Working with Lola is about this world and the next . . . and maybe the one after that. Because everything is about to change. The coming of a mighty Tormenta is prophesied, a dark messiah known as the Mosca.

To stop him, Bianco and Lola must fight their way through a cryptic web of secret societies and powerful legends and crack an ancient code that holds the only answer to the Mosca’s defeat. If this miscreant rises before they can unmask him, darkness will reign and mankind will fall in a storm of suicides. Nobody’s safe. Everyone’s a threat.