Monthly Archives: July 2014

Collected Comic Reviews: Rocky & Bullwinkle, Lady Rawhide

Rocky & Bullwinkle

Growing up, I enjoyed the animated adventures of Rocket J. Squirrel and his pal, Bullwinkle J. Moose. The subversive humor, the so-bad-they’re-good puns and the show’s wit more than made up for the limitations of the animation and gave the series a re-watchability factor that continues to this day.

So when I heard that Moose and Squirrel were back for more adventures on the pages of a comic book, I was both excited and hesitant. Excited for new Bullwinkle but hesitant that a comic book could recapture what made the TV series so magical.*

* Yes, I was burned by the less than stellar big-screen adaptation just like a lot of other fans. It had so much potential and yet it never quite lived up to it.

Thankfully, this collection of four issues of the new Rocky and Bullwinkle comic lives up to the high standard the tv series set. Not all the stories are perfect mind you and some of the jokes are a swing and a miss. But overall, these four stories are funny, witty and just as subversive as the television series that created them.

That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily perfect, however. One of the strengths of the animated series was the supporting cast of shorts that supported the adventures of Moose and Squirrel. Alas, none of my favorite supporting shorts get any representation here. Instead, we get a short Dudley Do-Right story in each issue to break-up the main story and provide the cliffhanger. And it’s the Dudley Do-Right stories that fall flat for me. Of course, that could be that I never found Dudley Do-Right to be the strongest of supporting cartoons on the original show.

Pick this one up for the Moose and Squirrel adventures.

Lady Rawhide Volume 1

If Zorro were to suddenly become a woman and dress up in sexy, gravity defying outfits, the result might be Lady Rawhide.

Unfortunately, the result would be one of the less enjoyable collection of comics I’ve come across in quite some time. I made several attempts to try and get into the story gathered together here, but honestly found myself not giving a fig about any of the characters or the story. When a comic book only runs 20 or so pages, boredom setting in is never a good sign.

Honestly, the best part about these books were the cover sketches of Lady Rawhide.

The internal strips suffer from a lack of consistent artwork, uninteresting characters and tedious plotting. Thanks, but no thanks.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of these books from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: My Real Children by Jo Walton

My Real Children

Have you ever had that feeling that you might have lived a totally different life in a parallel universe or if you’d made a different choice in what you later look back and see as a life-changing moment?

Jo Walton’s latest novel My Real Children examines that choice in the life of Patricia Cowan. Looking back on her life, Patricia can recall two potential lifetimes, both of which hinge on whether or not she accepts the ultimatum to marry her fiance Mark.

In one reality, the two plan a hasty wedding and settle into a less than ideal marriage that produced four children and multiple miscarriages. In the other, she meets Bee and the two fall in love and raise a family in the less traditional sense.

Part alternate history and part character examination, My Real Children is one of the more fascinating and compelling books I’ve read in a long time. Jo Walton weaves together two separate timelines for Patricia, allowing each to have its own successes and failures but never endorsing one timeline, life or lifetime as better than the other. There are moments of triumph in each one and moments of despair in each one.

Alternating chapters tell of Pat and Tricia’s life over the course of several years in each timeline. One of the more fascinating elements of the story is the creation of alternate histories for each timeline, which show just how easily history could have gone in our timeline.

Walton has a great deal of affection for her characters and it shows as we get to know each of these characters. Some of them you’ll love (at times) and some of them you’ll hate (at times). But you’ll never quite be able to put them aside easily or forget them long after the last page is turned.

My Real Children shows there is more to the fantasy genre than just sword-play and dragons. I’ve heard good things about Walton before and this novel only makes me curious to pick up her other novels and see if they’re as absorbing as this one was.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher via GoodReads.


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“All Good Things: A Star Trek Podcast: Episode Three — The Best and Worst of TNG

After years of threatening to do it, my good friend Barry and I have started a podcast focusing on Star Trek in its many incarnations and its impact on us. 

The third installment is available for your listening pleasure (it was recorded before we’d finalized a name, which may or may not be referenced in the conversation).  This installment looks at our best and worst episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Surf over, download, listen, leave comments.  

And you can listen to episode two (Best and Worst of Classic Trek) and episode one (Meet The Hosts) as well. 

Here are some other ways you can connect to us.

Subscribe on iTunes
Official AGT Contact Info



Twitter: @agtpod

The Guys’ Twitter Feeds

Michael: @bigorangemichae

Barry: @lasthome

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Booking Through Thursday: Summer

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Do your reading habits change in the summer?

Even though I’ve been out of school for a long time now, summer time reading always makes me think about summer reading lists for the upcoming school year. And while I don’t have any “required” reading these days, I always find it interesting to look at the summer reading lists that are posted at my local library. It’s interesting to see what’s still on the reading list and to see what’s new.

As for my reading habits, it’s not as much what or how much I read as where I read. Summer is a great time for reading outside either by the pool or on the patio with our new patio umbrella. I will admit at the start of the summer, I will sometimes look over my TBR pile and decide I want to move some things up or try and cross some books off that list. But as with all plans, that tends to go astray after a few weeks.


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Tuesday Top Ten: Other Stories



Each week, I see multiple book bloggers post their Top 10 Tuesday from the Broke and Bookish.  And each week, I keep thinking I should join in the fun but then never quite get around to it. Well, at long last I’ve decided it’s time to stop thinking about it and to dive into the Top 10 Tuesday.

And this week’s topic is one that hits right in my sweet spot — storytelling in other mediums.   And so, here we go…

1.  Doctor Who — I always like to say I was Doctor Who before Doctor Who was cool.  I loved the classic series and have collected it multiple times over on various formats, including off-air VHS, commercially released VHS and now the DVD/Blu-Rays.   I discovered the series in my early teens and was fortunate to live near a PBS station that showed the syndicated run of the show in just over two years.   Now, I’m counting down days until the Peter Capaldi era begins and probably just as excited about the new season as I was for Matt Smith’s second year.    This is a series that has a tie-in to reading since I collected the original adaptations of the classic serials back in the day and read the New Adventures and Missing Adventures faithfully during the wilderness years when there was no new Doctor Who on our TV screens.  I still listen to those Target novels as audio books while working out — they’re great for a run or workout because I’m familiar enough with the stories that I don’t have to pay attention to every detail for fear of missing a crucial plot point or development.

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Review: Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

Mr. Mercedes

Timing is everything.

I believe I might have enjoyed Stephen King’s latest offering Mr. Mercedes a bit more if I hadn’t recently read and enjoyed Michael Connelly’s Blood Work. Both novels share enough points that I found myself wondering if Mr. King was attempting to channel Mr. Connelly in his latest novel. And, to be quite honest, I’ll admit I enjoyed Connelly’s take on the story just a bit more.

Both stories feature retired law enforcement officers who are drawn into the pursuit of mad-men who have killed before and are looking to do so again. Both of our heroes have reluctant sidekicks who help them overcome difficulties (in the case of Blood Work, it’s McCaleb’s inability to drive, here it’s our heroes’ lack of understanding about using modern technology and the Internet) and both of our heroes fall in love with women, though King’s novel features a more tragic outcome than Connelly’s. Both novels center around a cat and mouse game between the retired law enforcement officer and the criminal in question.

And yet, I walked away from Blood Work feeling far more satisfied than I did here.

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Collected Comics Review: Rocket Girl, Alex & Ada

Rocket Girl Volume 1: Times SquaredFuture police officer, Dayoung Johansson travels back in time to investigate potential crimes against time by the Quintum Mechanics. This collection of the first five installments of the Image Comic unfolds in two points in time — the near future and the near past. The linking elements is Dayoung, the titular Rocket Girl.

There are some intriguing ideas in the story, though they aren’t as well developed as they could have been, including some of the implications of traveling through time and changing the future.

The artwork in this collected comic is nicely done with visually flourishes given to each time period to set them apart.

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Tooting My Own Horn

A friend made me aware this morning that my review for Rainbow Rowell’s Landline is being featured over on Amazon.  She was kind enough to take a screen shot so I could (humbly) brag about it.  


10462859_10152597146847952_8118816075510523291_nThe review on Amazon is the same one that appears here.   



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Big Finish Reviews: The Crooked Man, The Evil One, The Last of the Colophon

Doctor Who: The Crooked Man (Big Finish Fourth Doctor Adventures 3.03)The Crooked Man

Given that The Crooked Man is from the pen of John Dorney, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I enjoyed it as much as I did. And that’s despite having an reveal in the last five or so minutes that I guessed long before the Doctor and company deduced it (or at least that they confirmed it in the course of the story).

The Doctor and Leela arrive in a sea-side town for a holiday but discover that a macabre series of murders is taking place. Investigating further, they soon discover there’s a link between these murders and a local family — the sinister and creepy Crooked Man of the title.

The idea of world of fiction having the ability to crossover into reality is nothing new for Doctor Who (see the Troughton era serial “The Mind Robber”) so it’s a huge credit to Dorney’s script that it manages to feel interesting when done here. And while there’s a twist in the last five or so minutes of the script that’s telegraphed fairly early on by the story, it’s still one that is entirely earned by the story. Continue reading

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Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars

Had We Were Liars not cautioned me against revealing too much of the book’s ending to anyone, I might have enjoyed it more than I did. The promise of having the rug pulled out from under me in the final few pages left me pondering what the twist would be and how it would work rather than sitting back and allowing me to slowly draw out the line before setting the hook.

In many ways, it reminds me a lot of the problems I have when approaching an M. Night Shymalyan film. I’m so conditioned to expect a twist that I find myself less concentrating on the story and characters than I do on looking for the seeds to be sewn for the twist or trying to be one-step ahead of the game and guessing the twist ending.

That feeling didn’t necessarily ruin We Were Liars for me, but it kept me from having quite the same zen-like experience that other readers have had with the novel.*

* I will note from a perusal of other reviews that the book seems to be fairly polarizing. It seems that readers either love it or they’re not necessarily sure the destination was worth the ride.

It’s the novel of the Sinclair family and their summers spent on the family island. The first three grandchildren plus a young man named Gat, spend each summer there together, having adventures on the island and growing up together. Our narrator is Cady, who has feelings for Gat.

Two years earlier, Cady waded out into the ocean in her clothes and was found on the beach with a head injury. She experiences short term memory loss, debilitating migraines and other side effects from the experience. She skips one summer on the island to tour Europe with her estranged father and the next summer insists on going back for half the summer in the hopes of reconnecting with her family and figuring out exactly what happened that fateful summer evening. Cady’s family can and will tell her what happened, but Cady doesn’t recall being told even moments later, leading her mother and doctors to decide she needs to remember what happened on her own.

Over the course of the story, E. Lockhart explores the complicated relationships and history of the Sinclair family. What from the outside appears to be the “perfect” family is instead one built on lying, deceit and manipulation. It seems that grandchildren are just one attempts by various parties to control and manipulate each other and to stake various participants claims to the family legacy.

The novel sets up the coming “pulling out the rug” moment fairly well with enough threads put into place that when it does come, it feels substantial and earned. That said, I’d guessed (part of) what was to come a long time before the big reveal, which allowed me to be both smug at my own intuitiveness and surprised by what Lockhart achieves in the final few pages of the novel.

Told from the point of view of Cady and easily shifting from past to present, We Were Liars is a book is good, but it’s not quite one that I’d rate as necessarily being great. It’s well written, fun and entertaining but it’s not quite the zen-experience (for me anyway) that others have made it out to be.


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