Malin’s #CBR5 Reviews #93-94: Charley Davidson book 4 and 5 by Darynda Jones

Rating: Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet – 4 stars
Fifth Grave Past the Light – 4.5 stars

At the beginning of Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet, a few months have passed since the end of book three, and Charley isn’t doing all that well. She’s not really left her apartment, which is now stuffed full of boxes full of random useless stuff she’s purchased from late night shopping channels. Her best friend/next door neighbour/overqualified personal assistant Cookie has cancelled all her credit cards, and insists on ganging up on her, along with her uncle Bob, and her sister Gemma. They claim that she’s suffering a mild case of PTSD (they’re right) and they insist that she leave the apartment, and start getting her life back in order. When a desperate young woman shows up on her doorstep claiming someone is trying to kill her, but everyone around her just thinks she’s insane, Charley decides that enough is enough, and promises to help. She’s decides that the best way out of her financial difficulties is serving Reyes with a hefty bill, since she technically performed the job he hired her to do. Now she just has to find him.

In Fifth Grave Past the Light, Cookie and Charley discover that they have a new neighbour, and it’s the drop dead gorgeous Reyes Farrow himself. Charley is hoping to prove to her uncle Bob that Reyes is not the arsonist who’s been burning down old buildings all over Albuquerque, but it does seem suspicious that all the same buildings are ones that Reyes at some point lived in, growing up. She’s made peace with her father, whose bar, previously mostly a cop hangout, is now a super popular lunching spot for women of all ages. Charley’s apartment is slowly filling up with young dead women, all of them blond and killed gruesomely, clearly by the same serial killer. Despite Charley’s Reaper powers, she’s unable to get any of them to communicate with her, they’re too traumatised, even after death. When it seems like Charley’s sister Gemma may be the serial killer’s next intended victim, it becomes crucial that she discover the killer’s identity as soon as possible.

Full review on my blog. 

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Malin’s #CBR5 Review #90: Batman Incorporated by Grant Morrison and various artists

Following on from the events of Batman R.I.PFinal CrisisBatman and Robin and The Return of Bruce Wayne, this trade paperback collects a lot of stories setting up the new and international Batman Incorporated. Bruce Wayne has gone public as the financier of Batman. He wants to make sure that anywhere there is crime, there will be a Batman, or someone closely linked to him. Batman and his associates travel the globe to recruit new members for their organisation, while fighting the emerging crime syndicate known as Leviathan.

Complete review on my blog.

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #89: Absolute All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely

I’m going to start with a confession. I didn’t use to like Superman much. I thought he was a goody two-shoes, a bit wet, and just not as interesting as Batman, or as cool as Wonder Woman, the other two big superheroes of the DC Universe. My husband always told me I was wrong, and while I like the 1978 film with Christopher Reeve, I was just never convinced that he was worth my while. Grant Morrison changed my mind about that. In his twelve issue mini-series, which did rather better than Frank Millar’s spectacular train-wreck All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder (for one thing, it got completed), Morrison tells an utterly compelling story, showing why Superman is one of the ultimate superheroes, and why, while he might not be as cool and gritty as Bruce Wayne, Kal El is a much more admirable character.

Warning! There will be certain spoilers for the new film Man of Steel in this review. If you haven’t seen it (do yourself a favour, and just don’t – it’s NOT a Superman story, and it’s a long, boring and just really rather depressing film), you may want to avoid this review. You can go read All-Star Superman instead. It’s amazing and captures exactly who Superman is and why he is so great.

Full review on my blog.

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #88: Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil by Jeff Smith

Orphan Billy Batson lives in an abandoned building, when his life is changed completely. An ancient wizard grants him the ancient powers of seven legendary heroes and gods, and whenever Billy utters the magic word: “Shazam!” he turns into Captain Marvel (never named as such in the comic due to licensing restrictions), an adult superhero. Yet Billy went wandering to places he shouldn’t, and now there is an invasion of giant alien monsters, and scary talking animals calling themselves the Monster Society of Evil.

Can Billy Batson, his little sister Mary and their friend, the talking tiger Tawky Tawny prove that the sinister Doctor Sivana is in league with the Monster Society of Evil and up to no good? Can they remove the alien threat before the mysterious Mister Mind and the gigantic alien vessels destroy all human life on Earth?

More on my blog. 

Malin’s #CBR5 Reviews #86-87: Saga vol 1 and 2 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Rating: 4.5 stars for both volumes (I still think there is even better to come)

Marko and Alana are star-crossed lovers from either side of a huge and long-running intergalactic war. Marko is a prisoner, and Alana is his prison guard, when they fall in love, go on the run, and have a baby (who narrates several of the issues). Now both their peoples want them hunted down and killed, but at least one side wants the child alive.

I love pretty much every single character in this, and the series has pretty much anything you could possibly want – sexy main characters, witty banter, action, violence, wise cracking ghost girls, bounty hunters, evil armless spider-bodied assassin ladies, robot people, a sidekick cat that can tell (and will ruthlessly reveal) if people are lying.

The rest of the review – on my blog.

Malin’s #CBR5 Reviews #84-85: The Unwritten vol 6 and 7 by Mike Carey and Peter Gross

Rating: Vol 6: Tommy Taylor and the War of Words – 4 stars
Vol 7: The Wound – 4.5 stars

This review covers volume 6 and 7 of The Unwritten, which collects issues 31-41 of the comic book. If you haven’t read any of the previous volumes, this is really not the place to start, although you should totally read it, because it’s awesome. This review will probably unavoidably contain spoilers for earlier volumes, so if you want to avoid them, skip this review for now.

In Tommy Taylor and the War of Words, things are coming to a head between Tommy and the mysterious Cabal that’s been hounding him him and killing pretty much everyone he loves. Lizzie and Richie are still by his side, but they are worried that Tommy is using too much of his newly discovered powers without proper control. In alternating chapters, we see Tom taking the battle to them, ignoring the warnings of his closest friends, and we learn more about the Cabal and the sinister and deadly Mr. Pullman, and his true agenda. Tommy’s battle is fraught with danger, and not without personal cost.

In The Wound, a year has passed since the dramatic events in Oxford at the end of the last volume, which finished off several of the story lines set up over the first 30 issues of the comic, and much of this volume centres around a new character, Australian police detective Didge Patterson. She’s investigating a series of mysterious disappearances, believed to be linked to the rapidly growing cult The Church of Tommy. Tommy himself is on his way to Australia, as part of his world-wide lecture tour. Meanwhile, Richie has become world famous in his own right, having written a best-selling book. He’s parted ways with Tommy and is trying to track down and get some answers from the ancient puppet mistress Frau Rasch. More on my blog.

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #66: Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge

Plot summary by Goodreads, because it’s much more pithy than anything I myself could write:

After her father dies, Mosca Mye flees the hamlet where she grew up. With her goose companion and a smooth-tongued swindler, Eponymous Clent, she heads for the city of Mandelion – and a better life. There she finds herself living by her wits among highwaymen, spies and smugglers, insane rulers and floating coffeehouses. With peril at every turn, Mosca uncovers a dark plot to terrorize the people of Mandelion, and soon merry mayhem leads to murder…

Mosca is a clever child, living in a town where most people can’t read, in a world where if something is found printed without the authorising seal of the Stationers’ Guild, it’s seen as illegal, and must be burned. The world she lives in resembles ours, in the 18th Century, to some extent. Various Guilds of Tradesmen vie for power in the various cities of the Realm, while Parliament debate who should inherit the throne. About ten years past, there was a terrible Civil War, when the religious radical group the Birdcatchers were all hunted down and destroyed. In Mandelion, the ruling Duke is clearly going slowly insane, his beautiful and enigmatic sister is trying to keep the Locksmith’s Guild (who have the keys to any door and lock) from completely taking over, and there is someone with an illegal printing press, encouraging sedition and stirring up dangerous thoughts. Mosca is thrust straight into the middle of all of this, with her somewhat dubious companion, self-proclaimed wordsmith and con man, Eponymous Clent. Accompanied by a foul tempered gander and wanting desperately to better her situation in the world, Mosca agrees to help the alluring Lady Tamarind (the Duke’s sister) try to figure out what is going on. The rest? On my blog.