Thursday, September 18, 2014

Review: Justice League of America, Vol. 2: Survivors of Evil by Matt Kindt, Doug Mahnke (Illustrations), Christian Alamy (Illustrations)

Release Date: September 16, 2014
Publisher: DC
Source: NetGalley
Author Links: Goodreads

As the smoke clears from the Trinity War, one thing looks disturbingly clear, the members of the Justice League of America are dead, betrayed by one of their own.
But as with the Trinity War, all is not what it seems. Martian Manhunter and Star Girl have lived to fight another day and find themselves trapped on an alien world that is under the control of a group of super-villains. The key to their survival may lie in the hands of the super-villain Despero, but will these heros be able to find it within themselves to trust soemone who is supposed to be their mortal enemy?
This volume collects issues #8-14.

Stargirl saves the Justice League!
So, raise your hand if you are interested in the inner workings of Stargirl's mind?
Let me take a look... 
Hmm. Oddly enough, I'm not seeing any hands in the air.

Alrighty, considering the main character of this thing was freakin' Stargirl, it wasn't as painful to read as you might imagine. No, I'm not saying that this was worthwhile, captivating, remotely plausible, or even interesting. It just didn't hurt me to get through it.
The saving grace was that the other main character in the story was Martian Manhunter. And when he's in a title, it never truly sucks.
He's like the anti-Hawkaman.
J'onn's true power lies his ability to breath life into otherwise dead stories, whereas Hawkman kills titles with his furry shoulders and beaky gold mask.
No one, not even the Martian could totally save this one, but at least the suckage wasn't complete.

The purpose of this story is to tell what happened to the Justice League (who we care about) and the JLA (who we don't care about) during the time that the Forever Evil stuff was going on.
At the end of The Trinity War, the JLA and Justice League all got sucked into oblivion supposedly.
In reality, they were all stuck inside Firestorm, who had been turned into a bomb...or something like that.
Stargirl and Manhunter have somehow formed a psychic link that allows them to communicate to each other while they are inside of this strange Mind Prison. And they have to battle their way through their own pain and guilt in order to save the world. But at least they have each other.
Blah, blah, blah.

I've got to give Kindt credit, he really tried to make the reader give a shit about Stargirl.
Unfortunately, I hate her more now than I did before I read this.
She's a blonde haired blue-eyed teenager from the 'burbs. And she's super-perky.
She got mad when her mom's boyfriend ( apparently a pretty nice guy) moved in with her and her little brother.
You're not my DADDY!
So she stole some super-powered stuff out of his locked trunk.
Now she's got a Flight Belt. And something that looks like some kind of a jacked-up cross between a trident and a spear...that squirts lightning.
Boo! Hiss! Get off the stage!
Her tragic past was laughably easy to figure out, so I'm not even going to bother tagging this as a spoiler. She went off to fight a bad guy, and while she was gone, a villain attacked her home, and killed one of  the three people left in her house. I'm pretty sure I was supposed to be biting my nails until the Big Reveal, but...
Let see, could it be mom's boyfriend?
Nope. She needs him to help 'train' her.
Hmmm. Could it be her mother?
Nope. 'Cause otherwise, the boyfriend wouldn't be able to train her, due to the fact that he's not her legal guardian.
So. That leaves us with a dead little brother.
Poor kid should have known something was up when they told him to put on a red shirt, and gave him a name tag that said, "Hello, My Name is Crewman #8".

In the end, I still don't know how the hell they actually managed to escape, but I haven't had a chance to read volume 5 of the Justice League title, so maybe that will clear things up.
Best guess as of right now?
Stargirl's innocence, youth, and her can-do attitude somehow gave everyone the strength to fight their way out.
Or not?

Wait! It's not over just yet!
Before they could call this title quits permanently, Green Arrow had to run around begging everyone to pwease Stay Together. 'Cause begging seems to have worked so well for him in the past. This wasn't a surprising move on his part, but it was another pathetic side note to add to his overall lackluster history with New 52.
Why does DC hate him so much?
Anyone? Anyone?

Survivors of Evil wasn't the worst thing I've ever read, but I wouldn't recommend it, either.
However, if you feel the need to understand all of what before, during, and after Trinity War, then you could possibly consider this one a must-read.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

New Cover Art - The Talon of the Hawk, Seriously Wicked, Time Salvager, & More!

Covers found through Amazon, Hypable, & Tor.

The Talon of the Hawk by Jeffe Kennedy

The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne

The Novice by Taran Matharu

Time Salvager by Wesley Chu

Kensington (May 26, 2015)

Broadway Books (February 17, 2015)

 Feiwel & Friends | May 2015

Henry Holt and Co. (July 7, 2015)

Tor Teen (May 5, 2015)

Tor Books | July 7, 2015

Tor Books (July 7, 2015)

Knopf (May 26, 2015)

Review: Justice League, Vol. 5: Forever Heroes by Geoff Johns

Release Date: September 16, 2014
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: DC
Author Links: Goodreads | Website | Twitter

As the Crime Syndicate hunts down the few heroes left foolish enough to challenge them--including Batman's protege, Dick Grayson. But Owlman has other plans for Nightwing...and Owlman's teammate: the most deadly being on the planet: Ultraman! Also, Cyborg is one of the lone Justice League members left to fight against the villains that have taken over. How can he possibly find a way to defeat them? Who can he turn to? Two words: Metal Men!

I was hoping this would give me some insight into what was happening  to the Justice League, you know, while they were trapped inside the Firestorm Matrix, but that's not what this volume is about.
But it is a cool peek at the backstories of the members of the Crime Syndicate.
You know, one of these days, I 'm going to finally learn to read the blurb.

The Grid was looking for a way to feel something, so he started pawing through the files on all of  his new team members.

In case you don't remember, the Grid is Cyborg's now self-aware tech, that separated itself from him in volume 4.
Through this, we learn where these guys came from, and how their bizarro-like existence shaped them into the opposites of our own Justice League.
Some of the stories were admittedly more interesting than others. And some of them, like Superwoman and the 'man in the hood', were missing altogether.
Owlman had (in my opinion) the most original and emotionally complicated story, and it was well worth reading. Ultraman, while still interesting, had your basic Opposite-of-Superman origin story. Power Ring (Hal Jordan's counterpart), was only slightly worth it.
His superpower seemed to be that he was unbelievably whiny and annoying.
Which made it hard to believe that the Crime Syndicate tolerated him, much less let him live.
Hell, I wanted to kill him, and I'm not a super-villain.

Cyborg was the only Justice League member featured in this one, and since the whole story hinged on him figuring out how to take down Grid, it worked out well.
When it started, Cyborg was still (literally) only half a man. He was in his father's lab, being kept alive with the help of the advanced technology that his father and his partner had been studying.
Ok, you know I'm a mushy sentimental kind of girl, so it probably won't surprise you to know that I loved the parts where Cyborg and his dad worked out their issues. His dad finally had the breakdown that I'd been waiting for, and begged forgiveness for not being there for his son.
Plus, Victor got to make the decision about whether or not to become a Cyborg  this time around.
Which leads us to....
Gone is the bulky outdated stuff, and in it's place we get a more streamlined version of Cyborg. He still looks badass, but without the clunky armored tank feel to his body, it's easier to see his human side.

Alrighty, last but not least, the Metal Men.
Mixed feeling on these guys, to be quite honest. On one hand, I was excited to read about them in the New 52 setting, but on the other....
I think it would have been better to explore their origin in a different setting. Maybe one where they weren't packed into the background of a larger event?
Just sayin'.
My feelings on whether or not the Metal Men story even worked are still pretty up in the air.
I guess time will tell?

Ok. And this is just a side note, but there has been some debate on the 'realism' of some of the things that happened in this story arc. One of the things that everyone seemed to agree on, was the part where Ultraman moved the moon in front of the sun, in order to create a permanent eclipse.
Being the opposite of Superman, the sun drains his power.
We all pretty much called bullshit on that one, due to the whole Shit-In-The-Sky-Rotates theory that we're all kind of on board with.
Thankfully, it's addressed in this volume.
Grid does remind Ultraman that he needs to nudge the moon back into place, in order to keep the sunshine levels down.

If you're not enjoying this storyline, nothing here is really going to make you fall in love with it.
But if (like me) you're already having fun with this title, this is another pretty good installment.

Monday, September 15, 2014

[Release Day Review] - Melancholy (Jokers' Wrath MC Book #2) by Bella Jewel

There's never been a time I've cared about anything more than my club. Today that all changed. Today I got you."

To truly understand a story; you need to start from the beginning, but to start from the beginning; you have to go back, further than just you. After all, our stories don’t start with us, do they? Our stories start with the person before us, and the person before them. We are created from the stories of those people - from their mistakes, from their achievements, from their love and their hate.

No one’s story is ever truly their own.

I tried to create my own story, my own path, and my own actions. I’ve seen things people only see in their worst nightmares, but I never let it beat me down. I never let it become who I was. I picked myself up, and I kept going. Everything was what it was.

There was no point analyzing what it could be.

Could be’s didn’t matter.

Until Maddox came into the picture. He saved my life. He changed my world; giving me the second chance some of us only dream about. There was only one thing missing in my second chance, and she was the reason I fought so hard to survive.

My sister.

My sister who is supposed to be dead, well, at least, that’s what I thought.

That’s what he told me.

Now is where my story changes, but to understand this story, you have to start at the beginning…where it all began…and before.

This is Maddox's and Santana's story.  We met these two back in the first book, Precarious.  Maddox is the President of the Jokers' Wrath MC, and Santana, or Tana, is basically his ward.  The last time we saw Maddox, he was in a, um, precarious position with two other people.  At the time, my first reaction was WTF?  It made no sense to the story line in the previous book.  However, it was included to set up the main point of contention in Melancholy.  This is a story of survival and loyalty with a lot of hot and sexy moments included.

Tana was saved by Maddox when she was a teenager.  After suffering a dramatic family loss and late, abuse, Tana and her sister took to the streets.  Tana was fiercely loyal and protective of her younger sister, and would rather die than allow anything to happen to her.  The two girls were barely able to survive until a random man took them in.  Although the girls were fed and cared for, this was the beginning of Santana's downfall.  This is where she was hooked on a bad habit that almost destroyed her, until Maddox rescued her.  Unfortunately, Tana's sister was collateral damage and was killed when Tana was saved.

Santana and Maddox have a very strange relationship.  She feels like he treats her like a daughter with his ultra controlling ways.  Maddox wants nothing more to protect Santana, and controls her life in an attempt to keep her safe.  underneath it all is an undercurrent of lust, desire and want.  Since Tana doesn't think that Maddox sees her as a grown woman, she tries her best to carry on a normal life under the watchful gaze of her protector.

Santana and Maddox play a game of cat and mouse, each character hiding their true feelings.  Once they admit their feelings for one another, the hot, sexy times begin.  There is a particular scene on Maddox's bike that had me fanning myself.  Bella Jewel does a great job at bringing the sexy!  However, we learn that Maddox is keeping a HUGE secret from Tana that threatens to ruin their budding relationship.  This secret causes some major friction for this couple, but they find a way to accept the past, forgive one another and move towards the future.  The secret does take them on an adventure that is gritty and hard.  Some characters don't make it.  Others are hurt badly.  There were a lot of things going on in the ending and it kept me on the edge of my seat.

I loved meeting Maddox's "brother", Mack.  He has a story behind him that was set up at the end of Melancholy.  I think I'm going to love Mack!  I am very much invested in reading the next book in this series.  I think this series about this rag tag bunch of bikers is just going to keep getting better!

If you are a fan of biker books and erotic romance, this is the book for you.  Bella Jewel is a comfortable writer - she pulls you in and lets the story drag you to the end.  I have enjoyed all of her books, and I am especially happy with this new series.  I can't wait for more!

[Cover Reveal] Wicked by Jennifer Armentrout

Look.  At.  This.  Cover!  We are so excited to bring you the Cover Reveal for Jennifer L. Armentrout's WICKED! WICKED is a New Adult Paranormal Romance and is a part of Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Wicked Trilogy. It is being released on December 8th, 2014. So make sure you pre-order it today!!

Things are about to get Wicked in New Orleans.

Twenty-two year old Ivy Morgan isn’t your average college student. She, and others like her, know humans aren’t the only thing trolling the French Quarter for fun… and for food. Her duty to the Order is her life. After all, four years ago, she lost everything at the hands of the creatures she’d sworn to hunt, tearing her world and her heart apart. 

Ren Owens is the last person Ivy expected to enter her rigidly controlled life. He’s six feet and three inches of temptation and swoon-inducing charm. With forest-green eyes and a smile that’s surely left a stream of broken hearts in its wake, he has an uncanny, almost unnatural ability to make her yearn for everything he has to offer. But letting him in is as dangerous as hunting the cold-blooded killers stalking the streets. Losing the boy she loved once before had nearly destroyed her, but the sparking tension that grows between them becomes impossible for Ivy to deny. Deep down, she wants… she needs more than what her duty demands of her, what her past has shaped for her.

But as Ivy grows closer to Ren, she realizes she’s not the only one carrying secrets that could shatter the frail bond between them. There’s something he’s not telling her, and one thing is for certain. She’s no longer sure what is more dangerous to her—the ancient beings threatening to take over the town or the man demanding to lay claim to her heart and her soul.

# 1 NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV.

She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

[Cover Reveal] Torture to her Soul (Monster in his Eyes #2) ~ by J.M. Darhower

I am excited today to reveal J.M. Darhower's newest book cover for Torture to her Soul.  I loved the first book in this series, Monster in his Eyes, and have been waiting for the sequel.  What do you think of this cover?  

Don't say it unless you mean it...

It's a simple concept, one I've said time and again, but something people don't seem to comprehend. You should choose every syllable carefully, because you never know when somebody will hold you to your word.

Somebody like me.

I'm not a good man. I'm not. I know. I have enough darkness inside of me to rid the world of every stitch of light. But there's one I could never harm, one light I couldn't bring myself to snuff out.


She thinks I'm a monster, and maybe I am. I taunt her with my touch, get a thrill out of torturing her soul. But I'm not the only one. The world is full of monsters, and I'm not the most dangerous one out there.

Not even close...

God help me, I love her.

I do.

And God help anyone who tries to take her from me.

"Guess it's true what they say."
The sound of Karissa's voice draws my attention. Turning around, I see her standing at the bottom of the steps, eyes trained past me at the front door. 
Early morning sunshine bathes the area around it in a soft orange glow, making the brand new locks lining the door shine brightly. I spent all night fortifying the house, doing everything in my power to make the place secure.
"And what, exactly, do they say?"
Karissa's eyes shift from the door to meet mine. Her hair is a mess, her pajamas disheveled. She clearly just woke up from sleeping hard, lost in tranquility, while I spent the past few hours drowning in paranoia. Every time the house creaked, I damn near clawed my way out of my own skin.
"History repeats itself," she says, "first as a tragedy, second as a farce."
Karl Marx. I recognize the quote.
Daniel Santino must've taught it to her.
I wave toward the front door. "Something about this is funny to you?"
"Not really funny," she says, slowly stepping closer. "It's sort of curious, though, that I spent my entire life trapped behind locked doors and here it is, happening to me again. I always knew something was going on when my mother started buying extra locks and nailing down windows. It's just a bit of déjà vu seeing you doing the same thing."
Hesitating, I reach into my pocket and fish out a set of keys. I toss them to her without warning, and they hit the wooden floor by her feet with a clang. 
Bending down, she picks them up, eyeing me curiously.
"You're not trapped here, Karissa."
Her fist closes around the keys, her gaze burning through me as she arches an eyebrow, silent for a moment before asking, "Aren't I?"
"No, you're not," I say. "You can leave the house whenever you want."
"Can I?"
"Of course," I say. "Doesn't mean I won't follow you, though."

J.M. Darhower is the USA Today bestselling author of books about the hottest hit men and the women who find some hope in them. She lives in a tiny town in rural North Carolina, where she churns out more words than will ever see the light of day. She has a deep passion for politics and speaking out against human trafficking, and when she isn't writing (or fangirling) she's usually ranting about those things.  Chronic crimper with a vulgar mouth, she admits to having a Twitter addiction. You can usually always find her there.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

[Coffee Shop Talks] Urban Fantasy Recommendations

I've discovered a lot of amazing urban fantasy novels over the years. I could easily list 20 series that I've really enjoyed. I've managed to narrow it down to my top 10 recommendations. Feel free to add some recommendations of your own =)