11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel

Hellblazer, Vol. 2: The Devil You Know by Jamie Delano, read by Courtney, on 05/29/2012

To Hell and Back
It’s been a long and difficult road for John Constantine – one that’s left him with demon’s blood in his veins and dead friends’ voices in his head.

Still, with his sharp tongue and unequaled shrewdness, the sorcerer from Liverpool has manged to raise himself to a position as rarefied as it is dangerous: being the magician of last resort for a world under constant siege from the forces of chaos and evil. That same rough path has also sharpened his mind, and taught him a thing or two about ruthlessness. Now, with the outcome of an ancient prophecy hanging on his actions, it’s time for Constantine to bring the scales of justice back into balance – at Hell’s expense.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Teen Books

Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury, read by Courtney, on 11/13/2012

Agnes Wilkins is standing in front of an Egyptian mummy, about to make the first cut into the wrappings, about to unlock ancient (and not-so-ancient) history.

Maybe you think this girl is wearing a pith helmet with antique dust swirling around her.

Maybe you think she is a young Egyptologist who has arrived in Cairo on camelback.

Maybe she would like to think that too. Agnes Wilkins dreams of adventures that reach beyond the garden walls, but reality for a seventeen-year-old debutante in 1815 London does not allow for camels—or dust, even. No, Agnes can only see a mummy when she is wearing a new silk gown and standing on the verdant lawns of Lord Showalter’s estate, with chaperones fussing about and strolling sitar players straining to create an exotic “atmosphere” for the first party of the season. An unwrapping.

This is the start of it all, Agnes’s debut season, the pretty girl parade that offers only ever-shrinking options: home, husband, and high society. It’s also the start of something else, because the mummy Agnes unwraps isn’t just a mummy. It’s a host for a secret that could unravel a new destiny—unleashing mystery, an international intrigue, and possibly a curse in the bargain.

Get wrapped up in the adventure . . . but keep your wits about you, dear Agnes.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel

DMZ, Vol. 5: The Hidden War by Brian Wood, read by Courtney, on 08/28/2012

Collecting issues #23-28 of the acclaimed series from writer Brian Wood (DEMO). The world and characters of the DMZ are expanded and enriched in this volume as Matty Roth turns his attention to several locals — a guerilla artist, a former ally who’s now worse off than a homeless person, the powerful head of an organization within the DMZ and more

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel

DMZ, Vol. 4: Friendly Fire by Brian Wood, read by Courtney, on 08/28/2012

America’s worst nightmare has come true. Having neglected the threat of anti-establishment militias, the U.S. government is in danger of losing control. Middle America has violently risen up, coming to a standstill at Manhattan or, as the world now knows it, the DMZ. Matty Roth, a naïve, aspiring photojournalist lands a dream gig following a veteran war journalist into the heart of the DMZ. Things soon go horribly wrong, and Matty finds himself lost and alone in a world he’s only seen on television.

In this volume, Roth reluctantly lands an interview for Liberty News with an enlisted U.S. solider who’s found guilty of a massacre within the DMZ. What follows is a look at how the DMZ came to be, from the perspective of a kid who came from the Midwest and walked right into a nightmare.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel

DMZ, Vol. 3: Public Works by Brian Wood, read by Courtney, on 08/27/2012

Having neglected the threat of anti-establishment militias, the U.S. government is in danger of losing control. Middle America has violently risen up, coming to a standstill at Manhattan or, as the world now knows it, the DMZ. Matty Roth, an aspiring photojournalist for The Liberty News, lands a dream gig following a veteran war journalist into the heart of the DMZ. Things soon go terribly wrong and Matty finds himself lost and alone in a world he’s only seen on television.

In this volume, Matty severs his ties to The Liberty News and becomes a free agent. He soon finds himself in over his head as he goes undercover and infiltrates a terrorist cell determined to disrupt any and all construction sites trying to rebuild the city.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

Tegami Bachi, Vol. 10 by Hiroyuki Asada, read by Courtney, on 09/30/2012

Amberground is locked in darkness. A man-made star casts only a dim light over the land. The pitch-black wilderness is infested with Gaichuu–colossal insects with metal exoskeletons. The Gaichuu make travel between the cities of Amberground extremely dangerous. But thankfully the Letter Bees, a brave corps of messengers, risk their lives in order to keep the hearts of Amberground connected.

The Shining Eye

With Lag out sick, Aria Link, second in command at the Beehive, takes over the job of delivering his letters. But even with Niche at her side, Aria finds that Amberground has become a dangerous place. Can she defend herself armed with nothing but a violin? Meanwhile, Lag’s illness takes a strange turn.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

Tegami Bachi, Vol. 9 by Hiroyuki Asada, read by Courtney, on 09/30/2012

Amberground is locked in darkness. A man-made star casts only a dim light over the land. The pitch-black wilderness is infested with Gaichuu–colossal insects with metal exoskeletons. The Gaichuu make travel between the cities of Amberground extremely dangerous. But thankfully the Letter Bees, a brave corps of messengers, risk their lives in order to keep the hearts of Amberground connected.

The Dead Letter Office Lag’s hero, Gauche Suede, has returned to the Beehive; but not in the way Lag had hoped.While Gauche lies injured and unconscious, two mysterious government operatives show up to take him away, arousing the suspicions of the Beehive staff. What is the Amberground government trying to hide from the Letter Bees?

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

Blue Exorcist, Vol. 1 by Kazue Kato, read by Courtney, on 09/30/2012

Raised by Father Fujimoto, a famous exorcist, Rin Okumura never knew his real father. One day a fateful argument with Father Fujimoto forces Rin to face a terrible truth – the blood of the demon lord Satan runs in Rin’s veins! Rin swears to defeat Satan, but doing that means entering the mysterious True Cross Academy and becoming an exorcist himself. Can Rin fight demons and keep his infernal bloodline a secret? It won’t be easy, especially when drawing his father’s sword releases the demonic power within him!

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

Tegami Bachi, Vol. 8 by Hiroyuki Asada, read by Courtney, on 09/24/2012

Lag has now found Gauche, but Gauche is not himself. Under the moniker of “Noir” he has joined the rebel organization, “Reverse”. Hot on his trail and armed with a letter bullet, Lag infiltrates a convent that he is convinced may be connected to Reverse.
As charming and tragic as ever.

07. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Fiction

The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence, read by Courtney, on 08/17/2013

When Alex Woods was 10 years old, a meteorite crashed through the roof of the house he was living in, striking him in the head. After recovering from the coma induced by the physical trauma of a meteorite hit to the head, Alex develops a seizure disorder. The seizures, combined with his single-mother’s quirky vocation as a tarot card reader, make for an unusual upbringing that isolates Alex to a rather extreme degree. As he nears his teen years, he meets Mr. Peterson and his life changes forever. What begins as a chance encounter turns into a full-fledged friendship between two very unusual individuals. When Mr. Peterson realizes he is going to die, Alex becomes more like family and it becomes a race to accomplish as much as they can before Mr. Peterson’s disease catches up with him.
The beginning of the book features Alex at 17, being stopped by border patrol with a massive quantity of marijuana in seat next to him. He is also very, very certain that he has absolutely done the right thing. The reader follows Alex as he tells his side of the story, which necessarily includes many detours and unusual circumstances.
This is an interesting take on the classic bildungsroman. Alex is certainly not like most kids or teens, which makes him an intriguing narrator. Mr. Peterson is a classic curmudgeon. Alex’s mother, while not exactly run-of-the-mill herself, is kind and loving even if a bit smothering. The only place where I’ve really got to deduct points is for the basic plot. There are a lot of great details, but the overall story is one we’ve heard time and time again. Awkward teenage boy befriends grouchy/lonely old man and everyone learns/grows from the experience. Mix in some feels due to the old man dying of a rare disease and you’ve got what amounts to a fairly predictable story. Major bonus points for all the Vonnegut love though.

07. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel

The New Deadwardians by Dan Abnett, read by Courtney, on 08/23/2013

In post-Victorian England, nearly everyone of the upper classes has voluntarily become a vampire in order to escape the lower classes who are all zombies. Into this simmering cauldron is thrust Chief Inspector George Suttle, a lonely detective who’s got the slowest beat in London: investigating murders in a world where everyone is already dead! When the body of a young aristocrat washes up on the banks of the Thames, Suttle’s quest for the truth will take him from the darkest sewers to the gleaming halls of power, and reveal the rotten heart at the center of this strange world.

07. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel

Stickman Odyssey, Book 2: The Wrath of Zozimos by Christopher Ford, read by Courtney, on 08/25/2013

Greek tragedy has never been so funny

Zozimos’ journey to the kingdom of Sticatha has been anything but smooth. He’s survived enslavement, battled golems and a ravenous Cyclops, and generally served as plaything to gods and goddesses looking for a good laugh. All for the sake of reclaiming the Sticathan royal throne–stolen from him by an evil witch, aka his stepmother.

You’d think that a stickman would catch a break after all that, but you’d be wrong. Arriving home only brings crazy family members and a return trip to sea, where mercenary centaurs and giant boar gods keep Zozimos questing and readers laughing. It would all be an epic tragedy if it wasn’t so funny.

07. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

Library Wars: Love & War, Vol. 5 by Kiiro Yumi, read by Courtney, on 08/25/2013

In the near future, the federal government creates a committee to rid society of books it deems unsuitable. The libraries vow to protect their collections, and with the help of local governments, form a military group to defend themselves–the Library Forces!

Iku is about to face her most difficult challenge–her parents are coming to visit the library where she works! When she joined the Library Forces, she told her parents that she was just going to be a librarian Now they might discover that she’s on the ultra-dangerous Task Force. Can her parents ever accept that she’s a library warrior?

07. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

Library Wars: Love & War, Vol. 6 by Kiiro Yumi, Hiro Arikawa, read by Courtney, on 08/26/2013

In the near future, the federal government creates a committee to rid society of books it deems unsuitable. The libraries vow to protect their collections, and with the help of local governments, form a military group to defend themselves–the Library Forces!

It’s Valentine’s Day, and Iku’s hopes are dashed when Dojo, the guy she’s been crushing on–and who’s her Library Force superior!–receives an elegant box of chocolates from another woman. Romantic intrigue strikes the whole team as Shibazaki meets a would-be suitor and confides in Iku about her tortured love life. And it seems that Hikaru is being followed by someone from his past.

07. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

PLUTO: Urasawa x Tezuka, Volume 008 by Naoki Urasawa, read by Courtney, on 08/30/2013

A new vision based on Astroboy – “The greatest robot on earth”. Final Volume!

07. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

American Vampire, Vol. 4 by Scott Snyder, read by Courtney, on 08/30/2013

AMERICAN VAMPIRE flashes back to two very distinct points in American history. The first tale comes from the early 1800′s with the “The Beast in the Cave” featuring art by the legendary Jordi Bernet (Torpedo, JONAH HEX). Learn about the original American Vampire, Skinner Sweet, and his involvement in the brutal Indian Wars, and an ancient evil hidden in the heart of the Old West. Plus, more about the man Skinner used to call his best friend – James Book!

The second tale comes straight from 1950s America, where AMERICAN VAMPIRE is terrorizing the suburbs with hot rods, teenyboppers and fangs! “Death Race” focuses on ferocious new vampire hunter Travis Kidd – but what is his connection to Skinner Sweet? As the story comes to a violent end, a sworn enemy’s identity is finally revealed, and lots of blood is spilled!

Writer Scott Snyder (BATMAN, SWAMP THING) and artist Rafael Albuquerque bring together even more threads to the complex tapestry that is the world of AMERICAN VAMPIRE.

07. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

Stargazing Dog by Takashi Murakami, read by Courtney, on 08/30/2013

Translated from the Japanese bestseller, this story centers on Oto-san, a man who finds himself abandoned by his family and friends with nothing in his life happening the way he had planned. He embarks on a road trip to escape it all, and he soon discovers the only one he can count on completely is his faithful, recently adopted dog, who helps him see the light at the end of the tunnel. Illustrating the valuable lessons of friendship and loyalty, this is a heartwarming tale of two endearing characters and their shared adventure into the unknown.

07. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

PLUTO: Urasawa x Tezuka, Volume 007 by Naoki Urasawa, read by Courtney, on 08/30/2013

Who Killed Astro Boy? No Robots; Human vs. humanoid!

Pluto has destroyed six out of the seven great robots of the world, and the pacifist robot Epsilon is the only one that remains. Will Epsilon, who refused to participate in the 39th Central Asian War, leave behind his war-orphaned charges to step onto the battlefield? It just might be that kindly Epsilon, who wields the power of photon energy, will be Pluto’s greatest opponent of all!

07. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Paranormal, Teen Books

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake , read by Courtney, on 09/29/2013

Things aren’t going so well for the gods of old. Athena has been growing feathers on the inside of her body while Hermes has been wasting away. In an attempt to find the source of their mortality, they begin traversing the country in search of answers. It appears that the other gods aren’t doing well either; each is dying in their own way. Their power is fading. Demeter points them in the direction of someone who might be able to help, provided they can find her and make her remember who she is before Hera and Aphrodite do. War is brewing and they’ll need all the help they can get. The person they need now is the prophetess Cassandra, the same girl who was cursed by Apollo to see the future but to not be believed by anyone. The original Cassandra died centuries ago, but her reincarnation lives a normal high school existence and is completely unaware of her potential role in the brewing war.
Fans of Greek mythology won’t want to miss this one. The gods are doing all the things the gods are known for: drama, trickery, intimidation and deception. Cassandra is a pretty cool girl with a doting brother and loyal bff, both of whom will come in rather handy as the story progresses. Athena is not someone to mess with, even in her weakened state. Old alliances are tested as desperate goddesses seek to save themselves at the expense of everything else. Some knowledge of Greek myth and classical literature will definitely help readers to appreciate the motivations of the various characters, but plenty of background information is presented as well. I really enjoyed this dark take on the gods-in-the-real-world theme.

07. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Strangelets by Michelle Gagnon, read by Courtney, on 09/21/2013

OK, here’s the deal. I loved the premise of this book: 3 teens, from very different walks of life, appear in an abandoned hospital shortly after they seem to die in their real lives. Sophie, from California, is dying of terminal cancer. Declan, from Ireland, is about to get shot in the head. Anat, from Israel, is in the process of navigating a booby-trapped tunnel between Israel and Egypt. All three of them, plus a few more from other points around the globe, wake up with no clue as to how or why they got to the abandoned hospital. Eventually, they collectively realize that they need to get out, since, apart from their small group, there are no signs of life anywhere. When one of the kids disappears, everyone begins to suspect the worst and the story takes a turn from creepy mystery to horror/thriller.
The premise is intriguing, but the execution isn’t really all that satisfying. The first half of the book is certainly enough to get readers hooked and the twists will keep them going. The ending however, is unmemorable and has the potential to disappoint. The three main characters are relatively well-developed, although the rest of the characters are a bit flat and come across as potentially expendable. It becomes readily apparent that one of the other kids knows more than the main characters do, but it takes the main characters a frustratingly long time to figure it all out. Still, even with its flaws, this is a fun and eerie read.