Star Wars: Crimson Empire III - Empire Lost

Star Wars: Crimson Empire III: Empire Lost - Mike Richardson, Paul Gulacy The conclusion of Crimson Empire brings Kir Kanos' journey full circle, and back to face the last of the traitorous red guards. Mirith Sinn's role as personal bodyguard to the Head of State, Leia Organa, places her central to the story. When an assassination attempt forces Sinn to team up with Kanos, the New Republic council makes it clear they they do not trust either party. This is the redemption part of the Crimson Empire Saga, and it shines. While I'm sad to see Kanos and Sinn go in the end, their story is concluded, and in a marvelously bittersweet fashion. It's rare that a licensed property comic can dig so deep and create something as fresh as Crimson Empire, but it's a trilogy of tales well worth your time. Must reads for any "Star Wars" fan.

Star Wars-Crimson Empire: Council of Blood, Volume 2

Crimson Empire, Volume 2: Council of Blood - Mike Richardson, Randy Stradley, Paul Gulacy The second Crimson Empire volume explores the darker reaches of espionage and treachery, focusing heavily on Imperial sympathizers and the reluctant alliance of Kanos and Sinn. As the two soldiers learn to trust one another, they face the harsh realities that neither can trust their allies, and may, in fact, have to sacrifice more than their lives to survive. Personal honor and integrity play a heavy role in this series, as does guilt and associative fault; Kanos slowly becomes more human in this volume, beginning to regret his past actions, while Sinn role as a commander and military leader gives her confidence and a reason to try to convert Kanos to her cause. While perhaps not as refreshing as Volume One, the political angle is on heavy display in the second volume of Crimson Empire, and offers a delicious slice of "Star Wars" life that die-hard fans will love sinking their teeth into.

Star Wars: Crimson Empire, Volume 1

Crimson Empire, Volume 1 - Mike Richardson, Randy Stradley, Paul Gulacy Espionage, new lore, and a classic antihero set this post-original trilogy story into high gear, showcasing the duty-bound red guard, Kir Kanos. Expanding upon the mysterious and intimidating guards glimpsed briefly in 'Return of the Jedi', the Crimson Empire saga explores the power vacuum left in the wake of the emperor's death, and offers a slightly different take on the rebel forces, especially in the reluctant commander, Mirith Sinn. A fantastic start to the trilogy.

Slashback: A Cal Leandros Novel (Cal and Niko)

Slashback: A Cal Leandros Novel (Cal and Niko) - Rob Thurman Another good entry, reveling in the slow burn style of story. The flashback sequences are outstanding, and the modern day aspects are eerie and actually frightening in some areas. The villain is another piece of the puzzle this time around, and I suspect Thurman is ramping up for something serious for the follow up next spring.

Batman Vol. 2: The City of Owls (The New 52)

Batman, Vol. 2: The City of Owls - Becky Cloonan, Andy Clarke, Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion, Sandu Florea, Rafael Albuquerque, Scott Snyder, Jason Fabok, James Tynion Spooky, suspenseful, and intense conclusion to the Owls vs Bats storyline. Scotty Snyder's writing and Greg Capullo's artwork have made this the must-read Batman story arc. New fan, old fan, or lapsed fan, you'll want to read this.

Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom

Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom - Mark Waid, Chris Samnee Fun, nostalgic, pulpy comic book goodness from Mark Waid.

Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon

Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon - Matt Fraction, David Aja, Javier Pulido Funny, witty, and hugely entertaining, with great art and a fantastic sense of fun. This is what comics need to be.

Three Cups of Deceit: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way (Kindle Single)

Three Cups of Deceit: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way - Jon Krakauer Objective journalism is hard enough, but it's hard to be an objective reader when it comes to Jon Krakauer. I admire his ability to write and tell a story, but when I read him, I have to keep a very open mind. This particular piece is complicated, has many troubling elements - deception, an inability to keep promises, mishandling of a nobly-intentioned charity's funds, and a charismatic and difficult lead character in Greg Mortenson - and at times Krakauer's writing threatens to make the story about his personal feelings of being let down and betrayed by Mortenson and his history, which turns out is not as adventurous as Mortenson claims in his own books (Three Cups of Tea; Stones Into Schools), and not about the more sinister aspects of the Central Asia Institute (CAI)'s fund mishandling, and the astonishing number of schools that are not being used. At the same time, this is an exceptional long form journalism piece, and proves once again that Krakauer is a modern master of the genre. It's also a bitter, frustrating read that leaves more questions than definitive answers. I would be curious to see a rebuttal from Mortenson and his organization.

Through the Mickle Woods

Through the Mickle Woods - Valiska Gregory A beautifully illustrated story about a king and a boy and how they both come to terms with the grief they share. A lovely children's book that will appeal to adults as well.

I, Crocodile

I, Crocodile - Fred Marcellino I love whimsical children's picture books, especially ones starring crocodiles. This particular crocodile is quite content in Egypt, until he's croc-napped by Napoleon and turned into the star of Paris! In time, though, Paris grows bored, and Napoleon has plans for our crocodile friend... who has plans of his own. A delightfully illustrated, amusing books.

Rome's Last Citizen: The Life and Legacy of Cato, Mortal Enemy of Caesar

Rome's Last Citizen: The Life and Legacy of Cato, Mortal Enemy of Caesar - Rob Goodman, Jimmy Soni A biography that's professional, yet lay-friendly, in tone; dense, but still informative (especially for a Roman history novice). This one might actually end up in the personal collection, it's that good. Cato was a fascinating, frustrating man.

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Choke Point

Choke Point - Tom Clancy, Peter Telep Normally, video game-based novels are pathetic attempts to cash in. This might be an attempt at cashing in, but it's also a great thriller, with some good character development, a suspenseful, plausible scenario, and the same liberal amounts of dry humor I came to appreciate in the game 'Ghost Recon: Future Soldier'. Peter Telep likes these characters and these scenarios, and weaves them into a fast-paced action and suspense novel that had me hooked for the entire book. Outstanding.

Murray, W: Key Words Reading Scheme: Series B, No.1: Look at This Series B, No.1 (Reading Scheme : 1b/Pbn 00132)

Murray, W: Key Words Reading Scheme: Series B, No.1: Look at This Series B, No.1 (Reading Scheme : 1b/Pbn 00132) - W. Murray Clever, if a bit short, and amusing take on why we gravitate towards hilariously bad things. While I don't agree with all analyses, it's an entertaining read.

Ruby Tuesday

Ruby Tuesday - Mari Carr Too short, but I liked it. Snappy dialogue, with a kicking ending that made me run out and buy the first book in this series. Good hook.

Shooting Victoria: Madness, Mayhem, and the Rebirth of the British Monarchy

Shooting Victoria: Madness, Mayhem, and the Rebirth of the British Monarchy - Paul Thomas Murphy The author's thesis boils down to "eight assassination attempts secured the preservation of the British monarchy". This thesis is not defended well enough to make the book worthy of its length. Also, there are over 100 pages of endnotes; 1/6 of the book is endnotes. No. An interesting thesis that goes nowhere, and a book that was good enough to make me realize that I don't care a bit about the monarchy, its supporters or detractors, nor do I care about its fate.

Devil in the Dollhouse: A Sandman Slim Story

Devil in the Dollhouse - Richard Kadrey Short story. Okay addition to the Sandman Slim series. Not as good as I was hoping; too much snark, not enough substance.