Pages

Sunday, July 25, 2021

How to Maintain Languages


I just finished reading Robin MacPherson's How to Maintain Languages.  This is a book I've been looking forward to reading for some time as I quite enjoy his YouTube videos.  

How to Maintain Languages looks at MacPherson's method for maintaining (and even improving) languages you've learned.  If you don't work at them, they will atrophy over time.  The majority of the book focuses on how to fit one language into your daily life, but at the end of the book it goes over how to maintain more than one.  I do wish this section had been a little more in depth, but it did give a good overview.

At its heart, MacPherson's method involves finding and utilizing what he calls "dead times" during your day to maintain other languages you know.  Commuting to work? Listen to music or podcasts in your target language.  Waiting in a grocery line?  Whip out your smartphone and go over some flashcards.  Winding down before bed?  Read a book in your other language.  

Once you have your dead times figured out, you also need to work on adding activities that use both passive and active skills.  He has a few chapters that go over both of these activities, as well as another chapter on adding in dedicated study time to improve your language skills.  He also shows you how to create an immersion bubble in your home without having to move to another country in order to immerse yourself in your other language(s).  

In a lot of ways, How to Maintain Languages reminded me of books like Atomic Habits and The One Thing (this was especially true during the habits chapter in How to Maintain Languages, but even the whole dead time discussion reminded me of Atomic Habits).  But the discussion here was less in depth, and obviously more focused on languages rather than other habits.  It was a really nice reminder of those strategies I first learned about in other books though, and, thanks to my familiarity with a lot of these concepts, I was okay with the discussion being less in-depth.  

One other thing I need to mention about this book: the pictures and illustrations.  The book has a lot of beautiful full page pictures of MacPherson going about his daily life.  And also some really fun illustrations by Alexandra Nazario of Kuma, the bear mascot of MacPherson's Kuma brand.  In many ways this book seemed like a coffee table book - it's the type of book you could very easily leave out on display and flip through when you want some language learning inspiration.  

Overall I quite enjoyed How to Maintain Languages.  It's got me thinking of whether or not there are ways I should tweak my current language learning habits, and has given me the beginnings of a roadmap for when I move more to maintaining my languages rather than strictly learning them.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Undermajordomo Minor


My family all read Patrick DeWitt's Undermajordomo Minor around the same time as they read The Sisters Brothers.  I remember them having a lot of debate about which of the two books was better (although they all agreed that both were good).  I was a little late to the party (with both books, though considerably later with Undermajordomo Minor), but at least I did eventually make it!

Undermajordomo Minor is the story of Lucien "Lucy" Minor, who is hired to work under Mr. Olderglough, the majordomo of Castle Von Aux.  The castle has fallen on hard times since the Baroness left, down to a staff of three (Lucy, Mr. Olderglough, and Agnes, the one-time chambermaid, now cook) serving the elusive and heartsick Baron.  

Lucy begins to make a life for himself, making friends in the nearby village and falling in love with Klara, though he must compete for her hand against the handsome soldier, Aldolphus.  But that life in the castle is also shrouded in mystery: what exactly happened to his predecessor, Mr. Broom, and just what exactly is going on with the Baron?

I will admit, I had a hard time getting in to the story of Undermajordomo Minor.  I originally started reading it back in March, getting about ten pages in then stopping (I chalked it up to being super tired when I first attempted to read it).  Then a week or two ago, I reread the beginning and soldiered on through.  Though I still had a hard time with the beginning because I found I didn't like Lucy much at all.  His lies really bothered me (he was a compulsive liar and just generally didn't seem like the sort of person I'd like to hang out with).  Luckily things started picking up once he was on the train to Castle Von Aux (although there was a weird interlude about the train engineers) and met Memel and Mewe, who were quite the pair.  Oldenglough himself was very entertaining too (and right from the moment you meet him. His tour of the castle largely consisted of him pointing out rooms and saying things like "This is a room.  We don't use it.")

By the midpoint I was quite enjoying the book, but then things took a turn.  The Baroness returned, and brought guests who changed the whole tone of the castle.  Then Lucy attempts to kill Adolphus, and almost dies himself as he falls into the Very Large Hole.  He manages to escape, but everything is changes when he gets out: the Castle is drained because the Baroness left once again, taking Klara with her as a handmaid.  Adolphus died in his war, and Memel died of sickness.  Lucy goes to collect his stuff from the castle, bidding everyone goodbye, then leaves to chase after Klara.  And that's where the book leaves us.  A rather unsatisfying ending that doesn't really feel like an ending (though it is the end of Castle Von Aux and its inhabitants, who seem to be fading away).

While it's been years since I read The Sisters Brothers, I think I liked that book a lot more than Undermajordomo MinorUndermajordomo Minor was very intriguing, with a wonderful cast of characters.  But it just never really came together as an enjoyable whole for me, especially with the somewhat disappointing bookends of the beginning and ending.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

He-Man: The Eternity War Volumes 1 & 2


I'm a fan of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and have enjoyed the other graphic novels I've read, so I was very excited to read parts one and two of He-Man: The Eternity War.  

The Eternity War opens with Hordak returning to life after millennia imprisoned in Despondos, Realm of Darkness.  He rejoins his Horde, who has conquered Eternia and Castle Grayskull, and sets about forging a weapon that will grant him the Power of Grayskull.  The rebels, under King Adam, She-Ra, and Teela, the new Sorceress of Eternia (who the Snake People worship as the Sorceress of their Goddess, Serpos), have taken refuge in Snake Mountain.  They plan an attack under the cover of the Dark Hemisphere's Mystic Vale, hoping to stave off Hordak's conquest of the entire universe.

Right off the bat, I once again felt like I was in the middle of the story.  What happened to the previous Sorceress?  How did Adam become King?  How was She-Ra with them?  Skeletor is reportedly dead, but how?  But whatever, I got enough information to follow along with this story.

Under Teela's counsel, King Adam (who is known to be He-Man) mounts an attack against the Horde while She-Ra is sent to locate one of the Eyes of Grayskull, the last artifacts that Hordak seeks in order to use Grayskull as a weapon against the universe.  The other one was in Skeletor's possession and presumed lost.  Man-at-Arms reprograms Roboto and heads off to space to sabotage the Horde's Orbital Disrupter.  While He-Man is victorious thanks to Man-At-Arms' sabotage, Duncan is ambushed in space by defender drones and Roboto is damaged; the two fall back to Eternia and are lost.  She-Ra is also defeated: Hordak challenges her with the Power of Grayskull.  She attempts to find the artifact, but Hordak stabs her.  But then she is rescued by an unlikely person: Skeletor!  He takes both her and the artifact to safety out from the clutches of Hordak.

Skeletor talks She-Ra into healing him, as he is still diminished from his last fight where he was presumed dead, and joining him on a journey to Despondos in order to strike directly at Hordak's power.  Unfortunately Evil-Lyn hears him tell She-Ra that when all of this is over, he wants her to heal him back to Keldor so he can start over with a new life.  Evil-Lyn flees with the two Eyes of Grayskull and delivers them directly to Skeletor!

Meanwhile, Teela shows Adam a vision of what will happen if he remains He-Man and uses an even greater power in order to defeat Hordak.  Power, when used for the best of intentions, corrupts, and that road leads Adam to be a dictator.  And so Adam makes the difficult decision to snap his Sword of Power.  Teela rejoices, saying the Goddess has been waiting for Adam because there is something special about him.  But unbeknownst to the two of them, Hssss, the King of the Snakemen, has been hiding inside of Adam.  Remaining He-Man kept him at bay, but now he is free to destroy Adam from the inside!

I'm not going to lie, this story really felt like it went all over the place, and was sometimes a bit hard to follow.  It really liked to flash back in time, especially at the beginning, which definitely didn't help (like when Adam and the armies were marching to battle, the story would jump back a few days to show what had happened that led to that moment, rather than just showing it chronologically.  The same thing happened when it showed how She-Ra started on her quest for the second Eye of Grayskull). There were also so many threads to the story, that at times it felt like one part was completely forgotten (although they weren't - one example of this was when Man-At-Arms disappeared after falling back to Eternia from space - that happened around the midpoint of volume 1, and we didn't get to find out what happened to him until about the midpoint of volume 2.  But at least the story eventually came back to him!)

I'm not really familiar with the Snake Men, so that didn't help either.  

So all in all, I thought that He-Man: The Eternity War was just okay.  It had an interesting enough story, particularly once it got into Volume 2 and Skeletor really got going, but overall it felt like it had too many characters and plot threads that were all over the place.  The ending, after the very epic battle, also didn't feel super satisfying.  So definitely not my favourite He-Man story.  But it might be a lot more satisfying if you read He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Volumes One and Two before it.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Lost Chronicles Volume One


Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Lost Chronicles Volume One 
was a fun and really quick read. It's an anthologu collection of 12 short Power Rangers stories by different authors and illustrators. The stories take place across all different times and places, and generally feature the original 6 Rangers, although a number of them also feature various villains (and Bulk and Skull even get recruited by Zordon and Alpha to vecome Power Rangers!) My favourite was definitely "Sabrina's Day Out," where Goldar and Scorpina end up taking the day off to play carnival games. "It's Putty Time," which featured a putty in love with the Pink Ranger, was also super cute (although Tommy was kind of an ass in it). The Finster origin story was also super interesting, and I didn't know that Goldar had a brother (Silverback).

All in all, I really enjoyed this collection, and look forward to reading Volume Two!

Goddess of Vengeance


I found Jackie Collins' Goddess of Vengeance at the library the other day. Reading the cover, it sounded rather like a Sydney Sheldon book, so I was quite excited to give it a read!

I didn't realize it at the time, but Goddess of Vengeance is the like 8th book on a series about Lucky Santangelo, so there were a lot of characters who had history that the book kept referring to. But I thought the book did a pretty good job of letting a reader like me who hasn't read anything else in the series know what was going on.

So in Goddess of Vengeance, Lucky is the owner of The Keys, a fabulous hotel in Vegas. She has wonderful children and a fantastic husband who she loves very much - life is good. 

Enter Armand Jordan. Armand is a wealthy prince from a Middle Eastern country. He believes women are nothing more than playthings and takes great delight in humiliating them. He has set his sights on owning The Keys, and cannot believe that Lucky, a mere women, refuses to sell (honestly he was quite appalled that she wasn't just the figurehead he assumed she was).  He takes her refusal quite personally and is hellbent on getting revenge against her and obtaining the Keys, no matter the cost.

Lucky also has some children doing stuff in the book. Her daughter, Max, is turning 18, so Lucky is throwing her a giant birthday party at the Keys. Max intends to move out on her own not long after and move to New York. But she gets involved with a movie star, Billy Melina, who is currently divorcing her mom's best friend, Venus. 

And Lucky's older (oldest?) son Bobby owns a bunch of night clubs. He intends to expand his business into new cities. He's also very interested in his new girlfriend, Denver, assistant DA who is moving onto the drug unit in her city. Bobby wants Denver to come with him to Vegas for Max's birthday party so she can meet his family, but she's having second thoughts and very insecure about herself in terms of meeting all these legendary people like Lucky and her father Gino. Plus she hasn't exactly felt welcomed by Max, so she's dealing with that too.

Goddess of Vengeance was honestly not a great book. It pretty much told you over showing you anything (there were a few places where I was really excited to see what happened, like with the board meeting Lucky called. But it completely glossed over everything except for some weird preamble with a guy the book kept telling me liked Lucky). 

I also had no real feel for Lucky (or honestly pretty much any of the characters - they all sounded exactly the same to me, voice-wise, with a few exceptions like Max and Armand). The book kept telling me how awesome she was, but she didn't actually do anything for most of the book. Then when she was finally going off to do something, it took forever for her to get anywhere (there were about three passages of "oh she's mad and going to get him!" "Oh, look at her go, he doesn't know what he's gotten himself into with her" etc before she finally GOT INTO HER CAR and started driving to Armand). 

All in all, I found this a very disappointing read. Very unfortunate, especially since I had such high Hope's for it!

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Championess


 The library started getting some nonfiction graphic novels in and I snagged a couple.  The first one I read was Championess by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas.  This is the (based on a true) story of Elizabeth Wilkinson, an eighteenth century female bare-knuckle boxer in London.  I'd never heard of her before, so this seemed like a really interesting read!

Elizabeth is determined to fight.  She's convinced that she can be a champion, having been undefeated in the barroom and back alley fights she's participated in.  Her dream is to win big and get her sister out of debt.  When her sister gives her the money to approach James Figg and ask him to teach her, she jumps at the chance.  But Figg refuses, and doesn't even really take her seriously because she's a woman.  So in a drunken inspiration, Elizabeth publicly challenges another female boxer to a match, claiming to be training under Figg!

I had never heard of Elizabeth Wilkinson before, so thought this would be a great way to learn about the female bare-knuckle boxer. I don't know how accurate this story is though -  I looked her up after finishing reading Championess and it sounds like a lot of the details of her life are rather sketchy (although interestingly, she was well known for quite awhile, but then forgotten in favour of James Figg because society was more focused on gender roles, which she defied).  I also later found this article on thegruelingtruth.com which sheds some interesting light on her and how she most likely was using a stage name as boxing was illegal at the time.

I quite enjoyed the relationship between Elizabeth and James Stokes, the boxer who Figg gets to train Elizabeth.  They both start out thinking they are better than the other for various reasons, but end up learning a lot from each other (in real life, it sounds like they married at some point, too).

Unfortunately, it appears that a lot of the story of Championess is fiction.  I found no record of Elizabeth having a sister (there seems to be little information about her outside of the documented fights).  

There also appears to be no convincing evidence of her background being anything other than English, but I suppose that is open to speculation because so little is known about her.  That being said, in making her heritage half Indian, Championess make for a more nuanced story, adding racism into the mix along with the sexism Elizabeth experiences (and adds in that dimension to Stokes as well - I did a quick search and couldn't find any information on his background, so I do not know if this is historical or fiction). 

While I do believe Championess is a mostly fictional account of Elizabeth Wilkinson's life, I did really enjoy it.  I also enjoyed how it opened all these research doors for me.  It's just a shame that so little is known of her life that this story couldn't have been more factually based.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Vol 7-10


Continuing reading through the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series of graphic novels at the library, I'm now at volumes 7-10, which cover the Shattered Grid and Beyond the Grid story lines, so these four were all rereads for me.  I wasn't sure what I would think of them on the reread (and after reading Masters of the Multiverse, which I seem to have forgotten to talk about on this blog - I loved it though, and will write about it when I reread it!)  But if anything, I actually enjoyed Shattered Grid more!  I felt like I had a better handle on all the characters this time around, and even caught a few things I missed the first time I read it!

And of course, unlike last time, I now know the events that led up to Shattered Grid.  I saw the first time the Rangers tangled with Drakkon, how he was being held by Grace's company, and exactly how he escaped.  So that definitely gave me a better grounding in the story than the first time I read it. 

This read-through also reinforced just how much I love Lord Drakkon as a character.  The idea of an evil Tommy Oliver who remained with Rita Repulsa is just so good!  I love how very flawed he is, and how he just doesn't understand the other Tommy Olivers of the Power Rangers multiverse, and how they can all be so "weak" because of their friends (even though it is their friends who give them their power).  And even at the very end, he refuses to let anyone in and change.  He's such a fantastic villain, and Kyle Higgins did such a great job with all of his nuances.

But one thing that struck me on this time around was that the Ranger Slayer doesn't appear in the story at all prior to Shattered Grid.  I expected to see her in one of the earlier volumes with Lord Drakkon (and to see how she broke free of his mind control), but that didn't happen....but maybe that happened in the 2018 annual comic, which wasn't included in these volumes (that issue also included Lord Drakkon infiltrating a group to steal something from them - he shows Finster Five his spoils of war, but that's all I really know - it seems like that story took place between Drakkon escaping from Grace and Shattered Grid beginning).  I'm going to try to get a hold of that comic issue to see if that fills in the remaining gaps.

Likewise, Beyond the Grid was better the second time around, especially the beginning.  Knowing who Grace was seemed to help a lot - she was the Red Ranger for a team Zordon pulled together in the 60's.  Her team didn't know each other and had no training.  While their mission was ultimately successful, three of her team died.  She's carried this with her, and built everything from her company to her space ship to make the world a safer place.  She's also relentless in her belief that no one will be left behind.  It's knowing Grace that I think makes the beginning of Beyond the Grid a better read, even though the story is ultimately about the other Rangers with troubled pasts who come together into a team.

I also really like the friendship of the Ranger Slayer, Cameron, and Heckyl.  Kimberley and Heckyl in particular have similar pasts, and manage to find both forgiveness and friendship together.  I think that is one of my favourite parts of Beyond the Grid (especially the interlude where Heckyl explains his past - the three of them are having snacks together, and he specifically invited them to that little party to let them in on who he is, and they are both okay with him).  It ties beautifully into the whole theme of Beyond the Grid about second chances for everyone (and the right to choose a better path for everyone).

I'm now excited to read what comes next in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers story.  What happens to the Rangers on board the Promethea?  Do they go back to their worlds without remembering each other?  Do they come together as a new team?  Hopefully volumes 11 and 12 will answer these questions!

Friday, June 18, 2021

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Volume 6

 


Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Volume 6 is the last one before Shattered Grid.  I wasn't really thinking of it as a bridge to that story line when I started reading it, as it was continuing the story of Finster's monsters who were disguised as humans.  The Rangers have agreed to work with Grace, a woman who was previously a Red Ranger for a somewhat disastrous mission (her team didn't train together or know each other at all - while they ultimately saved the world, three of them died, and as the Red Ranger and leader, Grace bears that burden even though it was Zordon's fault for sending the team in unprepared).  She has dedicated her life to making the world a safer place, building Promethea to accomplish that task.  Her people have discovered how to track the monsters when they're getting ready to transform, and so the Power Rangers agreed to work with her.  

In good news though, Alpha Five and Saba have discovered how to return Zordon to the Command Centre!  

Meanwhile, Rita Repulsa has returned from a mysterious errand.  She recalls Finster (that was a really neat scene - he was able to escape the pocket dimension basically whenever he wanted to, and the Rangers still don't know how he pulled it off!) and orders him to set off all his hidden monsters, forcing the Rangers to separate.  Unfortunately, she also made them all grow and their forms weren't able to take that, so the Rangers are able to easily defeat them.

While trying to track down the hidden monsters though, Billy returned to Promethea to boost their scanning equipment.  While there, he discovered that Promethea runs on very little power, but most of that power is dedicated to a particular wing.  Doing some sleuthing, he discovers the reason why: Grace had captured Lord Drakkon after the Rangers' last battle (he was pulled through the portal with them)!  

And that's how we tie into Shattered Grid.  I'd forgotten that Drakkon had been pulled through the portal.  But by the end of this he was able to return to (presumably) his own dimension (with a headless Saba...) and start the events of Shattered Grid!

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Volumes 4-5


 I'm very excited, as my local library now has Mighty Morphin Power Rangers volumes 4-12!  I started reading them last night, getting through volumes 4 and 5.

Volume 4 picks up where 3 left off - Billy and Tommy are in Lord Drakkon's world, having gone with Sabba to the Coinless. The Coinless, however, aren't taking any chances with these two in case they are Drakkon's spies.  But their leader, Zach, recognizes Sabba, who, when they last saw each other, had told Zach that he would return with the ones who would save their world.  Unfortunately, Drakkon tracked the sabre to the Coinless's base and mounts a full assault!

Meanwhile the other Rangers are trying to figure out a way to get the Command Centre back from Rita.  Finster finds Alpha 5's head, and reprograms it to lead the Rangers into a trap!  At Rita's behest, he's sculpted an army of Goldars, who are much more savage than the original.

Against overwhelming odds, the Rangers succeed, and even manage to find Billy's power coin!  Trini uses it and the Black Dragon armor to open a portal to the other dimension to Billy and Tommy, just in time to help against Lord Drakkon's forces!  The Rangers save the day, freeing both worlds from tyranny.

Volume 5 opens with the Rangers helping out across the planet.  Rita has been mysteriously absent for quite some time (which happens from time to time after a big loss).  So they repaired the Command Centre, and are working on a way to bring Zordon back (Sabba from the other dimension was accidentally able to find and anchor him, so it's just a matter of time before the sabre and Alpha 5 can get him anchored back to the Command Centre).  Jason is basically watching the world news 24/7 to deploy the Rangers where needed.  But on one of their missions, they are approached by a lady named Grace who asks their help - a pilot team went down while trying to look through what seems to be an illusion.  The Rangers arrive and discover a mysterious town run by Finster.  He's been taking some vacation time to work on his art - which means sculpting monsters that appear human until they're triggered!  After saving the pilots and capturing Finster, the Rangers get reports of two monsters rampaging across different cities - and both appeared human.  While they manage to deal with those two, they know it's just the start....how many monsters hiding as humans has Finster released into the world?

The story continues to be excellent, and I can't wait to see how the Rangers deal with Finster's invisible monster army in the next volume!

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Engines of Oblivion

 

I've been excited to read Engines of Oblivion since finishing Architects of Memory a few months ago.  I've had it for a few months on my Kindle, but got caught up in the Divine Dungeon series, so put off reading this until there was a good spot to pause that series.  

Engines of Oblivion follows Natalie Chan, one of the crew members from Twenty Five.  In Architects of Memory, Natalie, a soldier by training, had managed to become a citizen of Aurora, but lost many of her memories during the battle of Tribulation.  It's a year later and she's now the Director of Aurora's research and development team.  When the board sends her janitor indentures to pilot a new rig she designed, Natalie makes the split-second decision to pilot the rig instead because it is going into an actual combat mission (and the janitor indentures are not at all combat trained).  To her horror, Natalie discovers too late that the weapon within the rig was switched out for something far more deadly.

Called to a Board meeting after the demonstration, Natalie's loyalty to Aurora is called into question.  She is informed that she will be going on a mission back to Tribulation to locate Ashlan Jackson, whose heartbeat was detected.  Accompanying her is the one woman Natalie wants nothing to do with: Reva Sharva, the doctor who was the head of the Sacrament Society, and who had been experimenting on people in a secret lab on Tribulation; Sharva is being sent because she is the only one who can save Ash from the sickness she has (and Sharva has a bomb in her head that will detonate if she deviates from the mission).

This mission calls everything Natalie believes in into question.  Will she give up her friends to the company in order to keep her citizenship, even though she knows nothing good can come of turning them in?

I will admit, I didn't really like Engines of Oblivion at first, and that was largely because I didn't really like Natalie Chan.  And her being paired up with Reva Sharman definitely didn't help.  I also found the story a bit weird once the Vai got more involved.  On the one hand, it made sense for how the story went once they were involved (and I did like learning a bit more about them and how they worked).  But at times it got really hard to follow (especially once people were basically fighting inside each others' memories and minds, that got a bit hard to follow).  But by the end, I found that I really did care what happened to everyone, and, while in some ways sad, I really enjoyed the ending.

So while, in the end I did enjoy the book, I think I liked Architects of Memory better.  I missed the quirky crew dynamic of Twenty Five.  I also think this book might be better if read closer to the first book - while I remembered people and plot well enough as the book unfolded, it definitely would have been helpful if that first book was more fresh in my mind.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Fugitive Telemetry


 I've been waiting to get my hands on the newest book in Martha Wells' Murderbot Diaries series, Fugitive Telemetry.  As I said after reading book 5, Network Effect, I was quite interested to see where the series would go now.

Well, Fugitive Telemetry didn't pay off with any of the stuff Network Effect set up.  Instead, it opens on Preservation Station, where a body has been found.  The Station's Security team (reluctantly) brings Murderbot in to consult as they try to find the murderer.  As murder is extremely rare on Preservation Station, they shut the entire port down to investigate the murder.  

What follows is a really fun mystery while Murderbot tries to find the murderer (and both Murderbot and Station Security struggle to trust one another). 

So while Fugitive Telemetry did not have the further adventures of Murderbot and ARK, like I though it would, or feature the newly free SecUnit, Three, it was still a really fun read.  Like most of the other books, I couldn't put it down.  I hope the next (as yet unnamed) Murderbot book is fun like this one was!

Monday, May 24, 2021

Masters of the Universe: Dark Reflections


 Masters of the Universe Volume 2: Dark Reflections opens with the Masters trying to stop Skeletor from entering a tomb.  Unfortunately they are too late and Skeletor finds what he is looking for: the Elixir of Schneidor.  He plans to use the elixir to open a dimensional gateway into Castle Grayskull.  But the Masters of the Universe follow him to Grayskull in the hopes of stopping his plan.  Man-At-Arms attempts to disable the gateway Skeletor and his forces have constructed, but a blast from Skeletor knocks him through the portal, which was damaged in the fight; Tri-klops says there is no knowing where the portal may lead.  Skeletor decides to destroy the portal as it's no longer useful to him, trapping Man-At-Arms inside.  But after Skeletor leaves, the portal somehow opens once again, ejecting a comatose Man-At-Arms!

The Masters rush him back to the capital.  Meanwhile, Stratos arrives, seeking aid: mysterious blasts are destroying the city of Avion!  He requests the aid of Man-At-Arms, but since he is still comatose, He-Man and Man-E-Faces are sent in his stead to try to figure out what is happening.  While they're gone, Duncan awakens, claiming he needs to speak with King He-Man about the rebels.  After being restrained, he breaks free and makes his way to Castle Grayskull, determined to find King He-Man and stop the so-called heroes led by Keldor.

This is a really fun story with dimensional travel that makes me think of He-Man and the Masters of the Multiverse (which I apparently forgot to write about reading on here back in April - I'll have to remedy that, perhaps with a reread because it was so good!) I knew Man-At-Arms was going to end up being evil (you can just tell from that cover art!) but it didn't matter, the story was still really good.  It's unfortunate that these graphic novels don't seem to be a connected story (which I was expecting since they are volumes 1 and 2 by the same creative team), but that's okay, they're still fun reads.  They're also making me want to re-watch the 2002 show (which I have watched since I originally read The Shard of Darkness back in 2010 - it's super good!)

Masters of the Universe: The Shard of Darkness (reread)

 


I first read Masters of the Universe: The Shard of Darkness over ten years ago.  At that time, I felt that it really starts in the middle of the story, and that you're missing what happens first.  While that's still true, with Man-At-Arms and Prince Adam initially discussing the new-found powers that Prince Adam now had responsibility of, I didn't feel like it was a problem.  Most people reading this would already know Prince Adam is He-Man, so why wouldn't he have to figure things out once he newly has his powers? 

When they're called to deal with a minor emergency, they discover that Orko has found the Shard of Darkness, a piece of the Shakarran Crystal, which the Eternian Elders had used to contain an ancient evil long ago.  The Sorceress tasks He-Man to journey alone to find the remaining shards that remain on Eternia so that they can be banished from the world.

Meanwhile, Evil-Lynn is also after the Shard of Darkness.  She plans to use its power to overthrow Skeletor and take over the world in his place.  To that end she has enlisted the help of Trapjaw and Tri-klops.

I have to say, I liked this a lot more this time!  While the story is relatively simple, it still fits really well with the Masters of the Universe.  I liked how Skeletor's henchmen (and woman) were all backstabbing each other (often without you ever really sure who was backstabbing whom!) And I really liked that He-Man was unsure of himself and his powers, yet still manages to overcome great odds, even as Prince Adam.

One thing that I found particularly interesting this time around was the Sorceress.  I've always thought of her as a caring and somewhat motherly figure.  But she seems quite cold here, trusting to prophecy without explaining herself to Man-At-Arms and He-Man.  I'm interested to see if the series will continue and have her grow, as well as Prince Adam?  Well, only one way to find out - I'm reading Volume 2 next!

Some Library Graphic Novels


 I took out a few graphic novels from the library recently and decided to just write one post on all of them together.  

The first one was Covid Chronicles.  I was impressed that a graphic novel was already out talking about the pandemic (although honestly it's not that surprising since this has been our reality for over a year already).  This was a collection of short comics talking about the early days of the pandemic.  While there were some really great comics (I really liked the one that talked about the various pandemics that we've seen over the last 100 years or so), overall I found this a really difficult read because I wasn't ready to be reliving this stuff (which isn't really surprising since we're still living it).  I think it's a fantastic book that's going to have great historical value, but it's too soon for me to be reading or really thinking about it.  

But kudos to all of those creators who documented it!


Next I read Join the Future by Zack Kaplan, Piotr Kowalski, Brad Simpson and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou.  I liked this book.  Join the Future takes place roughly 50+ years from now.  Small towns are disappearing; their populations are encouraged to join the megacities where all of their needs will be met.  When no one is left in the town, terraforming machines descend and reclaim the land, erasing the town from existence.  

But not everyone wants to sacrifice their freedom.  This is the story of Clementine Libbey who refuses to join; she wants revenge against the people who killed her family.  

Clementine is a great character.  She's got real grit and refuses to compromise on her values.  She's also an asthmatic who is a terrible shot, which makes her quest for revenge all the more interesting because there is a very real chance that she's going to get herself killed.  She's also a minor, so the grownups around her don't exactly take her seriously (and there was one scene in particular that really pissed me off - because she's a minor, the state decided that they could sign for her and send her to the megacity when she refused).  You just can't help but root for her against these terrible odds.  I definitely recommend it!


Finally I read Aquaman Vol. 4: Echoes of a Life Lived Well.  This is the conclusion of Mera's coma (and wedding to Vulko).  Mera gave Vulko some sort of command, but to carry it out, he decided he had to go through with their wedding.  Meanwhile, the princess, Andy, has been living with Aquaman in Amnesty Bay, cared for by their friends and all those sea gods and goddesses who are around now.  But one night she goes missing, and Aquaman will tear the sea apart looking for her, starting with his half brother, Orm.  Meanwhile, Jackson Hyde, Black Manta's son, goes to his father for help, asking for pieces of the Mech Lex Luthor made for him that is programmed with the personality of Black Manta's father (in order to use the mech to help find the missing princess).  This leads Jackson to Xebel where he decides to live up to his own expectations, not those of other people.

Out of all the Sue DeConnick Aquaman graphic novels I've read so far, this one was the best.  

Die Volume 2: Split the Party and Volume 3: The Great Game


 Huh, I didn't actually write about Die Volume 2: Split the Party on here before now. So I guess this post will have to remedy that!

This weekend, I finally sat down to reread Die volumes 1 and 2, and to read volume 3, The Great Game, for the first time.  The first time I read Volume 2, Split the Party, I wasn't really a fan of it, other than the fact that it was leading into something awesome based on the way it ended.  But last time, I read it without rereading Volume 1, Fantasy Heartbreakers.  But this time through, I read them one after the other and I liked Split the Party a lot more.

After defeating Solomon (and learning what happens to players when they perish in Die), the party splits.  Isabelle and Chuck lead the people of Glass Town away through a portal opened by one of the gods who took Isabelle's request literally: they are now the farthest away from Glass Town where they can be (and in a wasteland with no food).  Meanwhile Ash, Angela, and Matt make their way to Angria where they attempt to build allies.  Isabelle shows up to crash that party, admitting to everyone that the party is responsible for the destruction of Glass Town.

Split the Party has a lot more character development of the other characters other than Ash in it, so when read by itself it is a bit slower than the first volume.  But I found this wasn't the case when reading it right after Volume 1; it added a lot of missing context of what was going on in the world and in the lives of the characters, while not actually slowing down at all.


Then Volume 3, The Great Game happens.  With Isabelle's help, Ash has taken over Angria thanks to forcing Zamorna to marry her.  She intends to discover what exactly Eternal Prussia is doing in Glass Town.  Unfortunately, the people of Little England, who were eternally at war with Eternal Prussia, aren't too happy with Ash on the throne and declare war.  Meanwhile, Angela (who left after Ash was going to leave her in prison "for her own safety") joins up with Matt and Chuck.  They decide to travel to the Fair to get some answers.  Unfortunately the Fair are next set to appear in the Game Master's realm, a perilous journey far away.

The Great Game has some fantastic escalation of the story, as well as finally giving us some answers about just what is going on. I finished it feeling super excited to read more, but sad that it's not out yet.  I'll probably have to wait until either the fall or next winter to see how it all ends. :(

Monday, May 3, 2021

Dungeon Calamity


Book 3 of Dakota Krout's Divine Dungeon series sure took some crazy turns!  Dungeon Calamity opens with Cal being brought back to himself by a mysterious man who wants his "whispers" back.  The man was surprised that Cal even answered when he spoke to him, but with that settled, the mysterious man left the dungeon.  Cal's goblins, the Bobs (the Bobs are specifically clones of his original Goblin Shaman) are overjoyed that he's back - a month has passed and Cal went decidedly insane.  He was throwing crazy traps and mobs against adventurers and failing to clean anything up. Terrified that this reprieve from madness will be short lived, Cal starts making plans to go and find Dani.

To that end, Cal starts extending his influence downwards, looking for the molten centre of the planet.  He also gets the Bobs to help him start a new ritual which sets ley lines through the planet.  Finally, Cal fights his way into the Mage ranks, managing to tie himself to the most powerful concept in the process (the one that all the other ones originate from).

With Dale being his usual unhelpful self, and Cal losing contact with Minya, he embarks on his most daring adventure yet: controlled flight.  Using a gyroscope, he manages to get the mountain into the air and headed off to save Dani!

For his part, Dale was kind of doing more of the same.  Embroiled in the local politics, he manages to get a training school up and running in Mountaindale (that's the name of his new city).  The school is meant to be a place where people of all races and nations can gather to train, hopefully politics-free (although everyone is aware that they probably won't be able to keep all politics out).  He continues training with his Dark Elf teacher (and manages to piss his teacher off, so his teacher is now attacking him wherever and whenever).  But then when the nations of the world are attacked and decimated by a necromancer calling himself "The Master," Dale finds his and Cal's goals suddenly aligning.  

Dungeon Calamity was in many ways different from the other two books, mainly because Cal was without Dani (which was sad).  But it was full of really fund moments (and culminated in a crazy ending that I didn't see coming).  I'm looking forward to reading book 4! :)

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Dungeon Madness


I once again started reading another book that just sat for a few weeks of me not touching it.  Then on Friday, I finally admitted to myself that I wasn't really interested in reading that book right now because I wanted to read more of the Divine Dungeon.  So I started book two, Dungeon Madness, and finished it late last night (I should have stopped reading, but I was so near the end that I just powered through and finished).

Dungeon Madness picks up relatively where Dungeon Born ended: Dale can now hear Cal, the Dungeon, speaking in his mind.  But he's doing his best to ignore Cal.  Cal also discovers that Dale can't hear him when he leaves the dungeon, so Cal has to work around that.  

Outside of the dungeon, Dale's friend Hans cajoles him into taking a more active role in running the city that he's trying to develop around the dungeon.  Aided with knowledge from the memory crystals the dark elves gave him, he's becoming more politically astute.  Unfortunately some people don't take too kindly to this; they jump him and leave him to die in the dungeon.  Dale makes a desperate deal with Cal to remain alive.  In return he has to bring Cal things to eat so he can learn their patterns and make more.  Cal's first demand is for a bag of holding (although he decides Dale can bring that later when he decides he first wants the fluffy pink robe Dale was wearing instead).  

Meanwhile, villages around the mountain are mysteriously dying.  The people think it might be necromancers that are on the move, and so the nobles from the two nearby kingdoms are sending their children to the mountain to protect them.  Unfortunately it isn't necromancers that are causing the problems...the problems appear to be Dungeon Born and they want to come back home...

Dungeon Madness is a fun and quick read.  In a lot of ways it was similar to the first book, although with the added fun of Cal actively messing with Dale and company because Dale can now hear him.  (I did get a huge laugh when Krout was describing what everyone in Dale's group got, except for Hans, who got nothing because Cal doesn't like him).  But it does set up beautifully for book 3.  I can't wait to read more of the story soon!

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Volumes 1-3


 Oh my gosh, where to begin?  I snagged these three volumes from the library a little while ago and finally sat down to read them today (I was going to start them on the weekend but that didn't happen).

The story starts basically where "Green with Evil" ends.  Tommy is free of Rita Repulsa's mind control and has joined the Power Rangers.  But he is dealing with the aftermath (kind of PTSD) of having been controlled by her.  He's seeing her everywhere and she keeps telling him that he's nothing without him, making him seriously second guess himself (and also freeze up in battle).  At the same time, the other Rangers are having a hard time adjusting to him being on the team as well.  They worked well together just the five of them, so now the dynamic has changed.  Plus they don't all know if they can trust him, since he was hand-picked by Rita to be her second in command.

Meanwhile Rita has a new trick up her sleeve.  She's tasked Scorpina with powering up a mysterious crystal with green chaos energy.  Once fully powered, it will open a gateway and let the mysterious black dragon through.


Volume 2 is the Rangers' battle against the Black Dragon.  Whoever this mysterious person is, he can disrupt most of the Rangers' connection to the Morphin Grid - only Tommy still has access to his powers because he accesses it a little differently from the others.  With the Command Centre destroyed, and both Zordon and Alpha 5 unresponsive, the Rangers flee, but the Black Dragon manages to get Billy before he can teleport away, and uses his Power Coin to take control of the Zords.  Rita sets herself up in the remains of the Command Centre and tells the nations of Earth they have 24 hours to bow down to her or she will destroy them.  


And Volume 3 has the aftermath: Tommy and Billy are missing.  They were brought to the Black Dragon's world when he was defeated.  I was super excited by this because the opening shot of the world showed me exactly who the Black Dragon is (later confirmed in the story).  Billy and Tommy awaken Saba, just as the Dragon finds them to welcome them to his world.  Saba activates a few Zords to help them flee and they make their way to the camp of the Rebels who are fighting the Dragon.

Unfortunately that's where the story left off.  Each volume has been directly continuing into the next one, so I'll have to wait to see what happens next! :(

Oh, each volume also has a hilarious little side story at the end with the adventures of Bulk and Skull.  Bulk is determined that the two of them can be better heroes than the Power Rangers, and that's led them into some hilarious antics. 

All in all, these have been fantastic reads.  I really can't wait to get my hands on volume 4!

Sunday, April 4, 2021

To Touch a Wild Dolphin: A Journey of Discovery with the Sea's Most Intelligent Creatures

 


I don't remember why I bought Rachel Smolker's To Touch a Wild Dolphin: A Journey of Discovery with the Sea's Most Intelligent Creatures, but I remember buying it a long time ago.  I recently discovered it hidden in a cupboard in my basement, and decided that now is the perfect time to finally give it a read.  

To Touch a Wild Dolphin is all about Smolker's days researching wild dolphins at Monkey Mia, a remote place in Australia where wild dolphins were interacting with people.  Over the course of about fifteen years, Smolker and her fellow researchers were able to get to know the resident dolphins and learn so much about them as a species.  

I really enjoyed when Smolker was talking about the dolphins and the things they discovered, particularly about their social lives.  Very interesting stuff.  I had a much harder time getting through the chapters that weren't focused on the dolphins though.  I was okay with the first few, which detailed Smolker getting to Australia.  But there was a later one that centered around a camping trip she took with a few other women that I really wish I had skipped.  Sure, that chapter had some anecdotes that talked a bit about what the area was like outside of dolphin research.  But it really didn't add anything to the story about the dolphins that I was here for.  

But overall, this is a very interesting and fairly quick read (I finished it in a day).  It's also really accessible for a general reading audience (not at all scientific/technical).

Friday, March 19, 2021

Dungeon Born


 A friend of mine really wanted me to try Dakota Krout's Dungeon Born, the first book in the Divine Dungeon series.  It tells the tale of a soul that gets sucked into a soul gem and becomes a brand new dungeon.  The dungeon, names Cal by Dani, his wisp servant/friend, needs to grow and evolve, attracting adventurers to attempt the dungeon (and hopefully die along the way, feeding Cal energy and new toys to play with like weapons and runes).

Dungeon Born is also the tale of Dale, one of the sheepherders who discovered the dungeon (and the only one to live to tell the tale).  Dale ended up selling all his belongings to buy the entire mountain the new dungeon is on, knowing that all the people who will be interested in the dungeon will make him rich once word gets out.  This leads him into the Adventurers' Guild and training to become an adventurer.  It also leads him into politics as all the people who want to use the dungeon don't realize that he owns the entire mountain.

I'm not going to lie, the beginning of this gets a bit rough.  Krout's world is very much like an RPG system, complete with leveling of the characters, and for awhile Dani's explanations to Cal about everything really made me feel like I was reading an RPG rule set rather than a fictional story.  But once you get past that, the story gets super fun!  I'm quite excited to see where things go in Dungeon Madness, the second book in the series!

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Outer Order, Inner Calm


 I saw Gretchen Rubin's Outer Order, Inner Calm at the library and thought it looked like it might be an interesting little read.  It's a super fast little read full of Rubin's helpful decluttering tips.  It's based on the premise that our inner feelings reflect our outer environment, which I agree with: there have been so many times when I was feeling overwhelmed, and simply cleaning up can really help!

There's nothing really new or earth-shattering in this book, but I found it a helpful refresher.  I actually started looking at my books last night when I was in the middle of reading this and removed a few from my bookshelf, either that I've read and have no intention of rereading, or ones that I honestly don't intend to read. So while it wasn't exactly pack full of new tips, I found it helpful! :)

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Life of Pi


I've had quite the history with Yann Martel's Life of Pi.  Every time I was thinking of reading it over the last several years, I'd end up talking to someone who ended up spoiling the ending for me.  So I'd wait for some time to pass, and just when I was ready to read it, that would happen again!

But finally, back a few months ago my brother mentioned rereading it, and I decided that I was going to finally read it once and for all.  I started it in early February, got through the first part (about 100 pages), and just sort of stopped reading.  It was very similar to another book I started this year, The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern; in that one I also read about 100 pages, then stopped for a few weeks because I just wasn't interested in it at all.  I found Life of Pi was holding my interest a bit better than The Starless Sea did, but it still wasn't great.  So after a few weeks of it sitting and me having no interest in it anymore, I told first my mom, then my brother that I was giving up on it.  I hung up the phone with my brother, then like immediately grabbed it and started reading it again.  This time I made it to the end (although at times it admittedly was a struggle).

Life of Pi tells the story of Pi Patel.  Born in India, his family owned a zoo, where Pi spent many happy days whiling away the time.  But as he got older, his family decided they wanted to move to Canada.  They sold their animals and were on a cargo ship with them travelling across the Pacific Ocean when the ship sinks.  Pi is the lone human survivor, who finds himself on a lifeboat with a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.  Over the course of their first few weeks, the other animals are killed until it is just Pi and Richard Parker left.  Pi determines that he must tame the tiger in order to save them both.  

Life of Pi reminded me of The Martian (although Life of Pi was written first, so I guess The Martian drew inspiration from Life of Pi?) in that it is a castaway story of extraordinary circumstances (although I felt like less went wrong for Pi than it did for Mark Watney, while also Pi got incredibly lucky at eventually finding land where Mark Watney just had to survive for his crew to return).  But while I don't remember The Martian very well, I think I enjoyed it a lot more than I did Life of Pi.  Not only did I have a hard time getting through this book as already mentioned, but I found some of the descriptions of what happened far too graphic for my liking.  The book itself was also very slow going; there were multiple points through part 2 (the actual being stranded part) where I kept flipping ahead wondering how much more of this is there? (And then wondering how there could possibly still be so much of the lifeboat adventure to go???)  My brother also mentioned to me that I missed the cultural moment when everyone else was reading it, so I don't even really have that happening in its favour either.  But I am glad to finally be finished it (and that I actually DID finish it); now I can move onto something else - hopefully something more light-hearted!

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones


Atomic Habits
by James Clear was recommended to me....somewhere.  I don't honestly remember where I heard about it, but I heard it was a really good read so I got it from the library to give it a try.

Clear breaks down a habit into four parts: cue, craving, response, and reward (which he adapted from Charles Duhigg's book The Power of Habit).  He uses these parts to look at designing good habits (making the habit obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying) or to break a bad habit (you do the reverse: make it invisible, unattractive, difficult, and unsatisfying). The bulk of the book looks at all of these parts in greater detail.  Clear's writing is really accessible, and he makes all of this sound straightforward and easy (but of course, reading the book is only the prep work - you still need to put in the harder worker of actually using everything you learn!)

While I enjoyed the majority of the book, I will admit that Clear lost me at the very end (in the final "Advanced Tactics" section).  I thought it was me, that I pushed myself a little too hard to finish the book today (I had been reading a section a night, but then today pushed through a few sections to finish); I was also fairly tired today, which didn't help.  But it looks like other people have taken issue with the end section too, so perhaps it wasn't just my tired brain?

Either way, the bulk of this book is solid.  Clear beautifully demonstrates how always seeking to improve by just 1% can compound over time and deliver great results to your life.  And his framework is the perfect way to help you build the healthy habits that will aid you in achieving your goals.

___

As a side note, I'd also like to mention that the end of Clear's book made me think of the tag line from Popstar: "Never Stop Never Stopping."  Never stop learning and striving to improve your life! :)


 

Friday, March 5, 2021

Starcraft: Survivors


 The reason I (re)read Starcraft earlier today was I mistakenly thought it was volume 1 to a newer graphic novel that I saw at the library, Starcraft Survivors.  But no, these two are totally different storylines!

Unfortunately the library doesn't have volumes 1 and 2 in this series, so I had to just jump into volume 3 and hope I could figure it out.

Starcraft: Survivors starts directly after a Dark Templar woman has killed all but one member of a Terran ship.  She spares Caleb's life as long as he is useful in her search for great power.  One of his crewmates' thoughts provides a clue: an Umojan Lab; this leads the two of them to a planet under the Umojan Protectorate.  Caleb is sent to fit in with the locals and find this power.  But he's hindered by the impatience of the unnamed Dark Templar. She kills someone as a warning to Caleb to hurry up, and threatens to kill more within five days if he cannot find the lab.

While it took a bit to get into the story (again, volume 3 in the series), Starcraft Survivors was really good.  The ticking clock from the murderous Dark Templar set the stakes high as Caleb is trying to blend in and keep his head down, all while the other workers in his factory try to befriend him (and he gets drawn into their friendship despite attempts not to).  Gabriel Guzman's art is the perfect compliment to Houser's text.  And just look at that cover image by Guzman - it's creepy, and perfectly encompasses the story!

I really liked the characters (and would love to know more, especially about the mysterious Dark Templar woman - what was she trying to do?  Why did she need great power, and who was she trying to get revenge against? Unfortunately this story didn't shed light on it (I was hoping for some sort of afterword, but no such luck!)

I did spend a bit of time Googling Dark Templar though, because part way through this story I noticed the unnamed Dark Templar's face - and it looked like she had a hydralisk-style jaw!  That did not seem right to me, and I originally figured she might be some weird kind of Protoss-Zerg hybrid (which might also explain her wanting revenge...), but a Google search turned up other images of some Dark Templar with that style jaw bone.  So that's neat, I had no idea that was a thing! 

I also want to note, I love that they're doing these kinds of stories with Starcraft now!  None of these characters are part of the games, or interact with major characters from the games, which I liked because this story helps to expand the world of Starcraft, showing that it really is a universe with all kinds of people in it.  I hope they continue making these kinds of stories - while I do love many of the main characters, it's nice to see new ones added, too. :)

Starcraft (Reread)


Lol!!!  So apparently I read Simon Furman's Starcraft graphic novel years ago, but didn't remember it at all!  The only reason I discovered it was a reread is because I marked it off on Goodreads!

This story follows a band of mercenaries who were sent to do the Terran Dominion's dirty work.  They're betrayed and scatter.  But two years later, they're given the chance to clear their names if they do one more job: kill the mercenary leader Jim Raynor.

The beginning of the comic is really hard to follow, especially when you're trying to figure out who all the characters are (I got hung up for a long time on trying to figure out if someone was left for dead but survived and came back, or if it was another character coming after them). I also had no real connection to any of the characters and didn't really care what was happening.  But by about halfway through, I started to put the pieces together a bit better and found myself caring about what happened to them.

Of course, the story was greatly boosted by Jim Raynor appearing.  He's such a great character and really added the touch that was missing, particularly for Cole Hickson's backstory (that they knew each other from before, and that Hickson helped Raynor get through an ordeal at a POW camp they were both in).

Unfortunately the series was cancelled before the second arc was finished, so I don't get to read more about these characters. :(

Saturday, January 30, 2021

A Few Graphic Novels


I got the second Jane Foster: Valkyrie graphic novel, At the End of All Things, and the third Aquaman graphic novel, Manta Vs. Machine, from the library the other day.  I don't really have much to say about them, but I did like them better than the previous graphic novels in both series.  

At the End of All Things felt a lot more like the type of story I wanted from the Jane Foster: Valkyrie series. First there was a story where Death herself was sick.  So Jane and Stephen Strange assemble a team of doctors to go and try to cure death.  After that, shadow demons start popping up and attacking Midgard, so Jane rushes to the rescue, along with a few other Avengers.  While most of them agree to stay on Midgard and hold the demons back, Jane and Thor go to find the source of the trouble.  Unfortunately that was all part of the plan - Tyr wanted to lure Jane there in order to get Undrjarn, the All-Weapon, from her because it is the only thing that can (somewhat) control RØkkva, an ancient evil that has been sealed away for millennia, which Tyr plans on using to take control of Asgard and assume his place as All-Father.

This was fun, and if the series keeps giving stories like this, I'm definitely up for reading more!


Manta Vs. Machine
was a bit all over the place.  Using the mech Lex Luthor gave him (which is programed to have the personality of his father), Black Manta assaults Amnesty Bay, wanting to get revenge against Arthur (as always).  But he attacked an Atlantean peace garden, which brought a pregnant Queen Mera into the fight.  They defeat Manta but she overtaxed herself too much and has now slipped into a coma.  I thought she was going to lose the baby, but that story ends with the princess being born albeit 4 months premature.  There are also a few other stories shoved in here, including a random one where Arthur and Mera announced their engagement (and talk about having kids or not), and another one where Arthur tries to raise the spirits of Amnesty Bay (while also getting stressed out himself? I don't know, this story was the most all over the place).

After reading this one, I'm kind of on the fence about wanting to read more in the Aquaman series right now.  I'm interested to see what happens with Mera (although with her in a coma she's going to be sidelined now, which sucks) and the new Princess, but the stuff going on in Amnesty Bay really isn't holding my attention (also, I'm sad that Tula has very much been relegated to a background role in Amnesty Bay).  The random sea gods and goddesses that Arthur brought with him to Amnesty Bay are also just kind of there right now, and I'm not really connecting with them (although the incident where the one goddess went to the supermarket and flipped out because people weren't respecting her was pretty funny).  I guess I'll see how I feel once the fourth volume comes out.