Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus (Vol. I)

Since the Buffy Season Eight graphic novels were on hiatus for July, I needed to get my fix somehow, and since this omnibus of the original Buffy graphic novels (comic books to those of us born before 1980) was advertised in the back of the last issue, I had to have it.

I took it home, intending to wait until morning to read it, and ended up reading the whole thing in one sitting. It’s a great collection – the graphic version of the movie as Joss Whedon intended it to play, and an adventure from between the movie and the show. An episode in the Spike and Dru chronicles was there also.

Altogether, it was enjoyable, though it made me miss the television show more than I expected it to.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

by J. K. Rowling

And so it ends – the series that has gripped children and adults alike for ten years now has come to a close. I read it overnight, after having to put it aside for several hours and leave the house (actually, I took it with me, but there was no opportunity to read). I was expecting to either love it or hate it. Instead, while there are a few elements I would change, if I could, I left the book feeling satisfied.

As I discussed with a friend, the Harry Potter books are not high art, but that’s okay, because we need mind candy. We need to sometimes read things just for the pleasure of falling into the story. These books are great for that, because whether it’s Hermione, the ultimate geek girl, Harry, the orphan who overcomes his upbringing, Ron the perfectly normal kid, or even Tonks, who hates her “normal” image, or silky, snarky Severus Snape, we find someone to identify with. For me, it was a blend, for others it’s one character, but the identification is there.

With this book, there is no more tossing it off as kiddie lit, though. This book is bloody, and violent. Our heros are fighting a war, and while they may use wands and magic instead of guns and bombs, people are still getting hurt and killed.

Spoilers Abound:
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Blood Rites

Another visit to the life of professional wizard Harry Dresden, this time finds him trying to protect the women involved with an erotic filmmaker from an entropy curse. There are hints of sex, of course, and seduction, and Harry, being human, can’t help but react, but really this is not a novel about sex as much as it is about family and willpower.

Family? Oh yeah, Harry finds some in an unexpected place.

As usual there are two plots, tightly intertwined. The “B” plot has to do with a rogue vampire trying to kill Harry. Kincaid, the body guard from book 5, makes a repeat appearance in this novel.

Oh, yeah, and Harry acquires a dog.

His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass (aka Northern Lights)

by Philip Pullman

I chose to read this book without quite knowing what it was. I’d heard of the series His Dark Materials but somehow thought they were about another boy wizard, and not a curious young girl. I was attracted to the UK title Northern Lights but didn’t really connect that it was one and the same with The Golden Compass. I like the UK title better, by the way, as it’s more accurate and more mysterious.

In any case, it was the movie that made me want to read the books. Oh, I know, the movie’s not out yet, but I’ve seen the trailer, and it looks fantastic.

And so I sat down with the first book and got to know Philip Pullman’s characters, especially spunky Lyra, and his alternative history with great air ships (dirigibles, essentially), and daemon spirit guides, and talking bears, and such. It’s such a richly created world, and the writing is amazing – all the scenes in the arctic felt cold to me, and I kept wishing it wasn’t 90 degrees outside so I could justify sipping hot cocoa while I read.

And now I’m hooked, but I promised myself I wouldn’t read books two and three until I’d finished the rest of my stack.

Death Masks

by Jim Butcher

A visit to Harry Dresden’s Chicago is like putting on the perfect pair of faded jeans. You know the denim is old, and you know the seat’s about to rip out, but you just don’t care, because they make you happy. These books are the same way: you know that Harry’s going to take a beating, and you know there’s going to be financial angst and lots of mayhem, but Harry is such a likable fellow, and the writing is just so real, that even if you’re the type who cringes whenever the hero takes a punch, you keep reading.

In this installment, we find Harry chasing after the shroud of Turin. No, I’m not kidding. Along the way, of course, there are demons and mafiosos to deal with and oh, did we mention that one of the Vampire Courts is trying to engage him in a duel that will trigger the all-out final battle between the vamps and the White Council.

Oh, and then there’s the fact that Susan, the almost-vamp lover Harry still pines for is not only back, but in the thick of the action.

At this point, such rock-and-hard-place situations should be no surprise.

It should also be no surprise that this book is completely riveting, and great fun.