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You call this the Justice League? Where’s Aquaman? Where’s J’onn J’onzz?

April 13, 2015 by Reader's Connection

Justice League 3000. Volume 1, Yesterday Lives

I loved the Justice League of America when I was a kid, and when I saw Justice League 3000. Volume 1, Yesterday Lives on the shelf at College Avenue Library, my heart filled with joy. This could be one of the comic books or graphic novels that I read to satisfy Book Riot’s 2015 Read Harder Challenge.

But holy bibliometrics! This Justice League has only five members: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and The Flash. There were seven super-powered crime fighters in the Justice League of my youth. Aquaman was in there, and so was J’onn J’onzz, also known as the Martian Manhunter. (And sometimes Green Arrow.) I learn on Wikipedia, though, that the membership roster for the JLA was always in flux.

And I see that on the first season of the television show (which I haven’t seen), the Martian Manhunter was included, but not Aquaman. (Hawkgirl, whom I’ve never met, was a JLA member.)


Another Wikipedia discovery: the Martian Manhunter’s name was pronounced John Jones, and he went by “John Jones” as a secret identity. I guess J’onn J’onzz was the Martian spelling. I always thought the name was unpronounceable, and that maybe it helped make him invulnerable.


wonder_womanJustice League 3000, Yesterday Lives takes place in that year, and the five superheroes have been brought back to life by unseemly scientific means that are described in more detail as the story unfolds. They’ve been recreated in the hope that they could battle The Five, a quintet of villains who have taken over the universe.



But their recreation has been imperfect. Superman can’t fly. The Flash can’t run too fast without hurting himself. Green Lantern doesn’t have a ring.



And they don’t get along. Batman wishes he had “just one tiny piece of kryptonite.” Superman keeps hitting on Wonder Woman, which annoys her.

Judging by the language use and the gore of exploding bodies, I would say that the target audience for this JLA is more mature than the audience of my youth.



Yesterday Lives is a collection of seven serial magazines, and they track for us the continual bickering of our superheroes; the not entirely coherent plottings of the evil Five, some of whom adopt secret identities themselves; and the misadventures of the human beings who brought the Justice League back from the dead.

Justice League 3000. Volume 2, The Camelot WarVolume 2 in the series, which incorporates books 8-15, has just gone on order. Justice League 3000. Volume 2, The Camelot War can now be requested.

And I, ReadersConnectionman, just requested it. I’m not a graphic novel convert, but I’m curious to see where the story is going, or, strictly speaking, whether there’s a story at all. Reader interest is largely dependent on the graphics, and on the use of enjambment in dialogue. That is, a character starts speaking on one page and the reader must turn the page to read the completed thought.

rc_man_capped_patterned6In poetry, enjambment is the continuation of a sentence or phrase from one line to the next, as in these lines about the horse in “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”

The first & second lines are enjambed, and you might argue that the third & fourth lines are more enjambed, since the third line is so dependent for its sense on the fourth–you don’t know what “sweep” Robert Frost is talking about until you read on.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The dialogue in Justice League 3000 is hyper-enjambed. The reader is yanked from page to page like a fish on a hook. Are all graphic novels written this way?

ReadersConnectionman won’t give up!

And he always gives credit where credit is due: Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis are the writers. There are a number of artists and colorists, but Howard Porter gets the main credit.


Don’t underestimate a mob of preteen girls.

April 8, 2015 by Reader's Connection

What's Left of Me

I’ve finished reading The Hybrid Chronicles, a three-novel series by Kat Zhang, and I loved it. I’ll start here with part of my 2012 review of the first novel.

What’s Left of Me is narrated by Eva, the recessive soul that is still hiding within the girl called Addie.

All children in this alternative world are born with two souls inside them. But at an early age, the recessive soul is supposed to go away. The process is called settling. Addie-Eva hadn’t settled when they reached the first grade, and a guidance counselor told them, “You know, dearies, settling isn’t scary . . . The recessive soul, whichever one of you it is, will simply . . . go to sleep.”


Once We Were

Eva loses motor control after a while, but she’s still in there; and at a certain point, to avoid institutionalization and the other horrors that await “hybrid” children, she and Addie just begin pretending that they’ve settled. So the novel is written in the first person, except that the first person here isn’t the first person: Addie crossed the room, our nightgown gleaming white under the moon, our bare feet whispering against the ground. Just wait until one soul wants to kiss a guy and the other soul doesn’t.

I’m not sure how much I should tell you about the second and third novels in the series, Once We Were and Echoes of Us, because I don’t want to give away too much of what happens in What’s Left of Me.


Echoes of Us

Suffice it to say that Addie & Eva travel around and encounter many characters, lots of them hybrids.

Author Zhang makes wonderful use of everyone’s hybrid personality. A conversation among five companions is really a conversation among ten, and Eva’s descriptions of these encounters are great reading.

The second half of Echoes of Us–the last section of the trilogy–makes too much use of coincidence. Gears mesh too neatly. Even so, I was involved with all the characters–was concerned, for example, about the well-being of the institutionalized hybrid girl who, while outlining her breakout plan, speaks the line that I’ve used as a blog post title: “Don’t underestimate a mob of preteen girls.”

And don’t underestimate a teen author. I was caught up in what Kat Zhang was doing, even when things seemed a bit implausible.

What’s Left of Me is also available as a downloadable audiobook.

Once We Were is also available as a downloadable e-book and a downloadable audiobook.

Echoes of Us is also available as a downloadable e-book and a downloadable audiobook.


New Uses for Old Boyfriends

April 6, 2015 by Reader's Connection


When I announced that I was going to double the 2015 Read Harder Challenge, my colleague Jan commented: “This sounds like a lot of fun. Think I’ll try it too, though I’m not sure I could handle two romance novels.”

I read my first romance a couple weeks ago: Beth Kendrick’s New Uses for Old Boyfriends. I didn’t hate it.

After her splendidly successful life in New York falls apart, Lila Alders moves back to Black Dog Bay, Delaware. She encounters human males, and I succeeded right away in guessing which one would be her mate at the novel’s end. I must be better at guessing romance endings than I am at guessing the guilty parties in mysteries.

Lila’s mom, an ex-model, has financial problems of her own; and the two of them open a clothing shop. Someone steals buttons, and another character, or possibly the same one, tries to push some knock-off handbags as the real thing. These are the darkest shades of character revealed in the book.

One romantic interest has a past in the military about which he won’t say much, and I was hoping that would give him a dark side, but no. His time in the Special Forces–I think he was Special Forces–has equipped only with a great bod, and the ability to issue intoxicating sweat.

There are some nice passages in which Lila ponders how self-centered she was in her youth, how willing to skate by on her good looks. But in truth, her good looks are still coming in handy.

Oh, what is my problem? Who needs darkness all the time?  If you’re a romance reader, you should give this one a try. Critics loved it, and I’m going to let Booklist have the last word:

*Starred Review* After being dumped by both her employer and her husband, Lila Alders’ current net worth consists of the pittance she gets selling her wedding ring and whatever she can pack into her SUV. So returning to Black Dog Bay to help her recently widowed mother get through the summer seems like a sensible thing to do. However, Lila soon discovers that her mother is in even worse financial straits than she is, and that means Lila is going to have to figure out a way to take care of them both. When she bumps into Ben Collier, the idea of a second chance with her first true love is tempting, until she encounters Malcolm Toth, whom she dated exactly once and quickly forgot but now finds she can’t get out of her mind. Kendrick returns to the charming town of Black Dog Bay, last seen in Cure for the Common Breakup (2014), for her newest, perfectly tailored tale of love, family, friendship, and vintage couture. Kendrick’s gift for creating endearingly flawed characters combined with her impeccable sense of comic timing ensure that her books will always be in fashion with discerning readers.

New Uses for Old Boyfriends is also available as a downloadable e-book.


Magna cum Murder returns to the Columbia Club in October

April 3, 2015 by Reader's Connection

For the third year running, the Columbia Club in Indianapolis will host the Magna cum Murder Mystery Festival. If you’ve been brave enough to open this blog post, be braver still and click on that blood-splatter, for details and links to registration forms.

Halloween falls on a Saturday, this year, and the October 30th – November 1st festival dates are appropriate.



William Kent Krueger, author of the Cork O’Connor mystery series, will be the Guest of Honor. Click on the Windigo Island cover or Krueger’s name to see his titles at IndyPL.



Simon Brett, author of the Charles Paris, Mrs. Pargeter, Fethering, and Blotto and Twinks series, will be the International Guest of Honor. Click The Tomb in Turkey or Brett’s name to see his Carole Seddon mysteries at IndyPL. Then click on his name on one of those titles to see more Brett.


“Magna cum Murder is the best small mystery conference in the country, period.  Everything is run to perfection, the people are great, the location is great…  What more could you ask for?”  – author Steve Hamilton


Dana Roeser to visit IUPUI April 16th

April 1, 2015 by Reader's Connection

This just in: the book discussion group at Fountain Square Library will be reading Mary Beth Keane’s novel Fever on April 9th. See our updated book discussion list for details.

We’ll begin our observance of National Poetry Month by announcing the final guest appearance in this spring’s Rufus and Louise Reiberg Reading series at IUPUI.

Dana Roeser
Thursday, April 16, 7:30 p.m.
University Library Lilly Auditorium
755 West Michigan Street


Library Journal named The Theme of Tonight’s Party Has Been Changed one of “Thirty Amazing Poetry Titles for Spring 2014.”

The Theme of Tonight's Party Has Been ChangedIt’s hard to believe that Roeser’s sprawling and uninterrupted third collection consists of only eleven poems. In each, the mind darts compulsively between its preoccupations, combining these concerns as if to suggest that motherhood sentences women to relive their adolescence–wise now but put on mute. A daughter “flies/ over me like Evel Knievel. Like I’m just an/ aggravating mattress in// the road.” When watching your own bad decisions borne out in front of you, what is there to do but confess and try again, as the opening poem says “I’m just a messed-up/ person trying to live// on a spiritual basis.” Rather than arriving at a solidified view of the self, these poems enact the often painful reality that we are the sum of our choices, and little more. “I never knew who I was–// this truth has to be/ told each morning. I// wake in the dark/ trying to assemble// a lexicon,/ to make a coherent// line.” Beginning and ending with petitions to a higher power, this collection sends up an honest prayer, pleading that for the ones we love, everything will turn out all right. — Publisher’s Weekly

All readings in this series are free and open to the public. Visitor parking is available in the North Street Garage, 819 W. North St. and the Vermont Street Garage, 1004 W. Vermont Street. For parking information on the IUPUI campus, visit For more information about the series, contact Terry Kirts at (317) 274-8929 or