I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Winnebago Graveyard by Steve Niles (Writer), Alison Sampson (Artist and Design), Stephane Paitreau (Colorist), Eiko Takayama (Colorist), Aditya Bidikar (Letterer), Sarah Horrocks (Essayest), Casey Gilly (Essayest), Claire Napier (Essayest), and Anna Tambour (Essayest)

This is a horror comic with lots of blood and guts, but very little horror. Sure there are Satanists, at least I guess they are Satanists, as they wear robes and draw a pentagram and make a sacrifice at the beginning of the book. They kill a man they have captured and eviscerate him and then bring him back to life as their brother. He kills the woman he was with.

Cut to a later time and a boy and his mother and stepfather who are traveling in a Winnebago and they see a carnival and stop to have a look. Unbelievably, they decide to leave their cell phones inside the Winnebago. They ride the rides and play the games. They are like the only ones there though. They decided to check into a house bed and breakfast that is more like the Hotel California.  Through the window, they see the hooded figures and become curious and go outside to look.

This will, of course, put them into trouble. They will stumble across an empty Winnebago lot that shows how many people these guys have been busy with.  Why only Winnebagos, I don't know.  They see them performing a ritual and realize they need to escape, but it's too late as they won't all make it out alive.  I didn't particularly care for this comic. It was predictable and offered up nothing new or exciting. I cannot recommend it. 

Link to Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/Winnebago-Graveyard-Steve-Niles-ebook/dp/B0753MKBR5/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1527078009&sr=8-1&keywords=winnebago+graveyard

Monday, May 21, 2018

A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny

In the last book, Olivier Brule who had been sent to prison for murdering the hermit was found innocent of the crime by Inspector Jean Guy Beauvoir.  Chief Inspector Armond Gamache of the Surete in Quebec instructed Beauvoir to do this after he had arrested the man.  Also, a terrorist raid on a factory killed and injured many of Gamache's men, including Beauvoir and himself.  An edited video made by the Surete was posted on the internet.  It doesn't paint Gamache in a good light and almost has the desired effect of causing him to almost quit.  The investigation determined that a hacker got into the system and leaked the tape. Gamache and Beauvoir don't believe this, but Gamache doesn't want Beauvoir to risk his career so he tells him to let it rest while he secretly goes after the person who leaked it. Beauvoir himself has problems. He left his wife, which is a good thing, but he's popping pills for his pain and he's doing too much of that. He needs to be in counseling because he's not coping well with the factory incident and he's in love with Gamache's married daughter.  Beauvoir is training Agent Lacoste to become an Inspector, as well.

The book , another tour de force by Penny, opens up with Clara Morrow at her art opening at the Musee d'Art Contemporain in Montreal. She's a middle-aged woman and this is a big deal for her because this could finally be the big break for her career.  Her husband Peter is trying to be supportive, but secretly he's jealous. He's also an artist and his art has been supporting them all these years. He sells his art to individuals but he's never had a big gala showing like this.

The next morning after a party had been held at her house celebrating her art show, Peter and Olivier arrive with the newspapers that hold the reviews of her show and as they come through the garden to get to Clara they see a dead body.  No one recognizes the woman at first. But when Gamache says her name, Clara knows it and takes a second look at the picture and determines that, yes, she knew her once years ago.  Lillian Dyson and Clara were childhood friends who grew up together and went to college together. As Myra describes her she was an emotional vampire. When Lillian gave Clara's art a bad review after she had changed her natural inclination of the direction of her art because Lillian had told her to it was the straw that broke the camel's back and Clara would have nothing to do with Lillian after that.

Clara was hardly alone in this. There were many artists she had eviscerated. There was one in particular that everyone remembers that was particularly harsh.  Harsh enough to get the artist to stop painting.  But Lillian quit her life as a critic and disappeared for a long number of years before showing back up in Montreal, this time as an artist trying to get people to look at her art, which was amazing. She was also in AA trying to put her life back together. Trying to be a different person.  But can people truly change?  Those who knew her in AA saw a different person than those who knew her in the art world.

There are plenty of suspects. The artists who received bad reviews from her. The gallery owners whose secrets she knew.  Those in AA who may not be as they seem.  This book is filled with secrets from the past and just as a trick of the light can let you see the hope in Clara's painting it can help Gamache and Beauvoir and the hard working and intrepid Agent Lacoste to find a killer.

Then the Chief Justice’s gaze settled back on Castonguay, his eyes hard. Gamache had seen that look often in court. Rarely directed at him, mostly directed at some poor trial lawyer who’d transgressed. Had Castonguay been a Death Star, his head would have exploded.  
-Louise Penny (A Trick of the Light p 306)

It amused her that Inspector Beauvoir no longer locked their car. When they’d first come to Three Pines, to investigate Jane’s murder, the officers had made sure the care was always locked. But now, several years later, they didn’t bother. They knew, she presumed, that people in Three Pines might occasionally take a life, but not a car.
-Louise Penny (A Trick of the Light p 193)

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Trick-Light-Inspector-Gamache-Mystery-ebook/dp/B004VMV412/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1526914341&sr=8-1&keywords=a+trick+of+the+light+louise+penny

Friday, May 18, 2018

Paper Girls Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan (Writer), Cliff Chiang (Artist), Matt Wilson (Colorist), Jared K. Fletcher (Letterer)

In the previous comic, on one fateful Halloween night in 1988 in small-town Ohio, Erin meets fellow paper girls Mac, Tiffany, and KJ. Things go wrong when some people wearing head to toe cloth steal their walkie-talkies. They go in search of them and pick up a square piece of technology with an apple on it that the guys dropped.  Later Erin gets shot by Mac's stepmother. A suspicious knight swears that he can help but then so do the guys in cloth. They decide to trust the guys in cloth who take Erin to the future in the time machine the girls discovered earlier and save her life.  When they return her something happens to the time machine exposing the girls to an energy that changes them and makes them special.  The girls wind up going to the year 2016.

When the book opens older Erin is driving down the road when three girls appear on the road in front of her. They are Erin, Mac, and Tiffany.  They want her help in finding KJ. She wants to take one of her Xanax. Life hasn't turned out well for Erin.  She works as a reporter at the newspaper she used to deliver papers for and she's single and alone, except for her little sister Misty.

When she pulls out her iPhone they pull out the apple device and the two sync up and show a map that leads to the old deserted mall that the girls still know so well.  As the two Erins head out to the mall, Mac and Tiffany decide to find out about themselves.  Meanwhile, another Erin that is of the same age as the Erin from 1988 but appears to have come from the future is making her way through the town. She brought through with her two ginormous centipedes that are causing destruction.

At the mall 1988 Erin receives a message from KJ that says not to trust the other Erin and to go to the fourth folding.  When faced with both Erins she doesn't know which to believe or trust.  But make a decision and quick she'll have to do because time is not on her side.  This book takes the last one and ratches it up another level.  You become desperate for answers and while you do get some, you also get more questions.  This is a fabulous series and I can't wait to find out what happens in the next book.

Link to Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/Paper-Girls-Vol-Brian-Vaughan-ebook/dp/B01LXI1F52/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1526659575&sr=8-1&keywords=paper+girls+volume+2

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Head On: A Novel of the Near Future by John Scalzi

A Great Flu pandemic sweeps the globe killing more than 400 million people and named Hayden after the first lady who had the disease.  The symptoms, which were slow to show up, caused people who had it to spread it without even knowing they had it.  The first stage of the flu, causing up to 75 percent of the deaths, was followed by viral meningitis.  Those who survived the second stage suffered no long-term problems, but at least 1percent suffered from "lock in" where they were aware of their surroundings, but could not communicate or move.  An even smaller number, 100,000 had their brains rewired and were able to become Integrators or those who could hold the consciousness of a Hayden sufferer and allow them a body to walk in.  Those suffering from lock in could use robots to get around in and be called "threeps" after C3PO.  A virtual world called Agora, was created for those with this disease so that they could communicate with others.  Trillions were initially spent on finding a cure and the treatment of those suffering from it.  Then after decades of this, the Abrams-Kettering Bill was passed, cutting funding for those suffering from this disease, despite the fact that on average 30,000 people would suffer from lock in annually in the US alone.

Agent Chris Shane, a former poster child for Haydens and daughter of a famous ex-basketball player who has a trust fund of her own works with her superior, Agent Leslie Vann, a chain-smoking former Integrator.  Shane is at a Hilketa league pre-season game that is meant to garner support for leagues in Europe and Asia.  Right now it only exists in North America with most of the teams in the United States.  Her father is being courted in investing in the league that is expanding in the United States including Washington D.C. where he lives. 

The game is played by having threeps play the game, so those with Haydens have the advantage and make up the majority of the players.  One player on one team is chosen to be the goat and the idea is for the opposite team to capture his head and toss it in the basket.   The other players use weapons like bows, swords, hammers, and bats.   The pain levels on the threeps are set at a certain level so you feel some pain.

After the Toronto Snowbirds rip off the head of the goat being played by Duane Chapman whose threep is being carried off of the field, they score with it and end the game, but Chapman is dead.  Shane receives a phone call from one of her roommates who tells her about the data feed on Chapman having been cut and removed so she calls her FBI partner Vann and gets to work figuring out what happened.

Things get complicated when the man who ordered the feed to be cut is found dead of a suicide in his hotel room minutes after texting the agents that he would be ready to meet with them in a few minutes.  Also, Chapman was cheating on his wife Marla with someone at his lovenest which goes up in smoke the same night that he dies.  The league has something to hide as well, with their lawyer, Oliver, at the top of the list of suspicious people. And then there's Amelie Parker who is looking for investors in her company MobilOn a company that will make threeps available to timeshare to those with Haydens, but mostly those without who might want to use one for travel.

The body count in this book will grow and, yes, Agent Shane will go through more than one threep.  She does have a reputation for destroying them.  Agent Vann will threaten all those who get in her way, which is how she works.  The storyline is complex enough to make it interesting, but not too much to make it not understandable.  I really enjoyed Shane's roommates.  The sardonic Tony does work for the FBI as a computer consultant and they had plenty of work for him to do and there's even work for Tanya the nurse with the kind heart and sharp tongue if crossed.  I really love this series and this world Scalzi has created.  It's completely fascinating and opens up so many questions.  Those with Haydens get treated differently than others and with the passage of Abrams-Kettering, they are becoming even more marginalized.  This is touched upon in this book a bit.  The mystery is quite good and it is action-packed and a real page-turner.  You don't have to read the first book, Lock In in order to read this one, though I highly suggest you do.  I can't recommend this book enough.   

Link to Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Head-Novel-Near-Future-Lock-ebook/dp/B072LD8JG9/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1526476662&sr=8-1&keywords=head+on+scalzi&dpID=41OqOAVADrL&preST=_SY445_QL70_&dpSrc=srch             

Monday, May 14, 2018

Jessica Jones Alias Vol. 4 by Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Michael Gaydos (Artist), Matt Hollingsworth (Colorist), Mark Bagley (Jewel Sequences), Art Thibert (Jewel Sequences), Dean White (Jewel Sequences, Jean Grey Flashbacks), Rick Mays (Jean Grey Flashback), and Cory Petit (Letterer)

This comic opens with a flashback to when Jessica was a teenager and was in a car wreck with an army vehicle that was carrying hazardous materials. Her family died but she ended up with the ability to fly and have super strength after being in a coma for six months.  She gets adopted by a nice couple and decides to use her powers to fight bad guys as the superhero Jewel.

Back in today's timeline, she is looking for a good case to take on and Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel, sends her one.  A group of people has been affected by a man known as Killgrave and they want her help in getting justice.  Killgrave, or the Purple Man, has the ability to make you do anything he wants you to do.  You want to do it too. At least at the time.  He does it with pheromones so when you get away from him his influence is gone.  Before Killgrave was captured, he held Jessica in his thrall.  He made her do all manner of things against her will.

Jessica goes to see Killgrave and when he escapes she blames herself and worries about what he might do to her or others.  The artwork in this comic is very interesting. At the beginning is a very retro classic from the 1960s. The Jewel sequences are sleek over-the-top modern superhero type art.  The Jean Grey parts are very sophisticated and look like they belong in an X-Men comic.  This was a killer book that even at times made attempts to as they say in the theater "break the fourth wall".  Also, Jessica's love life is about to get complicated as Luke Cage starts coming around again while she's still dating Scott. I highly recommend this book.   

Link to Amazon:   https://www.amazon.com/Jessica-Jones-Alias-Vol-4/dp/078519858X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1526299873&sr=8-1&keywords=jessica+jones+vol+4&dpID=513QyehpO1L&preST=_SY344_BO1,204,203,200_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

Friday, May 11, 2018

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

I once wrote a review of this book saying that I had read half of this book and that I would later write a better review of it once I had finished this book. Well, I have finally gotten around to reading the whole book and what a book it was.  Set during World War II, it centers mainly on the characters of Marie-Laure, a blind French girl who is between the ages of twelve and sixteen and Werner, a German boy who is between the ages of fourteen and eighteen.

Marie-Laure's father is the locksmith at the National History Museum in Paris.  He builds her a model of the area of the streets between their apartment and the museum so she can feel with her fingers the path to the museum and learn to find her way around in the real world.  For her birthday he buys her the first half of the book Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea to read in braille.

There is a diamond called the Sea Of Flames which is hidden deep within the vaults of the museum. It is said to give the keeper everlasting life, yet also kill off everyone and everything the keeper loves. It is a cursed stone.  When the Germans entered France the museum director gives three stones, two copies and one real one to three men, one of which is Marie-Laure's father and they are to take the stones to a safe location.  When they arrive at the location to give the stone to the man who is to get the stone to safety, he has already left for London.  So Marie-Laure and her father go ahead with their plans to go to the island of Saint-Malo to stay with his Uncle Etienne who is said to have gone a bit crazy after World War I and has never left his house.

When they arrive they are met by the elderly Madame Manec who is a wonder in the kitchen and keeps things running smoothly and is a godsend.  Her father builds her a model of the city just like he did back home just in case she needs to learn to go outside, though he refuses to let her go outside now that the Germans have taken over the island.  Uncle Etienne reads to her when he is up to it and the two of them get along rather well.  Then Marie-Laure's father gets a telegram asking that he come back to Paris. He does not know if this is a trap so he leaves the stone behind hidden carefully away inside the model.  He ends up getting arrested and sent to a camp.  Madam Manec begins to form a committee to try to do small things to foil the Germans, but soon they become bigger things and they want Etienne to help with his radio up in the attic but he refuses to get involved or risk Marie-Laure.

Werner and his sister Jutta are orphans in an orphanage run by Frau Elena a sweet loving woman who speaks German with a French accent since she is from Alsace.  He is a bright boy who is good with mechanical things. When he finds a broken down radio he gets it working again and the other kids get to listen to it. At night he and Jutta listen to this Frenchman who gives lessons and plays a bit of music. It turns out that this Frenchman is Marie-Laure's grandfather and her great-uncle Etienne plays the recordings on his radio for others to hear.  When he finds a book on math, he teaches himself higher levels of math like trigonometry.

Soon one person hears about his ability to fix things and he is off fixing radios for everyone in the town. When he fixes the radio of an important man in the military, he recommends Werner for a fancy military school.  Jutta is against him going there for fear of him becoming a Nazi.  The school is harsh and the friend he makes there is a weak boy in the ways that matter to them, but he is one who teaches Werner a lesson.  Soon he is off to war as a radio operator questioning everything.

The book goes back and forth beginning with the year 1940 going forward and toward a day in 1944 when the lives of these two will finally meet along with a third, a Sergeant Major von Rumpel who is searching desperately for the Sea of Flames for he believes it will cure his cancer.  He is also a gemologist and it is quite a prize.  In 1944 the Americans are bombing the island to pieces as the Germans are returning fire.  Marie-Laure is alone in the house and Werner is with his men in the cellar of a hotel.  This book will show that not all Germans were evil Nazis and not all French soldiers were great heroes.  Some of the French worked with the Germans and some worked against them and some did nothing at all.  It was a complicated time with no easy answers.  Do I believe that a piece of jewelry can be cursed? Yes, I do.  This one certainly was.  This was a very long book and at times a bit difficult to get through. Some may have problems with the going back and forth through time, but I saw that as a plus. It kept the action going.  I highly recommend this book. It was worth the long nights of reading.           

Link to Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/All-Light-We-Cannot-See-ebook/dp/B00DPM7TIG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1526057596&sr=8-1&keywords=all+the+light+we+cannot+see

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Black AF America's Sweetheart by Kwanza Osajyefo (Author), Tim Smith 3 (Designer), Jennifer Johnson (Artist), David Sharpe (Letterer)

Eli Franklin is a fifteen-year-old black girl who was adopted as a baby by a white family in Montana. She has superpowers.  Her dad works for the White House in some top secret job.  When Negromurta footage is leaked revealing the existence of a prison containing super powered blacks the White House is forced to admit that some blacks have superpowers.  Now blacks without superpowers are being beaten up and blacks and whites are pretty pissed and scared. and calling for action.

Eli has a ball that arrived with her when she landed on this planet.  She calls it BOB.  She finds that BOB can be worn as a superhero costume and she goes about saving the day and trying to change people's minds about blacks with superpowers.  She calls herself Good Girl.  Then she is caught by her dad and his government goons.

She is brought in to work with other superheroes who work for the government.  At first, her numbers are going way up and she is quite popular. Then people start questioning whether she's saving more people of color and going after white celebrities.  They bench her.  Then the superpowered woman who has been destroying military bases has been spotted and they send the more experienced superheroes.

But Eli notices from video footage that they have similar powers and she has the same tattoo as BOB, so she flies out to meet her.  It turns out the woman is Zion, her sister.  She explains how Eli came to land on earth and why blacks are suddenly getting superpowers.  But Zion is set upon destroying those whom she sees as oppressors and Eli can't let her do that.  This is an interesting and fresh new comic.  I can't wait to see where it leads.  I highly recommend it.

Link to Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/BLACK-AF-Sweetheart-Kwanza-Osajyefo-ebook/dp/B077Y69J23/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1525867785&sr=8-1&keywords=black+af+america%27s+sweetheart