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, July 18, 2018

Sunburn by Laura Lippman

Sunburn refers to the sunburn PI Adam Bosk sees on Pauline "Polly" Costello the woman he has been hired to observe and find out where she is hiding the money she ripped off of her stepdaughter according to his client Irving Lowenstein.  Pauline has just left husband number two with her three-year-old daughter and headed down the road and stopped in the small town of Belleville, Delaware and decided to hole up here for a while. She gets a job as a waitress at the High-Ho bar and restaurant.

When he flirts with her she doesn't respond at first and then when one night she does, he is so shocked and not sure about going back to her room that he just leaves the bar which is the wrong move.  To give him a reason to stay in the town he uses his cooking skills to work as a cook there and tries flirting with her but gets shut down.  So he decides to start a sexual relationship with the other waitress Cath to inspire jealousy and it works.

She tells him to just stop talking to Cath. That that would be the easiest way to break things off with her and keep their relationship a secret.  It's not long that Adam is falling for Polly and against her better judgment she is falling for him. We learn that Polly killed her first husband by stabbing him in the heart in his sleep because he was abusive and threatened to kill her and their disabled daughter.  She was pardoned by the governor who decided to pardon some women who had been ill-used by the world and the law. She had taken out a life insurance policy on her husband with Irving's help but put the policy in the name of her daughter.  Irving had expected to get a commission on that policy and was pissed when he didn't get it.  Polly turned the care of her daughter over to the state.  So she's left two children behind.

Her second husband hires a PI to find her and then comes down threatening her if she doesn't come back but Adam intervenes and he leaves and goes back home with his tail between his legs.  Polly is hiding something from everyone and has a secret plan.  Polly is a bit of a bitch, but you kinda can't help but like her anyway. Some of that's due to the fact that she was abused by her first husband.  You feel sorry for her for that. But some of it is just her moxie to do what she wants to get what she wants no matter who's in the way.  And both of their treatment toward Cath is deplorable.  You do feel sorry for Adam who seems like a sweet guy for what he is getting himself into. This book is set in 1995 before the internet really came about so it's not like he could run a search and find out all this information on her and she had changed her name.  He was dependent on the information Irving had given him and believed that Irving had run a LexisNexis report on her.  This book holds many surprises and twists and turns you don't expect.  Lippman is a master storyteller who weaves an intricate web that you won't see the design of until you get to the last page.  This was a fantastic book and I highly recommend it. 

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers

Placidia,"Dia", Fincher decides to accept Major Gryffth Hockaday who is fighting for the Rebels in the Civil War in 1863 offer of marriage after knowing him less than a day.  She feels a certain spark of something special when she's around him.  His wife has just died and he has a young child, Charles, that needs someone to take care of it, though he has a slave woman looking after it now on his small farm.  Dia's stepsister Agnes has just had a huge wedding to Floyd Parris a wealthy landowner, though she herself has land of her own.  Agnes is a bitter woman who is jealous of Dia's beauty but the seventeen-year-old Dia hasn't figured this out. She can be naive about some things.  Which makes the task she is left to do all the more incredible. Hockaday takes her to their home and stays for a couple of days and then is called back to the War early and so leaves her to handle the household--something she has not been trained to do.

As a wedding present, she has brought along the slave Abner to help with the household.  She quickly gets rid of the slave Sukie who is there to take care of the child because she is cruel to the child. Floyd takes her and sends her one of his slaves, Cleo in return.  Floyd has been helping her out as much as he can.  They need help in the fields to bring in the crop and going against Bob, who runs the fields, wishes she goes to the mailman in town and asks him, an evil man, to find her two men to buy. He sends her one who fights all the time and one who gets sick and dies.  He's also reading the Hockaday's letters to each other and not sending all of them along.  She also has to deal with the military and vagabonds coming to take her food, animals, and money and possibly her virtue.

The book opens up with Dia in a jail cell in 1865 being held for trial for killing the child she had while the Major was away fighting and being a prisoner of war. The child he did not father and the child for whom the father she will not name.  It is whispered that Floyd is the father.  This novel is told through letters from Dia to her cousin Millie and back and from Dia to the Major and back and Dia's sons to each other and their cousin in 1892 and court documents as well as Dia's diary.  This is a unique way to tell a story and it may take some getting used to, but honestly, I can't imagine this book told in another way.  During the Civil War journals and letters were the lifeblood of soldiers and their families.  So it makes sense to use these devices to tell a story that takes place during the Civil War.  You might figure most of it out ahead of time but this book still holds some surprises.  I really enjoyed this book. Dia is a powerful character with grit and determination to make it no matter what, though she goes through a dark period that she does not see a way out of she finds the strength to overcome and come out the other side.  I'm not quite sure what to make of her flighty son Achilles but her son Charles I do like. He is sensible and kind and smart.  The Major is a bit of a rough character, but in his letters home to her he shows his soft side and how much he cares for her and that he didn't marry her just for her looks or to find a mother for his child.  This is a great book and I definitely recommend it.

He said he would not leave me for the world, and I believe him. I said I loved him as I ever did, and I hope he believed me. The truth is harder, as the truth often is.  We are no longer blessed with innocence, nor do we deserve to be. Paradise may have been lost, but paradise is a bad bargain. It costs too much. It conceals serpents and is littered with graves. I would rather have this: my husband wrapped around me, his breath against my face. The cord, or something like it, sustaining me.

Friday, July 13, 2018

All New X-Men Vol. 4: All-Different by Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Stuart Immonen (Penciler), Wade Von Grawbadger (Inker), Brandon Peterson (Artist), Mahmud Asrar (Artist), Marte Gracia (Colorist), Israel Silva (Colorist), VC's Cory Petit (Letterer), Chris Claremont (Writer), Stan Lee (Writer), Louise Simonson (Writer), Len Wein (Writer), Fabian Nicieza (Writer), Bab McLeod (Artist), Walter Simonson (Artist), Bab Wiacek (Artist), Jorge Molina (Artist), Salvador Larroca (Artist), Andres Mossa (Colorist), David Ocampo (Colorist), Tom Orzechowski (Letterer)

In the last issue, the time-traveling X-Men worked with Kitty Pryde of the Jean Grey School and Wolverine of the Uncanny Avengers to track down Mystique, Sabertooth, and Lady Mastermind who were pretending to be the time-traveling X-Men and committing robberies all across town.  They manage to capture Lady Mastermind and Mystique then Mystique escapes her cell.

In the end, they decide to join the older Scott and Magento's group.  Their hideout is in Canada where the old Weapon's X program was.  They figure no one will look for them there.  Colossus did not join them, but his sister Illyana, otherwise known as Magik, has joined the group.  The cuckoo sisters are pretty pissed that Jean is there and make their feelings clear, though Jean has no idea why they hate her so much.  Jean is being pulled apart from the thoughts of both the young Scott and the young Hank who both love her.

It isn't long before the alarm goes off and they need to go help a mutant in Florida. The Purifiers, an ultra-religious group is after her to destroy her but the new X-Men with Magik and Kitty plan to spoil their plans.  It turns out that Kitty recognizes the young woman as Laura a genetic clone to Wolverine who is in really bad shape and doesn't recognize Kitty and seems intent on attacking everyone, though Scott seems to calm her down.

Jean gets inside the head of the Purifiers and sees what they plan so the X-Men realize they have to take care of them.  But there are things they don't know about the leader of the Purifiers.  Or who they are connected to and the X-Men find themselves in a perilous situation.  Also included in this book are really fabulous comics written by Chris Claremont, Stan Lee, Len Wein, and others that are really cool to read. Though painfully short, a lot can be said in a few short pages.  This is my favorite book so far in the series.  The characters are really going through a lot right now. Kitty is dealing with her break up with Colossus and Jean with the battling beaus, who have wandering eyes as well.  And everyone is adapting to the new environment at the facility.  This is a great series that just keeps getting better. I highly recommend this book.     

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/All-New-X-Men-Vol-4-All-Different-ebook/dp/B00P16G50W/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1531484773&sr=8-2&keywords=all+new+x-men+vol+4

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Noir by Christopher Moore

Set in 1947 in this spoof on the old noir novels like Dashiell Hammett and James Cain only in the crazy funny way of all Christopher Moore books, Sammy Tiffin a bartender's life changes when he meets a dame named Stilton whom he refers to as the Cheese.  The Cheese is a war widow who is a waitress at a five and dime and Sammy who never served in the military yet has a limp that people think he got from the War. His boss Sal wants him to find some fresh-faced girls for this Air Force general friend of his who is trying to join a club and wants to make an impression with the girls who will put out.   Sammy figures he will go to Madame Mabel's to pick up some prostitutes, but Sal vetoes this, so Sammy has no idea where to get the girls.

Meanwhile, while eating dinner with his Chinese American friend Eddie Moo Shoes he sees the older men eating a soup made from snake piss that is supposed to be good for male erections.  This gives him an idea for a business venture as a friend of his is passing through with some animals some of which are snakes and he agrees to buy one with money he borrows from Eddie and some he had saved up.  He had the snake delivered to the bar because it wasn't safe to have it delivered to his apartment. Sal gets curious and opens the crate marked "Dangerous: Snake Inside" and gets bit and dies. Sammy not knowing what to do hides his body in the giant ice chest and tells Eddie about the snake which is now missing.

Sal had gotten the Cheese and her co-worker Myrtle to agree to go the party for the weekend for $100 each along with some of Mabel's cleanest girls. He also made plans with Mabel to have a girl take pictures of what goes on there at the secret meeting so that they can blackmail the members later.  When the Cheese and Myrtle go missing, Sammy begins a hunt for them that leads him to some interesting places. A pair of men in black is hunting him down as well as the two dames.

This book contains a cast of interesting characters. Eddie Moos Shoes is led around by the nose by Lois Fong a performer at the Shanghai Club where they both work.  Milo Andreas who is too disturbed by the war to drive his cab, so instead he sells shots to people coming out of Cookie's Cafe at night to put in their coffee.  Lone Jones is a large African American who believes that Roosevelt is still alive and that he will one day go and work in his Secret Service.  Lone Jones helps Sammy by punching out a troublesome, crooked, mean cop. But, of course, this only causes more problems and Eddie and Sammy takes him to Eddie's outcast (for being a "cat fucker"), Uncle Ho, to be doped up until they can figure out what to do with him which needs to be fast because they can't afford Uncle Ho's prices.

The writing is a delight and takes the noir language and plays with it like a kid with a new toy such as "the fog off the bay was steaming between the buildings like a scarf through a stripper's leg, leaving everything damp and smelling of sailors' broken dreams".  Moore has once again outdone himself and written a book that takes the noir genre and puts it on its head in such a zany and utterly creative and unique fashion.  This a fabulous book and I cannot recommend it enough.   

The fog lay spread across the city like a drowned whore—damp, cold, smelling of salt and diesel—a sea-sodden street walker who’d just bonked a tugboat…
-Christopher Moore (Noir p 17)

“And I’d curse in French when I got stuck behind a cable car.”
“In French?” said Stilton.
“Yeah. Cursing in French is classier. It ain’t even like cursing. More like poetry.”
-Christopher Moore (Noir p 54)

And they were off again. Oh yes, there were trains and tunnels, rockets blasting off, torpedoes clearing their tubes, pistons and cylinders, oil rigs pumping, bridges collapsing, stars exploding, galaxies expanding, and a squeaky part that sounded like angry mice. He was Romeo and she was Juliet, he was Heathcliff and she was Cathy, he was Tristan and she was Isolde, he was Ahab and she was Moby-Dick, she was the Titanic and he was the Iceberg, and they liked that so much that he was the Iceberg for a while and she was the Titanic.  She was Snow White and he was the Seven Dwarfs, he was the Scarecrow and she was the Flying Monkeys—it was a epic and divine disaster they acted out in that crawl-space apartment, taking breaks to breathe, and drink gin and smoke, and they even dozed off together toward dawn.
-Christopher Moore (Noir p 74)

“Sal knows a general?”
“Air force. Not a real general.”
-Christopher Moore (Noir p 199)     

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Noir-Novel-Christopher-Moore-ebook/dp/B07192GP7F/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1531308050&sr=8-5&keywords=noir

Monday, July 9, 2018

Dead Girl Running by Christina Dodd

It's January at Yearning Sands Resort on the Washington state's Pacific coast and the owners, Annie and Leo Di Luca are going away to a family gathering/vacation leaving their new assistant manager, Kellan Adams in charge. Kellan isn't who she says she is. She's really Kellan's cousin Cecilia who was in an abusive relationship. One day Kellen arrived to rescue Cecilia. The two looked enough alike to be twins. When Kellen went into Cecilia's bungalow to get her things her husband sees her and takes an ax and kills her and blows up the building while Cecilia watches killing both Kellen and himself.  At some point she loses a year of her life after being shot in the head and then she joins the Army and becomes injured and is honorably discharged and takes the job at the Yearning Sands Resort hiring a few of her Army friends who need jobs.

The staff include: Mitch, one of her Army buddies who is good with electronics and is one of the drivers; Sheri Jean, guest manager whom the guest adore but the staff fear; Mara Philippi, the spa manager, likes to work out with Kellen and says she wants to enter the American Ninja Competition; Xander, masseuse, very Zen and into mediation; Mr. Gilfrin, head of security who is leaving her in charge of security so he can go away and observe the security department from afar for something fishy that may be going on; Adrian, Army buddy works with the cars; Temo; mechanic, handyman, now head of maintenance; Birdie, recent widow, lead mechanic;  and Chad Griffin, drunk pilot and womanizer. There's also the guests: Carson Lennex, an older actor who owns a penthouse there and acts mysteriously; Shivering Sherlocks, a group of women who have come to do a mystery weekend; Nils Brooks, says he is a writer; Justin and Julia Florence, newlyweds.

When a decayed body turns up on the beach and is identified as Pricilla Carter, the former assistant manager who everyone believed just packed up and left in the middle of a tour.  Pricilla had found some relics that some smugglers had left on the beach to be picked up and hid them at the hotel.  She had asked for money in exchange for the relics back.

This is when Nils Brooks takes Kellen aside and tells her he is with the MFAA or the Monuments Men who rescue relics for the government.  In this case, they are trying to keep them from being sold to fund terrorists.  There is one he is really after who killed the only other person who it was in the organization, his boss. This person is the illusive Librarian. Suspected of being a woman, but could be a man they cut off the hands of their victims. The Librarian has many smuggling operations running around the U.S., including the one there at Yearning Sands, but Nils isn't interested in stopping the smuggling. He wants to capture the Librarian whom he believes works or is a guest at the resort.

With all the trouble Annie and Leo send their great-nephew Max to help Kellen with security but also for other reasons.  Kellen doesn't know what to make of Nils's story. He seems to check out, but it all seems far-fetched.  Maybe he is the Librarian?  The only one she knows she can trust is Max and that's because he wasn't here for any of it. While Nils is trying to make moves on her, there's something that draws her to Max.  This fast-paced, adrenaline-fueled book will keep you hopping. While you probably will have guessed most of it, there are still some surprises that Dodd still manages to pull off that you don't expect.  This is a great book and I highly recommend it.

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Dead-Girl-Running-Cape-Charade-ebook/dp/B075QVYMHX/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1531139020&sr=8-1&keywords=dead+girl+running

Friday, July 6, 2018

The New 52 Wonder Woman Vol. 4: War by Brian Azzarello (Writer), Cliff Chiang (Artist), Goran Sudzuka (Artist), Tony Akins (Artist), Dan Green (Artist), Matthew Wilson (Colorist), and Jared K. Fletcher (Letterer)

In the last book, Hera joined forces with Wonder Woman, Lennox, her brother, an alien from another realm named Orion and sometimes War to protect Zola and her child who is prophecized to take the throne of Zeus.  In Antarctica Zeus and Hera's firstborn son has defrosted and is seeking the throne for himself and seeks to kill all who stand in his way.  Cassandra, the voice of the gods and Lennox's sister is helping him.

Zola decides to name her son Zeke while the Moon Goddess is sent by Apollo to kill Zeke and Wonder Woman again puts her down while Lennox and Hera get Zola and the baby out of harm's way and go to a safe house of Lennox's.  After having made an agreement with Hades and Poseidon to leave their kingdoms alone the firstborn heads off to meet up with Lennox to destroy Zeke.

Orion arrives to help but they're getting their asses kicked all over the place and need an exit strategy so Zola grabs his transport and urges everyone to hop on and they head off into a tube that will lead them to Orion's homeworld, but Lennox goes back and closes the gate so they can get there.  While there they must figure out their next moves.  I was disappointed in the drawing of Poseidon as he was drawn as a giant ugly fish.  I guess I expected something more majestic and godlike.  But then Hades has never looked like much either but a child with a burning head.  It's hard to imagine him having sex with Persephone.  At the same time, the drawing of Apollo, Moon, War, Hera, and Wonder Woman are so amazing you can forgive a couple of screwups.  The stakes are getting higher in this book in the series as some of them die.  This series gets better with each comic and I can't wait to read the next one. I highly recommend this book.   

Link to Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Wonder-Woman-Vol-War-New-ebook/dp/B00H4EW1GG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1530887282&sr=8-1&keywords=the+new+52%21+wonder+woman+war

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

When Jude, her twin sister Taryn were seven and their older sister Viviene was nine, Madoc, a Faire, more specifically a redcap, arrived to confront his supposedly dead human wife and kills her and her husband and takes his daughter, Vivi and her human sisters Jude and Taryn to Elfhamme where he is a general in the High King's army.  He remarries to Oriana and they have a sickly child named Oak, whom the girls grow to love.

Fast forward ten years and Vivi rebels against everything Faerie and visits the mortal world every chance she gets and makes plans to run away to there. Meanwhile, Jude and Taryn are doing their best to fit in. Jude wants to be a knight in the High King's army. She does, however, have some trouble at school in the name of Prince Cardan and his coterie of friends Valerian, Nicacia, and Loche.  Then one day Loche seems to be on her side and encouraging her to continue to fight back against Prince Caradan. He has his own reasons for that. He begins flirting with her and takes her back to his house and they make out before a party.

While Jude is dreaming of making her mark at the Summer Tournament where she could be picked to be a knight in training by one of the Princes or Princesses if only Madoc would allow her to be.  This is when Prince Dain arrives at her house and makes her an offer she can't refuse. He sees the value of a human who can lie, as Faeries can't lie and humans can move about freely without being noticed much.  He wants her to be his spy. Prince Dain is the heir apparent, but his brother Balekin is likely going to make a move for the throne soon when their father hands over the crown to Dain in the upcoming ceremony.  In payment for this, he offers her a geas that will keep her from being enchanted by any faerie but him.  He also tells her a way to avoid the effects of eating faerie food and such is to eat small amounts daily and become immune.  It makes her sick as a dog, but it is slowly working.

The King will place the crown on Dain's head in the ceremony making him King and if someone tries to kill him after that they will be cursed and none of the Fey kingdoms will recognize them as King or Queen.  So the Court of Shadows, Dain's spy network, which consists of a goblin named Roach, a half human half faerie named Ghost and a pixie named Bomb are working to make sure that Dain sits on the throne. Madoc is also working to make sure that Dain sits on the throne.

But nothing is as it seems in Faerie and Jude would do well to remember that. This novel keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire way through flipping pages well into the night.  The characters are very complex and surprise you sometimes.  While Madoc killed their parents he doesn't seem like such a bad guy to them. He raises them as though they are his very own daughters, which he didn't have to do and cares about them as if they were.  You would think that Jude and Taryn would want to go back to the mortal would as soon as possible but the faerie world is all they know and while they live in constant fear Taryn wants to marry and live a quiet life while Jude wants to prove herself worthy and be needed and useful.  If only they can survive Prince Cardan's bullying and the machinations of court.  This book is the first in a trilogy and the next book can't come out soon enough to suit me.  Holly Black is a favorite author of mine and here she proves again why I love her so much: great storytelling and characters and a world you don't want to leave.  I cannot recommend this book enough.

The kind of fabrics princesses in fairy tales wear.  Of course, Taryn is right about stories. Bad things happen to those princesses. They are pricked with thorns, poisoned by apples, married to their own fathers. They have their hands cut off and their brothers turned into swans, their lovers chopped up and planted into basil pots. They vomit up diamonds. When they walk, it feels as though they’re walking on knives.  They still manage to look nice.
-Holly Black (The Cruel Prince p 145)
Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Cruel-Prince-Folk-Air-ebook/dp/B06Y5HPRLC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1530707957&sr=8-1&keywords=cruel+prince+book