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

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Web by Jonathan Kellerman

In this tenth Dr. Alex Delaware book, he and Robin leave Los Angles, where his home is still being repaired for an all expenses paid work vacation on the Pacific island of Aruk, by Dr. Woodrow Mooreland, a scientist, and philanthropist who needs help with his many case files to ready them for publication.

But things are not as they seem.  A couple, one a botanist, the other a meteorologist studying weather patterns in the area are to go on a plane ride over the jungle where no one goes because of the land mines left by the Japanese during World War II.  They get in a fight before the flight and he goes alone and the plane crashes into the jungle.  The Navy base on the other side of the island, which is blocked off by a large iron gate, that went up after the villagers protested the death and mutilation of a local girl who was known to hand around sailors.

The other cases the doctor shares with him besides that of the girl is one of a man who suffered radiation poisoning when the Bikini Islands were bombed and the air shifted and drifted over some of the Pacific Islands, causing death and cancer.  The people were compensated monetarily, but in the doctor's opinion, that was not enough.  The people of Aruk receive government checks each month because of their poverty, which does not encourage them to try to revive the island's economy and while Dr. Mooreland has the money to help, he does not.

There are also two strange American men on the island who seem to want to drink all day and harass the local women.  But they are not the only odd thing on the island.  A man who is running for the Senate seat of Washington State, and known for his environmental policies back stateside, is perhaps not so eco-friendly concerning the island.  A big business is interested in the island and all the land the doctor owns, which is considerable.

But that is not the biggest secret being kept.  The good Dr. Mooreland waits until the end to show and tell his story to Alex and Robin one stormy night.  A story that may get them all killed.  This book's ending will come as a complete shock.  As all of the secrets kept by the various players unravel, a horrendous revelation and a shocking request made by Dr. Mooreland to Alex and Robin could quite possibly end in tragedy for them all.

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Web-Alex-Delaware-Novel-ebook/dp/B000FBFN9C/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1495813533&sr=1-1&keywords=the+web+kellerman

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Doctor Strange Vol 1: The Way of the Weird by Jason Aaron (Writer), Chris Bachalo (Penciler/Colorist), Time Townsend, Al Vey, Mark Irwin, John Lievsay, Wayne Faucher, Victor Mazaba, Jaime Mendoza (Inkers), Kevin Nowlan (Artist/Colorist) and VC's Cory Petit (Letterer)

 This comic comes before Doctor Strange Vol 2: The Last Days of Magic.  In this one, he is realizing that the magical creatures he is fighting that are inside people are growing in number and are harder to get out.  He brings this to the collection of magical beings at the Bar Without Doors that only allows magicians.  But the discussion gets derailed by Monako who demands to know whether or not Strange has been paying the price for using magic. Monako killed rabbits in his day because it is always a life for a life.  So what is Doctor Strange doing?

Meanwhile back at the Sanctum Santorum, a young woman waits to see Doctor Strange, but not at all sure if she really wants to see him. Her name is Zelma Stanton and she has something with mouths and teeth coming out of the top of her head.  Her best friend heard it from someone that he helped someone with a dog growing out of his chest so she thought she might give him a try at fixing this.  Strange has never seen anything like this.  He gets out most of the mouth creatures who are now roaming freely about the mansion wrecking havoc. Strange and Zelma must find them and kill them before they cause damage to the house.  Strange gives Zelma a sword for protection and tells her not to look at anything for very long and to please stay away from the refrigerator as he has collected some odd things in there that she doesn't want to meet.  When they get to the library the creature opens up a book and the blowback knocks Zelda out of the room and the two get separated.  Which is how she ends up opening the refrigerator and meeting Wong who saves her from it.  Strange, meanwhile, has been meditating and reading in the library.

Earlier in the 13th dimension, the Sorcerer Supreme there is about to die and he sends out a message upon some special birds to let those in other dimensions know what is going on. All those who knew magic have been killed and magic is no longer working in his dimension.  The Empirikul has come and taken over.  His magic birds are killed in the sky by them.

Doctor Strange is beginning to notice that magic is not working sometimes when it should, however, he has bigger problems on his hand for a while.  The colors are very interesting. Of course, the sanctum santorum is done up in dark colors because it is a dark place. But there is a scene where Doctor Strange's astral self wakes up in another dimension and the people are done in just black ink with no colors and the flora and fauna are done up in riotous colors with a beautiful rainbow in the background.  The drawings are very Asian in orientation and the story is first rate.  I highly recommend this book.

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Doctor-Strange-Vol-Weird-2015-ebook/dp/B01DOJCAGA/ref=sr_es_i_1_2_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1495633025&sr=8-2&keywords=doctor+strange+the+way+of+the+weird

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

"The Interdependency with it's religious and social ethos of interconnectedness combined with a guild-centered, monopolistic economy, they'd created possibly the most ridiculously complex method of ensuring the formal caste system of nobles intertwined with a merchant class, and common workers underneath, complicated proceeding even further.  And yet it worked. It worked because on a social level, apparently enough people wanted it to, and because at the heart of it, billions of humans living in fragile habitats prone to mechanical and environmental breakdowns and degradation, and with limited natural resources, were better off relying on each other than trying to go it alone. Even without the Interdependency being interdependent was the best way for humanity to survive." (p 276)  At the head of the whole thing is the emperox who had the largest guild, was the head of the church, and had a seat on parliament.

The book opens up with the old emperox dying and leaving as his heir his daughter from his mistress, Cardenia, a woman who has grown up outside of the capital and has no idea how to run things. His legal heir died tragically in a racing car accident while engaged to Nadshe Nohampetan from one of the important guilds, but truly a horrible person from a horrible family.  Nadshe was the brains of the family and Cardenia's brother could have handled her just fine and made use of her. Now her much dumber brother Amit is sniffing around trying to get her to say yes to a marriage proposal and the council wants her to say yes. But when her father was dying he told her it would be a poor match.  The council, which is comprised of a representative from the church, representatives from the guilds, and politicians, is preparing to run her down and tell her what to do. But Cardenia who has chosen as her royal name Grayland II and only lets personal friends and family in private call her Cardenia.  She uses the plural We when she talks as she is talking for the entire system.  In private she can use the singular when she feels like it.

At her coronation, a bomb goes off on the balcony when they are getting off the elevator and some other bombs go off in the crowds. The one on the balcony kills her best friend and personal assistant who keeps her on schedule and lets her know what she needs to know for every scenario and rights up speeches for her to say for every occasion. She is told that it is rebels from the rebel war going on at the planet End, which is as you might guess at the end of the system.  It's the only planet where people actually live on it.  This is of course, not true as the rebels could care less about who is crowned emperox. They are more concerned as to who is running things on End. But those on Hub, where the seat of the emperox and the government is they believe what they are being told by the Nohampetans, mainly Nadshe who has a secret plan in place.

On End, a once famous physicist seemingly turned his back on all that and took a title after he slept with the wrong woman and was sent to End to be a tax auditor.  But secretly he was working for the emperox who has just died to further his research and to find out if it is true and what will happen. His son, Marce Claremont, has been helping him and the two have discovered that the Flow, the streams with which people travel from one planet to another in a matter of weeks or months instead of decades or more, has been degrading and is now falling apart and disappearing altogether with the one from End to the Hub the first to go.  The physicist puts his son on one of the last ships going back to the Hub in order to talk to the emperox.  But his trip will be fraught with peril as Ghreni Nohampetan is trying to either kill him or keep him back on End.

I really loved this book. While I loved Cardenia, one of my favorite characters was Lady Kiva, the family representative of the House of Lagos who owns the ship that Marce is leaving on and with whom, Ghreni has made the mistake of screwing with. She cusses worse than a sailor, sleeps with whoever she wants, and does as she pleases unless her mother, the head of the House of Lagos tells her differently because her mother is someone she respects and hopes to be someday.   Kiva is smart and can really put a plan together and is prepared to sacrifice for the greater good.  This book is the first in a series or a trilogy or at least has a sequel with the way it ended.  I'm desperate to find out what happens next so Mr. Scalzi write faster, please.

Really nice people don’t usually accrue power.
--John Scalzi (The Collapsing Empire p 32)

“I don’t think she’s going to keep it to herself.” “It’s not whether she tells everyone,” Huma said. “It’s whether they believe her.” “It’s the truth.” “Oh, my daughter,” Huma said, and smiled. “Don’t tell me you don’t know how little that actually means.”
-John Scalzi (The Collapsing Empire p 274)

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Collapsing-Empire-John-Scalzi-ebook/dp/B01F20E7CO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1495464388&sr=8-1&keywords=the+collapsing+empire

Friday, May 19, 2017

Ms. Marvel: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson (Writer), Adrian Alphona (Artist), Jan Herring (Color), and VC's Joe Carmagna (Lettering)

Set in Jersey City, Kamala Khan and her best friend Nakia are good Muslim girls most of the time in that they eat halal and go to the local Mosque, even though Kamala drives the Sheikh Abdullah nuts with her questions and they sneak out of the meetings to go and get a snack at the Circle Q where their friend Bruno works.  Kamala desperately wants to fit in with the popular crowd and when Zoe and her boyfriend Josh invite Bruno, Nakia, and Kamala to a party one weekend night, Kamala sneaks out of the house to go to it.

What happens there is she is given alcohol, which she spits out and is spotted by Bruno who is trying to get her to leave when she runs off.  A dense fog settles in the area and everyone goes down, including Kamala who dreams of meeting the Avengers with Captain Marvel speaking for them.  She asks her what she wants most in life and Kamala tells her she wants to be more like Captain Marvel.  She becomes encased in a shell that she must break open and when she does, she looks exactly like Captain Marvel with the blonde hair and blue eyes. Her costume is different, as she had requested a more kickass costume.  After a little while, she turns back to Kamala, then back to Ms. Marvel.

When she stumbles upon Zoe and Josh goofing off on the docks, she shrinks down to a small size so as not to be noticed.  Zoe and Josh struggle on the dock and Zoe goes overboard. They're both drunk and won't be able to handle helping Zoe so Kamala changes into her Ms. Marvel shape and rescues Zoe by extending her arms and making her hands large and scooping her in.  What she doesn't know is that someone taped footage of the event and it went to the news stations.  As she sneaks into the house her very religious brother catches her and lets her know that her parents know she snuck out because Bruno told them when he couldn't find her.  She gets grounded until they can trust her again, which doesn't go with her plans to help people in her new role as Ms. Marvel.

At school, she gets into trouble for messing up the gym changing room because she felt herself going out of control and going big.  She imagined someone to become and missed the mark and changed into someone else--someone smaller.  Then changed back into Kamala.  She must learn to control her new powers.  When she goes alone to the Circe Q and notices a masked a masked man sticking up the place. The guy is Vick, Bruno's brother, and he and Kamala in her transformed state fight until Vick's gun goes off and shoots Kamala forcing her to change back to her Kamala form.  Now Bruno knows her secret.  When Bruno goes missing, Kamala agrees to help Bruno go and find him and with his help, she figures out a new superhero costume for Kamala to wear, not the Captain Marvel clone and he helps her to learn to control her powers.

It's not surprising to find that Haver's is quite racists and wants them all to die, it is strange to see some of that behavior from others.  But then fear makes us all do strange things.  The colors are mostly browns and yellows, indicative of the sands of Karachi where her family is from.  The drawings are quite clever and are quite interesting when they depict Kamala's ability to stretch.   Also, she is willing to take her baby brother to mosques as she is quite attached to him. This was a great comic. Kamala took the Captain Marvel like costume and made it her own, with her own skin shining through.  Ther is no one like Ms. Marvel. She is a breath of fresh air and a woman worth rooting for.  I can't wait to read the next one.

Link to Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Ms-Marvel-Vol-No-Normal-ebook/dp/B00NEW45XE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1495207455&sr=8-1&keywords=ms+marvel+vol+1

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Taming of the Duke: Essex Sister Quartet Number 3 by Eloisa James

In Kiss Me, Annabel, Imogen decides to make the Earl of Mayne her man about town and lover. Unfoturuntately, Maitland will only agree to escort her around town and nothing more. The rake has given up his sinful ways and besides, Rafe, the Duke of Holbrook and Imogen's guardian would object mightily and the two are best friends.  Imogen and Rafe have fought like cats and dogs since they met. She's headstrong and does what she likes no matter what or whom she hurts. And Rafe is a drunkard stuck in the past mourning the loss of his family.  Imogen cannot stand him when he drinks and Rafe cannot stand her when she throws herself at a man. First with her husband Draven who dies tragically, then at various men afterward in her grief who refuse to take advantage of her.

While Imogen is in the Scottish Highlands seeing Annabel get married, Rafe is back in London dealing with a surprise visitor: his long not exactly lost half-brother his father had with his mistress.  It's hard to accept Gabriel Spenser as his father seemed to care more for him and his mother than he did for Rafe and his brother and mother.  Gabe earned a doctorate of divinity at Cambridge and is a professor. He and Rafe were born days apart and look quite similar to each other.  Peter, Rafe's brother knew of Gabe's existence when their father died and the will was read with that provision read to provide for them only to Peter who took the news to his grave.

Gabe is in need of a favor from Rafe.  It seems that there is a young actress that has just had his child and that he has been unable to convince to marry him. He will be keeping the child and in exchange, since the pregnancy caused her to lose a prominent part at a good theater, a production will be put on at the Holbrook Estate in order to launch her back into the theater. But he needs to convince Rafe of this.  Rafe is reluctant at first since he knows nothing about putting one of these on and knows that Gabe knows even less.  But then he remembers Lady Gillian Pythian-Adams who knows by heart many different plays and asks for her help and she is more than glad to help as she is bored to tears trying to find a husband which seems to be an impossibility.

Imogen arrives at Holbrook Court at the end of summer after seeing Annabel married and settled.  When she sees Gabe she sees the possibility for a paramour; someone with whom to have an affair with no strings attached. The problem is he has no interest in her, but rather Gillian.  But he doesn't want to hurt her tender feelings so he says he will meet her in costume to go and see a singer at a bar in town. Then he tells Rafe to go in his stead because he knows that Rafe loves her.  Rafe does indeed love her and he goes in his place and the two have a great time and share passionate kisses.  Rafe has already decided to stop drinking as it is bad for him and if he wants to get his life back he has to stop.  He has started to lose weight and his regular horse riding is making him fit.

He still is going out with her as Rafe and even shares a kiss with her as Rafe, but the kiss is gentle and different than the kiss as Gabe.  He desperately wants her to know that it's him and to tell her that he loves her, but he doesn't feel as though he has earned her love yet.  Meanwhile, Gabe and Gillian are doing their own dance as she believes that he is a rake and he knows that he doesn't have a chance with a titled woman to be his wife.  So, Gillian is trying to flirt with Rafe who is single and a possible match while watching as he makes eyes at Imogen, the woman who stole away her finance, Draven. On top of that, Imogen is flirting with Gabe the man she has feelings for. Gillian cannot seem to win with Imogen around.

This book is like watching a ping pong match as the four players bounce back and forth when you the reader know who should be with whom.  Imogen and Rafe have been boiling since the first book and it is nice to Miss Pythian-Adams again, the bluestocking who could quote entire works of Shakespeare and did so in order to try to get out of her engagement by boring her fiance to death (It didn't work).  And Gabe is quite a sweet character who sees things others miss, but then misses things in his own life.  This book was worth the wait.

Link to Amazon: https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51CbCZCa0xL.jpg

Monday, May 15, 2017

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

New York socialite Caroline Ferriday is overwhelmed at the French consulate with her volunteer work there and with the boxes of goods, she sends to the orphans in France when things become even more chaotic after Hitler marches on Poland and then France.  During this time she falls for a dashing French actor on broadway, Paul. whose wife is back in France with her own lovers running her fashion store, their marriage broke shortly after it began. The French consulate tries to get Paul's wife out of France, but by this time it is too late. Roosevelt's State Department has passed impossibly strict standards to get into this country or to leave it.  It doesn't help that Paul's wife is half Jewish.  So Paul manages to get permission to go over there, knowing that it will be a one-way ticket. Caroline hears from him at first then things go silent. Her boss gets her clearance to listen to and follow top secret information in order for her to find out what is going on with Paul and his wife.  The last word is that they are being sent to a work camp at Natzeiler-Struthof in the French mountains and that his wife died of Typhus en route to another.  Things are tense financially in Caroline and her mother's house so she begin's to sell off the family silver starting with the oyster forks in order to provide for the orphans.  They cut up old dresses and use up all of Caroline's old Broadway clothes to make clothes for the children.  But her mind is constantly on Paul.

Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager from Lublin, wants to do more for her country and to prove herself to the young man that she loves, Pietrik who runs a cell in the underground.  He lets her do a small job that she succeeds at and then insists on doing more. Against his better judgment, he lets her do a larger job.  But things go wrong and she is noticed by a brown shirt who follows her back to her job at the movie theater.  Waiting inside of the ticket booth is Pietrik, his sister, and Kasia's older doctor sister, Zuzanna.  When the brown shirt arrives to arrest her he takes all four of them and at that time Kasia's mother is there to drop off her lunch and insists on going too so he takes her Matka.  The four women are kept together and sent to the only all female concentration camp within Germany's borders: Ravensbruck.  Pietrick is sent elsewhere.   Matka who was a nurse at one point in time, gets noticed by Dr. Herta Oberheurser who has her transferred there from the bookbinding shop to the Revier, or hospital, and transferred out of the block she was in to block one where the special people live and get extra rations, which Matka just finds ways to give to other people in need.  Kasia is trying to find a way to live with the guilt of bringing them all there in the first place when she and her sister and Pietrik's sister's path crosses that of Dr. Oberheurser and not in a good way, but in a way that will change their lives forever.

Dr. Herta Oberherrser has a hard time getting a job or\ a degree as a doctor, much less a job as one.  She lands one that is part time at a dermatology clinic that becomes more and more part time as the war begins and fewer people go to the dermatology clinic.  Unlike her, her father is a firm supporter of the Jews and very ill.  When he can no longer work and she sees an advertisement for a doctor's position in a re-education camp she realizes she would be able to send the money home and finally work as a real doctor.  When she gets there she finds out the reality and doesn't want to do it, but her family is depending on her to support them and these people obviously did something wrong to be there.  With the help of her old doctor friend Fitz they kill a patient together by injection and as he told her once you've worked there a while, you get used to it.  And boy, does she.  She is able to carry out the most heinous acts all in the name of science and the love of her country.  She is the only female doctor there and she feels pressure to do better than the other doctors.  She even believes she is doing real scientific work.

While Caroline Ferriday and Dr. Herta Oberherser are real people, Kasia is based upon Nina Iwanska and her doctor sister Krystyna who went through similar experiences in the camp.  It is interesting to watch these three women as they evolve across the pages of the book.  These are strong women for any time period, but especially for that time period.  They bucked the social norm and did things their own way, even if that way was horrific.  They stood tall and never backed down.  And love them or hate them you had to respect their drive and daring, but not necessarily the person.

*If you want to know more about Ravensbruck I highly suggest reading the book Ravensbruck: Life and Death In Hitler's Concentration Camp by Sarah Helm. I posted a review of the book and here is a link to it: http://nicolewbrown.blogspot.com/2016/01/ravensbruck-life-and-death-in-hitlers.html

Nietzsche said a diet predominantly of potatoes leads to the use of liquor.
-Martha Hall Kelly (Lilac Girls p 307)

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lilac-Girls-Martha-Hall-Kelly/dp/1101889586/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1494853731&sr=8-1&keywords=lilac+girls+by+martha+hall+kelly


Friday, May 12, 2017

Doctor Strange #17, #18 and #19 by Jason Aaron (Writer), Frazer Irving (Aritst)/ Chris Bachalo (Artist and Colorist), VC'S Cory Petit (Letters), Kevin Nowlan (Color) and Al Vey, Tim Twonsend, John Livesay, and Victor Olazaba (Inkers)

These two comics take place right after the comic book Doctor Strange Vol. 2: The Last Days of Magic.  At the end of that comic Wong, his librarian and the man who ran things and his friend disappear.  So he has been hunting him down with the help of Zelma his sanctum's new librarian.  As magic is starting to come back to life around the world, so also do the problems that come with it and Doctor Strange has set out to mediate and fix these problems.

As Doctor Strange suspects, Wong has not been kidnapped by some regular kidnapper, but by the monster under the stairs, Mr. Mistery, part of which survived and wants revenge.  Wong is helpless to stop himself in helping this entity by giving him his knowledge in how to hurt Doctor Strange.

Doctor Strange goes to the Bar With No Doors, a sorcerers bar to see if anyone has any information but strikes out in that regard. Instead, he finds himself being taken away by a large man thing creature to a swamp inhabited by Nazi ninja vampires.  He takes out the vampires for the creature and receives some algae goop for payment.  Meanwhile, Mr. Misery has given back to his patients their tumors with a dash of the black stuff he carries around.

In number eighteen, Doctor Strange has been called in to help since the tumors are fighting back, but he needs help and he calls in Thor who is also Dr. Jane Foster which is just who Doctor Strange needs: a superhero doctor. He still cannot operate with his hands so Thor will have to do the cutting with Strange telling her what to do.  When the black stuff comes out, Strange eats it so it will cause no more damage and because it is his pain that he should have absorbed in the first place.  They, of course, run into problems because nothing is easy when dealing with Mr. Misery.

In number 19, Doctor Strange now has Wong, but he is still caught up in the clutches of Mr. Misery and he must find a way to fight Mr. Misery and get Wong back while defeating Mr. Misery once and for all with the help of Zelma.

These three comics are fantastic.  The story lines are incredible and creative.  The artwork is amazing. The scenes in 19 where they show Mr. Misery in all his glory and the bizarre rooms of the sanctum.  It is also fascinating to watch the panels with Thor operating on Doctor Strange's patients.  The colors and drawing in number 17 are softer and fuzzier as they are drawn and colored by different people than numbers 18 and 19. The colors used are a gorgeous use of pastels mostly and give you a sense of post-impressionism.  In 18 and 19 the colorist makes good use of dark and light which goes with the story as Doctor Strange is fighting with the badness of his life with all the light that he has.  At the hospital, the scene is light and airy except for Mr. Misery who brings the evil and pure blackness.  I highly recommend these comics and cannot wait for number 20 which comes out in June of 2017.

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Doctor-Strange-2015-Jason-Aaron-ebook/dp/B01N2JSYHJ/ref=sr_1_fkmr2_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1494595614&sr=8-1-fkmr2&keywords=doctor+strange+number+17



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Lily Owens lives with a mean harsh father who owns a peach farm in South Carolina.  Her first memory is of killing her mother accidentally by shooting her with a gun that she was trying to get to her while her parents are arguing as her mother, Deborah is packing up a suitcase.  When Lily does something that her father, T. Ray doesn't like he makes her kneel in a pile of uncooked grits that leave cuts and bruises on her legs.  After her mother died T. Ray brought in a black worker from the fields named Rosaleen to take care of the house and Lily.  Rosaleen is aggressive and not prone to keeping her mouth shut when she should, but she acts as a surrogate mother to Lily.

Right after the Civil Rights Act is signed into law Rosaleen decides to go and register to vote. Lily asks to go with her as it's her birthday and nothing else is going on. T. Ray never gets her anything for her birthday or celebrates it. It's on July 4 so in a way, everyone else is celebrating it.  When they go into town three of the racist men in town start in on Rosaleen and piss her off, so she takes her tobacco spit cup and pours it over their shoes.  This incites them to demand an apology which she refuses to give them and they attack her until the sheriff sees it and puts a stop to it and arrests her and Lily. Lily can't understand why Rosaleen can't just act right.  Or apologize to get out of jail.  T. Ray arrives to get Lily out of jail, but not Rosaleen who is in a real pickle.  The next day when Lily goes to visit her she isn't in jail anymore but the hospital because the sheriff allowed the racist men in to beat her up trying to get her to apologize.  T. Ray had said that there would be no way out for Rosaleen except in a pine box so Lily sets about with an idea of how to break her out.

After convincing the store owner where the incident took place in front of not to press charges after using some creative storytelling, she goes to the hospital and makes a call to the nurse to tell the cop guarding the door that the charges have been dropped and for him to come back to the station. When the cop leaves she goes into Rosaleen's room and gets her dressed and they slip out of the hospital.  They begin their trek toward Tiburon, South Carolina because Lily had seen it written on the back of a picture of a black Madonna among her mother's few possessions and she figures to go there and find someone who knows her mother and learn what she can about her.  Rosaleen isn't too happy about this once she finds out, but she doesn't have much choice about it now.

When they reach Tiburon Lily goes into the general store to buy some food and sees a bottle of honey with the exact picture of the black Madonna she has on it and asks about it. It turns out a group of local black women make the honey and they live in a crazy pink house.  So Lily and Rosaleen go there to meet up with the Calander sisters: May, June, and August. There was a July, May's twin sister, but she died years ago quite tragically leaving May devastated and carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders and unable to cope.  The sisters convinced her to build a wailing wall in which to place the things that bother her on a piece of paper into the crevices.  June is a talented cello player and a school teacher who keeps turning down the principal's offer of marriage due to the fact that she was left at the altar years ago.  June doesn't like or trust Lily.  August is full of warmth and kindness and takes them in with open arms and teaches Lily the beekeeping business.  Zach, a handsome black high school boy helps her with the business and he and Lily hit it off right from the start.

The sisters have their own religion that involves a version of Catholicism and a mix of otherness that comes with the wooden boat mast of the black Madonna that hangs out in their living room and that they pray to saying the Hail Mary's to. Once a week they hold services there were other people in the town come to hear the message and pray and dance and touch the heart at the base of the statue.  This seems odd at first, but Lily and Rosaleen quickly get swept up in it.  And no one treats Lily different for being the only white person there. For a girl who has grown up without a mother, she seems to be gaining too many to count.  But the happiness cannot last and T. Ray hasn't given up on finding them and August may have to send them back once Lily tells them the real reason they are there and finds out what she needs to know about her mother, which she dreads to learn at first.  This book is quite wonderful and heartwarming and sometimes a bit heartbreaking.  It does touch on what things were like in the South in 1964 in an honest way while at times being a bit naive when it came to Lily.  I cannot recommend this book enough.

People who think dying is the worst thing don’t know a thing about life.
-Sue Monk Kidd (The Secret Life Of Bees p 2)

“You know some things don’t matter that much, Lily. Like the color of a house. How big is that in the overall scheme of life? But lifting a person’s heart—now, that matters. The whole problem with people is—“ “They don’t know what matters and what doesn’t” “I was gonna say, The problem is they know what matters, but they don’t choose it. You know how hard that it is, Lily? I love May, but it was still hard to choose Caribbean Pink. The hardest thing on earth is choosing what matters.”
-Sue Monk Kidd (The Secret Life Of Bees p 147)

It is always a relief to empty your bladder. Better than sex, Rosaleen said. As good as it felt, though, I sincerely hoped she was wrong.
-Sue Monk Kidd (The Secret Life Of Bees p 163)

You think you want to know something, and then once you do, all you can think about is erasing it from your mind. From now on when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I planned to say, Amnesiac.
-Sue Monk Kidd (The Secret Life Of Bees p 249)

Knowing can put a curse on a person’s life. I’d traded in a pack of lies for a pack of truth, and I didn’t know which one was heavier. Which one took the most strength to carry around? It was a ridiculous question, though, because once you know the truth, you can’t ever go back and pick up your suitcase of lies. Heavier or not, the truth is yours now.
-Sue Monk Kidd (The Secret Life Of Bees p 155-6)

Have you ever noticed that the more you try not to think, the more elaborate your thinking episodes get?
-Sue Monk Kidd (The Secret Life Of Bees p 271)

People, in general, would rather die than forgive. It’s that hard. If God said in plain language, “I’m giving you a choice; forgive or die,” a lot of people would go ahead and order their coffin.
-Sue Monk Kidd (The Secret Life Of Bees p 277)
Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Life-Bees-Monk-Kidd-ebook/dp/B000W4RFBQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1494422025&sr=8-1&keywords=secret+life+of+bees+book

Monday, May 8, 2017

Tales From the Darkside by Joe Hill, Illustrations by Charles Paul Wilson III

At one point Joe Hill was approached by a producer named Mitchell Galin to write an episode of a reboot of the TV show "Tales From the Darkside".  He was quite thrilled as he loved the show, especially the episode "Word Processor of the Gods" which was based on a short story of his dad's. He decided that the plot of that story which is about a man whose typewriter can change reality was a great idea and he would write a storyline that would have time warping "Darkside Events".  Lives would be forever changed and destroyed and recreated by these weird events.  Over the course of the season, it would become evident these events would be caused by a crippled psychic with a microprocessor in his brain which has given his rabid Id the powers of a god.  Over time those who had been affected by these events would join together to try to fix things.  He was hired to only write one half hour episode but ended up writing two half-hour episodes and one-hour long episode. He also wrote a Bible for three seasons.  The first two episodes "A Window Opens" and "Sleepwalker" were filmed in the spring of 2015 and when they were test screened the audience loved it. The CW, however, did not and the show never made it to the air.  Hill created a comic out of the screenplay he wrote and that was that until now when he decided to publish the scripts in illustrated book form.

In the first story "A Window Opens", Joss is texting on her phone and almost hits a homeless looking guy who is really Newman the cause of the Darkside Events.  He tries to talk to her and help her, but she won't listen.  She ran over a mailbox and goes to the new owners of the house to apologize and see what she can do to make up for it.  Rob and Gloria tell her they need a babysitter for their kids and if she knew anyone who could hook up their internet that would be great. Joss's boyfriend Carter is a computer whizz and agrees to do it with plans of making out with her afterward.  The kids, Ward and Pam are addicted to their iPads that can do magical things and they are set on making the night a fun one for them and a terrifying one for the babysitters that they may not survive.

In "The Sleepwalker" Ziggy is a lifeguard at a nice indoor pool. He and his friend are horsing around and accidentally knock Madeline into the pool while she is taking photos so her camera and phone get soaked. Ziggy promises to fix them and the two reminiscences over the project they worked on at school that year.  The two of them run in different circles, but both have fond memories of that time together. Ziggy goes back up to the lifeguard stand and falls asleep.  Meanwhile, an older woman who has just recovered from triple bypass surgery insists to her husband that she is going to do more laps and that she will be along shortly. It isn't long, however, until she begins to have chest pains and flounder in the water.  An old man in the water notices her and yells for help which wakes Ziggy up and he jumps in and tries to save her, but she dies.  Then Newman shows up and a Darkside Event happens and things get much worse.

The last one, "Black Box" is about Newman and his story and how he came to be from childhood to adulthood and how these Darkside Events happened in the first place.  The dialogue in the first episode is at times a bit cheesy which is probably intentional.  It's still a good story. I really liked "The Sleeper" as Ziggy was a character who tries to redeem himself.  "The Box" is also really good and would have been interesting to see as plans had been made to have Neil Gaiman to act as one of the characters which would have been worth seeing.  With the illustrations and the detailed descriptions setting the scene, you can really picture it in your head like a TV show.  It's a shame this never made it to the screen as it would have been really cool to watch.  

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Tales-Darkside-Scripts-Hill-2016-11-22/dp/B01MZ3QH04/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1494246900&sr=1-2&keywords=tales+from+the+darkside+script+book


Saturday, May 6, 2017

Lady Mechanicka: The Demon of Satan's Alley by Joe Benitez (Written and Drawn), Peter Steigerwald (Colors) and Josh Reed (Letters)

Today is free comic book day and I received my free comic book at my local library. I decided to try one I had never heard of the Lady Mechanika series.  For those like me who are unfamiliar with the series, Lady Mechanika was the sole survivor of a crazed scientist terrifying experiments that left her with mechanical limbs and no memory of her imprisoned life or her life before.  She started anew by opening up a private investigative business where she uses her unique abilities to solve crimes that the cops can't or won't solve.  This series is set in a steampunk turn of the century England where magic, superstition, and scientific discovery are clashing against each other. Her main goal, however, is to find out the secrets of her past and who she is.

In this comic, she goes down Devil's Alley to chase down a menace that has been terrorizing the townsfolk and finds a mechanical cat that is starving and can talk coherently with her.  Not only that, but the cat seems to know her.  Could this be a puzzle piece she has been missing?  Unfortunately, she isn't the only one looking for the cat. The townspeople and a mysterious man named Blackpool.

Also included in this free comic is an excerpt of Volume 2: The Tablet of Destinies.  The coloring is great for the period and for the situation in that it takes place in an alley in late Victorian England and the excerpt has great sepia tones.  The paneling is amazing during the fight scene in the way that it is worked out on the page.  This is a great story and I plan to look into reading more about Lady Mechanika in the future.

This story can be found in volume one of Lady Mechanika: https://www.amazon.com/Lady-Mechanika-Mystery-Mechanical-Corpse-ebook/dp/B06Y39X198/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1494099513&sr=8-2&keywords=lady+mechanika

Friday, May 5, 2017

Wolverine: Hunting Season by Paul Cornell, Alan Davis (Penciller), Mark Farmer (Inker) and Matt Hollingsworth (Colorist) and VC's Cory Petit (Letterer)

This comic opens up with Wolverine half-naked and part skeletal trying to protect a boy from a man holding an alien weapon who is using it to vaporize a group of humans he has tied up with some kind of special rope made by the weapon. The man is surprised to find that Wolverine is still alive. The cops are trying to reason with him, but that just causes him to kill more people and the area is littered with skeletons.  There are only two left plus the boy who is not tied up.  By now Wolverine has healed up enough to fight and he attacks the man to get the weapon out of his hand but is forced to kill him when he discharges the weapon on Wolverine.  The man is the boy, Alex's father.  Tomomatsu from the police shows up to help Logan and to give him some clothes to wear. When the kid comes up to thank him he then sees the weapon on the ground and activates it with a few words that send the weapon to his hand.  Tomomatsu goes to fire on Alex as he runs off, but Wolverine stops her because he's just a kid.  Wolverine intends to bring him in himself.

The first thing he notices as he follows his scent is that Alex smells sick.  It seems that someone has taken over the boy's mind.  The boy finds Wolverine before he finds Alex and he starts shooting at people from on top of a building. Wolverine climbs up and the two have a chat about his motivations for killing Alex's dad, but not Alex and what it would take to kill Alex.  Wolverine knocks the weapon out of Alex's hand and the kid purposefully takes a nosedive off of the building, but Wolverine is there to grab hold of him and cushion his landing.  Alex remembers nothing of what happened. However, it isn't long before someone else picks up the weapon and begins shooting.

Luckily Nick Fury Jr. is there to swing in by flying car and knock the guy out.  He puts a tracking signal on the weapon just as it takes off.  Wolverine got hit by the weapon when the kid was shooting it and there's a piece of it in his shoulder. Logan takes it to Dr. Frankenstein to have a look at and confers with a group of regulars at a  bar called Guernica that he sometimes frequents who he hopes can shed some light on the problem.  Meanwhile, there is a heist being planned at a chemical company by those who were around when the weapon was first captured, which includes cops and gang bangers.

This is a great comic. It's pretty cool to see Nick Fury Jr. playing a role in this one and it is different in that Wolverine isn't the one possessed by the alien weapon, but rather the humans who touched it are.  It also showed the depth of his humanity in his caring of this boy and wanting to help him and when he says how he didn't want to kill his father, but rather that he had no choice.  There is also a surprise appearance by the Watcher.  Most of the comic are in deep rich blues of the night and day with the bright yellow light to contrast it with of the devastating effect of the weapon.  The paneling and drawing are classic Wolverine. Also included are fan mail questions and answers from Paul Cornell as well as a brief chat with him about Wolverine from this comic and ones to come.  Overall it is definitely worth a read.

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Wolverine-2013-2014-Vol-Hunting-Season-ebook/dp/B00PSN2LYM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493986631&sr=8-1&keywords=wolverine+hunting+season

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Star Wars: Showdown on the Smuggler's Moon by Jason Aaron, Simon Bianchi (Artist), Stuart Immonen (Penciler), Wade Von Grawbadger (Inker) and Justin Ponsor (Colorist)

In this comic, Luke has been left with a journal by Obi Wan Kenobi that he is reading hoping to learn how to be a Jedi, but finds that it is only filled with stories about Obi Wan's hard life on Tatooine watching over him from a distance and not being able to use his Jedi powers to help others and living a purposeless life doing nothing with his days.

Luke, desperate to find out more about the Jedi and their ways, seeks to find a way to Coruscant the one time home to the Jedi Temple.  So, being the naive fool Luke can be at times, he goes to Nar Shaddaa, the Smuggler's Moon in order to find a pirate or smuggler to take him there.  Instead, the second he shows his lightsaber someone tries to steal it from him in order to sell it to Grakkus the Hutt who has a collection of Jedi artifacts. When Grakkus realizes that Luke is a Jedi he has big plans for him that include opening up the holcrons and dying valiantly in the ring as the last Jedi.

Meanwhile, Leia and Han are on a planet with Imperial ships above them and a woman named Sana is with them who says she is Han's wife.  Han denies it, but Leia doesn't believe him. Sana tells her that he is just conning her in order to turn her in for a big payday.  She says that that is what he has done in the past. Sana is pretty mad and she wants Han back as her husband and Leia is happy to oblige. Sana lets the Imperials know that Leia is on the planet in order to get the bounty on her not knowing that Han is also a wanted man.

This is a fabulous comic in that the plot is captivating.  Han is married! And all the Jedi artifacts and knowledge close to Luke!  How will Luke get out of the situation he is in?  And will Han and Leia convince Sana to not turn in Leia and somehow escape the planet?  The coloring is quite vivid and just pops off the page.  The art is beautifully done and the paneling is quite creative.  Overall this is an amazing comic and I highly recommend reading it, especially today. Happy May the Fourth Be With You Day!

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Star-Wars-Vol-Showdown-Smugglers/dp/078519214X/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493902655&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=showdown+at+smuggler%27s+moon

Monday, May 1, 2017

Pretty Deadly Volume One by Kelly Sue Deconnick and Emma Rios (Illustrator) and Jordie Bellaire (Illustrator)

In this comic, a bunny is telling a tale to a butterfly of a girl in a vulture cloak with a blind man who goes from one old west town to the next telling the tale of a beautiful woman who married a mason who had loved her since they were children. But he was a jealous man and locked her away from the eyes of other men away in a stone tower and she grew lonely and prayed to God to take her. Death heard her plea and came for a visit but stayed too long and fell in love with her. He granted her wish of death but left behind a child.  The child's name was Ginny and he raised her as the reaper of vengeance, the hunter of men who have sinned.  "If you done been wronged, say her name, sing this song, sound the bell's knell that calls her from hell. Ginny rides for you on the wind my child. Death rides on the wind."

Johnny Coyote makes sure that the young girl takes a sheet of paper off of him.  Later when he is with his regular whore, Alice comes looking for it and shoots him in the leg to get it. Meanwhile the blind man, Fox, finds out that the girl has it and burns it and rides out to Sarah's for help for the trouble that is coming from Alice. They leave from Sarah's to go on and Sarah stalls for time. Before Alice can do anything to Sarah and her family, Ginny rides like the wind and takes out her men. Alice tells Ginny that her daddy wants her to come home right before Ginny takes out Alice sending her back to the Underworld.

Ginny wants to kill Fox. Johnny Coyote is feeling guilty for giving the girl that sheet of paper and rides out to help with the situation. The girl is special and has a story that she does not know about herself. The colors for the desert scenes are beautful vivid reds, yellows, and oranges, while the Underworld is a deep dark blue.  The paneling is done very creatively and the story is highly intriguing.  This is one comic where I will be picking up volume two on to find out where it leads.

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Pretty-Deadly-Vol-Kelly-DeConnick-ebook/dp/B015XDAEB8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1492375070&sr=8-1&keywords=pretty+deadly

Kiss Me, Annabel by Eloisa James

In this second book of the Essex sisters series, Annabel is having her season in London in 1817 and she is has been calmly calculating the right man to marry. One who is rich enough that she will never have to worry about being poor again and one who is agreeable enough to endure being married to.  At a ball, she meets Ewan, the Earl of Ardmore who hails from Scotland and who is in England searching for a bride, which can only mean one thing: he needs a rich dowry because he is another poor Scotsman like her father who did the same thing.

Annabel's younger sister Imogen who is in mourning over her two-week marriage to the love of her life, Draven, has been acting outrageously. She has been wearing daring gowns and now she intends to take a cicisbeo or a man who takes her around town and can sometimes be her lover.  Draven hasn't even been dead six months yet.  Her first thought is the Earl of Mayne her chaperone's brother and her former (though he doesn't see it that way) guardian Rafe, the Duke of Holbrook's best friend. But Griselda, Mayne's sister talks her out of it only to have her decide to try out the Earl of Ardmore.  At the ball, Ewan meets up with Annabel and they talk, but Imogen quickly swoops in and takes him off to the dance floor where she makes a fool of herself by draping herself all over him intimating that something was going on between them.  That kind of action will get her ostracized by the ton even more than she has been.  But Isobel does not care about her reputation.

At a garden party that celebrates May Day, Annabel has finally gotten her prized gentleman, Lord Rosseter to ask for her hand and he is going to propose at this fete.  Who cares if he doesn't talk and if he's twenty years older than she is.  He has lots of money to keep her happy and he is not brutish.  But at the party, she runs into Ewan who challenges her to an archery contest for a forfeit. It would be a bit scandalous if she were to compete and she can sense that Rosseter is against it, but she takes the wager anyway and wins. The couple who are having the party are so thrilled with them that they declare them the King and Queen of the May and have them ride around the grounds in a cart bedecked with flowers. The cart goes around the back of the house so the servants can see, but the servants aren't back there and Ewan stops the cart and kisses her quite thoroughly.  He asks her to marry him, but she says no because she does not want to marry an impoverished Scotsman.  Needless to say, Lord Rosseter has decided to not propose and Ewan is cornered by Imogen who proposes to him that they meet for an illicit rendezvous. He instead asks her to marry him as he sees that she is in a great deal of pain and he seeks to ease her burden and he is looking for a wife and he has no intention of going to meet her to have sex with her.  But she wants no marriage with him. And when she tells him she intends to go and ask Mayne and he instead tries to scare her off by being as crude as he can with her about what he expects from her when she comes to his bedchambers that night at eleven.

Imogen does see that there is no way she can have sex with Ewan because she isn't capable of doing those things and she tells Griselda. So that night Griselda and Annabel go to his chambers in a hotel on the way to a ball, which could ruin all of their reputations, in order to talk to him. While there a group of robbers arrives and the women run and hide.  The robbers take even his clothes and Annabel was near the balcony and called down for help and the robbers heard her and brought her into the room where Ewan was half naked.  They are seen by Lady Bechschmidt who was the one to call the police and come up with her coachman.  At this time Ewan is just putting his shirt on and things look fishy because Imogen and Griselda aren't in the room.  But before Lady Bechschmidt can think of spreading this bit of gossip Griselda reminds her her carriage was parked out front and she is just as open to gossip as they are.  But the next day the papers are full of a story about an A.E. who was in the room of the Earl of Ardmore who was buck naked and that she was asking that their relationship not continue.  It turns out the manager of the hotel sold his story to the papers.  Now Annabel is compromised and must marry Ewan who is more than happy with this turn of events.  Annabel, however, is heartbroken, no matter that his kisses leave her breathless.  It turns out he has a stable of horses just like her father. And like her father he is a penniless Scot. Which is why her sisters come up with a plan that if she is not happy she can come back to London and live with her older sister Tess and her husband after six months.

Of course, the Earl is really rich, but he doesn't tell her that. He decides that he doesn't want to get married to her in England but in Scotland by this monk that he is rather close to, but it will appear as though they got married in England.  So the two set off for Scotland and Ewan uses this time to court Annabel until things go wrong when he gets the stupid idea to borrow a one-room home of a couple who is about to give birth and send them to the next town where they can have the comforts of an inn and a midwife present and they would stay in their home and look after everything, such as the cow and the chickens.  He thought it would get Annabel over her fear of being poor.  But he didn't count on the fact that he had never had to live in these conditions himself ever either.  And they had been hoping to wait til their wedding night to consummate it, but can they keep that hope, as with each kiss they give each other for answering questions honestly they come closer and closer to going over the edge.

I really enjoyed this delightful book. Annabel had a hard time believing that a man could love her only desire her and that men get desire and love mixed up, so Ewan has a hard road to go to prove that he loves her and he will require help.  Ewan is also a religious man whose greatest fear is losing his immortal soul.  It's why even though he is a big strong man he didn't overpower the robbers and take their guns because that would mean he might have to kill them and he could never do that. It is much easier to just give them what they want which are things that are replaceable. Annabel is not very religious and worries about measuring up to his standards.  These two wonderful characters needed a lot of help to get together. Luckily they had it in spades.

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Kiss-Annabel-Essex-Sisters-Book-ebook/dp/B000FCKL3O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493643789&sr=8-1&keywords=kiss+me+annabel

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Rad Women Worldwide: Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and Other Revolutionaries Who Shaped History by Kate Schatz and illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl

In this book, the author covers a wide variety of women from different cultures, different races, different countries, different centuries going back two millenniums.  There are athletes, artists, mothers, environmentalists, scientists, pirates, writers, rulers, rulebreakers, and revolutionaries.  The one thing they have in common is that they all persisted no matter the cost.

Grace "Granualie" O'Malley lived from 1530-1603 in Ireland and was a notorious pirate. Her father was a sea captain with a fleet of ships and had two castles on Ireland's west coast: Clare Island and Kildawnet on Achill Island.  As a young girl she cut off her long red hair and dressed in boys clothes which went against the mores of the times. At age sixteen she married an Irish chieftain and they had three children. When her father died she took control of his fleet and when her husband died his clansmen joined her as well. She traded with Spain and Portugal with piracy on the side she soon gained quite the reputation for being the daring sea captain.  When England began taking over Ireland, the chieftains began to surrender, but not Grace. They captured her but she escaped and led her people in rebellion against the English when she was around sixty-years-old.  The English kidnapped her son and accused him of treason, which carried a death sentence.  Grace marched right up to see Elizabeth I in order to secure his release.  This put her at great risk, but Elizabeth talked with her and they came to an understanding when Grace explained how the Queen's generals had treated her people.  Elizabeth freed her son and let her continue to with her sea fairing ways.  Grace lived into her seventies and had a remarkable life even if half of the stories about her are true.

Fe Del Mundo lived from 1911 to 2011 and was from Manilla, Philippines.  At the age of fifteen, she enrolled at the Universtiy of the Philippines and earned her first medical degree there.  She decided to pursue pediatrics and sent in her application to Harvard and in 1936 at age 24 she arrived there to attend. The problem was that Harvard still wasn't accepting women. They thought the name Fe was a man's name. But her resume was so impressive that they decided to accept her anyway and she became the first woman admitted to Harvard Medical School.  She also studied at the University of Chicago, M.I.T., and Boston University after leaving Harvard.  At the beginning of World War II, she went back to the Philippines to be of use to those in her country. She and the Red Cross established The Children's Home for sick children.  Fe became known as the "Angel of Santo Tomas".  She would go on to open the first children's hospital in the Philippines selling all that she owned to help pay for it.  She "made discoveries that revolutionized pediatric medicine both in the Philippines and around the world."

In 1817 in the country of Columbia it was at the time a colony of the Spanish. But the revolution was in the air and Policarpa "La Pola" Salvarrieta became a key part of it. An orphan who was raised with her siblings by her godparents. While her brothers became soldiers she fought in a different way. She became a talented seamstress who made uniforms for those supporting Spain and listened in on their conversations with each other.  She was also a top recruiter.  Then she was caught and charged with treason and espionage.  She was given a chance to renounce her activities and save her life, but she refused.  When offered wine at her public execution she refused and when the priests began the final rituals, she refused to repeat the final prayers shouting instead at the top of her voice of Spain's defeat. When the drummers played louder she yelled even louder than them. When told to turn around when it came time for the firing squad to kill her she refused and met them head on. Her final words were "I have more than enough courage to suffer this death and a thousand more. Do not forget my example."  Her face is on currency and stamps and the day of her death, November 14 is still celebrated in Columbia at the Day of Columbian Women.

There are so many women listed here that are worth talking about. Enheduanna who is the first known author on the planet, Malala Yousafzai who fights for the right for girls to receive an education, Qiu Jin, the modern day Mulan, Liv Arnessen and Ann Bancroft who were the first women to walk across Antarctica, the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo who never let anyone forget their missing children, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti who helped bring about Nigerian independence, Faith Bandler the Civil Rights fighter in Austraila, and Sophie Scholl who was a part of the White Roses who criticized the Nazis with pamphlets that distributed around Germany.   This is an amazing book to read about brave women who dared to go and to be something beyond themselves.  

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Rad-Women-Worldwide-Athletes-Revolutionaries-ebook/dp/B01AERZRYC/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492178795&sr=1-1&keywords=rad+women+worldwide


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Optimism For Autism: The Inspirational Jouney Of a Mother and Her Autistic Son by Susan Jane King with Patrick King

First I feel the need to say that I am not a particularly religious person. I consider myself a person of faith, but I do not read Christian books. I read this book for one of my book clubs. I had difficulty with the amount of religion in this book, but overall it was worth reading for the information it provided on autism.

Susan and David King had three daughters and fervently hoped for a son so they were thrilled when Patrick was born to them.  They had such high hopes and ideas of things they planned to do with him as a son.  Building forts and other boyish things.  Little did they know that their child had a different path to follow.  Patrick was biting and hitting the other children in preschool and he still wasn't talking. His preschool teacher said that she couldn't recommend that he graduate to the next level with the four-year-olds.  Susan was devastated. Her son had flunked preschool?  Thus began the first round of tests that Patrick would begin taking to determine what was going on with him.

Eventually, they would receive the diagnosis of autism which completely rocked their world.  Patrick would have to go to multiple therapies to help with his motor skills as well as his verbal skills as he wasn't talking yet. They were lucky in that a great program existed near their home of China Grove down in Charlotte, North Carolina called the TEACCH Center.  They really helped her family a lot. To communicate with Patrick better they created a binder that contained pictures that you could velcro on in order to tell him what you wanted him to do. Like brush his teeth and get ready to go to bed. Brushing his teeth, by the way, was difficult because the sensation of the bristles was hard on his sensitive mouth and he hated the taste of the toothpaste.

In fact, Patrick's skin was very sensitive to touch. Autism is all about being overstimulated by your senses. He has an acute hearing which at one time got Susan in trouble when she said something that he misinterpreted about school and getting good grades.  Loud noises really bother him and his sense of smell is really keen. His taste buds are mixed up and say ice cream may taste like broccoli to him so it's hard to plan a meal for the family when you have one eater who has special tastes. When Patrick first talked it was repetitive talk known as echolalia in that he was just repeating noises he had heard her say. And then he wouldn't say anything else for a while.  He would eventually talk to her in a very real way, which is something she thought he might never be able to do when she first got the diagnosis.  Also, autistics look at the world in terms of black and white and a very logical and reasoned way.  They have a hard time seeing the emotions on people's faces and body language and therefore can hurt feelings or miss out on the joke.

Patrick was mainstreamed through the school system. It wasn't always easy though. Children can be cruel.  Middle school was tough and high school started out that way too until he found help from one of his teachers.  Patrick is an amazing young man and his mother story of how she raised him is equally amazing.  Her daughters didn't understand why Patrick was getting all of the attention or why he was so odd and it took a while for them to figure out how to treat their brother. The TEACCH Center helped with that. But it wasn't easy raising four children with one of them needing extra help.  She would tell you that it was through the help of God that all things are possible. Maybe they are.

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Optimism-Autism-Inspirational-Journey-Autistic-ebook/dp/B00J7TYYVQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1492375162&sr=8-1&keywords=optimism+for+autism   

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Falconer by Elizabeth May

A steampunk fantasy set in Edinburgh in 1844 this exciting novel begins with eighteen-year-old Lady Aileana at a ball hoping it will be as boring as it seems and trying to ignore the gossip about her over her mother's death a year ago where she found the body.  Since she has been found disheveled and with blood on her clothing at other balls.  It seems that she is hunting fairies or sithichean as they prefer to be called.  A faery killed her mother by taking her heart out and she plans on hunting down and killing her. She has been trained by a rogue fairy named Kiaran to fight them. With a bit of seilgffiur about her neck, she is able to see them. Also with it she is able to kill them.  Her weapons like her gun contain bullets with it in it. But Aileana is also an inventor and she creates various devices to use such as a tiny bomb.  Kiaran isn't the only fairy she has helping her. There is also Derrick a pixie who repairs her dresses and lives in her wardrobe in exchange for a spot of honey a day.  He also provides her with information on the fairy that killed her mother.  Derrick and Kiaran do not get along.

Aileana takes care of the fairy at the ball and her devoted friend Catherine who refuses to believe the ugly rumors about her covers for her at the ball saying she has a sick headache and needed to rest in the ladies room even when she sees her friend in the private area of the owners of the house a place no lady would be caught at.  Later when Aileana and Kiaran are out fighting they come up against some Red Caps, which are very dangerous fairies and not supposed to be around anymore but locked up in a realm below grounds.  She dispatches with two of them by herself and Kiaran gets rid of the last one. This is when Kiaran finds out that she has been hunting without him.  All this time he has been disguising her kills as his. But now the faires know that there is a falconer about because she let them know by killing on her own.  A falconer is one who hunts down and kills fairies and is also the ones who locked up the fairies below ground.  Of course right now the seal is weakening and about to come undone. It was only a temporary measure when it was put in place as a permenant one could not be thought of.  Now all of the falconers have been hunted down and killed and Aileana is the last of her kind.  She needs to be the one to figure out how to fix the seal.

Catherine's brother Gavin has come home to see that she gets married off well.  At a ball held by Catherine's family Aileana finds out that Gavin can see Derrick who now follows her around to help her at Kiaran's insistence she is now a target for the fairies who want to take down the falconer.  Gavin hates fairies because he is a Seer and what he sees is the future and the horrible things fairies do and how hopeless he is to stop them.  But he is there to help Aileana when she needs him and is attacked by a group of vicious fairy wolves and loses her seilgffiur necklace and needs his eyes to see the fairies.

This is the first book in a trilogy and it gets off to a rip-roaring start. It will be only Aileana and Kiaran against an army of fairies coming out of the gate until Aileana can reseal it. But Aileana has to also figure out how to reseal it and do it in less than two minutes because that is all the time Kiaran can fight them off by himself.  Will she be able to do it? These fairies have the ability to use mind control on her and make her see what they want her to see, like painful memories of her mother's death or compel her to want to be near them and do what they want her to do.  This is a compelling start to the trilogy and I must read the next one because this one leaves the ending on such a cliff hanger I have to find out what happens next.  

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Falconer-Book-One-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00GOJT8E0/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492178714&sr=1-1&keywords=the+falconer 

Dragon Soul by Katie MacAlister

In this final book of the Dakar siblings trilogy, Rowan Dakar the "Dragon Breaker" must get the Demon Lord Bael's ring from the woman who stole it from him, Mrs. P. and destroy the ring so Bael cannot use it to overthrow the mortal world.  Mrs. P is being taken care of by Sophea who was hired to get her to her cruise ship in Egypt by the cousin of her dead husband Jian.  This cousin is supposed to be Mrs. P's grandson.  Mrs. P is a kleptomaniac so Sophea is kept very busy returning things that don't belong to her.

On the plane to Germany from the United States, two demons try to attach a bracelet to Mrs. P, but Sophea stops them and yells for the air marshal. Rowan instead comes to her aid and stops them from doing anything, taking the bracelet from them.  Sophea is seen as a bit crazy for there is no knife only a bracelet that they are coming at her with.  When the plane lands Rowan manages to wrangle a cab ride with them to their hotel so he can watch over them.  All he wants to do is catch a bit of sleep since he hasn't slept in forever at this point, but his sister Bee won't let him and she's nagging away by phone about the ring and he is the only one who can destroy is as he is an alchemist, which is where he got his name "Dragon Breaker".  He had just come into his powers at age sixteen and he was transforming some objects for four dragons. He told them to stay away from it, that it was dangerous, but they wouldn't listen and the transformation exploded killing the four dragons and injuring Rowan.  The First Dragon demanded a dangegold in return for the lives but Rowan knew that he could not pay it back by practicing his alchemy because he was unschooled and more accidents would happen so he went and hid for twenty years as a sociologist in Brazil.  But now the dragons really need him and this may be a way for him to pay back what he owes.

Sophea, meanwhile has no idea that her first husband was the last of the red dragons and that she is, in fact, a wyvern's mate with the powers that come with it. Mrs. P is aware of it and wanted her to come with her on this trip in order to help her journey as she needs a dragon to help with the trials onboard the ship that will take her to her beloved beau Osiris where she will use the ring to bring him back from the Underworld to the mortal world where they can be together.  Rowan promises to not steal the ring from Mrs. P but how to get the ring and destroy it so Bael cannot get it is another matter.  And of course, the First Dragon has plans of his of his own for this endeavor.   They also must survive the boat ride through the underworld and the three challenges.  This book wasn't as good as the two that came before it, Dragon Fall and Dragon Storm. It's not bad, it's maybe just too much of a good thing with this series. I still say read it if for no other reason than to complete the trilogy.

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Dragon-Soul-Katie-MacAlister-ebook/dp/B0112T4YQ8/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492178652&sr=1-1&keywords=dragon+soul+katie+macalister

Han Solo by Marjorie Liu, Mark Brooks, Dexter Vines, Sonia Oback and Matt Milla

This comic takes place after A New Hope. Han can't seem to settle on a job. He keeps turning down jobs because they don't feel right. Chewie doesn't know what to do with him.  All that changes when he is accosted by two people who have been following him.  They have a message from Leia asking for his help and that the two people who have attacked him will have the details. They tell him they need his ship, but not him.  Ticked off he flies them to where Leia is and she and a General tell him the mission.

It seems that they need his ship to run in the Dragon Void Run, the most dangerous race in the galaxy in order to pick up three operatives at each refueling station. It seems that they had had a network of informants in the Imperial Systems collecting information.  It was a hopeless endeavour, but it seems to have worked and was completed. But now the informants are being killed off and only three remain. There is a mole in the organization. The only people who know are the informants, Leia and the General.  His mission is NOT to win the race but to get these informants.  Of course, Han has different ideas.

Most of the other pilots think less of Han since he isn't a professional pilot, but a smuggler. All except Loo Re Anno, the last of her race and the best pilot there.  The first leg of the race is hard for everyone except Loo Re Anno. There are these attacking charges.  Devon, one of the pilots uses Han as a shield and then attacks one of the charges and hits Han in the process which goes against the race's protocol.  Han soon figures out that the charges are only attacking ships that are firing on, so he and Chewie turn off all systems just like Loo Re Anno has and the charges stop attacking them. Loo Re Anno tells Devon that Han is within his right to launch a complaint against him, but Han chooses not to.

They pick up the first informant in a bar with a bodyguard. His name is Bot and they barely get him out of there as there are those there that want him dead. Nothing goes smoothly for the rest of the race as the Imperial forces decided to get involved and try to shut down the race and become suspicious of Han later.  He also possibly has a killer aboard his ship.  And while he should just disqualify himself and take the route home he can't seem to stop himself from wanting to win the race.

The paneling is done very creatively. Sometimes going across the pages, with blocks set apart against a background panel.  And the one where he is doing one leg of the race and the paneling shows the twelve hours ticking off across the page like a fan with the ship in the corner.  The colors are the dark blues of space and browns for Han.  This is a great story and the artwork is amazing.

Link to Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Star-Wars-Han-Solo-ebook/dp/B01MU3DJ6L/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492174364&sr=1-1&keywords=han+solo

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Set in Afghanistan during the final days of the monarchy to the present as well as in America, this highly depressing, yet very well written novel, tells the tale of two boys, Amir and Hassan who grow up in Kabul.  Amir's father is a successful businessman and philanthropist and well liked by all.  Hassan is a Hazara, a person who is of Mongol descent and considered inferior.  He and his father, Ali are the servants of Amir and his father. Ali and Amir's father, Baba grew up together like brothers in the same household.  Amir and Hassan are friends but in a weird way. Some may not even call it a friendship. He only plays with Hassan when there was no one else around and he never lets Hassan play with his other friends.  When Hassan doesn't know the definition of a word he gives him the opposite definition of the word.  He would read to Hassan and since Hassan couldn't read he would change stories and make up something on the spot and Hassan never knew the difference.  When he began to write his own stories, Hassan was the first person he read them to.  Hassan, a sweet boy, accepted all of this was a kindness and grace and innocence. He rarely saw the cruelties Amir put him through.  

Amir and his father had a strained relationship. Amir's mother died in childbirth and in a way his father blamed him for it perhaps. Also, Amir was not athletic like he was. Amir preferred the world of books and writing stories which his father didn't understand.  Also, Amir did not know how to stand up for himself and fight. He was protected by his father's name for the most part by the bullies. But one day he and Hassan are accosted by the worst bully there was: Assef, whose parents were each German and Afghanistan.  He believed Hitler was right and that ethnic cleansing needed to take place which meant the Hazaras had to go.  But he was there that day with his two friends and his brass knuckles to deliver a beating to Amir. However, Hassan stops him with his trusty slingshot by threatening to take out his eye with a rock if he doesn't back off.  Assef leaves them alone but vows that he will get them back for this someday.

The day of the big kite race, Amir cuts down his share of kites our of the sky   and is the last kite flying. Hassan, the kite runner, goes after the last kite to fall in order to truly make them champions and Hassan is a master kite runner. After Amir puts his kite away he goes in search of Hassan and at first cannot find him but when he does he wishes he hadn't.  Assef and his two boys have cornered him in an alley with the kite. He says that he'll let Hassan go if he'll give him the kite. Hassan says no. They beat and then rape Hassan while Amir watches and does nothing.  Amir runs off before being detected and "runs into" Hassan in the streets farther down.  Neither boy says anything about what happened. Hassan has no idea that Amir saw. All Amir had earlier been able to think about was getting that kite to his father and finally having his father be proud of him.  Now that is tainted.

Amir can't sleep and when he does he has nightmares. He can't handle being around Hassan anymore.  It makes him feel guilty and he wants Hassan to punish him for not doing anything. This is when Hassan figures out that he was there. Amir desperately wants Hassan to leave so he doesn't have to deal with his guilt anymore. So he plants his watch and some money under Hassan's pillow and says that Hassan stole it. Baba brings in Ali, Hassan, and Amir to talk about it and Hassan confesses to the stealing.  Baba had told Amir that stealing is the worst thing you could possibly do, but when faced with this he says that he will let it slide this time.  But Ali tells him that they are leaving. Hassan has told Ali everything, including what Amir has done and seen.  Baba is heartbroken and begs them to stay but Ali will not be swayed.

Pretty soon the Soviets invade the country and Amir and Baba escape from Kabul to Pakistan and then the United States where they begin a whole new life.  But Afghanistan is not done with Amir.  His father's old business partner and the man who often offered him fatherly advice and an ear to listen, Rahim Khan, contacts him about Hassan and a chance to redeem himself for that one day.

Amir is a hard person to like, while you cannot help but love Hassan and wonder why he remains so blindly devoted to Amir.  Amir is a bit of a spoiled brat with a weak character who lies easily.  Hassan is open, honest, and loyal and would do anything for those he cares about.  Also, the number of depressing things that happen in this book are pretty numerous.  It is a dark book about a dark time in Afghanistan's history, but not all of the sad things happen in Afghanistan. They happen in America too. I will tell you this, though. It does not have a depressing ending. You will not throw this book at your wall when you finish it if you make it that far.  It is a very well written book so I'm not telling you to not read it. Just go in with eyes open.

The problem, of course, was that Baba saw the world in black and white. And he got to decide what was black and what was white. You can’t love a person who lives that way without fearing him too. Maybe even hating him a little.
-Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner p 15)
Baba used to say, “Take two Afghans who’ve never met, put them in a room for ten minutes, and they’ll figure out how they’re related.”
-Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner p 251)
This isn’t you, Amir, part of me said. You’re gutless. It’s how you were made. And that’s not such a bad thing because your saving grace is that you’ve never lied to yourself about it. Not about that. Nothing wrong with cowardice as long as it comes with prudence.  But when a coward stops remembering who he is…God help him.
-Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner p 275)
There are a lot of children in Afghanistan, but little childhood.
-Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner p 318)
I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded, not with fanfare or epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.
-Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner p 359)
Link to Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Kite-Runner-Khaled-Hosseini-ebook/dp/B000OCXGZA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1492004233&sr=8-1&keywords=kite+runner

Monday, April 10, 2017

From Moon to Joshua by Matthew Moffitt

In this incredible sci-fi western we meet the mysterious Drayaden Sinclaire a gunslinger who carries a special sword by his side that he has vowed to never draw and use no matter how much he might want to.  Drayaden always shows up on docking day when the criminals and their families arrive by train to Desert Land to be let loose. There are factions known as cloaks that will pick their recruits among the criminals and leave for dead the others in the melee.  The black cloaks are the worst.  They would take mothers and children.  The Safeport Regiment is the only other group there to save people. Them and Drayaden.

At this particular docking day, Drayaden isn't doing so well. But Malcolm, the closest thing he has to a friend, comes to his rescue and they get a group of people onto a wagon and race to Safeport where from there they can get the people sent to safe towns in the area.  But the black cloaks are on their heels and the two of them don't look like they will make it.  On the ship, Esper up in the sky which escorted the prison train, Anya Claire Ragnarock, an officer, takes one of the crystillium rifles and uses the fire round to take out the black cloaks.  Drayaden can see her from the ship and wonders why she did it. Commander Ressin, her commanding officer, understands, but still, has to report her.

After Drayaden gets patched up by Rosalina, a woman he doesn't want to admit to caring about, and dodges another recruitment spiel by Nicholai Stone, the charismatic head of the Regiment, he goes to the bar in Northwall the last place before the desert and is approached by a woman who asks him to look for her husband and son who received a message to go to Joshua and haven't come back.  She is willing to trade a place at her home for his services. In Desert Land people barter for what they need. There is no monetary system.  Guns and bullets are hard to come by and crystillium weapons are unheard of.  Most people use knives or whatever they can put together.

Before Anya can be brought up on charges for what she did back at the Desert Land with the rifle, she and Commander Ressin have been ordered to go back to Desert Land to pick up Drayaden Sinclaire and bring him back to Toreth, the main city.  They are told that he destroyed the town of Joshua and that he was part of a secret project under Special Operations Division and that he performed well until he fled before completing training. He is to be returned to them immediately.  Resslin and Anya don't completely buy what Special Operations is selling but they have a job to do.  Drayaden and Malcolm have traveled to Joshua to hunt for that woman's husband and son, but instead, find not a trace of a town. It has been completely obliterated. The only thing left is a set of large footprints. This is when Drayaden is caught by Resslin and Anya.

On board the Esper, Drayaden has a flashback to when he was on that ship or one just like it--when he was possibly experimented on. He really doesn't remember anything.  It was bad enough that he escaped to the Desert Land. The Desert Land is a desolate and hopeless place no one wants to go to, so he was pretty desperate to go there to leave behind whatever horrors he had been facing.

It turns out that the whole thing was a setup. The black cloaks have taken over the ship. While the battle over the ship wages, Drayaden goes to get his sword back. To save the lives of Anya and Resslin he draws it partially and lightning crackles across the sky and unearthly rain begins to pour down. The lightning strikes the ship and takes it down.  With a great deal of force, Drayaden is able to put the sword back into its holder without killing anyone else.  The sword makes him want to kill everything in sight once it's drawn.  They take motorbikes and jump to the ground to avoid the crashing plane.  Drayaden has them go to Safeport.

He and Malcolm tell them about the footprint at Joshua and how they are going to investigate it and Resslin and Anya are welcome to come along if they want to.  So all four set out to discover what leveled a town. Anya and Resslin still aren't completely sure it wasn't Drayaden but this way they can keep an eye on him. They also aren't sure that anyone is coming back for them.  Drayaden and Malcolm teach them how to fight with Desert Land weapons in hand to hand combat something the military had stopped training their recruits.  Following these footprints will lead to many surprises and lots of death and destruction.  As a heads up, this book ends on a real nail-biting cliffhanger.  I fell in love with the young silver-haired, duster wearing Drayaden who is quick on the draw and deadly in a knife fight, or any fight for that matter.  He doesn't know how to quit which may be his undoing.  He is an honorable man who holds to oaths and when he gives his word he sticks to it.   You can't say that about all the characters in this book.  This was a truly enjoyable read and I can't wait for the next book in the Sands of Deliverance series to come out so I can find out what happens.    

Everyone here cast shadows, shadows of their former lives, of what they used to be. And everyone knew how to handle them: don’t let your shadows come alive.  Keep them where they’re supposed to be—in the dark.
-Matthew Moffitt (From Moon to Joshua p 20)
A man who did not question his fate when stepping into this purgatorial land was a man who did not value life. There were times when you could learn a great deal about a man by asking him one simple question: did you ever wonder why? Beware those who said no.
-Matthew Moffitt (From Moon to Joshua p 33)
There was something to say about too much silence, and in the Desert Land it couldn’t be truer: it is Death’s fingertips moments before he latches his hand around your throat, that flash of lightning before the thunder.
-Matthew Moffitt (From Moon To Joshua p 35)
“When I began studying politics my professor first taught me that when you tell others your plan you should make sure to never give the real reason he said, ‘Karina, have five reasons ready in your head other than the true motive for your decision.’” “Why did he say that?” “Because people use what you desire against you.  They threaten that, threaten to deprive you of the one thing you need; they can manipulate you, make you weak.  A holy man’s job is to never lie and mine is to never tell the truth.”
-Matthew Moffitt (From Moon To Joshua p 45-6)
When you started to dig, you ended up finding things that you wished would have remained unearthed; sure, some people strike gold and others find an ore reservoir of some sort. But did you know what you usually found when you started digging around in people’s backyards? Bones. The bones of the past. The bones of their memories. The bones of regret. That was all.
-Matthew Moffitt (From Moon To Joshua p 54)
Worrying about things that kept you alive thwarted the process.
-Matthew Moffitt (From Moon To Joshua p 68)
Fate could be a cold, cruel monster at times.
-Matthew Moffitt (From Moon To Joshua p 68)
Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Moon-Joshua-Sands-Deliverance-Book-ebook/dp/B01M6CUXSD/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491825927&sr=8-1&keywords=from+moon+to+joshua