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, December 29, 2017

Captain Marvel: Earth's Mightiest Hero Vol. 1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick (Writer), Christopher Sebella (Writer), Dexter Soy (Artist), Richard Elson (Artist), Will Quintana (Artist), Karl Nesel (Artist), Javier Rodriguez (Artist), AI. Barridnuevo (Artist), Emma Rios (Artist), Alvero Lopez (Artist), Veronicqa Gandini (Colorist), Filipe Andade (Artist), and VC's Joe Caramagna (Letterer)

This volume collects issues #1-12 and begins with Carol Danvers and Captain America fighting Absorption Man and having a discussion as to why she won't go by the name Captain Marvel.  The main reason is that she doesn't feel right about using the dead alien who saved her life's name as her own.  She doesn't feel worthy.

Carol takes care of Tracy, an older woman who has cancer and whom Carol used to work for.  Tracy is a tough bird who doesn't believe she needs to be taken care of but secretly likes it and depends on it.  If she can't make it there's a young woman that she sends in her place and the two of them get along like cats and dogs.

Helen Cobb was a legend in the field of flight. She was one of the women trained as astronauts at the same time as the first ones, like Alan Shepherd and John Glenn, and outperformed all of them.  She was the one who pushed to get women that chance. She was the one who also pushed to get women the chance to fly during World War II.  She broke five records in her T-6 plane.

Now Helen has died and Carol takes her ashes up into the outer atmosphere of space. Helen has left Carol her T-6 plane and has asked that she prove that one of the records she broke with it, that has been in question, really stands by flying it herself.  When she does something strange happens.  After she breaks the record and decides to see how far she can go, suddenly the instruments stop working and the plane is going down.

When she lands there are Japanese soldiers there ready to capture her. She believes them to be holdovers from the war who refused to believe that it was over.  Instead, she is rescued by a group of women calling themselves the Banshee Squad class of 1943.  It seems the Japanese have what they call prowlers but are in actuality small Kree fighters.  Carol doesn't want to upset the timeline but when she hears about the Kree weaponry she has no choice and reveals what she can do and when she comes from.  She finds that the women also crash landed on this tiny island off the coast of Peru.

Carol finds a piece of an alien element and sees her plane flying overhead.  First, she must help these women defeat the Japanese and then she will go on a long journey through multiple time jumps beginning with one where she meets Helen Cobb in the 1960s and the two of them jump together to try to fix the time problem. Or at least that's what Carol's plan is.

There's another comic in there where she fights alongside Monica, aka "Photon" or "Pulsar" with the friendly Frank in tow out on the sea looking at mysterious shipwrecks.  In another comic, when Tony Stark hacks her phone and rearranges her schedule in order to fit in a visit from a friend of his, she's not happy. But then her day does not go as planned, big surprise.  What is a surprise is to find out that she has a lesion on her brain that means she cannot fly anymore.  Someone has sent one of her oldest enemies out to continuously attack her for some reason.  Who is Captain Marvel if she cannot fly?

This is a great book that explores Carol's inner nature and her desire to live up to the name of Captain Marvel. Also, her drive to be the best pilot there is and her sadness that she can't break any more records for herself and have it be fair.  Then there's her losing the ability to fly and what that does to her. She's been able to fly up into the earth's atmosphere and back without breaking a sweat. Now she can't even fly the height of a building.  A different artist was chosen for these comics and it was a wise choice. The Carol in these comics looks a bit haggard and vulnerable, not quite so strong and formidable.  Overall this book was really worth reading and I highly recommend it.   

Link to Amazon:

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Who Is Wonder Woman? by Allan Heinberg (Writer), Terry Dodson ({Penciler), Rachel Dodson (Inker), Alex Sinclair (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer), Gary Frank (Artist), Jon Sibal (Artist), and Dave McCaig (Artist)

After killing Maxwell Lord in self-defense, Wonder Woman steps down from the job and gives it to her "sister", Donna Troy.  But everyone is having a hard time accepting her as Wonder Woman and when she arrives at a museum she runs into Cheetah and Giganta who both want Diana. Diana, who has been following Donna around appears and fights with them but leaves when she realizes she is capable of killing them.  Donna is left behind for Dr. Psycho to work his magic on her mind and takes her with him.

Batman suggests to Diana that she go undercover and work for the Metahumans Affairs, who police those who are not humans.  She works with Nemesis, a master of disguise who does not believe he needs a partner.  They'll release Donna in exchange for Wonder Woman.  Only Diana cannot go blindly into a trap.  She needs help with this and the Metahumans Affairs don't seem interested so she must try the JSA, of whom Cassie, Wonder Girl, is not too fond of her right now.

This comic is really good in that is shows how Wonder Woman goes from being so harshly judgemental on herself about the death of Maxwell Lord and deserting her friends and family to deal with the fact that she had taken a human life, a death that had not been sanctioned by the gods.  This book shows how she claws her way out of that hole.  It proves how even the mighty Wonder Woman can falter but still find her way back.  Who is Wonder Woman?  I do believe this comic answers that question with gorgeous artistry.

Link to Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/Wonder-Woman-Who-New/dp/1401272339/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1514375536&sr=8-1&keywords=who+is+wonder+woman


Monday, December 25, 2017

I Know a Secret by Tess Gerritsen

In this latest Rizzoli and Isles mystery, the book opens with the death of a young woman Cassandra Coyle who is lying in her bed with her eyeballs in her hand.  When Maura Isles does the autopsy she finds no cause of death. There is a little bit of wine in her stomach so she had a drink right before she died.  Cassandra was a filmmaker who made horror movies.  Well, she'd made one and was working on finishing another one that was based on something that happened in her childhood.

Then on Christmas Eve Timothy McDougal is found propped up against a pole at the docks with his shirt off and three arrows sticking out of his chest. But the arrows were shot into him after he was already dead.  His body was healthy and Maura could find no cause of death, just some whiskey in his stomach. Cassandra's tox screen came back with a little bit of ketamine in her system. But only enough to knock her out, not kill her. And ketamine comes back in Timothy's tox screen as well.

That's when Maura gets the idea of how they might have died from the Heaven's Gate people.  By placing a plastic bag over the face. She does find residue of tape on Timothy's neck, but no signs of bruising that would show that force was used or a fight like he was being restrained.  She also figures out why they were displayed the way they were. Cassandra was displayed as St. Lucy and Timothy was displayed as St. Sebastion.

The question is why and is there more?  Maura goes to Daniel, the priest with whom she had a long affair with but broke it off over six months ago, for help with the case which is hard on both of them.  Also Maura's birth mother, a serial killer, who is dying in jail and is reaching out to Maura and she goes to see her say goodbye, but her mother is not done with her manipulations.  Maura goes through a lot in this book and Jane is trying to be there for her if Maura would just let her.  This is a really good book with lots of twists.  While the plot is great it's the characters that you read it for and what they are going through and how they are dealing with what is going on around them and Gerritsen excels at this, as this book shows.  I highly recommend this book.

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Know-Secret-Rizzoli-Isles-Novel-ebook/dp/B01MXRA7WD/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1514213411&sr=8-1&keywords=i+know+a+secret+by+tess+gerritsen

Friday, December 22, 2017

Suicide Squad: The New 52! Volume 2 Basilisk Rising by Adam Glass (Writer), Dan Abnett (Writer), Andy Lanning (Writer), Fernando Dagnino (Artist), Federico Dalliocchio (Artist), Jesus Siaz (Artist), Andres Guinaldo (Artist), Mark Irwin (Artist), Christian Alamy (Artist), Cliff Richards (Artist), Matt Yackey (Colorist), John Kalisz (Colorist), Jared K. Fletcher (Letterer), and Rob Leigh (Letterer)

At the end of the last book, Harley Quinn tried to take over the prison and escape to go to the police station and get the Joker's face that the cops had. She shot Deadshot and as a result, his aim is now off.  Lime is dead, King Shark ate Yo-Yo Man and Boomerang is no longer with them.  Harley ended up in a coma and the team is on ice for now.

Harley Quinn wakes up from the coma with the identity of Doctor Harleen Quninzel mostly in charge.  But there's no rest for the wicked and they're immediately sent out on a mission. When they return the real work begins and the toughest foe they've ever faced is coming their way.  Waller wants them to go after Basilik the head of an army of followers of criminals.

Light, Deadshot, Harley Quinn, King Shark, Iceman, Diablo, and Black Spider (a civilian vigilante ninja) head out with others on a plane but the plane is sabotaged.  Deadshot had been warned by Waller that there is a traitor on the team. Someone has been feeding info to the Basilik  But that's the only info Waller shares with the team. As usual, she keeps important information they need back and leaves them to be surprised when they get there.

Of course, they have to get there first. They come across some Mayans who practice the ancient art of sacrificing to their gods and have no idea how to get out of this situation.  This volume was even better than the first one. You get to know Waller better and find out how the Suicide Squad was formed.  Harley's acting like a psychiatrist some of the time and not her usual wacko self and you don't know who to trust. I highly recommend this book.

Link to Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/Suicide-Squad-Vol-Basilisk-Rising-ebook/dp/B00BC8IPBK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1513954907&sr=8-1&keywords=suicide+squad+new+52+vol+2

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Wilde In Love by Eloisa James

Set in June of 1778 at Lindow Castle in Cheshire, England the house is celebrating the engagement of the eldest son of the Duke, North, to Diana Belfast and the return of the second oldest son, Alaric who has been gone for five years exploring the world and writing about his observations, using his last name of Wilde in the titles, such as Wilde Latitudes. In his absence, he has become something of a celebrity and an obsession to many of the young ladies, mainly due to a play put on about one of his adventures that was wildly inaccurate.  His family thinks it's hilarious to a degree.  Some of his teen siblings have had to put up with mishaps from others, though.

Someone who doesn't think it's hilarious, besides Alaric, is the proper Miss Wilomena "Willa" Everett Ffynche.  She believes in keeping a private life and has no intention of being one of many. She also hasn't read any of his books.  She prefers non-fiction books such as Pliny, not the fiction she is sure his books to be.  She is prepared to meet Lord Wilde but quite unprepared to meet Alaric the man behind the facade.  He is also intrigued to meet a woman who is not fawning at his feet.

Willa's best friend, Lavina Gray, with whom she was raised since the age of nine when her parents died, has been obsessed with Lord Wilde and has his picture plastered all over her room. But when she meets him she realizes he wasn't at all what she thought he'd be but decides he might make a fine friend instead.  Parth Sterling, an orphan raised on the Duke's estate with his children has made a vast fortune for himself.  While he and Willa hit it off great, he and Lavina fight like cats and dogs. It's quite interesting to watch the two of them go at it. At times more interesting than the main story.

At first, Willa feels as though she is being treated like a mountain that Alaric feels the need to conquer because she is a challenge, not because he truly cares for her.  Then, of course, there's the matter of all of his adoring fans clamoring around him. Willa cannot consider a man for marriage that she could not have a private life with or one that was being chased by half the women in England.  On top of that, she does not believe him when he says that he is done with exploring and plans to settle down at his estate.

But there's no denying what his kisses do to her and Alaric can be quite persuasive. And when an opportunity arises that involves them pretending to be engaged he takes advantage of it to do some more convincing.  This was a good book and that had some unusual elements to it. It's not often you find a man giving a woman a skunk for a gift. Also, it's not often you encounter a scene of a man masturbating.  But, a lovemaking scene would not be happening for a long time because Willa was a proper young woman and it was a creative way to get in a sex scene.   This was a good start to a series that I eagerly await the next book for which should be about North and Diana if the ending is any indication and cannot come soon enough. 

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Wilde-Love-Wildes-Lindow-Castle-ebook/dp/B01MYDK4ME/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1513776862&sr=8-1&keywords=wilde+in+love

Monday, December 18, 2017

The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

The book opens in Swindon, England with an autistic young man, Christopher Boone, discovering a poodle that had been murdered with a fork (garden tool) stuck through it.  Christopher finds himself getting arrested when he has trouble answering their questions and hit a police officer when the officer grabs him, as Christopher does not like to be touched.  Due to his autism and the circumstances he is given a caution and told that this must never happen again or he would go to jail.

Something else Christopher does not like is the colors yellow and brown.  He does not like loud noises.  He does like the color red and dyes yellow food red so he can eat it.  He loves to count prime numbers and work math problems in his head especially to calm himself down.  He plans on taking his maths A levels and physics A levels this year and go to a university someday.   He lives with his dad and his mom died a year and a half ago or so.

Christopher is a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes and decides to find out who killed the poodle, Wellington.  His teacher at his special school, Siobhan, encourages him in this endeavor and having him write it down in a notebook.  When his father finds out about it he tells him to stay out of other people's business. But Christopher takes people at their literal word and he does not know what to make of that, so he keeps going and goes around asking people in the neighboorhood questions.  When his dad becomes more specific and tells him to stop investigating the Wellington death, Christopher has already got a suspect: Mr. Spears, the owner's ex-husband.  So he decides to ask around about Mr. Spears since that's not asking about Wellington.  He ends up finding out more about Mr. Spears than he expected.

When his dad finds his notebook and reads what he has written he becomes quite angry and throws it away.  When Christopher goes to look for it in the dustbin it isn't there so he searches the house and finds it in a box in his dad's room along with some letters from his mom written after her death.  His dad has been lying to him about a lot of things and in Christopher's world, you don't lie.  Christopher reacts recklessly to the new information that has come to light.

Christopher is not an easy young man to take care of as a parent.  The closest his parents get to a hug is touching his palm to theirs for a second.  But he is easy to love. Christopher's detecting the death of a dog named Wellington will lead him down a path he could never imagine.  Will he find out who killed Wellington? Will he be able to trust his father again? What will become of him and his rat Toby? This is an excellent read and a very accurate portrayal of someone with autism.  The title comes from a Sherlock Holmes story where he solves the mystery because the dog does not bark in the nighttime because he knew the culprit.  It fits in nicely with Christopher's love of Holmes and the mystery of the dog's death.  I highly recommend this book.   

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Curious-Incident-Dog-Night-Time-Contemporaries-ebook/dp/B000FC1MCS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1513602658&sr=8-1&keywords=the+curious+incident+of+the+dog+in+the+nighttime    

Friday, December 15, 2017

Captain America: Sam Wilson #Take Back the Shield by Nick Spencer (Writer), Paul Renaud (Artist, Colorist), Angel Unzeta (Artist), Szymon Kudranski (Artist), John Rauch (Colorist), and VC's Joe Caramagna (Letterer)

When we last left Captain America, Sam Wilson, he was sharing the duties of Captain America with Steve Rogers. There was a strong movement going to get him to stop being Captain America especially after he tussled with the Americops when he was trying to stop Rage from causing a bigger problem. Of course, his peacemaking attempts didn't play that way in the press because the Americops tried to arrest him and he had to fight his way and escape.  He decided to have Tony Stark implant a device in his brain that would enable him to see and record everything the birds see. So when the Americops overstep their bounds again, there will be proof.

He also goes up against John Walker, U.S. Agent, who was sent to get him to return the shield by none other than Captain America himself.  But he promised he wouldn't tell Sam that, only that he needed to return it because it was time.  Captain America knows he cannot ask Sam right out to give back the shield and he can't do so publically because it would look bad if a white guy is demanding that a black guy stop being a superhero.

Flag Smasher has taken a roomful of people hostage including Senator Tom Herald whom he has strapped a bomb too.  He has planted seven bombs in the room and seven cyber bombs in the federal network.  Rick Jones, hacker extraordinaire who now works with S.H.I.E.L.D. has been keeping an eye on the goings-on of the security of the major players of the Feds and he just noticed that someone was trying to breach them.  For each data bomb that Rick succeeds in diffusing, Flag Buster blows up a bomb in the room.  When the last one doesn't work, he threatens to kill Herald.  Sam throws his shield to knock the gun out of his hand and misses.  Flag Buster kills the Senator.  Sam can't believe that he missed causing the death of a man who has so been against him.  This really does not play well in the press.

While Sam is trying to get his head back in the game, you get a story from Misty that kicks ass, of course, and one from the Falcon.  Also included is an old-time Captain America comic that includes Dennis during his heyday as Demolition Dumphy and his meeting up with Battlestar for the first time in a not so friendly way.  This comic moves the plot forward, but it also gives Sam a break and gives Misty and Falcon a time to shine, which is really cool.  It further shows how far Steve Rogers will go to get to be Captain America again which is chilling and makes you realize the right man is using the shield.  I really love this series and this book just shows how far they're willing to take it.  I can't recommend it enough. 

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Captain-America-Wilson-Vol-TakeBackTheShield/dp/1302903292/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1513343718&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=captain+america+sam+wilsoon+volume+four

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne

This is a really cool book in that it gives a simple explanation as to how Luke goes from barely being able to hold a lightsaber in New Hope to mentally reaching for one with the force that is on the ground while he is hung upside down in a cave in The Empire Strikes Back.  I have always wondered how this happened with Obi Wan Kenobi dead and Yoda not yet introduced.  At the beginning, Hearne reproduces Luke's still, slightly whiney side as he bemoans not having anyone to teach him about the Force and wondering how he will be able to become a Jedi.

Leia sends him on a mission to a planet where one of the small clans would like the Alliance to help them beat their oppressive enemy clans who are mostly in league with the Empire.  Luke is given the beautiful, sleek, and fast Desert Jewel to fly. It is owned by Nakari Kelen, whose father owns a huge lab that collects samples of new creatures and botany in order to create new medications.  He cannot go up against the Empire directly, as they will destroy him and his business, so he takes their contracts even though he'd rather tear them up.  His daughter, however, has no such constraints on her, so she helps the Alliance in numerous ways, including teaching sharpshooting skills.  When she does work for her father, the money she gets she uses to upgrade her ship and help the Alliance.

Luke is immediately attracted to both the ship and Nakari.  On his way to meeting the clan who has weapons for sale, he notices a Kupohan ship being attacked by the Empire.  The Kupohans are on the fence about helping the Alliance, but they have helped them in the past.  Even though it will endanger his mission, Luke helps the Kupohan ship escape.  This makes his ship put on the list of ones the Empire is now looking for.  Luke's mission with the clan is successful and he has set up a source for weapons.

Leia now has a new mission that will include Nakari.  The Empire is holding a Given named Drusil, who is an expert cryptologist, probability theorist, and hacker.  Givens have a unique introduction ritual that Luke and Nakari will have to learn.  They recite a complicated math problem to solve and you give one too.  Luckily Leia has a few for them to use.  They are to rescue her and take her to Omereth, a mostly oceanic planet filled with monstrous sea creatures,  and join her family that the Alliance will get and she will work for the Alliance.  First, though, Luke and Nakari need to upgrade the ship to prepare for going up against the Empire. They need weapons and other things for the ship.  In order to get the money for that, they go to Nakari's father who offers them a job to go to the unknown planet Fet where he has sent two teams to collect samples and they have not returned.  He wants them to find the crew and bring them back.

Fet is a hideous place.  They are provided with special suits to protect them from a vicious animal called the skullborer, which does exactly as its name implies and eats brains.  They find the second ship and when they enter it, they find mostly dead bodies and a surprise: loose skullborers.  These creatures are invisible until you hit them with a blaster or stun stick.  Luke and Nakari have quite an adventure trying to complete this mission.  Nakari's father gives them a huge sum of money and they go to the clan and load up on supplies.

Next, they go to a planet where a Kupohan spy provides them the information they need about Drusil.  Rescuing her is not easy, but when they escape the planet with her, the Empire knows their ship and how many people to look for and begin to search for them.  They escape the Empire ships, but the Empire has also put a bounty on their head.  Their ship gets damaged and they go to the planet where the Kuphon's live, because the spy gave them a list of names of people who will help them and one of them is on the planet.  He does not want to help them, but they offer him information in exchange for parts and repairs.  Drusil blocks communications to the Empire to keep his workers from turning them in for the bounty, but she is not quick enough and one man gets through and the Empire sends someone to investigate.  Luke and Nakari kidnap them to keep them from turning them in and wait for their ship to be fixed.

While waiting, Nakari and Luke become close and Nakari helps Luke out with his Jedi problem, by giving him advice on how to move objects.  With Nakari's support, Luke is more relaxed and is able to move a noodle across the table.  While this is not much, it is the first time he has been able to do it.  Luke figures out that he is not moving the noodle, the Force is and he is pushing the Force to move the noodle.

Drusil is kind of like C3PO, in that she is readily coming up with probabilities in every situation they find themselves in, but unlike C3PO, she does not anticipate doom and she is quite fascinating and unbelievable in her abilities.  Luke eventually begins to trust her and not suspect that she is secretly working for the Empire and they become friends.

More adventures await the group as they try to get to Omereth and hope that the Alliance was able to get her family there because Luke has been unable to get news from them as to whether they have succeeded.  Nakari is a very empowered woman that you can look up to.  She is good in a fight, has a wonderful sense of humor, and is determined to bring down the Empire, especially Darth Vader, who has hurt her family as much as he has hurt Luke's.

I really enjoyed this book a lot.  It is filled with great adventure, fancy flying, strange creatures, bounty hunters, and a mission that continues to become more difficult and possibly unlikely to succeed.  Drusil proves to be a very valuable asset to the mission with her math abilities and probability theories that provide them with ways to escape capture.  The question is, will they complete their mission all in one piece or get taken down by the Empire or the deadly bounty hunters.

Yes, its’ customary among the Givin to say hello with math. If you can’t at least speak the language of math a Givin will have a difficult time trusting you, so you have to demonstrate your ability right away.  Almost anything’s okay, but I advise you t keep it somewhat simple.  And whatever you do, don’t ask them to do linear approximations of nonlinear partial differential equations, because they take it as an insult, like you’re mocking them…They object to approximations basically.  Asking for approximations instead of precision indicates a lack of faith in their abilities at best, and at worst could be construed as you calling them stupid.
--Kevin Hearne (Heir to the Jedi p 98)
Waiting around with nothing to do is terrible, but waiting around with nothing to do in the sewer is worse.
--Kevin Hearne (Heir to the Jedi p 120)
Technology is always perfectly dependable until it isn’t.
--Kevin Hearne (Heir to the Jedi p 120)
--I do not know for certain—I did say probability, not certainty.  But I can make educated guesses as to our destination based on extant variables, and predict that our pursuit shall catch up to us prior to our exit unless they behave stupidly?
--Isn’t that one of your extant variables?
--The worst possible kind.  As you may well know, unlike kinetics or time or distance, human stupidity is incalculable.
--Kevin Hearne (Heir to the Jedi  p 124)
The problem with conspiracy theories is that they have their own gravity:  They  are black holes from which one rarely escapes.  Caution is advisable at all times, of course, but recognize that sometimes the beings you meet truly are good.
--Kevin Hearne (Heir to the Jedi p 176)
Traveling through the galaxy would be perfectly pleasant were it not for the Empire trying to kill us.
--Kevin Hearne (Heir to the Jedi p 191)
Your senses can be fooled.  Math and physics do not lie.
--Kevin Hearne (Heir to the Jedi p 220)
Destiny sometimes finds it amusing to strike at people who believe they’re safe.
--Kevin Hearne (Heir to the Jedi p 235)
No one’s gunning for us.  That’s a nice change.  Kind of the galaxy I want to live in, honestly.
--Kevin Hearne (Heir to the Jedi p 235)
--Every time you say ‘We made it’, something bad happens.
--Correlation isn’t causation.  But yeah.  Damn.
--Kevin Hearne (Heir to the Jedi p 243)
Sometimes simple plans are the best ones.  Or no plan at all, which is how Han often likes to fight: ‘If your plan never survives the enemy kid, why plan at all?’ he asked me once.  ‘Wasting time on something that’s going to die in the first few seconds—I mean the plan—is a waste of time.’ When I told him that was circular logic he said to stop wasting his time. ‘Just blast everything and fly a fast ship.  And bring a Wookie.  Works for me.’
--Kevin Hearne (Heir to the Jedi p 252)
Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Heir-Jedi-Star-Kevin-Hearne-ebook/dp/B00MKZ3VMW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1513171943&sr=8-1&keywords=Heir+to+the+jedi

Monday, December 11, 2017

Tender Is the Night by F.Scott Fitzgerald

This classic novel was Fitzgerald's favorite of all that he had written and with good reason: the main characters were modeled after him and his wife Zelda.  Set mainly on the Riveria and in Switzerland, it shows how the small crack in a marriage widens causing the marriage to fall apart, perhaps irrevocably.

The book opens in 1925 with Rosemary Hoyt going to the beach at the Riveria. She is traveling with her mother touring Europe's warm climate after suffering an illness doing a movie.  She is just about to turn eighteen and gets invited to join the Divers' party after spending a day with the boring other crowds of Americans there.  The Divers, Nicole and Dick are captivating, especially Dick. But there is also Mary and Abe North, who is a musician who hasn't composed anything in years and drinks too much, and Tommy Barden who keeps running off to a war somewhere to fight and is in love with Nicole.

Rosemary and her mother had only planned on staying for a few days, but Rosemary finds herself falling in love with Dick, so they extend their stay.  Dick resists her for as long as he can but soon he gives in as long as Nicole never knows and there's a reason why she must never know.  The book is divided into three parts and the second part goes back and shows how Nicole and Dick came to be together.

You don't want to feel sorry for Dick and pull for him, but for a while, you kind of do.  Maybe it's because the point of view becomes his.  Also, Nicole is seen as a bit of a succubus who sucks the life out of Dick. But Nicole is the wronged party and the one hurt by these events.  This situation will have long-term repercussions that will continue to affect their marriage and widen the crack further.  This book is a classic for a reason, it is well written with beautiful colorful language that drips from the page.  It is very well worth reading.

Tell a secret over the radio, publish it in a tabloid, but never tell it to a man who drinks more than three or four a day.
-F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tender Is the Night p 75)

It was often easier to give a show than to watch one.
-F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tender Is the Night p 89)

Sometimes it is harder to deprive oneself of a pain than of a pleasure.
            -- F. Scott Fitzgerald, (Tender is the Night p 167)

 No Aryan is able to profit by a humiliation; when he forgives it has become part of his life, he has identified himself with the thing which humiliated him—an upshot that in the case was impossible.
-F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tender Is The Night p 234)

 Either one learns politeness at home or the world teaches it to you with a whip and you get hurt in the process.
-F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tender Is the Night p 255)

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Tender-Night-Golden-Deer-Classics-ebook/dp/B076QDZXP6/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&qid=1512999860&sr=8-13&keywords=tender+is+the+night

Friday, December 8, 2017

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Vol. 2 by Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Chris Samnee (Artist), Sara Pichelli (Artist), David Marquez (Artist), Justin Ponsor (Colorist), VC's Cory Petit (Letterer)

Previously, Peter Parker was killed and Miles Morales had just started at a boarding school on a scholarship when he is bitten by a spider and given special powers like venom inducing and super speed.  The Ultimates give him a specially designed costume as thanks for helping out with Electro.  He finds out that his dad and his uncle used to do illegal things and that his uncle never quit and is known as the Prowler.  He has told his best friend Ganke about his newfound abilities.

The Prowler goes to Mexico to deliver his shipment to the Scorpion and instead screws him over and takes his money.  He hears about a new Spider-Man and figures out it must be Miles and heads back to New York City to see how he can cash in on this.  Meanwhile, the Scorpion is not taking this lying down.  He wants revenge and he heads to New York City to get it.

Miles decides to be Spider-Man even though he's not sure how to be him yet.  The suit helps him in a way.  It moves for him.  Ganke finds some old footage of Peter Parker fighting and Miles studies that in hopes of learning from it.  Miles must also try not to get caught missing from his room by the teacher.  Though sneaking out is easy with his ability to blend in with his surroundings and pretty much become invisible.

I love Bendis's work on All New X-Men: Yesterday's X-Men and Jessica Jones, but this one is missing something for me.  I don't know quite what it is yet. I'll give the series another shot because he deserves that much.

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Comics-Spider-Man-Michael-Bendis-ebook/dp/B00FSRFMOE/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1512738311&sr=8-5&keywords=ultimate+comics+spider-man

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror (v 2.0) by Christopher Moore

It's Christmas and Raziel the angel has been sent down for the first time in two thousand years to perform a Christmas miracle.  His mission is to find a child and make their wish come true.  Simple, right? But this is Raziel who can screw even the simplest things up.  First off he scares the boy and second he takes the boy's words too literally.

The child's upset that Santa has been killed.  Josh witnessed Lena accidentally kill her ex-husband Dale who was dressed in a Santa suit. He wasn't the only one who saw it happen. Tuck, a pilot who is currently working for the DEA looking for drugs in the Big Sur from his plane, decides to help Lena by burying Dale and moving his truck to a new location to look as though he had gone fishing and fell off a cliff while drunk.  Tuck has a pet fruit bat named Rodrigo and has just gotten out of a relationship and is looking for someone to spend Christmas with and believes Lena is that person.  It's love at first sight for both of them.

Lena wants to tell her friend Molly, the former actress best known for the Warrior Babe of the Outland movies, but she can't because Molly's husband Theo is a constable.  Theo catches a lot of crap from the sheriff's department for not being a "real" cop. He used to smoke a lot of pot, but when he married Molly five years ago the two of them made a deal: he'd stop doing drugs if she'd stay on the drugs she needed for her mental illness.  This year, though, in a warped O''Henry's Gift of the Maji way, Molly stopped taking her meds in order to save enough money to buy this really beautiful bong for Theo and Theo has been growing and selling marijuana in order to buy a real sword for Molly.  The crazier Molly gets, the rockier their relationship gets.

Molly really doesn't like that Theo is investigating Lena. But Lena isn't fond of the idea of Tuck blackmailing Theo when he gets the chance.  Everything comes to a head on Christmas Eve at the Lonesome Christmas Party at the church when Raziel has decided to bring Santa back to life and ends up bringing back to life everyone in the graveyard and now the partygoers have to contend with zombies.

This book does contain an extra bit for those who have read it before and want more of it.  It's at the end of the book and is, in my opinion, unnecessary and cumbersome.  For those familiar with Moore, this takes place in Pine Cove where the books Practical Demon Keeping and Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove are located.  Also Raziel from Lamb: The Gospel According To Biff, Christ's Childhood Friend and Tuck and Rodrigo from Island of the Sequined Love Nun are in this one making it quite the festive book.  But if you haven't read those books you won't be lost or confused.  You might, however, want to pick up the other books and read them.  This is a hilarious book filled with a host of bizarre people and happenings.  I really loved this book and cannot recommend it enough.

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Stupidest-Angel-v2-0-Heartwarming-Christmas-ebook/dp/B006O0I3ZO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1512565746&sr=8-1&keywords=the+stupidest+angel

Monday, December 4, 2017

Lord of the Wings by Donna Andrews

It is Halloween time in the wacky Virgina town of Caerphilly and they are holding their first ever week long Halloween festival.  This time, though, Meg Langslow is not in charge. Mayor Randall Shiffley hired Lydia Van Meter to handle it only she's botching it big time and driving Meg nuts with asking her opinion and doing the opposite or making her come down to her office to talk about something she needs to deal with that Meg already knows about and was on her way to handling.  Meg is in charge of the Visitor's Relation Police Liason Patrol or better known as the Goblin Patrol.  They handle problems on the ground downtown, at the Haunted House and Fairgrounds, and at the Zoo.

Things begin to go wrong from the start when Dr. Smoot the former coroner who is the resident guy who dresses as a vampire year round. His house is an old Victorian and he has opened a Caerphilly museum in the basement. His house is where the Haunted House is located at. He calls saying people have broken into it the night before but have taken nothing as far as he can tell.  Then at the zoo, that day Meg's grandfather, the zoo's owner, finds a severed hand that proves to be fake and inside the dark alligator section a severed foot, also fake, is found by Meg and Michael's twin boys' first-grade class who are touring the zoo that day.

The culprit who put the foot there is caught and confesses something about an "adventure" and a
"quest" and has on him a list of five things to do which leaves them to believe that some sort of scavenger hunt is going on.  But the young man isn't saying much more only that he now won't be able to advance to the next level, so there are more pranks to be played and Sherrif Burke says he has reported some odd things going on in town.

These scavenger hunters are causing havoc and worse. A body is found shot in the woods and discovered to be a conman.  Is he the man behind the games, and if so who's running the games now? The Chief is welcoming Meg's help on this one since his office is spread thin due to the festival and none of it makes much sense.  Andrews delivers on another funny mystery that's a real treat.

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lord-Wings-Langslow-Mystery-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B00R18G9NQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1512392898&sr=8-1&keywords=lord+of+the+wings

Friday, December 1, 2017

Black Widow: No More Secrets by Mark Waid (Writer), Christ Samnee (Writer, Artist), Matthew Wilson (Colorist), and VC's Joe Caramagna (Letterer)

When we last saw Black Widow she was being hunted by S.H.I.E.L.D. She had also had her secrets revealed by the Weeping Lion whom she had just defeated after discovering that there was another Red Room like the one she came from being run by the same Headmistress and Recluse her daughter training young assassins.  Black Widow intends to put a stop to it and save the girls, but she'll need the Weeping Lion's help.

Black Widow and the Weeping Lion break into the Red Room but are too late. The girls have been sent out on their assignments.  The only ones there are the Headmistress and Recluse. The Weeping Lion tries to read the Headmistress's mind to find their location, but she pulls out a gun and shoots herself in the head to prevent this.  He reads Recluse, but she knows nothing. Recluse picks up the gun to shoot Natasha, but Natasha tells her that she has always tried to be just like her and failed because she is too weak and that she'll never pull the trigger and Natasha easily disarms her.

The Weeping Lion was able to pick up the site of one of the assassins from the dying woman and it's the White House.   He and Natasha go in undercover to try to find her only to discover that there is more than one girl there. Now she must try to save the target and try to save the girls from being shot by Secret Service at the same time.

Later she finds that Recluse is not so weak after all when she is led into a trap Recluse has set with Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier, as the bait.  Also, Bucky has been keeping something from her.  This book is about a lot of secrets that come to light, hence the title of the comic.  It is a pretty amazing conclusion to the story that reminds you how Black Widow is so badass, yet how she also secretly cares deeply. 

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Black-Widow-Vol-More-Secrets/dp/0785199764/ref=pd_sbs_14_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=W4NVBFBVFZPPNQ2X8DE7

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Death Comes For the Archbishop by Willa Cather

This book is loosely based on the life of the first Bishop of the New Mexico Territory, Jean-Baptiste Ramy.  It is 1851 and Jean Marie Latour has just been named Vicar Apostolic of New Mexico and Bishop of Agathonica in partibus. The New Mexico Territory is vast and new to the United States having just been won from Mexico in the war, so his diocese is a large one.  The seat of it is located at Sante Fe. The Bishop did not come alone, though. He was followed once again by his longtime friend Father Joseph Valliant whom he met in Seminary back in France and with whom he has been doing mission work with in America ever since. 

The two are an unlikely pair as Valliant has always been sickly, yet hardy in his faith.  He is able to raise money for the things the church really needs but basically never takes anything for himself with only a rare occurrence.  Latour is hardy in health by his faith has doubts at times.  He is good at running the churches and organizing things and does accept the odd nice gift from a parishioner.  They compliment each other nicely.  I really prefer Father Valliant over Bishop Latour. He's a much more likable fellow and in the book, he has many more friends.  

They both have their work cut out for them as the Mexican priests don't want to be under the rule of the Americans.  And they have no interest to be under the rule of a new French Bishop. There are some good priests and there are some churches that are in need of priests so Valliant and Latour must travel to them to do Mass.  Some of these churches are Native American churches and they must contend with their dual religions of Catholicism and the old ways.  The author also deals with, to some small extent, how the Native Americans have been treated by both the Americans and the Mexicans, which is interesting considering this book was published in 1927.  

The problem priests believe in being able to run wild and have sex with whatever woman they choose and pick up money from ventures that are not necessarily legal or morally right.  Latour sends Valliant out to one of the churches to preach for a while and bring the congregation back to the righteous path rather than the party path and gives the priest a rest so he can reflect on what he did wrong.  But the other two priests prove more wily and harder to deal with and a different solution must present itself.

This book is not really a novel with a plot so much as a collection of vignettes.  With this title, I must admit I was hoping for something a bit, well, sexier, like a murder mystery or a suspense novel.  But instead I got a good, but a not too exciting book, about a Bishop and a priest who tries to set up an American diocese in the old west. The descriptions will make you really feel as though you are there, but they can also go on and on in excruciating detail.  Overall this wasn't a bad book if it's your cup of tea.   

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Death-Archbishop-Annotated-Cathers-Classics-ebook/dp/B00OJJI2DK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1511962311&sr=8-1&keywords=death+comes+for+the+archbishop+by+willa+cather

Monday, November 27, 2017

Shroud For a Nightingale by P.D. James

This is an early CID Adam Dalgliesh of the Scotland Yard mystery that opens with a nurse, Miss Beale, an Inspector of Nurse Training Schools to the General Nursing Council goes to Heatheringfield, England, out in the country where the John Carpenter Hospital has been since 1792.  The nursing school is in the Nightingale House, an old haunted Victorian House that, in many people's opinions, is quite inappropriate for a nursing school in that the windows, while pretty, do not allow enough light in, and it is drafty and the rooms are not the optimal sizes for what is required.  Miss Beale is quite good at her job and at having the ability to size up people rather accurately.

Now, let me take a moment to explain the medical community in England at that time.  I have no idea how it is now, but if you do, please feel free to comment below.  In nursing, you go from Nurse to Sister, if you head up a ward or become a teacher, and then, if you are lucky and become head of the hospital nursing staff, you are called a Matron.  The highest a non-nurse can achieve is a surgeon, which are referred to as Mr. A Dr. is a step below that and is generally a simple general practitioner.  Those that are a Mr. look down upon those that are mere Drs.  as being inferior and less knowledgeable.

Miss Beale is there with Sister Rolfe, a middle-aged nurse there, Mr. Courtney-Briggs, a surgeon, and Matron Taylor, who has a reputation for excellence to the point that some wonder why she doesn't head up a place in London.  Some people, thinks Miss Beale, may not want to live in London.  The clinical instructor, Sister Gearing,  is filling in as a teacher because a bout of flu has hit the hospital and many nurses are in bed with it, including Nurse Fallon, who was supposed to act as patient for the demonstration of insertion of a gastric tube and pouring what will be milk for their purposes down the throat.  Nurse Pearce is instead acting as the patient and Miss Beale notices that she seems rather scared, but later puts it down to not liking being the patient when others inform her that she is always like that.  The other student nurses present are: Nurse Dakers, a conscientious  girl who knew her facts and was hard working; the Burnt twins, who were performing the procedure and were seen as rather competent; Nurse Goodale, whom Miss Beale sees as quite an excellent student;  Nurse Pardoe, a girl who is too pretty for her own good; Nurse Harper, a sullen girl.

As soon as the milk goes down the tube and hits Nurse Pearce's stomach, she jumps up gagging and Matron Taylor yanks the tube from her throat.  However, it is too late.  Even with all the medical help right there, she dies of poisoning from the disinfectant wash that had been put in the milk bottle.  No one knows what to make of this.  Was it a murder attempt, and if so upon whom?  Nurse Fallon was supposed to be the patient, but everyone seems to have known that she was in the hospital with the flu.  Someone did see her that morning running from the school, which is odd, considering she had a temperature of 103 degrees.  What could she possibly have needed so badly that she had to come back?  Nurse Pearce was not very well liked.  She was rather pious and holier-than-thou. It wasn't that she was religious; you could accept that about a person, but rather that she saw herself as a judge over others. She was known to have blackmailed others and believed in the punishment fitting the crime.

The police believe it was a complete accident and do nothing.  Nurse Harper leaves.  She is engaged to be married and her father was only indulging her by letting her go to nursing school when she was never going to practice.  Then, on the night that Nurse Fallon returns from the hospital, the twins wake up to go and get a drink of cocoa at around 2am and see Sister Bremfett, the ward nurse who is known to drag patients kicking and screaming from the jaws of death, whether they want it or not, and takes it as a personal affront when a patient dies.  She has just come from the hospital where one of Mr. Courtney-Briggs's patients had a relapse and had to have surgery, so she went to set the patient up for the night.  They also notice the light under Fallon's door and think about asking her for a cup of cocoa, but realize that Fallon, a private person, might not appreciate a disturbance.

The next morning at breakfast, no one has seen Fallon, so Nurse Drakers goes up to check on her and discovers her with her empty whiskey glass in her hand, dead from poison.  Everyone believes it to be a suicide, especially when it is discovered that she is three months pregnant.  The police call in Scotland Yard anyway, just to cover themselves, as two deaths, so close to each other have occurred at Nightingale House.  Dalgliesh arrives and does not believe this to be the case, but that both girls were murdered.  Some even try to convince him that Fallon was the one to poison Pearce and in a fit of guilt, committed suicide.

James writes serious mysteries, but this one has a very hilarious scene in it that had me about falling off the couch with laughter.  Matheson, the Sargent who is working with Dalgliesh on this case is sent to interview an older woman who might have information relevant to the case.  She is about to go out to a special ballroom dance hosted by her class. To get the information he has to go as her partner.  It is lucky that he is a rather good ballroom dancer.  As the evening wears on, she refuses to give him information.  Then the spotlight dance comes, and she is the Silver Award winner.  He has had a few to drink and is ticked off at her, so he decides to have fun with the dance and mess around with it.  When he realizes how much this dance means to her, he tells her to start talking or she'll end up on the floor.  The more she talks, the better he dances.  I do not think I've ever seen a cop get information from someone this way before.

The more Dalgliesh investigates this crime, the more secrets he uncovers.  Recent ones, as well as ones from long ago.  Which ones are the important ones?  Was Pearce killed because of her blackmailing schemes and was Fallon killed by the father of her child, who may be the surgeon, a man she had an affair with her first year?  This house was already haunted by one ghost, no it seems two more have joined it.  Is the killer finished are they just getting started?

I haven’t anything to offer.  There isn’t any help.  We are all alone, all of us from the moment of birth until we die.  Our past is our present and our future.  We have to live with ourselves until there isn’t any more time left.  If you want salvation look to yourself.  There’s nowhere else to look.
--P. D. James (Shroud For a Nightingale p 101)
If you are proposing to commit a sin it is as well to commit it with intelligence.  Otherwise you are insulting God as well as defying Him, don’t you think?
--P. D. James (Shroud For a Nightingale p 116)
Everyone is interested in sex in their own way.
--P. D. James (Shroud For a Nightingale p 143)
This, after all, was the commonest, the most banal of personal tragedies.  You loved someone.  They didn’t love you.  Worse, still, in defiance of their own best interests and to the destruction of your peace, they loved another.  What would half the world’s poets and novelists do without this universal tragicomedy?
--P. D. James (Shroud For a Nightingale p 143)
In any relationship there was one who loved and one who permitted himself or herself to be loved.  This was merely to state the brutal economics of desire; from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.  But was it selfish or presumptuous to hope that the one who took knew the value of the gift; that she wasn’t wasting love on a promiscuous and perfidious little cheat who took her pleasure wherever she chose to find it?
--P. D. James (Shroud For a Nightingale p 170)
I’m beginning to wonder what’s happening to nursing.  Every report and recommendation seems to take us further away from the bedside.  We have dieticians to see to the feeding, physiotherapists to exercise the patients, medical social workers to listen to their troubles, ward orderlies to make the beds, laboratory technicians to take blood, ward receptionists to arrange the flowers and interview the relatives, operating theatre technicians to hand the surgeon the instruments.  If we’re not careful nursing will become a residual skill, the job which is left when all the technicians have had their turn.  And now we have the Salmon Report with all its talk of first, second, and third tiers of management.  Management for what? There’s too much technical jargon.  Ask yourself what is the function of the nurse today.
--P. D. James (Shroud For a Nightingale p 176-7)
Vanity, Mr. Dalgliesh, is a surgeon’s besetting sin as subservience is a nurse’s.  I’ve never yet met a successful surgeon who wasn’t convinced that he ranked only one degree lower than Almighty God. 
--P. D. James (Shroud For a Nightingale p 181)
“You have little respect for men apparently, Sister?” “A great deal of respect.  I just don’t happen to like them. But you have to respect a sex that has brought selfishness to such an art.  That’s what gives you your strength, this ability to devote yourselves entirely to your own interest.”
--P. D. James (Shroud For a Nightingale p 181)
Only the young or the very arrogant imagined that there was an identikit to the human mind.
--P. D. James (Shroud For a Nightingale p 198)
I suppose a surgeon is rather like a lawyer.  There’s no glory to be had in getting someone off if he’s obviously innocent.  The greater the guilt the greater the glory.
--P. D. James (Shroud For a Nightingale p 204)
You can’t run a nurse training school like a psychiatric unit.  I’m not going to be blamed.  People here are supposed to be sane, not homicidal maniacs.
--P. D. James (Shroud For a Nightingale p 221-2)
“Miss Brumfett,” said Dalgliesh, “you seem determined by your behaviour to give me the impression that you killed these girls.  It’s possible you did.  I shall come to a conclusion about that as soon as I reasonably can.  In the meantime, please curb your enthusiasm for antagonizing the police and wait until I can see you.  That will be when I’ve finished talking to Mr. Morris.  You can wait here outside the office or go to your own room, whichever suits you.  But I shall want you in about thirty minutes and I, too, have no intention of chasing over the house to find you.
--P. D. James (Shroud For a Nightingale p 232)
You men like to make things so complicated.
--P. D. James (Shroud For a Nightingale p 239)
Here were no photographs to invite speculation; no bureau bursting with its accumulated hoard of trivia; no pictures to betray  a private  taste; no invitations to advertise the diversity, the existence even, of a social life.  He held his own flat inviolate; it would have been intolerable to him to think that people would walk in  and out at will.  But here was an even greater reticence; the self-sufficiency of a woman so private that even her personal surroundings were permitted to give nothing away.
--P. D. James (Shroud For a Nightingale p 248)
Then she said that she had once slept with a surgeon and it was only too apparent that most of the bodies he came into contact with had been anaesthetized first; that he was so busy admiring his own technique that it never occurred to him that he was in bed with a conscious woman.
--P. D. James (Shroud For a Nightingale p 272)
“I know that I wanted to make love to a woman.  I wanted to know what it was like.  That’s one experience you can’t write about until you know.”  “And sometimes not even then.”
--P. D. James (Shroud For a Nightingale p 273)

 I know she could.  Not for long.  Not often.  But when she was happy she was marvellous.  If you once know that kind of happiness you don’t kill yourself.  While you live there’s a hope it could happen again.  So why cut yourself off from the hope of it for ever?
--P. D. James (Shroud For a Nightingale p 278)
He wasn’t particularly interested in people.  He divided them into two broad groups, the law-abiding and the villains and the ceaseless war which he waged against the latter fulfilled, as he knew, some inarticulated need of his own nature.  But he was interested in facts.  He knew that, when anybody visited the scene of a crime, some evidence was left behind or some was taken away.  It was the detective’s job to find that evidence.  He knew that finger-prints hadn’t yet been known to lie and that human beings did frequently, irrationally, whether they were innocent or guilty.  He knew that facts stood up in court and people let you down.  He knew that motive was unpredictable although he had honesty enough sometimes to recognize his own.
--P. D. James (Shroud For a Nightingale p 302)
The war [World War II] was old history. It had no more relevance to his life than had the War of the Roses, less since it did not even evoke the faintly romantic and chivalrous overtones of the history learned in his boyhood.  He had no particular feelings about the Germans, or indeed about any race other than the few he regarded as culturally and intellectually inferior.  The Germans were not among those.  Germany to him meant clean hotels and good roads, rippchen eaten with the local wine at the Apfel Wine Struben Inn, the Rhine curving below him like a silver ribbon, the excellence of the camping at Koblenz.
--P. D. James (The Shroud of a Nightingale p 327)
We English are good at forgiving our enemies; it releases us from the obligation of liking our friends.
--P. D. James (Shroud For a Nightingale p 327)
I like that smell, sir.  It reminds me of boyhood.  I suppose.  Summer camps with the Boy Scouts.  Huddled in a blanket around the camp fire with the sparks soaring off into the night.  Bloody marvellous when you’re thirteen and being patrol leader is more power and glory than you’re ever likely to feel again.
--P. D. James (Shroud For a Nightingale p 331)
Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Shroud-Nightingale-Adam-Dalgliesh-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B007OVD834/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1511791541&sr=8-1&keywords=shroud+for+a+nightingale

Friday, November 24, 2017

Captain America: Sam Wilson Civil War II by Nick Spencer (Writer), Angel Unzueta (Artist), Daniel Acuna (Artist, Colorist), Cris Peter (Colorist), and VC's Joe Caramagna (Letterer)

When we left off, Maria Hill's Pleasant Hill town that held criminals with special powers there under mind control by an alien cube turned into a child, Kobik, had just been overrun by the criminals who had gotten their memories back. Captain America, Bucky Barnes, and Steve Rogers are there to stop it with some late help from the Avengers.  Steve touches the Kobik and is healed and becomes his old, or rather, young, self again.

A meeting is held where Maria knows that not only will she keep her job she won't be punished for it because the Avengers don't want any of this to get out. This doesn't sit well with Sam who wants something done to her.  When he storms out of the meeting Steve follows and suggests that they find a way to replace her using the Board.  He also agrees with sharing the duties of Captain America with Sam now that he is back in fighting form.

Now, there are two storylines going on here, and they do have a reason for being there though they may not seem like it. The first is that the Immortals have a person who can see into the future and everyone is wondering what to do about this.  Do you follow up on their tips?  Captain Marvel and Iron Man are still fighting, but oddly, both are trying desperate to get Captain America to agree with them on their position on the seer, in which they are in agreement.

The other storyline involves Americops, a revamped invention by Paul Keane who is a close friend of Senator Tom Harold who is the strongest speaker calling for Sam Wilson to give back the shield.  He's never liked him because he helped someone who was helping immigrants, and his politics do not align with his at all.  The Americops are robots that act as cops that enforce the law on the streets. The problem is that they are mostly doing it in poor areas where people of color live. People are ending up in the hospital due to their forceful arrests for small stuff like playing music too loud or "loitering", which the rest of us call hanging out in your neighborhood.  This brings out a person with abilities who is looking to help out the people of the neighborhood of South Philly, which gets Captain America involved.

John Walker, U.S. Agent, also makes a surprise appearance in this comic. This comic hits hard on what it's like to be an African American super hero.  The good and the bad, but mostly the bad.  Sam Wilson's battle has just begun if he wants to stay Captain America and it will be an uphill battle.  He'll have help from Falcon, Misty (my hero), and Dennis. I'm pulling for him every step of the way.  This book shows that he's the real Captain America. 

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Captain-America-Wilson-Civil-2015-2017-ebook/dp/B01N1WWU9K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1511531434&sr=8-1&keywords=captain+america+sam+wilson+civil+war+ii

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Looking For Alaska by John Green

Miles Halter is fascinated with famous people's last words and is a bit of an outcast at his high school in Florida, so he asks his parents to send him to Culver Creek boarding school where his dad had gone in Alabama.  His roommate is Chip, whose name is perfect for him as he has a chip on his shoulder about the rich people at school (he's there on a scholarship). He goes by the appropriate nickname "The Colonel" as he is great at being a leader who organizes things.  He introduces him to Takumi and to the enigmatic and mercurial Alaska with whom Miles, now given the nickname Pudge since he is so scrawny, is falling in love with.  Only Alaska has a boyfriend who goes to Vanderbilt. That doesn't stop her from flirting with Pudge though.

Things get serious when the Weekday Warriors, or those who only stay during the week and then go home on the weekends and are very rich and stuck up, don't just toss Pudge in the lake like everyone else goes through as a rite of passage, but duct tape him head to toe and then toss him in.  The Colonel becomes livid. The Weekday Warriors think that the Colonel ratted on two people last year that got them expelled.  He didn't and now it's on.  They've roped in Alaska and Takumi and Lara (a girl that Alaska is trying to set him up with) to get even with them.  And while he can have Lara he still loves Alaska.

All the while, Pudge is looking for Alaska. He is trying to figure out this girl who has him tied up in knots who is hot and cold to him; bitchy and then warm and fuzzy.  She would go overboard emotionally for no reason that they could see, but then she never told them everything.  Like there's a lot I'm not telling you here. This book really got to me. Trying to figure out Alaska is an almost impossible task. I think Green leaves it up to us to come up with our own idea of who she is and what damage she is capable of and what good.  This is Green's, who wrote The Fault In Our Stars, won the Prinz Medal for this book and deservedly so.   I cannot recommend this book enough. 

Y’all smoke to enjoy it. I smoke to die.
-John Green (Looking For Alaska p 44)

Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia…You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it.  You just use the future to escape the present.
-John Green (Looking For Alaska p 54)

“You’re awfully philosophical for a girl that just got busted,” I told her.
“Sometimes you lose a battle. But mischief always wins the war.”
-John Green (Looking For Alaska p 56)

She said she still loved me. God, ‘I love you’ really is the gateway drug of breaking up.
-John Green (Looking For Alaska p 78)

So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.
-John Green (Looking For Alaska p 88)


Monday, November 20, 2017

Lunatics by Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel

Lunatics is a very appropriate title for this crazy novel as are the names of the two main characters, Jeffrey Peckerman, who is a real peckerhead, and Phillip Horkman, who is like something bad you horked up.  Though of the two, I prefer Phillip, but that isn't saying much.  These two are a pair of walking dominoes or dynamite, who touch things and set them in motion in a big way while still being the biggest idiots ever.

It starts with Horkman making a possible bad call at a soccer game against Peckerman's daughter. The two believe that they'll never see each other again, but fate has plans for them. Peckerman, a forensic plumber by trade, is out on a job when his wife calls and asks him to pick up a bottle of wine for her Oprah book club.  He stops at the business called The Wine Store which is owned by Horkman. Only Horkman doesn't sell wine there, he sells pets. Wine is his in-law's last name and they insisted when they loaned him the money to open the store that he use their name for the store.  Peckerman, of course, blows his lid at not finding wine there and Horkman reacts to that and pretty soon you have Peckerman beating a hasty retreat with a lemur.

Horkman, desperate to get his lemur, and pissed off that Peckerman ran over his foot, finds his address and goes over there to get his lemur back. Inside the house, the lemur gets loose during the book club right when Debbie is showing off her insulin pump, which the lemur snatches and takes off with right out the front door where Horkman grabs him and takes off.  The lemur jumps out of the window, however, without the pump.  Later, Debbie shows up at Horkman's children's concert with the lemur and threatens to throw it off the George Washington Bridge if he doesn't give her back her insulin pump. A chase ensues between Peckerman, Horkman, and Debbie. Peckerman's wife has made him go after Debbie and try to help her get her pump back.

While at the toll booth, Horkman finally sees the pump in his car and gets out to give it to her as she is just two cars ahead of him, but she drives away before he can. Desperate to catch her he drives through the toll without paying. He's out of gas in his Prius so he's only able to go 35mph and the cops are chasing him with a helicopter above him. He has no idea what's going on so he pulls over and they grab the pump and blow it up thinking it was a bomb.  Peckerman was ahead of him and rear-ended Debbie who is passed out in her car. Peckerman goes to the cops to try to get medical help for Debbie and the cops believe that Peckerman is with Horkman and try to arrest him too.  The lemur appears and jumps on the cops causing one of them to fire off a shot into the helicopter hitting the cop in the helicopter in the scrotum.

In the chaos, Peckerman and Horkman both leave but wind up meeting up together again, but fate will not keep these two men apart for long.  On the run, as they are now being called terrorists, but not everyone who is hunting them down wants to turn them into the cops.  This book is hilarious, which is nothing less than what you'd expect from a Dave Barry book.  Zweibel wrote for Saturday Night Live, Gary Shandling's Show, Monk, and Curb Your Enthusiasm, winning Emmy's for his work.  As you read it you cannot imagine what can possibly happen next, but you do know it will be laugh-your-ass-off funny. 

 She said this with that voice women develop at a very early age, the one where whatever happens—the cable goes out, they have a headache, a lemur is shitting on the bed—it’s your fault.
-Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel (Lunatics p 23)

“She’s hot for you.” “Oh, that’s just the diabetes talking,” I told him. “Diabetes doesn’t’ talk. High fevers talk. Alzheimer’s talks. Certain infectious diseases don’t shut up for a second. But diabetes? NO. Diabetes comes stag and pretty much sucks the air out of the party.” “Okay, then it’s the insulin that’s talking!” I shouted back. “I’m telling you , she has no idea what she’s saying.” “Insulin doesn’t talk either. Serotonin talks Dopamine talks. Ultracet. A lot of your ADD and ADHD medications can be quite chatty. As can certain kinds of marijuana, cocaine and other street drugs. Bu insulin? Hell no. As boring as diabetes is, it’s a veritable one-man band compared to insulin.”
-Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel (Lunatics p 50)

There are precious few activities that grown men should do while naked. Showering. Swimming when no one else is around. Sex, whether someone else is around or not. And anything that takes place in front of blind people. Beyond that, all unclothed activities performed in the presence of those who’re sighted should be filed under the heading “Dear Lord, If He Bends Over One More Time I’m Going to Hang Myself.”
-Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel (Lunatics p 93)

“Fuck her yet?” “Excuse me?” “The nun. A word to the wise, Horkman. Nuns consider themselves married to God, so I’d watch my step if I were you, “he said, pointing skyward. “That is one jealous husband you don’t want to piss off. He’s God, for God’s sake! Fucking guy can turn your dick into a fried wonton just like that,” he said while snapping he stubby little fingers.
-Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel (Lunatics p 145)