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

Wednesday, 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

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.

Quotes
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.    

Quotes
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
                 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Spider Gwen: Weapon of Choice by Jason Latour, Robbi Rodriguez, Rico Renzi and Lauren Affe (#10)


Previously in Spider Gwen, Cindy-65 mananged to steal away her powers and tried to take an aresenal of weapons from Earth-616. Silk, Spider Woman and Spider Gwen stopped her with the help of Agent Jesse Drew who had been working with Cindy because he believed that she was keeping him alive with a cure. When he found out that he had been cured a long time ago he let them know where to find Cindy and helped bring her down and she is now in the custody of Earth-65's SHIELD.  Jesse gave Spider Gwen some isotopes that will give her some spider powers if she injects them into herself. But she only has so many.  Spider Woman tries to convince her to give up her life as Spider Gwen and live a normal life, but Gwen doesn't want to.

And in a way she can't.  When the Mary Janes take her for a night on the town to try to cheer her up they wind up at the new Dollar Dog. A man decides to stick up the place and Gwen is thinking about using one of her isotopes when Detective Frank Castle walks in and takes care of the guy. He then zeroes in on Gwen and tells her he knows who she really is. Then he tosses her across the room. Gwen injects herself and picks Castle up and tosses him out the window. Now her friends are wondering if she is Spider Gwen.

Gwen heads to her dad's home after saving a pizza delivery guy from being robbed. She tells her father what has happened. He tells her that she is going to need her powers if Frank Castle is gunning for her. And she will. Castle is teamed up with Kraven the Hunter. Kraven used to be a part of Stark's bloodthirsty mercenaries known as WAR MACHINE. While in this capacity he met Frank Castle who was a soldier. A secret blood debt was made between the two men and now that Castle needs Kraven he is here to help him hunt down Spider Gwen. All manner of animals invade Captain Stacey's house. Gwen is unable to inject herself with an isotope. Aunt Mae from next door comes over to help and the three of them manage to fend off the animals. Kraven and Castle show up and Stacey knocks Castle out. Gwen knocks her dad out who is trying to get her to leave and trust the cops to do the right thing when Gwen knows they can't.

Gwen takes them to see Reed Richards to fix her isotope injector and finds out that one is missing. What will Kraven and Castle do with that isotope? Is there anyone Gwen can turn to for help or is she fighting this fight alone?  The plot is fantastic and the dark blue and violent red colors go well with the dark storyline. Included is a comic that takes place on Halloween where Gwen and the Mary Janes go trick or treating and wind up at the haunted Carnival. Will the trick be on them?

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Spider-Gwen-Vol-Weapon-Choice-2015-ebook/dp/B01N0ODYMH/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491574687&sr=8-1&keywords=spider+gwen+weapon+of+choice

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Potent Pleasures by Eloisa James


Charlotte Dalcheston, a Duke's youngest daughter, has just finished her schooling and is about to prepare for her debut into London society in 1798.  She is staying with her friend Julie in the country and her friend is besotted, at this moment, with the Revered Colby, who invited them to a masked ball the locals are having.  He tells her she needs to open her eyes to the real world.  What the two do not know is that this is the Hooker's Ball.  It is indeed attended by footmen and maids, as well as prostitutes, and the occasional slumming gentry and it is not at all a party for innocent ladies.  When they get to the party, the Reverend takes Julie off to dance, leaving Charlotte alone.  Then, suddenly she sees a man across the room with dark hair, shot with silver and she is captivated.  When he comes over, assuming she is a whore and begins kissing her, she is so surprised, she does not stop him. Soon he has taken her into the garden where things progress quickly, and her senses have completely overwhelmed her.  When he takes her virginity, he realizes the mistake and stops.  She tells him "Thank you" and runs off.  While she knows exactly what he looks like, she was wearing a mask and had her hair powered, but her skin was so white, he assumes she was a red head.  All he knows is that she has these amazing green eyes and that she smells of lavender, however, Charlotte was wearing an orange blossom scent (men are so clueless).  He believes she has to be a whore, but the way she acted makes him think she might have been a lady.  She believes he had to have been a footman.

When she returns home she refuses to have her debut.  Eventually, her mother manages to weasel out of her what happened.  She assures her that her husband will never know the difference and that maybe the footman wasn't a footman and will show up at one of the balls.  Charlotte's ball is a success, but she so upset that the man does not show up, that she starts crying and goes to bed before he does come by.  Alexander, the future Earl of Sheffield and Downes is there, with his twin brother Patrick.  Charlotte's mother, Adelaide sees them and thinks one of them might be the one, but she is not sure, so she decides to wait.  After all, the Season has just begun.  Unfortunately, their father sends Alex off to Italy and Patrick off to India.  Charlotte endures the Season but turns down the offers of marriage.  The next two Seasons pass quickly with Charlotte attending as little parties and dances as possible.  She has turned to her painting and has become quite accomplished and is content to live her life alone. Then her father decides to give her some property in Wales that is not attached to the Ducal estates so that she will be able to take care of herself and not depend on anyone and have an independent dowry in case she changes her mind about marrying.

Then one day, something snaps in Charlotte and she decides to have a makeover.  She gets rid of her old dresses and has her maid, Marie set her up with the most popular dressmaker and hairdresser.  She is the first to start wearing the daring French Empire waist gowns and gets her dark hair cut short.  Suddenly, her dance card is full and she is flirting with every man she meets and getting multiple proposals a week and turning everyone down.  She becomes friends with a saucy French girl, Sophie, and they tear up the town.  Then Alex shows back up in town.  With a one-year-old daughter, Pippa.  The gossips all say that his wife Marie asked for a divorce on the grounds of impotence and he gave no argument.  Even though he is now an Earl, and normally a catch, no one wants him.  He sees Charlotte and immediately wants her.  He is attracted to her, but he also needs someone to take care of his very frightened daughter who had a rough time of it when her mother died.  Alex had no idea that when Maria left she was pregnant with his child.  Frankly, he hated her so much, he was about to join the Dragoon army to get away from the cheating horror show of a woman he had married.  He would have said anything to get out that marriage.  Alex, however, does not remember Charlotte, and this, Charlotte cannot accept. This is the man who took her virginity and apparently, in her mind he does it so often he can't keep them straight.

The two are desperately attracted to each other, and even if Charlotte wanted to marry him, her father opposes the marriage on the grounds of his impotence.  It is hilarious reading about her father trying to explain this to her mother, so she can explain it to Charlotte, who is confused, because, as they say, the soldier still stands, but according to her mother, that doesn't mean he will be able to have kids.  Eventually, it all gets sorted out and they have the wedding of all weddings and the nightmares of all nightmares of a wedding night.  The things he says to her are unthinkable and unforgivable.  Things end up going downhill from there, but this a romance, so yes, there is a very happy ending, a good one. I don't know how many times I wanted to whack him upside the head with a baseball bat.  In my experience, though, most men need that from time to time, but this guy really outdoes himself.  How can you not recognize those amazing green eyes?  They're rare.  When you kiss her and touch her, how can you not remember her body?  He never forgot the girl in the garden; she was burned in his brain, but he could not see her right in front of him.  He really does not deserve her, even if you can understand how he is messed up about women from his first marriage, which was truly a horrid nightmare. But Charlotte is a good woman, not just to Alex, but to all those around her and helps supporting characters, whose stories are just as interesting.  I'm looking forward to the next book, which I predict will be about Patrick and Sophie.  It will be interesting to see how on earth the two of them will find common ground.

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Potent-Pleasures-Eloisa-James-ebook/dp/B002X4BBL8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491399300&sr=8-1&keywords=potent+pleasures+by+eloisa+james

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O'Neill


Set in the time of the 1920s and 1930s this book begins with the birth of two children who as babies are placed in the orphanage in Montreal.  At this orphanage, all the children are given the name Mary or Joseph, though to counter confusion the children have nicknames.  The girl is Rose and the boy is Pierrot.  As soon as they meet as young children they seem to hit it off. But at the orphanage friendships between girls and boys are discouraged because they can lead to romances later in life which can lead to more babies. So the two are kept far apart.

Life in the orphanage is hard. They are not treated with any kind of love or kindness. Sometimes the nuns hit them for no real reason at all.  Rose is often locked up in the closet for hours at a time, or even on occasion days.  Pierrot becomes protected by a young nun named Eloise who molests him.  He feels guilty about the protection and guilty and confused about the sexual acts happening between them.  He doesn't know how to tell her no.  

Then one day Pierrot who is a self-taught piano player sits down to play a song he made up during dinner and Rose begins to dance to it and the two notice each other again. Pierrot seeks her out and at the Christmas concert for the public Pierrot begins to play his song and Rose sneaks on stage to dance.  The two are a hit. Donors to the orphanage want these two to come to their house to perform and they will pay handsomely for it.  So the Mother Superior agrees to it because the orphanage needs the money.  Eloise, however, is not happy about this. She is burning up with jealousy.  Pierrot ends up having sex with her and promising to marry her to get her to calm down.  But he says they won't do anything else until they are married.  

Rose and Pierrot's act is a smash around town. This is when Rose writes down a plan she has for "The Snowflake Icicle Extravaganza".  It's an act she plans to put on stage using their talents and others and make a lot of money doing it.  But the happiness between the two cannot last. A rich old man decides that he wants to adopt Pierrot because he loves his piano playing as it makes him happy and Eloise beats Rose so bad she winds up in the sick ward for weeks.  Pierrot leaves a letter behind for her, but Eloise burns the letter and every other letter he mails to the orphanage from his new home. So Rose begins to believe that Pierrot has forgotten her and Pierrot believe the same thing about Rose since she doesn't return his letters, though he keeps sending them for years.  

Rose winds up working as a nanny for two wild children of a gangster and his wife who generally stays in bed all day.  Rose is a wild as the children, but they keep her because she makes the children happy and because the wife doesn't believe she has anything to worry about with Rose and her husband. And years pass and the husband who is rarely at home is not someone who is interested in Rose or vice versa. Until they are.  Then things become complicated. 

Pierrot, meanwhile, becomes screwed when the old man whom he had been taking care of dies, and his relatives who cared nothing for him sweep in and take everything, burning the new will that left a sum of money to Pierrot. Pierrot is trained to do nothing.  He is heartbroken over the loss of the old man and runs into a prostitute named Poppy who tells him he can get a job at a theater as an usher. She also gets him hooked on heroin.  At this theater, they still have a piano at the front from when they showed silent pictures and Pierrot asks if he can play it during intermissions and they let him and everyone is amazed by his playing. Soon no one is leaving their seats during intermission. Of course, he uses all of his pay to get high.  

Both of them are searching for the other one and just barely miss catching them.  But their love is strong and they will keep on trying.  And Rose hasn't given up on her Icicle Extravaganza dream.  Life has always been hard for the two of them, but they are survivors.  This book is so beautifully written.  Some examples: "The soft sound of the rain on the rooftop sounded like young girls sneaking off in stockings to elope.""The waves made a sound of someone biting into an apple. When they crashed, they were a hundred thousand chorus girls raising up their dresses at once. And then the water receded again like the train of a jilted bride walking off into the distance." There's a bit of sadness to this book as Rose and Pierrot cannot seem to find each other and their lives without each other are rather unhappy.  But give it a moment before you throw the book against your wall. I'm not saying this book has a happy ending. I'm not saying it doesn't. It has the ending it is meant to have. I truly loved this book and I believe you will too. 

Quotes

If there was one thing responsible for ruining lives, it was love.
-Heather O’Neill (The Lonely Hearts Hotel p 10)
A young girl’s body is the most dangerous place in the world, as it is the spot where violence is most likely to be enacted.
-Heather O’Neil (The Lonely Hearts Hotel p 28)
Perhaps the most dangerous people in the world are the ones who believe in right and wrong but what they ascribe to as “right” and “wrong” is completely insane.  They are bad with conviction that they are good. That idea is the impetus behind evil.
-Heather O’Neil (The Lonely Hearts Hotel p 40)
“I find that I can’t help being bad. I promise and promise and promise myself that I won’t be a bad person. But then I just do something bad.” “That’s because we’re girls. We’re supposed to only have emotions. We aren’t even allowed to have thoughts. And it’s fine to feel sad and happy and mad and in love—but those are just moods.  Emotions can’t get anything done. An emotion is just a reaction. You don’t only want to be having reactions in this lifetime. You need to be having actions too, thoughtful actions.”
-Heather O’Neil (The Lonely Hearts Hotel p 74)
Being a woman was a trap. Something would bring you down before you turned twenty-three. The only time the world shows you any favor, or cuts you any slack, is during the very brief period of courtship where the world is trying to fuck you for the first time.
-Heather O’Neil (The Lonely Hearts Hotel p 133)
It’s sort of impossible to be absentminded and vacant and daydreamy during sex. You are either enjoying it intensely or you are in a state of high stress.
-Heather O’Neil (The Lonely Hearts Hotel p 144)
But although he was paying for her whole life, McMahon still wasn’t sure whether he truly possessed her. To make certain that he did, he tried to make Rose miserable. This was the only real proof that a woman belonged to you. Anybody could make a girl happy. It was only when a girl was in love with a man that he could ruin her self-esteem.
-Heather O’Neil (The Lonely Hearts Hotel p 168)
A girl’s desire is like a pretty butterfly. And a man’s desire is like a butterfly net. His desire captures and kills her.  He turns her into an object to be pinned on a corkboard.  I don’t think I’m interested in the tyranny of the couple. I’m more interested in what a person does when they’re forced to be by themselves.
-Heather O’Neil (The Lonely Hearts Hotel p 200)
Isn’t it an obvious fact that the pursuit of happiness always makes a person miserable. So do you think that if we went out of our way to look for things that made us miserable, we would find ourselves perfectly content in the end?
-Heather O’Neil (The Lonely Hearts Hotel p 207)
All fear is dependent on context.
-Heather O’Neil (The Lonely Hearts Hotel p 209)
Nothing can really happen when you are dreaming.
-Heather O’Neil (The Lonely Hearts Hotel p 230)
This Depression was deeply humiliating. Since women were taught that they were worthless, they took poverty and hardship less personally.
-Heather O’Neil (The Lonely Hearts Hotel p 266)
You couldn’t really achieve happiness as an adult. It was something that belonged to children. It was a fool’s errand to try to experience it as a grown-up. Once you were old, all you could do was make others happy, and that gave you some sense of fulfillment.
-Heather O’Neil (The Lonely Hearts Hotel p 336)
Childhood is such a perverse injustice, I don’t know how anyone survives it without going crazy.
-Heather O’Neil (The Lonely Hearts Hotel p 343)
That’s all you get in life—a childhood. And you get a mommy, and if you’re real lucky, you get a daddy. And that time is filled with all these feelings of love, even if you get the worst parents in the world. And then as an adult you always have to go around trying to find fake ways to get that feeling. You have to do the dirtiest, most lowlife things to find that feeling. That feeling is always in the most strangest of places.
-Heather O’Neil (The Lonely Hearts Hotel p 347-8)
Many of them, like him, would never grow old enough to understand that you only go from one hardship to another. And that the best we can hope from life is that it is a wonderful depression.
-Heather O’Neil (The Lonely Hearts Hotel p 380)
But there’s something eternally lovely about being a girl.
-Heather O’Neil (The Lonely Hearts Hotel p 382)
Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lonely-Hearts-Hotel-Novel-ebook/dp/B01FEY5C6S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491227503&sr=8-1&keywords=the+lonely+hearts+hotel