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

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Redheaded Reviews: Doctor Strange Vol 1: The Way of the Weird by Jaso...

Redheaded Reviews: Doctor Strange Vol 1: The Way of the Weird by Jaso...:  This comic comes before Doctor Strange Vol 2: The Last Days of Magic.  In this one, he is realizing that the magical creatures he is fig...

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


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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Redheaded Reviews: Visions in Death by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts)

Redheaded Reviews: Visions in Death by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts): In this exciting mystery featuring Lieutenant Eve Dallas, her partner Detective Peabody, and her husband Roarke, a sadistic killer is on ...

Friday, May 19, 2017

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 15, 2017

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    

Friday, May 12, 2017

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  https://www.amazon.com/Doctor-Strange-2015-Jason-Aaron-ebook/dp/B01NCNHFNY/ref=sr_1_fkmr3_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1494596888&sr=8-1-fkmr3&keywords=doctor+strange+number+18

https://www.amazon.com/Doctor-Strange-2015-Jason-Aaron-ebook/dp/B01NBYKPFZ/ref=sr_1_fkmr3_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1494596965&sr=1-1-fkmr3&keywords=doctor+strange+number+19




Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 8, 2017

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



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

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

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

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

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

https://www.amazon.com/Tales-Darkside-Joe-Hill-ebook/dp/B06XC92KCY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1494246900&sr=1-1&keywords=tales+from+the+darkside+script+book


Saturday, May 6, 2017

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


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

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

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

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

Friday, May 5, 2017

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


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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 4, 2017

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


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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 1, 2017

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


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

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

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

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

Kiss Me, Annabel by Eloisa James


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

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

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

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

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

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

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