Thursday, July 10, 2014

flash: rogues revolution

flash: rogues revolution
francis manapul & brian buccellato
graphics/superhero
dc comics
published 2013

The Flash's Rogue's Gallery are back - but they are more powerful than ever and they're each looking to take down the Fastest Man Alive!  Who is behind their sudden organization and why are they also after their former leader, Captain Cold?  The Flash must think fast if he can outrun and survive their attack!

Awhile ago I started thinking I should try reading some Marvel comics because everything I read is DC, well most everything.  Anyway, a couple of friends told me that I wasn't going to find much of the dark, gritty stuff I read in DC, but I didn't think it would be a big deal.  I've yet to find something in the Marvel universe that keeps me interested the way Batman, Harley Quinn, Batgirl or Suicide Squad does, but I'm still trying.  The funny thing is, The Flash reads a lot like a Marvel comic to me.  It's tame, the villains are nearly laughable (oh, who am I kidding, they're totally laughable) and Barry is just a very good, decent guy.  His biggest struggle is whether or not he should tell his girlfriend (who hates The Flash).

So the story is silly, but the art is fantastic.  The art carries the story for certain and I'll keep picking up Manapul's Flash books as long as he's drawing them.

i left my ♥ in san francisco

There are times when I just need a break.  I mean, I love my girls and all, but sometimes I want to sell them to my parents or my sister because otherwise, I might just die.

Fourth of July week Ray had off work and so Thursday my parents took the girls overnight and Ray and I spent the entire day in San Francisco.  San Francisco is probably my most favorite thing about living in the Bay Area.  I love the diversity of everything!  The people, the food, the styles...the mix of modern and historical, the smell of the bay, the view of Alcatraz....it's all my favorite.  I feel recharged and excited about everything after being in the city for a day.

We started out our morning heading over to the Ferry Building Market.  Tuesdays and Thursdays are Farmer's Market days and you can get ramen from Hapa Ramen which was my mail reason for going.  The pork and the noodles were delicious, but I could have done without the kale in my broth.


After filling my belly with ramen we wandered around the Ferry Building and walked by Boccalone, but alas, no Chris Cosentino.  Nonetheless, there were lots of things (and people) to look at.  I picked up some postcards to send to my LEPsters and then we wandered out to the Embarcadero shopping area for a bit before making our way to the San Francisco Shopping Centre.


Now, it's basically just a Westfield Shopping mall, but every time I go I have to take a picture of the ceiling.  It's so freaking gorgeous and makes me so happy.


Got some delicious tea from Lupcia after smelling just about every tea they had.  We also stopped in at a very crowded David's Teas, but because it was so crowded (and also because I literally have over 20 different kinds of teas at my house) I decided not to buy anything.


Inside Maido I found they sold Preppy fountain pens and Pilot Petit fountain pens so I bought three of each and some refills.  It was a very exciting moment for me!  The Maido on Santana Row doesn't have any!  We took the longest walk in the entire universe to get to Flax Art store down Market.  It was huge and full of just about every kind of art supply you might need to do whatever project you might do.  I ended up buying just a Stella pen (which I love and will now be buying more of them), but it was worth the 100 mile walk.


I also discovered this mall is more awesome than malls around here for the simple fact that their Hallmark store had the Itty Bitty Batman I haven't been able to find anywhere!!  Isn't he so cute?!  And I couldn't resist the SoSo Happy stickers too.


Then we were off the Japantown, which we didn't realize was going to close up in an hour.  *sad face*


 We did get into Daiso and found the motherload of all the shit I did not need, but needed.  Like these timers which we're using for green, herbal and black tea.  The clerk at Lupcia actually told us about them.  So far they work brilliantly.  Much better than the $15 broken one we got from Teavana.


Mini envelopes I'm going to use for mail tag!  I really did rein myself in here as I wanted to buy a bunch more, but I found other things I wanted to buy.....


Like all this stationery!!!  I bought two of everything!!  $1.50 for 12 sheets, 6 envelopes and 6 stickers.  I'm in love with it all.


 After eating dinner at another ramen joint (which I didn't take a picture of because I was already hungry and eating before I remembered to take a picture, plus the egg was hardboiled.  Seriously.  Booooo) we wandered around the closed shops, sat in Hotel Kabuki for an hour while we waited for our movie at the Kubuki Theater to start.

The Kabuki Theater is part of the Sundance Theaters and so they show a lot of indie or limited release movies.  Our main reason for going was because they have some showings that are 21 and over.  You can order drinks and food from the bar and take them into the theater with you.  So we got our tickets for Chef and got a beer and a vodka cranberry (THAT COST $25!!!!!!) and watched a movie.

The movie was super cute and I loved it.  It was just what I needed and I love watching movies with cooking in it.  Jon Favreau was great, John Leguizamo was adorable (something I never thought I would say), but the star of the movie was 11 year-old Emjay Anthony.  He stole the show for me.

So we drove back home in the middle of the night, sore from walking (buy I did hit 20,000 steps before midnight!), but I felt much better than I had in weeks.  Now my house is clean and I'm back to reading books and writing letters.  Of course, my reply pile is in the double digits, but that's okay!  I'll catch up and send out some surprise happy mail and finish my books and all is good.



Sunday, July 6, 2014

the flash: move forward

francis manapul & brian buccellato
graphics/superheroes
dc comics
published 2011

Struck by a bolt of lightning and doused in chemicals, Central City police scientist Barry Allen was transformed into the Fastest Man Alice.  But there are some things even the Flash can't outrun.  After years spent on the hunt for vengeance, one of the Flash's oldest friends has returned, with new enemies hot on his tail - an unstoppable mob that seems to grow more quickly than the Flash can stop them.

In the supermax prison called Iron Heights, the Flash's most dangerous enemy plans his escape, dreams of revenge, and prepares to put the Flash on ice for good - driven by a personal grudge the Flash can't see coming.  And deep within the Flash himself, incredible new powers are ready to be unleashed - unforeseen, unexplored abilities fueled by the same Speed Force that makes the Flash run, and which could be his greatest weapon....or his worst nightmare.

When I was talking about subscribing to a new comic I was thinking about Red Hood or Nightwing (which is actually over and restarting as Grayson) or even Damien Son of Batman.  Ray said I should get out of Gotham and try something else.  Since I'd already read some Green Arrow books (though nothing in the New 52) I thought maybe I'd try The Flash.  With his show coming to TV next season it seemed like a good fit.  Plus, the library had the first two volumes so that pretty much sealed the deal.

I thoroughly enjoy Francis Manapul's artwork.  It's pencily looking (can you tell I'm such an artist), not too slick, but the panels are clear and easy to interpret.  The story itself was pretty great as well although we go from some scientific cloning/regeneration talk to time-space rifts to talking gorillas.  It's quite a spectrum.

Basically Barry Allen is trying to balance what every masked hero is balancing.  How to do stuff and not be hated by your girlfriend.  It doesn't seem to matter that Barry is probably the nicest superhero, everyone still kind of blames him for stuff.  Poor guy.

It kept me entertained and I started reading the next volume before I stopped myself and said I should write this review!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

the weight of blood


the weight of blood
laura mchugh
fiction/mystery
spiegel & grau
published 2014

The town of Henbane sits deep in the Ozark Mountains.  Folks there still whisper about Lucy Dane's mother, a bewitching stranger who appeared long enough to marry Carl Dane and then vanished when Lucy was just a child.  Now on the brink of adulthood, Lucy experiences another loss when her friend Cheri disappears and is then found murdered, her body placed on display for all to see.  Lucy's family has deep roots in the Ozarks, part of a community that is fiercely protective of its own.  Yet despite her close ties to the land, and despite her family's influence, Lucy - darkly beautiful as her mother was - is always thought of by those around her as her mother's daughter.  When Cheri disappears, Lucy is haunted by the two lost girls - the mother she never knew and the friend she couldn't save - and sets out with the help of a local boy, Daniel, to uncover the mystery behind Cheri's death.

I can't put my finger on exactly why I didn't absolutely love this book, but there is something about it that keeps me from giving it more than three stars.  For one, there was no doubt within the first chapter of the book who was responsible for the girls' disappearances (to me).  But the how, why and where took a little longer, though not much.  My heart broke for Lila and I did enjoy the alternating perspectives, but Lucy....well, something about her just kind of kept her at arm's length for me as well.

I think the biggest thing that bothers me is there are times when Lucy gets information that needs to be shared, but she hold everything too close.  For what reason, I really didn't understand, but still felt odd to me.

Nonetheless, the book was a decent read.  I did enjoy Lucy's voice, Lila's as well and the other characters were colorful enough.

monster, vol. 3-18


monster, vol. 3-18
naoki urasawa
graphics/manga/suspense
viz media
published 1996-2001

Johan is a cold and calculating killer with a mysterious past, and brilliant Dr. Kenzo Tenma is the only one who can stop him!  Conspiracy and serial murder open the door to a compelling, intricately woven plot in this masterpiece manga thriller.

After sitting on my shelf and renewing them twice from the library I finally started reading these (after stopping at volume two and not reading much of anything) again.  I ended up tearing through them in a couple of days because I needed to know what happened!

The story flows so nicely.  You're caught in this twilight time.  It's not a tv show, it's not a novel, it's both.  The suspense is definitely edge-of-your-seat and with each cliffhanger ending you automatically start reaching for the next volume.

By the end, most questions are answered, though to me, seemingly the most important question wasn't.  Arrgh!  But I guess that's perfect that way.  It is truly a fantastic series.  Characters are rich and life like.  I can to care about characters I didn't think I would have in the beginning and by the time I got to the last volume I wanted to cheer or exclaim out loud.

Now that I'm done with this, I suppose, as I've been told, I should start on Pluto!  Library, here I come!

Monday, June 30, 2014

the ice princess

the ice princess
camilla lackberg
fiction/mystery
pegasus
published 2010

A grisly death exposes the dark heart of a Scandinavian seaside village.  Erica Falck returns to her tiny, remote hometown of Fjallbacka, Sweden, after her parents' deaths only to encounter another tragedy: the suicide of her childhood best friend, Alex. It's Erica herself who finds Alex's body - suspended in a bathtub of frozen water, her wrists slashed.  Erica is bewildered: Why would a beautiful woman who had it all take her own life?  Teaming up with police detective Patrik Hedstrom, Erica comes to light, Erica and Patrik's curiosity gives way to obsession - and their flirtation grows into uncontrollable attraction.  But it's not long before one thing becomes very clear: a deadly secret is at stake, and there's someone out there who will do anything - even commit murder - to protect it.

Camilla Lackberg's The Ice Princess was hailed to be a good book for fans of Stieg Larsson and while it was a decent story, it was no The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.  Translated from Swedish, I think there were times when something was lost in translation or something was explained too much due to the translation.

I think it was a little over halfway through the book when one sentence caused the whole thing to click for me and I knew who and why.  At that point it made the second half of the book unbearably slow.  It just seemed like it took a really long time to wrap up loose ends and even after the killer is revealed and arrested there was still a while before the book finished.

The other thing that bothered me was the unfinished business with Erica's sister and brother-in-law.  I kept waiting for that to happen and it never did so I felt like I was left hanging there.  Seeing as this is a series I suppose eventually it will get figured out, but it still bugged me.  I'll give it one more book and see how I feel then.

Friday, June 13, 2014

field of prey

field of prey
lucas davenport #24
john sandford
fiction/thriller/mystery
putnam
published 2014

The night after Fourth of July, Layton Burns, Jr., of Red Wing, Minnesota, finally got lucky.  And unlucky.

He'd picked the perfect spot to lose his virginity to his girlfriend, and abandoned farmyard in the middle of cornfields: nice, private and quiet.  The only problem was ... something smelled bad, like, really bad.  He mentioned it to a county deputy he knew, and when the cop took a look, he found a body stuffed down a cistern.  And then another, and another.

By the time Lucas Davenport was called in, the police were up to fifteen bodies, and counting.  And as if that wasn't bad enough, when Lucas began to investigate, he made some disturbing discoveries of his own.  The victims had been killed over a great many years, one every summer, regular as clockwork.  How could this have happened without anybody noticing?

Because one thing was for sure: The killer had to live close by.  He was probably even someone they saw every day.

I love these books.  I love these books so much I'm considering blowing off all the books I have started reading and just going back to Rules of Prey and start the whole series over again.  Honestly, they really do just get better and better.  After Stolen Prey and Letty's amazing freaking amazing-ness (there's really no words for how much I love Letty) and then the appearance of Kidd & Lauren in Silken Prey I really didn't imagine that things would get even better, but they did.

Here's why John Sandford is such a perfect story teller: He tells a slow burner story.  There is this HUGE case in Red Wing and Lucas isn't even the head investigator.  He's the heavy.  He's the one Rose Marie sends in to get shit done.

So he's doing.  And usually he's doing with Del, Jenkins or Shrake along for the ride, but this time there's stuff going on all over the place and everyone, including Virgil are off on other cases.  So Lucas is poking around.  And the whole time you know who the killer is.  You know how close and how far they are from him.  But everything is taking time.  Lucas jumps to the wrong conclusions, makes assumptions that are close, but not right.  He gets the guy, right there, but then skips right over him.  And you, as the reader are thinking, holy crap!  He's RIGHT THERE!

But you're not mad, because if you've read a Lucas Davenport book you know he'll get it done.

So you wait.  And while things are moving slowly you aren't frustrated or bored.  Sandford somehow makes the mundane interesting.  In the middle of the giant case, Lucas goes home so he can go shopping to buy new shoes.  But that's how real life works.  Cases don't get solved right away.  Sometimes months go by.  Sometimes cases go cold.

But then shit hits the fan.  And it isn't even anything to do with what you think it should be, but damn it, I'm invested.  I'm invested in all of these people.  For most of them, I've been with them for 20 years.  They're like my book friends.

So some shit hits the fan, but then all of a sudden, ALL of the shit hits the fan and I've got 88 more pages to go and I'm slapping my legs, bouncing up and down, pulling my hair, everything but biting my nails.  And it is so intense that when it's over I feel drained.  I feel relief and I feel spent.

Lucas is flawed.  And he's bent and twisted and ruthless.  But he is good and dependable and loyal and a fucking maniac.  And damnit I love Weather.  I love that she knows this man so well and loves him for it, expects nothing less than who he is, what he's capable of.

There is no better author out there.  None.

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