Date: March 13, 2017 (page 1 of 2)

When Your Former Boss Tags You on Facebook…

Yeah I was a bit alarmed at first. But I saw that he tagged me in a New York Times post about their weekly 10 New Books We Suggest This Week:

Not going to lie, I had no idea that the New York Times even does a weekly list like this. Since everyone that knows me, knows that I love to read, I thought it was sweet my former boss tagged me in something that he thought I enjoy. Of course he then pestered me about what books have I been reading (um a lot of romance and crime novels, plus some comic and graphic novels) and then asked me what has been my favorite book this year (I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it much, also it is only March, why would I already know what my favorite book of the year is?)

Here is the list of books for those that are interested:

EXIT WEST, by Mohsin Hamid. (Riverhead, $26.) The new novel by the author of “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” and “How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia” mixes global unrest with a bit of the fantastic. Saeed and Nadia leave an unnamed country in the midst of a civil war and journey — through magical doorways — to Greece, England and eventually the United States. Our critic Michiko Kakutani said that Hamid “does a harrowing job of conveying what it is like to leave behind family members, and what it means to leave home, which, however dangerous or oppressive it’s become, still represents everything that is familiar and known.”

A HORSE WALKS INTO A BAR, by David Grossman. Translated by Jessica Cohen. (Knopf, $29.95.) Grossman’s magnificently funny, sucker-punch-tragic novel about a tormented stand-up comedian combines comic dexterity with a Portnoyish level of detail. It offers a rich and complete portrayal of Israeli society through an exploration of humor from the edge of the grave.

ELIZABETH BISHOP: A Miracle for Breakfast, by Megan Marshall. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30.) This smooth and brisk presentation by a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of one of America’s most accomplished poets is enriched by recently discovered documents. Interweaving her own experience as a student of Bishop’s in the 1970s, Marshall skillfully discerns echoes between Bishop’s public and private writing.

ROBERT LOWELL, SETTING THE RIVER ON FIRE: A Study of Genius, Mania, and Character,by Kay Redfield Jamison. (Knopf, $29.95.) For decades, on and off, the poet Robert Lowell suffered from extreme bipolar disorder; he composed many of his best verses while stark raving mad. This “psychological account,” as Jamison calls it, of the life and mind of a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner is also a narrative of his illness, drawing on fascinating research collected by an authority on mood disorders.

HIGH NOON: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic,by Glenn Frankel. (Bloomsbury, $28.) With a sure ear for anecdote and a good eye for detail, Frankel presents the background and historical context of the timeless 1952 western, whose making was shaped and given meaning by HUAC’s attack on the film community. The conservative Gary Cooper emerges as a hero in life as well as onscreen.

WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE CASABLANCA: The Life, Legend, and Afterlife of Hollywood’s Most Beloved Movie,by Noah Isenberg. (Norton, $27.95.) Nobody involved with “Casablanca” had high expectations for the picture. In this treasure trove of facts and figures, Isenberg tells the story of its script, casting, production and the inevitable squabbling over credit, all by way of accounting for the film’s surprising and enduring popularity.

THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE: Stories,by Mariana Enriquez. Translated by Megan McDowell. (Hogarth, $24.) The girls and women in this collection worry about the usual stuff — their friendships, their figures, their waning attraction to boyfriends and husbands — only to confront the horror that courses underneath it all. This Argentine writer’s stories are propulsive and mesmerizing, laced with vivid descriptions of the grotesque and the darkest humor.

THE WORLD TO COME: Stories,by Jim Shepard. (Knopf, $25.95.) Shepard’s deeply researched tales pack weight and validity, and the collection displays a dizzying range of time and place, from the tale of an auxiliary Roman legionnaire to one set in a British submarine. Whatever the era, his basic point is this: before you ship out (or under), cherish every bit of warmth and respite, every gesture of love.

FLÂNEUSE: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London,by Lauren Elkin. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.) Strolling the city isn’t just for men. Elkin, who learned the pleasures of aimless urban wandering in Paris, combines memoir and travel writing with capsule biographies of walking women like Virginia Woolf, Jean Rhys and George Sand.

THE NATURE FIX: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier,and More Creative,by Florence Williams. (Norton, $26.95.) The Romantics were right: the virtues of nature provide a strong antidote to the viciousness of industrialization. Williams, a contributing editor at Outside magazine, presents the benefits of spending time outdoors — “the more nature, the better you feel” — entertainingly but with enough scientific detail to satisfy the expert.

Just in case you haven’t get a New York Times subscription! This weekly list is a good way to keep an eye out for new book releases.

Winter is Almost Here…

What Books/Comics Will Keep You Warm During the Winter Storm?

 

I am pretty proud of myself. I had a goal of finally getting through the shameful pile of library books that I have been ignoring for the past couple of weekends. After not being allowed to extend the borrow date anymore, I finally dusted myself off and got through almost all of the books. Thank goodness the remaining three I have are not due until March 22. That should be more than enough time for me to finish them.

Unless you have been hiding under a rock (and apologies if you have) you may have heard about a little winter storm that is about to bury the entire East Coast under snow.

Winter Storm Stella, see the link, https://weather.com/storms/winter/news/winter-storm-stella-blizzard-noreaster-south-snow-forecast-march-2017

Yes a winter storm called Stella. I maybe laughed a few times.

Image result for stella gif

So I will probably be stuck at home tomorrow and maybe even Wednesday. Thank goodness I shop once a month and only had to go to the store yesterday to get some toilet paper and other pantry items. I am sure the grocery stores in the DC, Virginia, and Maryland area are going to be swamped with shoppers.

Due to that, I decided that a smart woman would make sure she had enough books to keep her occupied. I mean I do have enough books all over my house and heck I even have brand new books I haven’t touched yet. Still didn’t stop me from going to the library and putting on hold the following books:

I doubt I will be able to get them before Tuesday since the are print book holds, but still. I do plan on reading and finishing up the following books though:

What books do you all have on hand to get you through the winter storm?

And for those that are bored, have a look at the 10 Facts About Snow That Might Surprise You: https://weather.com/science/weather-explainers/news/ten-facts-about-snow

 

The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll’s House by Neil Gaiman

The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll’s House by Neil GaimanThe Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll's House by Neil Gaiman
Published by Vertigo on June 1, 1990
Genres: Graphic Novels
Pages: 232
Source: Borrowed: print book
Goodreads
four-stars

New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman's transcendent series SANDMAN is often hailed as the definitive Vertigo title and one of the finest achievements in graphic storytelling. Gaiman created an unforgettable tale of the forces that exist beyond life and death by weaving ancient mythology, folklore and fairy tales with his own distinct narrative vision. During Morpheus's incarceration, three dreams escaped the Dreaming and are now loose in the waking world. At the same time, a young woman named Rose Walker is searching for her little brother. As their stories converge, a vortex is discovered that could destroy all dreamers, and the world itself. Features an introduction by Clive Barker. This volume includes issues 8-16 of the original series.

So this is the great Sandman I have been hearing about for years. I liked it. But can’t say I was blown away by it though. Probably because for the most part I found the colors muddled and it was hard to read sometimes what characters were saying. And when I had to turn the graphic novel sideways to continue reading it that got annoying. Since thought bubbles tended to go over their individual panels I sometimes read things out of order too and had to go back a few times.

I am going to have to read Volume 1 next though. My friend mistakenly told me this was the first one to start with, but I hate reading things out of order.

This starts off with an introduction by Clive Barker. And then Neil Gaiman takes over and from there we hear of Morpheus (the Sandman) and how he ended up entrapped. Then it transitions to an older African village and a father telling his son a story about a city made of glass. I loved the imagery it evoked and could picture the city in my mind, as well as the Queen, Nada. I will say though we get the beginning of Morpheus’s cruelty when the story tells us sort of what happened to her when she refused to marry Morpheus. I wish we heard about her more in this volume, but my friend tells me we do hear of her again.

From there it is ‘present day’ with Morpheus trying to stop a vortex (Rose Walker). And Rose Walker is giving warnings about what is coming for her if she doesn’t stay vigilant. The first few issues of Rose going back to the states to find her missing brother Jed were interesting. But once again here’s where I got confused, how did she and her mother lose him? Also how the heck did Rose’s grandmother just magically find them through investigators like that. I had a hard time with her mother letting her go while she stayed with Rose’s grandmother, but I let that go.

Once Rose moves in and meets her new housemates I was just resigned to everyone being quirky. I wanted the story to get moving and found parts to be slow. Why I am glad I got a volume so I didn’t read this issue by issue.

I found things more smooth when we followed Morpheus around. I started to find myself bored by Rose. I didn’t get the serial (cereal) killer guy at all (yes even after his reveal) and the eyes thing is going to haunt me.

And the ending was kind of a cheat I thought. Don’t ask me how that whole thing worked, but I guess Gaiman wanted a happy ending. This graphic novel hints at something larger with regards to Rose and her family, so I’m curious enough to keep reading.

four-stars

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 6: Civil War II by G. Willow Wilson

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 6: Civil War II by G. Willow WilsonMs. Marvel, Vol. 6: Civil War II by G. Willow Wilson
Published by Marvel on December 14, 2016
Genres: Comic
Pages: 136
Source: Borrowed: print book
Goodreads
five-stars

While CIVIL WAR II brews, the next generation of Avengers has bigger things to worry about - like a tri-state academic competition! As rival schools clash, Ms. Marvel's teammates Spider-Man and Nova are now her enemies! But when Kamala gets called to the real battle's front line, she faces a fight she can't embiggen her way out of. She's about to learn a valuable lesson: Never meet your idols! As war intensifies, tragedy strikes too close to home - and Ms. Marvel must choose between her heroes and her family. When friends become foes, Ms. Marvel struggles to put her life and Jersey City back together. Kamala will be forced to grow up fast and find her true place in the world. But will she be an international sensation...or a menace?

This volume was fantastic. I didn’t realize the superheroes were splintered. In this volume we have Kamala working for Carol Danvers and trying to train up Carol’s so called Cadets. Carol believes that she can stop crime from happening by using a system in which they can tell if people are going to commit a crime a beforehand. So pretty much everybody just think of the Tom Cruise movie Minority Report. And if you have seen that movie you know this isn’t going to work and this is totally flawed.

What really works is that we see Kamala start to be more vocal about not agreeing with Carol, even though she’s her idol. Carol is hell-bent on protecting the city from crimes and doesn’t seem to really care about the fact that other people could be hurt. When Kamala’s friend Bruno is hurt due to actions by the cadets Kamala switches sides and decides she’ll do whatever she can to bring down the cadets, even if it means taking down Carol.

In between all that the volume switches back and forth between Kamala’s parents in Karach, Pakistan and even shows Kamala going to Pakistan.

When Kamala and Bruno have a falling-out, Kamala is left twisting in the wind a little bit and trying to figure out where she belongs.

I did get a kick out of seeing this Ms. Marvel in traditional Pakistani garb. And I definitely loved her meeting another local superhero who maybe possibly could be a future love interest. I definitely liked the guy.

I think all in all though this volume was definitely about Kamala growing up and realizing that even though she admires and cares for Carol Danvers sometimes the hardest thing you can do with people that you admire and love is stand up to them. And then we have Tony Stark showing up by the way who totally kicks ass again in this volume by just being there for Kamala. I like to imagine him being a leader for all the younger superheroes because he’s definitely had some hard lessons.

I obviously love the artwork and the panels are really good and your heart breaks a little bit when you get this see how much Bruno means to Kamala. I was surprised to not see Mike though and I don’t see how they work with Bruno going to Wakandà.

The volume leaves Kamala on the outs with Carol. Though Carol does get rid of Basic Becky and her nasty self. Can’t wait til the next volume.

five-stars

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 5: Super Famous by G. Willow Wilson

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 5: Super Famous by G. Willow WilsonMs. Marvel, Vol. 5: Super Famous by G. Willow Wilson
Published by Marvel on July 12, 2016
Genres: Comic
Pages: 144
Source: Borrowed: print book
Goodreads
five-stars

She's your new favorite. She's everyone's new favorite. And now she's joining the big leagues. Look out world, Kamala Khan is officially an Avenger! But will being one of Earth's Mightiest Heroes be everything she imagined? Or is life as a celebrity harder than she thought? But while saving the world is important, Jersey City still needs its protector too. A development company that co-opted Ms. Marvel's face for its project might well have more in mind for gentrification than just real estate. Can Kamala take down the evil suits destroying her home without ruining her personal life? Speaking of which, who exactly is that with Bruno? Get back on board and cling on, Kamala Korps, the ride is about to get wilder than ever!

Awww. Seriously. This volume brings back all the things I love about this comic series. We have Kamala interacting with her family more and we get the explanation of Arabic words and meanings. The volume ends on a good note which I won’t complain about. And heck it even had me like Tony Stark (yeah still mad about Civil War).

It’s been eight months since the last volume. I’ll eventually go find the issues that had Kamala off with the Avengers but not right now. I’m trying to finish all my library borrows since they are all due this week. Kamala is part of the Avengers but feels overwhelmed by superheroing in Jersey City and elsewhere as well as keeping up with school and family events.

This volume has Kamala coming to a realization about Bruno and they both finally (thank goodness) let each other go as love interests I think. Bruno rightfully decides to not wait for Kamala to not be too busy for him. Though Kamala responds jealously to Bruno moving on. Thank on the volume gets better when we move to Aamir deciding he is to marry an African American Muslim named Tyesha. Tyesha won me over with the Dune references. I love that Wilson also includes details on how some Pakistani Muslim would have certain prejudices against darker skin Muslims. I had no idea.

When the two families meet hilarity ensues but all parties agree to let the two marry. Due to this and Avengers missions Kamala is feeling run down and then after a mission multiple Kamala’s start to appear.

Honestly this volume is about Kamala trusting herself and also asking for help. I would have thought she got that out of her system before, but now since she is part of a team she is trying to prove herself all over again.

We get appearances from the Avengers and I cracked up at Tony Stark and Carol Danvers showing their mutual disdain for each other. What comes through though is that Tony cares for and loves Kamala though so I went awww a few times.

five-stars

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 4: Last Days by G. Willow Wilson

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 4: Last Days by G. Willow WilsonMs. Marvel, Vol. 4: Last Days by G. Willow Wilson
Published by Marvel on December 1, 2015
Genres: Comic
Pages: 120
Source: Borrowed: print book
Goodreads
three-stars

From the moment Kamala put on her costume, she's been challenged. But nothing has prepared her for this: the last days of the Marvel Universe. Lucky she's got the help of Carol "Captain Marvel" Danvers! Between teaming up with her personal hero to rescue her brother and trying to keep her city from falling into an all-out frenzy, Kamala has barely had time to come to terms with the fact that the world is literally collapsing around her. But the truth will catch up to her, and soon. When the world is about to end, do you still keep fighting? Kamala knows the answer. Let's do this, Jersey City.

I feel bad that I wasn’t feeling this one. There is a cool scene with Kamala and her mother know. But I’m kind of over Kamala weeping over a jerk (Kamran) and I want her best friend Bruno to just catch a clue though they have a nice scene together.

Since I tend to not bounce around crossovers I have no idea what’s going on with The Avengers (shhh don’t tell me) but a huge planet looks like it’s about to crash into Earth when we follow up with Kamala in this volume. Carol “Captain Marvin” Danvers pops up in this one and Kamala finally gets to see the idol she has worshipped from afar. I did laugh at Carol Dancers being sort of horrified by Kamala and her need to wrap herself around Carol.

Kamran is in this one focused on making sure that Kamala’s brother is turned into an Inhuman since he hypothesizes that he and Kamala have the same gene that will be affected by Terrigen Mist.

This volume felt so slow. It felt like it took forever for Kamala to confront Kamran. And I still don’t get why she even listens to the mess he spews. They are on different sides so I hope he ends up with an ax to the skull eventually (reason 1,020 why I can’t be a superhero, I’m all about the vengeance).

And Carol Danvers irks a bit too since she won’t reveal to Kamala what is going on that makes her (Kamala) and me think the end of the world is around the corner.

As I said above, the most moving moment was between Kamala and her mother in this one. And also Kamala gets to hear her brother Aamir defend her and finally realizes her brother is on her side.

The kids at Jersey City in the end dance and refuse to be cowed by what looks to be the end.

There’s some material from Spider-Man (2014) issue #7 and #8 that I shrugged my way through.

three-stars

Dark Tower: The Long Road Home #5 by Robin Furth

Dark Tower: The Long Road Home #5 by Robin FurthDark Tower: The Long Road Home #5 by Robin Furth
Published by Marvel on July 2, 2008
Genres: Graphic Novels
Pages: 28
Source: Purchased: ebook
Goodreads
three-stars

With Roland's spirit still trapped in the court of the Crimson King, the Dark Ruler makes the young gunslinger a shocking offer that may cost the last line of Eld his eternal soul.

Well this issue has Roland finally released from the mental clutches of The Crimson King and Marten Broadcloak. Roland is left changed by Susan’s death as well as Maerlyn’s Grapefruit. His two friends are worried for him and the fact that he knowingly holds back something from his father.

I am so confused still on what happened to Sheemie. And though we get a climatic battle it felt a little flat to me. Maybe cause I used to not be impressed when the X-Men would be fighting on the astral plane too.

I will say that I don’t get why Bert and Alain keep quiet a out Roland. I would have one hundred percent told on him. There friend is off and they keep their mouths close based on loyalty. But considering how much trouble Roland got them into, it feels false to me that Bert of all people would willingly go along with things.

It was good to see them ride into Gilead. Of course everyone is happy since Farson spread the rumor that they were dead. Eh as I said before I think the last issue and this one would have been better served combined. There was just something missing from these issues.

Roland comes face to face with his father Steven (raises eyebrow at King) and still doesn’t care what his mother is up to. One wonders what else is coming to bring down Gilead.

The extra in this issue goes into The Guardians of the Beam. I really wish the issue had gotten more in depth with each guardian though. It does give details on Maturin the Turtle Guardian.

“See the TURTLE of enormous girth!

On his shell he holds the earth

His thought is slow but always kind;

he holds us all within his mind.

On his back all vows are made;

he sees the truth but mayn’t aid.

He loves the land and loves the sea,

And even loves a child like me.”

I did love the callback to The Talisman and Black House talking about twinners too. By the way still annoyed years later with King not doing a follow-up to Jack Sawyer in The Dark Tower series since King alludes to Jack coming to the Gunslinger’s aid that was never followed up on. I hold on to the stupid dream that King does another Dark Tower novel the true final since we don’t see Sawyer in the final volumes and with the ending of the Dark Tower we know that things change for Roland.

three-stars

Dark Tower: The Long Road Home #4 by Robin Furth

Dark Tower: The Long Road Home #4 by Robin FurthDark Tower: The Long Road Home #4 by Robin Furth
Published by Marvel on June 4, 2008
Genres: Graphic Novels
Pages: 33
Source: Purchased: ebook
Goodreads
four-stars

As Roland's spirit floats through todash space it is irresistibly drawn to End-World and the court of the Crimson King himself! There the young gunslinger comes face-to-face with the very embodiment of evil in its own domain. And for the last of the line of Eld there may be no way out. Meanwhile, on Mid-World, Alain and Cuthbert desperately struggle to protect Roland's unconscious form, and themselves, against a pack of ravening wolves.

This was good. I don’t know about the whole Sheemie thing that was included. I had to grab my hardcover of Wizard and Glass cause I literally had to go wait I don’t think this happened, did it? Like a dozen times. Because of my less than fawning slobbering over these issues I am going to see about trying to get the next issues in one volume if possible. One reason why I had to get the single issues was because my library didn’t have these available.

Issue four has Alain and Bert fighting off freaking wolves and along comes Super Sheemie to save the day. The only cool thing I loved was the Crimson King confronting Roland to his face. He definitely didn’t seem all powerful then, just very weak to be scared of a newly minted Gunslinger.

Even though the Crimson King throws down about not letting Roland see his true face, I thought he seemed small and bent. This one seems even shorter than the last issue.

The extra in his one just have details about Mid-World mutants. And yes the illustrations in some cases was a bit too much for me. Boo to spiders. Always. Then the extra delves into human mutuations as well.

four-stars

Dark Tower: The Long Road Home #3 by Robin Furth

Dark Tower: The Long Road Home #3 by Robin FurthDark Tower: The Long Road Home #3 by Robin Furth
Published by Marvel on May 7, 2008
Genres: Graphic Novels
Pages: 33
Source: Purchased: ebook
Goodreads
four-stars

With Roland's consciousness trapped within Maerlyn's Grapefruit, his ka-tet companion, Alain, enters the mystical todash space in an attempt to rescue his friend. But as he and Roland flit in and out of alien dimensions, Cuthbert, the last member of their ka-tet, desperately tries to stave off a pack of slavering mutant wolves that have come to devour the unconscious Roland and Alain!

This one went to four stars with the story following Roland still enthralled and we get to see him standing and seeing a future event when he stands in front of the Tower (oh Oy). We also get to see adult Roland who is lost and alone. We only get to see his eyes and the rest of him seems to be swallowed in darkness. Constant readers know what happened to bring Roland to the Tower.

Of course this is just something for Marten to taunt Roland with in order to break Roland and force him to become a servant to the Crimson King. It’s like they just met Roland.

Cuthbert Allgood (notice the last name) and Alain are still trying to get back to Gilead and carrying Roland. Alain decided to once again do what he can to reach Roland and try to pull him out of Maerlyn’s Grapefruit. Poor Bert is left alone and realizes he’s in danger.

I thought Roland and Alain fighting off Marten in this otherworld was pretty boring. Those panels lacked the zap of the other issues. I just can’t take a man seriously that has pink lightning coming out of his eyes.

I will call bs on one scene with Roland and the narrative trying to explain it away. I rolled my eyes a lot.

Once again the extra saved this issue a lot. We get to see what becomes of Arthur Eld and his companions. Not going to lie though how they get out fo trouble made me scratch my head. I do think King should put something together (a prequel to the Dark Tower) that includes stories like this and explanations of people and places.

four-stars
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