Queen & Country Vol. 2: Operation: Morningstar by Greg Rucka

Posted by on Nov 25, 2014 in 2014, 4 stars, Book Review, Comics, Greg Rucka | 1 comment

Queen & Country Vol. 2: Operation Morningstar

Queen & Country Vol. 2: Operation: Morningstar by Greg Rucka with art by Brian Hurtt

Genre: Spy Thriller, Graphic Novel
Series: #1 in the Queen & Country Series
Publisher: Oni Press
Publication Date: 2002
Pages: 88
Source: Library

The Short Version:
The SIS Special Section team is divided between Afghanistan and London in a frantic search for potentially damaging information.

Why I Read It:
The first volume of this political spy thriller series impressed me enough to pickup volume 2 at the library the day after I finished volume 1.

The Book:
This volume 2 is a compilation of issues 5-7 of the comic series
From the publisher:

Afghanistan is one of the hottest political spots in the world. When the Taleban discovers foreign journalists are also serving as covert-agents for the SIS, the Minders are put on a mission to find a secret contact list before the enemy does; however, when Director of Operations Paul Crocker decides to send only his male agents into the field, it doesn’t sit well with Tara Chace. Adding insult to injury, she’s currently required to attend therapy sessions to deal with the effects of previous operations. Not content to sit on her hands, Tara spends her time trying to piece together the puzzle, aiding Minders Wallace and Kittering in their race against the clock. This second collection of the acclaimed series Queen & Country breaks new ground for comics, tackling tough subject matter in a realistic and intriguing way.

My Thoughts:
This spy thriller series is still in a pre 9/11 time frame (which explains the older accepted spelling of Taliban) but that doesn’t really make it feel dated at all. It’s still an exciting political thriller.

Set in both London and Afghanistan the story shifts back and forth between the two. In Afghanistan two of the SIS minders (agents) on a mission to recover a stashed contact list that could put everyone on it as well as years of SIS work at risk.

In London the third member of the team, Tara Chace is not on the mission partly because as a woman she’d have a difficult time in a Taliban ruled area and partly because she’s still undergoing psychological therapy as a result of previous missions. She doesn’t let this keep her from actively working to help the mission.

I am impressed with the way Rucka writes characters who are both strong and damaged and Tara Chase is an excellent example. She’s still messed up but she’s still on the job. Her interactions with the psychologist provide some fast and sharp dialog.

This is a relatively short volume of only three issues from the comic series but it’s a smart and exciting thriller.

The artwork is stark black and white with panels with a lot of detail in places and just enough to convey the story in others. It works well with the sparseness of the dialog to convey the broader story.

I cannot wait to read more of this series. If you haven’t given it a try yet, you should.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? #10

Posted by on Nov 24, 2014 in Blogging/Reading, What Are You Reading? | 3 comments


This weekly reading roundup is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Finished last week:


Denali's Howl by Andy Hall

Denali’s Howl by Andy Hall

This account of a climbing disaster on Mt. McKinley is a personal one for the author. His father was the park superintendant at the time.

The Handsome Man's De Luxe Cafe by Alexander McCall Smith

The Handsome Man’s De Luxe Cafe by Alexander McCall Smith

One of my favorite audio series and one that is light and delightful for driving around town listening.

Continuing with:

Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses by Bess Lovejoy

Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses by Bess Lovejoy

I am learning all kinds of odd things while reading this one. It’s actually fun.

Texts From Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg

Texts From Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg

I enjoy picking this one up and reading a few pages at a time. Even if I haven’t read the book she references it’s fun.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Now that I’ve finished Denali’s Howl I’m going to focus on this one this week. I had avoided it back when everyone seemed to be reading it but I’m glad I finally picked it up.

Currently listening to:

No Land's Man

No Land’s Man by Aasif Mandvi

Aasif Mandvi is probably best known for his work on The Daily Show but this series of essays about his life growing up in England and America is entertaining, funny and thought provoking.

Posts from last week:

Rat Queens Vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe

Alexander McCall Smith

What are you reading?

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Weekend Update: The Howie and Abby Edition

Posted by on Nov 23, 2014 in Abby, Fun, Howie, photos, Weekend Update | 3 comments


Last week I posted a photo of Howie and I was reminded that there has been a lack of cat photos and videos around here lately.

This could get me kicked off the internet.

So today I’m going to remedy that with a cat-centric weekend update. As always – click on the photos for a larger version.

Howie and Abby

The ottoman is OK but the chair is definitely off limits.

What HAVE Howie and Abby been up to lately? (besides trying to kill me as I go up or down the stairs. that is)

Howie takes his job as a professional napper very seriously.

Howie in the donut bed

Napping is his vocation


Abby is not quite so intense.
Abby upside down
The shelter where we adopted her identified her personality type as “personal assistant”. They were right.

personal assistant Abby

Howie . . . still napping . . .

Howie in the sunbeam

Abby’s been working on her jumping and climbing skills.

Howie is the best dog I ever had.

Howie waiting

Our faithful dog waiting for The Hubster to get home

He loves to watch football

Howie watches football

This IS how he watches football

Hope you’re having a great weekend!!

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Nutshell Review – Audiobook – The Handsome Man’s De Luxe Café by Alexander McCall Smith

Posted by on Nov 21, 2014 in 2014, 3.5 stars, Alexander McCall Smith, Audio, Book Review | 1 comment

The Handsome Man’s De Luxe Café by Alexander McCall Smith, Narrated by LIsette Lecat

The Hamdsome Man's De Luxe Cafe by Alexander McCall Smith

Genre: Fiction
Series: #14 in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series
Publisher: Recorded Books
Publication Date: 2013
Length: 9 hours, 55 minutes
Narrated by: Lisette Lecat
Source: Purchased

The Book:

From the publisher:

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency often helps people find things they have lost. But they have never had to help a client find herself—until now, in this latest installment of Alexander McCall Smith’s best-selling and beloved series.

A kindhearted brother and sister have taken in a woman known only as “Mrs.”—a woman with no memory of her name or of how she came to Botswana. And so it’s up to Precious Ramotswe and her new co-director, Grace Makutsi, to discover the woman’s identity.

Meanwhile, motherhood proves to be no obstacle to Mma Makutsi’s professional success. As she settles into her role as partner at the agency, she also launches a new enterprise of her own: the Handsome Man’s De Luxe Café, a restaurant for Gaborone’s most fashionable diners. But even Miss 97 Per Cent isn’t fully prepared for the temperamental chefs, drunken waiters, and other challenges that come with running one’s own business. Help may come from an unexpected source, if only Mma Makutsi can swallow her pride and ask.

With sympathy and indefatigable good humor, Mma Ramotswe and her friends see one another through these major changes and discover along the way what true friendship really means.

My Thoughts:
Clearly since I just listened to the fifteenth book in this series it’s obvious I enjoy it. These characters have become old friends.

While they are sometimes classified as mysteries this series is much more light general fiction than mystery. Yes they’re detectives but that’s only a small part of these books.

They are about relationships, friendships, and a love story about the country of Botswana. Precious Ramotswe is the kind of woman I’d like to meet for tea and an afternoon of chatting. She loves her husband, she’s fiercely protective of her friends and she’s immensely proud of her home country of Botswana.

This time around the detective work is about identifying a woman who may have amnesia. At the same time Grace Makutsi is branching out from her work at the detective agency and opening a restaurant. Predictably things don’t go smoothly. When one of the apprentices is let go from the garage he is soon exploring new and unexpected career opportunities.

Mostly it continues to be a light and enjoyable series that is perfect for my driving around and commute time listening. Lisette Lecat does a wonderful job with the characters and saves me the trouble of trying to figure out pronunciation of unfamiliar words.


6a117-rating_35stars Rating 3.5/5 for the book

4 stars Rating 4.5/5 for the narration

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Nutshell Review: Rat Queens Vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe

Posted by on Nov 18, 2014 in 2014, 3.5 stars, Book Review, Comics, Nutshell Review | 1 comment

Rat Queens Vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe with art by Roc Upchurch

Rat Queens Vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe

Genre: Fantasy, Comics
Series: #1 in the Rat Queens series
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 128
Source: Library

The Book:

This volume 1 is a compilation of issues 1-5 of the comic series.
From the back cover:

Who are the Rat Queens? A pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire, and they’re in the business of killing all god’s creatures for profit. It’s also a darkly comedic sass-and-sorcery series starring Hannah the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Smidgen Thief. This modern spin on an old school genre is a violent monster-killing epic that is like Buffy meets Tank Girl in a Lord of the Rings world on crack!

My Thoughts:
Oh this was fun! I heard about this one from Swapna at S. Krishna’s Books and I’m so glad I paid attention. It’s kind of weird and hard to describe but I cannot wait to read more. You can check out a preview of a few pages at the Image Comics site. I’ve already put my name on the waiting list at the library for volume 2 which will be released in February.

The Rat Queens are a group of kick ass female mercenaries. They are assigned a quest as punishment for their latest drunken brawl (as are several other groups involved in this particular brawl). It soon turns out that this is all a trap and someone is out to get all these mercenaries assassinated.

Obviously the Rat Queens can’t let that happen.

This is definitely a comic for mature audiences so if your sensitive to bloody violence, profane language or sexual content don’t bother.

The art by Roc Upchurch is vibrant and action packed. The characters are so varied and interesting because of the fantasy setting. I found a great interview with him at Paste Magazine.

Personally I enjoyed the heck out of it. I liked all the main characters. They’re sarcastic and not pretty idealized female images. They’re also pretty darn badass. I’m going to have to buy this one so I can read it again before volume 2 is released.


6a117-rating_35starsRating 3.5/5

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