The Fade Out Act Two by Ed Brubaker

Posted by on Nov 10, 2017 in 2017, 4.5 stars, Book Review, Comics, Ed Brubaker | 0 comments

The Fade Out, Act Two by Ed Brubaker with art by Sean Phillips
The Fade Out, Act Two by Ed Brubaker with art by Sean Phillips

Genre: Mystery
Format: Trade Paperback Comics Collected Edition
Series: The Fade Out #2
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 120
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume collects issues 5-8 of the comic series.
From the back cover:

Hollywood – 1948. A noir film stuck in endless reshoots. A writer plagued by nightmares from the war. An up-and-coming startlet’s suspicious death. And a mogul and his security chief who will do anything to keep the cameras rolling before the studio system comes crashing down.

My Thoughts:
I love old detective and mystery movies and this trilogy is like reading a noir book about the making of a noir movie so it’s right up my alley. It’s set in 1948 Hollywood with WWII in recent memories, McCarthy Communist hunting in full force and the Hollywood studio system in flux after Paramount lost an antitrust suit.

The first volume set the stage and you don’t want to pick up this second one until you’ve read the first. As in a typical act two the focus is more on character development than advancing the solution of the murder. Occasional real people are inserted into the story and it doesn’t feel too contrived at all.

The setting in old Hollywood and the artwork combine for a very atmospheric look and feel. The art is wonderful. Sean Phillips has created an environment that looks just like the old movies and Elizabeth Breitweiser’s color work is fabulous.

I already got the third book out from the library because this one left me with way more questions than answers and I want to find out how it ends.

If you want an excellent story without getting involved in an extended series I highly recommend this trilogy.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

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Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson – Audio Edition

Posted by on Nov 9, 2017 in 2017, 4 stars, Audio, Book Review | 2 comments

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson narrated by the authorAstrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson narrated by the author

Genre: Nonfiction
Format: Audiobook
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Publication Date: 2017
Length: 3 hours, 41 minutes
Narrated by: Neil deGrasse Tyson
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There’s no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than acclaimed astrophysicist and best-selling author Neil deGrasse Tyson.
But today, few of us have time to contemplate the cosmos. So Tyson brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly, with sparkling wit, in digestible chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day. While waiting for your morning coffee to brew, or while waiting for the bus, the train, or the plane to arrive, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry will reveal just what you need to be fluent and ready for the next cosmic headlines: from the big bang to black holes, from quarks to quantum mechanics, and from the search for planets to the search for life in the universe.

My Thoughts:
This was exactly what I expected, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was expecting an introductory level of information not a super in-depth study. This is a collection of a series of essays by Tyson that were originally published in Natural History magazine.

The audiobook is 3 hours and 41 minutes long but with all the rewinding to listen again I did it probably to me more like five and a half hours to finish. Listening to this book reminded me of sitting in a favorite professor’s class in college. The subject matter was interesting and presented in a conversational manner with plenty of wit and humor along the way.

I can’t imagine anyone other than Neil deGrasse Tyson narrating this.

I learned a lot and definitely recommend this one. Now that I’ve listened to it I would like to get the print edition. This is a book that lends itself to reading or listening to one chapter and then putting it aside for a while before reading or listening to the next. I enjoyed listening to it straight through but for a reread I might take it in smaller chunks.

Rating
4 stars 4/5 for the book

4 stars 4/5 for the narration

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Divided in Death by J.D. Robb – Audio Edition

Posted by on Nov 3, 2017 in 2017, 3.5 stars, Audio, Book Review, JD Robb | 2 comments

Divided in Death by J.D. Robb narrated by Susan EricksenDivided in Death by J.D. Robb narrated by Susan Ericksen

Genre: Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Series: #18 in the In Death series
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: 2004
Length: 12 hours, 10 minutes
Narrated by: Susan Ericksen
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

Reva Ewing was a former member of the Secret Service, and then a security specialist for Roarke Enterprises—until she was found standing over the dead bodies of her husband, renowned artist Blair Bissel, and her best friend. But Lieutenant Eve Dallas believes there was more to the killing than jealous rage—all of Bissel’s computer files were deliberately corrupted.

To Roarke, it’s the computer attack that poses the real threat. He and Reva have been under a code-red government contract to develop a program that would shield against techno-terrorists. But this deadly new breed of hackers isn’t afraid to kill to protect their secret—and it’s up to Lieutenant Eve Dallas to shut them down before the nightmare can spread to the whole country.

My Thoughts:
This series has long been a guilty pleasure of mine. The mix of police procedural, romance and just slightly in the future science fiction elements is a lot of fun. Now that I’m listening to the audio editions instead of reading the print editions I’m enjoying it even more.

Susan Ericksen does a fabulous job of narrating this series. She creates recognizable character voices with a variety of accents. Even though she is female her voice for Roarke is yummy.

In this volume Eve and Roarke are at odds with each other for most of the book so it’s a little lighter on the romance than other books in the series. The identity of the perpetrator is known about halfway through the books so it changes from a ‘whodunnit’ to a ‘How with they catch ’em’ with a side of ‘Will Eve and Roarke be OK?’.

Peabody continues to be my favorite supporting character. She and her boyfriend/fellow cop are so delightfully earnest and funny. I love them.

 

Rating
3.5 stars 3.5/5 for the book

4 stars 4/5 for the narration

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A Second Chance by Jodi Taylor

Posted by on Oct 27, 2017 in 2017, 3.5 stars, Book Review, Jodi Taylor | 0 comments

A Second Chance by Jodi Taylor A Second Chance by Jodi Taylor

Genre: Science Fiction
Format: Ebook, Trade Paperback
Series: The Chronicles of St Mary’s #3
Publisher: Night Shade Books
Publication Date: 2013
Pages. 317
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

Behind the seemingly innocuous facade of St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research, a different kind of academic work is taking place. Just don’t call it “time travel”—these historians “investigate major historical events in contemporary time.” And they aren’t your harmless eccentrics either; a more accurate description, as they ricochet around history, might be unintentional disaster-magnets.

In A Second Chance, it seems nothing can go right for Max and her fellow historians. The team confronts a mirror-stealing Isaac Newton and later witnesses how the ancient and bizarre cheese-rolling ceremony in Gloucester can result in CBC: Concussion By Cheese.

Finally, Max makes her long-awaited jump to Bronze Age Troy, only for it to end in personal catastrophe. And just when it seems things couldn’t get any worse, it’s back to the Cretaceous Period to confront an old enemy who has nothing to lose.

My Thoughts:
I don’t get too worried about the ‘correct science’ of time travel stories and I was pleased to read this comment from the author at the beginning of the first book in this series:

I made all this up. Historians and physicists – please do not spit on me in the street.

After reading the second book in the series back in April I decided not to let too much time pass before continuing with the series. I think this one is my favorite in the series so far. I have a feeling that this is a series that I’ll go back and reread in the audio format. The author has written many short stories related to the series and I have the audio editions of those

The important thing to know is that even though the story jumps around in time (including to future and past St. Mary’s) it’s imortant to read the serie in order and start with the first (Just One Damned Thing After Another).

The story is told by Madeline (Max) Maxwell with a good bit of sarcasm and humor in between the brushes with death.

The major mission in this one is to observe Troy before the war started and then go back 10 years later to find out what really happend when Troy fell. For these missions the team spent months in the past. There’s some pretty brutal violence in this part. You can’t really tell the story of the fall of Troy without it. Other missions include the battle of Agincourt and a couple of other short missions.

It’s not great literature but it’s good light escapist fun.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Posted by on Oct 20, 2017 in 2 stars, 2017, Book Review | 4 comments

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeerAnnihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller
Format: Ebook
Series: #1 in the Southern Reach Trilogy
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 195
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide; the third expedition in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.
The group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.
They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another that change everything.

My Thoughts:
I bought this ebook when it was on a sale after hearing good reviews. Then I forgot I had it until I saw a trailer for the upcoming movie. After finishing a chunkster I wanted a short book to I decided to read this one.

The first half was exciting and kept my interest. I was enjoying the suspense and trying to guess what would happen next. Then the second half happened and the only reason I finished it was because it was so short.

The story went from thriller to just strange and began to feel repetitive. I wasn’t bothered by not having everything explained because I knew going in that this was the first book in a trilogy. I’ll have to look online to find out what happens because I don’t intend to read the other two books.

2 stars Rating 2/5

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The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie

Posted by on Oct 17, 2017 in 2017, 3.5 stars, Agatha Christie, Book Review, Uncategorized | 0 comments

The Body in the Library by Agatha ChristieThe Body in the Library by Agatha Christie

Genre: Mystery
Format: Trade Paperback and Ebook
Series: #3 in the Miss Marple series
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: 1942 Originally, 2011 This Edition
Pages: 207
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

It’s seven in the morning. The Bantrys wake to find the body of a young woman in their library. She is wearing an evening dress and heavy makeup, which is now smeared across her cheeks. But who is she? How did she get there? And what is the connection with another dead girl, whose charred remains are later discovered in an abandoned quarry?
The respectable Bantrys invite Miss Marple into their home to investigate. Amid rumors of scandal, she baits a clever trap to catch a ruthless killer.

My Thoughts:
It’s been a while since I read a Miss Marple book. I wanted something short after finishing a chunkster and this was on my ereader. I was just what I needed. A classic mystery with just enough touches of humor.

This time around Miss Marple is one of several people investigating the murder both professional and amateur. Mrs. Bantry wants to be part of the investigation after she invites her friend Jane Marple to find out what happened. She wants the murder solved to prove her husband didn’t have anything to do with it but she doesn’t mind having a little fun along the way. Multiple police departments are involved as well as a retired Scotland Yard commissioner. Of course, Miss Marple is the one who solves the case.

I enjoyed this one partly for the characters and partly for the mystery. I had some guesses along the way but wasn’t sure before Miss Marple explained it all.

Now that I’ve read a few Miss Marple books I’m planning to start the Hercule Poirot series.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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