Queen & Country Vol. 7: Operation Saddlebags

Posted by on Jun 29, 2017 in 2017, 3.5 stars, Book Review, Comics, Greg Rucka | 0 comments

Queen & Country Vol. 7: Operation Saddlebags by Greg RuckaQueen & Country Vol. 7: Operation Saddlebags by Greg Rucka with art by Mike Norton and Steve Rolston

Genre: Spy Thriller, Comics
Format: Collected Trade Paperback
Series: #7 in the Queen & Country series
Publisher: Oni Press
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 144
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume 7 is a compilation of issues 25-28 of the comic series.
From the publisher:

Still recovering from the death of her co-worker and lover, Tara Chace is granted a brief reprieve from London’s rain and MI6’s bureaucracy. This emotionally charged vacation take Chace to the slopes of Switzerland for a visit with old friends and family. But being an agent for Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service leaves very little time for rest and Chace is quickly thrown into another mission of national importance. A junior minister with close ties to the Prime Minister appears to be selling state secrets to the Russians, and the Minders are assigned to quietly investigate. Tara is forced to walk a tight rope between the violent dangers inherent in the field of espionage and the discretion inherent in the bureaucracy of the government, all the while assuming the new position of Minder One and field-testing a new agent.

My Thoughts:
Another excellent volume in this well done spy thriller series.

Tara Chase is a spy for the British Government. She’s got issues and in the first issue she faces one of the major ones. Her mother. Tara’s time off is anyting but restful as she visits and clashes with her mother.

Once back at work, Tara is now the leader of her team. They have mission to find out what if anything a junior diplomat might be shopping to the Russians. Tara’s got a rookie agent with her on this one and things do not go well and not just because of the newbie. Real spies aren’t like James Bond. Sometimes they make mistakes.

This is tense and exciting spy thriller fiction. I like the recurring characters but there is always something and someone new with each story arc.

As is typical for this series there is a new artist for most of this story arc. While Steve Rolston returned for the first issue which has Tara’s trip to Switzerland. For the final three issues and the majority of the volume Mike Norton is the artist. I liked his work a lot. It’s all pretty stark black and white and the action in portrayed well.
You can see an excerpt here on Greg Rucka’s website

As I’ve said before, if you’re a fan of Homeland and/or The Americans you should check out this series.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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

Posted by on Jun 23, 2017 in 2017, 3.5 stars, Audio, Book Review, JD Robb | 0 comments

Imitation in Death by J.D. Robb narrated by Susan EricksenImitation in Death by J.D. Robb narrated by Susan Ericksen

Genre: Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Series: #17 in the In Death series
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: 2003
Length: 14 hours, 14 minutes
Narrated by: Susan Ericksen
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

Summer, 2059. A man wearing a cape and a top hat approaches a prostitute on a dark, New York City street. Minutes later, the woman is dead. Left at the scene is a letter addressed to Lieutenant Eve Dallas, inviting her to play his game and unveil his identity. He signs it, ‘Jack.’

Now Dallas is in pursuit of a murderer who knows as much about the history of serial killers as she does. He has studied the most notorious and the most vicious slayings in modern times. But he also wants to make his own mark. He has chosen his victim: Eve Dallas. And all Eve knows is that he plans to mimic the most infamous murderers of all — starting with Jack the Ripper…

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.

When I read the previous book in the series it was the first one I’d listened to instead of reading. I will not go back to print for this series. Susan Ericksen is an excellent narrator. Her accents and voice characterizations for the regular characters match perfectly with what my brain created when I read the print editions.

The mystery in this one was interesting and the investigation kept me guessing.

My favorite supporting character in this series is Eve’s aide Peabody. She cracks me up. In this book she’s nervously studying and preparing for her detective’s exam. The utterly predictable outcome had me a little teary with joy.

 

Rating
3.5 stars 3.5/5 for the book

4 stars 4/5 for the narration

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Fairest Vol. 1: Wide Awake by Bill Willingham

Posted by on May 26, 2017 in 2017, 3.5 stars, Bill Willingham, Book Review, Comics | 0 comments

Fairest Vol. 1: Wide Awake by Bill WillinghamFairest Vol. 1: Wide Awaye by Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges with art by Phil Jiminez, Andy Lanning, et al.

Genre: Fantasy, Comics
Format: Trade Paperback Comics Collected Edition
Series: #1 in the Fairest series
Publisher: Vertigo
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 160
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume 1 is a compilation of issues 1-7 of the comic series.
From the back cover:

Love’s labors lost and found

They call her Sleeping Beauty, but life’s always been ugly for Princess Briar Rose. Cursed at birth by a pissed-off fairy godmother, she wound up acting as a one-woman weapon of mass destruction against the Adversary in the last days of his war against the Free Fables. She won the day, but at the cost of sending herself into a permanent nap from which one true love’s kiss can awaken her. Few would have guessed that it would be Ali Baba, Prince of Thieves, who would rise to the challenge–or that he;d be accompanied by an obnoxious, not-quite-a-genie sidekick. But as Briar Rose’s true origin is revealed, can this no-longer-sleeping beauty and her Prince Charmless escape the cold fury of the Adversary’s former right-hand woman–the icily regal Snow Queen?

My Thoughts:
I’m glad to move on from Mr. Dark. This volume has a couple of major story lines. I really enjoyed the one that focused on Bigby Wolf and Snow White’s children. One of them will take over in their grandfather’s place as the king of the North Wind. The children are subjected to a series of tests to determine which of them is the rightful heir. It’s a bit odd and fun but also a tad bit dangerous.

The second major story involved Bufkin and his crew traveling through Oz. I usually enjoy Bufkins adventures but this time around it just didn’t click with me for some reason. It was okay but I didn’t enjoy those parts of the book as much as I did the rest.

In addition, there are a couple of other stories. I really enjoyed Rose Red’s version of A Christmas Carol.

The artwork throughout was wonderful. The majority is by Mark Buckingham. He’s done most of the Fables series and I always enjoy his work The final issue is done by several artists and the variety of styles works well with the series of short tales that are not part of the main ongoing storyline.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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The Stingray Shuffle by Tim Dorsey

Posted by on May 18, 2017 in 2017, 3.5 stars, Book Review, Tim Dorsey | 0 comments

The Stingray Shuffle by Tim DorseyThe Stingray Shuffle by Tim Dorsey

Genre: Crime Fiction, Humor, Suspense
Format: Hardcover and Ebook
Series: #5 in the Serge Storms series
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 303
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

When serial-killing local Florida historian Serge A. Storms is off his meds, no one is safe — not Russian hoods, Jamaican mobsters, spoiled frat boys, women’s book clubs, drug dealers, bad Vegas-rejected local lounge acts — especially when $5 million in cash in a bugged suitcase is still racing up and down the Eastern Seaboard. But in the oddball circus known as the Sunshine State, little things like astronomical body counts tend to get lost in the shuffle.

My Thoughts:
It’s been about a year since I last read a Serge Storms book from Tim Dorsey and it was just the kind of lunacy I was in the mood for. I have always described this series as Pulp Fiction takes Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride through Florida and this fifth volume is absolutely all that and more.

It was the usual chaos that happens when Serge is off his meds. In this one Serge came up with some particularly inventive ways to kill people.

This series does not have a linear timeline at all. The suitcase full of money was introduced a couple of books ago. It was fun to get back to that storyline.

The spectacularly inept mob guys from several different countries were my favorite part.

This is violent stuff but in such a darkly humorous way that it just makes me laugh.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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Buffalo West Wing by Julie Hyzy

Posted by on May 12, 2017 in 2017, 3.5 stars, Book Review, Julie Hyzy | 0 comments

Buffalo West Wing by Julie HyzyBuffalo West Wing by Julie Hyzy

Genre:Cozy Mystery
Format: Mass Market Paperback and Ebook
Series: #4 in the White House Chef series
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 275
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

With a new First Family, White House executive chef Olivia Paras can’t afford to make any mistakes. But when a box of take-out chicken mysteriously shows up for the First Kids, she soon finds herself in a “no-wing” situation. After Olivia refuses to serve the chicken, the First Lady gives her the cold shoulder. But when it turns out to be poisoned poultry, Olivia realizes the kids are true targets.

My Thoughts:
This is a fun cozy mystery series in which the main character, Olivia Paras, is the executive chef at the White House. The added political elements and the insider view of the White House makes it interesting blend of culinary cozy mystery and the unique setting.

It has been a while since I read the previous book in the series there’s really not that much ongonig story so the time lapse wasn’t a problem.

This time around there’s a new President and family in the White House. The book opens on Inauguration Day. After having a good relationship with the previous President and First Lady, Ollie wants to make a good impression but soon feels like her job might be on the line because the new First Lady doesn’t seem to like her much.

Often in cozy mysteries I get annoyed when the protagonist ends up in a dangerous situation merely because of their own stupid choices. In this book I appreciated the fact that Ollie’s involvement in the mystery and the ensuing chaos rather organically. She just happened to be in the right/wrong places for logical reasons.

I enjoyed this one. I’ll probably continue with the series.

3.5 starsRating 3.5/5

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Precious and Grace by Alexander McCall Smith – Audio Edition

Posted by on May 5, 2017 in 2017, 3.5 stars, Alexander McCall Smith, Audio, Book Review | 0 comments

Precious and Grace by Alexander McCall Smith narrated by Lisette LecatPrecious and Grace by Alexander McCall Smith

Genre: Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Series: #17 in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series
Publisher: Recorded Books
Publication Date: 2014
Length: 9 hours, 49 minutes
Narrated by: Lisette Lecat
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

Changes are afoot at the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, where Mma Makutsi, who has recently been promoted to co-director, has been encouraging Mma Ramotswe to update to more modern office practices. However, an unusual case will require both of them to turn their attention firmly to the past. A young Canadian woman who spent her early childhood in Botswana requests the agency’s help in recovering important pieces of her life there. With only a faded photograph—and, of course, some good old-fashioned detective skills—to guide them, Precious and Grace set out to locate the house that the woman used to live in and the caretaker who looked after her many years ago. But when the journey takes an unexpected turn, they are forced to consider whether some lost things may be better off unfound.

Busy as she is with this challenging investigation, Mma Ramotswe can always be relied on to come to the aid of her friends—who seem to have a special knack for landing in hot water. Mr. Polopetsi, an occasional assistant at the agency, has made an ill-advised business decision that may lead to serious trouble. And next door at Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, Fanwell, the junior mechanic, has become helplessly attached to a stray dog who proves to be a bigger responsibility than he can handle. With Mma Makutsi by her side, Mma Ramotswe dispenses help and sympathy with the graciousness and warmth for which she is so well known, and everyone is led to surprising insights into the healing power of compassion, forgiveness, and new beginnings.

My Thoughts:
I’m still enjoying this series seventeen books in. I’ve never read the print editions because Lisette Lecat’s narration is a lot of the reason I like this series

These are sometimes classified as mysteries but despite the fact that the main character is a detective the mystery part of the book is rather light. I consider the series light general fiction.

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 case involves a Canadian woman who lived in Botswana as a girl and would like to find her childhood nanny. As usual the outcome is not as straightforward as originally expected. There is also the stray dog and a business opportunity that could be troublesome.

I just enjoy listening to these books as I’m driving. It’s good entertainment and Lisette Lecat is wonderful. The voices she does for the characters are wonderful and I’m glad I don’t have to figure out how to pronounce some of the names.

 

Rating
3.5 stars 3.5/5 for the book

4.5 stars 4.5/5 for the narration

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