The Fade Out Act Three by Ed Brubaker

Posted by on Nov 21, 2017 in 2017, 4.5 stars, Book Review, Comics, Ed Brubaker | 0 comments

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

Genre: Mystery
Format: Trade Paperback Comics Collected Edition
Series: The Fade Out #3
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 126
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume collects issues 9-12 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.

As this is the final volume in a three book series I can’t really say much about the plot without giving away things that happened in the first two volumes. I will say that questions are answered and a lot of background information is filled in. I will recommend that you get your hands on all three volumes and read them back to back. It’s what I intend to do now that I’ve finished.

The setting in old Hollywood and the artwork combine for a very atmospheric look and feel. Occasional real people are inserted into the story and it doesn’t feel too contrived at all.

The art throughout the series is wonderful. Sean Phillips has created an environment that looks just like the old movies and Elizabeth Breitweiser’s color work is fabulous.

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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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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The Romanovs 1613-1918 by Simon Sebag Montefiore

Posted by on Oct 13, 2017 in 2017, 4.5 stars, Book Review | 0 comments

The Romanovs: 1613-1918 by Simon Sebag MontefioreThe Romanovs 1613-1918 by Simon Sebag Montefiore

Genre: Nonfiction, History
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 744
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

The Romanovs were the most successful dynasty of modern times, ruling a sixth of the world’s surface for three centuries. How did one family turn a war-ruined principality into the world’s greatest empire? And how did they lose it all?

This is the intimate story of twenty tsars and tsarinas, some touched by genius, some by madness, but all inspired by holy autocracy and imperial ambition. Simon Sebag Montefiore’s gripping chronicle reveals their secret world of unlimited power and ruthless empire-building, overshadowed by palace conspiracy, family rivalries, sexual decadence and wild extravagance, with a global cast of adventurers, courtesans, revolutionaries and poets, from Ivan the Terrible to Tolstoy and Pushkin, to Bismarck, Lincoln, Queen Victoria and Lenin.

My Thoughts:
I have been fascinated with the Romanov Dynasty ever since I read Robert K. Massie’s Nicholas and Alexandra when I was in High School. Since then I’ve read his Peter the Great and I have his Catherine the Great on my shelf. Along with those I’ve read many other books about the more famous Romanov Tsars and their families.

The reason I bought this one was because it wasn’t just about the famous three. It was about all of the Romanov Tsars including the Greats and the not so greats.

This is a dense book. There is a lot of information and multiple generations of similar names so keep track of. Montefiore has broken the book up as if it were a screenplay with each reign ‘scene’ having it’s cast of characters listed at the beginning of the chapter. That was extremely helpful.

I was glad I read this in both print and ebook format. Much of the time I was reading I had the ebook open on my phone so I could easily switch between the main text I was reading and the footnotes on my phone. Then periodically I’d pick up the hardcover to look at the photos.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

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The Western Star by Craig Johnson – Audio Edition

Posted by on Sep 29, 2017 in 2017, 4.5 stars, Audio, Book Review, Craig Johnson | 2 comments

The Western Star by Craig Johnson narrated by George GuidallThe Western Star by Craig Johnson narrated by George Guidall

Genre: Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Series: #13 in the Walt Longmire series
Publisher: Recorded Books
Publication Date: 2017
Length: 7 hours, 39 minutes
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

Sheriff Walt Longmire is enjoying a celebratory beer after a weapons certification at the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy when a younger sheriff confronts him with a photograph of 25 armed men standing in front of a Challenger steam locomotive. It takes him back to when, fresh from the battlefields of Vietnam, then-deputy Walt accompanied his mentor Lucian to the annual Wyoming Sheriff’s Association junket held on the excursion train known as the Western Star, which ran the length of Wyoming from Cheyenne to Evanston and back. Armed with his trusty Colt .45 and a paperback of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, the young Walt was ill-prepared for the machinations of 24 veteran sheriffs, let alone the cavalcade of curious characters that accompanied them.
The photograph – along with an upcoming parole hearing for one of the most dangerous men Walt has encountered in a lifetime of law enforcement – hurtles the sheriff into a head-on collision of past and present, placing him and everyone he cares about squarely on the tracks of runaway revenge.

My Thoughts:
The bad thing about catching up with a series is the year long wait for the next book. And now I’m at that point again. It’s a little more painful this time because there is some unfinished business in the story that will have to wait for the next book.

Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. One story is in the present and Walt is preparing to attend the parole hearing of someone he was involved in apprehending years ago. The other story told in flashback is about when Walt was a deputy and had just started working for Lucien. The two stories gradually converge and not only is the identity of the prisoner revealed, the reason for Walt’s doggedness in seeing that the prisoner wasn’t released becomes clear.

It was fun to see the younger Walt on a case and to also spend some time with the younger Lucien. I’m glad the story was not totally in the past because I like the supporting characters in the present-day story.

The Hubster and I went to see Craig Johnson at Powell’s. I was only a couple of chapters into the book at that point but he was good about not giving anything away. He said that he had too much story to fit into one book with this one so he had to find a way to split it into two books yet still have part of it resolved in this one.

Clearly I like this series since I’m still listening thirteen books in. George Guidall does a fabulous job of narrating these books. His voice characterizations are spot on and consistent.

As always with this series I highly recommend it and if audiobooks are your thing you should try that route. There is a progression to the books so you should really start with the first one.

Rating
4.5 stars 4.5/5 for the book

4.5 stars 4.5/5 for the narration

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The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

Posted by on Sep 15, 2017 in 2017, 4.5 stars, Book Review, Graphic Novel | 0 comments

The Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel GreenbergThe Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novel
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: 2016 Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 224
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

In the Empire of Migdal Bavel, Cherry is married to Jerome, a wicked man who makes a diabolical wager with his friend Manfred: if Manfred can seduce Cherry in one hundred nights, he can have his castle–and Cherry.

But what Jerome doesn’t know is that Cherry is in love with her maid Hero. The two women hatch a plan: Hero, a member of the League of Secret Story Tellers, will distract Manfred by regaling him with a mesmerizing tale each night for 100 nights, keeping him at bay. Those tales are beautifully depicted here, touching on themes of love and betrayal and loyalty and madness.

My Thoughts:
So many people I know and trust recommended this graphic novel that I just had to get on the waiting list at the library.

I am so glad I did. This is simply a wonderful graphic novel. The story and the stories layered within it are interesting, fun, sad, touching, dark and also humorous.

Also beautiful is the artwork by the author. It places the action firmly in a world created by the daughter of a god.

The stories Hero tells become stories within stories and are about the women. They’re part fairy tale and part feminist manifesto. Some are retellings of familiar tales but with changes that still make them new. They are also about the stories and the power of storytelling.

I loved it and I think you will too

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

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My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris

Posted by on Sep 5, 2017 in 2017, 4.5 stars, Book Review, Graphic Novel | 2 comments

My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil FerrisMy Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris

Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novel
Format: Trade Paperback
Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 386
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

Set against the tumultuous political backdrop of late ’60s Chicago, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is the fictional graphic diary of 10-year-old Karen Reyes, filled with B-movie horror and pulp monster magazines iconography. Karen Reyes tries to solve the murder of her enigmatic upstairs neighbor, Anka Silverberg, a holocaust survivor, while the interconnected stories of those around her unfold. When Karen’s investigation takes us back to Anka’s life in Nazi Germany, the reader discovers how the personal, the political, the past, and the present converge.

My Thoughts:
Thank you to everyone who recommended this. It was exactly what you told me it would be. A completely unique and fascinating graphic novel the likes of which I’ve never seen before. I was a little hesitant to read it because I’m not nearly as big a horror fan as the main character. I shouldn’t have worried. What she loves is the old classic horror movies and comics that I loved as a kid myself.

The layers to both the story and the artwork in this graphic novel are both complex and wonderful. This is a hefty volume but I didn’t want to put it down. I’m so glad I started it when I had plenty of time.

There is a second volume to this story coming and I’m stalking my library website in order to be on the waiting list early.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

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