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Weekend Update – The Started Springy, Ended Soggy Edition

>> Sunday, March 30, 2014

Weekend Update

Schools were out for Spring Break this week so naturally we had record rain. I remember when I was in schoolkid in Oregon I could count on two things – rain on the first day of school and rain during Spring Break. No vacation for me this week but I had some pretty damp walks between the train and my office.

Tom McCall Waterfront Park Cherry Trees
The beginning of the week was beautiful. On Monday I purposely took some extra time before and after work to walk along the waterfront where the cherry trees were blooming. As part of the Japanese American Historical Plaza at the park there are 100 ornamental cherry trees and they were just beautiful earlier this week before the stormy weather arrived.
Tom McCall Waterfront Park Cherry Trees


As for reading, I finished my re-read of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. It’s still one of my favorite books despite it’s many flaws. As I said in my review my thoughts on re-reads are totally influenced by the nostalgia of how much I loved it the first time I read it. I’m looking forward to the TV show this summer.

I started reading A Circle of Wives by Alice LaPlante and it’s good so far. When a prominent doctor is found dead in a hotel his obituary mentions his devoted wife of many years and his grown children. This all comes as quite the surprise to the other two women who thought they were married to him. Now his death may be suspicious and the detective on the case is interviewing the wives. This book is my reading plan for this afternoon.

I finished listening to the final Amelia Peabody book, The Tomb of the Golden Bird by Elizabeth Peters. I’m a little sad to have finished the series but it’s been a lot of fun over the past few years and is definitely an audio series I highly recommend. Thanks to this review by Beth Fish Reads I’m looking forward to getting Amelia Peabody’s Egypt: A Compendium from the library for one last visit with the fictional characters and real events and places from the series. While I plan to get it from the library I suspect a trip to Powell’s to buy a copy will happen soon.

In graphic novels, I finished Jack of Fables Vol. 1: The (Nearly) Great Escape by Bill Willingham. This spinoff series from the main Fables series is a bit different but still fun and has the familiar mix of adventure and humor. It’s nice to see a few storybook characters that haven’t been a part of the Fables series yet.

My new graphic novel is the second volume of Marvel Now’s Hawkeye series. I don’t read much superhero stuff but I enjoy Clint Barton (aka Hawkeye) as the wisecracking hero of this series.

Now that I have finished my re-read of Outlander I need to figure out what Chunkster I’m going to tackle next. I have learned that interspersing sections of a huge book in between average and shorter length books is a great way for me to get through them. Last year I tried and abandoned a re-read of Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd because I wasn’t diligent about returning to it. It’s one of my all time favorites so I think I’m going to dive in again for an attempt at a re-read.

Oh and look who thought she was getting biscuits for breakfast . . .

Abby wants biscuits

Hope you’re having a great weekend!!

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Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

>> Friday, March 28, 2014

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: #1 in the Outlander series
Publisher: Dell
Publication Date: 1991
Pages: 850
Source: Purchased

The Short Version:
In 1945 Claire Randall steps through a group of standing stones on a hill in Scotland and finds herself in 1743.

Why I Read It:
I have become addicted to this series and was on the waiting list for this one at the library I’ve read it either 3 or 4 times already but the publicity for the upcoming TV production made me want to read it again.


Seriously skip to the 0:33 mark in this and watch the rest. I nearly swooned.

The Book:
From the publisher
The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon — when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach — an "outlander" — in a Scotland torn by war and raiding Highland clans in the year of Our Lord ... 1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into intrigues and dangers that may threaten her life ... and shatter her heart. For here she meets James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, and becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire ... and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

My Thoughts:
When I first read it 13 years ago when I bought this copy I fell in love with Jamie and the entire book.

I told everyone I knew to read it because I thought it was that good. I still think it’s one of my favorite books of all time. It was so long between the subsequent books in the series that I ended up re-reading it before moving on to the next book at least a couple of times. I’ve only read as far as the fourth book in the series (Drums of Autumn) because the wait between books was so long I decided to just let her write a few more and then start over. I also felt that by the fourth book the overwriting and repetitiveness were becoming more problematic. I will probably continue re-reading and move along in the series but in all honesty it’s probably downhill from here. It’s a matter of I need to see it through.

I still think this is a wonderful book and highly recommend it. Historical fiction, romance, adventure and a fascinating period of history make it fun. Claire is an intelligent heroine and Jamie still get me all twitterpated. Yeah I have issues with some of the writing and some of the plot but I still like it.

With every re-read I find myself liking the character of Jamie's sister more and more. Jenny has become my favorite female character in this book and the series.

I’m planning on watching the TV show when it airs this summer. I’m expecting it to be a mix of fabulous and horrible but I doubt I’ll be able to look away.

I fully admit that my feelings about this book after re-reading it again are completely tainted by the nostalgia of how much I loved it the first time.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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Wordless Wednesday #231

>> Wednesday, March 26, 2014

On the Waterfront
Zihuatanejo, Mexico

On the Waterfront Zihuatanejo, Mexico
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FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics Vol. 1: The Paradigm Shift by Simon Oliver

>> Tuesday, March 25, 2014

FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics Vol. 1: The Paradigm Shift by Simon Oliver
FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics Vol. 1: The Paradigm Shift written by Simon Oliver with art by Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi

Genre: Science Fiction, Crime Fiction (Graphic Novel)
Series: #1 in the Federal Bureau of Physics series
Publisher: Vertigo Comics
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 176
Source: Library


The Short Version:
A crime fiction story set in a future where calls to 911 are answered with “Fire, Ambulance, Police or . . . Physics?”.

Why I Read It:
When I first read the description of this one it sounded different and interesting.

The Book:
This volume 1 is a compilation of issues 1-7 of the comic series plus some extra pages of notes and preliminary artwork.

From the publisher:

Wormholes in your kitchen. Gravity failures at school. Quantum tornadoes tearing through the midwest. As with all natural disasters, people do what they always do: They adapt and survive. And if things get really bad, the Federal Bureau of Physics (FBP) is only a call away. FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics is the story of Adam Hardy: Young, brash and smart, he's a rising star at the FBP, but when a gravity failure leads to the creation of an alternate dimension known as a "BubbleVerse," Adam is sent on a rescue mission and finds his skills and abilities pushed to their limits when he discovers his partner has a different agenda.. .

My Thoughts:
I knew going in that this would be different and I’m glad I gave it a try. It was fun and interesting and left me with some storylines wrapped up but enough intrigue and unknowns to keep me on the lookout for more in this series.

The first page starts with:
Physics is broken. Gravity failures, entropy loops and wandering wormholes are the norm. But it's no longer front-page news, and Federal Bureau of Physics' resident slacker; Agent Adam Hardy is about to get a harsh reminder of why he joined the bureau.

"Prevent and protect" is the FBP motto, because if only one thing's for certain in this upside-down world, it's that "the impossible is always possible.
It starts out as a bit of a buddy cop story except that the laws they are enforcing are the laws of gravity and physics. The mix of science fiction and cop story is fun and because of the premise open to pretty much anything happening.

Adam is mostly likable but he’s got his flaws. The story of how and why physics is broken isn't answered in this volume but there are hints of history to be explored for both Adam and a new FBP agent named Rosa Reyes.

I’m not exactly in love with the artwork but it’s growing on me. It’s got an unfinished feel to it and the style is quite different from what I've seen in my other graphic novels. There are some inconsistencies in the way characters look and that always bothers me but I’m hoping that as the series continues that will resolve. The artwork tells a lot of the story in the background of dialog in many of the frames and the style does fit the fast paced action oriented feel of the story quite well. As the artist says in the additional notes at the end:
When Simon and Mark asked me how I see the book, I replied “it should be blue collar sci-fi”
I’d have to say he achieved that.

This is likely to become a series that rather than waiting for collected trade paperback editions I'll just subscribe to the digital format and read the issues as they are available on my tablet.


3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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Weekend Update – The Spring is Here! Plus Beer! Edition

>> Sunday, March 23, 2014

Weekend Update



Spring has arrived. My need for Claritin makes that abundantly clear. Nevertheless I’m enjoying the sunshine. Despite the chilly mornings the afternoons have been beautiful. I definitely had one morning this week that would have been better if I’d worn a warmer jacket and gloves but it wasn't raining so I didn't mind getting off the train a few stops early and walking the rest of the way to the office.
My Neighbor's pink star magnolia

Yesterday I went out for an 11 mile trek (mostly walking with a little jogging). I managed to do the 11 miles in the same time I did 10 the week before. I’m lucky to have a variety of walking paths that is even better this year. Thanks to a great Parks & Rec. district I've got new routes and paths to change up my walks and keep them from getting boring.

Plum tree
The sunshine and blooming trees yesterday were just wonderful.

Breakside Brewery and Taproom
OK we will
Then we went to the Breakside Taproom and Brewery with some friends. The Bergamot Special Bitter was just wonderful.
Breakside Bergamot Special Bitter
They describe it as:
English style golden ale with very light bitterness, brewed with lemon peel and then cold conditioned on Townshend’s Earl Grey tea leaves.

Breakside Brewery and Taproom
Plenty of tap to choose from
All we know is that all four of us liked it a lot! We brought home a growler of it and I’m looking forward to having a pint this afternoon.

As for reading, I’m winding down my re-read of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. It’s still one of my favorite books despite the fact that the overwriting is more evident with every re-read. Nevertheless I’m enjoying it all over again and looking forward to the TV show.

Blooming tree

The long walk yesterday meant I made some progress in my audiobook. The Tomb of the Golden Bird is the final book in the Amelia Peabody series. The discovery of King Tut’s tomb is a major part of this book and it’s clear that the author had issues with Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon. I think I need to hunt up some non-fiction about them.

In graphic novels, I finished FBP: The Federal Bureau of Physics Vol. 1: Paradigm Shift. I enjoyed this one. The story is a cop story but in a world where Physics is broken the laws they’re enforcing are the laws of gravity and physics. It’s a combination of science fiction and crime fiction that I enjoyed enough to be putting future issues on my wishlist.

My new graphic novel is the first in the Jack of Fables spin offs from the main Fables series. I've heard enough mixed reviews of the Jack books to have reduced expectations but so far I don’t mind it and I know it loops back into the main Fables story soon.
Trees in bloom at First Presbyterian Church Downtown Portland


Hope you’re having a great weekend!!

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The Unwritten, Vol. 8: Orpheus in the Underworlds by Mike Carey

>> Friday, March 21, 2014

The Unwritten, Vol. 8: Orpheus in the Underworld by Mike Carey

The Unwritten, Vol. 8: Orpheus in the Underworlds written by Mike Carey with art by Peter Gross

Genre: Fantasy (Graphic Novel)
Series: #8 in the Unwritten series
Publisher: Vertigo Comics
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 176
Source: Library

The Short Version:
Tom Taylor is headed to hell and back to try to rescue Lizzie and the line between story and reality is blurred even further.

Why I Read It:
I have become addicted to this series and was on the waiting list for this one at the library before it was even released. In the meantime I’ll be reading Fables like mad because a Fables – Unwritten crossover is in the works.

The Book:
This volume 8 is a compilation of issues 42 - 49 of the comic series plus several bonus half issues.

From the publisher

In this eighth volume of the critically-acclaimed new series from the Eisner-nominated creative team, Mike Carey and Peter Gross, Tommy ventures into the land of the dead to find and rescue Lizzie. But the journey through Hades pits Tommy against all kinds of enemies of undead. But none of these encounters prepare him for his meeting with the king -- or for the responsibilities he has to take on for some very familiar damned souls

My Thoughts:
This is a fabulous series for booklovers. The series is about stories and how stories and real life co-exist and are dependent on each other. It's filled with appearances by familiar and not so familiar characters from literature and myth. Elizabeth Bennet from Pride & Prejudice makes quite an interesting appearance in this volume.

The main storyline in this volume is Tom's continued effort to find and rescue Lizzie Hexam. Along the way a few characters from earlier volumes reappear. Some are much more welcome than others.

Tom's journey through the underworld is contrasted with the efforts of his friend Richie Savoy to help detective Didge Patterson investigate a gruesome series of murders. Zombies, and troubled young boy and a vampire (who is the good guy this time) and a character from earlier in the series are all involved in this break from Tom’s story.

The artwork is interesting and well done and continues to be a strong part of the story. The unreal settings give the artists some freedom to create some fabulous settings and characters.

I'm torn between eagerness for the next volume and wanting time to read much more of the Fables series before the crossover.

I highly recommend this series. If’s a great graphic novel series that everyone, but particularly booklovers can enjoy.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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Wordless Wednesday #230

>> Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sunset in Ixtapa, Mexico

Sunset in Ixtapa, Mexico
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Y: The Last Man Vol. 9: Motherland and Vol. 10: Whys and Wherefores by Brian K Vaughan

>> Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Y: The Last Man Vol. 9: Motherland by Brian K. Vaughan

Y: The Last Man Vol. 10: Whys and Wherefores by Brian K. Vaughan

Y: The Last Man Vol. 9: Motherland and Vol. 10: Whys and Wherefores by Brian K Vaughan with artwork by Pia Guerra and Goran Sudzuka

Genre: Science Fiction (Graphic Novel)
Series: #9 and #10 of the Y: The Last Man Series
Publisher: Vertigo
Publication Date: Vol. 9 – 2007, Vol. 10 - 2001
Pages: Vol. 9 – 143, Vol. 10 - 167
Source: Library


The Short Version:
The final two volumes in a series about what happens after all the males die except for a young man and his pet capuchin monkey.

Why I Read It:
This series has been a bit of a hit or miss journey but at a certain point I had to finish to find out how it ended.

The Book:
These two volumes are compilations of issues 49-60 of the comic series.
From the Publisher:
Volume 9: Motherland

A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS. Finally reunited, the last two males on Earth - Yorick Brown and his pet monkey Ampersand - are on a slow boat to China, heading for a long-awaited reunion with Yorick's lost fiancée in Paris. But while the pair are getting ready to cross two more continents with their longtime protector Agent 355, their other traveling companions - biochemist Dr. Allison Mann and her girlfriend Rose - are nearing the end of a different quest: finding out what caused the plague that wiped out every other mammal with a Y chromosome four years later.
What they find, in a hidden lab in Hong Kong, is something that none of them expected - something that could mean the end not just for the Last Man, but for any future his gender might have.

Volume 10: Whys and Wherefores
THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE. More than four years after the male-killing plague scoured the Y chromosome from the planet, the saga of Earth's two surviving males is about to come to a close. In their long odyssey around the globe, Yorick Brown and his monkey Ampersand (together with their traveling companions Agent 355 and Dr. Allison Mann) have managed, against the near-constant threat of death and despair, to discover a possible origin of the gendercide and - in Yorick's case - to father one of the first children of a new, post-male generation.
Now the remaining trio of Yorick, Ampersand and Agent 355 are at last approaching Paris, where Yorick's long-lost fiancée Beth awaits - along with the heavily armed women who have been hunting him across land and sea. There, in the City of Light, the Last Man's search will finally end - or so it seems.

My Thoughts:
Overall this series has been a fun and interesting ride. Set in the near future, it’s full of political and social commentary pertinent to our current time. It takes place over essentially a 5 year time frame beginning with a sudden plague that kills all the male mammals on earth with the exception of a young man and the pet capuchin monkey he was training to be a service animal.

Their journey beginning in the chaos of the initial disaster in the US, takes them around the world as a new social and political world develops. The changing gender roles and the various political and military (also pseudo military) factions make for an interesting backdrop to the storylines that are the ongoing thread through the series. Dr. Mann is searching for the answer to what caused the plague and why. Agent 355 is trying to keep Yorick safe and alive. Yorick’s goal is to reunite with his fiancée who was in Australia when the plague hit.

Along the way there are several groups of characters and storylines that intersect and entwine with the three major characters. Along the way there were some I cheered for and some I was happy to see end or fade away.

Did it all wrap up neatly? No. There were some threads that didn’t really get explained or resolved and there were others that wrapped up a bit too neatly or conveniently for my taste but overall I think the final outcome made sense in the context of the series as a whole. The final epilogue section had both some of my least favorite moments as well as some of my favorites.

The artwork throughout the series was good. Characters changed but remained consistent. There was a variety of settings and moods to portray along the way and Pia Guerra’s work impressed me.

Through the ten volumes of the series it had both great moments and moments that annoyed the heck out of me but all in all it was pretty darn entertaining and inventive.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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Weekend Update – The Perhaps Spring Isn’t a Myth After All Edition

>> Sunday, March 16, 2014

Weekend Update

I love that first whiff of freshly cut grass of the year. I love that smell but it only last a short time because . . . stupid allergies. Nevertheless signs of spring are happening around here. The birds are busy (and loud) the trees are starting to bloom, the daffodils and other spring flowers are blooming. I’m not wearing socks every day. Well, except for the allergies they're good.


Daffodil



Plum Tree Blossoms


Last week I talked about all the graphic novels I have out from the library. I had a bit of a graphic novel reading binge this week and I plan to do more of the same later today.

I finished out the Y: The Last Man series by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra. This series had its ups and downs but overall I liked it quite a bit.

I also read the latest in The Unwritten series by Mike Carey and Peter Gross. This one is such fun because of all the literary references tossed in throughout. It’s a story about stories. This latest volume sets up for the planned crossover with the Fables series. So that means I have to get busy and read a whole lot of Fables.

My current graphic novel read is a new one. FBP: The Federal Bureau of Physics Vol. 1: Paradigm Shift. I’m only partway through it but it’s interesting so far. A bit of science fiction, with a smart-ass slacker cop protagonist has potential to be a fun mix. Here’s the text from the opening page:
"Physics is broken. Gravity failures, entropy loops and wandering wormholes are the norm. But it's no longer front-page news, and Federal Bureau of Physics' resident slacker; Agent Adam Hardy is about to get a harsh reminder of why he joined the bureau.

"Prevent and protect" is the FBP motto, because if only one thing's for certain in this upside-down world, it's that "the impossible is always possible."

After I finish FBP I have a couple of the Jack of Fables books I want to read because I need to get moving with that series. Then I’ll go on with the rest of my library stack. I made a commitment to myself to not check anything new out from the library until I finish the books I have out. We’ll see how long that commitment lasts.

I’m also making progress with my re-read of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I've been reading parts of this interspersed with other books but now I’m at the point where I might just keep reading and finish this out before moving on to another book.

On audio I’m enjoying the final Amelia Peabody book but at the same time I’m a little sad to be finishing out this series.

Now for a few random phone photos from this week:

I've been playing with a social media photo community and app. OK Do This has a lot of fun prompts and ideas for photos. I usually check the “Do of the Day and sometimes play along. This week one of them was “Change your perspective // photograph a reflection and share it upside down. I thought my attempt turned out pretty cool.

OK Do This upside down reflection

With the time change I’m back to leaving for work in the dark but I do get to see some pretty beautiful sunrises as I arrive downtown.

Downtown Portland Sunrise


Mt Hood Sunrise

Hope you’re having a great weekend!!

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Audiobook – The Serpent on the Crown by Elizabeth Peters

>> Friday, March 14, 2014

The Serpent on the Crown by Elizabeth Peters

The Serpent on the Crown by Elizabeth Peters

Genre: Historical Mystery
Series: #17 in the Amelia Peabody series publication order, #18 in story chronology order
Publisher: Recorded Books
Publication Date: 2005 Recorded Books (Book originally published 2005)
Length: 12 hours, 8 minutes
Read by: Barbara Rosenblat
Source: Purchased

The Short Version:
A “cursed” statue of unknown origin and a murder lead Amelia Peabody and her family on a search that may lead them to both danger and an important archaeological find.

Why I Read It:
This has been one of my favorite series and I’ve enjoyed binge listening to the final few books in the series

The Book:
From the publisher:
A priceless relic has been delivered to the Emerson home overlooking the Nile. But more than history surrounds this golden likeness of a forgotten king, for it is said early death will befall anyone who possesses it.

The woman who implores the renowned family of archaeologists and adventurers to accept the cursed statue insists the ill-gotten treasure has already killed her husband. Further, she warns, unless it is returned to the tomb from which it was stolen, more will surely die. With the world finally at peace—and with Egypt's ancient mysteries opened to them once more—Amelia Peabody and her loved ones are plunged into a storm of secrets, treachery, and murder by a widow's strange story and even stranger request. Each step toward the truth reveals a new peril, suggesting this curse is no mere superstition. And the next victim of the small golden king could be any member of the close-knit clan—perhaps even Amelia herself.

My Thoughts:
Note on series order: I read this one out of publication order because I’m reading the series in order of the story. You can find the chronology here.

This is the 18th and penultimate book in the Amelia Peabody series. After listening to Barbara Rosenfelt expertly perform the audio editions of these books over several years I'm actually a bit sad to have started the final book immediately after finishing this one.

I thoroughly enjoy the mix of historical fiction interspersed with real people (Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon), and plenty of humor. Barbara Rosenblat's narration really brings the stories to life for me.

As usual for books from this series I'm going to share a few quotes that made me giggle along the way.
"Gargery!" I exclaimed. "Why did you entrust such a delicate task to him? The old fool will go blundering around --"

"Sometimes blundering accomplishes more than tact" retorted Emerson, who was certainly in a position to know.

As I am sure I need not tell the Reader, these arrangements were my idea and Emerson had not given in easily. I did not clam the credit since I had learned that in marriage tact is not only good manners but good strategy.

Emerson was on the veranda listening (a word which is seldom applicable to Emerson) to the conversation between Ramses and Mr. Katchenovsky.

Emerson bared his large white teeth. "Off you go. And don't try
to bribe Hassan, he is incorruptible." Hassan glanced at his father, Daoud, who stood with arms folded. "He is," said Daoud. "Whatever it means."

4 stars Rating 4/5 for the book

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5 for the narration



SoundBytes is a weekly roundup of audio book reviews hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.

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Wordless Wednesday #229

>> Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Beer Bubble

Beer Bubble
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100 Bullets Vol 1: First Shot, Last Call by Brian Azzarello

>> Tuesday, March 11, 2014

100 Bullets Vol 1: First Shot, Last Call by Brian Azzarello

100 Bullets Vol 1: First Shot, Last Call by Brian Azzarello with art by Eduardo Risso

Genre: Crime Fiction, Graphic Novel
Series: #1 in the 100 Bullets series
Publisher: Vertigo Comics
Publication Date: 2000
Pages: 127
Source: Library


The Short Version:
Moral dilemmas ensue when a mysterious man offers the opportunity for revenge.

Why I Read It:
An article in Crimespree magazine made me curious about this series.

The Book:
This volume 1 is a compilation of issues 1-5 of the comic series.

From the publisher:
In this dark and intriguing trade paperback, the mysterious Agent Graves approaches ordinary citizens and gives them an opportunity to exact revenge on a person that has wronged them. Offering his clients an attaché case containing proof of the deed and a gun, he guarantees his "clients" full immunity for all of their actions, including murder. In these opening chapters, Dizzy Cordova, a Latina gangbanger who has just finished a prison sentence, is given the chance to avenge her family's murders, and a downtrodden bartender receives the opportunity to exact revenge against the woman that ruined his life.

My Thoughts:
This is dark and atmospheric with nods to the artwork and style of pulp fiction mystery stories and magazines of the 30’s.

The idea of exacting revenge with no consequences is an intriguing one and is clearly a set up that leads to ethical and moral dilemmas for the people Agent Graves contacts. Obviously the question of what these people will do (or not do) and whether there really is such a thing as guilt-free revenge is a primary element of the stories in this and future volumes.

The other element in this is who the heck is Agent Graves and why and how is he doing this? In this first volume there are hints in the background artwork and I’m definitely curious enough to keep reading the series.

It’s pretty dark and violent and definitely not for kids. The first story is a bit cliché ridden and the latino street gang dialect comes off a bit overdone but the story is still a good one. The second story of the bartender opens the door for more mystery to come.

The final episode is actually pretty funny when a previous ‘client’ of Agent Graves attempts to confess her part in a murder.

It’s gritty, dark, violent and hearkens back to an earlier era of crime fiction and at this point I plan to keep reading.


3 stars Rating 3/5

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Weekend Update – The Time for a Graphic Novel Reading Binge Edition

>> Sunday, March 9, 2014

Weekend Update

So the first full week of work after vacation is in the done column. It felt like it was at least 10 days long. I’m finally making my way through endless lists of catching up type of things to get done and starting to settle back into a routine.

Reading has been a little hit and miss since we got back from vacation. I did manage to finish The Black Country and then I read a graphic novel this week. 100 Bullets: Vol. 1: First Shot, Last Call is the first in a series that was pretty intriguing. I’ll be posting a full review on Tuesday.

I also finished my audiobook yesterday. The Serpent on the Crown was the penultimate book in the Amelia Peabody series and I went straight into the final book The Tomb of the Golden Bird. I’m going to miss this series when I finish it. It’s been such a fun one. Thanks to Beth Fish Reads and her review of Amelia Peabody's Egypt: A Compendium this week I know I’ll be reading one more book about Amelia in the near future.

I’ve been doing a pretty good job so far this year of mixing up my books and reading a mix of the various categories I talked about back in January. This is the list I initially set up.

  • Review book
  • Library book
  • Book from my bookshelf
  • Book from my ebook library
  • Graphic Novel
  • Section of a Chunkster

I’m finding that by approaching a section of a chunkster as if it were a shorter book is working well. I do need to make sure that I add some non-fiction into the mix though since I have many non-fiction books on my shelves and wishlists

My current stack of books I have out from the library right now looks like this.
Library Graphic Novel stack
click on image for larger version

That means that it’s time for me to go on a Graphic Novel Reading binge. At least two of these can’t be renewed again and I really want to read them all. So I think the next week or so will be devoted to my audiobook (The Tomb of the Golden Bird) and Part Four of my current chunkster (Outlander) but the majority of my reading will be this stack of graphic novels and a couple of others that are digital only on my ipad.

These are the books in the photo:


Hope you’re having a great weekend!!

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The Black Country by Alex Grecian

>> Friday, March 7, 2014

The Black Country by Alex Grecian

The Black Country by Alex Grecian

Genre: Crime Fiction
Series: #2 in the Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad series
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 384
Source: Copy provided by the publisher

The Short Version:
Inspector May and his Murder Squad are asked to help with a missing persons case in a coal mining town that turns out to be more complicated and dangerous than expected.

Why I Read It:
The first time I heard something about this book on Twitter, I was intrigued and knew I wanted to read it.I really didn’t know much about this book other than the fact that a lot of people I trust thought it was pretty darn good.

The Book:
From the Publisher:

The British Midlands. It’s called the “Black Country” for a reason. Bad things happen there.

When members of a prominent family disappear from a coal-mining village—and a human eyeball is discovered in a bird’s nest—the local constable sends for help from Scotland Yard’s new Murder Squad. Fresh off the grisly 1889 murders of The Yard, Inspector Walter Day and Sergeant Nevil Hammersmith respond, but they have no idea what they’re about to get into. The villagers have intense, intertwined histories. Everybody bears a secret. Superstitions abound. And the village itself is slowly sinking into the mines beneath it.

Not even the arrival of forensics pioneer Dr. Bernard Kingsley seems to help. In fact, the more the three of them investigate, the more they realize they may never be allowed to leave.

My Thoughts:
Both The Hubster and i enjoyed the first book in Grecian's Scotland Yard's Murder Squad series. The Yard was an interesting blend of police procedural and historical fiction.

This entry in the series takes the major characters out of London to investigate a missing (and likely deceased) person case in a mysterious coal mining town. The plot soon becomes too complicated with too many storylines that take too long to intersect (and in some cases do so only peripherally).

I felt like it was trying to be too many books at the same time with bits of historical fiction, crime story, psychological thriller, gothic mystery, natural disaster story, revenge based suspense, etc.

Despite all that it was an OK book. I still enjoy the banter between Inspector Day and Sergeant Hammersmith and I like the recurring characters. I just didn't find much actual crime investigation in this one. I didn't enjoy it as much as the first and it certainly wasn't great but there were enough things I liked that I'll give the third in the series a try.

2.5 stars Rating 2.5/5

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Wordless Wednesday #228

>> Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Pacific City, Oregon

Pacific City, Oregon
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Persuader by Lee Child

>> Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Persuader by Lee Child

Persuader by Lee Child

Genre: Suspense
Series: #7 in the Jack Reacher series
Publisher: Dell
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 468
Source: Purchased


The Short Version:
Reacher joins an off the books undercover operation for a DEA team that may have ties to an old investigation gone wrong.

Why I Read It:
Because Jack Reacher is awesome. Also The Hubster is two books ahead of me in this series and I cannot allow that to continue.

The Book:
From the publisher:

Jack Reacher. The ultimate loner. An elite ex-military cop who left the service years ago, he’s moved from place to place…without family…without possessions…without commitments. And without fear. Which is good, because trouble—big, violent, complicated trouble—finds Reacher wherever he goes. And when trouble finds him, Reacher does not quit, not once…not ever. But some unfinished business has now found Reacher. And Reacher is a man who hates unfinished business.

Ten years ago, a key investigation went sour and someone got away with murder. Now a chance encounter brings it all back. Now Reacher sees his one last shot. Some would call it vengeance. Some would call it redemption. Reacher would call it…justice.
My Thoughts:
How can I have let 4 years go by since I last read a Jack Reacher book? I cannot let that happen again. This has been sitting on my shelf and even though The Hubster has read two more of the series than I have I just haven't picked this one up. I'm so glad I grabbed it for my vacation reading stack.

I love me some Jack Reacher! This one was all the things I like about these books. Plenty of action, plenty of surprises and twists and Reacher kicking ass.

I liked the way that the present day story was interspersed with the events from ten years earlier. Reacher is up against some seriously bad guys in this one. I enjoyed the fact that Reacher wasn’t the only one ‘off the books’. It was good to see him working with the DEA agents but at the same time it felt right that they were all operating unofficially.

It was probably good that it had been a while since I read any of this series. As with most series, they can be a bit formulaic so reading too many of them too close together probably wouldn’t work well. The break was good and after reading two or three more I’ll probably be ready for another break but in the meantime I’m having a blast being back with Jack Reacher again.


4 stars Rating 4/5

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Weekend Update – The What We Did on Vacation Edition

>> Sunday, March 2, 2014

Weekend Update

February is an excellent time to get out of Oregon. It’s become a habit for us to seek out sunshine and warmth for a February vacation. We were in Mexico last week. The Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo area is just lovely and we enjoy the mix of relaxing and reading on the beach and going into the town of Zihuatanejo for meals, people watching and experiencing the local atmosphere.




The only glitch in the trip was that we went straight to Mexico from LA but our bags decided to take a side trip to San Diego (and didn’t even get us a souvenir while they were there!!). There’s only one flight a day from LA to Zihuatanejo and we’ve always worried about the quick turnaround when we change planes there. Because of that we carry on a change of clothes, our swimsuits and what we need to get through at least 24 hours. So even though we weren’t desperate I was extremely happy to see my clothes and stuff when we got back from dinner the second night there.

The beach where we stay is a nesting ground for Olive Ridley Sea Turtles and they have a good conservation and protection program in place.

Tub Full of Baby Sea Turtles

They dig up the eggs and move them to a protected area to incubate and then release the babies when they hatch. We were lucky once again to see newly hatched baby sea turtles released and make their way to the ocean.



It’s a very cool experience

We had some gorgeous sunsets
Ixtapa Sunset



Plenty of time to read and relax on the beach

Playa Vista Hermosa



Lots of walking around Zihuatanejo

Playa Principal in Zihuatanejo

We both read a lot. I read about 400 pages of Outlander. I read Persuader by Lee Child. It had been far too long since I read a Jack Reacher book and I enjoyed the heck out of this one. I also started The Black Country by Alex Grecian. It’s the second in his London Murder Squad series. The Hubster also read a Jack Reacher book. He’s a couple ahead of me in the series and he read One Shot. He read Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith too. I’m glad he liked that one. I’ve read the short stories but haven’t read the books yet.

It was back to work and real life on Thursday but the nice thing about starting and ending a vacation mid-week is that it makes for a short work week before you go and also when you get back. My department at work moved to a different floor while I was gone so the combination of getting back to work and getting settled in to a new workspace meant that a two day work week was about all I could handle.

So now it’s back to routine around here and I have a huge stack of graphic novels out from the library that I plan to focus on for the next couple of weeks.

Hope you're having a great weekend!!

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