Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Murder She Wrote A Question of Murder by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain

Fans of murder mysteries had been invited to a mystery weekend at Mohawk House in the Berkshires. It is a lovely area and far enough north that it had a surprise blizzard which closed the roads up to the hotel. Fortunately everyone was there before the storm began. Jessica and two others had been requested to be an author panel to discuss writing and especially writing murder mysteries. Part of the weekend was the presentation of a play given in parts. The attendees were to get clues from the play to help them solve the murder which took place early in the story. All this was planned for enjoyment of the hundred people besides the authors and actors. What wasn't planned was the real murder which also took place on stage. Should the weekend continue? If they called it off what would people do? They couln't leave with the roads closed. Jessica was needed to help solve the real murder and do so before the roads were cleared and the murderer would escape. As she soon realized, the list of suspects was long and the detective assigned to the case had no experience in solving such a crime.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Twenty Wishes by Debbie Macomber

Anne Marie had invited several women to meet at her bookstore after hours on Valentine's day for a special celebration. These women were all widows and felt left out of the usual activities of the day. Their celebration was for life and friendship. During their sharing several suggestions were made including volunteer work, helping someone else and making a list of wishes. A discussion of the list better developed the idea. Twenty seemed like a good number and the items should be wishes or dreams, not goals or things to accomplish as on a 'honey do list.' The idea caught on and as time went by each woman who made a list seemed to be renewed or energized. Anne Marie decided to try volunteering at a grade school relating to one little girl. Just this act was life changing for both Anne Marie and her new friend. Lillie and Barbie both lost their husbands in the same plane crash and they were now interested in new love. People who were not in the 'widow group' were intrigued with the list and began their own. Such a simple act as making a list can have amazing results with ripple effects. The group members met frequently to share what was happening in their lives and how the lists helped them. I enjoyed reading this story with unexpected twists and turns and think a list may be a good thing.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Sub-Mariner: Revolution

By Matt Cherniss and Peter Johnson
Art by Phil Briones

As I might have mentioned before, Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner is my favorite comic book character, so I was very excited to see this graphic novel on the library’s shelves. For those that aren’t familiar with him, in the fictional Marvel Universe, Namor is the proud ruler of a submerged Atlantis (think Yul Brynner’s Ramses from The Ten Commandments) But he’s also half-air breathing human and half-water breathing Atlantean, and thus an outsider to both cultures. He was created in 1939 by Bill Everett, which makes him the oldest of Marvel Comics’ many characters. And since his first appearance, he’s had an uneasy, and often antagonistic relationship with the surface world, which makes him one of the first anti-heroes in comics.

No where is that clearer than in this book, where a terrorist attack on an American town is blamed on Namor and Atlantis, and he must find the traitor responsible before war erupts between the two nations. It’s a tangled political tale, it’s an action filled adventure, it’s a psychological study, and most importantly, it’s an honest to goodness narrative that moves along at nice clip. There’s no decompressed story telling here. However, I get the feeling that the writers were given an editorial road map of sorts, because in some places the characterization was sacrificed to fit the plotline. In some ways, it reminded me of those old Marvel Team-Up issues, where the anchor character would have an encounter with a different super-hero each issue, usually resulting in a misunderstanding, followed by a fight. Namor’s quest brings him into contact and / or conflict with Iron Man, Wolverine, Professor X, Venom, and the Invisible Woman and each meeting reveals just how bad the situation is for our sea prince.

French artist Phil Briones brings a certain dynamism to the art reminiscent of Gene Colan’s classic work on the Sub-Mariner. Both artists like to capture that slightly off balance moment of action that lends itself particularly well to scenes that take place in the water or in the air. And there are plenty of those with a water breathing prince who can also fly. The underwater battle between Iron Man and the Sub-Mariner is amazing, and the best of book. Briones’ style is a bit loosely drawn, which some people enjoy, but which can lead to distortions of proportion. In other words, new readers, Namor’s ears normally are drawn like Tolkein elves, rather than Anime elves.

Sub-Mariner: Revolution is an entertaining read. But I must admit, for characterization and continuity reasons, I did not like the concept of Namor’s foe or how Namor dealt with him. But I loved the last chapter and the ending. Wow! You know how comic books and TV shows advertise episodes where “everything changes” and “nothing will ever be the same”? Well, this graphic novel delivers. Now, if only Marvel will capitalize on the fantastic cliff hanger, and the really intriguing opportunities left by the events of this book. Yes, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a sequel.

You can find this book in our catalog and reserve it here.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Murder She Wrote Dying to Retire by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain

Jessica, Dr. Hazlitt, Mort and Maureen Metzger went to south Florida to attend the funeral of a friend. When they arrived they learned that the police were holding the body pending investigation of circumstances surrounding Portia's death. She had been a leader in the Foreverglades community and was loved by her friends there. So what happened? The developer had made many promises to draw people to Foreverglades and now he is conveniently forgetting them. Opposition to a further development project blocking view of and access to the beach and ocean has gotten heated. Was Portia murdered and if so, why? Did it have to do with the protests she had led?
While in Key West visiting a friend, Jessica and Dr. Hazlitt experience the laid back atmosphere, Key Lime Pie and very hot and humid weather. And when Jessica was investigating a project she had an "accident." That this work site was owned by the same developer as Foreverglades threw more suspicion on his company.
Jessica, Dr. Hazlitt and Mort in addition to Sam, one of the seniors, helped the Foreverglades police department checking on drug use and the origins of some incriminating rumors. It seems that where Jessica goes there will be murder.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

A shining Capitol surrounded by 12 Districts makes up the nation of Panem, once known as North America. Over 70 years ago there were 13 districts, and all rose up in rebellion against the Capitol. They were defeated, and as punishment District 13 was razed to the ground and The Hunger Games began. Each year each district must send two tributes. The names of one boy and one girl are drawn by lot. They will travel to the Capital and let loose in the Arena, where they must fight to the death. There can be only one survivor.

Technically, names are entered once for each year starting at age 12. So by age 18, the last year of eligibility, each teen has 6 chances for their name to be chosen. But there's a catch that makes it unfair for the poor and starving. A teen may enter his or her name more than once per year in exchange for for an extra ration of grain and oil. These tessera keep many from starvation, and they add up. This year Katniss's name is in the glass bowl twenty times. Her odds are not good. But when the girl's name is called, it's the name her 12-year-old sister, Prim. 12-year-olds never survive the Game, and to protect her sister Katniss quickly shouts out: " I volunteer for the tribute!"

Katniss is a fantastic heroine. She tries to keep herself hard and cold to survive, but her soft heart keeps winning out as she forms alliances with other teens in the Arena. Her skills in hunting come in handy and she could simply outlast the others with her outdoor survival techniques, but that wouldn't be interesting to those watching, and betting on, the Game and it's outcome. So the Gamekeepers push the teens into combat situations, controlling water supplies and weather conditions, even throwing mutated killing creatures into their path. Anything to make the Game more interesting. I highly recommend this novel, but there is a catch. I was lucky enough to read an advance copy...The Hunger Games, by the author of the Gregor the Overlander series, won't be published until October 1st, 2008. Place your holds now for this amazing book!