Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Walking Dead: Compendium Three by Robert Kirkman et al.

I started this monster in September 2016 and just finished it the other day. Once again, no, it really didn't take me that long to read. But I got caught up in the show and I really didn't want to know what happened, or what could happen. At the mid-season finale, when {spoiler} got bit, I knew I needed to finish this compendium.

Let me just say that the show has deviated quite a bit. What upset me on the show didn't happen in the comics except I ended up getting completely upset by the ending of the compendium and just have to say DO NOT KILL {SPOILER}, DAMMIT.

So the beginning of this compendium, Negan is still a thing, Abraham is alive and they are not yet broken. The ending is way beyond the show and we get an all new villain for the survivors to deal with because Negan is no longer a threat......or is he??

This is a good one. I'm eager to see The Whisperers played out on the show but DO NOT KILL {SPOILER}.......DAMMIT.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Deep Freeze by John Sandford

Another Fuckin' Flowers book, number 10 to be exact. Although it does seem like his nickname of That Fuckin' Flowers is being phased out and he's just Virgil now. I'm ok with that.

Virgil is called to Trippton, MN, which you may remember from Deadline, book number 8. This time the body of one of the richest women in Trippton has been "caught" by a fisherman. Except, we already know who killed Gina Hemming, because the first chapter introduced us to Bug Boy, David Birkmann and showed us the murder. But wait, David didn't throw Gina's body in the frozen river. He staged an accident. So.....how did she get there?

Naturally, we have to have another case thrown in to make Virgil's life more complicated. Margaret Griffin shows up in Trippton, an ex-L.A. cop, paid by Mattel, to come put a stop to counterfeit Barbies. Not JUST Barbies. These Barbie's have a special...."feature". As do the Ken dolls. Whew. Who thinks this stuff up?

I really enjoyed how Virgil handled this one. I had to re-read his solving of the murder and was damn impressive at how his brain works.

Fully recommend this one, no need to even start at the beginning of the series.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Overdue Podcast - Moby Dick

I was searching out podcasts of other folk's opinions on Moby Dick. This was one of my favorites and is now on my list of podcasts to listen to on a regular basis.

Overdue Podcast

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Moby Dick by Herman Melville


My 2017 Big Damn Classic as voted by YOU, the readers, (thanks a lot)! I started listening to this in September 2017 and finished last night.

Librivox says this was only 24 hours long but, lordy, it felt longer sometimes. Stewart Wills is a fantastic reader so if you do dive into this book, find his version on Librivox.org.

So let's get into this, hmm? I'll admit that it took so long to listen to that the beginning of the book is a bit foggy but overall we are met with action and long descriptions. We are met with deep views into people called Savages and into savage people. At the heart of this, Melville delves into the people. I laughed that this was a book with 133 chapters learning about the characters and 2 chapters watching them die. It was actually a terribly sad ending.

Call me Ishmael.

One of the most famous opening lines leads us into Ishmael's narrative about trying to get a job on a whaling ship in Nantucket. He arrives at the Spouter's Inn and is forced to share a bed since they were full. He ends up with Queequeg (or Hedgehog as people kept calling him, which made me laugh harder than it should), a heavily tattooed pagan cannibal who is also an excellent harpooner. Ishmael and Queequeg quickly become friends and soon head to the Pequod to try and get work. Queequeg is a given based on his ability with a harpoon. Ishmael gets in reluctantly.

Ahab is the ship's captain and isn't seen for a long while after the ship has sailed. Chief Mate Starbuck handles everything in the Captain's absence. Second Mate, Stubb and Third Mate, Flask make up the main crew. After the ship is on it's way, Ahab gathers the crew to tell them their goal is to find the white whale, Moby Dick. He offers up a reward for anyone who helps capture and kill the whale. Here we know that, technically, this ship is set for whaling in general. Ahab has now made this voyage his personal vendetta against the whale that took his leg.

Not everyone is pleased with this. The longer the voyage, the less pleased they are with Ahab's direction. At one point, Ahab's death was on the mind of his Chief Mate but, alas, nothing came of it.

In the end, Moby Dick is spotted and, for 3 days, Ahab orders his men out to try and kill the whale. Moby is an angry whale. He wreaks havoc on Ahabs crew: destroying the whale boats, sinking the Pequod and killing everyone on board and finally killing Ahab and everyone in the whale boats.

Except for Ishmael. Who is found days later, clinging to a buoy in the middle of the ocean.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that vengeance is bad. Ahab was cold and heartless towards everyone around him. He was laser-focused on his revenge against the white whale that nothing else, and no one else, mattered. Even when the men of his crew begged him to stop this chase so they would live to see their families, he turned a deaf ear.

There is so much more to this story that my summation doesn't do it justice. Is it worth reading? Yes, I think so. Some chapters nearly killed me but now I know the skeletal anatomy of a whale so there's extra trivia knowledge. I did enjoy meeting the characters and was truly saddened at their demise at the hands of Ahab's fury.

Firstly, there are movies, of which I have seen none:

In The Heart Of The Sea (with Chris Hemsworth, no less) Based on the true story of the Essex being rammed by a sperm whale

Moby Dick with Gregory Peck

And because this is funny!

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I had heard about this book from the Down Cellar Studio podcast. The host was embarking on her own Happiness Project and I was curious. We're already into February so I won't be starting my own project but I did pick up several tips I want to try.

Rubin researched what happiness is and how to achieve it then spent a year trying to live it. Each month focused on a different aspect and then December was a culmination of everything she learned. In the end, she was happier, although there were no means of measurement. It was interesting to read what her happiness definitions were (fighting right with her spouse, for one) and to see where she failed or where the advice failed her.

She tried a Pollyanna week, where she spoke no negativity, no snide remarks, no criticisms. She failed before she got out of bed. But she kept trying, over and over.

Happiness appears to be a trait you need to continually practice. There are people out there who do not want you to be happy. Situations can tax your spirit. But, like Buddhism, it's all about practice.

Enthusiasm is more important to mastery than innate ability, it turns out, because the single most important element in developing an expertise is your willingness to practice.

Some advice is curious, such as starting a collection. Rubin tried and then stopped. It just wasn't her. One of her main truths she followed in this project was "Be Gretchen". Being yourself, 100%, when the world is telling you what you should be doing is difficult, but Rubin recognized when the happiness advice was counter to her inner truth.

I marked a few passages and quotes to help me 'think happy':

One reason that challenge brings happiness is that it allows you to expand your self-definition. You become larger. Suddenly you can do yoga or make homemade beer or speak a decent amount of Spanish. Research shows that the more elements make up your identity, the less threatening it is when any one element is threatened.

Studies show that consistently grateful people are happier and more satisfied with their lives; they even feel more physically healthy and spend more time exercising.

Gratitude brings freedom from envy, because when you’re grateful for what you have, you’re not consumed with wanting something different or something more.

One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.

What I really took from this is compassion and gratitude are key. Again, much like Buddhism. Rubin delved into Buddhism a bit and worked on her mindfulness. That is also key to being grateful and paying attention to now.

It takes work to be happy, but in the end, it not only benefits you, it benefits those around you.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman

I really wasn't sure what to expect with this but I knew it was Neil Gaiman and Marvel so  that was a Duh for me. Once I got into it and started realizing what it was and who the characters actually were, then I couldn't stop reading.

The characters from the Marvel universe set 400 years in the past. I didn't immediately recognize a lot of characters (why did it take so long to realize who Master Fury was??). There are weird weather patterns happening in England/Europe and in the New World (aka America). Virginia Dare and her bodyguard, Rojhaz, travel to see the Queen to ask for assistance with the new colony. Dare has a unique "problem": when she's angry or terrified, she changes into an animal. Rojhaz is always there to find and protect her until she's able to change back.

Doctor Strange is the Queen's personal physician. Master Fury also works with the Queen as Head of Intelligence. Things start breaking down badly when a secret treasure from the Knights Templar needs to get to England. Fury and his assistant Peter Parquagh ( I didn't catch this til the end. Oh, Amanda) are attacked and things finally collapse when the Queen is killed. King James of Scotland wants the crown and wants all the Witchbreed dead.

We pull in pretty much everyone here: X-Men, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Daredevil, Captain America, etc. The season of the superhero is forced when the world is about to end. 

Incredibly interesting perspective of superheros in the past, being brought into fruition just to save our universe and all the rest of the universes out there.

EXCELLENT graphic novel!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Hardcore Twenty-Four by Janet Evanovich

I thoroughly enjoyed this latest escapade of Stephanie Plum with only one exception: the words "She blew out a sigh" were repeated everywhere. I blame the editor on this one. That repetitiveness should have been caught. Otherwise, I was fully on-board for this ride with Stephanie, Lula, and zombies.

Zombies? Now that's a twist.

We're 24 books in to the Plum series and you know what you are getting. This time we added a third hot guy who wants to sleep with Stephanie and zombies. And Ethel. Don't forget Ethel. Stephanie just wants to be paid so she's trying to track down the skips for her cousin Vinnie's bail bonds business. She doesn't want to deal with giant, 50lb boa constrictors (Hi Ethel!), meth making idiots who blow up buildings (Yo, Zero Slick) and zombies.

I did figure out really early on how the zombies came to be but it was worth suspending belief to see Lula freaking the hell out every time she saw a zombie. I did lose track how many of Ranger's cars Stephanie destroyed in this book but no one seems to care. It's all suspended belief, junk food reading and pure fun.