Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Killing Trail (Timber Creek K-9 Mystery #1)Killing Trail by Margaret Mizushima
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this first book in the series we are introduced to Police officer Mattie Cobb and her new partner, K-9 police dog Robo. Mattie and Robo have only recently finished their training and are assigned as the first members of the new K-9 division of the Timber Creek, Colorado Police Dept.

When a young girl goes missing and Robo discovers her body, Mattie and her partner begin an investigation into the murder and possible drug dealing in the small town. Both Mattie and Robo are getting to know each other, and are just beginning to form a bond when things begin to escalate, when a second body is found, that of the major suspect in the girl's killing. The investigation may lead back to Mattie's past and possibly a fellow officer.

Officer Cobb, Robo and a newly divorced veterinarian are great characters. A solid beginning to the series.



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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Stardust App and Netflix addiction

A few months ago the Schmoes Know crew began promoting a new app, Stardust, on their podcasts.  It allows anyone who has an account to create a short video of twenty seconds in which they can give their thoughts on current or past films, reactions to trailers or review of a particular television series and individual episodes.  Fellow members can then Like the review. It sounded like fun, so I downloaded the app on my iPhone.

Now each morning and several times at night I'll log on and see what my fellow 'Dusters have to say.  They have made it easy to search either by the reviewer or by a film or TV show title, where you can get all the reviews previously loaded.  Initially, members would sometimes post a video in response, but recently Stardust has added a 'comment' feature that makes it easier and really does create a sense  of community. 

Each week members receive an e-mail and message in the app, recommending shows and films to which they would like members to pay attention.  These are usually new releases or popular series. There is also a weekly video where portions of member posts are shown to a larger audience.  A cool way to get more followers and find folks you might not have been aware of previously.

If this sort of thing interests you check it out. You can find me, if you want, at @Stevec50.

As I may have mentioned previously, the Ladies were kind enough to set me up with Netflix, and it wasn't long before I began watching a number of films and TV shows I'd never had a chance to catch initially.  There are also programs, like Stranger Things, House of Cards and several series based on characters from Marvel Comics. 

I've tried five of the six Marvel shows so far, only The Defenders, which unites the individual characters remains to be seen.  The current shows I'm watching are Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Iron Fist and The Punisher.  I find that I'm in agreement with my fellow 'Dusters and many other folks on social media regarding Daredevil. It's not bad, so much as lesser in quality when compared to the other shows, especially (IMHO) Luke Cage and The Punisher. All the series stay fairly close to the source, with only a few small references to the Marvel films or the bigger hitters in that universe.

The Ladies are having me watch House of Cards and I'm in the middle of Season Two.  Most folks seem to agree the show gets weaker after the third season, but I've got a way to go before I find out for myself. Of course, with the Kevin Spacey controversy it doesn't look like there will be anything beyond the current season. Unless Netflix decides to make some major changes, writing out his character in some fashion.  

I've go to admit that for me it's Stranger Things that make my subscription worth the money. I absolutely love the show (only in its second season) and really admire the acting of the mostly young cast.  Winona Ryder, as Joyce, the mother of one of the kids is amazing.  Easy to forget what a good actress she is.  The other main adult character being David Harbour as Chief Hopper.  Harbour can go from light comedic scenes to really being a bad ass, making both scenes believable.  Considering the horror and SF elements of the series, the fact that the writers allow for so much humor in some episodes helps to flesh out the characters.  

Sorry I went on for a bit, but it has been a while since I've done more than drop in a video or a review.  

I also want to wish everyone a very, Happy Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Four-Color Fiend: A Graphic Novel Review - The Discworld Graphic Novels

The Discworld Graphic Novels: The Colour of Magic & The Light FantasticThe Discworld Graphic Novels: The Colour of Magic & The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you are already a fan of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series these graphic novel adaptations will be an additional delight. The two books here were adapted by Scott Rockwell, with wonderful artwork by Steven Ross. Even if the characters aren't exactly as you may have envisioned them it's still fun to see them.

These novels introduce the reader to the concept of Discworld, a place where magic isn't what it used to be and one has to be careful since you really can sail off the face of the world and into the void. Discworld rests on the back of four huge elephants, who themselves stand upon the back of the giant turtle, Great A'Tuin. Not a perfect place, but the Creator was running short of ideas and this seemed good enough at the time.

We follow the travels and adventures of the failed wizard, Rincewind and Discworld's first 'tourist' the sometimes clueless, Twoflower. Also along is Twoflower's magical luggage trunk, which will always find its owner, and is pretty able of taking care of itself.

Great for fans of fantasy, who don't mind a little humor and the poking fun of religions.


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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Ultimatum: March On UltimatumUltimatum: March On Ultimatum by Aron E. Coleite
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Maybe if I had read the Ultimates titles when Marvel was publishing those books this would have meant something to me. I frankly never got further than the first issue of Ultimate Spider-Man, so the versions of the characters that appear here don't have an impact. Let's face it, if you don't know or care about a character than their death (sometimes in multiple incarnations) doesn't mean anything.

I was never really sure what the point of the Ultimates were, except that some of the characters (Nick Fury, in particular) more closely resembled the ones we saw in the MCU films. As this hardcover is a compilation of several annuals the writing and artwork varies depending on the creators. The artwork is never bad, but some artists are certainly better than the material they work on here.

If you are a total Marvel Zombie (I think there's a trademark on that now) or a fan who loved the Ultimate titles, you're bound to get more out of this than I did. Really glad I could borrow this from the Library and not have to pay for it.


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Friday, October 20, 2017

Batman/The Flash: The Button Deluxe EditionBatman/The Flash: The Button Deluxe Edition by Tom King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have to admit that when I first heard about this I was going to give it a pass. I don't want to give anything away, but older fans might immediately pick up on the 'major reveal' from just the cover of the collection.

I can't say that the merging of the DCU with that of the other world seems like more a spit in the eye of one of the creators of that group of characters. It's still enough to catch my interest, but there really is no great mystery, as I say, just a series of events that get the Flash and Batman from one point to another. Tom King does what he can with this plot, but I can't say that he does enough for me to get me to come back.

With Batman now in the midst of the Metal cross-over event, I don't know when or how this will be resolved. To be honest I don't know at this point if I care if it does.


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Monday, September 25, 2017

A Book Review - GHOSTS a graphic novel

GhostsGhosts by Raina Telgemeier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Telgemeier, known for her graphic novel adaptations of The Baby-Sitters Club, as well as the original books Sisters & Smile, here tells the story of Catrina, a typical young teenage girl whose parents take her and her sister from sunny, Southern California to a windy and foggy seaside town in the norther part of the state. The move is due to the cystic fibrosis with which her younger sister, Maya, suffers. As much as she loves her sister and is concerned about her, Cat can't help but feel some anger as she is separated from the friends and their social activities. Slowly she becomes adapted to her new school and makes friends, but in doing so cuts Maya out of her life.

One thing that both sisters discover is that the town believes in and celebrates ghosts, especially at the annual Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival. It seems that here in this town the dead truly do return to party and feast with their descendants. Can the fearful Catrina finally accept the possibility that spirits do survive? Also, why do some of them become so welcoming to young Maya, who understand all too well how brief life can be.

While Telgemeier's artstyle is easily accessible to kids, I'm not sure that this book would not frighten some younger children, with the concept of death, especially of children their own age. Lovely book, but parents might want to read it before letting their child read it or reading it to them.


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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Book Review: Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart

Girl Waits with Gun (Kopp Sisters, #1)Girl Waits with Gun by Amy  Stewart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first book in a series based on the real life of Constance Kopp, an early female Deputy Sheriff in Bergen County, NJ. She and her sisters, living on their own on a farm, became involved in an accident with a local business owner who refused to pay for the repair of their buggy. From that point on the lives of all three sisters took a dramatic turn. Eventually leading to Constance entering a profession quite unusual for women in that era.

Told from the viewpoint of Constance, Stewart (using a mix of real and fictional characters) presents a wonderful, if old fashioned story of three very, different women and how their lives were changed by what should have been the simple repayment of a debt. Throwing in a fictional account of a child kidnapping, the book consists mostly of material taken from newspaper articles, letters and journal entries, plus interviews with the descendants of some individuals.

All three of the Copp sisters, along with other secondary characters in the book are well developed and I'm looking forward to reading the other books in the series.


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