BW31: True Crime

It's book week 31 and our 52 books quest is all about True Crime which is a genre with no middle ground—readers either love it or have no stomach for true examples of the darker side of human behavior. The modern genre started with Edmund Pearson in the 1920s and continues today in dozens of forms of media, from books to podcasts.

Currently reading Qiu Xiaolong's Inspector Chen's # 7th book - Don't Cry Tai Lake

"Chief Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Department is offered a bit of luxury by friends and supporters within the Party – a week’s vacation at a luxurious resort near Lake Tai, a week where he can relax, and recover, undisturbed by outside demands or disruptions. Unfortunately, the once beautiful Lake Tai, renowned for its clear waters, is now covered by fetid algae, its waters polluted by toxic runoff from local manufacturing plants. Then the director of one of the manufacturing plants responsible for the pollution is murdered and the leader of the local ecological group is the primary suspect of the local police. Now Inspector Chen must tread carefully if he is to uncover the truth behind the brutal murder and find a measure of justice for both the victim and the accused."

Next up Emily Henry's Book Lovers:

"Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.

Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small-town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.

If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves."


We just watched Gray Man which was an excellent and exciting thriller. 

Peach Pie

Feeling ambitious, I decided to make the peach pie totally from scratch. An hour and a half later, from making the crust to pealing the peaches to fluting the dough edges. Not perfect or pretty but I did it. It was delicious! 

I hadn't planned on July being my reread month but once I started reading the first book in the  Armand Gamache series, decided to read the whole series. Discovered there were a few in the middle I hadn't read so thankfully for Kindle Unlimited was able to read those.  Love the cast of characters, the mystery playing out in the midst of some personal crisis, how they solved the crime. After a while the descriptors attached to some of the characters got a little old but other than that, each story's killer was unique. There were some surprises and red herrings to throw every one off. All in all, enjoyed the series and now have to wait until November for #18 A World of Curiosities. 

Started one of Jennifer Estep's newest series A Sense of Danger. Good so far. 

James M's review of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012)


Greetings, Bat-fans.

Well, this is it. 

After seven years and two movies, we've reached the end of the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy starring Christian Bale, the series of Batman movies that brought the Dark Knight himself back to his darker roots and reinvigorated Batman for a new generation of audiences in an era where superhero movies were on the rise in popularity. 

And THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, our movie we are covering, came out in the same year as THE AVENGERS, the very film that really ensured the superhero craze that is still going on to this day.

Following the battle with The Joker and Harvey Dent/Two Face's death in THE DARK KNIGHT, Batman faces his greatest trial yet when Bane arrives in Gotham City to destroy it. The battle pushes the Dark Knight and his allies almost to the breaking point with Bane and his goons taking control of the city and threatening it with destruction, even Batman's taken out of commission for a time.

But in the end, Batman gets back up and Gotham rises up against its oppressors. And after a long-fought battle, Bane is defeated and Gotham is saved with it's dark protector seemingly sacrificing himself until Alfred discovers later that Bruce is still alive and has hooked up with Silena Kyle aka Catwoman, a perfect ending to a decently-made trilogy.

What else can I say about the movie? 

Christian Bale's acting was the best part of the film alongside Michael Caine's portrayal of Bruce's butler, even Gary Oldman nailed it as Commissioner Gordon. And you could say this was Tom Hardy's first comic book movie role, playing Bane, almost six years before he played the role of Eddie Brock/Venom.

The action in this movie is perhaps the most well put together in any action movie, especially superhero films. You gotta love the fight choreography as well as the musical score and how well the tone is handled with the story, you can feel suspense at nearly every turn to a point where you're worried about the future of Gotham by the end. I wasn't worried, I knew that our heroes would be fine.

Is there potential for more stories set in this universe?

Maybe, but for now, let the Nolan-verse version of Batman and his crew have their happy ending. However, rumor has it that Bale's Batman may show up in THE FLASH, which is coming out in 2023 and will be about exploring the multiverse. Michael Keaton's version of Batman is coming back, so why can't Christian Bale's version of Batman make his return as well?

Overall, this trilogy, along with so many other superhero films and film trilogies, is the best one yet. This film deserves the love it got at the time and I say the score is a ten out of ten just as the entire trilogy deserves that big old 10/10. Mr. Nolan, you were amazing. And Bale, congratulations on playing your role in making Batman a dark hero again.

Now, we rest.

-James M

James M's review of Doctor Who: The Legend of the Sea Devils


Sorry for the delay, Whovians. 

Today, we're here to discuss/review LEGEND OF THE SEA DEVILS, the Thirteenth Doctor's penultimate episode before the big one and the second special of 2022 after the New Year's Eve of The Daleks episode.

In this serial, The Doctor, Dan and Yaz visit a Chinese town under siege from the Sea Devils and have to team up with a pirate queen in order to defeat them. Despite all the odds against them, they saved the world and defeated the group of Sea Devil pirates causing trouble while The Doctor's relationship with Yaz is explored even further. That's right, The Doctor and Yaz have become a couple, you gotta love these kinds of relationships and stuff.

Anyway, what do I think of this episode?

It's dang good, has quite the entertainment value like all Doctor Who episodes have to a degree. And nearing the end of her run, Jodie Whittaker has done an impressive job as the Time Lord. While it sure has been fun, the end is nigh again and nothing lasts forever. 

The action was quite well-choreographed and the pacing did not feel off in the slightest, even the actors as well as the crew knew what they were doing with this wild episode.

Overall, LEGEND OF THE SEA DEVILS gets a solid score of 9/10. If you're a long-time Whovian who wants to see the aquatic dinosaur people again, this is just the show for you.

Now, its time for the endgame. Next time, The Doctor will meet some old friends and foes again and face her impending regeneration. Bring on the Fourteenth Doctor, BBC.

-James M

BW30: Bookish miscellanea

It week 30 in our 52 Books Quest and this week we celebrate Amelia Earhart day, National Tequila day, Culinarians day, All or Nothing day, National Love is Kind day, National Milk Chocolate day, National Lasagna day, National Cheesecake day, and last but not least. Paperback book day. Hmm, I think I'm hungry!

My neighbor dropped off a bag of peaches from his garden today. I decided I should make lasagna as well as a peach pie this week, so off the the grocery store I went. And while I was there, I got to thinking how we have been in kind of a food rut lately and should pick up something different for a change versus the same ole, same ole. I ended up with a potpourri of items.

I'm currently on #14 Kingdom of the Blind in Louise Penny's Armand Gamache reread and still enjoying the heck out of the series.

"The investigation into what happened six months ago—the events that led to his suspension—has dragged on, into the dead of winter. And while most of the opioids he allowed to slip though his hands, in order to bring down the cartels, have been retrieved, there is one devastating exception.

Enough narcotic to kill thousands has disappeared into inner city Montreal. With the deadly drug about to hit the streets, Gamache races for answers.

As he uses increasingly audacious, even desperate, measures to retrieve the drug, Armand Gamache begins to see his own blind spots. And the terrible things hiding there."

James and I are also listening to Ready Player One on Audible.

BW29: Fall of the Evening Star

It's book week 29 in our 52 Books quest and highlighting Kenneth Patchen. 

I bookmark things on my computer, buy cards with unique sayings, add books to my wishlist and I'll come across them later and wonder what was I thinking. What struck me at the time and why did I save it? This poem is one of those saved and forgotten. I was going through bookmarks, deleting those I don't use anymore and found it. Don't know when I bookmarked it, but I'm glad I found it again. Love the imagery. Reminds me of reading and rereading stories and getting something completely different out of them versus the first time. Sigh! So lovely.

Fall of the Evening Star


Kenneth Patchen

Speak softly; sun going down

Out of sight. Come near me now.

Dear dying fall of wings as birds

complain against the gathering dark...

Exaggerate the green blood in grass;

the music of leaves scraping space;

Multiply the stillness by one sound;

by one syllable of your name...

And all that is little is soon giant,

all that is rare grows in common beauty

To rest with my mouth on your mouth

as somewhere a star falls

And the earth takes it softly, in natural love...

Exactly as we take each other...

and go to sleep...

BW28: Southern Fiction and my roots

 It's book week 28 in our 52 books quest and it's all about southern fiction.

I was born and raised in the south before we headed out to wild and wacky California. But my roots will always remain in Texas where I was born, then Alabama to Georgia during my formative high school and college years.   Yes, I was one of those who used to call everybody hon or sweetie or darlin. And dropped the g's on all words ending in ing. I had to work hard to lose the accent once we landed in California, however my southern accent still creeps back in when I'm tired or I hear someone speaking with a drawl.  But Y'ALL has stuck with me ever since.  And I bet y'all are wondering why I'm telling you this. Why our next 52 Books Bingo category, of course! 

I have Fannie Flag's Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Café on the nightstand for my southern fiction read. 

I thought I had read the whole Armand Gamache series previously but I guess I was wrong.  Started with A Brutal Telling way back in 2009, jumped back to book one, then bounced around over the years.  Enjoying binging the series, reading each one, learning more about each character, as well as discovering who the murderer is in each one. Happily books one through five are on Kindle Unlimited and I have the rest in my stacks. Just finished Bury Your Dead which broke my heart several times, but the fascinating history lead me to look up info on Quebec and Champlain which provided some relief from the emotional impact of Armand reliving the shoot out and his conversations with Morin.  

Recently finished Emily Henry's Beach Reads which was excellent and about two authors emotional struggle to get past their grief of destroyed relationships while writing their novels.

 "Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.  

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they're living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer's block.  Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really."

James M's review of IDW Sonic issue 50

Welcome back, Sonic fans. 
This is it, after months of build up and two years after issue 25 as well as over a few decades after Archie Sonic reached it's 50th issue, IDW Sonic has reached its 50th issue and it is big.

Was the pay-off worth it, especially with the plot around Surge, Kit, Doctor Starline, their plan and the looming battle with Sonic and Tails that unfolded?

In many ways, yes. 

While it didn't change the status quo, it was epic and engaging if not just satisfying to boot. IDW Sonic issue 50 was well written and had great action scenes throughout, especially with the fight between Doctor Eggman and Doctor Starline. Its so nice when storylines often live up to the hype, you don't want disappointment and this issue does not disappoint anyone.

IDW Sonic has done a very good job throughout its four year run, telling engaging stories and showing respect to the characters we know well. It also appears to serve as a satisfying (and unexpected) conclusion to Doctor Starline's story. How does it conclude? With Starline beaten by Eggman and reduced to a maddened state while rubble falls on him.

That's right, this issue 50 of a Sonic comic sees someone die. But this time, instead of an established villain like Doctor Ivo Robotnik, its the comic original character Doctor Starline. 

It is impressive that the writers can get away with whatever they want to get away with in regards to the original comic-exclusive characters, the game characters have to be untouched and in character. SEGA standards after all, you don't want to tick them off at all...

My final score for this issue is... a 10, Ian Flynn pulled off the near impossible once again and the art is so beautiful, just beautiful.

Now, we await the next issue and promise to continue following this wonderous journey.
Farewell, fans, for now...

-James M

BW27: 52 Books July Crime Spree - American Mysteries

 It's book week 27 in our 52 Books Quest and this month's crime spree is all about American Mysteries. I have a lot of those on my night stand. 

Read  The Cat and The City by Nick Bradley. It's odd and intriguing but not my cup of tea.  Too crude and not very uplifting.  Good premise with cat tying all the tales together but the stories left me depressed

On my nightstand: 

Carlos Ruiz Zafon's second book in the Cemetery of Lost books - The Angel's Game.  I finished Shadow of the Wind and didn't remember any of it, so like reading for the very first time. Plenty of twists and turns and tales within tales. 

Rebecca Zanetti's first book in her Deep Op's series -  Hidden

Brandon Sanderon's third book in the Stormlight Archive - Oathbringer

George Eliot's Middlemarch (not making much progress but hope to soon.