Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Just Finished: "Akiko: Volume Seven: The Battle of Boach's Keep" by Mark Crilley

Just Finished: Akiko: Volume Seven: The Battle of Boach's Keep by Mark Crilley, 2007, 1579890644.

I was distracted while reading this because the novel is dedicated to the victims of September 11. I kept wondering if a political or moral statement was being made by Crilley on U.S. foreign policy, or the Iraq War, or terrorism, and so on. It's too bad I was distracted because Crilley did a good job. Again.

Spuckler is having a cookout with Beeba, Gax and Poog when he gets a special delivery from the Gothtek company offering to pay 250,000 Gilpots for the old Boach family property on Nostoram. Spuckler immediately leaves the barbecue and travels to Nostoram to accept the money and collect some items from the house.

Spuckler had not been home since his father died 20 years earlier. After getting to Nostoram Spuckler finds out that Gothtek plans to raze the house, along with everything else on the planet, for a beautification project. Spuckler decides his father would never have wanted the house to be destroyed and he decides to defend the property. The fact that he already accepted the money from Gothtek does not phase him.

Lots of shooting ensues between Spuckler and Gothtek attack vehicles. Akiko is pressured by King Froptoppit to act as an ambassador to Gothtek. Akiko finds out that Gothtek is not the evil planet destroying Goliath of the past. Spuckler's true reasons for defending the old house are discovered. Everyone goes home happy.

Crilley has some neat-o methods for chaning scenes and showing elapsed time . I kind of skipped through those sections because I wanted the story to keep moving.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Finished: "Akiko: Volume Six" by Mark Crilley

Finished: Akiko Volume Six: Issues 32-38 "Stranded in Komura" and "Moonshopping" by Mark Crilley, 2003, 1579890571.

Typically excellent work by Crilley. A compilation of previously published comics.

Akiko is a fourth grader who has occasional adventures in outer space with Spuckler, Mr. Beeba, Gax and Poog. Stranded has Akiko and her friends from outer space crash landing in Japan after running out of fuel. Moonshopping has Mr. Beeba detailed by King Froptoppit to go purchase a moon in an alternate dimension, the Farflux Dimension, after seeing another planet's impressive, and brand new, moon.

Whimsical and fun stories with insulting banter between the scientific Mr. Beeba and the unbather space pilot, Spuckler. Fourth grader Akiko is regular a voice of reason and knowledge. I really like Crilley's illustrations; both the style and perspective are neat-o. Crilley has a series of junior novels about Akiko but I could not get into those.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Just Read: "The Gutter and the Grave" by Ed McBain

Just Read: The Gutter and the Grave by Ed McBain, 2005 (1958 original), 0843955872.

Very Good. That McBain was a heck of a good writer. Gutter does not get really interesting until about 75 pages into the story when the lead character, Matt Cordell, finds out how much he has been lied to. Cordell dropped out of life five years previous after he pistol whipped the guy Cordell's wife was in bed with. The resulting publicity ruined Cordell's detective agency and the pain of his wife's betrayal turned him into a full-time drunk.

Cordell is sitting on a Manhattan park bench thinking of booze when an old neighborhood friend finds him. Johnny, the friend, asks Cordell to look into some cash register thefts at his tailoring business. Cordell is shamed into the favor and he and Johnny walk onto a murder scene at Johnny's shop. To keep himself out of more police trouble Cordell promises Johnny he will investigate the killing as long as Johnny keeps Cordell's name out of it.

Cordell has two or three girls throw themselves at him, gets in trouble with the cops, runs into an old adversary and is simultaneously beaten with a lead pipe and a blackjack. Many lies are told and, even though you can quickly figure out who the murderer is, McBain does a good job twisting around suspects and plot. Mcbain has some wonderfully descriptive writing in this one.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Read: "1776" by David McCullough

Read: 1776 by David McCullough, 2005, 0743226712.

I had wanted to read 1776 and several of the other Revolutionary War/Founding Fathers books that were popping up left and right over the past several years. 1776 is the first book I've gotten to.

This a short history of, roughly, the first year of the Revolutionary War. McCullough concentrates on Washington and the main Continental Army with little coverage of political matters except how they relate to Washington's command. McCullough mentions the campaigns in Canada, Northern New York and the South only in how they affected the work of the Continental Army in Massachusetts and New York.

The Continental Army was very fortunate to survive the year. Poor finances, limited enlistments, multiple setbacks and defeats, poor supplies, and on, and on and on. Washington made several blunders that the British exploited, but he learned from each one and improved his command. After being in retreat for several months the defeat of the Hessians mercenaries at Trenton on December 26th was a much needed boost after the defeats of the summer and fall. Trenton was dismissed by the British as a skirmish not a battle. But, the shocking victory against the Hessians by a ragtag army was a tremendous morale boost to the soldiers and their supporters.

I'd like to read some of the other books McCullough lists in his extensive bib. but I probably will not get to them for a while.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Just Finished: "The Guns of Heaven" by Pete Hamill

Just finished The Guns of Heaven by Pete Hamill, 0843955953, 2006 (originally published 1983).

Not bad. Another Hard Case Crime novel. The only thing I knew about Pete Hamill is that he is a journalist and wrote a memoir about being a drunk. The bio on his webpage lists additional fiction work by Hamill. I figured he only wrote this one and a couple other novels. Guess not.

Sam Briscoe is a journalist on a writing assignment to Belfast, Northern Ireland. He's also in town to visit his Uncle Frank who used to be an active bigwig in the Provisional IRA. Briscoe is sympathetic to the IRA side of the conflict and after Frank arranges an interview with a shadowy Provo commander the commander asks Briscoe to deliver an envelope to a IRA colleague in New York City.

After the interview Briscoe's Uncle Frank is murdered and three days later Briscoe travels on to see his teen daughter who attends boarding school in Geneva, Switzerland. While in Geneva, Briscoe recognizes a tail from Belfast and goes into high alert. Briscoe does not know who is following him. Is it the SAS? The Provos? The UVF? But, he figures the tail is related to the envelope he carries and that his life in in danger.

Briscoe flees with his daughter, drops her at her mother's in Spain, and travels to NYC where he delivers the envelope to an Irish bar. After delivery he spots another tail, beats the guy up and the sees the Irish bar blown up. Things get worse from there. Briscoe knows too much and someone is trying to shut him up. Briscoe's daughter is kidnapped, Briscoe himself is captured, and people get shot.

Not that bad overall but it read like a part of a series. The character refers to past history and events that explain Briscoe's background and add interest to the character. But, Hamill does not expound on those events like a one-off novel usually does. The strong part of Guns are the discussion of Northern Ireland politics and the extremists. A tough guy journalist just doesn't fit the genre.

Not sure I'll take another of his books if something else is available.