Best Microfiction 2019
April 17th, 2019 by diane92345

Mystery, romance, mythology and pathos. It is all here in the Best Microfiction 2019.

In the time taken to watch another catheter ad on daytime tv, you could slip into a fully formed life. It may be the story of a dragon, a protective older brother, or a murder victim. Some of these super-short stories may linger for days while others quickly fade from memory. However, all 87 are worth the reader’s time. My personal favorites are the post-apocalyptic “You’ve Stopped” by Tommy Dean and the heartfelt “Any Body” by Sarah Freligh. The Best Microfiction 2019 deserves 4 stars!

Thanks to Petekinesis and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Literary Fiction, New Books Tagged with: ,

The Fallen
May 18th, 2018 by diane92345

Another great police procedural, #4 in the Memory Man series.

Amos and his partner, Alex, are on vacation when Amos sees something in a nearby house and investigates. Two bodies are found and Amos and Alex join the local police in searching for the murderer. Soon the opioid crisis, an Amazon-like fulfillment center and rust belt deterioration are central to the investigation.

The characters in this series grow and change as time goes on so it is important to read the books in order. A compelling read with great plotting! 4 stars!

Thanks to my local library for a copy. #FrugalFriday short review!

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: , ,

The Big Ones
April 19th, 2018 by diane92345

A history of disasters and a prediction of The Big Ones fill Dr. Jones’ book.

Containing a wealth of information about the science underlying disasters, The Big Ones is written in an informal and non-technical manner. From Pompeii and Iceland’s volcanos, to California’s 1861 floods, to earthquakes in 1775 Lisbon, 1923 Japan, 2004 Sumatra and 2005 Hurricane Katrina, floods are surprisingly the most dangerous threat. Many people live through an earthquake but the subsequent tsunami’s flood waters kill them. Most victims of Hurricane Katrina died after the levees were overrun and broken from the resulting flood waters. The good news is if you live above 500 feet, there is no reason to worry about tsunamis even if you are on a cliff directly above the ocean.

Born and living my entire life in Los Angeles, Dr. Jones was a familiar face on television after each earthquake. The 1971 6.5 earthquake in the valley knocked down a nearby supermarket’s roof while I watched from my bedroom window. The 1994 6.7 Northridge earthquake shook for only 7 seconds but felt like an hour. The Big One in the book is prophesied to be 7.8 to 8.2 and last 50 seconds. Since I drive literally over the San Andreas fault to work every day, the earthquake prediction was the most interesting to me. The fault slippage will leave a 20 to 30 foot trench between the Californian coast and the rest of the United States—for 250-350 miles close to parallel with the coast—adversely impacting rescue efforts.

Earthquake locations can be predicted but not their timing. However, some locations are still surprising like the New Madrid Missouri earthquake in 1811 that leveled the town. The Big Ones is recommended for all interested in natural disasters or for anyone wanting to learn from past disasters. 4 stars.

Thanks to the publisher, Doubleday, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

The Bridge How the Roeblings Connected Brooklyn to New York
April 18th, 2018 by diane92345

Fourteen years, deaths, illnesses, corruption and kickbacks!  Who knew a history of the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge could be so interesting?

It takes a family (and a lot of immigrants) to build the Brooklyn Bridge in The Bridge: How the Roeblings Connected Brooklyn to New York. The story begins when John Augustus and his son Washington Roebling are trapped by ice in a ferry from Brooklyn to New York City. Washington was still a high school student but he figured out how to free the ferry using materials on board.  Later, Washington’s life is shown from college to war to marriage to a family of his own. Once the bridge construction begins, it is interesting how many new techniques are used. In the nineteenth century, America was inventive and proud of their new technologies. At times, politics and corruption appeared.  However, the bridge continued to be built though behind schedule and over budget.  Government hasn’t changed much in the past 130 years.

This is a great adventure story.  Sure everyone knows that the bridge was built.  Few know the technology used to build it.  I doubt that the loss of life and expense in 2018 dollars would allow it to be built today. It is a fascinating look at the hubris of early America, where anything seemed possible. It is also a unparalleled love story between Washington and his wife, Emily.  Emily was willing to fight gender prejudice and high-powered politicians to ensure her husband’s dream reached fruition.

Surprisingly, this is the first graphic novel to tackle the Brooklyn Bridge’s story.  I think the beautiful art and color work add to the story.  With only words, it would be difficult to imagine the toughness needed by the men to risk death and illness to dig the caissons that support the bridge. The partially completed scenes in The Bridge were particularly instructive.  It didn’t take long to start to see its familiar shape.

The Bridge: How the Roeblings Connected Brooklyn to New York is highly recommended for both graphic novel readers, students writing papers about the bridge’s construction and to anyone who wants a good read. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Abrams Comic Arts, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Graphic Novel, Non-fiction Tagged with: , ,

Then She Was Gone
April 17th, 2018 by diane92345

Then She Was Gone is recommended to thriller rather than mystery readers. Mothers especially will relate to this moving family story.

Fifteen-year-old Ellie Mack disappears one day. Did she run away or was she kidnapped? Her disappearance tears apart her family. Laurel, Ellie’s mom, has two older children and a husband but she is obsessed with finding Ellie.  Ten years later, Laurel finally meets a man, Floyd, almost as nice as her ex-husband. Floyd has two daughters.  The younger daughter, Poppy, bears an uncanny resemblance to Ellie. Poppy’s mother left Poppy with Floyd one day and was never seen again. When Laurel discovers the identity of Poppy’s mother, the plot really takes off.

While this was a thriller, it was not successful as a mystery.  Almost from the beginning, it was obvious what was going to happen next.  The format of alternating narrators and time periods was used well.  Most of the characters were interesting, if not very likeable or relatable. Some of their actions seemed contrived. However, the gripping plot still resonates long after finishing Then She Was Gone.  Even though I guessed the plot twists, I was still compelled to finish the book as quickly as possible. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.

Thanks to the publisher, Atria, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.


Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: ,

The Family Trade Vol 1
April 16th, 2018 by diane92345

The Float is a city floating on the sea of an alternate version of Earth. It originated with a rebel armada from an England-like land. The Float is ruled by the Clans, who are descendants of the original ships’ officers.  The Family, descendants of the original crews, keeps the Clans in line. To attain that goal, they steal, lie and kill.  Jessa Wynn is a member of the Family. When her parents die doing Family business, she is left only with her Uncle Christian. Working by day as a language teacher for the Clans, at night Jessa does missions for the Family. When she learns a secret, the Bookkeeper who is the leader of the Family doesn’t believe her so Jessa decides to find the evidence herself. Oh, and the Bookkeeper speaks to a group of Tom Cats, who also work for the Family.

The Family Trade Vol 1 has beautifully different pen, ink and watercolor artwork. It has a steampunky look of the late 1800s but no date is given.  The plot moves quickly and offers a few surprising twists. Notably, Jessa is an innovative character for comics.  Rarely are female superheroes/adventurers set in a relatively realistic setting, if they exist at all. Jessa is beautiful with her curly dark hair.  She is witty, strong and capable but doesn’t always use the most common sense so I assume she is a teenager or young adult. I also love the Toms. They add a different vibe to the series. They act like real cats: self-possessed to the point of superiority (at least in their own minds) but follow orders. Note that I have two cats so I know how unlikely it is that cats would voluntarily follow orders. 4 stars!

The Family Trade Vol 1 has just begun the story and it is scheduled to be a series. Vol 1 collects issues 1-5. I am looking forward to the future adventures of Jessa and the Toms.

Thanks to the publisher, Image Comics, and Edelweiss+ for an advanced copy.

Posted in Graphic Novel Tagged with: , , ,

Make Manga
April 12th, 2018 by diane92345

Focusing on composition and coloring, Make Manga! is a great next step for pencil artists.

While sketching is almost a sixth of the book, it seems too brief for most beginning manga artists. The inking and especially coloring sections are extremely well done. Most pages explain both what to do and why. Note that the author uses exclusively watercolor for backgrounds and large areas of characters. It may not be a good fit for those who dislike that type of media.

The chapters on composition and creativity are particularly useful for self-taught artists. There are also step-by-step guides in the back to create a day and a night composition for those needing more assistance.

Make Manga! would make a great gift (along with some art supplies) for the budding artist in your life. 3 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Impact Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy. This book will be published on 4/17/2018.

Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: , ,