Soulless is the first volume of Parasol Protectorate series. In this Steampunkish Victorian novel, Alexia Tarabotti, a soulless spinster, takes on vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural creatures. Yes, it’s silly. But, I found Alexia’s adventures fun. There’s a romantic subplot that might appeal to some. If you’re in the mood for a quirky action series, this is it. GRADE: B
THE PARASOL PROTECTORATE SERIES:
Here’s another holiday collection that I enjoyed when it was published back in 1989. A hardcover edition exists, but I have the paperback only. There’s a nice blend of writers and topics in this book, something for everyone. My favorite stories are Edward D. Hoch’s “The Touch of Kolyada” and Bill Pronzini’s “Here Comes Santa Claus.” If you’re looking for some seasonal mysteries, Mistletoe Mysteries will end your search on a high note.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
“A Cozy for Christmas” by Charlotte MacLeod
“The Haunted Crescent” by Peter Lovesey
“Christopher and Maggie” by Dorothy Salisbury
“Kaput” by Eric Wright
“The Live Tree” by John Lutz
“The Three Wise Guys” by Howard Engel
“That’s the Ticket” by Mary Higgins Clark
“Here Comes Santa Claus” by Bill Pronzini
“A Wee Doch and Doris” by Sharyn McCrumb
“The Man Who Loved Christmas” by Henry Slesar
“The Touch of Kolyada” by Edward D. Hoch
“Dutch Treat” by Aaron Elkins
“Ott on a Limb” by Susan Dunlap
“Hot Hot Hot” by Isaac Asimov
“Silent Night” Marcia Muller
My wonderful sister Eileen in Arizona sent me this early Christmas present (I’ve been REALLY good in 2014!). Eileen gave us a larger R2D2 cookie jar a couple decades ago and it’s been a favorite in our kitchen. This little guy “sings” (actually beeps and boops) the standard Christmas carols. Here’s the perfect gift for the Star Wars fan on your gift list! And, you know you want one, too!
Battle fatigue. That’s what I suffered from after about 90 minutes of elves, dwarves, and humans fighting orcs. Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) uses his magic ring to move the plot along. Gandalf (Ian McKellen) doesn’t have much to do. I’m still enamored with the red-headed elf, Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly). Yes, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies is epic, action-packed, and draining. It’s a relief when the movie ends. GRADE: B
I just found out about this quirky series that was shown on the ABC Family cable network. It’s a humorous blend of The X-Files and Dudley Do-Right. The Middle Man was based on the Viper Comics series, The Middleman, created by Grillo-Marxuach and Les McClaine. The series ran for one season in 2008 but it’s well worth seeking out. Weird things happen and The Middle Man shows up to battle the mystical monster or the deadly galactic alien. Matt Keeslar plays the Middleman by channeling Adam West. I really like his side-kick, Natalie Morales as Wendy Watson (who is full of surprises). If you’re looking for something completely different, I recommend The Middle Man. I may have to track down the Viper Comic editions. GRADE: B+
The Green Bay Packers arrive in Buffalo atop the NFC North division with a 10-3 record. The Buffalo Bills only have a 4.5% chance of making the Playoffs with their 7-6 record. A loss to Aaron Rodgers will pretty much dash any post-season dreams some Bills fans still cling to. The Packers vs. Bills game was supposed to be the “National Game” for FOX, but when Cleveland announced they’d be starting Johnny Manziel against the Cincinnati Bengals, FOX revamped their plans. All of Texas and Ohio will be getting the Bengals vs. Browns game. What NFL games will you be watching today?
Jill Lepore’s astonishing story of The Secret History of Wonder Woman will surprise even the most jaded comic book reader or feminist critic. Lepore researches the secret origins of Wonder Woman back in the early 1940s and her evolution over the decades. The kinky background of the principals behind the creation of Wonder Woman was completely unknown to me. Part Utopian vision, part feminist agenda, part classical mythology, the Wonder Woman comic was original and very different from the rest of the DC line. I highly recommend The Secret History of Wonder Woman to comic book devotees and fans of popular culture! GRADE: A
Table of Contents:
Great Hera! I’m back!
This holiday collection from 2001 features Bill Crider’s “The Empty Manger” (a Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery), Terrance Faherty’s “The Headless Magi” (with metaphysical sleuth Owen Keanne), Aileen Schumacher’s “Christmas Cache” (starring Tory Trafers, New Mexico engineer and part-time detective), and Wendi Lee’s “Stocking Stuffer” (with Angela Matelli, a Boston private investigator). I enjoyed reading all these stories and you will, too. Copies are available online at a pittance.
Gracepoint, the American version of the British mini-series Broadchurch, concludes tonight. The producers promised that Gracepoint would have a DIFFERENT murderer than Broadchurch did. Comparing the two mini-series, 95% of the scenes are the same. David Tennant plays the lead police detective in both versions. Tennant is scruffy and dogged. He was part of a botched murder investigation before the Gracepoint murder of a young boy so Tennant’s character seeks redemption by solving this crime. Anna Gunn plays Tennant’s fellow detective, Ellie Miller, whose son was best friends with the murdered boy. I’m guessing Kevin Rankin as Paul Coates, the local priest, is the killer this time. FOX has “cancelled” Gracepoint. But the BBC seems to be working on Broadchurch 2. I’ve enjoyed both versions. Maybe Netflix or AMAZON will pick up this fine series.